Leading a group of employees while managing a company isn’t easy. But for Tom Leddo, Chief Strategy Officer at MD7, it’s all about unlocking human potential, creating that connection and providing opportunities for growth. He tells Carrie Charles that the secret to maintaining their position at the top of the mobile world is the fact they focus on their employees. Through their core values, they have this visible guide that leads them to the direction they want to be, while bringing everyone on top and maximizing their full potential for more opportunities for growth.
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Unlocking Human Potential In A Mobile World With MD7’s Tom Leddo
I’m excited that you joined me and I’m even more excited to have with me, Tom Leddo. He is the Chief Strategy Officer of MD7. I’ve known you, Tom, for a while now. I’m excited to have you on the show. Thank you for coming.
Thank you for having me. I’m excited. I want to congratulate you because your show is very successful and you’re doing a great job. I thank you because our segment of the industry needs the stories and the communication. Not only are you doing a great job, but you’re adding a viable service. We need more exchange of ideas, and this is facilitating that. I appreciate what you are doing.
It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it. I look forward to these conversations. Especially during 2020 with COVID because we haven’t been able to see each other. This has been the highlight of my week is talking to people and it’s been awesome. Thank you for that. I appreciate it.
I missed the trade shows a lot. I missed the breakfast, the lunch and the social piece. We’re doing a lot of online stuff with the trade shows, but the best part of the trade shows is the coffee, meals and the beers in the lobby bar. I look forward to that coming back.
You’ve had an interesting journey in your professional career. I want to start there and talk about how you got from where you are to MD7.
I came into the industry after the PCS auctions, the 1.9GHz auction in the mid-‘90s. A guy named Tom Stroup had started a company called Columbia Spectrum Management. You may have heard his name because he hosted the AGL panel online. He’s the President of the Satellite Industry Association. Tom had a company that was funded by Columbia Capital up in Northern Virginia. He gave me my start. I was hired as a microwave relocation negotiator and I was flying all over the country. 1.9 Spectrum has been acquired by PrimeCo with Sprint PCS, T-Mobile, Western Wireless and BellSouth. All these guys had to clear that spectrum.
I was traveling around negotiating a microwave pass to be relocated. When I got into the industry, I never looked back. I’m very grateful to him. I do bump into him from time to time and I always thank him for giving me the start because it was many years ago. It’s been a great ride ever since. MD7 started in 2003. Michael Gianni is our CEO and Founder. I was introduced to Michael with a mutual friend named Tom Monroe. We had a cheeseburger together in La Jolla, Southern California. We struck up our friendship. I ended up coming on, joining him as he was starting up MD7. We’ve been rocking and rolling ever since. It’s many years that we’ve been working together. It’s been a great ride and we’re having a lot of fun.
The same team and leaders. Hats off to you. That’s rare that it happens.
There are four of us, Michael, myself, Mark Christenson and Mike Fraunces. We are the principals of the company. We’ve been together since the beginning of the company. It’s been a unique and fun ride.
Tell us about MD7, your services, who you serve and how many employees.
[bctt tweet=”If you put the relationships before the transactions, the transactions will take care of themselves. ” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
There were about 400,000 cell sites in the United States and roughly about the same in Europe. Underneath every one of those cell sites is some real property that needs to be acquired, developed, maintained, managed and renewed ongoing. It’s a very big part of the industry. Jonathan Adelstein has been on your show and I heard he estimated that we need probably 800,000 small cells over the next many years. The point being is we got 400,000. We needed another 800 or one million. We’re going to end up with well over one million cell sites.
Even though they’re called small cells, you still have the same entitlements that have to be acquired. You still have all the same management and it’s even more complex. MD7 for many years has been providing solutions. We operate in twenty different countries, mainly between the United States or North America and Europe. We’ve been providing solutions to the operators for those underlying real property assets. It’s been a great fun ride. Michael founded the company and the other three of us joined shortly thereafter. Now, we’ve got about 325 employees across nine time zones because I get a lot of calls early in the morning from Germany and they’re nine hours difference. It’s been great fun. We’ve been doing a lot of site development, landlord lease management, management and optimizing the real estate and the real property assets under there. We have four offices in Europe. Everybody’s working remotely still but we do have offices in the US as well.
What is the telecom or 5G space like in Europe and how is it different than the US?
If you ask that same question to most of your other guests on this show, they would tell you the biggest difference is that Europe has a lot of the mid-band spectrum. It’s going to impact the way they deploy their networks. At MD7, we’re technologically agnostic. The frequency doesn’t matter to us. Our job is to secure the ability to use the underlying real property. Both the US and Europe have the same need and that they need that underlying property managed. They’ve got this deluge of small cells coming. They’re going to find more and more documentation, things and data that need to be managed.
The biggest difference is the spectrum, but then from our point of view, they remarkably similar. The biggest difference from our point of view is that in Europe, they crossed over 100% penetration. Meaning everybody’s got a cell phone. They crossed over that threshold several years before the US. They’ve been having flat growth, curves, revenue growth and ARPU pressure probably a little longer than the US carriers. It’s a big deal on both sides of the ocean, but they’ve been having it a little bit longer.
That pressure has forced them to be more open-minded toward or more optimistic about outsourcing. Culturally, they tend to specialize more and outsource things that are not their core business. Americans are probably embellishing a little bit, but we tend to think we can do it all. We’re not as open-minded to outsourcing, but they outsource a lot more to us. Over there, we do a lot of services that we’re not doing here that we’re going to do here eventually. In Europe, we have a lot of cool services that we hope to bring back this way, instead of taking over there.
Is there a workforce shortage in Europe? Is it here with telecom and 5G? Is it challenging for you to find talent over there like in America?
Our headquarters for tax purposes were in Dublin, Ireland. It’s almost all American companies are. Everybody is over there, Google and Facebook. They’re all headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. There’s a lot of American companies seeking talent and Dublin or Ireland does a great job of recruiting people from other countries into Ireland. You can have a headquarters there with a multilingual office. While everyone in our company speaks good English, we do have a lot of German, French speakers, Dutch, Spanish and Italian. The ability to hire in Dublin, where we’re having a lot of success. It also depends on the country. The economy is in Italy and Spain aren’t that strong. The unemployment is higher there, so we have an easier time finding people. We have a hard time finding the German talent, both in Dublin, but also in our office in Düsseldorf. We’re constantly recruiting for those positions because we’re growing so much, but it’s a tighter labor market in Germany.
I hear that you launched a new service and a new tool. We talked a little bit about Insight and Contract Analyzer. What are those? What service? What customers do you serve with those?
Contract Analyzer is software that we developed that uses AI or Artificial Intelligence and ML, Machine Learning to abstract thousands of cell site leases. It can abstract more accurately, consistently and significantly faster than a team of humans or a team of lawyers can do. You can go out and license software to read contracts. It’s a smart software that you can license that reads ones and zeros. It takes those ones and zeros and puts them in a bucket. It takes the paragraphs or clauses out of the contract and drops them in the bucket. You can license that software, but the trick is that software doesn’t understand the unique needs of cell site leases. I’ve talked to a lot of real estate agents. We’re not residential. We’re not commercial. We’re not retail. Cell sites are different.
What we did is we took our many years of experience. We read hundreds, maybe even thousands of leases every single day. We’ve got a lot of subject matter expertise. We took that subject matter expertise and trained that software to read leases with sometimes as high as 99% accuracy, but more impressively, a 100% consistency. You get a team of lawyers to read a lease. They’re not going to interpret the language in the same way, but once we train that machine that, “These sets of ones and zeros go into this bucket and this other set goes into another bucket.” Once it learns that in the machine, it will learn that with enough repetitions. It’s not as many repetitions that you think. You can then review leases with amazing accuracy and consistency in a fraction of the time.
We’ve run over 125,000 leases, some in English, some in German, through that software. It’s been great, but Insight is a service we’ve rolled out. That’s how we named it. Typically, a cell site lease has 30 or 40 provisions in it. Each of those provisions has 4 or 5 key pieces of information. Maybe there are 150 or 160 pieces of information that lease because at costs, in our industry, we tend to only abstract and analyze 25% or 30% of that data. With Contract Analyzer, we can abstract 100% of it consistently. You take that data and you can start analyzing these leases. There are 400,000 in the US, another 400,000 in Europe and hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions are coming. That’s a lot of data and assets.
If you start looking at that data and that’s what we call Insights. It’s analyzing that data. You can not only analyze trends in rents, rent expense and escalator expense, but we also can go in and assign values or scores to each of those 150 pieces of information. We can score leases. We can tell you how good your leases are. On a scale of 1 to 100, we can tell you how many 50s or 60s you got. Not that many 80s and 90s and there are certainly no 100s out there but we can score leases. When you start scoring your leases, you start looking at how you can improve them because that’s a lot of assets that need to be optimized, not just from the rep perspective but the language perspective as well. Contract Analyzers enabled us to roll out, getting smart about how to look at this deluge of paperwork, both data and document management that’s coming down the pipe.
This makes me think of this massive digital transformation that’s taking place in the world and that companies and leaders are thinking, “What software can we build? What technology can we build? How can we become more efficient?” How many years ago did you have these ideas of digitizing your company and processes?
I talked about meeting Michael back in 2003 over a cheeseburger in La Jolla. I don’t know if he had the idea of digitizing it, but he knew the leases needed to be managed better. He knew that these needed to be optimized. I remember in that conversation, I say, “It’s a great idea, Michael, but I’m not sure that the industry is ready for that yet.” There was some truth to that. I remember I wrote an article for AGL in 2009 called Cellphones Are Like Hamburgers. What I meant by that is McDonald’s, there’s an old story about asking Ray Kroc what businesses in, and he didn’t say hamburgers. He said real estate because he felt finding the perfect piece of real estate made selling the hamburgers possible.
I argue we do the same thing without a great real estate deal underneath every single cell site in the world. You’ve got to call in your coverage, and there’s not a single RF engineer in the world who wants holes in their coverage. You need to manage and optimize that. Ray Kroc did that at McDonald’s. That was in 2009. We’ve been talking about it for a while. We started getting into this many years ago. We would hire teams of young lawyers to people right out of JD to right out of law school who maybe were studying for the bar exam. They would work for us during the day, study at night. They would sit there and just abstract leases. We got pretty good about training humans, double-blind audits and getting consistent, but it was also expensive.
We’d have 45 to 50 humans sitting in an office space, reading leases with a team of lawyers overseeing and quality checking. Customers started offshoring it. They lost quality when they offshored it because the thing is when their first language and they didn’t have legal experience in our industry, the accuracy. That’s when we said, “We’ve got to come up with another way to do this.” The AI software started coming out. The trick was not getting the AI software. The trick was teaching that software to read our unique sets and parameters and doing it consistently. It’s been a lot of fun and we’re getting good at it.
Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about the culture at MD7. I see bits and pieces of your culture behind you. I heard amazing things about the MD7 culture. What makes you different?
I’m going back to that first conversation with Michael. He told me when he started MD7. We were talking about me coming on board. He didn’t have any customers at that time, but he said he wanted our company to be different. I believed him, but I wasn’t sure what that meant at that time. I went through, “How do you maintain it.” Everybody says that, but then the pressures of building a business take over and you start focusing on the bottom line. One of the things we did and it took us a couple of years to do was we worked on our core values. You’d be surprised why did it take you 3 or 4 years to write them? It did because they needed to be true from the heart.
We came up with our six core values and we talk about them every day. We had a company-wide call. We call it the huddle and we went through the six core values. A lot of people write core values, hang them on the wall and then get back to business. We use them. Every decision we have to make, we filter through those core values and it helps you make the right decisions, treat people well and that’s been the biggest difference. The other thing is we always try and put the people first. We’re in the business of transactions. We do cell sites, leases and real estate. Those are, by definition, transactions. If you put the relationships before the transactions, the transactions will take care of themselves, and the continuous improvement happens naturally because everybody feels like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
[bctt tweet=”Respecting the individual should be the foundation of diversity programs.” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
“Relationships before the transactions,” I might steal that from you. I’ll give you credit though.
You’d have to give other people credit because I’ve stolen it from other people and Michael says it all the time. There’s a lot of people out there saying that.
There’s not a lot of people out there that are walking their talk. Kudos to you for walking that talk. How do you manage, motivate and engage your teams and especially all across the world? You mentioned something about a huddle every day. How do you do that?
We did it before COVID too. We had a daily huddle, but the huddle was in our offices. We have a lot of remote employees that aren’t in those offices because we’ve got work all over the place and it’s not cost-efficient to have offices in every place where you’ve got work. We have a lot of remote employees. When COVID came, the huddle was fifteen-minute, every day where all the companies gather. We share a quote and talk about what’s going on in the company. We share kudos for anybody who’s done a good job or gotten one of what we call Good to the Core Awards. We were doing it face to face. With COVID, we started doing it remotely. We have two huddles a day, one at 9:00 AM, California time. The other is 9:00 AM Dublin, Ireland time.
I do, on occasion, wake up at 1:00 in the morning and dial into that one or if I happened to be awake, turn on my computer and jump into that call which is fifteen minutes, to talk about the culture, to encourage and support. That has been the big unifier in the company. Those are run by our VP of ops in the US and Europe. They run those calls every single day. Every day a different person shares and talks about what’s going on in their life and share a quote or an inspiration. That’s the base of it. We spent a lot of time talking to the people and about the people.
It’s all about engaging, talking to the people and having these daily interactions. It’s crucial with a remote team. That’s one of the mistakes that leaders make is not staying connected on a daily basis. I’m curious how your culture has changed through COVID and 2020. What were some things that you learned, or maybe new practices that you put into place because of what you went through?
It took us a day to figure out how we use RingCentral, which is a form of Zoom. It took us 1 or 2 days to figure out how to set up a room that large to let that many people in. Within 2 to 3 days, we had that huddle up and running. One of the first comments I heard was from one of our employees who was remote for years and had never been to huddle and say, “I’m glad this happened. I get to join.” The other thing we did is we became very purposeful about our community with people. We have a Director of Corporate Responsibility named Cheryl Bobbitt. She went to HR and got a list of every person in the company, started going down that list, calling and/or emailing every single and saying, “How are you?”
The first comments were, “We want remote. I don’t have a printer at home.” Some are, “How are you?” “I need a printer. My kitchen chair is not very comfortable.” We thought it was fourteen days, so we muscled through it. As it started dragging on, she started checking in, “How are you doing?” She started seeing how they were doing isolation, how they’re doing with the remote kids doing school from home. Cheryl would purposefully go through, contact and reach out. Some would respond. Some didn’t respond. Some would thank her for the call and open up that they were struggling with something. We got very purposeful in our communication, very structured in our team meetings and our smaller Zoom meetings.
In the huddle, we’re trying to focus on gratitude. We were lucky. We didn’t have to furlough or lay off anybody. We’re essential. We’re nowhere near as essential as the medical workers. Let’s not even begin that, but when you push out hundreds of millions of people, you’ve got to have good communication. Our customers are essential and we support our customers. We were very fortunate that we didn’t have any financial impact as a company. We started to base our gratitude on that. We had family members of our employees who did lose their job, get sick or had family members who passed away. We needed to focus on gratitude, but we needed to love and support those employees. The biggest change was we’ve always talked, but it happens naturally in the office. We had to be more purposeful. The best part of that is the people who’ve been remote for years were telling us, “I’m finally pulled in.” We realized, “We weren’t pulling them in as much as we should have.” It’s been good, but I still want to get back to face-to-face.
Mental health has become more and more important to leaders and in business, even through COVID. It’s a very big topic that everyone’s talking about. I know that you have mental health webinars each month.
We call Mental Wellness Webinars. We engaged a clinical psychologist, set up a webinar and we do it at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. We have our European employees dial in as well. Once a month, we do it. We’re continuing to do it and talk about how to manage your time better, how to rebalance your life now that your life got thrown out of balance. Some of our employees at first were working from home, but once they are doing it, “I feel like I’m living at work,” especially those that live by themselves. We had to recalibrate what balance life meant.
We had these webinars that were giving tips on how to manage your time, how to deal with stress, how to improve your communication. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be received, but they were received well. Out of that, we’ve had some employees reach out to either the psychologist or HR department for a little more custom unique help, regarding whatever’s going on in their life. At that point, we go through our insurance and all our protocols. This Mental Wellness Webinar helped them come to the realization that “Help’s available. People can listen. You’re not alone.” It’s something we’ve been doing. I wasn’t sure if people are going to participate. Participation has been amazing and the comments we’ve gotten and the feedback. It costs us that much, but an hour of our time, once a month.
That’s one silver lining that I believe has come from COVID is that mental wellness and health have been a priority for human beings forever. People have been bringing their stresses to work. They’ve been experiencing loss, difficulty, emotional challenges, and family issues. This isn’t new. It just didn’t happen in 2020. It’s incredible that you are recognizing this and being a support for your people to say, “We care, and we not only care, but we’re going to help you.”
I have to give credit to our HR team, both in the US and in Europe, because they are the ones who advocated for this. They came to the execs and said, “I’d like to spend a little bit of money, but more importantly, I’d like to ask to pull everybody off production for an hour a month.” I think it is more than paid dividends.
You have people that are very different all over the world with different ideas, thoughts, beliefs, visions and values that come from different places. I’m sure that diversity, equity and inclusion is something that’s very important for MD7 but how do you make sure that this DEI is felt throughout your entire organization in every country and every office?
We started a formal diversity program back in 2011. When the 4G build-out was getting real momentum and our company started growing very fast, we realized we were hiring more vendors. We needed supplier diversity and diversity in the workforce. We’ve had a formal program in place for a number of years. Now it’s headed by Lynn Whitcher, who is also our general counsel. She is doing a ten-episode webinar with a series with AGL on diversity, equity and inclusion. She’s got impressive guests coming up and she’s doing a great job with it. She also heads that up for us.
Once a quarter, we have a meeting where everybody comes in and updates the executives on all that. She reports on that quarterly. She announced that we had an all-company in the huddle. We have what’s called What’s Up Wednesday. She announced all our diversity statistics. We are proud that our workforce is 50% diverse. We do take a measure of that but here’s the heart of it. It is one of our core values, “Respect for the individual.” I didn’t do that on purpose. It’s all about meeting people where they are, understanding who they are, loving and respecting them as a human. We all have hopes, dreams, fears, worries and stresses in our daily life.
Yours may be different than mine, but we’re both humans. If I can meet you at that place and you begin to have a relationship. We may not be best friends, but if I respect the fact that you’re going through stuff both good, bad and I’m doing the same, you can meet each other where you are. That particularly is true at MD7 because we have a lot of not only in the US but European employees. We have a lot of people who’ve come from Germany, Spain, Italy, and even Croatia. We have an Egyptian employee. We’ve done some work in Egypt. We have a lot of diverse cultures and backgrounds. It’s a big deal. Linda is a great job manager. Dan Cooney manages that for us in Europe.
The one cool thing we’ve been doing for years is what we call our Diversity Lunches. They’ve gotten hampered by COVID, but we still do them. This is where 8 or 10 people will go to lunch together. We rent a private room, they order lunch and they take turns going around the table, talking about their background, where they came from. I’m blown away by some of the personal stuff that gets shared in those meetings. It allows people to be themselves. It’s a space where they can be real, they share and they’re open. It’s created mutual respect and mutual admiration for each other. Respect the individual is the foundation of our diversity program.
Let me add one other thing. This is a little different and it’s not typically what is said at these things. You yourself run a business. As executives, the best thing we can do is grow our business. I saw a quote in the Wall Street Journal that referenced the Microsoft CEO that said, “The best thing we can do is provide profitable solutions so that the pie grows. When the pie grows, you pull more people up to a seat at the table and they can share in that growth.” Diversity is important. It’s a priority. We focus on it but don’t forget about focusing on growth because if you grow and you’re more profitable, you pull more people to the seat at the table and they get a place as well. We focused on both of those.
[bctt tweet=”You don’t use the word “love” in business law because in English we only have one word for love. ” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
I know there’s so much to think about as a leader, as you’re growing a company, but growing does provide opportunities to pull more people in and give them opportunities for growth and to make their dreams come true. I love that perspective. Talking about leadership, every great company has great leaders. What is the leadership philosophy or philosophies of MD7?
Let me touch on one thing you said, “They all fulfill their own dreams.” This is me, personally speaking now. One of the things I love to do is help people discover what they ultimately want to do with their lives. Sometimes they know, sometimes they don’t. If you could help them align with that and make sure their career aligns with that, then they’re self-fulfilled. They’re getting up to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy and their self-fulfillment is important. I personally would like to help everybody at MD7, but everybody I encounter, I can’t do every single person I meet, but if I can mentor or meet a few people around me, impact them, and help them discover what their true ambitions, hopes, dreams and align them their lives with that, then they start to have self-fulfillment.
If I had to boil it down to one word, it is love. You don’t use the word love in business law because in English we only have one word for love. You love pizza. You love dogs. You love your wife. You make love. It means many different things. When you say it in business, in Spanish, there are 2 or 3 different words for love. In Greek, there are six. When you think about the City of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, Filadelfia. If we try to practice this respect for the individual, another way to say it is love.
We use that word around your lot. Michael used it a lot. We’ve recommended books. We’ve got about twenty books that we recommend to all our employees. We won’t make them read, but we strongly recommend it. We keep a bunch of them on hand. Everybody now wants an Audible version. Some of them are on love, loving humans and meeting people where they are. It’s all another way of saying respect for the individual. Our philosophy is to focus on the people, on helping them reach their potential and become who they want to be.
Sometimes I’ve had conversations with employees and you ask them, “What do you want to do with your life?” If they say something and MD7 is not helping them get there, even if they’re a great employee, I’m not going to say, “You should quit.” I might ask them, “How are we helping you get there?” I do that when I interview people. I want to make sure if you come on board, we’re helping you get where you want to go. If you’re dreaming to open a restaurant, I’m not sure we’re going to help you get there. “I want to help you get there. I’m not telling you that you can’t work here, but are you going to be satisfied?” In the end, we got to be satisfied deep inside.
I am glad that you brought up this word love in business because I do think that it’s something that many business leaders are afraid to say or they’re even, “I can’t bring that word over here.” You are right because I feel the same way that there are many different definitions of love, but it’s the love of humans, of another person. We love what we do. That’s why we’re doing it and being able to sit in the experience of love and sharing it. I don’t think it’s a word that we need to be afraid of in business at all. Thank you for that. Let’s talk about leaders, future leaders, growing and developing tomorrow’s leaders. Do you have a formal growth and development program for people and people that want to move up? What does that look like at MD7?
We have what we call Leadership Training Program. We revamped it in the last quarter of 2020 with the intent of rolling it out in 2021. Both the head of HR in Europe and the US for us to work together. The HR gal was getting up early in the morning and doing the calls with the European thing. They developed and revamped. We’ve experienced a lot of growth and we see a lot more growth coming. We knew we need to take our training to paradigm to make sure that we had a strong bench of future leaders to choose from. We focus on EQ and coaching, conflict resolution, project management. One of my favorites is we do Discovery Insights and StrengthsFinder. We teach them about personalities. We haven’t talked to each other that maybe you take a StrengthsFinder test or the Myers-Briggs personality test.
We share with each other and go, “My personality is different than yours, that may cause some conflict, but at the same time, I now recognize your strengths, why you behave that way and why I behave that way.” You start to complement each other and work together more as a team. We do a lot of that. We also teach them interviewing skills, basics like project management and overseeing their team. Conflict resolution is a big one because it almost probably eliminates more than it resolves a conflict. Those are all part of our formal training program. Personally, when somebody comes in and wants to talk to me about leadership, I tell them to constantly train their replacement. At first, sometimes they’re a little taken back by that because they think, “Why? Are you trying to get rid of me?”
“No, but if we’re going to grow and you want to climb up, I want you to reach down and pull two people up with you. Don’t leave your space empty. You find your backfill. Don’t even tell him you’re doing it. Look around your team and find 2 or 3 people who you think might be able to replace you and begin delegating a little bit more and mentor them. When you move up and pull 1 or 2 of them with you, tell them what you did and make sure they do it again.” When we were smaller, I knew every person in the company. I was able to talk to them. I was able to do a lot of the training personally and I still do a lot of the training, but I can’t do it all. Now we have to train trainers who train trainers and we have to make sure that is there but we definitely have a formal as well as informal training program and mentoring.
Let’s switch gears again and let’s talk about the trends that you see in real estate, site development, site acquisition. Where are we going? Where are we headed?
We say the smartphone changed everything back in 2007 or 2008. All our lives are different. Small cells are going to change a lot too. The volume of cell sites is going up significantly. Just because they’re small, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have an underlying real property that needs to be addressed. We see a deluge of information, data and documents that need to be managed. We also see that carriers both in the US and Europe are now well over 100% penetration. The US is at 114% or 115%. Everybody’s got a phone. Their growth curves are flattening. They’re looking for innovative ways to manage this data.
When you’re building out 5G, they want to focus on coverage, capacity and latency. They want to get the sites on air quickly. They don’t want to wait. Managing the underlying real estate is not necessarily a thing that all the operators are keeping. We have 60 different operators across twenty countries. I’m not picking on anyone. It’s consistent. Their business is building those and maintaining those networks so that your phone and my phone works. With 5G, all the businesses and enterprise applications that are going to come out are going to innovate and lead. That’s all great. In MD7, we focus on the non-sexy part underneath all that. We see a tremendous increase in that. We also see a need to significantly manage that data and those documents better, faster and cheaper. That was the whole concept behind the Contract Analyzer, what we now call Insights.
Our services were going in and providing some consulting to operators who want to get smarter about managing their real estate. Take that Ray Kroc McDonald’s mindset of finding the perfect real estate, but maximizing it. Treating it as an asset and not a, “We just have to pay the rent to keep the sites going.” You got to manage it. We see that problem getting much bigger over the next few years. Some of the operators are starting to see it, especially in Europe, but that’s the biggest trend. We see all the other trends that you read about all the time, but that’s the one that we focus on.
What is next for MD7? You’ve innovative and coming up with new technology and new ideas. Where are you going to be in a few years? What’s your vision?
It’s exciting. I’m not saying that because we’re talking now. I get excited when I’m talking to both customers and team members about it. We’ve grown a lot. We have grown consistently at 20% or so a year for the last many years. We probably could have grown faster than that, but we manage it because we wanted to maintain the quality and the innovation. We think we’re going to continue at that growth rate, especially with all the 5G work that’s coming down the pipe. 5G is not going to be one crazy mad year, then we’re all done. This is going to take much longer to build ou. It’s going to pay for itself. When it’s done being built out, there’s more real estate that has to be managed and maintained. That’s ongoing forever.
We see growth in our current, longstanding services like site development. We see more of that being needed. We had to develop and innovate new deployment models because small cells are being done in much greater volumes than ever. We’ve got 400,000 in many years. According to Jonathan Adelstein, we’re going to build 800,005. We better come up with new deployment models and we’ve done that. We’re going to continue to grow in that area. The exciting part is this Insight, this consulting that we see ourselves moving into that not everybody may even realize they need it now, but we see that side of our business being up. It’s a completely separate side and different skillset. It’s exciting to see where we’re going. We think we’re going to grow a lot over the next few years. I am only limited there because that’s, as far as I can see when the world changes as fast as it does. We’re excited about the opportunities.
Every time I talk to you, I feel your passion for what you do and your passion for MD7. Most of all and what I admire about you is your passion for people. It shines through. No wonder MD7 is such a successful company. It’s also a great place to work. I know a lot of people that work there and I’m sure a lot of people that are reading are thinking, “Where do I go to find out more about jobs at MD7?” Where can people learn? Also, for someone who may want to hire you as well to do work for them.
You can go to Md7.com. Our careers page is on there under the hamburger menu. We have a lot of openings, especially German speakers, but Stacy who runs our HR in the US announced an onslaught of new positions that we’re recruiting internally for. We will hire externally, but we loved to promote internally and then backfill them. We have 4 or 5 what we call entry points, not entry-level. It’s where you come in and get in sync with us. You learn the rhythm and culture. We do a lot of cultural interviews. I learned that from you about making sure you hire the right people. We bring them in and then we want to see them move up. We are promoting these positions internally. All those open positions are also on the website. You go in there and sort by country. You can sort by job skills or all different ways. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good place to start.
Tom, thank you so much. This has been a pleasure. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot too. Thank you for being on the show. I will see you in person soon.
I look forward to it. Thank you for having me and congratulations on the success of the show.
About Tom Leddo
Tom Leddo is the Chief Strategy Officer of MD7. Tom is driven by the possibilities of mobile connectivity for people throughout the world and understands what it takes to make that happen.
He is responsible for realizing the strategic priorities of MD7, enabling all stakeholders to understand the company’s objectives. In his time at MD7, Tom has held leadership positions in operations, customer service, sales, and marketing, and he has proudly served our team members and partners since 2004.
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