To survive and succeed in business, you need to be ready to change. You need to be ready to start evolving your business, and Paul Fettucia knows the way. Paul, the President and General Manager of ANS Advanced Network Services, joins our Carrie Charles in this episode to talk about business change and transformations. Paul traces the beginnings of ANS, their pivots to different technologies on the market, and their use of work from home model, even before work from home became a necessity. Paul also shares his leadership philosophy and why he treats everyone in ANS as family.
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Bringing Transformation And Evolution To Business With Paul Fettucia
I am so thrilled to have with me one of our valued clients as well as one of our friends, Paul Fettuccia. He is the President and General Manager of Advanced Network Services, better known to all of us in the industry as ANS. Paul, thanks for being with me.
Thank you, Carrie. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to speak with you and give people some insight into ANS and myself.
We’ve known you for quite some time now. You were one of the first people that I met when I came into the industry several years ago. I know I’m a baby in the industry compared to everyone else. I know you have had a nice long journey. I want you to talk a little bit about how you got to where you are. What was your motivation for starting ANS?
A little bit about me and my background that got me there and then drove who I am, I am the product of immigrant parents from Italy which gave me an unbelievable work ethic. They work 24/7 and when they weren’t working, they were working some more. That always made it good for me and showed me their true path. Along the way, as a kid, I played team sports and individual sports that also helped craft some of my backgrounds.
One of my first jobs out of high school as I did take a sabbatical for a couple of years before I went to college is a door-to-door pot and pans sales guy. I honed into some of my customer relationship techniques doing that and getting the door slammed in my face. I went to a community college in electrical engineering and I got a job in the cable TV industry as the cable guy. Where I got some more doors slammed on me as well. I was fortunate enough that the cable company that I worked for paid for me to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and also paid for my Master’s Degree in Telecom Network Management from Syracuse University.
From there, I moved on a few years later and met my partner in crime as I’ll say in ANS, Advanced Network Services. We’ve built a good company based on the family foundation that both he and I experienced as kids. Family is core to our business. We try to give people flexibility in their jobs as much as possible. We’ve used the work-from-home model for many years. Well over twenty years, I’ve had engineers working remotely. Initially, we had a lot of challenges because the network topology back then wasn’t as robust as it is nowadays.
There were challenges but that allowed people, especially on the engineering side to be able to work mornings, evenings or whenever they did their jobs the best and gave them the flexibility to do stuff with their families as needed. Since then, we’ve also evolved more in allowing to have our project managers to be remote. We do use a regionalized model in our business. That regionalized model in our business allows us to try to get the resources as close to the customers as possible but also utilizing warehouses in those areas and also the flexibility of a work-from-home environment. That’s been good for us.
[bctt tweet=”You have to be cognizant of the fact that you just have to change. ” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
Can you expand on a little bit more your challenges with the remote workers or your remote PMs as well as your engineers? I know there are other people in the industry that are struggling with that. “Do I go remote? Do I not?” They have the models that they’ve worked for so many years. What have been your challenges? How did you overcome those?
The network in the systems that you have has to be capable of allowing people to work from home and not hinder them in any way. Number one is making sure that you have a solid network. We’ve embraced the cloud concept now for many years using AWS and some other cloud-type SaaS software models that allow easy functionality when you’re working from home. The largest challenges that have come from trying to get our back-office staff and support working remotely are little things that you don’t think about like, “How do we process the mail when it comes in?”
We still have customers that send manual checks to us. Those kinds of things have caused a little bit of logistical issues but we’ve worked through it with scheduling people in the office every day and have them being able to rotate through. We’ve implemented a new payroll and HR software platform that is going to make it easier from an HR perspective to be remote as well. We’ll have more of our records online versus having to have filing cabinets filled with reams of paper that were killing trees at that point.
Another component of remote work comes from being able to monitor people’s performances. It’s simple from an engineering and project management standpoint to tell who’s who in the few. They’re either getting their work done or not. That shows up maybe not on a daily basis but over the course of a couple of weeks. As you do financials and things of that nature, you can tell if people are on target with their projects and the amount of projects that they may have and they’re managing. Level loading that casework for each individual PM and engineer is a challenge. We’d like to say they’re all the same but they’re not. There are different ones that have different skillsets. That’s a challenge, making sure that they have enough on their plate or they don’t have too much on their plate.
The last piece is the logistics. For us, we have multiple warehouses in multiple states. They have to be manned. We’ve made it where our deliveries come in and we have people working in there that accept the deliveries and then load the trucks up to get them out to the job site. Unfortunately, you can’t make those remote. They put people there to man the warehouses, as well as the people that are working on the job sites. The good news is for us, we do have a fairly large amount of work that is engineering in nature. Not that we’re known as an engineering company, but we do have close to twenty engineers on staff. That is easy to manage but the logistics are a challenge and the flexibility as well with the field personnel.
A good portion of the work that we do on the network side for Verizon, for example, or some of the other data center companies that we interface with is work that’s done at night, typically from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM. In some cases, midnight to 5:00 AM. Sometimes on the weekends. That gives us some flexibility with the people if they need to have stuff during the week. Going back to the family concept where we can offer some flexibility. Less so than on the PM, the engineering side and the back office, but we try to accommodate them as well.
That’s helpful because we are running into quite a few candidates with our staffing firm saying, “We need a remote job. We have a remote offer over here. We don’t want to work in the office anymore. At least we want some flexibility or a hybrid model.” We are running into that more and more as companies go back into offices post-COVID if there is such a thing called post-COVID. Thank you for sharing that. Tell me a little bit more about ANS. Services, products, customers, markets and number of employees.
I’ll start with the products. We started historically as a staffing company back in the early ‘90s and also doing PBX work in colleges and hospitals. The enterprise PBX or now soft switch phones is a separate company under the NextRidge umbrella called TAG Solutions. We still do that business. On the ANS side, we evolved from staffing to EF&I for the OtterBox. That was in the mid-‘90s. After the Telecom Act in ‘96, all the colocation, and dot-com stuff, we got into the EF&I services primarily for large equipment manufacturers like Lucent, Fujitsu, ADC and Ericsson. Nortel was a big one for us as well.
From there, we evolved into doing work directly for the OtterBox. Back then, we had SNAP, Ameritech, Pac Bell, NYNEX, and Bell Atlantic. As they merged, those names became more consolidated into AT&T and Verizon. Those were the two primary forces we did work for back then on the network side. By network, we did switching, so large-scale 5D switches. A lot of tools, infrastructure, fiber, systems, transport, equipment and a lot of DC power back then. We still have that core business. We’re not a cluster vendor for AT&T anymore. I won’t go into that as much. We are that for Verizon still and for some private data center companies as well. The DC power, we’ve continued to do that work and that’s quite a bit of our work as well. A lot of large-scale DC power as well as small scale. By small scale, I mean cell site power. By large scale, I talk about multiple 10,000 implants and how they’re all tied together with common infrastructure. That’s the core business.
We then got into the cell tower business years ago. It took us three tries or swings. We never did anything successfully the first time around but we do have that try and try again attitude. The first time we tried the tower business was right at the end of 3G getting implemented and the work drying up for about 1 or 2 years. We tried it again about a year prior to 4G getting launched and that was successful. That is now the offering that we have in our tower work comes in three flavors. We do the classic internal line or what I’d like to refer to as technology change out for the carriers directly. Verizon being the largest of our customers but we also do dabble with T-Mobile. We used to do a little Sprint work and we do a little AT&T work. We’ve been in and out of the turf model with AT&T over the years as well.
There are the new build tower sites and they come in a couple of different flavors whether it’s a tower itself, a water tank or it’s a stealth site. Those are new site builds. We also have a struct mod group that does structural modifications on towers. That’s typically welding steel, bolting new steel on, as well as concrete foundation work. That’s our tower business. From there, we launched into the DAS and in-building world where we have got several RF engineers on staff or some young ones that we’ve created out of various university programs. Myself being from SUNY Binghamton and the DD program. We picked up a couple of SUNY Binghamton guys, which were IBM’s training ground, as well as some people from Maryland. We’ve got a good core of young engineers and gotten experienced quickly. That’s on the DAS side. From the DAS piece, it’s evolved into the private LTE services that we’re offering nowadays in building private networks for various organizations out there on the enterprise side. Focusing on entertainment, hospitals and large logistics. The post office, for example. We do a fair amount of work for the USPS and the federal government.
The last piece of the in-building was Peel-it which is our maintenance and monitoring platform. That’s been around for a little bit as a base platform. We are in the final stages of evolving to version four of that. There are two components to Peel-it. One is the base platform that does the monitoring of the various systems and then we have a GUI interface that the customers interface with that allows them to put trouble tickets in and allows us to pull reports. It’s that customer/NOC interface into the network. That’s getting rebranded as Peel-it. You should be seeing a bunch of stuff coming out. Peeling a network back. Instead of the banana, we used to use the onion analogy. You peel the onion, get to the layers and get to the real core of it. That’s the same with Peel-it as a product from a maintenance and monitoring perspective. That is a nationwide platform that we’re using for the post office and then a bunch of Verizon facilities as well.
You talked about regions. We are headquartered in Upstate New York in Albany and we’re also in New York City. We quite a bit of work down in New York City. We have another facility in Philadelphia. We’re also in Columbus, Ohio. We do a lot of work in the Columbus Market, Michigan and Detroit. A little further south as well, West Virginia, Indiana, and then also in Chicago. We have a little bit of an office in Chicago. Years ago in the old American tech days, we spent a lot of time in Chicago. We still do some work for AT&T labs out there as well.
I was born in Chicago. I didn’t stay there long. love going back there. I was only there until age two, but I can still say I was born in Chicago.
It’s like Upstate New York, not great places to be as you know.
[bctt tweet=”Finding good people is always difficult. You can find people but are they going to be the right people who fit into your organization?” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
I’m getting many different evolutions of your business and innovations as well. I’m curious, what has been your growth strategy as to how you have adopted, innovated and created these new products over and over? You’d have so much now. What has been that strategy that’s caused that?
A couple of things. First is that I’m a person that can visualize stuff and visualize what’s out there. I’ve always been blessed with that and I don’t think that’s something that you can learn. I do have that going for me and I have people around me that are like that. I’ve been accused once or twice of chasing butterflies. Not everything I see is necessarily successful. We will utilize some tools as well. There are a couple of books that are out there like Business Model Generation which uses this thing called the Canvas process. It allows you to dial in a product line from a customer perspective, need’s perspective and also the value proposition as well as costs, sell points, and partner relationships that you need to launch them. There are so many things that go into launching new products. That’s number one.
The other thing is keeping your ear to the grindstone and doing a lot of research, so I’m constantly scrubbing the environment to see what’s coming next. Early on when we were a vendor for NYNEX and Bell Atlantic, we started hearing about this file stuff, so we jumped on the outside bandwagon and started doing a lot of the engineering on the files. Same thing with 4G, probably about a year or so prior to 4G getting launched, we started spending a lot of time listening to what the FCC was talking about. Also, what the leaders of these large organizations are talking about. They give you the signals as to where they’re going. You just have to be astute enough to listen to those signals and then try to say, “What’s my organization like? What is not a heavy lift for us to bolt on to move down that path?”
Being engineering in the construction company, we’ve always looked at it that the principles of project management can be applied to a lot of different technologies or even construction businesses that are out there. It’s all the same, in essence. The specific tasks that you do for deploying that technology or building the bridge or putting in HVAC systems all follow suit. I’ve always tried to push us down the path of bolting on things that are similar to what we do so it doesn’t put a lot of strain on the organization. Having said that, we are embarking quite a bit in doing research and work on the EV charging station which is something new. Why EV charging stations? How does that fit into telecom? The similarities in that are either one, you’re playing with large scale utility organizations. One on the power grid infrastructure side in the case of EV charging but we’re also playing on that side with small cell technology. As we’re deploying a lot of small cells, we’re interfacing a lot more with utility companies because we’re putting assets on their property. That relationship has evolved.
Our ability several years ago to go out and get a bunch of AC electrical licenses in multiple states and in some states like New York, it’s more difficult. You can’t get a statewide license. It’s four states, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California where you have to get licenses per municipality versus places like North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. They’re statewide to take the test once and you got the licenses. We’ve got about 8 or 10 under our belt. We’re acquiring more as the work evolves in the different markets that we work with to try to get that. Bridging the gap between utility and telecom is a no-brainer.
What pointed that out was going through the Canvas process with the Business Model Generation tool to show, “What we’re doing has cell site power.” AC stuff that we typically contracted out a lot and now starting to do more of that in-house. The small cell stuff, which is single-phase low-level power. These charging stations fit right in there as well. Those three things we outlined as things that were easy for us to implement without putting a lot of extra burden on our people that work for ANS. Some of the engineers will probably tell you I’m driving them crazy because we are trying to push the envelope a little bit but we’ll see how that goes. It’s going to be successful for us.
You’re a visionary. There is a book that I follow. I’m glad to know about the Canvas model, but I’ve always followed the book Traction. It talks about the visionary. It’s funny you say, “I’ve made some mistakes but I see something and then we execute it.” That is something that I’m aware of because I do the same thing. The other piece I wanted to mention is this whole idea around electric vehicle charging stations. We have four electric vehicles in our family and constantly, I was getting all of these charges on my credit card. My kids have electric vehicles. I thought, “I’m going to put one in my house,” which I did. It’s frustrating because my daughter has to drive. We have to drive twenty minutes and she sits there for 30 to 45 minutes to charge her car.
It’s a massive opportunity and something that we all need. Please hurry and put charging stations in Tampa. Even though I’m at my house now, it’s a great opportunity. I love to know that innovation from a true visionary that it lights you up. I can tell you’re passionate about it. I’d like to get your thoughts on, where are we headed? You do the research and you’re at the shows. When we can go, I always see you there and you’re soaking up the information. You’re learning and talking to people. Where are we going? Where’s the industry headed? There was the Biden broadband plan, which was $100 billion. There was so much happening in that industry. Give me your thoughts on where we are going.
5G is a good example. We’re talking about 5G stuff, but 5G is much different than 4G. 4G was specific. It was the 700-megahertz spectrum that was out there and everybody built primarily to that standard. There were a few deviations with the PCS band and the AWS band all getting lumped into 4G LTE. 5G is different. It sounds like the carriers are scrapping that network. That’s all there and gets integrated into 5G, as well as some of this millimeter wave technology that we’re talking about with T-Mobile, the 600-meg spectrum. Also, with the options that were put out there with the C-band spectrum and then the CBRS spectrum. There are all these frequencies floating around there.
By the way, let’s not forget about the cable companies that are out there that have an enormous amount of spectrum as well that offer 5G. In my mind, the actual network type and the carriers are going to be less significant as far as what the topology is for the network. It’s going to boil down to the applications that are on there. We saw it with 4G, Uber and all that evolving applications that were put on the network. There’s going to be so much more that comes over the next few years that we don’t even know what it is.
They talk about autonomous vehicles and robots. Now I saw robots delivering your pizza. In California, they have this autonomous vehicle that drives around. It looks like something out of The Jetsons. The only thing that’s missing is Rover, the dog. Nowadays, this thing will pull up to your house, you walk out, the door opens and you grab your pizza. In some respects, it’s bad because we’re eliminating lower-level jobs but in other respects, it’s good because it’s creating better-paying jobs in some cases. I don’t think the topology type is going to be as critical as the applications. I do see the melting of infrastructure.
You’ve got utility guys building private networks. You got Google, Apple, Amazon and all these people building networks that are all relying on each other. The convergence is well underway and that’s what’s going to happen. For organizations like us, it is challenging because you have to be current with the technology because it is evolving quickly. If you look at it historically, the phone companies typically had a timeframe of about 30 years of taking advantage of whatever technology they deployed. When you look at the old crossbar switches and movement into the digital world in the ‘90s, they were able to monetize those switches for 30 years.
That’s not the case anymore. It has moved more in alignment with IT that’s out there where you have maybe 2 or 3 years at best to be able to take advantage of that technology. In some respects, it’s good for guys like us because we have a constantly evolving workload but it’s also bad. I can’t stick ten guys on the job site for a month. I’ve got to move them around. That’s the model, not only for us internally but also support organizations that we use like Broadstaff that helps us supplement our people. Those models are changing and we have to be cognizant of the fact that you have to change.
Tell me about the ANS culture. What sets you apart?
[bctt tweet=”It’s okay to challenge each other. But at the end of the day, you’re all pulling the rope in the same direction.” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
The family dynamic and trying to think of it as a family. In all good families, you have sibling rivalries. The brothers and sisters fight from time to time. Sometimes, the parents get involved as well. Us having the mindset that it’s okay to challenge each other but at the end of the day, when we walk out from behind a closed-door meeting, we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction. That comes by trying not to have ego involved. Ego is a killer in any organization. Not to say we don’t have some ego. We do but we try to check it. Try to have humility and realize that we’re going to make mistakes. None of us are perfect. I always say we don’t all have beards and we don’t wear sandals. We are prone to making mistakes. I’m okay with making mistakes. If you make them three times, that’s not a mistake anymore. You’re just not learning. It’s important to allow people to make mistakes.
There was a scene in Top Gun. I love that movie. When Skerritt’s talking to Tom Cruise and he says, “When you’re up there, you have to push the envelope but you will make mistakes. When you’re down, you have to analyze and evaluate what you’ve done wrong so that you don’t make the mistake the next time.” I am in that mindset. I am far from perfect. I’ve said that we’ve launched different things that have worked and some that haven’t. I kicked myself about some things that we probably pull the plug on too soon and if we cooked it a little longer, it may have been good. That’s number one.
Number two is constant learning. You have to constantly be evolving. It comes at a price. We do try to make investments. I lump them into four buckets where you have blocking and tackling the type of training that you have to do the CompTrain certifications, the OSHA stuff and things of that nature. The second bucket is technical training, whether that’s via manufacturers or test equipment. For example, we’ve got a gentleman that’s been an engineer for us and we’re now shifting him into a DC power engineering role so we send him to power engineering classes up to speed on that.
The third one is sales training. A lot of people like to say, “We send salespeople to training.” It’s more important to send your operations people whether project managers or engineers to sales training. Not for selling but more on how to interact with clients because they are the ones that are interfacing with our customers. Eighty percent of our work comes from existing clients. We want to make sure we take care of them. Number four is management and executive management training that we put people through that are moving up the ranks.
Typically, we’ll put someone in a manager training program and we use MPI, which is something that was homegrown and then spun out. Our ex-CEO runs that organization to his company. Someone that was a lead on a job and now we’re thinking of moving them to a supervisory role, maybe a year in advance, we try to get them into management training. At least they can learn the lingo that we use because there is different lingo. Definitely, what it’s like to be a first-time manager or going from being a first-time manager or an executive. That’s important.
You focus on the health of the customer, employee and your financial health. Talk a little bit about that. Something that you had mentioned to me which I thought was fascinating is you watch your Net Promoter Score. What is that and why?
There are three sides to the triangle in our business. The first one is the Net Promoter Score. I don’t know if everybody’s familiar with it. We’ve been using it now for many years. We were fortunate enough that one of our partners was able to go to GE’s Think Tank years ago down close to New York City where their training facility was. They were just rolling out Net Promoter Score at the time so we got an insight into it. Some companies do it more often but we choose twice a year. You ask your customer one question. “On a scale of 1 to 10, would you recommend us as a vendor to your friend, to a colleague or to your family member?” They give you a number. Nine and ten are what’s called the promoter. I call them neutral if 7 and 8 is the score. Anything six and below is considered a detractor. What you do is you look at your overall pool of people that you talk to. We do this twice a year. We don’t talk to just the person that gives us the PO. We talk to the field techs that we’re interfacing with, the person that’s given us the Pos, any influencers. That could be engineers.
We gauge their temperature via that scoring grade. What you do is you take your overall number and you divide it by your detractors and that gives you a number. It’s not a percentage of it but it’s a score. If you look at overtime, the different companies that are considered best in class, Apple is always at the top of the list. They score in the 70 to 80 range typically. Everybody talks about BMW and how great BMW is. BMW score is in the 20 range. The ones that do worse of all are usually financial and insurance companies. They typically rake in the negative numbers. We do this exercise twice a year for many years now and we’re typically in that 65 to 75 range which puts us in best in class, so I’m excited about that. That’s one of the things I’m proud of. That’s the Net Promoter Score.
Another piece of the triangle is our employee surveys that we do. We do all hands-on deck meetings twice a year where we do face-to-face meetings. In 2020, we changed that where we had to do them remotely. We have a survey based on the book, First, Break All the Rules which has been around for many years. It’s a twelve-question survey and there are a couple of other organizations that now do that same process and they sell you a program to do it. We just do it in-house manually. You give that to the employees and they grade you one through 1 through 5, 5 being excellent, 1 being your dog meat and 3 being neutral.
What that does is you boil those twelve questions down to four different parameters on the health of the business. We typically are in the 80% to 85% range. To me, the number is less important because there are some variables that give you different scores based on how many people take the test or if they’re new or not. There are a few different variables that can change that. What you can do is you can trendline over a period of time what the fluctuation is. What you don’t want to see is significant swings one way or another from this. You want to make sure you’re staying consistent. What that will tell you is if you do see a drop in any one category, then we can boil it down further from going from the organization level down to senior management level, to regional level or to the individual supervisor because it’s grading our performance. We can see if there’s a big change, maybe one supervisor is doing something that maybe is causing that and then we can have a conversation with them to make adjustments as needed. That’s important.
The final piece of the triangle is the financials. You have to have all three being healthy to be a good healthy organization. We are adamant about closing our books every month. I don’t get too crazy. We know over time that typically the first quarter is soft. Second quarter, we start picking up momentum. Third quarter is usually we’re drinking from the firehose. Fourth quarter is sometimes, you’re drinking from the firehose as well, and sometimes, it’s business as usual. We can grade that. We’ve got a lot of metrics. That helps us manage the business. We’re constantly evolving with those metrics as well, trying to dial them in to see growth patterns and what products are doing better than others. There’s a lot of different information you can gather by analyzing that.
What is your strategy for hiring? Are you finding it difficult to find qualified people in 2021 or is it easier than it was in 2020?
No, it’s not easier. Finding good people is always difficult. You can find people but is it the right people that fit into your organization? My guys and girls will tell you we’re not the easiest place to work at so it takes the right person that fits into our culture. We work with quite a few different staffing companies. We use Broadstaff for more higher-level people, engineers, and project managers. We’ve got a position open for a NOC manager for our Peel-it software. Depending on what the need is, is what organization we work with. That’s number one.
Number two, we tried to do some of that in-house as well. We do have a recruiter in-house and that works closely with engineering. That recruiter typically manages more of the staffing companies than we do in recruiting. We do pump stuff out through our website. We do use LinkedIn. I’ve also been working on trying to partner with some colleges and universities. Mostly community colleges to give kids coming out of there that have either an IT or engineering background as well as electrician type background and dovetailing that.
I forgot to mention that we also created an AC electrical apprentice program that mirrors the program that the IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and that’s a program where we have an instructor and then we have a bunch of online tools that allow people that are in the program. It’s a robust program. It’s a four-year gig. It’s a once-a-week class they have to do remotely. There are modules that they’re responsible to do homework on and get graded and testing. That’ll get them to the position where with the schooling and with the hands-on stuff that we’re giving them, it will allow them to go out and get an electrical license as a journeyman and hopefully, as a master electrician. As our needs evolve on the electrical side, we’re finding it difficult to find electricians. Our background in DC has created a lot of people that can easily migrate into the AC world and do both which is unique because most organizations aren’t like that. You’re either an AC contractor and you do AC work and UPS, big builds, service or you do DC. The two usually don’t mix. That may be a strategy for success in the future as well.
[bctt tweet=”If you make a mistake three times, that’s not a mistake anymore. You’re just not learning.” username=”rcrwirelessnews”]
The other strategy that you use is contract-to-hire or temp-to-perm where you bring people on a contract basis and then you convert them to a full-time role. What is your motivation behind that? Why does that work for you?
People always look great on paper and a lot of people are good at interviewing. It’s difficult to get to what’s a person like when they’re working. The temp-to-perm works great in that respect. In that, we can find candidates and bring them in. Usually, you can tell the first week, everybody’s always great. The second week, you start getting a little, “Maybe not so great.” By the month, you know if they’re good or not. Usually, by the second month for sure, you know how a person is going to be. It may cost us more upfront doing that model. In a lot of cases, it helps us not make bad hires. I read somewhere that if the person is a $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 a year person and it’s a bad hire, it probably cost you about $200,000. It makes sense for me to spend $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 working with someone like you to try to find the right candidate. Some people may say, “You’re throwing money away.” I don’t see it that way. What you do is unique. We build stuff. We’re not great at finding people. You have to stay in your swim lanes.
Stay in your lane and stay where you’re good. We love telecom, tech, people, and that’s where we’re good. That’s our specialty. Paul, ever since I’ve met you, had every interaction with you, spoken to you, as well as recruiting for you and the people that we’ve placed with you that work in ANS. They’re happy and they talk about the culture and the leadership there, I believe that you are one of the greatest leaders in telecom. What are your leadership principles? What guides you?
We always had our core values. When COVID hit, I started hearing some CEOs talk about stuff and they start to resonate. One was keeping everybody safe and the other one was creating and preserving jobs. The third one is constantly investing in your people and the fourth one was taking care of our customers. Those are our four guiding principles. If you boil it down, what makes you successful? A lot of it is about loyalty and I’m not talking about loyalty from a blind perspective and you follow everything I do or everything I say. That’s not the case. We all have to be loyal to each other as an organization. We’re loyal to ANS, not to an individual. That’s a big part of our culture. The family dynamic is another one and having that flexibility. Not beating people up when they make mistakes and you learn from them is important. That constant education and it doesn’t have to be formal education. At the end of the day, you have to be learning something new to be relevant, and then also having a purpose in life is important. There are some other goofy ones, too, that I can throw in there.
Tell us the goofy ones.
With the family thing, a lot of the people that are in our organization, we all have kids so we embrace that. We talk about our kids. A lot of companies pooh-pooh that kind of stuff. I don’t think that’s the case. We should embrace that more. We don’t have a problem with the kids that may need a job in the summer. If they work out, they can become a full-time employee. The other thing I noticed is we have people that come from a couple of different backgrounds. We do have a fair amount of people that work for us that are immigrants out in the field. I will throw myself in that category as well. That brings the hardworking aspect of a lot of people that are similar in my background.
We also have a lot of guys that come out of agriculture and farming which is interesting as well because like immigrants, the guys or girls that are working on a farm are typically getting up when the sun’s coming up and work until the sun goes down. Those are two unique things that I don’t think we’ve ever formalized but are true. Another goofy one, a lot of us have dogs. I don’t know what that means. Does it mean we’re empathetic to animals? If you look at our organization, I don’t know what the number is, but I guarantee at least 80% of us are dog owners.
What about cats? Does anybody own cats?
There are cats, too. A lot of us have cats and dogs. I used to have a turtle. It’s something else that is a goofy fact of people. The other thing is, too, we do quite a few personal get-togethers, whether it’s Christmas parties in the past or the semiannual meetings that we do with the people where we always break bread as part of that. Also, going out to the job site and visiting people. Because of COVID, that’s put a little damper on that so we’ve tried what’s called After-Dark at ANS. That sounds a little risqué. We’ve done a couple of team-building exercises. One was based on space travel. We’ve done some bingo nights and we have a poker league. We had a lot of fun with the NCAA basketball thing where we threw in a $100 gift card. I potted up $100, too, for anybody that won. I almost was there and won it. USC killed me that one basket and if they would have won, I would have won but they didn’t win so I didn’t win. It’s fun things like that.
How many employees do you have in total?
We’re about 150 and typically, we move up to around 200-ish. I’ve tried to get us to the 50/50 model of 50% in-house and 50% contracted or subcontracted. We’re all around that. Some years, it’s 60/40. Some years, it’s 50/50. Some years, it’s 70/30. That’s the benchmark I try to get. Potentially, we would have around 300 people working for us in the busy time of the season, whether it’s actual subcontractors or staffed personnel as well as our own.
What is next for ANS? What’s your vision for the future?
I’ve talked a lot about it. It’s that melting of the utility work and pushing the electrical piece more than we have in the past. You’re going to see over the next years that ANS developing that AC electrical contracting model in support of, in a lot of cases, the work we do in the telecom space as well as the EV charging stations. We’re bullish on what’s going to happen over the next several years with the infrastructure, bills that are coming out and some of the money that’s getting put out there from the government standpoint.
You have to look at history to know what the future is going to be like. After World War II, there was a huge emphasis in the US on building our roads, bridges, infrastructure out and the utility grid. That’s getting older and there needs to be a new emphasis on doing that. Some people would say we’re trying to take advantage of the situation. I like to say that we’re trying to create jobs for people that are meaningful so that they can have a good family life. At the end of the day, we all have the same thing in common. We want to have our family, we want to spend as much time with our family and make sure they’re taken care of and the job is just an end to that mean. Our focus on seeing those two melt together is great for us and that’s where we’re going to push towards.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people reading who are wondering, “Where to go to learn more about ANS jobs?” Also, possibly that want to hire you as a vendor.
The best way is to go to our website www.ANSCorporate.com. We do have job postings there. We have a bot on there that you can talk to that will get you to the right person in HR or in sales. That is what we’re pushing everybody towards. Some of you know us and you can contact us. You can contact Carrie as well and her team. She will funnel the info to us and we’re okay with paying you to do that.
You’ve been wonderful, Paul. You all at ANS have been wonderful to work with. We are honored and we appreciate that. Most of all, I want to thank you for being on the show because getting a bird’s eye view or a peek into your amazing company and also who you are, team and culture has been a benefit for everyone to learn more about what’s possible for the future. Thank you for being on the show, Paul.
Thank you, Carrie. I’m grateful for the time to spend with you and talk about this stuff. Anytime in the future, I have the gift of God. I can talk about other stuff, too.
We’ll do it again. I know I’ll see you soon at some event somewhere once we open up again. Thanks, Paul. I appreciate it. Take care.
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About Paul Fettucia
Over a 30-year career, Paul Fettuccia has risen through the ranks: from Time Warner Cable Field Technician, to Intermedia Communications Engineering Manager to President and General Manager of Advanced Network Services (ANS).Since taking over as President and GM in 2013, Paul has led an aggressive expansion of the company’s services and footprint. In his first 18 months, Paul added over 40 new employees, extended the company’s physical presence into the Florida and Mid-Atlantic regions and added T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint to a robust account roster that already included Verizon Wireless. Additionally, Paul has made ANS a fast-growing provider in the important Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) market segment.
Prior to his current role, Paul was appointed Vice President and General Manager in 2002 wherein he established relationships with Verizon Wireless and Verizon (landline) as well as AT&T as a “turf” vendor. He also spearheaded the company’s expansion into Tower Services and Power Services. Paul joined ANS in 1999 as Director of Engineering, leading the implementation of the TL9000 Quality Systems and the redefinition of Project Management Systems while also serving as the principle Sales Engineer.
His earlier career included extended tenures as Engineering Manager for Intermedia (now part of Verizon) and Senior Technical Positions at Time Warner Cable where he worked on the original beta test of TWC’s RoadRunner service.
Paul received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the Watson School of Engineering at Binghamton University and his Master’s Degree in Telecommunications Network Management from Syracuse University. He currently serves on the Board of the New York State Wireless Association.
Paul is a resident of Rensselaer County, NY, an avid golfer and boater and the proud father of two boys. When time permits, you might find Paul enjoying his homemade red wine and a fine home cooked Italian meal with friends and family.
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