NATE Unite 2016 Notes

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I want to congratulate the people who got some accolades at the NATE Unite conference.

  • Jim Tracey of Legacy is not the new NATE Chairman.
  • Jim Miller of EasTex Tower is still Vice Chairman.
  • Kari Carlson of Tower Systems was reelected as NATE Secretary/Treasurer.
  • Video: Todd talks about the diversity of work that small cells and DAS have brought to the industry.
  • Video: this is a full recording, (1 hour and 23 minutes), of the NWSA panel. For those of you living under a rock, the NWSA is the National Safety Wireless Alliance, which has a group of volunteers from the tower industry working to set standards for testing and certification in the tower industry that will include tower climbing skills, rigging, and tower work certifications that will be the standard across the industry. You will need to pass this certification to work in this industry someday. Credentials matter!

NATE is getting work done at this conference with the NWSA meetings. I know that they are doing more than that but I want to point out that the NWSA certifications are really going to change the industry. If you haven’t already spent time learning what it is about, now is the time! Again, to do work in this industry you will need to get certified through the NWSA program. For all of you that run crews, no more guessing if the person has the experience! Soon you can look at their NWSA certification verify it is real in a database. TIRAP is aligned with the NWSA certification, so the apprentice program will align with the industry standards for training. This is real change in this industry that will make a solid improvement across the tower industry. Resources will be tight at first, but when the certifications ramp up and the training improves, we will have a trained and solid workforce across the industry where this will be a career, not just a job.

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I walked the floor, and if you want to see who was on the floor, look at the list, found here, to see who was there. There is a quick list here. I have to tell you, Ensa had a really cool booth where they had climbers on their tower all day, pretty cool! GMA had a nice booth and it was big and busy, good job guys! I tried to talk to as many people as I could, no easy task.

I would like to thank all of you that came up to me and said hi. There were too many to name them all. Most of you I have talked to on Facebook, LinkedIn, or email. I want you all to stay in touch. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you thought of the conference. I gave most of you my card, but all of you that read this or listen to the podcast know that I can be reached at Yes, I may be slow to get back to you, but you know I will if you send me something to talk about.

I know that I have been covering drones a lot this year, and I spent quite a bit of time with Matt of Unmanned Experts and a commercial pilot and a certified flight instructor, 970-231-5807,, but you could see drones everywhere at the show. Matt was at the Tower Safety and Instruction booth,, where he is training drone pilots for them.

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I spent some time at the Hazon booth, where they had their new drone with a carbon fiber body on display, pretty cool. It was really light and sturdy. One of the main problems with drones is that they are delicate and break very easily. Not something you can ship, especially when the professionals spend over $100K on a drone. It ain’t cheap folks! They currently do some testing on towers but they have done so much work for the utility companies already.

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I also got to spend some time with Lee Priest of Etak,, who showed me how they do 3D modeling of the tower by taking photos with the GPS metadata in them all around the tower to build a beautiful model that looks like the real tower but you can get the AGL of almost anything on the tower.

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Best stickers of the show go to Rope and Rescue,, where my friend Jacob Wallace gave me some stickers that he designed and made. Good job Jacob. To be honest he sent me some before and I want to thank him for sharing. Thanks Jacob!

I want to point something out that’s really cool, Comstar, , has a great training program that is geared to get you off on the right foot in this industry. I spent some time with Rick Ledford who has an amazing program. They have a 6 week accredited program that they vets can use the GI bill, it’s really quite impressive. What’s that, you want to work with fiber? Well they have a great program for fiber technician work. By the way, if you think you just spend time there and get your certificate, think again. You will need to pass a test to get the certification. Skaters fail, workers win!

However, what really caught my attention was the body cameras he is developing for the tower industry. I will tell you more after I interview Rick for this blog, but that is a teaser. I see it as innovative, it goes way beyond what GoPro can do!

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OK, I gave you enough for today. I plan to tell you a lot more.

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

See ya!

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