Datapath Tower’s two principals share a long history of building public safety and municipal towers.
Bill Tinsley and Curt Jones have both been in the in the communications business a long time — in fact, for all of their professional lives.
Tinsley and Jones, CEO and president, respectively, of Datapath Tower, St. Petersburg, Florida, both started their with early careers in communications, then they worked together to build towers for the first Statewide Law Enforcement Radio Systems (SLERS) in Florida. Next they teamed up to build public safety towers all over Florida, and now they’re running a tower company together. Datapath Tower owns 15 towers and has another 20 in development.
“We had the privilege of leading the SLERS build out and operations in the state of Florida,” Tinsley said. “We have built towers in just about every county in Florida. And then the counties asked us to build more. When Jeb Bush unified communications system in the state of Florida, Curt and I were designated to lead the program management and operations teams. We worked on the same system: a 210-site system with seven dispatch centers and eight switching centers. It took us five years to get it all built.” And once they did that, the two continued to operate and expand the system. In year 10, they began to build enhancement sites for SLERS.
Before Jones joined Datapath, he served as director of operations and project management for SLERS. After more than 20 years of operations and project management experience in government and the wireless industry, Jones spent 14 years directing both the build out and operations of SLERS.
Jones has worked with nearly every vendor providing services for radio communications systems in the Southeast United States. Following the award of his masters of public administration from the University of Central Florida in 1985, Jones joined the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office as senior administrative officer, where he was in charge of a 911 center with 4,400 users. He went on to work for Ericsson and then was hired back to work on state of Florida system.
Meanwhile, Tinsley, before founding Datapath Tower, was a senior executive with consistently demonstrated success within two large international corporations. He first served in the U.S. Army for eight years, graduating from the U.S. Army Signal Officers School. He is a combat veteran and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism during his military service. He later graduated from Texas State University where he majored in business and electronics engineering technology.
The Datapath Tower Story
Today, Datapath Tower performs mostly public safety and municipal work, specializing in building public safety towers for municipalities. The company employs five individuals and owns several towers. Datapath partners with financial institutions familiar with and supportive of government and municipal lending. The company’s primary focus is the southeastern United States.
“We’re also getting interest from the states of Virginia and Tennessee, and we’re looking at expanding into those states,” said Tinsley. “We’ll grow doing county work — our niche — as a natural extension, working with adjacent states. We’ll continue to grow and build the company by building on our current relationships and partnering to build the towers. One of the advantages of our firm is that we know the public safety world. We know the government world.
“We know the civilian cellular carrier world. So when you think about building a tower, we know what’s going to happen to it — considering all of these different worlds. So we end up with a pretty good product that satisfies everybody,” he added.
Jones said, “We build towers for municipalities, work with the major radio communications companies, and we have contracts partnering to build the towers. We help the county by lowering the cost of ownership. Datapath’s approach is to step in for counties and cities that don’t have the immediate capital and human resources to develop their own towers.”
The company’s strategy is to cut through the red tape, building new towers, purchasing existing towers, upgrading old tower systems and leasing space on towers, along with providing tower management and maintenance. Jones said many cities and municipalities aren’t particularly good at leasing and don’t want to be in the tower business.
Tinsley and Jones worked together for more than 16 years before deciding to run a tower company together. After almost a year together at Datapath, the relationship continues to thrive. “We’re good friends and complement each other well,” Tinsley said. “Since coming on board, Curt has taken on the daily operations of running the company. This has allowed me to focus on growth strategy, partners, and back-office support. We have another key employee, Nick D’Amico, who greatly assists both of us in keeping the company growing.”
When asked where he expected Datapath Tower to be in five years, Tinsley said it will be a more significant and well-known company supporting federal, state and county public safety organizations. “That’s what we know, where we started, and what we love to do,” he said. “Now we’re in Florida and Georgia. With current invitations from other states, we see expansion happening sooner rather than later.”
Mike Harrington is a freelance writer in Prairie Village, Kansas.