Stealth Concealment Solutions has spent over 25 years designing, engineering and furnishing camouflaging systems for the wireless industry. In that time, the company that founded the concealment industry has learned — sometimes through trial and error — that there’s a right way to save customers time, money and resources.
Concealment Best Practices
Having completed more than 20,000 concealment projects since the early 1990s and working with every carrier in every state nationwide, Stealth understands the challenges a concealment project can present. Yet, the company also knows how to avoid common obstacles before they derail a project. Stealth has assembled some best practices that, when adhered to, help expedite timelines, reduce manpower and maximize budgets across a myriad of concealment projects.
“We’ve identified common underlying components that contributed to our most successful projects,” said Sean McLernon, the company’s CEO. “We believe it’s our responsibility to pass this knowledge on to our partners and clients. This includes what price really means when evaluating a bid, the best stage to involve a concealment partner in a project, how to standardize certain aspects of a concealment project to optimize resources, plus how to plan now for the future.”
Today’s savvy customers are looking well beyond price to determine which company should win a particular concealment bid, including evaluating expertise.
“We always recommend looking at a company’s experience — who’s done the type of work needed most often, demonstrating real-world examples of actual installations in the field,” McLernon said. “The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And after 25 years, we’ve seen it all, from finding a solution for tricky concealment spaces including historic sites, urban and suburban areas, academic campuses and city parks, tomajor sports stadium projects. Not to mention the evolution of mobile communications standards from 3G to 5G wireless preparations and everything in between.”
One piece of advice when looking beyond price, especially for a Fortune 100 company, is to consider the financial strength of potential collaborators, which will ultimately affect partnership longevity.
“Forming a partnership with an industry leader who has proven themselves time and time again is an important consideration when evaluating concealment bids,” McLernon said. “Anticipating which companies are going to be there for the long haul can impact the long-term success of a company’s concealment portfolio.”
Before embarking on a concealment initiative, remember there is definitely truth to the age-old adage, “You get what you pay for.” When evaluating the true cost of ownership for a concealment project, it is good to know that there is always a more expensive investment up front, including time, money and resources. However, with a strong partner, the final product will last for a decade or more, if best practices are incorporated into the planning and execution stages.
Any veteran Stealth employee will advise customers to involve a concealment partner as early as possible in a project plan.
“Over the years, we’ve seen customers get the most bang for their buck when it comes to their concealment project if they involve us from the beginning,” McLernon said.
Clients often find it necessary to tackle multiple concealment projects at one time. Stealth has learned that understanding the big picture — from a 360-degree vantage point — is essential to get ahead of varying factors that can affect a project negatively from the bottom up. This includes aspects that can place a burden on budget, timelines and resources. However, with early involvement, an expert concealment company can advise a client on how to avoid these obstacles.
“Being present during the planning stages allows us to minimize material costs and shorten the window on approvals and overall timelines,” McLernon said. “We’ve seen scenarios where engineering resources were shared and both time and money was saved, but that’s only because we had insight into the bigger picture early on in the process.”
Believe it or not, standardization in the concealment business is a necessary best practice. As Henry Ford, the innovator of systematic processes, said, “If you think of standardization as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow; you get somewhere.”
Concealment projects should be approached the same way. There are techniques to standardize the foundation of many projects, so as not to continuously reinvent the wheel, but with enough flexibility to incorporate client requests and mandatory components needed for local government approval. Then, as regulations evolve, improvements will follow.
“At Stealth, we are always investigating how we can standardize an aspect of a product to use over and over again, but also add different nuances to meet unique client needs. We are looking for the most cost-effective option coupled with time- and resource-efficient ways to make concealment projects work. We’re able to utilize this type of standardization plus consider the township or municipality where projects will live to create a perfect marriage between the two,” McLernon said.
When making decisions about a particular project, think about the long-term needs, not just what is obligatory in today’s world. Your company will benefit over the long term by hiring a concealment partner to maintain, not just create, your concealment portfolio
“Concealment materials are vastly different than regular building materials, and you’ll want to get the maximum life out of every project,” McLernon said. “Additionally, always keep in mind the first and foremost reason for concealment is to let the signal through. No matter how complex or fancy a concealment project can get, we always have to focus primarily on functionality.”
When planning today for tomorrow, there are two key guidelines for achieving long-term success:
· Build concealment projects to spec, based on proper planning and evaluation of variables.
· Update infrastructure based on changes in the telecommunications world that could impede ongoing performance.
Remember that your concealment partner should be flexible with customization as wireless standards evolve.
“At Stealth, we’re always thinking long-term about how to ensure that as infrastructure changes, our clients’ won’t necessarily have to redo concealment projects,” McLernon said. “Of course, updates will be necessary, but it’s remodeling rather than rebuilding. These considerations avoid unnecessary resource drain.”
When approaching any type of concealment project — rooftops, small cells, DAS or others — consider adhering to best practices beginning with the planning stage. When evaluating bids, be sure to recognize the importance of factors beyond price. Once a partner is identified, involve the company early on in the project to optimize efficiencies. Lastly, think about your concealment portfolio now in anticipation of future telecommunications requirements. Savvy wireless professionals are finding success with this approach.
Keara Piekanski is the owner and marketing maven at Two Cents Consulting. Stealth Concealment Solutions designs, engineers and furnishes camouflaging systems for the wireless industry. Visit www.stealthconcealment.com.