Towers have been a big part of Anne Hayes’s life ever since she was 10 years old and her father built his first telecommunications tower. Anne was on-site during part of the construction of the first tower Charlie Hayes built. “My dad was always very intentional about involving my brother and me in the business,” she said.
Charles S. Hayes founded Hayes Towers in South Bend, Indiana, in 1994, and Anne Hayes has been a board member of the firm from the beginning. Today, as president and director of business development, Hayes’ job is to build and maintain relationships with Hayes Towers’ clients. She’s also involved with all aspects of tower development from initial site acquisition to the management and operation of completed towers. As the majority owner of the company, Hayes is also exploring new business opportunities that are available to certified woman-owned businesses.
These days, Hayes Towers, with its headquarters still in South Bend, has three full-time employees, including Anne Hayes.
Katrina Marquardt has been Hayes Towers’ facilities manager for 14 years. Marquardt is responsible for performing site due diligence and construction management of telecommunication facilities, for ensuring that upkeep and safety standards are maintained at all of the Hayes Towers locations and for maintaining company compliance with local, state and federal guidelines.
Mo Miller has been Hayes Towers’ chief financial officer for more than 10 years and is responsible for accounting and financially related matters. A certified public accountant, Miller has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. She has more than 20 years of experience in public accounting and private industry.
“I am grateful for the depth of industry knowledge that Mo and Katrina bring to the office every day,” Hayes said. “Additionally, I was lucky to work with and learn from our former vice president, Kerry Wallace, who worked for our company for 18 years. And my dad has been an amazing mentor. We have a great team, and we complement and challenge each other in different ways. Best of all, we have fun.”
Hayes said the three women work well as a team and often participate in meetings together, so everyone is fully aware of new projects and initiatives. “As facilities manager, Katrina spends a lot of time visiting sites and working with grounds and maintenance crews,” Hayes said. “I spend more of my time growing and maintaining our business relationships. Although we each have our own areas of expertise, we are cross-trained so that everyone is always able to help a client or work on a project.”
Hayes Towers focuses primarily on regional business development. There are 23 towers in Hayes Towers’ portfolio, with several additional towers at various stages of development. Many of these towers are in South Bend. Most of the towers are in Indiana, including Elkhart, Warsaw and Rochester. Otherwise, Hayes maintains two towers in nearby Michigan and is the process of building one in Missouri. Most of the tower builds are taking place in Indiana and Michigan, although the firm has also worked on or is involved in projects in Ohio, Texas and Missouri.
“Because the majority of our towers are within driving distance of our office, we are able to ensure firsthand that our sites are well maintained and are accessible to tower crews,” Hayes said. “Towers that are further away are still visited by us regularly, and we work with local partners to ensure they stay in pristine condition. Hayes Towers will build to suit, and we make the collocation process on existing towers easy for our customers.” As far as maintenance contractors are concerned, the company has good, longstanding relationships with a select few companies to maintain the grounds, to manage construction and maintain its sites.
Hayes Towers doesn’t have contracts for build-to-suit towers with carriers, but the company does build towers on a case-by-case basis. “We’ve cultivated positive relationships with many carriers on the regional level,” Hayes said. “In many cases those relationships enabled us to expand our portfolio to new regions.” Hayes Towers also does collocation and owns a telecom park.
According to the Hayes Towers website, Telecompark, is constructed as a South Bend, city-centered communications base. “It offers flexibility, capacity and stability for telecommunications providers looking to be strategically positioned and immediately adjacent to the city center, Ignition Park: 140 acres of developing new-tech industries, and the St. Joseph Valley Metronet (a fiber-optic network with practically unlimited bandwidth and speed),” the website reads.
Hayes Towers’ largest customers are AT&T and Sprint, followed by T-Mobile and Verizon. The company performs quite a bit of work with local customers. For example, it owns a 1,042-foot broadcast tower that hosts a local PBS television station and the local NPR radio affiliate as well as smaller Internet providers. “We are a small business and like to work with other small companies, so we host local Internet providers on several of our towers,” Hayes said. “We even work with a local ham radio operator on one of our towers. As our motto states: ‘Hayes Towers provides infrastructure to the telecommunications industry,’ and we enjoy working with everyone from the small ham radio operator to television broadcast companies to major cellular carriers.”
When asked if her company used site-acquisition specialists, Hayes said that the employees of Hayes Towers are site-acquisition specialists. “We know this area very well and have successfully found locations to build towers in some of the most difficult search rings,” Hayes said. “We also work closely with site-acquisition personnel who are contracted by major carriers and who enjoy strong relationships with these specialists.”
Meanwhile, on the government side of business, Hayes Towers has built two towers for the Integrated Public Safety Commission. “We also work with state, county and city police and county fire departments that collocate on several of our towers,” Hayes said. “Towers play a pivotal role in enabling important communication, and now more than ever municipalities are working together to enhance emergency communication systems. We would like to continue and grow our involvement in this arena.”
As for future possibilities, Hayes said the company is ready to build more and looks forward to the opportunity to expand its portfolio of towers. “Like everyone else, we experienced slow growth during the recession, but we continue to generate new business and look forward to the future,” Hayes said. “Our main focus and area of strength is the Midwest, and although we are open to expansion into other regions, we want to be deliberate in our growth, so as to maintain our high-quality sites.”
Mike Harrington is a free-lance writer.
History of Hayes Towers
As a sixth grader in the 1950s, Charlie Hayes began pursuing his interest in radio communications as a ham radio operator in the basement of his parents’ home. Purchasing World War II surplus parts and equipment, he would build radio transmitters and communicate with other ham radio operators throughout the world.
Since that time, his education and career have centered on the intersection of business and engineering. Hayes graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1965 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. After working as a trader at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, he moved his family back to South Bend and bought and operated a local radio station. From there, he founded a beeper company, Alert Paging, and in 1987 he built his first radio communications tower, a 400-foot tower in Warsaw, Indiana. Since that time, Charlie and his experienced team have built and managed more than 100 towers in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.