Every year, Brian Crommett puts about a million dollars into the ground.
As the Sales and Service Manager for 702 Communications, that’s his job. He and his team provide Internet access for local companies via DSL, DSX, OCX, and Ethernet as well as wholesale bandwidth, Long Distance, and fiber transport. Every year, Crommett said, they put about a million dollars worth of fiber into the ground for their customers to be able to access high-speed Internet.
For a local company in their 15th year of business, 702 has done very well considering the intense competition of over eight other Internet service providers. They service major customers like Sanford, Bell State Bank, and Concordia College – the latter of which continues to buy more bandwidth every year, Crommett said (if you’re a Cobber, this means good news for Internet speed in the dorms!).
They also service many local apartment complexes, having installed gigabit Internet for 6 or 7 apartment complexes here in Fargo this year with 6 or 7 already lined up for next year. Crommett also shared that they recently signed a deal to provide basic TV service to 27 buildings with Valley Rental management company starting in 2015.
But Crommett also pays special attention to the smaller names in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Names like local startup Myriad Mobile, the Fargo Startup House, CoCo Fargo, and our offices at Emerging Prairie, are all equipped with 702 Communications’ gigabit Internet. The connection between 702 Communications and these businesses signifies the real vision Crommett has for the company. That is, to build lasting relationships and stimulate the vibrant energy of the F/M community, he said.
“We want to find the next Myriad, and we want to see the guys in the Startup House succeed and start their own businesses. And we want to see CoCo blow up here,” he said. “We want more of this type of stuff here in Fargo.”
This, Crommett said, is what sets 702 Communications apart from some of their other competitors. Being a small, locally based company (their office is located at 702 Main Ave. – hence the name), they are able to be nimble and cater to the community, he said.
It sets them apart from large companies like Midcontinent Communications, which got a lot of press this fall when announcing they were bringing gigabit Internet statewide. Many people didn’t realize gigabit was already available through 702 Communications, Crommett said.
“We just need more and more people to be aware of the fact that we are here, and that we can do stuff like this,” he said.
Being smaller also allows Crommett the freedom for random acts of kindness, like providing gigabit Internet for the Hack Fargo hackathon event free of charge.
“I just e-mailed Jake and said hey, I’ve heard you guys had this event, what do you guys need,” he said. “That really is the way that we want to do business in this town. We’re not going to install you and then walk away, we want to continue to have an open dialogue.”
Seeing events like this is why Crommett says he is excited to be working surrounded by the “explosive” energy in Fargo. He draws a lot of connections between the city’s growth and the history of 702 Communications, which began 15 years ago as a telephone service company. Back then, Internet was brand new. In fact, when Crommett joined 14 years ago as a temp, he was hired to do data entry because they were just bringing dial-up Internet in house. In the years since then the business has completely flip-flopped, he said.
“I think Fargo feels a lot like my business,” he said. “It’s always changing, and you don’t know what’s going to come next.”
Moving forward into 2015, Crommett says his main goals are to continue expanding with the city while keeping top of mind with the college student demographic. They are enabling direct Internet connections with local colleges, so those at NDSU who know the pains of using Blackboard, for example, can have exponentially faster service, Crommett said. He is also looking within the entrepreneurial community to reach out to other start-ups like Myriad and CoCo Fargo.
“We want the entrepreneurs to know that we’re as excited about their opportunities and their business as they are,” said Crommett, who is also a frequenter of 1 Million Cups and said he looks forward to returning in January.
Behind the scenes, he said, they continue to challenge their methods and test out new ways to do business.
“We’re not resting on our laurels at all, we’re never content with where we are,” he said. “We’re trying to find that new thing that will be better for everybody.”
Learn more about 702 Communications here.
Photos provided by Brian Crommett and Miguel Danielson.