Amid boom times for
its member companies, the National Association of Tower Erectors will
open the doors of San Diego’s Town and Country Resort &
Convention Center for the organization’s annual convention and
exhibition, Feb. 24–27.
“It’s a very
busy time in the industry,” said NATE Executive Director Todd
Schlekeway. “You had all of the LTE 4G buildouts ongoing. Verizon
has completed their network, they’re actually back out doing
Advanced Wireless Service installation. AT&T is actually
finishing their 4G buildout, and T-Mobile and Sprint are just
“That demand has
led to a huge workforce demand, and there’s a shortage of workers
in our industry.”
NATE also is
rebranding the convention NATE UNITE.
“It summarizes our
efforts to bring the entire industry, and the carriers, tower owners
and tower construction firms that are the largest part of our
membership,” said Schlekeway.
“There’s a whole
ecosystem, [including] the broadcast group, that has a vital role in
our industry. NATE UNITE represents bringing everyone united to work
together to promote safety in the industry.”
association was founded by companies whose primary function was
erecting, servicing, constructing or maintaining communication towers
or similar structures. The hallmark of NATE, headquartered in South
Dakota, has been worker safety; the first and last of its several
mission statements mention safety, and the convention program
includes a healthy dose of relevant sessions.
“We double down
on safety,” said Schlekeway. “We think each member company needs
to create that culture of safety within their own organization, and
each individual employee needs to make it paramount, a top priority,
every time they step on a tower site.”
This year NATE has
expanded certification courses offered at its convention to include
the NATE Authorized Climber Course, NATE Competent Climber/Competent
Rescuer Course, OSHA 10-Hour Training Course, Medium Intensity
Lighting (LED) Installation and Maintenance Course, a PIM (Passive
InterModulation) Testing Certification Course, and a Competent
Rigging/Signaling Course. Participants must register in advance, and
be employed by a NATE member company.
The NATE convention
will provide three tracks of educational sessions: Technical,
Leadership and Administrative. These will update attendees on how
technological advancements and standards will affect project
performance and implementation.
“You’ll see an eclectic mix of exhibitors — we have the
manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers of the equipment, telecom
equipment, the RF safety equipment, the safety harnesses and lifting
equipment, and the personal protective equipment that tower climbers
He adds, “We have
a lot of training companies that are members of NATE, and most of
them exhibit at our show. The exhibit floor is an important part of
the networking and offering leads to our member companies, and
getting exposed to new products that are coming on the market, and
IF YOU GO
What: NATE UNITE 2014 Conference & Exposition
Who: Companies and individuals involved with or interested in broadcast and telecommunication tower erection, service and maintenance industry.
Where: Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego
When: Feb. 24–27
How Much: $149–$449 (before Feb. 14), $259–$599
The NATE convention
could also be fertile ground for broadcast radio tower owners
shopping for communications companies looking to site their antennas.
“There’s such a
demand right now,” said Schlekeway. “Of course it’s going to
hinge on what type a structure the tower is, and whether it’s
structurally sound enough to host more antennas and more equipment.”
With the cellular
network companies driving demand for NATE member’s services, it’s
appropriate that the organization’s convention be keynoted by
Martin Cooper, chairman and co-founder of Dyna LLC, co-founder of
ArrayComm LLC, and innovator of the Jitterbug cellphone and service.
Cooper conceived the
first portable cellular phone in 1973 and is recognized as an
innovator in spectrum management. He has been involved in, and
contributed to, numerous innovations in personal wireless
communications in his 50-year career. Radio industry readers take
note: He also was involved in Motorola’s AM stereo efforts.
address will be delivered starting at noon at the NATE Keynote
Speaker Luncheon on Feb. 26.
speaker will be Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health, who will speak at the Feb. 25 NATE
Keynote Speaker Luncheon, starting at noon.
secretary, according to an official biography, he has worked to
strengthen the agency’s enforcement in high-risk industries,
improve OSHA’s whistleblower protection program, promote
commonsense worker protection programs and standards, expand
compliance assistance provided to small employers, and increase
outreach to the vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk for
work-related injury and illness. He has also increased OSHA’s focus
and capabilities in the areas of data analysis and program
Sessions at the
conference will address topics such as “The Primary Reason for
Tower Accidents,” “Overloaded Mounts and Your Safety,” “LED
Lighting” and “Social Media, Networking and Marketing for the
Tower Industry.” Exhibits take place on Tuesday and Wednesday of