Earl's is a family business that was in the same location in Idaho Falls, Idaho for 65 years, and 4 generations of Earl's have worked in the family business.
Earl's builds and owns communications towers in East Idaho. We have been raising towers for 30 years. Some of them are in unusual environmentally sensitive areas. At one such tower, the equipment shelter is an underground concrete vault. Some sites have the antennas painted to blend in with the surrounding features.
One tower was built in the summer of 2004 on Relay Ridge which is West of Driggs. Two more towers were built in early 2002 in the Driggs Valley - a 200ft. tower in Clementsville and a 150ft. Tower in Driggs.
We are currently working on projects for Cellular and PCS companies around the world. What we do is take digital pictures of a proposed tower site and add a tower, building, and antennas to show a comparison of what the site looks like now, and what it will look like when the site is completed.
This makes it easier for the Site Acquisition people to get a lease from the property owner. It is easier to get a building permit when the Zoning Departments can see what the visual impact will be on the property - usually a lot less impact that what they imagine.
One company we have done digital picture manipulation for is Edge Wireless (now part of AT&T). Edge Wireless was a PCS company (formed in January 2000) that offered PCS Service in Southern Idaho, Oregon, and Northern California. The Southern Idaho system went online in 2001. Earl's assisted in: Site Imaging, Site Selection, Engineering, Leasing, and permitting.
Earl's Wireless Communications growth is a result of hard work from four generations of our family members.
YELLOWSTONE TOURIST PARK: In 1937 Chauncy Earl (Steve's Grandfather) started Earl's by renting out cabins and selling gas to people on their way to Yellowstone.
EARL'S FOOD STORES: Grant Earl (Steve's Dad) started to bring in bread and cereal from other stores and marked it up for a little profit. This went so well that they started to bring vacant cabins over to the main building for expansion. In the mid 1950's Earl's turned into one of the largest grocery stores in Idaho Falls with two stores and plans for a third.
EARL'S WIRELESS: In the 60's Steve Earl went off to college aspiring to be an electronics technician/engineer at NASA. The NASA Moon Program he was studying for was dropped (Government cut backs). He came home to work for his Dad. In the meantime Steve started to repair and sell a few CB radios. Earl's turned into the largest 2-Way Radio Distributor in the North West. Then came VHF and UHF FM Two Way Radio Systems. Grant's previous wireless experience in World War II was helpful. He was a radio operator - placing "fixes" on allied aircraft and directing fighter aircraft to targets.
SMR: In the 80's Earl's got involved with a mobile phone system called SMR (Special Mobilized Radio). SMR was a two way radio that also waas a telephone. Earl's Wireless Communications was one of the most progressive dealers in the intermountain area. Earl's built and maintained eight radio towers in Eastern Idaho for their SMR system. One repeater building in Driggs was even built underground as the people there did not want to see anything but trees. Earl's also offered paging services.
CONSULTING: In early 2000, Earl's was contacted by a new wireless PCS company called Edge wireless LLC - an AT&T affiliate. Earl's assisted Edge Wireless helping them in selecting, locating, leasing, and permitting new wireless sites for their new PCS System. In less than 9 months Earl's helped lease 90 tower sites in Southern Idaho.
In today's fast paced changing world, you have to "go with the flow' if you want to stay around. Small independent wireless companies could not compete with the giants. Therefor we sold our SMR System to Sprint Nextel in September of 2000. In June of 2001 we sold most of our towers to SBA Communications. In November of 2001, we sold our Two Way Radio and Paging business to Mountainland Communications. We then closed our our retail electronics store and Earl's Food Store. Now we can concentrate on the parts of our business that are growing and viable.
TOWERS: One new tower was built in 2004 and two new towers were built in 2002.
The newest tower on Relay Ridge was designed to hold large microwave dishes and PCs antennas under heavy ice loading and strong winds.
The towers built in 2002 are 150ft. tall in Driggs and 200 ft. tall in Clementsville. They were designed to hold 6 carriers each, as required by the Driggs County Planning and Zoning Department. Teton County is one of only a couple Counties in Idaho that plans well to reduce visual impact. The P&Z also passed an ordinance that there could be no more towers built in Teton County until our two new towers are fully loaded. Now there will only be a couple towers visible in the County in stead of 10 or 12.
Edge currently has the top spot on each tower and they turned on their systems in the middle of March 2002. They sold hundreds of phone on the first day!
Earl's also has other tower sites that we are marketing to the Wireless Industry.
EMPLOYEES: An interesting sidelight is that many former people from Earl's now work for other wireless companies. Jeff Cooke is now Edge Wireless's Network Operations Manager. Shad Rydalch, Steve's son in law, is an RF Engineer for AT&T. Rex Portmann, was Edge's Lands Manager for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Kristi Portmann did Site Building Permits for Edge. Terry Warner, is now a Site Technician for US Cellular. David Earl, Steve's son, is the Senior Systems Engineer for Broadcast Australia. He currently manages their NOC (Network Operations Center) monitoring over 200 tower sites. He is monitoring installation of 600 more tower sites in 2018-2019. Previously he worked for Motorola overseeing three nationwide radio systems with 25,000+ subscribers - most of them are government agencies. David monitored all of Motorola's Radio Sites and Technicians in Australia. Steve's son William was the head in house technician for Kansas Broadband. He has also worked for multiple computer service companies. Steve's son-in-law Rhett Hays has worked for wireless ISPs, and schoold districts in IP. He is currently a driver for CR England Trucking.