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Andrew Birch and Robert Gray Of GrayBirch Construction On How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives

An Interview With David Liu

Relationship Building — Your clients and their needs are the heart of your business. Take the time to get to know them, their goals and values.

5G infrastructure is being installed around the world. At the same time, most people have not yet seen what 5G can offer. What exactly is 5G? How will it improve our lives? What are the concerns that need to be addressed before it is widely adopted?

In our series, called, How 5G Technology May Improve and Impact Our Lives, we are talking to tech and telecom leaders who can share how 5G can impact and enhance our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Birch and Robert Gray.

Andrew Birch and Robert Gray own and run GrayBirch Construction in Lake Elsinore, California. The founders have over 45 years of combined experience in project and operations management in wireless communication systems, hydrogen fueling stations, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and retail construction.

Andrew and Robert work together on the company’s day-to-day operations, strategic planning, project management, and client relations.

Current projects include new and upgrades to T-Mobile, Verizon & Dish Network cellular sites, hydrogen fueling station and EV charging stations, and commercial retail planning and construction.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Andrew: For me, it was getting nominated for the Edison Award for innovation in construction. The award for which we took second place was for improving construction durations for hydrogen fueling facilities in California for public/commercial use. We shortened construction durations from 23+ weeks down to 9 weeks.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

(Andrew) If you’re going to fail, fail fast.

The sooner you fail, the sooner we can, as a team, generate ideas on how to fix the problem and then learn from it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

(Andrew) My wife Leslie has been my biggest cheerleader and supporter. She has always pushed me beyond what I thought possible.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Innovation: Construction companies rely on traditional plastic conduits to house wires and cables. Plastic is a material that has been in short supply since the pandemic. Instead of delaying projects, we pivoted to using resin-based conduits. The change kept us busy at a time when other businesses stalled and decreased our bottom line as certain resins cost 35% less than plastic.

2. Motivating teams and being involved at the ground level: We are actively involved in every project we are working on, as a team we all celebrate and share our successes, and it gives us all the opportunity to be involved in the lessons learned from our failures.

3. Building relationships: Putting clients first and foremost, anticipating their needs and being an honest and trusted partner for them. For instance, if there is a more economically beneficial way to complete a project, even if it’s not beneficial to our firm, we’ll still present that option to them.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects? How do you think that will help people?

Every project is exciting for us and unique in the challenges it brings, from antenna adds for telecom projects, ADU installs for the mother-in-law, to EV chargers for a greener California.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Like 4G, 5G has many different facets, and I’m sure many will approach this question differently. But for the benefit of our readers can you explain to us what 5G is? How is 5G different from its predecessor 4G?

Every generation of wireless technology has encompassed at least one defining feature that has changed the way we send, receive, and consume information. 4G’s higher transfer rate made it possible for us to stream television shows, films and video with minimal buffering. Decreased latency and higher bandwidth paved the way for ridesharing and delivery apps to forever change public transportation and the way we shop. Video conferencing became the norm for most businesses and kept us connected to loved ones during the pandemic.

Can you share three or four ways that 5G might improve our lives? If you can please share an example, for each.

5G is poised to be the fastest broadband service that’s ever existed. It addresses the need to have reliable wireless access available in areas that have historically struggled from weak signals, dead zones and communications latency.

This new technology will support the advent of Web 3.0, the metaverse and augmented reality, enabling us to have immersive and more inclusive experiences in all facets of our lives.

5G aims to level the playing field for entrepreneurs and small businesses regardless of their geographic location. Business owners and founders will have the same access to resources and education that larger cities have been privy to for quite some time.

It will also provide access to underserved communities by building wireless hubs and kiosks where anyone with a device and plan can connect to free high-speed internet and charge their devices.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this 5G technology that people should think more deeply about?

There are going to be drawbacks with any period of development. For example, the Industrial Revolution gave birth to many inventions, such as the light bulb, the steam engine, and the telegraph. It also, in part, led to poor working conditions, pollution, and devalued handmade goods.

5G will enable us to have tremendous experiences online from the comfort of our homes, but we still need to unplug and spend real face time with people and invest in our communities. Today, we have awareness around the notion of something being too much of a good thing and have initiatives to support any potential issues that may arise.

Some have raised the question that 5G might widen the digital divide and leave poor people or marginalized people behind. From your perspective, what can be done to address and correct this concern?

The key is expansion, and 5G has the unique ability to surpass all previous generations in its reach. Rural areas that have long been dead zones will finally have internet access, significantly impacting a community’s economic growth and education system. Students will have more tools and opportunities to connect with resources that were once physically out of reach. Small businesses will be able to work faster and more efficiently and utilize platforms that will help them grow and be competitive with companies located in more densely populated parts of the country.

Urban areas are positioned to reap a multitude of benefits that 5G has to offer. There are citywide programs, such as LinkNYC, that aim to provide free wireless kiosks throughout New York City. However, the U.S. is lagging many other countries in deploying fiber optics. While 5G has the potential to reach uncharted territory, the federal government and investors need to put dollars behind creating the infrastructure necessary to reach lower-income areas and underserved communities. Wireless companies should follow suit by offering affordable pricing to eliminate any financial barrier to those who need it.

Excellent. We are nearly done. Let’s zoom out a bit and ask a more general question.

Based on your experience and success, what are the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career in the telecommunication industry?

  1. Adaptability — We’ve had to adapt to the times and change our plans many times throughout our careers. The ability to pivot and embrace innovation will set you apart from your competitors.
  2. Relationship Building — Your clients and their needs are the heart of your business. Take the time to get to know them, their goals and values.
  3. Taking Risks — Albert Einstein famously said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” To grow as a business, you must be willing to fail and learn from your mistakes.
  4. Positive Leadership — Be the person you want to work for.
  5. Compassion — Our employees are like family, and we treat them with dignity and respect. Creating a company culture where people feel heard and are supported goes a long way in becoming a successful business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We pride ourselves on being a hands-on company that values relationships and accessibility to and for all. Communication contributes to economic growth, better education, more inclusivity, and opportunities for future generations. Connectivity also aids people in crisis, such as safety for women and children. We’d love to launch a program that brings telecommunications to underserved populations and disadvantaged groups in California.

We are also deeply committed to California’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and energy storage initiatives. Currently, we build four EV stations for every one hydrogen station. Hydrogen is more energy efficient, has no negative impact on the environment (including the production of hydrogen gas), achieves longer driving distances, and (in the long run) is the most cost-effective choice. We urge companies to care for the environment and avoid a statewide energy shortage by building more hydrogen fuel stations. This is something we already do but would like to connect with other like-minded businesses to raise awareness and advocate for clean air.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can find out more about our work at www.graybirchconstruction.com and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @graybirchconstruction.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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David Liu

David Liu

134 Followers

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication