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He related the story of one client from Illinois who had a vacation spot in the Northwoods. That client referred Kaiser to a colleague in Montana, and one in Utah.“I had no job,” he said, “but I had a customer list.”

That list was the basis for a venture, Reach Amplification in Wausau, that just celebrated 15 years of keeping businesses in touch with clients, and each other.

Kaiser started working out of his garage, continuing with the same type of phone repair and service he’d been doing. Some lessons he learned the hard way.

About 12 years ago, a university from New York sent Kaiser an email asking him to place an order for them, but he didn’t have a device capable of receiving emails at the time.

“It was back when BlackBerries were around,” he said. “I missed their email and by the time I got back into the office and called them, they said they had just ordered from somebody else. I ran out and bought a BlackBerry about 20 minutes later.”

And as sure as analog flip phones evolved into the digital multimedia communication devices of today, Kaiser’s skill set kept stride.

“I was primarily device repair and hands-free for about three years,” Kaiser said. “Then, we got into (signal) amplification and mobile booster plans. We did a lot in the logging industry.”

Kaiser studied architecture in college and was able to follow his passion, as well as a business opportunity, with signal amplification.

“I saw more growth opportunity in that,” he said, adding that his knowledge and understanding of building design dovetailed nicely with his understanding of cellular signals. “I knew about building materials and window glazing and how to make it fit.”

Then, just when you figure out where all the pieces fit in the puzzle, someone comes along and upends the entire table. Or in this, case something. When the novel coronavirus began hitting the United States in late winter and Gov. Tony Evers – along with others in other states – began ordering the closure of businesses in mid-March, working from home became a new way of business life.

It presented yet another type of boost for Kaiser and Reach.

“People are dependent so much more on their cell phones today,” he said.

With the advent of 5G (fifth-generation cellular communication technology) businesses that make the switch will be able to transmit more data, faster.

“It doesn’t penetrate buildings very well,” Kaiser said of the 5G signal, “but it can carry a lot more data. It will require different equipment, more antennas.”

Whether it’s incoming 5G or current cellular capabilities, how is a business to know when it’s time to upgrade?

“Building materials can have something to do with it,” said Mark Voss, project manager who’s been with Kaiser for more than a decade. “Asphalt is better than metal, vinyl siding is better than aluminum …”

Kaiser added that while dropped calls or static could be a carrier problem, “If you have a good signal in one part of the building but not in another one, like a lower level, you might be looking at amplification. We do consulting, too.

Connectivity has reached into rural areas, which can affect work-from-home situations, but it’s also expanded from people to things.

“Everything is connected now,” Kaiser said. “From banks and ATMs to gas stations and credit-card processing to vending machines that are connected via cell signal. Vendors will show up with racks filled with exactly what needs to be filled.”

With vending machines sometimes in basements or bad-signal areas, even those can sometimes benefit from a boosted signal.

Despite all the advances in business technology that Kaiser and Reach Amplification have seen over the years, a big key to their success has remained good old-fashioned word of mouth.

“It’s probably 90 percent of our customers,” he said, noting that Reach now has clients and customers in 43 states. “We have Greenheck systems here, and they have buildings all over.”

It (5G signal) doesn’t penetrate buildings very well, but it can carry a lot more data. It will require different equipment, more antennas.

— Ryan Kaiser, owner,

Reach Amplification,

Wausau

In the world of telecommunications, “word of mouth” spreads a lot farther than it once did.

“What we do can be very confusing to some people,” said Valerie Carrillo, principal for Reach Amplification’s telecom-management services. “That’s why we do a weekly blog covering topics businesses care about. Rather than they go talk to four or five vendors, I can do that and we can make it understandable.”