Category: Back Office

VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES SHINE BRIGHT

The number of employees at Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc. dba Solar Negotiators increased to 78 this year. Photo contributed by Solar Negotiatiors.

Published On November 4, 2019 – 12:02 PM
Written By 

With The Business Journal’s 2019 Fastest Growing Companies list (published Oct. 25) comes a variety of companies ranging from upstarts in their industries to recognizable, household names that continue to grow today.

Three companies on the list — No. 5 Boling Air Media you might see at Fresno State games and at the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show; No. 2 Suncrest Bank has been in Tulare County since 2008, expanding beyond the Valley in recent years; and the No. 1 company, Solar Maintenance Pros dba Solar Negotiators — found success offering a variety of services in an emerging market.

 

Absorbing the rays

At the beginning of 2016, then-Solar Negotiators and Solar Maintenance Pros hadn’t yet finished the leg of their journey that brought them to being a multimillion-dollar company experiencing nearly 12,000% revenue growth over three years.

The solar brokerage firm that connected homeowners to installers was still separate from the solar panel cleaning service, Solar Maintenance Pros. But by this year, Solar Maintenance Pros surpassed Negotiators in revenue and employees. Leadership decided to combine the two companies into the same entity, offering both installations under their own contractor’s license and upkeep throughout the solar panel’s lifetime.

Owner Chris Moran started Solar Negotiators in 2009, offering consultative services to customers and contracting with a network of installers. They would do marketing, project management and consultations and “anything that didn’t require a contractor’s license,” said Leroy Coffman, president/co-owner of the now-combined Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc., dba Solar Negotiators. This allowed contractors to focus on installations instead of marketing and business development. In 2014, ownership expanded their offerings with maintenance services.

In the Central Valley’s four-county area, 10,000 solar permits are issued every year, estimates Coffman. And in the Central Valley’s dry, dusty climate, Coffman says panels should be cleaned every year to optimize efficiency. Dirty panels limit a panel’s power intake. That’s when Moran, Coffman and others started Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc.

“Solar Maintenance Pros enabled us to be more proactive in that we visit the customer site once a year and give it a visual inspection,” Coffman said. “It turned out that was a very important need that wasn’t being filled.”

Now, Coffman calls Solar Maintenance Pros the “largest provider of solar panel maintenance in the Central Valley.” They even started a company to monitor a system’s power intake and output called Solar Data Pros.

At the beginning of 2016, Solar Maintenance had 3 employees, grossing $44,095 in revenue. With the consolidated company, they now employ 78 people and in 2018, grossed $5.29 million.

“Those people are counting on that power to offset their bill,” Coffman said. “We want to become the top provider of maintenance services and cleaning services for all of those systems.”

 

Growth as a strategy

What was once limited to $99 million in assets and two branches in Tulare County ended up with more than $1 billion in assets and seven branches, stretching from Yuba City to Porterville.

Visalia-based Suncrest Bank is no stranger to lists measuring growth.

As part of a strategy of acquiring assets dating back to 2013, the 800% asset growth the bank experienced between 2013 and 2018 made them the fastest growing community bank in the nation, said Ciaran McMullan, president/CEO.

“We wanted to grow quickly and we wanted to grow by acquisition,” McMullan said.

Three successful capital raises primed them to acquire banks in Fresno, Yuba City and Sacramento, the latter two being new markets for the bank.

They called the goal “Five-in-five” — to grow by $500 million in five years. They met that goal 18 months ahead of schedule in July 2017. By their target date of May 2018, they held more than $900 million in assets.

“We surpassed even our grand ambition we set out at the end of 2013,” McMullan said.

Those assets have translated into 468% revenue growth since 2016, allowing the bank to expand from 25 employees to 108. The market expansion and asset acquisition put Suncrest in a good position long into the future, he added.

“What it does more than anything else to ready us for the future is it really deepens our talent pool,” McMullan said. “It also broadens our geographic exposure.”

 

Eye to the skies

At No. 5 on The Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies list, football fans and aeronautics advocates alike might recognize Boling Air Media’s presence in the skies.

Husband-and-wife team Chris and MaryAnn Boling started the advertising company in 2014 as a way to combine their two passions — marketing and flying.

“My passion has always been to fly, which is a very expensive hobby,” said Chris Boling.

The duo found a way to monetize the pastime by offering marketing opportunities, flying banners and blimps. While technically called a thermal airship due to its using exhaust to move and stay afloat, the company began with the “My Job Depends on Ag” blimp, said Boling. They signed a contract with Fresno State, using skydivers to bring in messages and enliven crowds during halftime shows. They’ve started making appearances at air shows, including the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show in September. They’ve done marketing campaigns for national advertisers towing banners and dropping divers to deliver messages.

“Anytime someone wants to put a message up in the air, we can find a media for them,” Boling said.

While there are only 10 pilots in the world who can fly the airship, Boling added, they rely on pilots looking for commercial certification to tow messages. Renting planes to get the necessary 1,500 hours of flying time can be expensive, he said. So, the company contracts with those pilots to deliver messages to the public.

“We’re all living out our wildest dreams thanks to this business,” he said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/valleys-fastest-growing-companies-shine-bright/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=6cd41e0e0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_04_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-6cd41e0e0c-78934409&mc_cid=6cd41e0e0c&mc_eid=a126ded657

IRS looking to fill 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Looking for a job?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking for qualified applicants to fill over 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno.

The agency is looking for clerks, data entry clerks, and tax examiners for jobs up to four months.

According to the IRS, a clerk will generally sort and open mail, tax returns and organize files. A data entry clerk’s main duty will be to key in numeric data from tax returns on a computer while a tax examiner normally reviews returns for accuracy and errors.

The agency says people of all ages can apply.

Those interested should search for job announcements on usajobs.gov with the keyword “Internal Revenue Service” and location Fresno, CA.

In September, the IRS announced it would be shutting down the Fresno tax return processing center following the 2021 season. Around 3,000 of the center’s 5,700 full-time and seasonal employees will be laid off.

Three Kern companies make the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing businesses

Three Kern County-based businesses — Grapevine MSP Technology Services and Stria LLC in Bakersfield and Tasteful Selections LLC in Arvin — have been named to 2019’s Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately held companies with revenues of more than $2 million last year.

Tasteful Selections, a grower and seller of bite-size potatoes, ranked highest among the three, coming in at number 2,440. Its growth year-over-year growth was pegged at 163 percent, according to Inc.’s website; its annual revenue was listed as $127.5 million.

Stria, a business process outsourcing company specializing in document management, ranked 4,350th with 70 percent growth and revenues of $6.1 million.

Grapevine is an information technology management firm with revenues of $4.8 million per year. Its 57-percent growth rate landed it 4,830th on the Inc. ranking.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/three-kern-companies-make-the-inc-list-of-fast-growing/article_18d4a54c-c45d-11e9-b615-2be90d1e5eca.html

T-mobile, Sprint merger means jobs, high-speed internet access throughout the Valley


T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg.

T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg. T-MOBILE PHOTO

California’s Central Valley is vast, encompassing all or part of 18 counties, and is a dominant agricultural region in our state. Despite its prominent role in contributing to our state’s agricultural production, this region is often overlooked when it comes to economic development.

We have a chance to change this — if the state can look to the future and seize the opportunity right in front of us. Discussions on the merger of T-Mobile with Sprint have led to T-Mobile making a number of significant commitments that would have a positive and lasting impact on the Central Valley and the state of California as a whole.

We have reason to be hopeful here in the Valley. The merger has secured the approval of almost all of the regulatory bodies necessary to finalize the deal. The Department of Justice is the latest to convey its approval, joining the Federal Communications Commission and state utility regulators from 18 of the 19 states required.

Of particular importance to the Central Valley is the commitment by T-Mobile to build a new Customer Experience Center in Kingsburg. The center would create approximately 1,000 new jobs in a region that is still trying to recover from the Great Recession. These are good, well-paying jobs with benefits, and applicants need only a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Given the rate of unemployment and underemployment for this particular subset of job seekers, this is very good news. High school graduates simply do not have many options in the Central Valley. Kingsburg and the surrounding communities will also benefit from the increased economic activity these new jobs will bring to the area.

The merger also addresses an issue that has existed for years: the lack of infrastructure to support high-speed broadband access to rural communities. For example, updating and expanding mobile infrastructure in rural communities is critical for the future of our agriculture industry. Farming is being revolutionized by innovations in technology. Remote monitoring of crops and livestock, better decision-making based on data, and the ability to target irrigation and fertilization of crops are a few examples of how tech is making agriculture more efficient and sustainable. “Smart ag” devices use mobile broadband, but these tools are only as good as the networks available to them. 5G will enable farmers and ranchers to use this technology, keeping California’s ag industry strong, efficient and environmentally sustainable.

When T-Mobile announced it would make a significant investment in the Central Valley as part of its merger with Sprint, we were hopeful and optimistic their efforts would address the lack of broadband infrastructure in this region. Expanding 5G will connect the Central Valley with the rest of California, allowing this region to compete for jobs. In fact, with our lower cost of living, the Central Valley is an attractive place for tech firms to expand or locate their businesses, but we need the digital infrastructure first.

We are encouraged by the governor’s interest in developing economic opportunities in the Central Valley. The Customer Experience Center is a great example of these opportunities turning into reality.

We’d like our state officials to be Valley’s corner and welcome a visit from Attorney General Xavier Becerra to tour the area and see what an impact a project like T-Mobile’s Customer Experience Center would have on our residents. Diversifying our local economy is important to the future of the Central Valley. So is expanding high-speed broadband access, which in an increasingly digital economy takes on even greater importance. Without it, the digital divide will expand for our people.

With so much happening in our region, it seems as though the Central Valley is at a turning point. If we are able to move forward with the opportunities for growth and development and the T-Mobile merger is part of the turning point, we foresee a much brighter future for our communities, our young people and our businesses.

Michelle Roman is mayor of Kingsburg; Victor Lopez is mayor of Orange Cove and chairs the Central Valley Latino Mayors and Elected Officials Coalition.

https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article234224602.html

T-MOBILE MERGER OK DIALS UP GOOD NEWS FOR KINGSBURG

Regulatory approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger clears the way for a 1,000-job call center for Kingsburg. Image via Kingsburg’s economic overview document, photo by Mike Miller with Guarantee Real Estate

Published On July 26, 2019 – 12:41 PM
Written By By TALI ARBEL And MARCY GORDON Associated Press

U.S. regulators have approved T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, despite fears of higher prices and job cuts, in a deal that would leave just three major cellphone companies in the country.

The news also marks a pivotal step for a planned T-Mobile “Customer Experience Center” in Kingsburg that would create more than 1,000 new jobs and contribute $105 million to the local economy.

T-Mobile made it clear that the proposed call center’s future hinged on regulatory approval of the merger. The telecom giant also announced similar call centers would be built in Overland Park, Kansas, and Henrietta, New York, if the merger were approved. Adding the expansion of existing call centers, T-Mobile promised the creation of more than 5,000 new jobs by 2021.

The “New T-Mobile” promises to become one of the largest employers in Fresno County, with employees earning wages more than 50% of average for the region.

It’s also a feather in the economic development cap of Kingsburg, which has seen more than 25 news businesses open in the last two years.

“The Kingsburg area in Fresno County is already home to a tremendous amount of innovation, diverse talent and great energy, which makes it a perfect fit for the New T-Mobile!” said T-Mobile and New T-Mobile President Mike Sievert, in a statement from April. “Our new CECs will allow the New T-Mobile to expand the personalized service we give our amazing customers every single day as we continue to grow. We can’t wait to be a partner in the revitalized Central Valley.”

According to a Kingsburg economic overview document posted on the city website last week, the city has a number of active business incentive programs. These include development impact fee discounts as well as rebates for property and sales taxes. No specific site has been identified for the call center, so it’s not known what, if any, incentives T-Mobile might receive for the development project.

Friday’s approval from the Justice Department and five state attorneys general comes after Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to conditions that would set up satellite-TV provider Dish as a smaller rival to Verizon, AT&T and the combined T-Mobile-Sprint company. The Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said the conditions set up Dish “as a disruptive force in wireless.”

But attorneys general from other states and public-interest advocates say that Dish is hardly a replacement for Sprint as a stand-alone company and that the conditions fail to address the competitive harm the deal causes.

“By signing off on this merger, the Justice Department has done nothing to remedy the short- and long-term harms the loss of an independent Sprint will create for U.S. wireless users,” Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said.

A federal judge still must sign off on the approval, as it includes conditions for the new company. The Federal Communications Commission is also expected to give the takeover its blessing.

Dish is paying $5 billion for Sprint’s prepaid cellphone brands including Boost and Virgin Mobile — some 9 million customers — and some spectrum, or airwaves for wireless service, from the two companies. Dish will also be able to rent T-Mobile’s network for seven years while it builds its own.

Dish on Friday promised the FCC that it would build a nationwide network using next-generation “5G” technology by June 2023. But Dish is promising speeds that are only slightly higher than what’s typical today, even though 5G promises the potential for blazing speeds.

The Trump administration has not been consistent in its approach to media and telecom mergers. While the government went to court to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and then lost, the Justice Department allowed Disney to buy much of 21st Century Fox, a direct competitor, with only minor asset sales to get the deal done. Mergers between direct competitors have historically had a higher bar to clear at the Justice Department.

Sprint and T-Mobile combined would now approach the size of Verizon and AT&T. The companies have argued that bulking up will mean a better next-generation “5G” wireless network than they could make on their own. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for over a year that having one big company to challenge AT&T and Verizon, rather than two smaller companies, will be better for U.S. consumers.

The two companies tried to combine during the Obama administration but regulators rebuffed them. They resumed talks on combining once President Donald Trump took office, hoping for more industry-friendly regulators. The companies appealed to Trump’s desire for the U.S. to “win” a global 5G race with China as this faster, more reliable wireless is rolled out and applications are built for it. They have been arguing their case for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the FCC agreed in May to back the deal after T-Mobile promised to build out rural broadband and 5G, sell its Boost prepaid brand and keep prices on hold for three years.

But public-interest advocates complained that the FCC conditions did not address the problems of the merger — higher prices, less wireless competition — and would be difficult for regulators to enforce.

Attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit to block the deal . They say the promised benefits, such as better networks in rural areas and faster service overall, cannot be verified. They also worry that eliminating a major wireless company will immediately harm consumers by reducing g competition and driving up prices for cellphone service.

They are not likely to be satisfied by Friday’s settlement. None of the states involved in the suit were part of it. “We have serious concerns that cobbling together this new fourth mobile player, with the government picking winners and losers, will not address the merger’s harm to consumers, workers, and innovation,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Dish is largely a company with a declining satellite-TV business. It has no wireless business, but over the past decade it has spent more than $21 billion accumulating a large stock of spectrum for wireless service. The wireless industry has long been skeptical of Dish’s ambitions to actually build a wireless service, instead speculating that the company wanted to make money by selling its holdings to other companies.

Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner, a longtime telecom analyst, said in an interview before the Justice Department’s announcement — many terms had been leaked to the press beforehand — that the settlement was good for the incumbent wireless companies, as a weak competitor in Sprint is being replaced by an even weaker one in Dish.

Sprint, the current No. 4 wireless provider, has thousands of stores and other distribution points as well as a cellular network. Dish has none of that, although the settlement gives it the option of taking over some stores and cell sites that T-Mobile ditches over the next five years. Creating and maintaining a retail operation and network cost tens of billions of dollars, Entner said. He doubts that Dish could do that alone, as its core business is in deep decline, or that Dish could find a wealthier company to help it do so.

But New Street Research analysts say Dish could build a lower-cost network and provide cheaper plans for customers. Still, that could take years.

George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, also said in an interview earlier that the current structure of four competing providers works. He said it’s not the same to diminish that while enabling a competitor that doesn’t currently have the infrastructure. “Dish might become a competing network at some point but it’s not there now.”

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank owns Sprint, while Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile. SoftBank will continue to own 27 percent of the new, bigger T-Mobile and will keep some influence, but it will not control the company.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/t-mobile-merger-ok-dials-up-good-news-for-kingsburg/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=97dc7bf6e4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_26_07_42&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-97dc7bf6e4-78934409&mc_cid=97dc7bf6e4&mc_eid=a126ded657

1,000 jobs coming to Central Valley

Central Valley Business Times

April 8, 2019

• They’ll be at a new T-Mobile customer call center in Kingsburg
• Company says it will offer a new level of customer service

T-Mobile U.S. and Sprint have picked Kingsburg in Fresno County as the location for their previously announced Central Valley “Customer Experience Center.” The new call center will have more than 1,000 employees. The companies say the new workers will earn wages on
average over 50 percent higher than the average wages in Fresno County, which will also make the the call center one of the highest-paying employers in the area.

The Kingsburg call center is to have what T-Mobile terms its “Team of Experts” service model, which provides customers direct personal access to a dedicated team of specialists when they call or message for assistance. The specialists are to work with local retail and engineering  eams to address a wide variety of topics and tackle complex challenges for customers primarily based in California.

The combined company will have 7,500 more customer care workers in 2024 than the two stand-alone companies would have employed, they say. It all depends, however, on the closing of their merger to become what the companies want to call the “New TMobile.”

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/aa2510f6-dfc0-42b6-af7e-db406cf9132c.pdf

 

Bitwise teams up with FresYes Realty open third downtown location

Bitwise Industries is teaming up with Fres-Yes realty company and expanding to a new location in Downtown Fresno.

It will be located at the Old Spaghetti Factory building on Ventura and R Streets.

The building will be the third location for Bitwise, which already has South Stadium Van Ness and The Hive.

The second story of the new building, called “Bitwise 41,” will eventually have a team of 150 FresYes agents working there.

Organizers say they hope the new location will inspire other businesses to come to Downtown Fresno.

“So I think the exciting part as far as visibility goes you can’t get more visible than this building right here. 41 is directly behind me. North and south. 45,000 cars going each way. It is a prime location for just visibility alone,” said Channelle Charest with Bitwise.

Bitwise 41 is expected to be ready to occupy in April.

A grand opening will be held in early summer.

California’s Central Valley Named as Third Location for New T-Mobile Customer Experience Center

Third of Five Announced New T-Mobile Customer Experience Centers will create 1000 new jobs in area, pending merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

T-Mobile US (NASDAQ: TMUS) and Sprint Corporation (NYSE: S) today announced that, pending the close of their merger, they have selected the Central Valley in California as the area for the third of five new Customer Experience Centers to serve New T-Mobile customers. The facility will create approximately 1,000 local jobs.

As with the other previously announced locations in Kansas and New York, the new California facility, once integrated, will bring top-notch support to New T-Mobile customers. The state-of-the-art facilities will offer T-Mobile’s innovative Team of Experts (TEX) service model, which allows customers to have direct personal access to a dedicated team of specialists when they call or message for assistance. The specialists work with local retail and engineering to address a wide variety of topics and tackle complex challenges for customers.

The five new TEX-enabled facilities are just one part of the future New T-Mobile’s plans to put customers first and bring jobs to communities. The companies also previously announced that two existing T-Mobile Customer Experience Centers will be expanding. These cumulative efforts will create up to 5,600 additional American jobs by 2021. The combined companies will have 7,500 more customer care professionals in 2024 than the stand-alone companies would have employed.

“We needed to find just the right area for our next New T-Mobile Customer Experience Center – and we found it in the Golden State! California and the Central Valley have everything we need to take care of customers – amazing energy, a commitment to innovation and business, and most importantly skilled and diverse people who we can’t wait to join our team of Magenta heroes!” said T-Mobile US CEO and New T-Mobile CEO, John Legere.

T-Mobile has consistently been featured on numerous “Best Place to Work” lists year over year. The newest Care team members will be eligible to receive benefits and opportunities such as significant management preparation experience, career development paths and college tuition reimbursement.

The new Customer Experience Centers are just one way the New T-Mobile will invest billions of dollars in job creation and infrastructure in the United States. Sprint and T-Mobile together will employ more people in the U.S. than both companies would separately. Other investments include building out an industry-leading nationwide 5G network, delivering more competition and new choice to customers like broadband, and opening new stores to an expanding customer base.

The completion of the combination remains subject to regulatory approvals and certain other customary closing conditions and is expected to occur during the first half of 2019. Additional information regarding T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint can be found at: www.NewTMobile.com.

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-sprint-california-customer-service-center

Bitwise continuing to spread its wings in downtown Fresno. Latest venture is colorful, too