(From left) Andy Trimmell, Jason Grindstaff, Michael Beard, and Eric Rogers stand outside the sign of PDS connect at 21 E. High St, Mooresville, The business has been at this location for nine years. (Photo by Kylee Crane)
Editor’s note: This is the third in a five-part series of articles featuring local entrepreneurs. The series was created in conjunction with the Martinsville Chamber of Commerce as part of their participation in Indiana Entrepreneurship week. For more information about local entrepreneurs, call the chamber at 765-342-8110, visit martinsvillechamber.com or email email@example.com.
Eric Rogers was simply looking for a way to get internet to reach his house in Mooresville.
Prior to starting Precision Data Solutions, or PDS Connect, Rogers was working at a hospital as a project manager in the IT department. He was also starting a web hosting company on the side, but quickly realized they had not expanded digital subscriber line, or DSL, out into the area he lived in yet, and he was unable to to maintain servers that were in the data center. Rogers began doing some research on wireless technologies that were just coming out and found that WiFi would be able to reach farther.
“So we rented a couple towers, just as a trial, and started providing services for me and a few of my neighbors,” Rogers said. “I started getting more phone calls . . . And this was originally supposed to be kind of an extra hobby, but it got to the point where I was getting more phone calls from some of my neighbors saying, ‘Hey, I heard you hooked so and so up, could you hook me up this weekend?’ I was doing install after install, so much so that I thought it was at least worth the time to stop my job.”
So Rogers quit his job and began solely working for PDS Connect in January 2004.
While Martinsville has seven major fiber providers, Mooresville has only two: AT&T and Comcast. Rogers said being able to add to the competition, along with helping and making an impact in the community is one of the best parts of his job.
“Because the internet is so critical to everyday life, just realizing that our community didn’t have this service, that was more of the driving factor for me,” Rogers said. “I could have easily said ‘well I accomplished my goal, I have internet at my house’ but realizing that people didn’t have access, that was really what made me keep with it.”
“It also makes me grow knowledge wise. It forces us to learn new technologies and see how we can implement them.”
The toughest challenge in the internet business, Rogers said, is government regulation. Rogers said what started out as having an interested customer, installing a radio and then adding them to the billing system has grown to be much more complicated. Now they have to report to the federal government and tell them their coverage area, the number of customers they have and the speeds they provide. They must also give certain information to the state as well and comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act at all their expense.
Rogers said PDS receives a lot of support from its customers, but understanding the laws could help support them even more.
“Today, especially with social media, when there is something going on, people have an opinion but don’t do anything about it. Because government regulation has and will continue to add a burden, it’s the voice of the people that really has a say in what becomes law and what doesn’t. That’s where we could probably see a little more support,” Rogers said.
He also added that they are always looking for more feedback. Their goal is to be solution providers, and Rogers said they are always looking for ways to improve that.
“It helps us know how we are interacting with our community, so we’re always open to feedback,” Rogers said. “We want to continue to grow and provide great service here because this is where we all live. This is where our kids go to school, this is where all the employees live and their kids go school, so we want to make this a better place.”