MCI and other early internet service providers (ISPs) have gone the way of the dodo, but Ann Arbor-based Synergy Fiber, founded in 1998, has outlasted those other ISPs by thinking strategically about the future. That continues with the company's current focus on being an "all-in-one" internet technology vendor that recently connected the largest single-phase student housing complex ever built in the United States.
When a developer builds a new office complex or a student dormitory, traditionally several different companies have been involved in technology infrastructure. One company runs wiring, another company provides phone service, another provides internet service, another provides video surveillance and security, and so on. Synergy Fiber simplifies the process by providing all those services and more through one vendor.
The company's recent record-setting student housing project is located at Texas A&M University, but the company has also done several large projects in Washtenaw County, including 411 Lofts student housing and the luxury apartments that comprise Foundry Lofts.
Synergy Fiber CEO Norman Roe says the company started as a "small mom and pop ISP" and has expanded over the last 20 years due to the current trend of "ubiquitous wireless availability and a little bit of luck." From those first few lean years, the company has grown to employ about 50 full-time staffers. About 25 of them are located at the company's headquarters at 3131 S. State St. and the rest are spread out at the company's other locations around the globe. The company now sees yearly gross revenues of more than $10 million.
Roe says there may be some narrow-band service providers still in existence after 20 years, but Synergy is one of the first broadband service providers and has outlasted most of the competition.
"It was a natural evolution, but we survived," Roe says. "There aren't many 20-year-old broadband ISPs in the entire country."
Roe says he thinks that the future for Synergy Fiber and others doing this kind of comprehensive IT deployment is "extraordinarily bright." He says his company's methods will "fundamentally change" building management systems and put more power in property owners' hands.
"We have a very specific niche that has lots of legs for the future of how IT services are deployed," Roe says.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Synergy Fiber/Andres Gomez.