Member Spotlight – IdeaTek
What started 23 years ago as a Buhler high school project is now a thriving business with 155 employees, IdeaTek director of business development Thomas Garrett explained to a packed room at the July 20 Ribbon Cutting/Chamber Connection at the Chamber office. The ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated IdeaTek’s recent launch into the McPherson market.
In 1999, co-founder Daniel Friesen and four friends from Buhler High School started IdeaTek with only $250 as a computer repair business. Eventually the other four went on to pursue other interests while Friesen continued to run the business in college. He led IdeaTek into telecommunications in 2005 by purchasing and turning around failing dial-up and DSL companies, which funded the first fiber-to-home service in 2007. By 2011, IdeaTek built its first fiber to a cell phone tower for Verizon Wireless, leading to exponential growth. From 2012 to 2014, they constructed 2,200 miles of fiber across Kansas for Verizon, connecting more than 100 cellphone towers.
In 2015 IdeaTek sold the fiber-to-tower part of its business, allowing it to return to its roots – providing fiber to homes and businesses in underserved rural communities. At the time, IdeaTek had 1,400 internet and phone customers across eight communities.
Thanks in part to an influx of federal funds in 2017 and 2020 to bring high-speed internet to underserved Kansas counties along with private investments, IdeaTek today provides broadband to thousands of customers in nearly 50 Kansas communities, including McPherson.
The first zone in northern McPherson was connected earlier this month with construction continuing in other parts of the city. They estimate that the whole town will be connected in approximately 18 months. Any residents concerned about broken sprinkler heads or anything else during the construction is encouraged to get in touch with IdeaTek so they can fix it, said James Krstolich, community and public relations manager.
“When we come into the community, we want to make sure we put it back the way it was,” he said. “We really do care, and we want to take care of those things.”
Chamber members Lindsay Helms with the McPherson Public Library and Jamie Whitehouse of Advocate Counseling and Therapeutic Services of Kansas both said that they have had IdeaTek internet for some time and have had no complaints with the service. Helms joked that she’s available for commercials.
With this rollout, IdeaTek offers unlimited, uncapped, symmetrical speeds of up to 2.5 gigabits per second. They do not require contracts.