Building America’s Telecommunication Network for Nearly Four Decades

Ervin Cable Construction

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Ervin Cable started at the dawn of the Ronald Reagan administration, performing construction and cabling for telecommunications projects. In 1980, new regulations allowed television to be distributed that was produced by companies only for their paid subscribers; this sparked a tsunami that Ervin Cable has been surfing successfully for decades…
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Since its start in Sturgis, Kentucky, Ervin Cable and Construction has worked on 188 telecommunications projects and has built or upgraded 15,000 miles of cable. The company now has seven locations, including its corporate and engineering offices.

Although still operating independently, in 1998 Ervin merged with DyCom Industries, one of North America’s largest telecommunications companies. This move combined the personal touch of Ervin with the reach and scope of a multinational publicly traded corporation. Despite its massive growth over the years, Ervin is still run by the same crew that started it – Gary, Tim, Robert and Brad Ervin.

Hamid Vahdatipour, the CEO of Lake Region Electric Cooperative, recalls the competence and personal attention his firm received from Ervin. “We wanted an organization large enough to handle the load and obviously being new in business we wanted a company that could hold our hand a bit and move with us and teach us along the way what’s good and what’s not,” he said. “With Ervin, we had that nurturing and we really appreciated it.”

Mark Walls, also with Lake Region Electric Cooperative, serving as Director of Operations, reminisced about working with Ervin as well. “They pretty much educated the customer about everything; they pulled off a start to finish TV and Internet project. Ervin does a really good job of being its own inspector. We basically paid the bills and left the rest up to Ervin.”

“When you have actual people working on the project with the last name Ervin, you know that you’re important to the company,” said Randy Klindt the General Manager of Co-Mo Communications, fondly recalling working with Ervin. “They’ve got a great working relationship with our staff but also with our members. I would recommend that other co-ops give Ervin a serious look. They’ve done a great job for us and it’s easy to give them a recommendation.”

Ervin Cable and Construction has a complete arsenal of equipment to get the job done. From its 22 40’ aerial placing units to its 57 aerial splicing units, six underground boring units, ten underground placement machines, two tractor trailer equipment haulers, 85 light and medium duty trucks, 15 heavy duty trucks, eight fiber splicing laboratories and four microfiber blowing systems, it’s hard to imagine a communications project Ervin can’t tackle.

A new way of delivering fiber optics directly to end consumers, called Fiber to the Home, or FTTH, is now part of Ervin’s broad plethora of technology; the service is also a good fit for the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act, or ARRA, in which Ervin has been working diligently to bring telecommunications infrastructure to rural areas. Telephone, electric, gas, and cable TV are all part of Ervin’s portfolio now and with its nationwide reach, large bonding capabilities, and hundreds of years of combined experience, Ervin has become one of the top players in the field.

In the early days, a big part of Ervin’s focus was Television Receive Only or TVRO antennas, which were the primary means of receiving satellite signals until the mid-nineties. Europe, Australia, India and China still use the big ugly dishes or BUDs as they are sometimes referred to, whereas in North America most satellite signals are encrypted and require a subscription.

In 1979, the United States Government began allowing home consumers to have their own satellite dishes. The earliest units cost up to $10,000 and were 12 to 16 feet in diameter before coming down in both price and size as the years rolled on. One million dishes receiving up to 120 channels were operating in the United States by the end of 1984. Once you bought the dish, the signals were almost all free.

Then in 1986, HBO (Home Box Office) began scrambling their signal, much to the chagrin of satellite TV enthusiasts. Nonetheless, by 1987, 99 channels were still unscrambled with only nine encrypted, including HBO. In the early nineties, Direct Broadcast Satellites (DBS) came along, which were much smaller and cheaper than their unsightly predecessors. However, long before that, Ervin had started working with another means of bringing television to customers – coaxial cable.

In 1880, English engineer and mathematician Oliver Heaviside patented a new kind of cable where a precise signal could be transmitted. Due to the dimensions, this property would be indispensible for the telecommunications industry. Although coaxial cable is used to connect satellite dishes and antennas along with a myriad of other uses, its use as a conduit for cable television became a big part of Ervin’s business after the big ugly dishes receded in popularity in the late eighties.

Beginning in North America in 1948 and in Europe as early as 1924, radio and television signals were delivered through coaxial cable in addition to the then more common practice of beaming signals that were received via antenna. In the early 1980s, changes in regulation allowed local and often live “cable access” programming for subscribers that has evolved into some of the best television ever made like Breaking Bad on the American Movie Channel (AMC).

Whether through satellite or coaxial cable, Ervin has been delivering telecommunications at the cutting edge of the technological landscape since its inception, adding the newest type of cable that can carry nearly infinitely more data, with fiber optic. In 1975 in Dorset, Great Britain, the first non-experimental fiber optic link was installed by the local police force and two years later, the first live telephone traffic through fiber optics launched in Long Beach, California. By the mid-eighties, fiber optics were widespread as telephone companies upgraded their infrastructure.

Ervin has a highly trained and specialized workforce focusing on fiber optics networks and has been involved in some of the largest construction and installation projects in the United States. Offering a comprehensive range of services including cell tower back haul construction, fusion splicing and testing, emergency fiber restoration, microduct fiber installation, fiber blowing, aerial fiber construction and general project management puts the company out front.

As far as broadband communication network engineering, Ervin has it covered there as well, from mapping, to drafting and design. Whether creating a new project, rebuilding an existing one, or conducting an assessment of an existing cable and electronics network, Ervin has delivered for the last 36 years. When and if additional assistance is required, the team at Ervin can consult with its sister companies in the Dycom family.

In addition to designing, installing and maintaining communications infrastructure, Ervin offers emergency response services for many of its customers, whether as a result of natural disasters or other accidents that damage networks.

The peerless quality of Ervin’s personnel and equipment separates it from its competitors in the communications engineering space. The Secretary of State has certified Ervin Cable and Construction in every state and it has been licensed by each of the state boards of contractors where required.

From Ervin Cable’s website, “Our combined management team has hundreds of years of experience in the telecommunications industry, from operations to outside plant construction. We will be happy to budget, build and maintain any and all of your construction needs on your next project.”

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October 20, 2019, 2:16 PM EDT