When the MBJ talked recently with Kevin Hankins, chief operating officer for C Spire, he stressed that from his and the company’s perspective, it’s all personal.
“Our key focus is on providing our customers with an integrated communications experience that gives them the content and support they’re looking for,” he said. “For us, it’s all about personalization and customer relationships.”
Hankins is a seasoned communications veteran, having started in the wireless business in 1985, and working for companies such as Motorola, Verizon and Ericcson through the years. In his current position with C Spire, he is responsible for the operations of the largest privately held wireless company in the United States. C Spire, headquartered in Ridgeland, has more than 1200 employees and many more contractors. The company has grown to its current level from its start in wireless just 25 years ago, and Hankins attributes that success to “a great and well oiled team of people who are dedicated to getting it right.”
They must certainly be getting it right, as the company serves more than 1 million customers. Hankins sees continued growth on the horizon for C Spire.
“We’re making the commitment and investment to continually improve both our wireless and wire-based services, and make it all an integrated and personal experience for our customers, both consumers and businesses,” he said.
C Spire has invested heavily in expanding its fiber optic, and looks to a future that will include commercializing their data centers, being able to provide hosted services, and to position itself to deal with the rapid change that is a hallmark of today’s technology.
“Things change overnight,” Hankins said, “and we’re going to keep pace whatever it takes.”
In fact, Information Week magazine recently named C Spire to its list of the top 250 Technology Innovators, with the company coming it at no. 49 on the list. It was the only Mississippi-based company to make the list, and Hankins is proud of that recognition.
Hankins is high on Mississippi, and believes the state has a bright business future.
“When you consider the culture, universities that are innovating, the work force and work ethic, and our sense of pride, it’s hard not to see a bright future,” he said.
That doesn’t mean that things are perfect in Mississippi, he pointed out.
“In some ways, we’re a very well-kept secret, and we really need to focus on getting a great story out to the rest of the world. That means marketing and competing aggressively with other states in our region. It also means helping Mississippi based companies to grow, and fostering the growth of technology in our state,” he said.
Among the sectors he sees as great growth prospects in Mississippi are technology, health care, construction, agriculture, and manufacturing. Hankins sees coming opportunities in what he called onshoring and rural shoring… that is, returning viable operations that have been offshored to attractive locations in the U.S. which offer good resources and reasonable labor costs.
“Offshoring no longer makes the kind of economic sense that it once did,” he said. “We’re going to see companies looking for attractive opportunities in our region. He sees especially good opportunities for some of Mississippi’s rural communities in the coming years.
“That’s why our focus is not just on the larger cities, but also on the smaller communities throughout our state,” he said. “All of these are important to us, and they will definitely be a part of our success in coming years.”
He says that technology is the “driver” for Mississippi’s future, and that C Spire intends to be at the forefront of that movement.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that C Spire has beaten all the odds to emerge as a major company, competing effectively with the other wireless companies.
What does the future hold?
“For sure, it means change,” he said.
We’re currently serving customers with the best 4G LTE service that can be delivered. But is 5G or 6G on the horizon? Almost certainly. And we’ll be there, delivering the services and speed that our customers need and expect.”
For Kevin Hankins, it is personal. And he means to keep it that way.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1021.