Stock image, St. George News
CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — In early 1994, the scratchy clamor of dial-up was the “latest and greatest” communication technology available, the nascent World Wide Web teeming with untapped potential for such innovators as the visionary founders of InfoWest.
Kelly Nyberg, the president and CEO of InfoWest, said they provide customers with the “ultimate internet experience,” adding that InfoWest was the first company to bring internet access and digital phone service to the St. George area.
Nyberg created InfoWest alongside Randy Cosby and Aaron Gifford, both of whom are still with the company 26 years later. Cosby serves as chief operating officer and executive vice president, and Gifford is part of the network operations team. The trio met while attending what was then Dixie State College.
Nyberg and Gifford were born and raised in St. George, and Cosby has lived in the area since he was a teenager.
“Our roots grow really deep here,” Nyberg said. “Utah is a really important part of who we are.”
As students, their work in early web development culminated in the construction of the first web page in Utah, Nyberg said, and they soon recognized an unmet need within the local area for internet connectivity.
Nyberg told St. George News that the most significant challenge his team faced while building the company was keeping up with consumer demand.
“All we really had to do was explain to people how it worked and all the cool things you could do with it,” he said. “It just caught on so fast. We had literally thousands of people that wanted to get on the internet.”
InfoWest began transitioning from dial-up to cable and DSL modem connectivity in the later half of the 1990s. With the acquisition of two local network providers in 2000, they expanded into Iron County, increasing their customer base by nearly 50%. Wireless services were introduced just two years later, followed by fiber optic connectivity in 2010.
Cosby said this type of growth hasn’t come without some serious effort on the part of their team.
“Moving from dial-up to DSL, from DSL to wireless, from wireless to fiber – I don’t know if people realize what it takes,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people heading out at 2 a.m. to fix a problem on a tower so you’ve got an hour of outage when there’s a lightning strike instead of two days’ worth.”
Progress has marched on over the past decade, with expansion into central and northern Utah and sparsely populated rural communities. After acquiring AWI Networks in January and adding their wireless towers to InfoWest’s growing network, the company now manages more than 250 wireless towers in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
InfoWest offers not only internet services but home security, residential and business phone service and web hosting and development. Nyberg said the company prioritizes reinvesting into their systems to ensure they remain on the cutting edge of the ever-changing tech landscape and can provide their customers with the best security and speed available.
“That’s one thing that I think helps set us apart as a company – that we’re always trying to develop and push and look for what’s coming up,” he said.
All of the nearly 80 employees that make up the InfoWest team, from field technicians to customer service representatives, live in the communities they serve, which is a particular source of pride for Cosby.
“You can walk into one of our offices and get technical support,” he said. “If you have a problem with your bill, you’re going to talk to someone directly; you’re not going to go through a call center in India.”
Cosby said another key to the success of InfoWest is having a relationship between the founders and their team built on mutual respect and diversity of knowledge. Some are experts in tech, some in marketing and others yet in customer service, he said.
“We’ve had a good partnership. We run things by each other, and we’re willing to hear each other’s opinions and work things out.”
From the beginning, the founders decided not to pursue nationwide expansion and instead focus on the organic growth of a regional network anchored by quality and reliability, Nyberg said, adding that he is confident this strategy will allow InfoWest to thrive for years to come. Cosby echoed this sentiment, reiterating the importance of having local ownership.
“There is nobody who owns part of InfoWest who is not from this area, and it makes us make better decisions for how we’re going to grow with this community,” Cosby said. “We’re investing for the future and not just resting on our laurels.”
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Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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