meet the integrator
BY WILLIAM ATKINSON
Specializing Without Specializing
Young Electric Co. in San Francisco
has been in business since 1977. It created a
separate division, Young Communications, in
1995 to support client needs related to today’s
advanced data communication networks. The
two divisions work out of one location, and each
has 70–80 employees, with work split about
50/50 between high- and low-voltage.
Both divisions do design/build, plan/spec
and design/assist work for educational, biophar-maceutical, retail, office, hospitality, hospital,
religious, theater, high-tech and high-end residential facilities. The company also provides
network infrastructure administration and main-tenance/support for its customers.
“Recently, we have been doing a lot of work
for the healthcare industry,” said Len Beatie,
manager of Young Communications. The type of
low-voltage work the company performs runs
the gamut, including data communications (tele/
data cabling); security systems and fire alarms;
heating, ventilating and air conditioning controls; audio/video and media distribution; and
wireless systems, including distributed antenna
system (DAS) infrastructure, also known as in-building cellular repeating.
“Voice/data represents most of our work, and
we also do quite a bit of security,” Beatie said.
In recent months, Young Communications
has experienced a huge upsurge in DAS work.
A DAS is a network of spatially separated antenna nodes, precisely tuned to match the areas
of a building, and connected to a common source
using a transport medium that provides wireless
service within a geographic area or structure.
The purpose of a DAS is to split the transmitted power among several antenna elements,
separated in space, to provide coverage over
the same area as a single antenna but with
reduced total power and improved reliability. It
accomplishes this by boosting mobile broadband
coverage, especially in high-traffic areas.
While a DAS can be installed outside, many
DASs are placed inside buildings—especially
large buildings, such as stadiums, convention
centers and large corporate headquarters—to
improve wireless signals for users.
While Young Communications doesn’t spe-
cialize in DAS, per se, it is focusing more of its
time and effort on such projects.
“In fact, we have doubled our wireless work
in the last year,” Beatie said.
“DAS is really an emerging technology,” he
said. “Since everyone is on their iPhones and
iPads, bandwidth requirements have been increasing exponentially over the last few years.”
For example, carriers are now advertising 4G
long-term evolution (LTE), which takes up a lot
“We have been helping to get signals into
“We are also doing DAS work at a lot of
the buildings,” Beatie said. “We are working
with AT&T and Verizon, as well as doing some
enterprise work, where we design, engineer and
commission the systems.”
Recently, Young Communications completed
a DAS project at Terminal 3 of the San Fran-
cisco International Airport, and the company is
working on a similar project for the airport’s in-
other large venues, including Gilead Sciences,”
Beatie said there are two keys to success in
becoming a leader in this specialized technology.
The first is training. In most cases, Young
“We then teach them our culture and bring
Electric and Young Communications try to get
most of their employees as new apprentices
who are “right out of the gate,” according to
Beatie. These individuals have completed the
three-year union apprenticeship training pro-
gram, which includes learning all of the basic
codes and standards for cable, including the
ANSI TIA/EIA standards.
them up through our ranks so they don’t bring
bad habits from other employers,” he said.
For DAS specifically, though, while employees have learned some of this during their
apprenticeship, they need more detailed and
specific training, including gaining a very comprehensive understanding of RF signals and how
to distribute them properly. As a result, Young
Communications sends employees to specialized certification courses offered by many DAS
equipment manufacturers around the country.
“We also provide a lot of on-the-job train-
ing,” Beatie said.
The second key to success is to be particu-
larly responsive to customer needs.
“Besides making sure we can provide quality
work and customer service, [customers such as
Verizon and AT&T] are in the process of doing a
lot of DAS projects in a short amount of time, so
we need to make sure we get the work done for
them in a timely manner,” Beatie said.
DAS continues to be an emerging technology.
“I think there is a lot of room to grow here,
and we are definitely staying on top of this
trend,” Beatie said.
Young is also getting more involved in auto-
mation and building management.
ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact
him at email@example.com.
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