Created in the Corridor: Ovation Networks

A few of the Corridor Business Journal awards honoring Ovation Networks as one of the area's "Fastest Growing Companies" on display at the company's offices in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Right now there are forces at work that we can’t see, touch or smell but without them, life would be more difficult. Just getting a wireless device connected has an element of invisibility and that speaks well for one local tech company Created in the Corridor.

“People hear the name Ovation Networks, they’re like, ‘what do you guys do?,’” said president and CEO Larry Selensky while talking about his company’s lack of name recognition.

Tucked away on the second and third floors of the historic Grey Building in downtown Cedar Rapids, Ovation Networks showcases a small piece of city history. Selensky, who founded the company fifteen years ago, appreciates the internal bones of the 130-year old structure so he’s made them a visible part of the office environment by exposing original brick, beams and windows. Blending history with high tech seems to be paying off for Ovation Networks. The company has grown strategically from just two employees in 2003 to roughly forty todayand without a major investor.

“Everything we do here is funded by the business and that’s how we do things, explained Selensky, 48. “We buy things when we can afford them and when we can earn them, that’s how we do it.”

Keeping a low profile, Ovation has no sign on the building so you wouldn’t know the workers are there. That’s similar to the business they’re growing. Ovation Networks custom designs, installs and supports wireless systems across the country.

“You know we’re a little bit unique in that we’re a one stop shop. If you want to put Wi-Fi in and have it managed from (design, installation and customer support) going forward, we’re the company.”

Right now, Ovation provides Wi-Fi management to roughly 1,500 hotels and motels plus parks, campgrounds and stadiums.

“As little as three years ago we were billing about $3M a year and last year we almost billed $10M,” Selensky revealed.

If you’ve ever used Wi-Fi downtown--like at the Farmers Market, or at the McGrath Amphitheatre, or the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, or NewBo City Market—you’ve accessed an Ovation network.

“It’s been a great relationship that Ovation and ImOn have had over several years now,” said Bernard Dutchik, Vice President, Corporate Development & Strategic Partnerships for ImOn Communications.

ImOn provides fiber optic networks but it relies on Ovation for its invisible but reliable Wi-Fi.

“That’s a great thing about Ovation,” added Dutchik. “If you knew their name all the time it might be a bad thing because things were going wrong. But because they’re so good at what they do, you don’t often hear from them. And in that world, that’s probably a compliment in some ways.”

“It’s satisfying to know that we’re able to partner with local businesses to help each other because that’s what it’s about,” said Selensky. “It’s about Cedar Rapids and about employing people here and growing our businesses organically because we feel that’s how we’re going to grow this city.”

Future projects for Ovation Networks include the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City, some possible locations in Marion and their biggest emerging market—assisted living and apartment complexes. Ovation Networks also has job openings so if you’re interested, follow the link to the company’s website HERE.

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