Mornington Communications is increasing its presence in Tavistock by opening a physical location in the town.
“We recently purchased the flower shop at 51 Woodstock Street South. It will have a store front and be a base of operations for our installers to dispatch from. We are still working on recruiting the ideal Customer Service Representative. If you know anyone who’d be interested, please send them my way. Once we get someone hired, it will take about another month of training before opening the store. I am hoping to see it open to the public around April 1,” says Ken Naylor, Mornington’s General Manager.
The installation of infrastructure for fibre optic high-speed internet continues in Tavistock but Naylor says they are working their way through a number of obstacles. “We completed the Amulree and Hamstead areas (in Perth East) and because of that we did part of Tavistock and are going to do the rest of it this year.” He adds construction is never done fast enough and the last few years have been challenging for any type of work. “COVID is certainly one part of it, but the other is trying to get locates done for utilities. It’s been a real struggle. There’s just not enough trained labour out there to keep up with the amount of construction that’s happening. People don’t think about it too much, but we have to know where everything else is before we start digging and put our stuff into the ground.”
Naylor says while they aren’t as far as they’d like to be in Tavistock the experience so far has been a good one. “It has been very positive. We have about 20 percent of the town built so far and again, some of the delays getting locates has hit us. We did do a general marketing campaign to the whole town and the results have been fantastic. I’m looking very much forward to getting the rest of Tavistock done.”
Any company expanding services must take a close look at the reality of what can and can’t be done and Naylor says he has a number of competing irons in the fire currently. “We are looking ahead this year as far as capacity and what’s realistic and I’m not sure we will get the whole town done in 2023. We are going to push but there’s a whole bunch of stuff that has to get built this year.”
Among the projects Mornington has on the go is the Universal Broadband Fund. The $3.225 billion federal government fund supports high-speed Internet projects across the country. These projects will bring Internet at speeds of 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) to rural and remote communities. “We applied to connect all of the remaining homes in Perth East that have not already been connected by somebody else. Because we have a contract, we have a deadline to hit for that, so we do have to make sure that stays moving forward and at the same time we are pushing Tavistock too. That’s why I can’t dedicate 100% of my time to Tavistock.” Naylor says there are a large number of similar projects in rural areas all over the country, something that could make it difficult for deadlines to be met as companies are competing for scarce resources. “We planned ahead for this year to make sure we have enough materials, but as other companies start to fire up their projects, we have to be very careful over the next two or three years to make sure well ahead of time that we have supplies.” He adds its not just Canada, its many countries around the world and there are only so many fibre manufacturing plants out there. “It could be a challenge so I will have to watch it closely. In terms of pricing, there has been at least a 30 percent increase in certain materials since this time last year. In some cases, we are seeing 500 percent or more on products.”
While growing at a modest pace over the last few years Naylor says Mornington has added staff to ensure customers are well taken care of. “We aren’t a large company by any means. We have a team of about 35 people but as we keep doing these projects, we add another one or two on every year to keep the construction projects going forward and to manage existing customers. We want to ensure our current customers aren’t shoved aside on the pursuit of new customers, so we make sure we have enough resources.”
Naylor says adding to the community support his company has received is the teamwork Mornington has gotten from local governments. “The municipalities have been very receptive in working with us through the entire process. I’m very pleased East Zorra-Tavistock. They have been great to work with.”