Bluebird Network expands broadband in Missouri and Illinois
Although Columbia-based Bluebird Network may not be a household name, the company has quietly become part of many Missourians’ everyday lives.
Over the last sixteen years, Bluebird has laid more than 6,000 miles of fiber-optic cable across Missouri and Illinois. Today, many residents and businesses—especially those in rural areas—rely on this high-speed network for everything from transmitting local hospital scans to connecting cell phone calls.
“When you are driving outside the cities of Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City, and you make a cell phone call, there’s a very good chance that the cell tower you’re making that call through is connected to Bluebird fiber,” says Michael Morey, Bluebird Network president and CEO.
Founded in 1999, Bluebird has grown alongside its ever-expanding network of fiber optic cables. Today, Bluebird has several large businesses and hospitals that connect directly to its network. Many cell phone companies and internet service providers also rely on Bluebird’s communications infrastructure.
Morey describes Bluebird’s expansion model as “dig in and edge out.” This means that Bluebird first solidifies its presence in its current markets before expanding into new territories. Morey says this model has been a recipe for slow, steady growth.
But recent years have broken the mold. By the end of 2015, Morey expects annual revenues to reach $40 million, more than double what they were in 2011.
“We’re not trying to be the hare in The Tortoise and the Hare story,” he says. “We’re not trying to grow like crazy, we just are.”
Morey ascribes the accelerated growth to the company’s hard work to establish itself early on. In 2011, Bluebird also benefited from a $45 million federal grant, including $11.5 million in state matching funds, to help expand its network.
In late 2014, the company purchased an underground data center in Springfield, later announcing plans to more than double the size of the facility.
“We’re just this steadily growing company,” Morey says. “There’s a lot to be said for something that’s steady, consistent and high quality. You are proud of working there.”
Morey says Bluebird’s fifty employees can also feel secure in the company’s future.
“The continued growth in the need for bandwidth drives the need for our services,” he says. “Until you see that slow down, you’re going to continue to see me being optimistic.”