By Kari Redfield
Executive Vice-President, CFO and Co-Owner
Aspen Communications is a technology infrastructure design-systems integrator with offices in Flagstaff and Prescott. Sheila Richardson (BAE Secondary Education, ’74) and her husband created Aspen Communications to help fill the need for licensed, bonded and insured low-voltage electrical contractors in Northern Arizona.
“Within our industry, it is generally recognized that between 85 to 95% of server problems (and this could easily apply to the hard-wired portion of internet access) are due to the cabling, not the server or the downline computers,” Richardson says. “Over the past 20 years, we have seen some stark and dismal examples of this that are expensive to correct once poor installation is in place.”
In addition to providing much-needed expertise, at Aspen Communications, Richardson developed an apprenticeship program for telecommunications technicians to help fill the workforce pipeline. It trains a beginner or new employee from probationary apprentice to journey-worker (equivalent to a technical engineering certification in telecommunications) in three years of applied, full-time work. Aspen created the apprenticeship in partnership with the Arizona Department of Economic Security and Arizona Apprenticeship Office. It’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, making the certification valid and recognized nationwide, and is approved for VA Educational Benefits.
“There is no question that my BAE was instrumental in the development of the apprenticeship program,” Richardson says. “I doubt that I would have attempted it without my education and skill set developed at ASU.”