Being skilled in attracting and retaining talent is the standard organizations strive for – developing that talent into leaders is a separate feat few can achieve. How does Larry Moore Jr. do it? In this episode, Carrie Charles sits down with the Chief Operating Officer of Roaming Networks to discuss the “Roaming culture” they’ve developed and how it has paved the way for increasing retention. The two also discuss the servant leadership Larry practices and how he mentors his employees into higher-level roles. Tune in to learn more about the healthy workplace practices infused in their culture that promote diversity, engagement, and development.
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Developing and Retaining Talent with Larry Moore Jr. of Roaming Networks
I am absolutely thrilled to have with me Larry Moore. He is the COO of Roaming Networks. Larry, thanks for joining me.
Thank you for having us. The whole Roaming family thanks you, and of course I thank you for the opportunity.
I love the Roaming family. I can’t wait to hear more about it. First, I want to hear about how you got to where you are now. You have such an inspirational story, so please share.
It started when I left West Virginia with kids, trying to see what the world will give or the opportunities that were going to come along for me. I started climbing towers and fell in love with the industry. It gave me the means and opportunities to do things for my family that most industries don’t, especially not having a college degree at that point in my life.
I worked my way up from a young tower climber to a tower foreman, to a construction manager, to a project manager, to director of market, and then a director of safety for one of the big vendors. It kept blossoming. I became an Ops Manager for a Canadian company, and then I moved on to a VP for a company out of Georgia. I had the great opportunity, and Roaming reached out to me and asked me to interview with them. Now, I’m sitting with you and leading a great team in five different offices across the United States.
What a Telecom success story. I absolutely love it. Tell me more about Roaming. Who do you serve? What are your services, divisions, offerings, and who you are in the US?
Here in the US, Roaming started in 2017. It was my CEO getting off the plane, with a vision and a goal and dreams. He started building the team out of Chicago, then we moved on and to this day, we’re up to five offices in Florida, Indiana, Illinois and Texas. We’re serving three of the carriers. We’re working with vendors. Our partners are the biggest support and the one helping us grow to be a one-stop shop or turnkey contractor.
The big thing that makes Roaming different is, we’re trying to think outside the box.
Where did Roaming first start?
They were born in Belgrade, Serbia in 2008, and we expanded after that. We are in the recovery when it comes to Europe, and that’s not counting the United States. They started with a vision to do things right, do them their own way, the Roaming way, not just the cookie-cutter company that everybody might want to build.
I want to know more about the Roaming way. What makes Roaming Networks unique?
We take our visions and then we go do things the way that we see them done it. It’s like a CloseOut package. You need to go out and you can buy your own CloseOut package. You can turn that in and most customers are going to be happy, but not in Roaming. We’ve got a software company. We bought our own software. We’ve got our own CloseOut application, which a couple of the carriers are using now. There are many subcontractors out there that are using it.
We even have project management tools. We have a scoping tool that’s coming up, but right now out on the market, you can do the CloseOut app. That is just being so successful. What’s unique about it is when they started building it, we gave it to our own guys and said, “Take this. See what it comes.” They all came back with, “It doesn’t work this way, or I need to use it with one hand, or this feature is hard when I’m on the tower.”
We kept taking those ideals and theories back to our programmers, and they made the CloseOut app that we have now. It’s the out-of-the-box thinking that brought me to the team and keeps me energized every day because I don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. The company will back up to do it the way we think it should be done.
What are your goals here in the US? Let’s talk a little bit more about that. What are you trying to achieve, maybe get inside your vision a little bit?
The sky is the limit. I want to be the best turnkey contractor in the United States. That’s the big goals. I want to make sure that we support all of our customers on the fiber side and the tower side. The PON and RAN divisions are both growing so fast. We’re not taking our foot off the gas. We’re going to continue moving forward and making a place that people want to come to work. They want to be at Roaming because Roaming is doing it the right way. We’re not only supporting our customers, but we’re also supporting our employees in their career goals.
Larry, you have had just incredible growth, and it’s happening. What type of growth have you experienced? I know you’ve multiplied your employees just in the US.
In the last few months, we went from 74 to 354 employees, and hopping over the 400 mark before December 2022.
What do you attribute that to?
I attributed that to a good partner. I attribute that to the leadership and the owner, the care holders of Roaming, their vision, their goals, how we’re recruiting, how we’re making sure that we get all the little things right every day, how we take care of our employees. I believe one time, I was telling you about everybody does evaluations on how their employees are feeling every year and what they think. Here in Roaming, we do it once a week. Every Friday, you’re going to get three questions. You’re going to get an open box. I want to know what the employees are thinking, and that way we can learn from them so we can get better as leaders.
It’s very important not only to get the information, but follow up on information. Once a week after the report comes out, I’m on the phone with HR. We’re talking about it. If John Doe over here had something that he really needs to talk to them about HR, myself or one of my leaders, we’ll reach out to them via phone call if we’re not close to them, to see if we can help and learn from the situation. That way, we don’t make that mistake twice with another employee.
What are those three questions that you ask every week?
The more diversity that we can give the company, the better all of us are going to be. We can learn from each other.
They get mixed up. We start sending the same thing, then everybody gets bored. Some of them are, “How was your work week? How did you feel? Do you feel like you had enough time to accomplish your goals for the week? Was your leadership responsive and gave you all the tools that you need to be successful that week?” Simple little things like that, but those really aren’t simple questions because for all of us, if we don’t have things in order to get what we accomplished and we don’t have the right tools or the right education or training, we’re not going to get any better. We take that as the core of Roaming is this continuing to learn, innovate, and think outside the box, and a thousand miles an hour forward.
By you doing that, it shows that you actually care and it sends volumes to your team members.
With you saying that, that’s one of the things that me and the CEO, Nikola, have talked about plenty of time, is let’s not grow so big so fast that we forget who we are, that employees become numbers and not people. I was talking to one of my project managers here in Florida and I said, “We have 300-plus families that we have to look after every single day.” I know it’s simple to think, “Larry, you’ve got a wife and two boys, and that’s what you’re worrying about.” No, I need to worry about 354 families this morning. We have to make sure that we do right by them.
Is the culture here in the US similar to the Serbian culture of Roaming? Is it consistent across the board? Is there anything that’s unique or different?
It’s very close. The people love their country and they love their traditions. The hard work, the values, the faith, and all those things are what bring Serbia and the US really good together. US is the biggest market. It was a goal of Rade, the President of our group. It was a goal of his for a long time to make this happen. Him and Nikola are the reason Roaming is in the United States. Larry just got lucky or blessed by being able to come onto the team.
You have incredible diversity. In fact, you have team members all over the world from how many countries again?
Over 11 countries, but here in the United States, we have 16 different nationalities working for Roaming.
How do you keep that diverse team like that engaged, and also any retention strategies that you can share with us that really work?
I think doing the surveys once a week is one of them. Making sure that we reward when they do good, not just identifying when they do something wrong. Identify when they’re doing something good and bringing something else to the table. Always leaving an open conversation, having an open door. If I’m in any office, my door is open. It’s not closed. Anybody is more welcome to walk in. All of my leadership is that way.
We’re making sure that their voice is heard. Sometimes, that is hard. I have Spanish speaking employees that I can’t talk to. Our CEO speaks 3 or 4 different languages, and they step in and they do things or they translate. Making sure that our teams have everything that they need is the secret to it. People want to know that they’re appreciated. Once somebody doesn’t feel like they’re appreciated, you lost a good employee.
Diversity breeds innovation. We all know that there’s a very strong case for diversity in business. It sounds to me that you and the leadership of Roaming know that. That’s another reason why you are so innovative as a company. Would you agree?
I absolutely agree, 100%.
You also have this unique strategy that you’re utilizing for tower crews. It’s challenging, to say the least, with our current workforce situation in Telecom. Can you talk a little bit about that strategy?
It’s the visa process. That’s how we’re bringing in a lot of our crews. At one point, we could recruit from 84 different countries. We have dwindled that down to the hot spots where we’re getting the best technicians out of. They might’ve been climbed up for fifteen years because they know what to do. The safety standards, the quality measures, the equipment are going to change, but it’s still climbing up the tower.
The strongest part of any company is your employees.
It’s truly been a success. There’s a big team that does this. This is not easy. If you go out and you get 50 visas to bring 50 technicians over, my HR team might interview 500 people that fill those 50 slots. It’s a big process. You’ve got immigration things in there and the embassies. Once again, with great partners, we have other countries that are working us.
It sounds to me that Roaming is ready to perform. When hiring leaders or possibly even developing leaders from within, what do you look for when hiring leaders? Also do you have a structure of any sort where you develop and take people from that place of just individual contributor to a leadership role?
When I’m looking for a leader, I’m looking at that background. With my background, the first thing I’m looking at is have they ever been out in the field? What was their progressing? I’m not saying that’s always the correct way, but as an old power climber, me and Nikola, we can walk on sites and the guys already know that they will grab that harness and we’ll go up the tower. We’ll help them if we need to. It goes along with that. You can know all about the tower and not have those soft skills to be able to manage people because it’s a people business.
You have to manage the people. You have to know how to relate with them. How I deal with John and how I deal with Joe could be two different ways because they’re two different personalities. When I’m bringing leaders in, I’m very caucus. I have two great VPs and I have some good directors. I have wonderful project managers and construction managers. We have people that we’re developing right now. Aleksandar, I kid him all the time that I’m praying for him to take my job. I hope he takes it. He’s such a smart young man and blessed to have the talent coming. We’re still out there searching and filling those voids, and of course Broadstaff is helping with that too.
I was going to say, it’s actually been quite easy to recruit for you. Thank you for that because you do everything you’re saying. It absolutely is true from the people that we’ve placed with Roaming. We get asked a lot, especially when I speak, it’s all the information on retention pretty much out there, is on retaining white-collar workers or management level or director level and above. When it comes to retaining, people who work in the field, the skilled laborers that we need so desperately in Telecom, a lot of leaders are baffled. How do we do this? We have 5 come in and 1 stay, so the retention is a big challenge. Do you have any suggestions or tips on retaining these incredibly important people in the field?
I believe we’ve talked about this before, which was flip your organizational startup for them. Make the technician the most important person. Put them on the first page. Don’t put yourself. I don’t want to be on that first page. I am not the most important one here. The guys on the field are the most important people at Roaming. Make them know that you care, that you understand that you’re going to be there, and work with people. Make sure you’re on this pain level with respect and admiration for each other.
Larry, are a humble servant leader. I can hear it in your voice. I know we share a lot of the same leadership principles. I’d love to hear more about what’s important to you in leadership and what principles really guide you.
At this point, the most important thing is, “What am I leaving when Larry is not in Telecom anymore?” That’s not happening anytime soon, of course. I’m not going anywhere yet. What am I leaving almost as a legacy? The people that have worked with me over the years, what goals have I maybe mentored or coached them in something? What am I going to leave behind that twenty years from now, somebody will be here with Carrie and say, “Larry was COO when I was at tower tech one. I can remember him coming out to the field and that drive of him making sure that we did all the little things correct every single day because all the little things will take care of the big things.”
What about you? How has mentorship really helped you in your life and also in your career?
I think it has helped me in many different ways. Being a good father, being a good husband, being a good friend, those things, but I was blessed also to have many good mentors. I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you right now without all the people who invested time in me. It taught me how to be me. There are many of them. I could sit here and name ten of them that no way Larry makes it here without losing one of them, if I lost one of them.
Larry, you are an amazing leader and also an inspiration to me since I’ve met you. I absolutely believe that all of your goals are going to be accomplished with Roaming. I want to thank you for being on the show. Before we go, you are hiring. I know that and we know that. We’d like to talk about where people can go to find out more about Roaming Networks and also about the open jobs that you have.
We have all kinds of positions open, PMs, even director level at this point. Anybody can go to RoamingNetworksInc.com. Come roam with us.
This has been a pleasure, Larry. Thank you. We are roaming with you and we love it. I’m excited about the future. I cannot wait to see where you go and where Roaming takes the world in the future. I am super excited about that. Thank you for being on the show.
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
About Larry Moore Jr.
Growing up on a small West Virginia horse farm a son of a Hand Glass worker and a postal worker Larry was taught the value of hard work and dedication early in his life. As the COO of Roaming Networks Inc., he leads a fast pace and growing team for Radio Access Networks and Passive Optical Networks in construction and Engineering. Larry started his career as a Tower Technician over 20 years ago and has held the positions of Tower Foreman, Construction Manager, Project Manager, Operations Manager, Director, and Vice President before taking his current role. Passion for knowledge of safety and educational standards he gained his CSHO through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services program.
The drive to mentor and coach the next generation of Telecom leaders Larry strives of sharing his real-life experiences and knowledge to the brilliant and talented future leaders of our industry. A belief for family in his personal and career life he believes that all the little things done correctly daily is what makes us great at what we do no matter what it is. A man of family, faith, and college football everything is based around his beautiful wife Sharon, two sons Austin and Josh, and the WE ARE fighting spirit !!
“One Team with One Goal”
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