Mercury Communications LLC
You could say that Norman Thompson is used to having his head in the clouds — it’s his specialty.
After 17 years in the Air Force as a Satellite Communications Craftsman, Norman worked 13 years as an engineering manager for satellite giant Echo Star. It was clear that Thompson had found his niche, but he “just didn’t want to stagnate,” Norman recalls. “I really wanted to figure out a way that I could go my own way with the skills and abilities that I had.”
Norman began to explore the possibility of starting a business. He sought help at the Lord Fairfax SBDC, where he was connected with Center Director Christine Kriz. With so much technical knowledge in so many areas, Norman struggled with which services he should highlight. During a conversation with Christine, Norman hit on what would become the true focus of Mercury Communications LLC.
“Christine was saying something about how poor her cell service was and how it was like that for many of her friends and neighbors. She says ‘If you can do something about that, it would be huge,’” Norman relates. Installing passive Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) in residential, commercial, and areas with large-scale operations became Mercury Communications’ business model. Passive DAS systems are essentially cellular-signal-boosting infrastructures that are built on-site. During COVID-19, with thousands learning and working remotely, this moment has been well-timed for Norman. “It’s caught on fire,” he says. “Christine helped me to focus on what the client wanted and needed.”
Christine provided what Norman calls a “very flexible way of thinking” that was quite helpful. As a result, Mercury Communications has increased sales by 284% in 2020. Christine also helped Mercury establish critical GSA contracts.
In addition to residential and commercial, both the government and military felt the brunt of COVID-19 in unexpected ways. It became another area where Norman has stepped in. He enthusiastically describes installing a DAS system on an aircraft carrier where soldiers were quarantined, which provided working cellular connections to the outside world for servicemen and women who were away from their families.
When he reflects on life before Mercury, Norman says, “I wasn’t feeling challenged. Satellite communications is more like Formula One, and cellular is more like NASCAR. There’s more passion in it.”
As the modern world rushes toward a more virtually-integrated society, the sky remains the limit for Norman Thompson and Mercury Communications. Since he’s a pro at navigating the sky from below, he’ll be ready for what comes next. “We’ll see what the future holds,” Norman says with a smile, “and go from there.”