In the spring of 1995 Brad Ward and Andy Neely were closing in on the end of their college careers at Colorado State University. With that, came the unfortunate reality of losing access to their school internet accounts. With no options for fast, reliable residential Internet Service Providers in Fort Collins, the two visionaries took it upon themselves to start a company of their own.
With the desire to try something new and different, Brad’s father, Bill Ward, joined the duo. “I was looking for a new gig; something different that would also allow me to stay in Colorado.” He wanted to move away from the defense industry, while Brad’s desire was to start his own company in the tech industry. FRII quickly incorporated and moved into their first office in Old Town Fort Collins. By October, they were providing service to local customers.
“Between October to December, we saw a real technology explosion. The demand was huge, and a major hunger existed for Internet service,” explains Bill. In January of 1996, FRII held an open house with an overwhelming response, and the rest is as they say, history.
Since its inception, FRII has expanded tremendously, now offering DSL, broadband, and wireless services to northern Colorado and beyond, with a wide-reaching focus on its worldwide data center and storage capabilities. While managing growth isn’t always easy, both owners are quick to recognize that the FRII team is the lifeblood of the company. “I love coming to work. I love the people I work with. My employees keep me youthful,” says Bill.
Brad loves what he does, stating, “Every day is different. It’s always changing with technology, and I get to work with a variety of companies throughout the state helping to solve their technological challenges.”
When asked what the greatest growing pain for FRII has been, Bill explains that, “Financial stability is always one of the biggest challenges, and has been a factor in getting FRII to where it is today. FRII is self-funded, without investor support. Gaining financial stability without investors was quite a challenge, but we have weathered all storms up until this point.”
Beyond the normal challenges along the way, a lot can be said when it comes to FRII’s successes. Brad’s proudest moments include moving FRII and its data center to its current location in the mid-2000s without causing any downtime to customers, as well as hosting the 1998 Denver Broncos Super Bowl website without any negative issues. And of course, unveiling the company’s state-of-the-art data center and 10-gigabit fiber network are two recent milestones that the company references with great pride.
Twenty years in business is an accomplishment that anyone should be proud of and Brad and Bill are looking forward to what the next twenty years have in store. “We are an open book,” continues Brad. “As we continue to expand our data center, grow our 10-gigabit fiber network, and expand our new WiFRII service, we have a world of opportunity ahead of us. The future is bright.”