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Joel Smith is Xplore's Director of Network Deployment and Field Operations for Ontario and National Director of Real Estate & Municipal Relations. He helps ensure that we continuously expand, upgrade and maintain our network of fixed wireless Internet towers so that customers get the best possible experience. His family also happens to run a 730-acre maple farm in Lanark Highlands, powered by Xplore.

This fall, Joel will celebrate 15 years with the Xplore team.

All those years ago, Joel was newly engaged and saving every penny he made building log homes, and doing whatever he could to make money. He had never heard of Xplore until a friend of the family invited him to take installer training with him at a local Xplore Authorized Dealer.

As an installer, Joel visited local customers’ homes getting them connected to brand-new towers Xplore was building in the area.

“Xplore was building out fixed wireless Internet in the Ottawa region. For basically a full year I worked every single day installing as much as I could,” he said.

When a job opened at Xplore working directly for the company, Joel applied and was hired.

“I started as a field operations technician and I’ve just been surrounded by good people, hard work, good opportunities, and good luck ever since,” he said.

As a field operations technician, Joel was Xplore’s feet on the ground at the tower sites helping with new builds, upgrades, and tower maintenance.

From there he was promoted to field operations manager, regional manager, and finally director of network deployment and field operations.

“I’ve got a bit of a mixed role. My one team manages all of the fixed wireless builds and operations within Ontario. Second is national real estate and municipal relations. Managing all the infrastructure relationships and agreements so that we can continue our upgrades, expansions, and ongoing operations,” Joel explained.

Joel said what initially attracted him to Xplore was the opportunity to be a part of something bigger.

"Delivering service in areas that had never seen service before was exciting and rewarding and getting in at an entry-level to a company with a lot of growth potential was very exciting,” he said.

Joel says that the highlight of working at Xplore is the people he works with.

“I’m very proud of the folks on my team and the folks that I work beside that give it their all. The need is there for better rural Internet in our communities. It is exciting to see all the hard work that goes into delivering and bringing value to communities that are underserved,” he said.

He says that customer satisfaction boils down to the network monitoring and deployment cycles.

“The need for more bandwidth and services is never-ending. What I and my departments do is stay ahead of that demand as much as possible,” he said.

They do that by ensuring the network, sites, and services are always on and available.

“That means constantly upgrading, building, expanding, and adding more and then making sure there’s someone available to respond if something goes down. My team is available 24/7 and actively engaged to get that service back up and running,” he said.

Being an Xplore customer himself, and living in a rural area, Joel knows how important it is to have a reliable Internet connection.

Joel grew up in the small town of Perth, Ontario and now lives about 25 minutes north in McDonalds Corners. He lives on the edge of a 730-acre maple farm down a dirt road with his closest neighbour a few kilometres away.

“I’m very proud that my kids get to grow up in this rural environment and very close to family. They see their grandparents every day, they see their cousins who all live on the property and they work and play together every weekend,” he said.

Wheeler family photo

Joel was fortunate to marry into Wheelers Maple, an operation that his in-laws started in the 70s.

In 1996, Joel’s father-in-law built a pancake house where the whole family is now employed. The family shares the load, working together in the restaurant, managing the maple bush, tapping, and producing syrup.

Visitors of the pancake house and farm can also enjoy elaborate hiking trails, a playground, a small farm with alpacas and sheep, a blacksmith, and a maple history museum which is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest collection of maple artifacts. The farm is also home to a logging museum with one of the top collections of antique chainsaws.

Now that we're into sugar-making season, the property is open to the public open 6 days a week.

“In a couple weeks, we will start making syrup. It was my father-in-law’s dream and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of it and that my kids get to be a part of it. My son and daughter want to be there helping out. It’s such a beautiful family business where everyone works together and makes a really great product,” he said.

Joel primarily helps during the busy spring season.

“I help out with tapping, which is where we actually go out and drill into the tree and add the spout for the sap to drop out of,” he said.

And, in the springtime, he works in the restaurant, doing whatever needs to be done including clearing and waiting on tables.

As you might have guessed, Joel manages the farm’s Xplore-powered wireless Internet network which runs throughout the property and provides them with security cameras and sensors and the ability to manage the operations from their phones.

He and his family have been satisfied with their Internet connection.

“Our service is rock solid. We’re on the 50 Mbps package and it works really well,” he said.

When he’s not keeping Xplore’s fixed wireless Internet running, and helping on the maple farm, Joel spends time with his family.

“In the evenings I like to bike ride with the kids and swim out at the lake. Most of my existence outside of Xplore is family-focused,” he said.

For more information about Wheelers Maple, visit their website here.

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