Casey Banner had a hard road to travel to finally get to the job he loved: climbing towers. At the age of 15, Banner was diagnosed with a condition called Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis (HKPP). Doctors encouraged him to limit activities that involved hard labor or continuous outdoor work. Nevertheless, he forged ahead with an active lifestyle.
“I was always an active kid and didn’t know when to stop,” Banner said. Today, Banner runs his own company, Banner Enterprise, composed of 24 employees featuring tower climbers, civil engineers and office staff.
In 1998, Banner graduated from high school and worked for racing legend Dale Earnhardt for a few years, before he was introduced to the tower industry. He took an interest after talking to a contact who sold him on the travel and potential money to be made. Shortly thereafter, he went to the owners of Viper Communications for a job interview.
“I told him I didn’t want to waste his time, because I was not sure if it was for me, so [I asked him] if I could go out to a site and see what it was like. I went to a site in Charlotte to meet the crew, that was the first time I rode a wench line to the top of a 300′ tower. After spending two to three hours hanging out on the tower and at the site, I knew this was for me,” he said.
He worked for Viper for a year, then transferred to their sister company SCSI out of Tennessee where he said he learned the ins and outs of the tower world. In a year, he was tower foreman and, having taken everything he learned from past supervisors, came up with his own way to run a crew.
“This was not an easy thing since I was 23 and had only been in the industry for a short time. I made sure everyone was safe and that we did the job right. I learned that it was easier for me to start running my crews from the top of the tower versus the bottom, and this is what I did for many years,” Banner told Inside Towers.
After eight years, Banner was offered a job at Andrew’s System Inc. where he was given the chance to work in Bermuda for three months and learned to become a manager. When Andrew’s was sold in 2005, he jumped to Skyward Telecom, a start-up company, as a construction manager/foreman. Once again, after eight years, taking what he could from the experience and having helped the company grow, Banner set out on his own.
With a new house and bills piling up, Banner opened his own company in September of 2016, initially focusing on demolition and lot clearing but soon realized his future was in what he knew best: towers.
“I hired two guys and taught them everything I knew. Not long after I hired two more and taught them, then hired a few more, then bought another truck, and then hired more,” he said. The opportunities the market presented came quickly and almost surprisingly to Banner.
“If you’d told me the first time I rode the wench up that tower I would be where I am today, I would tell you you’re crazy,” he said. “The tower industry is my life and always will be.”
In 2017, Banner said he climbed his last tower, knowing he would never be able to climb again.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I still jump into a man basket any time I can, but those who are in the industry know it is different when you climb it. In 2020 I was told by doctors that on top of the HKPP I now have myopathy and there is nothing they can do. Even so, I get up every day, put my boots on and give it 100 percent. This is what I love and this is what I will die doing. There is nothing more enjoyable than teaching the next generation of tower hands the hard life of towers,” Banner said.
By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers