November 2019 Newsletter

Meet the Leader of Our New Tech Team

By Dale Dauten

In the park’s unending search for the best in internet and HDTV, we have a new ally, Electrical Communications Unlimited, better known as ECU. It’s a new company, just founded earlier this year, but with plenty of experienced professionals, including the man heading the team working at our parks, Chris Castro. 

Chris took his first IT job while still at Yuma High School, working part-time at a medical billing firm. Even so, that wasn’t his first big project. He smiled as this memory came back to him: “I remodeled my mom’s kitchen when I was in the fifth grade. I used to watch that show ‘This Old House’ and got inspired.” 

The mention of “This Old House” brought back some memories of our own – that’s Bob Vila in the photo. We looked him up and saw that he started on the show in 1979 and left in 1989, then had two other shows that kept him on TV until 2007. We also discovered that he fell into the construction business by accident – he learned to build houses as a Peace Corp volunteer after college. He’s now 72 and retired, but the show lives on – it’s a hit as YouTube videos. And there are those who credit the show, and Vila, with creating reality TV.

As for Chris, he moved to Tucson after school and took a job in Field IT for a large construction firm, and that enabled him to get out of the office and work on projects like making sure the computers and communications functioned smoothly in the bottom of copper mines, like the Duval and Carlota. He eventually took a job transfer to the Valley and worked for the company doing the project at The Resort and Silveridge. Then, early this year, he and two colleagues decided it was time to open their own firm, ECU. The new company took over the parks project in late June.

By the time they took over, the parks’ HDTV and high-speed internet were working, but Chris and his team felt there were still improvements to be made. Since June, much of the work has been on the back-end equipment, but they’ve also had crews systematically going through the parks, upgrading the equipment and finishing up with the pedestals. Chris says, “You can see a difference. The system is more reliable and you see less pixelating. We have residents come out and tell us how much better it is.”

That progress means that some areas of the park lose service while the work is underway. “We give people notice,” Chris said, “but we have to shut it off while we work – after all, there’s actual electricity involved.”

One of the improvements is in the monitoring of the service. “We have monitoring software that tells us immediately if there’s a problem. There was a power outage the other day and we knew the minute the power was back on and had everything going again within minutes.”

Another improvement is in tracking of work and customer interactions, as Chris put it, “We have a whole new database.” This includes the records that used to be kept on paper but is now put into software that’s accessible not just to ECU but to the parks. Rhonda told us, “The other day someone told me that she’d had a problem with her service and they still hadn’t fixed. I was able to check and tell her that the technician had called her three times and left messages about setting up an appointment, and that she should check her messages and get back to them.” 

Summing up, George Igualt told us, “We’re lucky to have Chris as an ally. It’s part of our commitment to realizing Al LaCanne’s vision of high-quality internet and television for all our residents, included in the rent.” 


Check out some of the photos from the recent Appetizer Crawl!