7 Progressive Surveying Firms And What You Can Learn From Them

September 28, 2011
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+


The surveying profession was one of the hardest hit sectors of the recession. Many firms are still struggling, and it’s easy to say that the profession as a whole is in trouble. But look closer and you’ll see glimmers of optimism. There are firms that have continued to do well throughout the recession--in fact, some firms are experiencing their best business ever. How are such results possible in this economic climate?

POB sought out some of these firms and interviewed their leaders. What we discovered was that today’s most successful surveying and mapping businesses generally follow five basic principles:

• Diversification. Focusing on a single market can be a lucrative strategy when that market is booming but can be disastrous in a recession. Firms that serve multiple market sectors are better positioned to experience steady growth over the long term.

• Education. Going beyond the requirements of continuing education for licensing is crucial to success in today’s fast-paced market. High performers are lifelong learners who value education in all forms, including college degree programs, conference attendance, magazine articles and books, and online research. They study technologies and trends as well as overall business strategies. Firms that value learning and invest in their employees’ education are simply smarter.

• Imagination. Land surveying is a foundation for many other services, including GIS, building information modeling (BIM), engineering and spatial data management. The ability to view professional expertise from different angles and recognize opportunities outside of a traditional business model is invaluable.

• Collaboration. Successful firms understand their strengths, recognize their limitations, and actively build a network of trusted teaming partners to bridge any gaps. Relationships both with clients and with other professionals are key.

• Adaptation. Owning the newest laser scanner or mobile mapping system isn’t imperative to being profitable. However, firms that understand the technology trends and adapt to them in a way that makes sense for their firm and their clients will always have a competitive advantage. Having a well-trained, knowledgeable staff with access to the best tools for the job is a surefire strategy for success.

The seven firms profiled in this issue aren’t necessarily the “top seven,” and they aren’t the only firms with a track record of high performance. But they are worthy of recognition for their approach, perspective and accomplishments. Here are their stories.

Company Name: Borbas Surveying & Mapping LLC

Website: www.borbas.com

Headquarters: Boonton, N.J.

Year Established: 1986

Number of Employees: 10

Primary Services Provided: Surveying and mapping

Ten years ago, Borbas Surveying & Mapping provided residential boundary and title surveys for conveyances and mortgages as part of its services, and much of its work also involved municipal applications for subdivision and site plans. “The residential work, although fun, did not provide enough financial return on the time and energy spent to equate to a professional fee,” says Owner J. Peter Borbas, PLS, PP, “and the subdivision development work was in direct conflict with our open space preservation survey work to promote clean water and quality of life issues.”

The firm started turning down residential work except for well-paying projects performed as part of litigation or title claims. It began devoting more time to municipal infrastructure, open-space preservation and school projects, and it eliminated its engineering staff to avoid competing with engineering company clients. At the same time, the company began investing in its GIS capabilities and in the professional development of its staff. Today, the firm is thriving and is well respected for its work. “It is every team member’s responsibility to continue to learn new things and to teach everyone else in the firm everything that they know,” Borbas says. “Our high values and respect for our clients, teammates and third parties set us apart from other firms.”

Building trust is an important strategy for Borbas Surveying & Mapping. “We keep to our word, find new ways to assist clients and increase our value to them by giving them meaningful data in a format that fits perfectly into their systems and processes,” Borbas says. “Satisfied clients are our best marketing tool.”

The company specializes in GPS control networks and surveys, GIS surveys and data management, digital file conversions, aerial mapping control and quality assurance, and environmental compliance mapping. In these and other areas served by the firm, technology is client-driven. Any technology that allows the firm to provide higher-quality products and services to its current clients, enables the firm to expand its client base, and helps the firm give clients an edge over their competitors is seen as a worthwhile investment. But it isn’t hardware or software that ultimately gives the firm an edge. “What I believe our firm does better than anyone else is to present ourselves as knowledgeable, competent and trusted professionals,” Borbas says.

Good business practices form the foundation of the firm. Borbas carefully studies successful businesses and reads related books and articles. He participates in statewide commerce and industry groups and other related professional organizations, and he serves on committees involved in developing standards and guidelines pertaining to work handled by his firm. He also attends influential leadership conferences such as the annual Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

Two years ago, Borbas joined The Alternative Board (TAB), a membership organization that brings together owners of privately held businesses to overcome challenges and seize new opportunities with a combination of peer advice and business coaching. “I’ve worked more on my business in the past two years than I ever have,” he says. “My board has helped me understand things about business that I never even knew to look for. It has helped me to focus on my quality of life, my future, increasing the value of our company for the long haul, and profits.”

The firm's success is measured by its service. “Hard work, teamwork, sacrifice, and the belief that the firm’s purpose is to serve others is key,” Borbas says.

--------------

Q&A with J. Peter Borbas

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
Our teamwork approach and our level of higher education. It is every team member’s responsibility to continue to learn new things. It is every team member’s responsibility to teach everyone else everything that they know. Our high values and respect for our clients, teammates and third parties sets us apart from other firms. What we do better than anyone else is present ourselves as knowledgeable, competent and trusted professionals.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
Hard work, teamwork, sacrifices and the belief that we are here to serve others, not to take.



Company Name: Dynasty Group Inc.

Website: www.dynastygrp.com

Headquarters: Chicago

Year Established: 1994

Number of Employees: 40

Primary Services Offered: Civil design engineering, construction engineering, surveying, nondestructive testing and BIM/GIS support services

In the initial planning stages of each project, President Zhong Chen, PE, PLS, issues a challenge to his staff: “Try to identify different ways to approach each task.” This focus on innovation has led Dynasty Group to broaden its scope beyond a typical engineering and land surveying consulting firm. The company was an early adopter of 3D laser scanning technology in 2001 and worked diligently to integrate scanning into its workflow in a way that made sense for its clients. The technology has opened doors for the firm in roadway projects, bridge construction, building information modeling (BIM), industrial plant scanning and historical documentation both in the United States and in China. The company also recognized early on that information is power and began developing its BIM and GIS support services.

Then, in 2008, Dynasty Group added nondestructive testing (NDT) to its service offerings under the leadership of Aldo De La Haza, principal and manager of NDT Services. "Very few companies that offer NDT services have expertise in surveying or dimensional control,” says Chen. “Likewise, most surveyors doing dimensional control and surveying work, and even laser scanning, don’t usually have NDT capabilities. By putting the two together through data fusion, we’re able to look not only at the surface but also beyond the surface of any given object or structure to provide greater intelligence for improved decision-making. That’s given us a competitive edge in the market.”

To maintain that edge, Dynasty Group invests heavily in its people. Professional development is a big focus for the firm. A number of Dynasty Group’s employees have been with the company for more than 10 years--a track record Chen notes is unusual for a small firm. “Whenever we hire somebody, we hope to keep them for their career,” he says. “We put quite a bit of effort into helping them identify their areas of interest and develop their skills.”

New hires are given the opportunity to spend time exploring both field and office work and are encouraged to bring new ideas to the table. But experience drives the success of the firm. "Most of the younger members of our group enjoy technology and love what they call their ‘toys,’ but they lack experience,” Chen says. “That’s where the senior people come in--to coach them and make sure that the focus with that technology is on developing a solid product to send to our clients.” Dynasty Group has also been working in research and development with manufacturers of NDT equipment around the world, for instance, the 3D ultrasonic shear wave devices from Acoustic Control Systems in Moscow, Russia.

Being able to identify the best technology for a project and then create an efficient workflow to accomplish the task is primary strength of the firm. “In this economy, everyone is looking for ways to save money and shorten their schedule,” Chen says. “With our experience and knowledge, we can usually come up with an innovative way to approach a project so our clients can achieve these goals.”

Innovation and diversification are solid business strategies for any firm. But Chen cautions against stretching too far. “The surveying profession today is so broad that very few companies can actually have all of the different specialties under one roof,” he says. “We as surveyors need to understand our role in a project. We need to acknowledge our limitations and use our strengths to provide increased value to our clients.”

--------------

Q&A with Zhong Chen

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
The people we have and the effort we spend to develop our professionals. Training is a big focus - we like to work with people. Despite the challenging economy, we still try to push growth. The people who have been here 5 or 10 years or longer have the knowledge and know-how to help us produce a better product. That helps us get involved in new projects, which gives us room to hire new people and grow. With more experience and knowledge, we can do things better and faster, and be more informative to our clients. And with our emphasis on professional development, our staff is always looking for new applications and new technologies that will benefit our clients.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
Our people.



Company Name: Rice Associates Inc.

Website: www.ricesurveys.com

Headquarters: Manassas, Va.

Year Established: 1986

Number of Employees: 50 personnel, including seven registered land surveyors, two certified photogrammetrists, two Leica factory-trained high-definition LiDAR scanning specialists and a cross-trained support staff of office and field technicians

Primary Services Offered: Control surveys, aerial mapping, photogrammetry, LiDAR scanning, global positioning, utility location, hydrographic studies, location and route surveys, bridge situations, and boundary surveys

Like many other surveying firms, Rice Associates began to see a slowdown in the fall of 2008. A backlog of state and municipal assignments carried the firm through 2009, but as those projects ended, new projects failed to emerge. According to President David “Charlie” F. Rice, III, LS, it was a sign that the firm needed to redouble its efforts. “We competed or re-competed for several state and municipal contracts,” he says. “We also continued our aggressive marketing strategy, which involved expanding our client base to maximize our participation in project types least impacted by the recession. We used customized presentations to more effectively share our skills and knowledge with existing and new clients, attended trade shows and conferences, and stayed abreast of upcoming opportunities.”

These efforts paid off, and the firm was able to not only maintain its existing base where it was incumbent but was also able to expand the number of its term contracts. As a result, 2011 is on track to be the firm’s best year ever in terms of revenues. The company is expanding geographically and is seeking to hire additional personnel at all levels.

Rice Associates wasn’t always so aggressive. In its early years, the firm completed the vast majority of surveying assignments by traditional means. But as technology advanced, the firm sought out ways to incorporate new systems and processes. “We have become more innovative and always consider alternative approaches to survey projects for the purpose of enhancing the productivity of our resources,” Rice explains. “We employ various methods to produce our deliverables based on specific project requirements including extensive use of GPS, conventional ground survey, aerial mapping/photogrammetry, and LiDAR. Importantly, we strive to combine conventional survey and LiDAR on virtually all of our medium-size and larger projects regardless of project type. When practical in terms of efficiency and cost, we will also incorporate aerial mapping/photogrammetry into the process. Our goal is to be viewed as a client’s ‘one stop shop’ when it comes to procuring survey support services.”

Although technology is important, Rice says it’s the people that drive the growth of the business. Rice Associates is an employee-owned firm, and each employee has a vested interest in the company’s success. The firm invests in its employee-owners by providing cross-training, educational assistance and technical training. “We stress the importance of quality and client satisfaction,” Rice says, “and our long-term employees have always sought to instill that commitment to new employees. We structure our approach to providing our services in a manner that adheres to the parameters established by the client, and we are steadfast in our commitment to get the work done on time, at a high level of quality and at a reasonable price.”

According to Rice, becoming valuable project partners is one way to ensure the long-term viability of the surveying profession. “Historically, surveying was viewed by many public sector clients and engineering firms as a necessary evil falling at the bottom of the food chain,” he says. “Surveyors were seen as people pounding stakes in the ground, measuring between them, and drawing sketches but not really knowing why. We have worked extremely hard not to be viewed in that way. Through our concerted efforts to satisfy our clients’ specific needs and provide a high quality product in a timely and cost effective manner, we feel we have achieved that objective. Our clients understand that our work in large part forms the foundation for their efforts, and we now serve as an active and involved member on owner/client teams.”

--------------

Q&A with David “Charlie” F. Rice III

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
Our people are the primary differentiator and many have been with the firm for over 10 years and several started their career with Rice Associates over 20 years or more ago. We stress the importance quality and client satisfaction, and our long term employees have always sought to instill that commitment to new employees. Our managers and senior technical personnel are very attentive to client needs. At the inception of each assignment, Rice Associates task managers find out exactly what the client needs, when they want it, and how they will use it, immediately and in the future. We always structure our approach to providing our services in a manner that adheres to the parameters established by the client, and we are steadfast in our commitment to get the work done on time, at a high level of quality and at a reasonable price. Key is our attitude toward teamwork and service, and if in rare instances something is out of kilter, we don’t complain; we simply fix it. The bottom line is that we want our clients to be able to confidently utilize Rice Associates knowing that the product will be on time and of high quality.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
Our technical capabilities and personnel are the primary keys to our success. As a firm, we have made a concerted effort to utilize the best in technology beginning with the advent of GPS and continuing today with LiDAR. We are continuously looking for ways to enhance our capabilities in a manner that allows us to more efficiently and effectively service our client base. This commitment has allowed us to provide a high quality service at a lower cost in a timely manner that best satisfies the needs and expectations of our clients. Today we provide the same level of service we provided 10 or 12 years ago with approximately 70 percent of the personnel resources.

In terms of personnel, Rice Associates is an employee-owned firm and as such each employee has a vested interest in the success of the company. As with technology the firm also invests in its employee-owners by providing cross-training, educational assistance and technical training. Rice Associates is firmly committed to quality and conducts its daily operations in accordance with a formal quality assurance plan which is adhered to in all areas of our business operations.



Company Name: Surveying And Mapping Inc. (SAM Inc.)

Website: www.saminc.biz

Headquarters: Austin, Texas

Year Established: 1994

Number of Employees: 375

Primary Services Offered: Land surveying, mobile LiDAR, airborne LiDAR, terrestrial laser scanning, GIS, photogrammetry, construction phase services, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination services

Against the backdrop of a very difficult economy, SAM Inc. saw its revenues jump 80 percent in 2010 and an additional 70 percent in 2011. “Our sustained efforts to diversify our markets and geographic reach while staying at the leading edge of technological advancements are the primary elements of this success,” says founder and president Samir “Sam” G. Hanna, RPLS, adding that gaining new business in the energy markets was a major game changer for the firm.

Market diversification is not a new strategy for SAM Inc. Over the last decade, the firm has strategically expanded to offer digital aerial mapping, GIS, terrestrial laser scanning, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination. In 2009, SAM Inc. became one of the first firms to invest in mobile LiDAR technology. And in August 2011, the company added a state-of-the-art Trimble Harrier 68i airborne LiDAR scanner that can be deployed from either a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. “Bringing our multidisciplinary expertise to bear across a range of geospatial solutions is one of our greatest strengths,” Hanna says. “Not only do we maximize our value to clients with diverse capabilities, but our cross-disciplinary integration allows us to provide more knowledgeable solutions.”

While technology investments give the firm a competitive edge, the company’s corporate culture fosters a spirit of innovation that goes beyond hardware and software. “With a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration, a robust entrepreneurial spirit, family atmosphere and positive recognition of accomplishments, our people take pride in their professional advancement,” Hanna says. The firm experienced a 185 percent employee growth rate in the past year alone. The expansion of staff resources has allowed the company to pursue multiple large-scale (100+ mile) projects. Success on these projects enables the firm to invest in future services and markets and continue its cycle of growth.

Client satisfaction is paramount. “We only consider a job complete when our client is successfully using the product,” Hanna says. “What turns a new client into a long-term client is the hard work and dedication of all of our employees working together to deliver a top-quality product, on time and within budget. Our continued achievement rests on our ability to deliver the best work, even under the toughest conditions.”

Looking toward the future, Hanna believes it’s imperative for the surveying profession to continue to integrate new geospatial tools that increase productivity and accuracy and deliver value to clients. “The surveying profession has gone through several significant sea change moments,” he says. “3D laser scanning and the more recent advances with mobile mapping and airborne LiDAR technology are the next stage in a continuous cycle of advancements. For design applications, LiDAR technology (terrestrial, mobile and airborne) offers a tremendous advantage to our profession with the ability to collect a large amount of information very quickly, and at a higher level of accuracy than ever before.”

Such innovations are blurring the boundaries separating traditional land surveying from other geospatial services, Hanna says. “While boundary surveying will remain an important component, geospatial disciplines are converging. Like a GIS mashup, we are being tasked to bring together datasets from multiple sources to produce a new product. Our clients expect value. Our future rests on our ability not just to adapt, but to drive innovation in surveying technology, and to critically evaluate and apply these new technologies to support our clients’ projects.”

--------------

Q&A with Samir “Sam” G. Hanna

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
SAM, Inc. is a fast-paced, work-hard and play-hard company committed to staying on the leading edge of technology advancements. With a remarkable 185% employee growth rate this past year, we employ the smartest and most dedicated minds in our industry, all excited to be advancing our profession. With a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration, a robust entrepreneurial spirit, family atmosphere and positive recognition of accomplishments, our people take pride in their professional advancement.

Our clients in the surveying and mapping business, and the diverse market sectors we serve, require a wide range of services and products to support their needs. These often span many disciplines and highly-specialized areas of expertise. Bringing our multidisciplinary expertise to bear across a range of geospatial solutions is one of our greatest strengths. Not only do we maximize our value to clients with diverse capabilities, but our cross-disciplinary integration allows us to provide more knowledgeable solutions.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
For the past 17 years, SAM, Inc. has relied on a simple formula "• focusing on teamwork, the best people, quality product, customer service, and investment in technology to maintain our success. Above all, client satisfaction is our priority. We only consider a job complete when our client is successfully using the product. What turns a new client into a long-term customer is the hard work and dedication of all of our employees working together to deliver a top-quality product, on time, and in budget. Our continued achievement rests on our ability to deliver the best work, even under the toughest conditions.



Company Name: Southeastern Surveying and Mapping Corp.

Website: www.southeasternsurveying.com

Headquarters: Orlando, Fla.

Year Established: 1972

Number of Employees: SSMC’s management staff of 17 professional surveyors and mappers and one professional engineer has a combined total of over 531 years of experience and supervises 20 Survey/CAD/GIS technicians and 28 field teams.

Primary Services Offered: Land surveying, subsurface utility location and geographic information systems

Of the states hardest hit by the real estate and land development bust, Florida is near the top of the list. Business conditions for land surveyors in the state have been understandably difficult. Still, some firms have risen above the challenges. For Southeastern Surveying and Mapping Corp. (SSMC), capitalizing on nontraditional yet complementary services such as closed circuit television video (CCTV) pipe inspection, nondestructive pipe thickness testing, concrete imaging, ground penetrating radar mapping, mobile imaging, pavement inspection and asset inventory and condition assessment has led to continued growth. “The use of modern and improved technologies has allowed us to provide a wider range of services to our existing clients, which has also opened the door to opportunities with new clients,” explains President Gary Krick, PSM.

Although this broad outreach is important, the real key to the firm’s success, says Krick, is the quality of service. “Our diversity of services gets our ‘foot in the door’ with clients, but our willingness to do whatever it takes to produce a quality product and satisfy the needs of our clients allows us to turn those opportunities into long-term relationships.”

With its broad range of surveying and mapping services, the firm makes an effort to anticipate services that clients need in order to make SSMC their “single-stop survey shop.” This level of responsiveness sets the firm apart in the market.

Achieving this goal requires a knowledgeable staff--something Krick is especially proud of. The firm is committed to continued education for staff members, offering 100 percent college reimbursement and educational bonuses. SSMC also actively promotes the ACSM Certified Survey Technician program. The firm employs 33 CSTs, including five with a Level IV certification. Its certified staff represents 11 percent of all CSTs in the state of Florida and 2 percent nationally.

Technology has also played an important role in the success of the firm. “We always strive to select the right tool for the job and to meet our clients’ needs,” Krick says. “As our clients gain more comfort working in a 3D environment, we foresee our deliverables evolving from 2D representations to attributed three dimensional models.”

Toward that end, the firm has made investments in training, hardware and software that keep it on the cutting edge. The company is adept at laser scanning and processing of point cloud data using tools such as Certainty 3D’s TopoDOT software, and it has recently been evaluating the mobile mapping capabilities of versatile tools such as the TopoLIFT system in conjunction with a Riegl VZ400 scanner. Still, Krick cites communication technologies like the Internet as the firm’s most important assets. “Instant access to information, along with the ability to send and receive voice, data and images instantly between field personnel, office staff, clients and partners, allows us to close the information gap or quickly resolve unforeseen issues,” he explains.

Today’s surveying profession demands highly trained and educated people that have the ability to operate high-tech equipment in harsh conditions, says Krick. Presenting a professional appearance along with being involved in professional organizations can contribute to improving the public perception of the profession. But the bottom line is service. “The surveying profession is no different than any other service business,” Krick says. “Performing your service at a high level of quality with a goal of building long-term client relationships is fundamental.”

--------------

Q&A with Gary Krick

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
Our diversity of services gets our “foot in the door” with clients, but our willingness to do whatever it takes to produce a quality product and satisfy the needs of our clients allows us to turn those opportunities into long-term relationships. We provide a full range of surveying and mapping services, making an effort to anticipate services that our clients need in an effort to make SSMC their “Single Stop Survey Shop.” Our clients say our responsiveness sets us apart from our competitors.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
The surveying profession is no different than any other service business. Performing your service with a high level of quality with a goal of building long-term client relationships is fundamental.




Company Name: T3 Global Strategies Inc.

Website: www.t3gs.com

Headquarters: Bridgeville, Pa.

Year Established: 2001

Number of Employees: 17 staff members who are cross-trained to perform multiple functions as the workload requires

Primary Services Offered: Surveying, GIS services, digital photogrammetric mapping, high-resolution laser scanning, public safety services

When asked to describe business conditions over the last several years, Larry Straight, PLS, CP, T3’s vice president, sums it up in one word: “Challenging!” This year has been especially difficult, he says. With many federal agencies operating under continuing resolution budgets, a number of projects that rely on federal funding--including some state Department of Transportation projects--have been delayed indefinitely. “While T3 has been in business for 10 years, I have personally been in the consulting business for 35 years and have never experienced this level of prolonged business uncertainty in the profession,” Straight says.

Despite these challenges, the firm is growing. The key, Straight says, is service. “In these uncertain economic times, we see evidence in many business sectors where good service has become a thing of the past,” he says. “T3 has always strived to focus on our clients and their unique needs. Our deliveries are customized to their existing data structures so that all information can be integrated into a workflow with little or no manipulation required. We are partners with our clients, helping to ensure their success, thereby ensuring ours. We are committed to giving support during the entire project phase, and we take the quality of our deliveries personally.”

Straight admits that this level of dedication can come at a price. In some cases, the firm has sacrificed profits in order to ensure that a delivery met or exceeded a client’s needs. But although T3’s clients don’t see the efforts being made behind the scenes in the QA/QC review process, their satisfaction with the firm’s service has led to a substantial amount of repeat business--a solid indicator that T3 is on the right track.

A reputation for quality service isn’t the only factor in the company’s continued growth. As technology has changed over the past decade, T3 has adapted by looking beyond its traditional business model. When airborne sensors capable of collecting LiDAR and high-resolution digital imagery led to a decline in the firm’s conventional mapping business, T3 looked for--and found--new opportunities in the federal sector. An increased awareness of security led the company to become involved in public safety, which is a service area the firm did not even contemplate five years ago. And by teaming with other companies, T3 has been able to access resources and markets that it might not have been able to reach on its own.

T3 has also made strategic investments in technology and personnel that allow the firm to develop comprehensive geodatabases that meet the Spatial Data Standards for Facilities, Infrastructure and Environment (SDSFIE) standard, and it has developed techniques and methods to capture field-surveyed data directly in SDSFIE format. The firm continues to expand its GIS data generation capabilities. “Surveying can be the framework for the management of facilities, land, utilities, etc.,” Straight says. “We strive to educate our clients to utilize all of their data to its fullest potential. We supply much more than points and annotation; we provide intelligent data that can be queried, analyzed and used for asset management.”

Ultimately, Straight believes the surveying profession is much broader and more complex than what some might consider. “Surveyors can be geodesists, photogrammetrists, LiDAR specialists, hydographers, forensic experts and other specialists who provide unique talents developed through years of education and practical application,” he says. “Many of my fellow professionals are successful business owners who manage companies requiring them to possess a variety of skills including accounting, human resources, project management and marketing. Equipping a survey crew today can be an investment of $100,000 or more. The surveying profession deserves to be recognized for the experience and financial requirements needed to do what we do.

“The geospatial world is dynamic and requires constant monitoring of our clients’ needs and adapting to support and exceed expectations,” he adds. “The key to success is found in our ability to be proactive and anticipate market trends in support of our clients.”

--------------

Q&A with Larry Straight

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
In these uncertain economic times, we see evidence in many business sectors where good service has become a thing of the past. T3 has always strived to be focused on our clients and their unique needs. Our deliveries are customized to their existing data structures so that all information can be integrated into a work flow with little or no manipulation required. We are partners with our clients helping to insure their success thereby ensuring ours. As one of my partners stated, “We not only sell the can of soup, we help them make the soup”. While this may seem to understate our position it describes our commitment to giving support during the entire project phase. We take the quality of our deliveries personally. There have been instances, as I am sure happens in all companies, that we have sacrificed profits and even lost on projects in order to ensure our delivery meets or exceeds our clients needs. While our clients do not see the effort we make in the QA/QC review process, their repeat business is an indicator of our success.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
The geospatial world is dynamic and requires constant monitoring of our clients’ needs and how we can support and exceed expectations. The key to success is found in our ability to be proactive and anticipate market trends in support of our clients. We look for business opportunities - even in areas that are not our typical business sectors. An additional factor is our ability to establish teaming arrangements with other companies, which allow us access to resources and markets that we might not be able to have or reach on our own.



Company Name: Woolpert Inc.

Website: www.woolpert.com

Headquarters: Dayton, Ohio

Year Established: 1911

Number of Employees: 650

Primary Services Offered: Professional design, geospatial and infrastructure services

Woolpert experienced its best year in its 100-year history in 2007. Although the firm has been impacted by the recession in the last several years, its geospatial group has continued to grow.

To maintain its position as an industry leader, Woolpert reinvents its service offerings every three to five years. For example, 10 years ago the firm started to see the impact of low-bid, off-shoring of geospatial data production. Woolpert invested heavily in technology to automate its processes so the firm could be competitive on price without compromising quality. When commercial development began slowing drastically in the U.S., the firm began reinventing its surveying group, shifting the group’s focus to markets such as energy, asset management, and hydrographic and bathymetric surveying. To that end, the firm is investing in new technology such as laser scanning, mobile mapping, and hydrographic and bathymetric sensors.

Woolpert’s primary strength is its diversity and size. “We are a traditional architectural and engineering company with a very large geospatial presence,” says Jeff Lovin, CP, PS, Woolpert senior vice president and director of geospatial services. “Our position as one of the largest geospatial firms gives us the capacity and resources to sustain our business during an economic downturn. While the demand for A/E services may be less right now, the demand for geospatial services is still thriving.”

The firm’s longevity is also key. Through 100 years of business, Woolpert has established a reputation for quality service throughout its various markets.

From a technology standpoint, LiDAR is one of the firm’s best assets. Lovin notes that Woolpert was a pioneer in aerial LiDAR 15 years ago. “Over that period of time, we have accomplished many firsts and maintain a large percentage of the market share today, typically capturing around 75,000 square miles in a season. We are now looking to parlay this knowledge and expertise into the laser scanning and mobile mapping markets.”

The firm is always looking ahead. Its Applied Research and Development (ARAD) group is solely focused on identifying and pursuing the next technology related to the geospatial profession. “While geospatial firms typically wait on the hardware and software providers to develop and market the next opportunities, our ARAD group is in many instances pulling the manufacturers along with us to provide new and innovative services to the market,” Lovin says. “This places us ahead of our competitors and will hopefully keep us there for years to come.”

Lovin believes mobile mapping and laser scanning technologies will continue to offer new opportunities in the coming years. “We saw what aerial LiDAR for the photogrammetry market more than 15 years ago,” he says. “Laser scanning and mobile mapping will have that same level of impact, if not greater, for the surveying profession.”

It’s a profession that, as a whole, is evolving. “With the ongoing recession, the private market may never return to its peak and because of this, there is not as high of a demand for the traditional boundary and construction surveying work,” he says. “However, the evolution of mobile mapping and laser scanning has brought on new demands for the surveying profession and has changed the way we survey. Those firms that embrace this radical change will be able to continue to have successful surveying operations.”

--------------

Q&A with Jeff Lovin

What primary strength sets your company apart from other firms in your market? What does your firm do better than anyone else?
Woolpert’s strength lies in our diversity and size. We are a traditional architectural and engineering company with a very large geospatial presence. Our position as one of the largest geospatial firms gives us the capacity and resources to sustain our business during an economic downturn. While the demand for A/E services may be less right now, the demand for geospatial services is still thriving.

If I had to pick only one thing that Woolpert does better than anyone else it would have to be LiDAR. Woolpert was a pioneer in aerial LiDAR 15 years ago. Over that period of time, we have accomplished many firsts and maintain a large percentage of the market share today, typically capturing around 75,000 square miles in a season. We are now looking to parlay this knowledge and expertise into the laser scanning and mobile mapping markets.

What do you believe is the key to your firm’s success?
Beyond our diversity, the key to our success is our longevity. Through 100 years of business, we’ve established a reputation for quality service throughout our various markets. Over the years, Woolpert has become well known for being an innovative leader in our profession.




----------------

Is your firm progressive? Email pobeditor@bnpmedia.com to find out how your firm can be profiled in a future issue of POB.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to POB

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.

POB

POB September 2014

2014 September

In this September 2014 issue of POB, we take a look at a book that reveals how a rare-map dealer made millions stealing ancient maps. Also, discover the secrets of a 21st-century surveyor and how technology enables small surveying businesses to ease growing pains and maximize their potential.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Webinars

How many webinars have you participated in over the past 12 months?
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +