In the field, Douglas King’s favorite tool is his brain. “Plan your work and then work your plan,” he says simply. In the photo on this day, however, King didn’t plan to find a 100-foot, giant cypress tree in Porter, Texas.

“We were cross-sectioning lakes with sonar at an active sand mine, and the client requested us to try and locate where a local stream may have been impacting the pit areas. We found these Bald Cypress trees while scouting the area. They are approximately 100 feet tall as well.” 

King is not a licensed surveyor, but he has 20-plus years of land surveying experience under his belt. 

“I operate a contracting business (Delta Field Services) that works with licensed surveyors performing fieldwork and drafting, all of our work is done under the direction of an RPLS. We are very careful not to cross that line,” he says. “I got into surveying in about 1980, worked a few years with a K&E transit, graduating to a Wild T1 then T2 and a HP distance meter that required car batteries to work. I got out and did not go back until the mid-90s. I have been at it ever since.”

King’s firm is mostly hired for boundary surveys (usually larger tracts), as-builts, some construction staking, topographic and bathymetric work with sonar and QA/QC on high-rise buildings for international companies.

“With the exception of myself we run an all women field crew,” he says, “best one I have ever fielded!”

Equipment at King’s contracting firm includes a Spectra TS, Carlson software for fieldwork and drafting, a DJI drone with 3D survey software and Stonex GPS. 

“Great products for the investment, reasonable ROI,” he says. “I work both in the field (mostly oversite) and in the office. We try to offer a turnkey service when possible, after all, who better to draft up the fieldwork than the person that was on the ground during the fieldwork?”

Besides the addition of more tools to get survey work done, King believes fieldwork has largely remained the same when it comes to being a land surveyor. 

“High tech can only do so much, sometimes you just have to get out of the truck and work,” he says. “As far as insights, I wish that surveying firms would be more open to using qualified contractors. We are not here to steal their work; we offer an alternative to hiring on another crew or investing in more expensive equipment.”

Making his argument, he adds: “We pay insurance, look and act professionally. We have qualified people and, personally, I treat every job as if I was going to sign the survey, and it is my license on the line. On the opposite side of that coin, I wish that the unlicensed contractors in this profession (some not all) would not present themselves as ‘surveyors’ and take on work that is out of their wheelhouse without the direction of a licensed professional. When an issue arises, it only creates problems for firms like ours and taints our reputation in the eyes of those who are licensed professionals.”

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