SAM Inc., a provider of geospatial data solutions based in Austin, Texas, has been on a winning streak lately. In April 2012, the firm received a national Honor Award in Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for a mobile LiDAR mapping project that supported the City of Austin’s plan to implement major downtown streetscape improvements. The company was added to the Engineering News Record (ENR) Top 500 list for 2012 with a ranking of 146. And in June, Samir “Sam” G. Hanna, RPLS, founder and president of the firm, was named as a Central Texas regional winner of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for 2012. What’s the company’s secret?

“We are very proud of the work we do,” Hanna said. “We submit background information about certain projects and accomplishments to a few competitions every year—as many companies do—but the amount of recognition we’ve received recently was somewhat unexpected.”

He noted that the accomplishments were a team effort achieved through a talented and committed staff. His role, he said, is “to make sure that we have the right vision for where we want to go, to build the best performing teams, and to provide the best tools to successfully accomplish our goals.”

Those goals involve winning in a broader sense, by remaining at the forefront of technology development and expanding the firm’s service offerings and geographic presence. SAM Inc. already provides services ranging from land surveying, mobile and airborne LiDAR, and terrestrial laser scanning to GIS, photogrammetry, construction phase services, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination. Relying on an internal programming team, the company has recently begun developing its own software solutions to improve how it collects, uses and manages survey data. Hanna said these applications will enhance the project workflow for the firm’s clients. The company has also begun offering a wider range of construction phase services through its new subsidiary, SAM-Construction Services, Inc. (SAM-CS, Inc.), established in 2011. On the geographic side, the firm has opened new offices in Atlanta, Denver, and Salt Lake City and is evaluating other locations.

True success is measured by client satisfaction and a growing business. For a firm that excels on both fronts, do awards and accolades even matter?

“It's difficult to quantify the full impact of awards on our business, but to the extent that they bring more awareness about our company to the marketplace, we are very pleased to have received them,” Hanna said. “Our company is also growing rapidly, and more exposure for our commitment to excellence certainly helps as we continue to recruit new staff.”


Photo: Samir “Sam” G. Hanna, RPLS, founder and president of SAM, Inc.