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.
Ten years ago, Borbas Surveying & Mapping 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.
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. Despite the hurdles, the firm is growing.
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 has led to continued growth.
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.
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. Through a series of strategic moves, 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.
Several years ago, NTT Infranet began investigating the use of model-based methods for underground 3D utility mapping. Could a system comparing data from multiple sensors against a physical model of the magnetic field expected from a utility line provide the confidence and error data the company was seeking? It was an intriguing proposition.