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A GIS Pirate Looks Back at Forty Years

by Mike on June 22, 2015

I just celebrated my 40th anniversary of employment at Schneider Geospatial. Schneider Geospatial will hit 53 years as a corporation later this month. Many people find 40 years at one company remarkable “in this day and age”, but for a place that is consciously seeking to develop mutually-beneficial, individual relationships I guess it really isn’t.
I follow in the footsteps of one of the first crew chiefs with whom I started working in the field for several years back in 1975. He recently retired after 48 years of service. I am also accompanied by our Chief of Parties, who started with the former Indiana Surveying Company in 1973, which merged with us in 1982, and whom I first met on his first “Schneider” assignment back in 1980. And of course there’s Schneider Geospatial's three amigos Senior Project Managers (1983, 1984, and 1987) who have helped evolve and spin off several specialized business units for Utilities, Residential Construction, and GIS from our common background in surveying and mapping. Schneider Geomatics also has two other thirty-year-plus veterans through employment with the former Indiana Surveying Company.
What this all indicates is the spirit of innovation, discovery, and adaptation that is part of the culture here at Schneider Geospatial.
It goes all the way back to the founders of the corporation – Vince Schneider, John Kantner, and Jack Southerland, and their use of electronic equipment, calculators, and programming to deliver our original set of civil engineering, construction layout, and land surveying services. This included early-adoption of a Friden electronic calculating computer in the 1960’s.
The company bounded forward into the digital age through a strong early investment in electronic distance measurement and “Total Stations” from Hewlett Packard in the field and HP Unix mini computers Data collection running the Holguin suite of design and drafting software and HP plotters – experience which would turn into a computer sales and service enterprise that brought us the first commercial version of AutoCAD from the Comdex show in 1982.
It also extended to the reprographics technologies that served to turn traditional board drawings into analog information systems through automation via pinbar drafting techniques and the idea of systematic “layering” and replication of the intellectual products of design and construction – a technology that was soon sacrificed for a more digitalized and fully-integrated PC Computers / CAD Database workflow.
From there we have steadily progressed towards the idea of building a digital model of the land and infrastructure systems our clients develop, construct, manage, and/or maintain. This manifests itself today as we delve into 3D scanning, web-based information sharing, and automated digital workflow management and permitting.

While we have seen that the hardware, software, and data format and storage methods become increasingly standardized and streamlined and robust, there is always the independent and parallel constant of people and procedures to be developed to operate them, improve them, and re-evaluate and re-deploy them. It’s a credit to the philosophy and environment and culture of Schneider Geospatial that it sustains the whole, always focused on our vision:
  • Challenging, encouraging, and supporting one another so that we all grow personally and professionally.
  • Managing growth by balancing traditional with non-traditional service, and continuing our diversification into other markets and geographic areas.
  • Evaluating and entering new ventures strategically.
  • Developing innovative solutions that contribute to our clients’ success.
  • Attracting, retaining, and developing talented individuals who want to be part of this stimulating environment.
  • Identifying and meeting the expectations of our clients drives our continued success.