Guest Editorial: Aphorisms for the Surveyor

A 169Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

In place of my editorial in this issue, I thought our readers would enjoy these words of wisdom shared by Dr. Dick Elgin.

"For many years I have delivered to state surveyor association meetings a seminar on how to improve one’s surveying business. Its current revision is based on my 36 years of education, training, experience, buying then operating and growing then selling a surveying and engineering business, and all the accompanying highs and lows that go with a career in surveying. During those 36 years I have collected sayings applicable to operating a surveying/engineering business. I include them in my seminar handouts, and thought perhaps the readers of The American Surveyor would enjoy them as well.

"My only regret is that I did not keep track of the sources of some of these sayings. Some I’ve heard for years, yelled across our surveying office by my late father (with great emphasis and effect). Others I’ve read or heard and modified. Others I’m sure are quotes attributable to someone, but I don’t know which ones or to whom. To them the readers and I say `thanks for your insight and wisdom.’

Call them before they call you.
Under promise. Over deliver.
Procrastination never solved a problem, it only made one get worse.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
People don’t contract for services with people they don’t know.
Bad clients and bad projects go together.
Surveyors are more trustworthy than their clients.
If you don’t have much work, it’s not because you charge too much.
Receivables older than 120 days are no longer receivables.
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
The surveyor’s measurements don’t end up as complaints to the Licensing Board; mis-communications or lack of communication with the client do.
When you offend someone in business they will tell ten people. Do a good job they will tell one.
Never lose an existing client.
There are good jobs and there are bad jobs. Trust your gut. Don’t do the bad jobs.
I don’t know of a surveying company that failed due to charging too much.
An organization’s morale flows from the top down.
Character is what you are. Reputation is merely what others think you are.
It’s what you learn after knowing it all that counts.
A leader leads by example whether he knows it or not.
Leadership is action, not position.
Don’t meet problems as they come, anticipate them.

These nuggets of wisdom apply to business as well as to life. Enjoy and apply."

A 169Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazinecomplete with imagesis available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Dr. Richard Elgin, LS, PE

A second-generation surveyor, Dr. Elgin was raised in his father's surveying business in Rolla, Missouri. After serving as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam he received the degrees BSCE and MSCE from the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR), and his PhD from the University of Arkansas. Formerly an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at UMR, he currently is the President of Elgin Surveying & Engineering, Inc. of Rolla. Along with Drs. Knowles and Senne, he coauthored the Celestial Observation Handbook and Ephemeris, the Practical Surveying Guide to Celestial Observations and was a contributor to The Surveying Handbook. Dr. Elgin is a past president of MSPS, and was editor of Missouri Surveyor for many years. He is a member of MSPS, ACSM, NSPS, NSPE, MSPE, Chi Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi, Surveyors Historical Society, UMR’s Academy of Civil Engineers, and the UMR Order of the Golden Shillelagh. He is a past member of the Missouri Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Landscape Architects. Dr. Elgin was the recipient of MSPS’ 1995 Robert E. Myers Service Award and ACSM’s “President’s Award.” Dr. Elgin owns one of the largest private collections of early American surveying equipment in America. He is an avid bicyclist and drives a perfectly restored 1964 Morgan Plus Four. Dr. Richard L. Elgin, PLS, PE President Elgin Surveying & Engineering, Inc. 310 East 6th Street Rolla, Missouri 65401   Contact Dr. Elgin Article List Below