Finding happiness in the high-demand profession of surveying is mostly a matter of creating it.
On a sunny day in April, Mark Borys, PLS, who owns BBA Land Surveying, LLC, with his wife Nicole, stopped by a construction site to mark up some storm stakes he had laid out the day before. It was supposed to be a quick task, finished in time to allow Mark to attend soccer practice for his two young sons that afternoon before going out of town for the week. Then the client approached him. They needed 10 catch basins staked to keep their crews busy while Mark was away.
“Attend my kids’ first soccer practice, or help this crew stay busy for the next week?” says Mark. “Why not both!”
In two hours, Mark made the calculations, completed the layout, and made it to his sons’ soccer practice on time. It wasn’t that unusual. In a profession once known for its long hours and tedious workflows, Mark has pursued a different approach—one that has led to success, work-life balance and career enjoyment.
Here are four keys he’s discovered in his journey from field technician to survey manager to business owner.
1. Be Intentional with Your Time
“You have to develop a good structure for how you’re going to organize your time and then defend it,” he says. “Sometimes this means saying no, but often it just requires you to be more creative in how you approach your work. We’ve spent quite a bit of energy and resources developing internal systems that are organized and automated, and we use technology in both the field and office that allows us to be highly efficient.”
2. Build in a Buffer
“We assume we’re going to encounter something unexpected on every project, and we build in enough time to accommodate those situations. We’re super intentional about this. We never overbook ourselves. Often this means we’re able to finish before we planned and move onto the next project faster. As a result, our clients are thrilled, which provides us with repeat business and referrals. And we’re able to balance our work with the needs of our family.”
3. Deliver on Your Promises
“Only make promises to your clients that you can keep, and then keep them.”
4. Find Ways to Make the Work Fun
“Surveying is such a rewarding career. Some of my most interesting projects have been complex, in-depth, dig-deep types of surveys that require researching records from the 1800s. One time I was researching utilities and came across a set of plans for a wooden sidewalk in Seattle—it was absolutely incredible. I enjoy building relationships with clients and helping developers solve problems.”
Still, he says, every surveyor has those shots where they have to measure over a hedge or through the bushes. “Technology innovation can reduce the number of challenging, unpleasant experiences, making those shots faster and easier to get. It pays for itself and makes surveying much more fun.”
Top of page: Trail rights survey in Edmonds, WA. Photo by Mark Borys.