You might know Russell as a technical support rep or survey technology trainer. Here’s more of his story.
As an instrument man, then survey party chief, and eventually survey technician, Russell Snell didn’t encounter many situations that required a call to tech support. But when he did, he was surprised by his experience.
“One time I talked to Mark Kuehn,” Snell recalls. “He figured out right away what the issue was and suggested a fix. Then he called me back three or four times during the week just to say, ‘Hey, how’s it going? Did it work out? Are there any other issues? Give me feedback. Let me know how I can help you.’ He really went over and above what was required.”
It wasn’t just Mark Kuehn. Russell experienced firsthand on several other occasions as a surveyor how over-and-above service was the culture at Leica Geosystems. When he was given the opportunity in 2019 to join the company as a technical support specialist, Russell didn’t hesitate.
Today, as a sales engineer based in central California, Russell facilitates sales, training, and support for Leica’s direct representatives. If you’ve had the opportunity to work with him in any capacity, you already know about his dedication to customer service excellence. Here are eight things you might not know about the amicable surveying technology specialist.
1. He once worked with cows.
Before embarking on what would be a 15-year journey in various surveying roles, Russell’s first paying job as a teenager was on a dairy farm.
2. His first surveying boss was his uncle.
Russell’s first experience with surveying was in 2004, right out of high school. “Some people go to school for surveying, but a lot of surveyors end up in the profession because of a relative or friend. In my case, it was my uncle,” he explains. “He was the chief of surveys for an engineering firm. I started out working under him as a rodman and stayed with it.”
3. He has experienced the benefits of a technology-forward business strategy.
As a surveyor in a firm that invested in technology and proactive maintenance with customer care packages (CCPs), Russell saw how this approach affected quality, employee morale, and productivity. “We leveraged the benefits of our customer care package (CCP) and the Leica myWorld customer portal to track our equipment with all the service dates, maintenance schedules, and CCP renewals, and we updated the firmware and software whenever those updates came out,” he says. “It made a big difference for us.”
4. If he wrote a survey bestseller, it would focus on QA.
“Check, Double-Check, Verify—that would be the title,” he says. “You can’t do enough to check yourself and the situation. Especially when you’re in a hurry and feel like you don’t have time—that’s the situation you’re going to need it the most. Always check and verify.”
5. His favorite innovation is the AP20 AutoPole.
“A rod height bust is one of the most common mistakes land surveyors make,” he says. “You get to work and start out good, but at some point you get in a hurry. You have to adjust your rod—raise it, lower it—so you can see and not have to do additional setups. And inevitably you forget to change your rod height in your data collector. If you’re lucky, you catch it before you leave the site; otherwise you have to make a trip back out to check your data or re-survey the site. Tools like the AP20 and Infinity software have done a lot to mitigate this problem.”
6. He sometimes misses surveying field work.
“I was really hands-on with equipment, and there were some jobs where I could just unplug and grind out a lot of work,” he says, “going out, setting up the total station, traversing and doing topo for days. It was enjoyable and kept me engaged.” He pauses, then adds with a laugh, “Whenever it’s 100-plus degrees or freezing outside, I don’t miss it so much, though.”
7. He’s a patient and trustworthy advisor.
Russell’s most rewarding experience in tech support required more than just technology expertise. A surveyor who had spent hours trying to resolve a technology issue on outdated equipment was at the end of his rope. The surveyor was enduring the strains of a divorce, living out of a hotel, and suffering from near heat stroke after a long day in the sun. Russell listened patiently, identified the equipment issue, and coached the surveyor through the solution over the phone.
“The situation was challenging, but hearing the gratitude and elation in his voice at the end made it all worth it,” Russell says. “The way we do business is always people first.”
8. He values work-life balance.
Outside of work, you’re likely to find Russell attending school plays, chaperoning field trips, and spending other quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters. “There are two things I appreciate the most about working for Leica,” he says. “One is the ability to put my family first. The other is the people I work with closely on a daily basis. They’re good people. Even when the work is challenging, we have a good team with good camaraderie. It’s an incredible culture.”