Tag Archives: engineering

Factors Affecting the World of Engineering

sps1The world of engineering and land surveying can be a roller coaster ride, full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Many factors affect our business; the economy, the weather, oil and gas prices, and political influences to name a few.

Typically when work is plentiful, or a sizable job is landed, consulting firms ramp up their office and field staff, but what happens when work slows down or a specific job or contract comes to an end?  Unfortunately, this typically means layoffs or other cutbacks.  No firm whether large or small likes this situation.  Layoffs are not good for morale or public image, and they have other impacts as well, such as increased unemployment benefits paid by the company. In order to help reduce these impacts on other companies, Shawnee Professional Services has created a Professional Staffing division.
The idea of a Professional Staffing division for Shawnee started in September when Company President Mitch Garrett and Vice President of Engineering & Design Michael Hansen took a trip to Chicago, Illinois and met with a large Chicago based engineering firm at their corporate headquarters.  This large nationwide firm had a large survey backlog at the time, and needed field support.  After this meeting, Shawnee supplied two field crews, in the Chicagoland area, for approximately 6 to 8 weeks.  As a result of Shawnee providing manpower, this firm was able to continue accepting new jobs while making a nice markup on the project.   Shawnee then was able to supply crews to a large pipeline project in North Dakota which could have the potential to go on for several years.
What makes Shawnee a great fit for the Professional Staffing model is our location.  Headquartered in Vienna, Illinois, we are conveniently located within a couple of hours from St. Louis and Nashville, and have access to flights to Chicago through Barkley Airport in Paducah, Kentucky.  In addition, when compared to cost of living and rates in a major metropolitan area, Shawnee can be very competitive.  For example, a two man survey crew in Chicago has a typical rate of $150/hour.  Shawnee’s professional rate for that same crew is approximately $125/hour.
The Professional Staffing idea is not just limited to field crews.  Shawnee can also provide drafting, administration, asset management, permitting, GIS services, and land acquisition.
Another important element of Shawnee’s Professional Staffing division is our commitment to our employees by providsps2ing training and our commitment to technology.  Shawnee has been using the eBee UAV by SenseFly to provide aerial photography and other surface model data.
The eBee is a professional mapping drone that captures high-resolution aerial
photos that you can transform into accurate 2D orthomosaics and 3D models.
(see image right)
In addition, Shawnee has recently purchased a Trimble V10 imaging rover that can generate survey, GIS or mapping accuracy positions from images.  The Trimble V10 imaging rover utilizes 12 calibrated cameras to capture 60 megapixel panoramic images.  The Trimble V10 has many applications for engineering topographic surveys, ALTA surveys, and construction observation services.
Shawnee is currently training its office and field crew staff to be a minimum Survey Certified Technician Level 2 as defined by the National Society of Professional Surveyors.  Each firm that utilizes Shawnee staff will know that are getting a trained and capable employee.
Shawnee staff has been marketing the Professional Staffing division to several large Engineering and Land Surveying firms and has potential opportunities in Chicago, Central Illinois, Wyoming, Delaware, and Virginia.  The Professional Staffing division is another example of how Shawnee Professional Services thinks outside the box and continues to be an innovative force in the areas of Engineering, Land Surveying, Acquisition, and Energy.

10 Things to Ask Before Hiring an Engineering Firm

businessman hand draws gear to success

Shawnee Professional Services is committed to the region and their customers.  If your business has a big project on the horizon, here are 10 things your company should ask as it chooses an engineering firm.

These questions have been culled from industry experts:

  1. What is the firm’s expertise? Is it environmental engineering? Civil engineering? Is the focus on small or large businesses, public or private? Even integrated firms often specialize in a particular area of engineering or in certain types of projects.
  2. Have any of your projects won awards? Low-impact development projects, outside-the-box designs, prominent government buildings – these are all examples of projects that might have brought a firm recognition.  (To ensure the best value for your money, consider a firm that can build you something unique rather than standard.)
  3. Are any of your buildings LEED-certified? Environmentally friendly designs do more than prevent pollution or excessive energy use.  (They are a new way of doing business in the building industry. A firm with expertise in engineering work on structures that have received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification also may help reduce your maintenance costs down the road.)
  4. What are your hourly rates? You need to strike a balance between saving money and getting the maximum value per dollar.  (Keep in mind that you are paying for a trust relationship with the engineering team as well as for the physical structure.)
  5. Which person on your staff will be my regular contact on the project? Ask to meet the people who will be working on your project.  (Get examples of their typical clients. You should be able to develop a comfortable connection with the engineering team focusing on your project.)
  6. What is your level of commitment to this project? Is the firm willing to commit the necessary time and resources to your specific needs? Nail down a completion date for the project and the materials that will be needed.
  7. What scope of work do you think is necessary to complete this project? Once you’ve described your project to the firm’s professionals, get their estimate of its scope. The scope includes more than the estimated fee.  (It should provide the details of what the team will do and how it will do it. Ask the firm about the likelihood it will be able to stick to that plan.)
  8. What sort of quality control do you have in place? Good quality control may make a pricier firm worth the extra cost. Also pay attention to the quality of the staff, including its communication skills and education.
  9. Do you have experience working in this region? Many permitting processes and zoning laws vary by jurisdiction, and some jurisdictions are more cumbersome than others.  (The firm should know whether it takes six weeks or three months to get a zoning document approved. That knowledge will help the firm keep you on schedule and within budget.)
  10. Who are your repeat clients? If the firm frequently serves bigger developers or owners, it is probably more highly respected.

901 North DuQuoin Street
P.O. Drawer 130
Benton, IL  62812
P: (618) 439-9447
F: (618) 435-2941

104 S. 4th Street
P.O. Box 125
Vienna, IL  62995
P: (618) 658-6065
F: (618) 658-9190


“I have dealt with many companies like Shawnee Professional Services in the past, but none of them even come close to the honesty, integrity, and awesome service I received from Shawnee. These guys are on their game. A+ Thanks again!”

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