Episode 3 – Blue Earth County Tile

At the start of the Blue Earth Co. Tile project, things seemed fairly straightforward. I was working with ISG Land Survey Specialist, Ryan Kotthoff, and our goal for this project was to plant roughly two dozen grade stakes at a site near Mankato, Minnesota where drainage tile would eventually be installed near a road and bridge. The site was relatively level due to its location, in the middle of a cornfield, not presenting too many challenges. However, because Minnesota weather always loves to throw a little spice in the mix whenever it can, we had a new obstacle to overcome­—a huge thunderstorm heading directly toward the site.

Ryan called around, checking with everyone just to make sure it was a good idea to begin working at the site with the impending severe weather looming on the horizon. Once we got the green light, the work began. In a race to beat the massive storm, the odds seemed in our favor; we had the lead until the straightforward mission became a little trickier. We soon discovered that there would be more work than originally anticipated. Ryan recognized that the tile line would have to be bored underneath a paved road. That hadn’t been part of the assignment for the day, but Ryan called the on-site inspector to make sure that every aspect of the project was covered. Sure enough, that specific contractor needed the bore to be accounted for, so Ryan went right to work on staking the additional 10 locations for the bore underneath the road. The team moved quickly and accurately to get everything done right before the rain hit. Despite the time constraint, the team was even able to put in property corner stakes that would be helpful for future development, and then we were able to move on to the next task of the day—survey work on homeowners’ property.

On lunch break that day, before beginning the next assignment, I realized how important professionalism and great customer service skills are while in the field. Just because we’re out in the field (sometimes literally), doesn’t mean that we stop displaying ISG’s value of empathy and listening to the needs of the client and public; if anything, it means that we get to exercise these values even more. Because of the storm, we were eating in the truck, waiting for the storm to pass when a concerned homeowner approached us to ask, “Are you going to be trampling on my lawn? We just seeded the backyard, and I don’t want it to get ruined.” Ryan acknowledged the homeowner’s fears and calmly responded: “No ma’am we are going to do our best to avoid your property and save your lawn.” His reaction in this instance showed how ISG goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone has a positive experience with the firm, and it made me proud to be a part of the team in that moment.

On the flip side of challenging public interactions, there are also wonderful moments that remind the team that their work is both needed and appreciated. A few weeks later, while I was working with Jeremy Daby, one homeowner came outside to bring us snacks as a ‘thank you’, and I could see that such gestures remind the team of their mission and that their work really matters. Land surveying is so much more than just a job; it sets the stage to transform a blank slate into something amazing, moving our communities forward. ISG’s Land Survey Team leaves a mark on the communities they serve through their diligence, continuous project support, and installation of critical infrastructure to efficiently complete the job and position clients for success.

Meet Craig Kneeland