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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Kevin Hudson, President, Hudson Site Control LLC

Spotlight - Kevin Hudson, President, Hudson Site Control LLC

image Kevin Hudson found his true north in the surveying business

DALLAS/FT WORTH - As the third generation in his family to be in the construction industry, Kevin Hudson knew early on that surveying was the career path he wanted to follow. With supportive parents and mentors and a passion for the field, he started his company in 1997 and later founded Hudson Site Control in 2005. Twenty years later, he still enjoys the true north he’s found.

 

 


Tell me a bit about your upbringing.
    I was born in Carthage, TX and grew up, for the most part, in Lindale. I’m a third generation contractor, more or less: My grandfather was a general contractor who built a lot of Carthage over the years, and my father, Billy was a professional engineer who could design or build anything.
    When I was born, my dad owned a ready mix plant that supplied Panola County and our family construction projects. Our family designed and built many homes, schools, and churches. When I was a kid, we lived in Dubai for three years; he built living quarters for the workers over there in the oil fields. Later, my dad went to Bahrain; his workforce was majority Filipino, and he developed this great relationship with them.
    My dad’s firm was one of the first to start using AutoCAD in the late 1980s, and was working for the Lewisville Independent School District doing a lot of their design, and also for the Grand Prairie School District for many years. His firm did complete turnaround on design and was like a one-stop shop, doing civil structural architecture and MEP. When AutoCAD and the internet took off, being able to do design from overseas is what he invested in; before he passed away, he had 60 people over there working for him doing the design work.
    My brother Brad and I grew up in the company, on and off, working in the office and field. I did drafting, surveying and project managed and supervised several design-build endeavors. It was a good experience for me to know a little about all of those areas of the principles of design. It’s one thing to design a project, but seeing it constructed as well, is very rewarding.

When did you decide to make it your career?

    In 1996 while managing and supervising a tilt-wall building project in Lewisville I spent many hours building a construction model for the project where I could survey everything in for all of the trades. I was amazed at how fast this sped up construction. Rather than have my subs sitting on the back of their tailgates trying to figure out where everything went, we were able to stake it with great accuracy and learned of potential conflicts beforehand. Upon completion of that project I knew construction data modeling and surveying would be my career path.
    In 1997, I started my own surveying company on the side. I knew that I was leaving the nest with little money and would struggle early on, but was convinced that on the construction side of surveying, I had found my niche.


How did those first years of business go?

    At that time, I had built relationships with many land surveyors and they quickly put us to work on topographical surveys and some construction.
    Our big break came when I met one of my mentors, John Spencer. He was working to get out of the field and just concentrate on construction data. He was instrumental in getting us introduced to several general contractors like Cadence McShane, Pogue, Lee Lewis, Turner, and Balfour-Beatty who were major school builders and whom we continue to work for to this day. We’ve worked on over 400 schools in the past 20 years.

You gained experience helping your father with his business, but did you still find that there was a learning curve once you became a business owner?
    Yes, and I still feel like I am learning something new every day. But at the time, I knew I had the knowledge; I was just young.

Now that you have two decades of business ownership under your belt, what advice would you give anyone wanting to establish a construction business?

    I would advise to start slow unless you have an investor or are taking over another established surveying business. You want to be thorough and honest with your clients. If you make a mistake, own it. You will see that the client will appreciate you more when all lines are open. We like to spend as much time in the office on preparation as we do in the field on execution.
    I would also say start with good people. Invest in your people. I think that’s the key to our success. My wife and I feel like we take very good care of our people. Our payroll is probably 40% of revenue, which is high in the industry, but we know that when we reward these guys, they are team players.
    We have several employees that have been here over 10 years. We have Quincy Love, a senior party chief who has been with me for 13 years. Caleb Hoefner has been here about 12 years. My secretary, Jennifer Kuntzman, has been here for 15 years. And of course, Brad is here as a project manager, and we’ve worked together a long time. Brad came from Florida about six months ago and worked for one of the largest surveying firms in Florida. Brad also heads our drafting company H2 Drafting Services.

What fun activities do you enjoy with your employees?

    We have cookouts every few weeks, although in the summertime, that’s really tough to do. We play basketball and darts. Now that the weather is cooling down, we’ll do it a lot more often.
   
How would you advise someone to start a career in surveying?
    Luckily, a lot of schools are offering four-year degrees in related courses. Even people with a business degree can
qualify to take the test with a few years experience. There are a lot of great opportunities at great schools. The University of Texas at Arlington has a great school. A&M Corpus Christi is one of the best surveying colleges in Texas.

How has your business changed over the years?

    We’ve really been doing the same. Like my dad did early on with AutoCAD, we got into GPS Systems and robotic total stations. They were rare; it was 1999 when I got my first robot. It’s really a one-man instrument; it uses a tracking laser and prisms to measure distances and angles with great accuracy. Twenty years ago when you would take these out in the field, they would blow people’s minds that a laser could hit this prism and tell you where to go and what to do. When you get into the instrumentation of the industry, that’s what we’re really trying to do to advance and do more.
    The industry has really gone into BIM, which tracks a project as it goes up. We just bought a 3-D scanner that will take millions of points of data in a few hours of work, so that you get this full picture scan of say, a skyscraper, or a stadium. That way, we can use it for additions and retro-fits for aiding design.
    The drone is the future as well. The drone will collect the same data as a scanner, but with better lines of sight. Now that we have AutoCAD, we’re able to get a lot more information and be a lot more accurate than how it used to be and a lot faster.

How has your dad influenced your work?

    My dad passed away six years ago. He was just great; he would just bounce stuff off of you. He was a great teacher, and could really explain to you how something works. I remember early on drawing structural details for him, and he really explained it well. He was a great storyteller, usually always smiling with his clients and he would treat his clients very well.
    Both of my parents have definitely mentored me along the way – my mom, Linda, as much as my dad. She is a sweetheart with a big heart, very loving and very kind. I have learned a lot from her. When we returned from Dubai, my parents were divorced within the year, and there were three boys in the family to raise. She worked 60 hours a week in a convenience store; she worked very hard until she remarried. I cleaned her house every day when I got in from school to help out. We’ve always been very close, and we talk at least every two or three days.

Outside of your family and friends, whom do you also admire?
    I think [former Dallas Cowboys’ coach] Tom Landry was great. He was a man of faith, a great family man, an innovative leader and a great boss [to the team]. We’re big Cowboys fans – and Aggie fans!

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?

    My daughter, Haley, is in college now in Carthage where most of my family is, and is finishing up.
    My boy, Kolston, is 10, and I coach his flag football team. Every afternoon we have been throwing the football, and we play a lot of basketball; basketball is the sport I like to play on the weekends and in my spare time. It’s the only cardio I get!
    I like to fish; we live near Joe Pool Lake and we have a boat we like to go out on. My wife, Felicia, and I like to travel in the summers, usually to the beach. We made a trip to Cabo this year and to California.  One of these days I’m going to make her go to the mountains!

Is your family involved in the business?

    Felicia is half-owner, but not hands-on. She grew up in south Grand Prairie, graduated from UTA and   teaches Pre-K in Grand Prairie. Her dad, uncle and grandfather were all principals in the Grand Prairie ISD; so she is carrying on her family tradition as well. 

Your company is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Does it feel like that much time has passed?
    No! It’s flown. It’s hard to believe. I’m hoping the next 20 slows down in time.

    What do you hope the future holds for your business?

    I hope we maintain steady growth for sure. I’d like to open another office in Texas, possibly Houston.  Many of our general contractors are there so we do have the opportunity to grow if we want to.
    Hudson Site Control LLC is a profes-sional land surveyor, with a focus on com-mercial construction, construction layout and databases.  –mjm


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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net