Meet Our (New) Crew: Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) Susan Mattern

Meet Our (New) Crew: Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) Susan Mattern

Recently, DGT acquired Mattern Land Surveyors, a Connecticut-based land surveying firm. Our acquisition of Mattern makes a fourth office and our first location outside of Massachusetts. Susan Mattern, PLS, the firm’s founder and chief surveyor, joins DGT with a highly qualified and experienced team of field surveyors and drafters. We sat down with Susan to discuss her career in surveying, the reason behind her decision to come on board with DGT, and her prediction on the future of surveying.

What drew you to the field of surveying?

A lot of people in the surveying industry seem to fall into it—myself included. I went to forestry school where I was able to take a few surveying classes but mainly my focus was on a career in forestry. After college, while I was studying for the New York State ranger exam, a friend informed me of an open position with a land surveying firm in Connecticut. Since I was seeking a position which would incorporate my love of the outdoors with my career choice, I accepted the surveying position and became hooked. Over time, I became intrigued about additional aspects of the profession including historical land record research, boundary determination, site design, project management, client representation and more.

What drove you to start Mattern Land Surveyors?

In 1997, I began my own land surveying firm with a desire to perform high quality work. Over the years, our reputation grew.  I attribute this to dedication to producing detailed, accurate work and forging great relationships with our clients.

Why did you decide to join DGT?

When I went on DGT’s website, it was apparent that they were a reputable firm. Then, after learning about DGT’s interest in expanding into Connecticut, my interest grew. I had a vision for the future of our firm and it involved creating increased opportunity. After meeting Mike and Bob, Co-founders and Principals of DGT, it was clear they had a great deal of industry experience and were friendly people who I could see my team learning from and growing with—especially as it relates to the new technology that DGT utilizes. They were also extremely interested in learning about our history and deepening their own history which resonated with me.

What types of industries or companies do you typically work with?

Here in Connecticut, we work with construction companies performing construction stakeout, private land owners, residential, commercial, and industrial developers, and bridge contractors, to name a few. Two of the more interesting projects we’ve worked on lately were the HighFlyer Zipline at Foxwoods (casino) and construction stakeout at the historic Gillette Castle State Park.

Tell us about your team in Connecticut and their roles.

We’re a small but mighty office and work together closely to complete work.

  • Pete Podurgiel is a licensed land surveyor with 35 years of experience. Pete reviews and interprets research and collected data and compiles it into beautiful maps, many of which have received awards.
  • Glen Zagarenski has 18 years of experience in the land surveying profession. As Chief of Survey, he has a multitude of duties including setting up jobs for the field, performing the field work and processing information upon his return to the office.
  • Ryan Abrahamson is a graduate of an engineering program and joined us 4 years ago. He works mostly in the field but over time has become an invaluable asset in the office as well. On some jobs, both Glen and Ryan simultaneously run separate instruments to improve efficiency. Both are actively gaining knowledge by performing land record research and contributing to boundary line determinations.
What types of technology do you leverage?

Currently, we utilize AutoCAD and Civil3D software, total station, robotic instrumentation and GPS equipment. Technology has come so far since I first began surveying. We’re excited that DGT will be able to continue advancing our technological capabilities.

You are very active in the Connecticut Association of Land Surveyors (CALS) and have been given numerous awards in the field.  Tell us about your various roles in CALS and what you credit your success to?

As a member of CALS for over 40 years, I’ve had various roles with the organization from volunteer to President. One of my favorite endeavors at CALS was being involved with revisions to the CALS code. That process involved analyzing the history of regulations and improving them to better serve the public. In 2018, the revisions were published through the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Overall, I loved being able to collaborate with like-minded professionals and be part of a surveying community.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

I’m most proud of our company reputation and the fact that most business comes in through referrals. We’re highly regarded in municipalities, in the private sector and other industries, and are able to continue growing because of our work quality and consistency.

With March being Women’s History Month, how do you think the surveying field can be more inviting and attractive to women?

I think that women have the same opportunity in the profession of land surveying as men. Earlier in my career, some may have raised an eyebrow and wondered at my level of commitment to this male-dominated profession. I certainly had to carve out opportunities to prove myself, such as volunteering to perform jobs in extreme weather. But overall, my desire for knowledge and setting my path to licensure early on revealed my passion. More importantly, I think that, as an industry, we need to focus on attracting the younger generation, women included, who will be able to advance the industry.

Where do you see the surveying field headed in the next decade?

Over the next decade, we’ll definitely see even more advances in technology. It’s impressive to see how much technology DGT is already using, and I have no doubt that our technology capabilities as a firm will continue to skyrocket. We also need to nurture and guide the next generation in the knowledge of all the aspects of our profession.

For a fun question, tell us what you’re reading or listening to these days?  

When I’m not spending time outdoors and with my family, I love reading historical fiction and true stories of survival. “Unbroken” is one of my all-time favorite books.

Mattern has a deeply respected reputation for precision and detail, and we’re proud to continue the firm’s legacy, now under the DGT brand. To learn more about the acquisition, read our recent announcement.