Mary Darling, CEO and Principal Owner Darling Geomatics
U of A Tech Park, 9040 S. Rita Road, Ste 2350
Tucson, AZ 85747
Phone: 520-298-2725 (office)/520-954-4050 (cell)
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube |
Mary E. Darling, CEO
Principal Owner/FAA Part 107 Licensed Pilot
Darling Geomatics – Award Winning Aerial UAV Mapping, 3D Scanning & Modeling, Land Surveying, & Environmental Consulting Firm
NAICS 541370 (Primary), 541270, 541620, 541990
Past President & Current Board Member, So AZ Post Society of American Military Engineers
WBENC Certified WOSB, WBE, ADOT Certified DBE, Tucson Certified SBE, SBC
Global Headquarters: University of Arizona Tech Park
9040 South Rita Road, Ste #2350, Tucson, AZ 85747
Ph (520) 298-2725 / Fax (520) 298-2767/Cell (520) 954-4050
Mary Darling grew up in an entrepreneurial family with her father owning and operating an aviation business in Sacramento, California.
I worked at the airport most of my teen years and instead of getting paid money, I was compensated with flying lessons. I soloed an airplane on my 16th birthday. Back in 1996 I decided to coalesce these passions – and cofounded Darling Geomatics with my husband, Rich Darling. We grew our business from scratch, with his expertise in land surveying and my expertise in entrepreneurship, biology, and law.
An award-winning high-tech 2D and 3D land surveying, aerial mapping, and construction verification company. We generate the highest quality data and do so in literally 1/10th the time of a conventional surveyor. We can even collect data remotely. We do it from the land with cutting–edge GPS, LiDAR and laser tracking; and from the air with state-of-the-art drones.
Although I have a Team of highly certified drone pilots – I still find time to be one of our drone pilots for certain special projects (a cool perk of being the boss). Our global headquarters are proudly here in Tucson. We keep our customers’ projects on time, on budget and on spec. We always have, and we always will – That is the only way I know how to do it.
You see, I grew up with 3 brothers. I was always around cars, airplanes, and motorcycles. I worked at an airport. I just never thought about whether a profession was for men or women. I love a challenge and being an entrepreneur in high tech is always challenging. New technology means you are always reinventing processes.
Our team thrives on competition, solving problems where others cannot, and winning against all odds. It’s been fun, rewarding, and best of all – we have earned the dedication and enthusiastic loyalty of over 1000 customers over the past 26 years. That’s not bad for a man or a woman.
We offer a wide variety of land surveying services, including construction staking, topographic mapping, 3D as-builts, building information modeling (also known as BIM), aerial surveying and mapping, 3D construction verification, underground tunnel mapping and a wide variety of aerial inspection services including thermal imaging with drones.
The foundation of our continued success rests on three factors: 1) We listen intently to our customers/we understand their needs (sometimes even better than they do), and accordingly we meet and often exceed their expectations. 2) We consistently reinvest in our business. Every year we buy and upgrade virtually all of our hardware, drones, and software. This is not typical in the industry – but we have always had the philosophy that our customers deserve the best product and services that are available that match their needs. 3) We are always interviewing and adding to our staff. We are constantly training them on state-of-the-art products and software. We have the best in the business – with over 150 years of combined surveying experience, over 30 years of combined 3D scanning experience, and over 20 years of combined drone experience, including four licensed drone pilots and a licensed airplane pilot.
Many in the construction industry have been very negatively affected by this pandemic, we are so proud and pleased that OUR customers have been much less impacted – due to a decision we made over 10 years ago. At that time, we decided to make a major investment in software that provided our customers with the ability to work remotely – from their desk, home, even on their cell phones. We provided them with the ability to “work remotely before working remotely was even being talked about”. They can get the job done, on-time, and safely – which is what it’s all about.
What are the types of challenges customers encounter that you solve for them?
ll kinds – but the most common are measurement challenges. People need to know where they should build in relation to property lines, where they should build in relation to design plans, what the elevation is at various locations on their property and more.
We also are able to help them avoid problems before they occur. We show them where construction is not the same as design plans, where existing structures have structural defects, where weaknesses could cause failures in structures in the near future, and more. This has saved them millions of dollars in what could have been catastrophic problems).
What do we see as the future of drones?
Everyone loves drones – I know I do. Although I have a Team of highly certified drone pilots – I still fly them for special projects, which is a great perk of being the boss. For our industry, they are a safe and quick tool for obtaining accurate aerial topographic data (the lay of the land, so to speak); measurable aerial images of projects; construction inspection data; bridge, road and building inspection data and more. Not all drones are created equal. There are some drones that others in the business use that are inexpensive and fun, but not very accurate. We have survey grade drones. We include special sensors including thermal imaging and 30 x zoom cameras for solar inspections, energy audits, and search and rescue missions. We combine our aerial flights with on the ground surveys to create maps measurable to within inches, which can’t be done without the land surveying component.
Drones are being used around the world – drones are a new and growing took for humanitarian needs in underdeveloped countries and for emergencies almost everywhere. Drones can carry medical supplies and other necessities when roads are washed out; drones can be used for real-time inspects of buildings and roads to determine the extent of damage; find routes for access and find people).
The most exciting project our company has worked on.
Our team really enjoyed working on the Navy Zumwalt Class Destroyers in Bath, Maine. They worked on a Navy shipyard for weeks at a time and saw the construction of the most advanced stealth ships in the world. Our company was hired to scan the deckhouses and the hulls of the ships, then performed clash detection in 3D with specialized software so the welders could make the right cuts to assure the deckhouse fit perfectly on the hull the first time that the cranes dropped it down. Before 3D scanning, this was a slow and arduous task – with multiple cranes lifts up and down to determine where to cut the steel to make sure the two parts fit correctly. The Navy was so pleased with what we did for them that they bypassed Union opposition to get the new technology in place. My team and I feel especially patriotic when we get to work on projects like this.
Another interesting project our company has worked on is the San Zavier Mission Restoration Project was fun. The architect needed to know the thickness of the walls and domes to assure they were still structurally sound but didn’t want to drill through them and cause damage. We scanned the inside and outside of the entire mission to create a digital replica. The digital data can be virtually “sliced” into cross-sections and all of the walls, the domes, the stairs, pews and more can be measured at any angle. We now have a museum quality digital replica of the entire mission).
Our company has also worked on three continents, in 6 different foreign countries – Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada. Over 10% of our business is international – and it grows every year).
Learning new things. And being able to offer unique services to our customers excites me. We have earned over 50 awards for excellence in customer service and contributions to the industry. Even after 26 years – that never gets old.
The technologies we master provide us with opportunities to get behind the scenes in a lot of unique situations. Some of the most recent include: scanning the interior and exterior of many of the buildings at U of A, scanning the Mercedes Benz Automobile Plant in Alabama, scanning underground Salt Mines in Louisiana and Canada, as well as an underground drug tunnel at the border with Mexico, scanning a meteor crater, several airline jet fuel tanks and more).
We are known for having about the lowest employee turnover in the business. Why? because I am truly blessed with the best Team in the industry. We hire professionals who are motivated, inspirable, customer-centric, Team players. They are the best in the business in multiple disciplines. And then we train them on aspects of the business that aren’t taught in school. Our on–the–job training programs gives them the opportunity to have a meaningful career in a fun and interesting profession. People excel at our company because they learn by doing what they love).
The advice do you have for people looking for a career in what we do.
We believe that every surveyor needs a good mathematical foundation. Though the high-tech equipment we use does a lot of the work that we used to have to do manually, we still need people to learn and understand the mathematical principles behind what they are doing. That way they recognize incorrect answers and know when something isn’t right. We don’t hire what we call “push button” surveyors. We need out surveyors to understand curves, angles, distances, and elevations. We need them to be able to read complex construction plans and translate what they see on the plans to stakes on the ground).
We want as much previous land surveying experience as possible – even for our drone pilots, CAD drafters and 3D scanning crews. Everyone needs a solid foundation in the basics. If someone doesn’t have that experience we start them at an entry-level where they work with another surveyor for years to build the basic skills.
In addition to aptitude – we are always also looking for the best attitude. We have hired a lot of people that didn’t have even a day of land surveying under their belt when they arrived. However, they were willing to learn. Many have since gone on to become licensed land surveyors and others are in the process of getting their license right now.
I would tell young people still in school when they ask about land surveying that it is a lot of fun, there are great opportunities and you need to understand geography and math. If you enjoy working outdoors and like learning new technologies, there are a lot of opportunities in land surveying right now. A lot of surveyors are retiring. That leaves plenty of new jobs).
Regarding robots in this field, I say that land surveying will never be totally taken over by robots. However, portions of the job have become much more automated. For us – that means we don’t have to put our people in danger anymore. Instead of standing in the middle of the freeway to collect data, we use LiDAR and drones so we don’t even have to stop traffic. Instead of walking into a dangerous area where there is subsidence after an earthquake – we send in the drone. When automation makes land surveying even easier, we will be surveying the ocean floors, the moon, the planets, and asteroids. There is always something to survey.
Also – as Smart Buildings, Smart Roads, and Smart Cities come into being, they all will be based on digital data. As high-tech surveyors, we collect digital data to replace paper maps. That data is called Building Information Modeling or BIM. That will continue to be a growing profession. Everything that is built in the future still needs surveying to determine location and document as-built conditions during construction so the data can be put into Smart Models for heating and cooling, electric sidewalks, elevators, lighting, security, and more.)
People will always need to know where something is – even if the earth gets digitized enough over time so that less day to day survey data is required, there will be ocean floors, asteroids, planets, moons, and more that need surveying and mapping).
As I see it, we will continue to grow, focusing on high tech equipment so that we do more work faster and safer without needing a huge staff of people. We like the fact that we can expand globally with our current employees and some trainees, as long as we keep investing in the fastest, safest, most accurate technologies to perform our work).