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Founder's Perspective

Continental Mapping founders David Hart and Chris Gross talk about making the Inc. 5000 List, the company's history, and why growth is vitally important for clients and employees.

Continental Mapping is an Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Company for three consecutive years. Our success is thanks to our reputation for quality, our culture of innovation, and the hard work and dedication of our employees.

We are committed to a growth trajectory as much now as we ever have been, and this award represents the realization of those efforts. Companies featured on this list exemplify growth, innovation, and smart business practices. This is a good opportunity to reflect on how we got here and where we're going. 

Where We Came From 

David Hart and Chris Gross outside Continental Mapping’s second office space in 2002.

Continental Mapping opened its doors in 1999 as a traditional mapping company, providing geospatial services like photogrammetry to other mapping firms and engineering firms around the country. In the true entrepreneurial spirit, we saw an opportunity and went for it. We knew the technical side of the industry and some of the sales side, but more than anything, we saw an opportunity, and we had to chase after it.

Growth, Innovation, Company's Core Driving Force

Strategic planning is critical to the growth trajectory of Continental Mapping.

We achieved some early successes and had to learn fast as how to run and grow a business. We quickly learned that strategically chasing the next opportunity and striving towards continued growth was what was going to make Continental Mapping stick around. In the academic world, its "publish or perish." In the small business technology space, it's "grow or die." We chose to grow. Continental Mapping has had plateaus along the way where we achieved levels of success, but we never felt comfortable there. Things change quickly. External forces will change the game for you. Whether it was navigating the technology business burst post-9/11 or the unknown of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were, are, and will be prepared for change.

One change we are always working towards is mastering the ever-evolving technology landscape. Specifically in mapping, the enabling technologies or location-based technologies like GPS and soft copy photogrammetry were major components we adopted early on. Then came modern survey tech, lidar, UAV's, satellites, and crowdsourcing, to name a few. These tools helped advance us past the plateaus, and though there's always a learning curve, we are able to provide more value to our clients and capture more opportunities. There's new technology coming all the time. The geospatial industry won't wait, and we have to determine what is next to adopt.

Employing technologies, like the backpack-mounted Pegasus lidar collection unit, keep us on the cutting edge

Ten years ago, we had two options: one-foot contours, 1:100 scale mapping, or two-foot contours, 1:200 scale mapping. Today, Continental Mapping is providing authoritative answers to our customers in a wide range of geospatial products and services across defense and intelligence, telecommunications, safety, health, infrastructure, you name it. We embrace the change because the markets require it, and we don't want to be doing the same things we were doing ten years ago. 

To keep ourselves moving forward, we remind ourselves that we live in a dead map world with live map needs. The modern uses of geospatial data are incredible, but the basic demands of currency, clarity, and content remain. More answers come from more data, higher accuracy data, more current data, and more complete data. That data need cycle will just keep growing faster and faster, and ultimately, geospatial data will help provide better answers across all the markets we serve. Continental Mapping always has, and will continue to, provide geospatial solutions for better decision making.

Continental Mapping has been able to grow over the past 20 years and make the Inc. 5000 list repeatedly because of our core mindset of growth. We never stay comfortable, and we strive for innovation. We're on a growth trajectory, always. That doesn't mean when we're at a plateau of success, we don't stop, look around, and take a breath. We celebrate the wins, such as this award, but we're going to keep looking forward because the next storm is already rolling in.

We Are Our Employees

Continental Mapping employees and leadership at 20th Anniversary All Hands Meeting.

One exciting aspect of the company's growth is the opportunities it provides for our employees. We're a team, from leadership to interns, and our employees are the foundation of the quality products we produce and the innovation we regularly bring to bear. Maintaining a healthy corporate culture of like-minded, growth-oriented folks is how we have been able to be successful for over two decades. Having a diverse array of workers and talent at Continental Mapping helps bring in more talent. It's a powerful cycle. We're able to attract strong talent because of our reputation and commitment to looking forward. Growth has provided our staff with the opportunity to learn about new business problems our clients are faced with. It also teaches them how to use new technologies to visualize and build new tradecraft to help us support our clients in solving those challenges. Our growth affords staff the ability to move throughout the company to learn new things. By being able to switch from fieldwork to desktop analysis or vice versa, or even transition between technical production work to sales/marketing or administration, employees have a true sense of freedom to explore and grow with the company.

If instead of a growth-mindset we settled for the status quo, our employees wouldn't find success and neither would the business. Our team is constantly looking forward and seeing where the next hills are to climb. Even though we've grown immensely, we still have that small company feel and mentality. We have a lot of personality and a diversity of thinkers. Still, we are like-minded in our pursuit of innovation and finding ways to work better, faster, and more efficiently.

We Focus On Our Clients 

Continental Mapping’s modern geospatial services include cloud-hosted, 3D data, delivered anywhere via a web browser.

Growth is also central to our ability to scale to meet the diverse needs of our clients. Our Defense & Intelligence clients require a scalable and flexible workforce that can support their mission-specific, global mapping, and analytics requirements. We have developed unique ways to scale our workforce, which helps us engage, vet, and prove out technology to meet global needs while still tracking the global trends that are impacting the mission of our defense clients. At the same time, our Transportation, Infrastructure, and Energy clients require deep engagement in locations throughout the country to map, measure, and model and deliver geospatial data and analytics. Our growth has allowed us to field numerous survey and data collection crews throughout the country, leverage new technologies to increase accuracy, expedite collection and production efforts, and visualize results to help in decision making.

Looking Forward

There's no doubt that Continental Mapping is a different company now than when we started in 1999, but our core has remained true. Making the Inc. 5000 List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies represents the passion of every single person at Continental Mapping. Adopting new technology, recruiting the best talent, and recognizing the changing needs of the markets will continue to position us on the path for further success.

We appreciate the hard work and overcoming of challenges that got us to this point and look forward to building on it and achieving more milestones together.

- Chris Gross, President

- Dave Hart, CEO


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