President of FSC, Inc., a surveying firm servicing oil and gas clients and private developers headquartered in Columbus, Texas.
By Liisa Andreassen
FSC, Inc. got its start in 1970 as Frank Surveying Company (named after Leonard W. Frank, grandfather of current executive vice president Matthew Loessin) when he became a licensed land surveyor in Texas. Frank built a successful surveying company servicing mostly private clients and land developers. By the time he retired in 2007, he had successfully surveyed more than 4,000 tracts of land in Texas. In 2004, Matthew and his wife, Valorie, successfully transitioned the company into a full-service surveying firm servicing oil and gas clients and private developers. Today, the legacy continues and Valorie has been the company’s president since July 2016. Her background includes work in both the public accounting industry and in corporate accounting for a publicly-traded company.
“With the right attitude and work ethic, we see the young workforce as a true growing opportunity,” Loessin says. “By starting them in entry-level positions, they are able to become skilled in their respective positions and grow within the company. We have seen many excel in their positions, advance quickly, and are not only recognized by us, but by our clients as well.”
A conversation with Valorie Loessin.
The Zweig Letter: Do you tie compensation to performance for your top leaders?
Valorie Loessin: Absolutely. We like to look at top personnel on an individual basis and continually assess key factors that would warrant an increase in compensation. Increases in client base, creating a larger team to service these clients and the demand of work this brought, as well as productivity of the team are some of the key factors we assess when making these decisions. As a growing firm, we are constantly assessing this amongst our top leaders, as we want to ensure they are well taken care of, which allows them to perform at their best.
TZL: When did you have the most fun running your firm, and what were the hallmarks of that time in your professional life?
VL: For us, seeing our company grow – obtaining contracts with new clients, being awarded major projects, opening new offices, increasing our workforce – there was a thrill in all of it. Each new client meant growth.
TZL: Describe the challenges you encountered in building your management team over the lifetime of your leadership? Have you ever terminated or demoted long-time leaders as the firm grew? How did you handle it?
VL: Some of the larger problems we’ve encountered would be managers that had a drive for their profession and their position, but gradually faded – all for a variety of reasons. For each individual circumstance we tried to find ways to alleviate the problems, to address any issues, change things up if need be. While we have never demoted long-time leaders, they may not have received a promotion or advancement over someone newer, someone that continued to follow our tenacity for growth.
TZL: How do you promote young and new leaders as the firm grows?
VL: As our company grows and new positions evolve, we find this to be the best opportunity to promote our younger and up-and-coming staff who have proven themselves to be best for the respective positions. We can tailor these positions to benefit both the employee and the company by creating a position that highlights their strengths and how they best contribute to the company and their teams, while allowing them to also advance within the company.
TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO?
VL: Nothing is excluded from this responsibility.
TZL: What happens to the firm if you leave tomorrow?
VL: My husband is executive vice president and would continue to run the company with the same drive and passion as he did when we first started.
TZL: If the worker shortage continues, do you see wages increasing to encourage more talent to enter the AEC space, or will technology be used to counter the reduced workforce?
VL: I believe it’s a combination of both. For what technology cannot provide, increased wages are the most effective tool to retain those employees who are essential and to entice a new workforce.
TZL: There is no substitute for experience, but there is pressure to give responsibility to younger staff. What are you doing to address the risk while pursuing the opportunity to develop your team?
VL: With the right attitude and work ethic, we see the young workforce as a true growing opportunity. By starting them in entry-level positions, they are able to become skilled in their respective positions and grow within the company. We have seen many excel in their positions, advance quickly, and are not only recognized by us, but by our clients as well.
TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around?
VL: Our staff is our greatest asset. We try to create an environment in which everyone feels as though they are part of not just this company, but part of something greater. Each person is essential to the success of the company, and we could not be who we are as a company without each and every person. Recognition, raises, rewards, and bonuses are our main incentives for employees to ensure they are happy in their positions and with the company.
TZL: Benefits are evolving. Are you offering any new ones due to the changing demographic?
VL: Benefits play such a large role in attracting new employees and retaining current employees. It seems to be an area we are constantly evaluating. Are we following our industry, are we competitive with our competitors, and, most importantly, are we open-minded to ideas that may be different, new, or that present themselves to us? Increasing 401(k) match, increasing vacation hours per year, and subsidizing tuition costs for employees seeking advancement in our field during employment are several examples of benefit changes we have made to cover the spread of demographics within our company.
TZL: Are you currently pursuing the R&D tax credit?
VL: Yes, however this is being done through an outside contracted firm that specializes in this area.