From a young age, Kevin McGuire, who was born into a family of doctors and nurses, assumed he would follow the same path and pursue a medical career. His early childhood was spent on the campus of a psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania where his father, a psychiatrist, was superintendent. Kevin worked in the pathology and clinical laboratories and observed autopsies. He read books on how to tie surgical knots and even conducted experiments on frogs and surgery on rats. "I went around with my dad and just always thought I'd be a doctor too," he says.
The setting and scenery for all these earlier experiences, however, would play an even more important role than the medical atmosphere in shaping McGuire's future. "The facility was a self-sustaining campus on 1,000 acres of farmland with its own power plant and dairy. The patients actually worked the farm in those days and supplied their own food," McGuire remembers. "The hospital and other buildings took up some of the acreage, but the rest was open space - creeks and streams and ponds and agricultural fields. I considered all that to be my personal playground and I was in Heaven."
As McGuire matured and worked more hours in the hospital he realized that his heart was not in it and that he did not want to spend his days "under florescent lights working with sick people". As an alternative, he focused on veterinary medicine, which would allow him to work outdoors with large animals, and enrolled in a college pre-medical program. A summer job changed his plans again, however.
"By that time, we had moved to Colorado. The summer of 1977, after my freshman year, a family friend gave me an opportunity to work on a project in Vail doing survey work with his company. That summer job turned out to be a life-changing experience for me, and more fun than I ever could have imagined.
"We conducted retracement surveys, utilizing notes written by land surveyors 100 years ago. We retraced their surveys, hiking through the mountains, searching for the stone markers they had placed at the section corners of the townships and ranges across the United States. We followed their descriptions, measured distances in "chains" of 66 feet, and followed their tree blazes. For example, we would note the number of chains through an aspen forest and come to a creek and their notes would told tell us the width of the creek, etc. Following in their footsteps, using their measurements and descriptions, we would find the stones they had placed generations ago and the hair on the back of my neck would stand up!
"I fell in love with surveying that summer and was absolutely hooked," McGuire reflects. He worked for various companies and enrolled in surveying and engineering classes in Colorado Springs, where he obtained his surveyor's license in 1985.
Within a few years, McGuire began a company with an engineer who had moved from California and began to develop a strong interest in land use and habitats. "Surveyors are often the first people to arrive in an undeveloped area. We would see elk and deer and other creatures that, after the tractors arrived and the vegetation was stripped, would disappear from what had been their "home". This began to bother me and I became involved in a number of environmental organizations.
"My partner saw that my heart was in the environmental arena. He told me about the Environmental Studies program at UC Santa Cruz and thought I should check it out."
Following that advice, McGuire graduated from that program with honors in 1992 and also obtained a survey license in California. With California in a recession, he returned to Colorado to work for two years but wanted to return to California permanently. That became possible when a Denver engineering company, KRW Consulting, was seeking a surveyor who was licensed in California. He interviewed and was offered the position, which entailed relocating to Pleasanton and working with Pacific Bell Mobile Services on a new venture called PCS.
"My employer, Kip White, was my mentor," notes McGuire. "He headed the consulting firm in Denver, flew a Mooney airplane, climbed mountains, played guitar and recorded his music. We established a new branch of his business here, which we called Logikos. It was created specifically to supply surveying, mapping and consulting services to the wireless development that was happening in 1995.
Pacific Bell had a mandate by the federal government to have the Northern California network functioning by a certain deadline. Its team of consultants was housed at the facility on Rosewood Drive, where surveyors, the architectural and engineering group, the legal team, everyone needed to permit and build sites, worked together. "It was a great group of people and a real learning experience for me," McGuire reflects.
In 1999, Logikos was sold to a large engineering company. After four years, McGuire, who missed the atmosphere of a small company, opened Quiet River Land Services, Inc., taking along the original Logikos employees and clients.
Today, Quiet River provides services not only to the wireless world but also to municipalities, commercial developments, environmental companies and school districts as well as architectural and engineering firms that need surveying and mapping services and do not have them available in house. Its clients and projects are located all over Northern California.
"I named this business Quiet River Land Services because rivers are analogous to life, a source, flowing, alive and dynamic," he explains. The 'Quiet' comes from the value of the quiet times of enjoying nature. I called it Land Services, rather than Land Surveyors, because we will add other related services when the time is right."
According to McGuire, the pastor of his church in Vail, his friend Kip White, and his involvement at Valley Christian School (where he is currently school board chair) have provided him with a foundation and a framework for how to do business. He observes, "To me, business is a focus group for life. It's like a vehicle that you build, fill with gas and head down the road using the dials, gauges, pedals and levers at your disposal. You run into all kinds of challenges along the way, some of which you can control and some you just respond to - more work, less work, IT issues, client issues, etc. You have to decide how you're going to operate your vehicle. How do you want it to work?"
McGuire believes that being in business gives people an opportunity to demonstrate what they believe and what is important to them. Are they going to put money first? How are they going to treat the employees, clients, and vendors?
"With profits, you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world, to affect things in a way that you were unable to previously. I believe it's more important to support your community, the environment and others. Profits can be directed to anywhere in the world to help make this a better place. I think there's plenty to go around.
"We're all going to do some kind of work, but at the end of the day, what makes us happiest are the people we meet - whether they treated us well, whether they had respect for us, whether they were honest and did what they said they were going to do. Those are the qualities that have top priority here. In business, as in life, I just don't think there's any other way you can do it, if you want to do it right."
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