Schneider Corp., a locally based company founded in 1962 and best known for its land surveying and development capabilities, is also making a name for itself in the tech sector.
Its geographic information system—or GIS—division is growing so fast, Schneider is separating it out from its traditional surveying business and spinning it off on its own. A geographic information system is designed to calculate, capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographic data.
The change at Schneider actually took place Jan. 1, but the company is rolling it out to the public with a revamped web site and rebranding May 15.
The new GIS-focused firm is called Schneider Geospatial and the traditional surveying part of the firm is now known as Schneider Geomatics. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Schneider Corp., which is an Indianapolis-based private company now run by the third generation of the Schneider family.
“Geospatial is one of the fastest growing segments of the business. That’s why we’re separating it out,” said Jeff Corns, president of Schneider Geospatial. Corns added that Geospatial is profitable and has been “for years.”
It’s not that Schneider Geomatics, which has 110 employees, isn’t growing. Scott Stephens, Schneider Geomatics president, said revenue derived from the firm’s top energy clients increased 40 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. Energy, he added, is Geomatics largest and fastest growing market segment.
Schneider Geospatial, which has 45 employees, has seen its revenue climb from $900,000 in 2002 to a projected $7.5 million this year, according to Corns.
The customer bases for the two operations are very different, Corns explained, with Geospatial serving primarily local and state governments and Geomatics serving energy and land management companies and entities overseeing corporate and college campuses.
And while Geospatial is growing quickly in the southeast—in part due to a recent acquisition in Florida—Geomatics has strongholds in the Midwest and south central part of the U.S.
In addition to its offices in Indianapolis and Florida, Schneider Geospatial has an office in Iowa.
Schneider Geomatics has offices in West Lafayette; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Houston, Texas, in addition to Indianapolis.
“We didn’t want to have one business drive the business of the other,” Corns said. “We want both [firms] to be able to grow independently in ways that are best for each.”
The two firms will continue to partner on some projects, Schneider officials said.
But Corns explained that running “a software business” is much different than running a land surveying and development firm, with different sales cycles and other aspects of the operations.
Schneider Corp. started doing GIS work for its clients in 1989, and 15 years ago started growing that line of work separately from its land surveying work, Corns said. The company began designing and marketing its own GIS software back in 1993, when it released AgLand. The company began marketing other pieces of what is now its suite of offerings in 1999, 2005, 2010 and 2012.
Over the years, Schneider has launched an e-government suite under a software-as-a-service model that changed the way local governments and their constituents interact with each other, Corns said.
In 2014, the company was recognized with a prestigious Mira Award from TechPoint for Tech Services of the Year. Two years later, Schneider won a Mira Award as Corporate Innovator of the Year.
Since 2015, the use of Schneider’s software has spread dramatically from under 6 percent to almost 20 percent of county governments nationwide.
Schneider Geospatial’s software has many advantages for municipal agencies, Corns said, allowing public data that is managed by multiple people, in multiple offices, in multiple locations, over multiple time periods to be consolidated and centralized.
But he added that his firm’s software also has many advantages for citizens, allowing them to interact with Schneider’s software in a number of ways including letting them check property values remotely and even pay their property taxes through the system.
Corns explained that Schneider’s software eliminates “traditional limitations; lines, hours of operation, undefined workflows, [and] bottlenecks in communication. These have been replaced with solutions that are available 24 hours a day, every day, from wherever the end user is.”
Last year, Schneider Corp.’s software saved taxpayers more than 12 million trips to the courthouse and handled more than 450 million requests (up 400 percent from 2016) for information, according to Schneider officials.
Schneider officials estimated that its software, Beacon and qPublic.net, saved a typical, local government client on average more than $150,000 annually in employee benefits from reduced counter traffic. The estimated financial impact of Schneider’s e-government solutions’ reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars each year, company officials said.
Schneider’s innovation isn’t limited to Geospatial.
Schneider Geomatics invented a patented tool, called V.depth, for measuring the location and angles of underground pipes and other underground infrastructure without sending a person down a manhole. Geomatics also has been on the leading edge with its ground-penetrating radar—which can examine building foundations, among other things underground, without disturbing the surface, company officials said.
“We are demonstrating that an established company can evolve and change,” Corns said.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Schneider is an innovator or even that it has moved more firmly into the world of tech.
Company founder Vincent Schneider, a World War II vet who put himself through Purdue University on the GI Bill, was a techie before being a techie was cool.
He loved computers and technology so much, Corns said, that he ran a Hewlett-Packard dealership upstairs from his surveying company.
“It might have seemed strange to some, having an HP dealer sign pointing upstairs, but it wasn’t to" Vincent Schneider, Corns said. “He was always a technology guy. He was always interested in what the next, new thing was going to be.”