“An outdoorsman and people person at heart, Bruce enjoyed working outside and meeting people. Soon, he was leading the pipeline survey crews.”
When Bruce graduated from the Kendall College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, he faced a career changing decision. It was the mid ‘80s, and changes were bubbling up in the world of graphic design. As 16-bit microprocessors added muscle to personal computers, artists and designers were able to create high-resolution computer graphics, saving time and increasing accuracy. The problem? Bruce had learned to design by hand, not using technology. So, he either had to go back to school to learn computer graphics or apply his skills in a new area.
He chose the latter, putting his talents to use as a draftsman at Holland Engineering (HEI) in Holland, Michigan. The company provides engineering, project management, land surveying, environmental and field services to the energy, civil infrastructure and government markets. After he’d been drafting for four years, management realized Bruce’s potential to do more.
One day in January, Bruce’s manager asked if he’d like to work in the field. As the mercury dipped below 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind whipped up, Bruce was not sure. He decided, however, to take the plunge.
An outdoorsman and people person at heart, Bruce enjoyed working outside and meeting people. Soon, he was leading the pipeline survey crews. Seeing the job full cycle included surveying and collecting as-built conditions, post processing the data and compiling various customer deliverables from the scanned data.
Riding the Waves of Technological Progress
Of course, Bruce’s life experience had made him aware of the impact technology could have on lives and businesses. Maybe that’s why he was one of the first to recognize that 3D laser scanning had the potential to increase the speed, accuracy and safety of plant design while also reducing costs. When he pioneered the concept of laser scanning at Holland Engineering, he confronted a headwind of resistance. Some associates were concerned that they’d lose their jobs, and moving into laser scanning required a large investment. Finally, however, Bruce’s persistence and sound rationale won over top management. In 1999, the company was one of the first innovators to buy a Cyrax 3D laser scanner (an early model of the Leica ScanStation) and offer scanning services, positioning them for growth.
Initially, Bruce had planned to use the laser scanner to document existing pipes in plants. This process would enable him to design retrofits and new installations in a virtual environment, avoiding design interferences and return trips to the plant to capture missed measurements. However, once they had access to the scanner, their antenna was up, and they kept uncovering more uses for laser scanning. These applications ranged from scanning an old theater to aid in its restoration, to documenting a landfill to determine the volume. As uses expanded, the company’s laser scanning services offering flourished.
Understanding the Customer’s Challenges
After two decades at Holland Engineering, Bruce was offered the opportunity to join Leica Geosystems as a consultative sales person for high definition scanning (HDS) hardware and software. In this position, he would work with service providers, EPCs, owner-operators and dealers. The job fit perfectly with Bruce’s background and passion for 3D laser scanning. He had hands-on experience using the technology, knew the results it could generate, and, having sold it internally, he understood the questions and concerns of prospective customers. Also, since he had already researched the market, he knew Leica Geosystems offered the most accurate, comprehensive and robust 3D scanning hardware and software available with the most efficient field-to-finish workflows.
Now, he coaches his prospects and customers to look at the big picture. “They’ll tell me, ‘we just want to use laser scanning to document existing plant structures,’” says Bruce. “I’ll show them, however, that they can use it in other areas to expand their business or increase productivity. After all, I don’t want customers to limit their potential.” He finds it rewarding to show people the return they can generate by using accurate, trusted 3D laser scanning solutions for as-builting. “They can save a lot of time and money upfront in the plant documentation. But they can realize even greater savings in the design phase. Because they can create in a virtual 3D environment, they avoid costly errors that result in clashes and the need to retrofit in the field.”
Bruce Bowditch Fun Facts
Worked for HEI for two decades, rising to become the manager of 3D Laser Scanning & Pipeline Services Group.
Discovered his technical bent and life calling after graduating from Kendall College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and experiencing survey work at HEI.
Is a drummer who has participated in many shows.
Loves the outdoors—hunting, fishing and hiking.
Enjoys cooking up a gourmet meal and pairing it with a good glass of wine.
Married his high school sweetheart after a 34 year hiatus.