Frank Burch began his 35th year with L.I. Smith & Associates (LIS) in February of 2023, making him the longest employed staff member outside of the Smith family. Having worked alongside three generations of the Smiths, he has established himself as a well trusted member of the LIS team and is largely relied on by his colleagues.
Patrick Smith, LIS President, stated, “Frank has been surveying at LIS since I got my driver’s license. If I have a question about surveying, I ask Frank.”
In 1988, Burch earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Murray State University. While Burch was attending school, Andrew Kelly, one of his professors, referred him to LIS. Kelly had taught numerous LIS staff members throughout the years, including company founder, Larry Smith.
Burch began this career with LIS as a Rodman in 1989. At the time, he was one of only eight staff members. Within one year of employment, he was promoted to Party Chief. At the time, the company focused exclusively on land surveying and had not yet introduced full-service civil engineering work.
Burch said, “I started out doing boundary surveys because that’s primarily all they (LIS) did at the time… I was happy doing what I was doing, so I’ve accumulated a little bit of experience.”
Due to his love for the outdoors, Burch prefers to work in the field instead of the office. He has remained in his role as Party Chief since his promotion in 1990. However, after more than three decades in the industry, his role has shifted to that of a mentor to his team members.
“It seems like I teach and train new people all the time. I’ve trained a lot of people, some of whom have licenses now. It’s an ongoing process, especially during the summer. There are always new people coming in and I get to teach them. I’m proud of that,” stated Burch.
Outside of acting as a mentor to less experienced staff, Burch is responsible for survey crews, deed research, and calculating any necessary fieldwork. He has surveyed lots, large acreage, as-builts, topographic surveys, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) wetlands, route surveys, and subdivision layouts.
Throughout his career with LIS, Burch has completed more than 6,000 jobs in the survey industry. His vital role as Party Chief has allowed him the opportunity to travel across the region and work on numerous unique and interesting projects.
Burch said, “One of the coolest jobs I have done is when they were putting up 5G towers in downtown Nashville. I got to survey on top of the Omni Hotel, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and the Nashville Music City Center.”
Another unique job Burch has worked on is a topographic survey of the floor of the Tennessee River at Pickwick Landing State Park Marina. In order to have new boat slips designed, a topographic survey of the floor of the marina was required, along with the location of all underwater objects in the vicinity of the existing marina. Mainstream Commercial Divers located these underwater objects and then tied a buoy to each one. Burch, along with other LIS staff members, then surveyed each buoy while in a boat. Some of the objects discovered were cable anchors, bicycles and tires.
Larry Smith, LIS Vice President, said, “Frank is one of the most knowledgeable and hardest workers I have ever known. He has been an outstanding asset to LIS throughout the years.”