By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN For the Schoborgs of Delano, surveying has always been a family affair.
All seven Schoborg children have worked for Schoborg Land Services Inc., at one time or another, even as young as 8 years old.
After surveying part time with his brother-in-law, Paul Schoborg became a full-time land surveyor in 1967.
“In 1984, I just quit my job and started my own business,” Paul remembered. “I didn’t have (business) cards, a phone, or anything at first. I worked other jobs the first two years until things got going.”
And for Schoborg, things did get going, and his business eventually took off. Not only have they surveyed in the Delano area, but across the entire state of Minnesota.
They were part of an 11- story building on the University of Minnesota campus, a bridge over the Crow River in Hutchinson, a shopping center in Maplewood, and a casino in Wisconsin.
Over the years, marking the boundaries of land, creating maps, and organizing the development of property has become easier. With the addition of the GPS (global positioning system), larger jobs have been made simpler.
Digital drafting has enabled them to put aside the drafting board, and they no longer do drawings by hand.
Another tool of the trade is a total station, which is an optical instrument used to take measurements, which also enables a surveyor to determine angles and distances to calculate the coordinates of actual positions of surveyed points.
Land surveying is a year- round job and can be difficult when it is 90 degrees in the middle of the woods, with mosquitoes everywhere.
“Surveyors have been known to be kind of rough-and- tug people,” said Paul. “We have to know math and be able to take the weather.”
One wouldn’t know the challenging side of their job while listening to them reminisce about surveying history, or items they have found on the job.
They can share interesting facts such as how George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln were all land surveyors at some point in their lives.
Some items they have found include stone section corners (rocks piled up by old surveyors), baring trees (a tree with one side flattened off and carved into it what corner it is), a rifle barrel, car axles, and many other things used years ago to mark land.
“A witness corner stake, in a swamp, was fun to find,” Paul smiled. “They would show you where to go to find the actual corner. I still have it and there are still carvings on it. I’d say it’s from 1857 or before. I don’t know why it lasted so long it was pretty weird to find that.”
In January of 2008, Kelly (Schoborg) Brouwer purchased the family business from her father. Though she has added wetland delineation to the company (locating the edges of wetland), it continues to be a family affair with the help of her father and brother, Josh Schoborg.
“I’m not really retired, I’m just tired,” said Paul. “Well, I’m kind of retired, but if I could, I’d still be working every day.”
Kelly began following her father around and carrying his survey equipment at 8 years old, and continued doing so every summer until she was 16 years old.
Though she has a bachelor of arts degree in music and management, she returned to surveying in 2004, and began taking classes to continue in the field.
“Being a land surveyor in a small business allows me to enjoy a combination of working outdoors and drafting on the computer,” said Kelly. “My favorite part of surveying is uncovering little bits of history. To search for, and then find an old monument that another surveyor placed decades ago is pretty exciting.”
One could say that the Schoborgs and their family business is a story in itself, but it is nearly impossible to tell the whole tale without mentioning one more thing music.
“Both of my parents sing and play guitar with the church praise team (Light of Christ Church in Delano),” said Kelly. “Of my dad’s seven kids, all of us learned an instrument, and most sang in school choirs.”
With his musical talents and white beard, it would be difficult to miss Paul during one his Saturday morning jam sessions at Three Crows in Delano, and driving by land that the Schoborgs haven’t surveyed would be nearly impossible.
The Schoborgs are also involved in community organizations, as Josh is a member of the Delano Jaycees and Kelly is active in the Delano Royalty Organization.
For more information about Schoborg Land Services, visit www.schoborgland.com or call (763) 972-3221.