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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
GeoEye Acquires M. J. Harden
by Susan Smith
Mark Brender, vice president. communications and marketing for GeoEye and Doug Leibbrandt, general manager of M.J. Harden Associates, Inc. spoke to GISWeekly last week about the acquisition of M. J. Harden Associates Inc. by GeoEye. GeoEye completed the acquisition of M. J. Harden’s outstanding stock on March 15, 2007, and will operate the company as a wholly owned subsidiary.
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This image was taken from 423 miles in space on March 9, 2005 as the IKONOS satellite moved from north to south along the western seaboard of the US at 17,000 mph.While IKONOS can collect at .82-meter ground resolution, this image is 4-meter resolution since the area is so large and the data files would be too big at the highest resolution. Used with permission of GeoEye
GISWeekly: How big a company is M.J. Harden?
Doug Leibbrandt: M. J. Harden is a sixty person company located in Mission KS. We’ve been in business since 1956, providing quality photogrammetry, mapping, and GIS services to customers in the government, local, state and federal, and utility sector as well as private sector. The majority of our staff have four year college degrees in geography, computer science, math and other related fields. The average years of experience of the people who report directly to me is about 13 years so we have people who have been here 35 years, and others with less than a year experience. The domain knowledge and the depth of experience was one of the key attributes that attracted GeoEye to M.J. Harden. We’re a growing company and our sales and revenues have increased 20% annually over the last three years, so we look forward to future growth with GeoEye.
GISWeekly: What was the purchase price?
Doug Leibbrandt: That is not going to be disclosed.
GISWeekly: Will there will be any change in management?
Doug Leibbrandt: Our corporate offices will remain in Mission, KS, near Kansas City, and the management team will remain intact. I will be the general manager and report directly to Matt O’Connell our CEO. My operations manager, Mike Flynn, will remain the operations manager. M. J. Harden will become a GeoEye company but we will still do business under the separate name of M.J. Harden. We have a very strong presence and brand in the Midwest, and we’re starting to get more of a presence across the nation. I think our customer base can expect the same level of great service and offerings, in addition to having complete access to GeoEye’s imaging satellites, products and services.
GISWeekly: What will GeoEye do with the technical capabilities of M.J. Harden?
Mark Brender: M.J. Harden has had decades of successful management of nationwide aerial imagery collection and mapping and GIS capabilities, so we will employ this experience across geospatial activities. M. J. Harden has a particular expertise in providing solutions, for example, in the pipeline and utility industry and has a strong ESRI skill set among its consultants and implementers. We plan to expand M.J. Harden’s technical expertise with other types of sensors, for example, LiDAR, a laser light sensor put in an aircraft to collect terrain data. This is very important for GIS and hydraulic and floodplain modeling and various engineering applications that require very accurate imagery.
Doug Leibbrandt: The LiDAR and imaging capabilities that M.J. Harden brings to the table really expand the corridor management opportunities we see as a growing, emerging market. That will go hand in hand with what GeoEye offers.
GISWeekly: Do you have any customers in common?
Doug Leibbrandt: I’m sure we do, I don’t know who they are at the moment.
Mark Brender: I think satellite imagery and aerial imagery are complementary products. One does not exclude the other, so I don’t see a competition, I see complementary use of imagery. Now GeoEye can offer more robust products and services to a wider range of customers and resellers. For example, M.J. Harden can provide high resolution ortho imagery at six inch or one foot resolution to a city every three years, while GeoEye can provide in the future GeoEye 1 orthoimagery in the interim years so they can keep their landbase current. Another example is GeoEye can provide orthoimagery of a county because counties are quite large while M.J. Harden provides a higher resolution and higher accuracy aerial imagery for the built up or urban areas within the county.
GISWeekly: So there’s an advantage for people to be able to do one-stop shopping?
Doug Leibbrandt: Very much so. You’re looking at one organization that can deliver both the large geographic coverage that our new satellite footprint will provide as well as being able to generate as small as two or three inch pixel resolution for those urban areas where there’s keen interest in getting more detail about their landbase and facilities. To be able to integrate that and provide it on a repetitive basis is a real game changer.
GISWeekly: What about the other services that M.J. Harden offers?
Doug Leibbrandt: We have a long history of providing quality photogrammetry and mapping services. We also have been one of the pioneers in the GIS industry, back in the early 90s M.J. Harden was one of the first photogrammetry companies to introduce GIS services to the customer base and we were one of those first companies that took it upon ourselves to educate our customer base: utilities, cities and counties. That capability still exists within M.J. Harden and that is one of the areas we will use to value add to the pixels that GeoEye provides. We want to do more than just offer pixels, we want to provide solutions, we want to provide answers and the depth of knowledge and the strength in our ESRI consultants and implementers will allow us to do that. We’ve got a fair amount of background in mobile technology. We have a product called Hardenware FDC that we brought to market late last year. We will be using that (FDC) and working with our customers who are interested in the mobile technology and taking those GIS processes to the field, along with the photogrammetry We also have a complementary capability where we do a lot of work with the federal government, especially the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. We hope to expand this relationship since GeoEye has a close relationship with that agency. It’s a win win all the way around. We see the capabilities GeoEye has from a commercial/remote sensing standpoint, and M.J. Harden on the commercial side with our domain knowledge and experience, we see that dovetailing and fitting in very nicely.