SAM Engineering & Surveying

Design-build services with family values in the Rio Grande Valley
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

In June 2008, Samuel and Saul Maldonado founded SAM Engineering & Surveying (SAMES) Inc. as a construction, engineering and surveying firm. Located in Pharr, Texas, SAMES is the product of a vision shared by the two brothers to create a company which provides exceptional services to its clients while providing a great place to work for its employees.

Samuel Maldonado used his experience with a former employer as inspiration for establishing a family-oriented company. “When I graduated from college my first job was with a big corporate construction company in which I just felt like a number,” recalls Maldonado. In 2000, he went to work for a smaller local engineering firm where he discovered it is possible to generate a productive bottom line while maintaining a “family first” environment.

“I was very influenced by my second employer,” says Maldonado. “In the eight years that I worked there I had three children and never felt like I had to sacrifice time with my family for my job.” Maldonado utilized that same approach when starting his own company. In order to maintain a fair work-life balance for his employees, Maldonado will conduct annual surveys to measure the contentment of his associates. “The consensus that I have found is that my employees appreciate that we allow them to take care of their families first and foremost.” A majority of SAMES Inc.’s 15 employees have been with the company their entire career.

Building a foundation

Maldonado and his brother Saul both graduated from Texas A&M-Kingsville with degrees in civil engineering. Through his experience working for both large and small engineering firms, Maldonado gained knowledge about development in the Rio Grande Valley. “I was fortunate enough to work on a variety of public projects of all sizes,” says Maldonado. “My brother went to work for the city of McAllen in the engineering department where he worked for five years.”

The relationships that the Maldonado brothers established in the years leading up to 2008 would become a major factor in the pair deciding to start their own company. “From both of our backgrounds, we had established relationships within both the private and public sectors,” Maldonado explains. “When combined, these relationships helped us to experience early success with our company.” Within the company’s first year, SAMES Inc. was able to able to land major engineering contracts with the Agua Special Utility District, the city of Pharr and the state of Texas.

Expanding services

Beginning initially as an engineering and surveying firm, SAMES added general construction management to its services in 2010. Since then, the company has completed projects such as office buildings, public parking lots, sewers, infrastructure and federal construction work. “Early on, from a growth and expansion perspective, we felt that construction would bring in higher revenues as well as an opportunity to compete and be involved in bigger projects,” says Maldonado. “In association with our engineering and design services, we felt that a design-build approach would ultimately give us an advantage.” SAMES Inc. has also enhanced its opportunities by becoming certified with the U.S. Small Business Development Program for 8a projects, which enables the company to participate in federal work.

With a young, passionate team SAMES Inc. concentrates on highlighting the company’s qualifications and expertise, which Maldonado feels is unmatched. “We have four professional engineers on staff which is more than local firms,” Maldonado explains. “With a very young and committed team we approach projects and contracts in a very progressive way.”

SAMES Inc. has used this approach recently in the design process of cold-storage facilities. “Cold-storage has become a big market in our area,” says Maldonado. “In the past few years we have completed three large cold storage building designs. We are currently working on two more and have submitted bids for others.” In a related project, SAMES Inc. completed a refrigerated inspection facility at the Pharr Port of Entry, which is inside a federal inspection facility used by importers to inspect produce in transit.

Future development in the Rio Grande Valley

Maldonado says that SAMES Inc. will continue to focus on expanding its federal construction portfolio. The company enjoys accepting challenges that force its people to learn and grow as a team as well as individually. “We have always submitted for projects that might seem beyond our reach initially,” says Maldonado. “We are always optimistic when striving for bigger projects because we feel the return will continue to increase. We maintain the philosophy that as long as we keep swinging for the fence we will one day hit the big one.”

SAMES is optimistic about the Rio Grande Valley as the growth and opportunities continue to rise. “As an engineering and construction firm, we see the evidence of growth in the ongoing construction projects,” Maldonado explains. “We love to see huge cranes hovering over multi-story buildings which typically signifies large capital investments in our community.”

As development in the Rio Grande Valley continues, SAM Engineering & Surveying will continue to be an example of an industry-leading company with family values.