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Duncan Bates,
Duncan Bates Land Surveyors

Duncan Bates Land Surveyors is fast approaching its 20th year of existence. The company started in 1988 in the loft apartment of Fish Hoek's Arcade Offices. To Managing Director Duncan Bates, the journey over the years has been wonderful.

Duncan's working career began as a Professional Land Surveyor in the City of Cape Town Land Survey Branch for 7 years. He then ventured into private practice with Ken Hodge for a 5 year stay before breaking away to start his own practice. The company has since grown from strength to strength.

Duncan's charismatic leadership and management style has been one of the reasons for his company's success. "I train my employees by showing them how to perform their tasks and not by telling them how it is done. And there is a big difference," he says with a chuckle.

According to Duncan, the company has always been committed to delivering service of exceptional quality. "99% of my business comes from word of mouth and client referrals. As a team we ensure that we deliver work of the highest quality, otherwise we might as well close shop," he says.

When asked how land surveying has changed over the years, Duncan responds: "The principles have remained largely the same. I am still using the same techniques and processes today that I used when I first started. I used a total station back then, and today we still use the electronic total station, but with many technological advances built in."

"The equipment is of course a lot more user-friendly and has become more advanced, but the principle of providing accurate information to the centimetre is still the same. GPS advances have also been remarkable, but the equipment is very expensive and doesn't work in all areas, although this is improving."

"I've had many surveyors come to work for me and, for example, have measured a rectangular building with a GPS. When they plot the co-ordinates in AllyCAD, the final representation comes out distorted. This is where experience counts, as I can immediately see where the errors are and can show the student how to avoid them."
  Duncan is a devoted CAD user and has high praise for AllyCAD. "My office is a proud supporter of AllyCAD software. In fact, AllyCAD and Civil Designer are premium products and beat the competition by a mile. It is quick and easy to use, and I especially enjoy the use of photographic bitmaps as backdrops to my drawings."

One of the biggest project accomplishments at Duncan Bates Land Surveyors is when the firm obtained planning permission for the establishment of 1160 unit private golf estate in the Stellenbosch Administrative District. "This was achieved by co-ordinating a professional team comprising of environmental consultants, civil engineers and a project manager."

"This was also the first project where no objections were received from the public because we involved them from the very beginning during the planning phase. The extensive golf estate made provision for an 18 hole golf course, a hotel, retail outlets and sporting facilities, and was an exciting project to work on. It is currently being implemented, and will take the next 3 to 5 years to be completed," he explains.

According to Duncan, the next few years at Duncan Bates Land Surveyors will be equally exciting. Bruce McKenzie is a Professional Land Surveyor-in-Training and is currently undertaking his articles with the firm, and Elzette Henshilwood heads up the Town Planning section of the practice. The company has also embarked on a support programme to mentor a top female university student from a previously disadvantaged background. With the addition of Farzaana Fisher, the staff at Duncan Bates Land Surveyors has now grown to a team of six, with the company offering a variety of services in both land and property development ventures.

"I've worked hard my whole life and I am now in a position to impart my knowledge and experience to others. There is no greater profession than being a Land Surveyor and developing quality people in the profession gives me great joy. I have a dedicated and committed team, and the company's achievements are clear evidence of this," he says proudly.

image Duncan Bates is the sole proprietor of Duncan Bates Land Surveyors and holds a BSc in Land Surveying at UCT. Duncan is a natural entrepreneur and has many successful ventures, one of which is a water bottling company at his farm in Cape Point. In his leisure, Duncan enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoys hiking, surfing and travelling to interesting destinations.

Block I, The Terraces, Steenberg Office Park, 1 Silverwood Close, Tokai 7945.
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