Local couple maps out their 13 years of success in business

Geographic Innovations owners Max and Leslie Masters enjoy working side by side out of the home together while continuing to grow their business one customer project at a time. (Photo/Dawn Rye)

Dawn Rye | Writer

Independence and a need for personal satisfaction remain the backbone of many small business owners. Most small business owners choose to go into business for themselves because they are ready to take a risk and be their boss. This risk didn’t scare local business owners Max Masters and wife Leslie who took a leap of faith 13 years ago. The couple had multiple conversations and decided to start Geographic Innovations. 

He explained while attending college in Spearfish he started working for the forest service in archeology. From there, while working with the deputy assessor’s office, he learned to fill out reports and the skill of mapping. After finding out he would have to reapply for his position after an election he decided to try and dig up more work or go work for someone else. 

“It obviously worked, we are 13 years down the line,” said Masters with a smile.

He noted he believes it is the same for a lot of small business owners. They either want to work for someone else from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or they want to call their shots. But, there is always that risk. He said he thinks supporting other small businesses is something he never thought of at first. Now, as a business owner and being involved in the local community, his reputation is on the line. He noted he understands how important small businesses help supports each other. 

Masters said there are plenty of days he could go back to work for someone else, however, he likes the challenge of having control in case something doesn’t work out. He commented that everything about mapping is different. There are different projects that he focuses on, so it is never the same project day in and day out. 

He stated the majority of the work is from government assessor’s offices regarding tax maps. He also works on rural addressing maps, emergency management maps, parcel maps completely from scratch, township range and section lines and town boundaries. Once the maps are configured, they are sent back through a PDF file. 

Masters explained with his government work there are usually longer deadlines, but a lot of the work comes from Wyoming. With the assessment side, the land valuation is tied to agriculture and range production. For the local fire department that may receive a call, they know the residence location. However, when it comes off the National Forest in Wyoming and other volunteer firefighters are responding, they need those maps to locate and understand their surroundings. 

Masters said some changes he has seen in the last 10 years are people are no longer going on MapQuest and printing off map directions or carrying an atlas. 

He explained with the updated phone technology people rely on their phones to have Google Maps. For Masters, the other aspect of his mapping is to submit changes to Apple Maps, Google and Bing. He explained the counties still hold all the paper data for different routes. 

“I stay busy and I like to be busy. But, I think something that I’m still working and my wife would whole heartily agree is some of my organization skills for my time management. I would rather start on the next project then take the time to organize,” said Masters. 

He noted his goal 13 years ago was to make it 10 years. Now that he has surpassed that goal, his next goal is to keep expanding. He explained his business has been working with a lot of private businesses and individuals. He explained when he first started he could see having employees and he doesn’t believe that is something he will be pursuing anymore. 

Masters said the best advice he could give someone looking to pursue starting his or her own business is embracing the challenge. 

He explained, “In the beginning, there is very little chance you are providing a service no one else does. He noted those first few years were super tough, but don’t wait. “

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