As one ‘Epp-ic’ career winds down another is set to go far
Spending 50 years in one career is notable. Remarkable is continuing to love the work after so many years on the job.
Professional Land Surveyor Peter Epp has had such a career.
“I really like what I do. If I had a choice today, and God said: ‘You can do whatever you want to do,’ I would choose this,” Epp said.
At age 68, Epp has decided to sell the business — Epp & Associates — and become semi-retired.
While surveying the ponds at Axil Basin south of Craig, about five years ago, then employee Mike Fraher told Epp that he’d like to purchase the business. The transaction was completed on May 25.
We sat down with Epp and Fraher to learn more about the past, present and future of Epp & Associates.
Craig Daily Press: When did you start the business?
Epp: On June 1, 1978, tomorrow will have been 39 years.
CDP: Why did you decide to sell?
Epp: I had a man who helped me get started, and I decided that I wanted to help someone else get started.
CDP: Why did you decide to buy?
Fraher: I absolutely love my job. It is the perfect mix of fieldwork and office work, and I look forward to different challenges every day. As Peter began to talk about retiring, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to stay in Craig and continue in this career.
CDP: How much did you pay?
Epp: I’m embarrassed to say how little I sold it for, and he’s embarrassed to say how much he paid.
CDP: When and where did you get your start?
Epp: I didn’t plan to become a surveyor. I’m from Canada. I was playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band. The drummer had a job on a survey crew and said I should go to work for them. That was in 1967, 50 years ago. Within days I had a job. I really liked that. When I got laid off I went to work for a company on the MacKenzie River Delta in the Northwest Territories of northern Canada in the winter of 1973. The company I worked for asked me to come to the U.S. on a working holiday, and we ended up in Craig. That was Oct. 1, 1973. In May of 1975 I went to work at Empire Mine were I worked on the conveyer and silo. There were 250 people working there at one time. It makes you feel sad to see it all come down. Got my surveyor license in June of 1978.
Fraher: I have been working for Epp & Associates since June of 2012, and have been licensed as a professional surveyor in Colorado since 2015. I met Peter in 2006 while I was working at the Boys & Girls Club in Craig. Through conversations with him, I became interested in pursuing a career in surveying and moved to Michigan in 2008 to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Surveying Engineering from Michigan Technological University. I moved back to Craig in June of 2012 when Peter offered me a surveying position.
CDP: After 50 years, you must have experienced some ups and downs in that time?
Epp: In 1981, I had 27 employees. My income tripled every year. Then in 1983-84 when Exxon shutdown in Garfield County, I went down to one. You wouldn’t think it would have affected us here, but I felt like that guy going over the cliff on the back of a horse, pulling back on the reins.
CDP: How many staff do you have now and how’s business now?
Fraher: I am the only full-time employee. Peter will continue to work for the business on a part-time basis. Leslie Peterson is also employed as a part-time administrative assistant. Business has been strong for the last three years. This year started a little slow, but things are picking up.
CDP: Are you going to be making any changes to the business?
Fraher: I do not plan to make any changes right away. My goal is to continue to provide the community with high-quality surveying services. Peter will also remain with Epp & Associates in a part-time role.
CDP: What do you plan to do next?
Epp: We will stay in Craig with my wife of 16 years, Yolanda. We have family here including my daughter and her husband, Angela and Jerry Wooden; their children Grady and Brodie; our son Jair and Holly and their boy Nio. My eldest son Jason lives in Brighton. And I’ll help Mike. That way I still get to keep doing what I like to do. From the time I started, until last year, I didn’t take more than eight to 10 days off per year. Partial retirement sounds really, really good.
Fraher: Peter is also the elected Moffat County Surveyor for two more years.
CDP: What else would you like readers to know?
Fraher: We offer a full range of surveying services including mine surveying (underground and surface), boundary surveys, Improvement Location Certificates, ALTA surveys, topographic surveys, volumetric calculations, pond surveying and more.
Please join us at our office at 433 4th Avenue West for an open house on June 16 from 3-7 p.m. Join us as we celebrate Peter’s (semi)-retirement and to congratulate Mike on his recent acquisition.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.comor follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education
This year, a handful of Moffat County High School graduates are setting out to carry on the family tradition. From business to education, these students plan to follow in the footsteps their parents and in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents.