James W. Sewall Company (Sewall) is founded upon solid business principles practiced for over a century. It was established in 1880 by James Wingate Sewall and his brother Joseph to provide forest inventory, surveying, and mapping services to the lumber industry in northern Maine and Canada. With formal training in civil engineering and expertise in urban water system development, James W. brought new standards of accuracy, statistical analysis, and precision craftsmanship to the surveying, appraisal, and mapping of forestland. Early on, the Maine company gained a reputation for professionalism, innovation, and a commitment to quality.
During the first half of the 20th century, the company grew steadily under the management of James W. Sewall, Jr., providing forestry consulting, civil engineering, and surveying services to a broader range of clients throughout the Northeast and Canada. Known for intelligence, skill, and a strong work ethic, Sewall professionals established relationships with industrial firms, government agencies, and private interests that still exist today.
Under the leadership of Joseph Sewall, son of James W., Jr., the company diversified during the 1940s. Sewall purchased its first airplane, aerial camera, and stereoplotter equipment, incorporating photogrammetric processes to produce maps. Aerial photography provided Sewall clients with an accurate yet lower cost source of data for planimetric and topographic mapping, timberland inventory, and parcel mapping.
In the 1970s, the firm acquired its first computerized system to produce digital maps of forestland use and vegetative cover. Rapidly Sewall expanded the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to include multi-layered coverages on tax parcels and utilities infrastructure as well as planimetric and topographic mapping. The firm soon incorporated comprehensive automated mapping capabilities for gas and electric facilities management. In active pursuit of R&D, Sewall formed partnerships with various universities and government agencies, including NASA, NOAA, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
In the 1990s, Sewall acquired ground and airborne Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment as the accuracy and portability of this emerging technology improved. Sewall also incorporated inertial measurement unit (IMU) technology for use in the capture of aerial photography. Inertial sensor measurements processed with airborne GPS data eliminate the need for aerotriangulation in the mapping process, reducing production schedule and project cost. Sewall was one of the first firms in the country to provide advanced image processing, including satellite mapping, digital orthophotography, close-range photogrammetry, and photogrammetric-quality scanning services.
During the new millennium, Sewall’s office locations expanded to meet a growing demand for services in the South. In September 2006, Sewall acquired the Forest Technology Group (FTG) from MeadWestvaco Corporation located in South Carolina. FTG was founded in 1999 to develop web-based information systems and services for the forestry and natural resources industry. Its core products enabled the delivery of integrated tabular and spatial data via the web. Utilized by large forest landowners for enterprise resource management, its platform was expandable to a diverse range of industry and government applications. Recently, Sewall expanded its geospatial and engineering services to the South as well.
New services were added from 2000 to the present. In Maine, Sewall provided civil engineering design for the majority of its onshore wind energy sites, and helped to expand broadband with consulting services in broadband needs assessment and strategic planning to the State government and local communities. Nationally, Sewall offered asset management services to municipal, utility, and commercial clients, and geospatial-derived solutions to aid in forest management.
In 2012, Sewall transitioned from family ownership to management ownership under David T. Edson, LPF. Under his leadership, Sewall has focused on consulting services more than production services, whereby its core services (surveying, aerial imaging, forestry, civil engineering, mapping, and geographic information systems) are used to guide clients in making informed decisions.
Corporate headquarters are in Old Town, Maine, at the original site of James. W. Sewall’s forestry and surveying practice.