Ten years ago today — no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke! — our co-founders, intrepid archaeologists (and friends!) Paul and Kristi Jackson and Kenny Pearce launched a new company with the goal of "leading the future in recording America's past."
It was an audacious goal, to be sure, and one that would require dozens of crew members, writers, experts, and more. But it was also a worthy goal. As career archaeologists who had been working for a different agency in the years leading up to the formation of TerraX, Paul and Kenny understood the value of unearthing and preserving our history.
They had no idea the challenges they would face, but with a shared mission to discover and protect our cultural resources and heritage, they set out to make a little history of their own. That’s what led us to where we are today — and we are so proud of how far we’ve come! TerraX is doing more incredible work now than ever before, and we’re grateful to be doing more to manage our shared cultural resources with efficiency and excitement.
Not only that, but we’ve created a company culture that serves both our clients and our team. The companies and agencies we work with trust us to do excellent work, and that’s important. But somewhere down the line, we realized we wanted to be a place where all of our team members could advance their own careers while advancing the company. We put people first — not profit — and we’re incredibly excited about the progress our employees have made during their time with us.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without our fearless president, Kristi Jackson (Yes, she’s married to Paul!). Kristi has been the true brains of our operation since the very beginning, running everything from sales to payroll. We couldn’t have achieved success without her, and we’re so grateful for the work she did in those early days to get us started right.
That’s why we’ve decided to launch a whole new website and bring you our new blog, which we’re affectionately calling “Dig Deeper.” (Cute, right?) But before we talk more about our future, let’s talk a little more about our past…
Picture it: It's 2012. The Curiosity rover is on its way to Mars, The Avengers is about to take the box office by storm, and Adele’s "Rolling in the Deep" just won Best Record at the Grammy Awards. But more relevant to us, Paul and Kenny are sitting in the closet of a bank building launching their business.
You read that right – they started in a closet. Y'all thought Apple had it hard in that garage? Think again.
On April 1, 2012 Paul and Kenny first combined their academic backgrounds, archaeological skills, and shared passion for cultural resource management to form a new company. At first, things were tight — literally. Employees had to squeeze around each other’s chairs in that tiny closet, but no matter. Everyone was happy and excited to be launching something new and special.
That first year, TerraX completed 40 projects. We’re not sure how that compares to other CRM firms in their first years, but it sounded pretty good to us! With such a tiny staff and our leaders still finding their sea legs — err, land legs — 40 projects seemed like plenty to be proud of.
But they didn’t stop there. Paul and Kenny soon started recruiting the best archaeologists, field directors, crew chiefs, laboratory technicians, historians, and writers they could find.
As the company grew, it quickly became evident that the old bank closet wasn’t going to be enough. TerraX acquired its first lab facility soon after opening its proverbial doors, and we were able to process the increasing number of artifacts coming in from projects all over the southeast.
As time went on, one thing became clear: TerraX is here to stay. We learned a lot from the work we did in those early years, and while we still have room to grow, we’ve come a long way!
We may have started out in a closet, but would you believe that we now have four offices? Yup, you read that right. TerraX has offices in Baton Rouge, LA, St. Petersburg, FL, Alexander City, AL, and even a brand lab building in Tuscaloosa, AL. (We’re still in the process of moving, but look out for pictures from there soon.) And those are just the main bases! We also have employees in other parts of Alabama and Florida as well as North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee… even such far away and exotic locales as Pennsylvania and Texas!
Alright, we kid, but having a team spread throughout the country enables us to do some incredible work. We’ve taken on projects in all the states listed above plus Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky — 17 different states in total. As a matter of fact, at the time of writing, we currently have over 30 projects in progress all over the southeast. We’re working hard to provide the highest level of service to our clients and take care of our cultural resources.
We’re also working hard to plan a celebration! To mark our 10th anniversary as a company, we’ll be hosting a little get-together for all our employees, clients, and industry partners. We’re expecting a fun evening of hanging out and getting to know one another — plus, a little celebratory cake never hurt anyone, right? Our shindig will take place in a few weeks, and we’ll be sure to share more about it soon!
But it’s not all horn-tooting and celebration over here. We’re still hard at work! In the past 10 years, we’ve done more than 2600 projects including Phase I surveys and Phase II investigations. Not only that, but in the past three years alone we’ve completed 6 separate mitigations. (Those are MAJOR excavations, for those who don’t know.)
And then there’s our incredible team! It took time, but today, we have 46 people all pulling together to pull off the work we do. As a team, we have decades of experience, dozens of Master’s degrees and PhDs, countless hours of field work, and truly well-rounded expertise. We have departments for archaeology, architectural history, history, remote sensing, cemetery removal, Native American Consultation, and a full laboratory staff. We also have three specialists in GIS and our very own soil scientist (Lookin’ at you, @Laura Weingartner!) in addition to a writing staff and an editor. Also, our administrative staff has expanded and now includes four incredible women who are keeping this ship afloat!
And through it all, Kristi Jackson is still the captain of our ship. Her team is a little bigger now — she has three other incredible women who work hard to take care of our administrative needs — but she’s still the guiding force behind our operations. Kristi puts in the work to ensure our clients and employees are able to thrive, and we don’t know where we’d be without her.
Many of our employees have training and abilities that cross into different departments, and we are incredibly grateful for our team’s abilities to be flexible and integrate their talents in all parts of what we do! (I mean, somebody had to make the website – are we right?) Yup, we’re staying pretty busy over here.
But we’re not done yet. For SURE not. We still have plenty of goals for our future…
So where are we headed next? We’ve achieved a lot in the last 10 years, but what about the next 10? We’re so glad you asked!
First and foremost, staying busy with constant work is a priority, so we’re constantly going after new contracts and projects. It won’t be easy to take on more than our normal load, but with our proven track record and ever-expanding team, we’re confident in our ability to take on even more projects and further our reach throughout our region.
For another, we’d love to expand our current range of services. We currently have the ability to provide well-rounded services to our clients, but we have some great ideas for new services we could add to our menu, so to speak. We have goals to provide historical services — including land and genealogical research — to both corporate and private entities.
We also want to expand our public education reach. We’ve gotten a little taste of what it’s like to create exhibits and other publicly-accessible materials to promote learning in our communities, and we’d love to do more! Public history and archaeology days, community outreach projects, materials for historic walking tours, conferences, school events — we want to conquer them all.
And, of course, we’re excited to use this new blog to give all of you a greater understanding and appreciation of cultural resource management. Be on the lookout for our coming posts sharing a little bit more about our industry and the projects we’ve worked on. We hope this will be an informative and easy-to-access space for anyone and everyone to learn about the world of archaeology, history, and more!
Yup, we’re pretty ambitious, and we can’t wait to see where the next 10 years take us.
Ready to Dig Deeper?
And that’s pretty much us — all the way from a tiny closet to where we are today. We’re proud of how far we’ve come. We care about our people, and we care about our community. That’s why this new chapter in our life as a company is so exciting! We hope you’ll stick around to see what’s next.
One of our Principal Investigators, Emma, with her grandmother in the early days
Official TerraX flagging tape (You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to get this picture!)
That reminds us — if you’re interested in hearing more (and why wouldn’t you be?), please check us out on social media. You can follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook, and connect with us on LinkedIn. We’ll be posting about our blog, but we’ll also have plenty of other cool stuff you won’t be able to find anywhere else. We’d love to see you there!
Until next time, keep learning, and get ready to Dig Deeper!
— The TerraX Team