Rich Ackison, president and CEO of Ackison Surveying, can find a clear line of sight through the toughest of environments.

Based in Columbus but working nationwide, Ackison Surveying provides quality work for private property owners and large governmental, utility and commercial projects, including shopping malls, business parks and housing developments.

"It's a really big deal for me – I'm a farm kid from Ironton who owns my own business."

Among his clients, Ackison counts AT&T and Verizon. "We engineer their fiber optic routes all over the country. We survey the best route between cell towers, draw up the plan to place the fiber optic line, and get the permitting. We also help with construction when necessary."

Ackison built his success on the construction skills he learned at home on the family farm in Ironton and the business education he received at Columbus State. Thinking he would earn his associate degree in Business from Columbus State and take more classes at a four-year university, Ackison instead saw the straight line to a career. For 17 years, he worked for a large surveying firm, becoming a project manager, and in 2008 broke off to start Ackison Surveying.

"Columbus State was a great school. All of my instructors were very good. I got the confidence I needed to make the leap. It's a really big deal for me – I'm a farm kid from Ironton who owns my own business. I know my education at Columbus State got me where I am today. I've kept all of my notes from my classes there."

Images: A Year in the Life of Columbus State