Building for the Future & Saving lives

The opportunity to help make American roads safer for her family and friends was the key incentive for Ryland Potter to join highway asset management specialists, WDM USA.

W.D.M. Limited, the UK’s leading manufacturer of road surveying equipment, has appointed Ryland Potter as Director of Business Development for a newly-formed US subsidiary, WDM USA.

Ryland spent the previous five years as a Managing Director with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, encouraging new companies to invest in the state. She played an instrumental part in persuading WDM® to set up its US subsidiary in Virginia.

"Right from the outset I recognized the opportunity with WDM USA as a chance to build something from the ground up", she said. However, the more I learned about efforts to reduce US road fatalities, the more I realized how uniquely compelling WDM®‘s story is.”

WDM® contracts with Highways England to conduct network screening for 22,000 miles of roads annually, making it the UK’s largest provider of surveying services.

WDM® has the exclusive global license to manufacture the SCRIM® road survey vehicle, which continuously measures wet road skid resistance across entire road networks. The technology has been shown to dramatically help reduce road deaths around the globe.

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For the past two decades, WDM® has also provided surveying services to the New Zealand government. By linking the survey data with a skid policy, and supported by enforcement, the number of skid-related fatalities during that time have been reduced by up to 40%.

Ryland says the potential to make a difference in the US is immense. “More than 40,000 people lost their lives on American roads last year and more than half of those accidents involved vehicles leaving the road,” she explained. “The use of SCRIM® surveying can help dramatically reduce the death rate on US roads, while complementing existing testing methods used by Departments of Transportation and local transportation engineers.”

A SCRIM® vehicle, built on a Volvo chassis produced in Dublin, Virginia, has been on trial in the US for the past three years. The vehicle is operated by Virginia Tech on behalf of the Federal Highways Administration and has carried out surveying in five states to date. Over the next few years, it will survey another 6,800 miles of road network for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

A second US SCRIM® is currently being built and will be available through WDM USA to provide survey, analysis, and consultative services across the US starting in early 2019.

WDM® Group’s Managing Director, Chris Gardiner, said the new US company is not without challenge.

"We have to change long-established mindsets in the US to show there is a different way. We believe our SCRIM® survey vehicle can help deliver safer roads and save lives, but we are aware we need to build trust and confidence in our continuous measurement approach. Ryland has all the necessary skills and experience to help us break into the market and make a real difference."

Ryland will initially be based in Richmond, Virginia, with the goal of helping WDM USA grow into a new American manufacturing base.

“My family and friends interact with the road every day. The chance to make that a measurably safer experience, and to help WDM USA grow in the process, will be a rewarding challenge.”

A Fulbright Scholar with more than 10 years’ experience as an international consultant to corporate, non-profit, and government organizations, Ryland has held senior roles advising corporate strategy and market entry with Accenture, the United Nations, and Hanover Research in Washington, DC. She holds a business degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Texas.

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