Here are the top 8 things to know before you are on your journey to becoming one:

 

#1 – Billable hours

If you have never been in the consulting world, you may not know what billable hours are, I did not, and we are not alone. When I first started, I was asked to keep track of my hours, which I did, but at the end of the week when it was time to fill out my timecard I did not have the correct information. I just had what time I got in and what time I left. Good thing I didn’t have any projects to bill to. When you are working on a project you will need to keep track of the time spent and the activity you were doing, whether it is taking samples, filling out the chain of custody, or writing a report. Billing to projects is how the company stays on budget and gets paid by the client.

#2 – Field Work vs. Reporting

When it comes to starting in environmental consulting, people have a lot of different ideas about what the job entails, especially when you are getting advice from different sources. Each firm is different, and I can only speak on how Triterra does things because this is the only environmental consulting firm I have ever worked at. Below is a perfect example of what two of our newer staff were told to expect, or just what they thought to expect when starting in their careers as environmental consultants.

Taylor: “I thought environmental consulting would mostly be a lot of in-office and reporting type of work but am super happy to say it’s split with a lot of fieldwork which I find super fun and truly enjoy.”

Kate: “There were countless times I was told to expect to be working out in the field 5 days a week and even during some interviews before I accepted my position at Triterra, that was the case. 5 days a week for approximately 5 years is what I was told to expect and then after that, I would be allowed to be involved with more project management. With Triterra, however, I was pleasantly surprised with the balance between field and office work from the start. I am fully aware of the luxury I have as both the field worker and the one to handle the report writing and sometimes even communication with the clients. I didn’t expect to have this much responsibility this early into my career, but I am so grateful for it.”

#3 – Talk to an Environmental Consultant

Lucas believes “you should reach out and talk to some consultants because that’s the only way you’re going to get a feel for what they truly do. Your academic institution probably can’t give you as accurate of a description as an actual consultant can.”

Also, if you have the opportunity to intern with a firm, do it, it will open your eyes to the world of consulting and help you on your journey to becoming an environmental consultant.

#4 – Skills and Opportunities

Attention to detail and great communication skills are very important aspects of the job, also working on a team. Being a great team member is always appreciated especially when things don’t always go as planned, you need to be able to problem-solve and help where needed.

Here are a few things Alan believes are important in becoming or being an environmental consultant: Strong references, experience in a lab setting (depending on the consulting career track), strong report writing skills, ability to effectively communicate and in a positive manner, teamwork ability, time management skills, willingness to work in inclement weather (more important in the early years of consulting).

While in school, cultivate relationships/opportunities with professors and upper-level classmen. Join campus groups such as the “geology club,” and if possible, get experience working in professor’s labs if the opportunity is available. Professor’s opinions of you can carry significant weight, and they are great references. Additionally, getting to know others, especially upper-level classmen, can significantly increase your chances of finding, and landing, a job. As the upper-level classmen go on to start their careers, they will likely report back to the clubs/groups at your school about job openings, and if you are familiar with these people, they can likely put in a good word for you and get you into the interview process.

#5 – Always be professional and don’t burn bridges

Never burn a bridge with a former employer, coworker, or subcontractor. The environmental consulting field is small and there is a good chance that you will end up crossing paths again in the future. Kyle has a perfect example as to why. “I worked with a project manager at an asbestos abatement company. Whenever I had an issue with his company’s performance, I was always calm and polite as I addressed the issues that I needed to have corrected. That individual always appreciated the professionalism that I provided, and he is now an EGLE inspector for the state of Michigan who shows up to audit my work practices and he maintains that same professionalism and respect that I showed to him earlier when we were working together.”

#6 – Field work doesn’t stop because of the weather

Well, that isn’t one hundred percent true in every case, but Connor shares with us what his thoughts were on the weather and field work.  “I should mention that I started in November. So, when I started it was getting into late fall and the weather was getting cooler. I remember thinking ‘wow, field work will probably stop in a month or so when the ground freezes.’ Nope. Dead wrong. It’s a year-round business, all of it, that means not only do site walkovers continue to happen but also field work in the snow. So, throw on your warmest clothes and get out there. That was one of the biggest surprises to me, not one I was prepared for either. Field work in the snow isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it needs to get done, so I bundle up and do it.”

#7 – Environmental consulting isn’t always working with large companies and corporations

Connor said “before I started at Triterra, I had this image in my head that environmental consulting was working with large companies and corporations, specifically those that generated large amounts of pollutants and finding environmental solutions to the waste that they generate (i.e., engineering controls to limit/contain, preparation for spills or releases, and how to properly dispose of the waste created). I thought it was a straightforward one-faced job. My mental image couldn’t have been farther off from what we actually do. When I started at Triterra I soon learned that rarely are we working with huge companies, it’s mainly small businesses, real estate companies, and private investors whose needs range from Phase I ESAs to Brownfield Plans, and everything in between. Nor is it a one-faceted job, there are many aspects that I never knew existed and subcategories that open doors into different areas of environmental consulting. This was one thing that surprised me the most and something that I enjoy about consulting, as it has allowed me to find my niche within our different areas of expertise.”

#8 – Company Culture

Here at Triterra, we strive to maintain great company culture, we love the family feel of our firm and will continue to make great efforts to continue this as we grow. We have implemented quarterly staff outings, and, on most Fridays, you can find our staff at a local restaurant enjoying lunch together. We also believe in internal promotion; we are always trying to create a clear career path to be able to move up in the company as the staff learns and grows. Although we work tirelessly on our culture, there are some things we can’t compete with, such as dream jobs out of state, the curiosity about what other firms may offer, or changes in life situations that may take you on a different journey. Mariah started with Triterra as an intern and was hired full time as a Geologist, here is her story:

“With being so young in my career still, it was very hard to not wonder what other firms are like and the possible opportunities that could come with that. I knew going into the environmental field within Michigan, I wouldn’t be making a high salary starting off and it was something I would have to work for. But like anyone, I was curious about what was out there outside of Triterra and started thinking that money was my motive. After taking the leap and working at a very large national firm for three short months, I begin to realize that money wasn’t everything to me. It was the culture, my colleagues, and being passionate about my work regardless of the dollar amount. At the end of the day, I realized I was much happier at Triterra for many reasons: flexibility, support, values, respect, professional growth, and so much more. All of these characteristics, I value much more than money because the money comes and goes regardless, but the culture at Triterra is priceless. I am very ecstatic to be part of Team Triterra again. “

The LEAF is Triterra’s quarterly e-newsletter.

As always- we’ve kept it brief and relevant!

 

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Triterra hires three new staff members
  2. Project Highlight: Broadway Lofts
  3. Meet Craig S. Mulica: Regional Director of West Michigan

Triterra is a professional environmental consulting firm specializing in brownfield development, environmental consulting, and natural resource management services. Our team is dedicated to improving the quality of the natural environment within the community while providing consulting services that are tailored to the best interests of our clients. Our staff is committed to providing practical environmental solutions through a creative process that incorporates integrity, innovation, and responsiveness.

Click here to read the entire issue.

 


 

 

Clark, Christnagel and Bowen join Triterra

 

 

 

 

 

 

LANSING, MI – February 2022: Triterra, a Michigan-based Environmental Consulting Firm, is pleased to announce the addition of three new staff members.

 Kyle A. Clark joins Triterra as the Director of Industrial Hygiene, working out of the Grand Rapids office. Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in environmental health and safety from Central Michigan University. He oversees the overall industrial hygiene projects and services that Triterra offers to our clients and ensures work is performed in compliance with all OSHA, EPA, and other regulatory agency requirements.

Kathleen Christnagel joins Triterra as an Environmental Scientist, working as a part of the due diligence team. Christnagel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Alma College. Her work focuses on Environmental Due Diligence Services. Kathleen also supports the Remediation Group and Natural Resources Group. Christnagel conducts Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), field assignments, data analysis, and technical report preparation. She understands regulatory requirements and considerations necessary for environmental due diligence projects.

Alexsis Bowen joins Triterra as an Environmental Scientist, working as a part of the due diligence team. Bowen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geoscience from Tennessee Tech University. Her work focuses on Environmental Due Diligence Services. Alexsis also supports the Remediation Group and Natural Resources Group. Bowen conducts Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), field assignments, data analysis, and technical report preparation. She understands regulatory requirements and considerations necessary for environmental due diligence projects.

Triterra CEOCFO Magazine Interview

What is Triterra?

See what our CEO, Don McNabb said when he was interviewed by Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor at CEOCFO Magazine.

CEOCFO: Mr. McNabb, what is Triterra?

Mr. McNabb: Triterra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in environmental consulting, Brownfield consulting and natural resource management services. We are based from Michigan but are able service the entire Midwest and look to provide as much value as we can to clients while helping them manage their environmental liabilities or ensure that they are making a proper investment into real estate.

CEOCFO: What should we understand about the environment and what should be done, can be done and what do regulations cover?

Mr. McNabb: In Michigan, there is some give and take in development of guidelines for emerging contaminants, but the state regulations must be adhered to. The overall goal is to make sure that any space is ultimately safe for the public or employees, as well as ensuring the protection of health within the natural environment surrounding us. Initially, we have to determine if there is a risk or concern in the environment, then conduct some testing to see what levels of contamination are present, and finally determine how best we can make the issue amenable to the surrounding environment where we are not affecting someone’s health or anything in the natural ecosystem.

CEOCFOWhen you are evaluating a project, what are some of the things you look at that less experienced or knowledgeable people might not think you are meaningful?

Mr. McNabb: That is a hard one because I think it depends on what type of project we are working on or who we are talking to. For example, if you are a person that is investing in real estate, you do not always see visually walking through a property, any environmental concerns that could be there unless they are physically present in the building or property itself. Thinking of what is down in the subsurface whether it is impacted soil, groundwater, or vapors. To other points beyond even the property that one would be looking at buying; it would be some of the adjacent properties. Even in today’s standards, when you look out at the properties today, you have to consider what they looked like today, ten, twenty, or event fifty years ago. What the property was used for, could affect its use today.

CEOCFO: Is that information easily available or are there some challenges going back that far?

Mr. McNabb: Yes. It is always challenging. A lot of different communities run and manage their history and documentation differently. In some cases, especially rural communities where there are smaller communities or agencies that manage this information did not necessarily think information was as relevant when you start going backwards like pre-1980s or 1970s and less data seems available, and it is especially less available in rural communities where there was less man power or less resources to store data.

CEOCFO: What do you do in those cases?

Mr. McNabb: You do the best you can. We look at other sources but our review of historical searches becomes more limited to things such as aerial photographs, city directories and fire insurance maps, but those are generally only available in the more metro/populated areas, they are not likely in the rural communities.

CEOCFO: When you are evaluating a property or looking at a project, what are some of the things that would make it a no go and what might be some of the things that could be rehabilitated?

Mr. McNabb: The thing that it ultimately comes down to is the financial aspect of the project as to what makes it a go or no go. If there are issues present in the building such as asbestos or lead impacts that could affect the development. Let us say there is even contamination in the ground and that is going to offset the financial metrics of a project enough to where the proforma of the development does not work, it is hard to get those deals put together. They can come from various ways whether it is contamination from the ground that is creating a vapor issue or a migratory issue that could affect the air quality within an existing building to you could have asbestos present throughout a building and the abatement costs are just so high that it financially does not work for the development at hand.

In those cases, we do turn around and try to look for incentives where they are available. When it comes to larger redevelopment projects, sometimes we can incorporate some form of incentive, grant funds, tax increment financing, etc., such as in the Brownfield world where we can help offset those costs to make it a financially-stable project. However, incentives are not always available and sometimes projects get the no-go, or at least at this point in time, until a different plan or project structure is developed to make the project financially feasible.

CEOCFO: Are there newer technologies or equipment available? How do you evaluate what might be useful and not a shiny object that will not be as helpful as it appears?

Mr. McNabb: There are always advanced technologies that come into the work we do and there always seems to be new remedial products when we are dealing with contamination in the ground whether it is soil or groundwater. There are new products that are hopefully making it easier and timelier to get things cleaned up to a level that is safe. However, sometimes going through the process makes it difficult because if it is a new product you are using, and say you are pumping something in the ground that is going to clean up the area, whether you are using bacteria microbes or other sorts of products that go through, the problem becomes how well it has been vetted through the regulatory agency.

A lot of times if the agency is not aware of the product you are using, it is going to take a little longer or you may not get approval to use that product or the remedial stage that the company developed it for. It can become very difficult, and in some cases, once these products have been through and vetted in the regulatory agencies there, it tends to get easier to get these projects through the process, but it varies depending on what the remedial plan is and how well people are accustomed to or aware of the capabilities of these remedial technologies.

CEOCFO: Are there particular types of projects you would like to work on given a choice? Do you have a preference?

Mr. McNabb: Our preference is simply anything that is going to make our communities healthier and safer. We want to help everyone if we can, but the projects that are easier for us to handle are the larger scale projects where you are doing multi-million-dollar redevelopment where we are able to utilize our full resources of services and knowledge. In cases like these, we generally start off with the due diligence background to help someone acquire the property. Concurrently, we do a full evaluation of any Brownfield incentives out there to help offset any environmental concerns.

Then if needed, we even go into the remedial side of the development where we deal with asbestos abatement, lead abatement and possible contaminant mitigation or some form of engineering controls to prevent exposure to contaminants on the site. Those cases are really the projects we are looking for where we can utilize the full resources of our knowledge that we have here where we can maximize the benefit for someone acquiring property or even managing their own existing liabilities on occurring property.

CEOCFO: Would you tell us about Triterra being recognized in the Inc. 5000?

Mr. McNabb: It is always and honor to be recognized not just as a business and a targeted industry but overall, as a small business, a private business that is growing and to be recognized in a manner that compares you to a lot of other businesses We have seen growth for a long period of time and the Inc. 5000 list gives us a good location to showcase the  growth and company’s background where hopefully it will give us some exposure as well.

CEOCFO: Do you do much with the government?

Mr. McNabb: No, we do not work directly with the federal government. We work with the agencies themselves as the regulators whether it is the EPA or in Michigan, Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). We deal with them that way. We do in the state of Michigan work with the state government in two ways. We are a certified contractor to do special projects under the ISID program (indefinite scope, indefinite delivery) projects where generally there is some form of investigation on a contaminated site of a scope that gets defined specifically to each project.

We also do work through Michigan’s Underground Source Tank Cleanup fund, which is managed through the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority where we directly work with private gas station owners when they have petroleum releases from their gas stations. In these cases, we work for the private client but they is get reimbursed for our work from the established state government fund. We also help them manage the process for them to get reimbursed.

CEOCFO: What do you look for in your people?

Mr. McNabb: We look for people that are not all the same type. We like the diversity. We like people that are different from each other. Everyone is different from each other in many ways but we want people that think a little differently too. Having a company of 25 to 50 people that all think the same about every type of project is not going to help you move forward in the best possible way for every client, so we want people to think a little differently, but when it comes down to it, we want the people in our company to meet our core values, which are responsiveness, creativity, perseverance, integrity, and accountability. We have a base level that we want everyone to achieve, or what we say is “in our DNA” here at Triterra.

CEOCFO: Why is community involvement important for Triterra?

Mr. McNabb: Yes, it is very important and it goes back to the same thing that we say that we want to build healthier communities that we live, work, and play. You cannot just do that with helping in one aspect with doing your job and going home; you need to be involved in the community to make it overall healthier. There are nonprofit companies out there that need support whether it is volunteering or financial donations, in order to make it better for our communities.

The stronger communities are diverse in all avenues of business, including the nonprofits and the programs they are putting on. It is important for us to stay supportive of them and help to continue to make our communities healthier and stronger where people live, work and play.

CEOCFO: Why choose Triterra?

Mr. McNabb: Choose Triterra because we are not your everyday consulting firm out there just to help you complete your project. We come in and do things differently than most. We are very responsive to your needs. Our goal is to be a partner and a resource to you to help you achieve your goals and the end point of your projects.


 

 

Michigan Reimagined Podcast 2021

Our CEO & Visionary, Don McNabb, had the pleasure of chatting with our friend Chris Buck on Michigan Reimagined. Michigan Reimagined tells the stories of people and organizations who are driving Michigan’s economic sustainability. Chris believes that Michigan residents often lead with an apology for the shortcomings of this fabulous state, and he thinks that is unnecessary. Every city has its perks and problems. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, healthier behavior is finding those doing great work and giving them a platform to share their results. Whether it’s new restaurants, housing stock, talent retention, transportation innovation, tourism, development incentives, placemaking or arts – this state is full of passionate people in action. Listen here to learn more about our behind-the-scenes industry when it comes to the revitalization of Michigan!

Connect with KB Podcast 2021

KB “connects” with prominent state, regional and local business, political, and education leaders about their stories and life experiences.

Triterra is a professional environmental consulting firm specializing in brownfield development, environmental consulting, and natural resource management services.

In today’s episode, KB connects with Triterra’s Regional Director, Craig S. Mulica, to discuss all that and more!

A big thank you to our friend Kristin Beltzer for inviting Craig Mulica, Regional Director of West Michigan, to join you on Connect with KB. Craig joined the Triterra team in September 2020; listen here to learn more about Craig and his role with Triterra.