Environmental Firms Still Closing, Survey Finds

Environmental professional service firms in the Midwest have closed at a rate of 16 percent over the past two years, a figure that could be similar in other parts of the country, according to a 1999 survey by Minneapolis-based research firm Environmental Information Ltd (EI).

In collecting information for its 1997-1999 national Environmental Database and Directory, EI found that of the 796 Midwest firms that participated in its 1995-1997 biannual directory, 125 had closed. The company has been collecting data on firm closures since its 1993-1995 directory, according to Cary Perket, EI senior analyst.

Perket says he was surprised by the high percentage of closures in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. But, he adds, the numbers most likely are not unique to the region.

"Until the mid 1990s, you never saw [many] companies going out of business. I was hoping to see a softening [of the numbers] this time around, but apparently, [closures] still are going on," he says. "This is likely a harbinger of what we are likely to find in the next round [of surveys in other regions]."

Environmental firms, such as consulting companies and labs, are closing because there is less demand for their services, Perket says. He compares the phenomenon to construct- ing a building: once it is completed, there is little need for the builder.

"Once you design and prepare a [landfill] cell, it's good for five to 10 years and you don't need your design engineer anymore," he says. "You may do an upgrade, but the facility is in place."

Most of the firms in the Midwest that closed had fewer than 50 employees and/or were more than 15 years old, Perket says. They either did not have enough manpower to withstand the amount of competition in the industry or they worked in markets that have since advanced, such as recycling or technology, he says.

To survive, Perket says, environmental firms must diversify their services and look to specialize in areas with less competition. But even with all the closures, the industry is not in dire straits, he says.

"There is no shortage of firms out there," Perket says. "There is just a lot of transition in the marketplace."

ACQUISITIONS * Hyco International Inc., Atlanta, has announced its acquisition of Pacoma GmbH, a hydraulic cylinder manufacturer in Eschwege, North Hessen, Germany.

* ECS Inc., Exton, Pa., announces it has been acquired by XL Capital Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda.

* IESI Corp., Haltom City, Texas, has completed its acquisition of Bellevue Trucking Inc., Wichita Falls, Texas. IESI also has acquired the hauling and transfer assets of 13 other companies in Arkansas, Georgia, New York and Texas.

* RecycleNet Corp., Guelph, Ontario, Canada, has acquired Andela Products Inc., Richfield Springs, N.Y.

AGREEMENTS * Envirobiz, Minneapolis, announces an agreement with the Environmental Financial Consulting Group (EFCG), New York, for exclusive Internet delivery of its newsletters.

* Cumberland Technologies Inc., Tampa, Fla., has announced that its subsidiary, Cumberland Casualty and Surety Co., Tampa, has formed a strategic alliance with Peerless Insurance, Keene, N.H., to produce small contractor and commercial surety business.

* SCC Industries, Hammond, Ind., and Molinos Azteca Y Juper, S.A. de D.V., Guadalajara, Mexico, have agreed to terminate their venture agreement that formed Guadalajara-based Screw Conveyor de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., five years ago.

ANNOUNCEMENTS * Thoma Cressey Equity Partners, San Francisco, and businessman Art Dudzinski announce a partnership in the formation of Century Waste Solutions Inc., San Francisco, a company that will acquire solid waste collection companies in selected U.S. markets.

* The SemiCycle Foundation, Austin, announces its $4,000 donation to the Tech Corps Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, a non-profit organization which recruits volunteers to teach educators and students to integrate technology into learning.

* Kafus Industries Ltd., Boston, announces the initiation of research coverage by Impact Capital Partners Ltd., San Francisco, with a "Strong Buy" rating.

* Legend Valley Products, Leiters Ford, Ind., announces its 15th year in business.

AWARDS * Alberta Environment, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has been awarded a national information technology award from IBM Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia.

* The People's Choice Booth Award winners at the 1999 International Trucking Show in Las Vegas were: Eagle Interior Accents, Oklahoma City; Kenworth Truck, Kirkland, Wash.; Kustom Fit/High Tech Seating, South Gate, Calif.; Nikken, San Diego; and Shell Oil Co., Houston.

The Fairfax, Va.-based Automotive Recyclers Association's website has received a design award from Market-Tek, a website promotion firm.

CONTRACTS * The city of Alexandria, Va., and Arlington County's Waste Disposal Trust Fund, Arlington, Va., have contracted Gershman, Brickner and Bratton, Fairfax, Va., to serve as its project manager in its relationship with a waste-to-energy facility in Northern Virginia.

* Van Ert Electric Co. Inc., Kaukauna, Wis., has been awarded a contract by Winnebago County, Wis., to supply and install a 3-megawatt landfill gas engine/generator system.

* Brown and Caldwell, Walnut Creek, Calif., has been selected as one of several companies to manage Puerto Rico's $700 million solid waste management plan over the next five years.

* Raytheon Engineers and Constructors, Englewood, Colo., an engineering firm for FMC Corp., Pocatello, Idaho, has chosen MeltTran Inc., Idaho Falls, Idaho, to perform the expanded role of design and engineering work on a thermal analysis project.

* Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Cincinnati, has awarded RouteSmart, Columbia, Md., a contract to re-route its commercial and residential service operations.

* Tidewater Fibre Corp., Chesapeake, Va., has been awarded a curbside recycling contract by the Richmond, Va.-based Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, which is comprised of 13 member communities in the Richmond Tri-Cities area.

FISCAL * GreenMan Technologies Inc., Lynnfield, Mass., announces net sales for the quarter ending June 30 were $12,239,161, an increase of 65 percent from the nine months ending May 31, 1998, in which net sales were $7.430,097.

* The North East Solid Waste Committee, (NESWC), a cluster of 23 communities in the Boston area, has announced that the fiscal year 1999 Capital Supplemental Budget passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives includes $3 million to help reduce the cost burden facing citizens in the NESWC communities.

* American Safety Insurance Group Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda, has announced its total revenues for the second quarter of 1999 (ending June 30) increased 40 percent to $5,617,943, compared to $4,002,754 for the same quarter in 1998.

* Sustainable Development International Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, now is trading on the NASDAQ OTC/BB under the symbol "SUDI." The waste management and alternative energy company is focused on combining technologies for converting industrial waste into value-added products.

GRANTS * The following U.S. companies have been awarded federal grants to better compete in the Asian environmental technology market in projects involving pollution prevention and control, clean technology, and energy efficiency: Advanced Environmental Systems Inc., Elkton, Md.; Advanced Quality Systems Inc., St. Paul, Minn.; Chemtech International Inc., Media, Pa.; Environtech Services Inc., Enid, Okla.; Geophex, Raleigh, N.C.; SCS Engineers, Cincinnati; NaturTech Composting Systems Inc., St. Cloud, Minn.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacramento, has awarded $1 million in Recycling Market Development Zone loans to recycling companies in Simi and Sun Valley.

INTERNET * Meritor Automotive, Troy, Mich.: www.meritorauto.com

* Karl Schmidt and Associates Inc., Commerce City, Calif.: www. karlschmidt.com

* Gas Tech Inc., Newark, Calif.: www.gastech-inc.com

* Roy F. Weston Inc., West Chester, Pa., has launched its retooled globeNet website: www.iso14000.net

* Peterbilt Motors Co., Denton, Texas, Red Oval Pre-owned Truck Locator: www.peterbilt.com

* GEI Consultants Inc., Winchester, Mass.: www.geiconsultants. com

* Advance Lifts Inc., St. Charles, Ill.: www.advancelifts.com

* EHS Marketplace, Dayton, Ohio: www.ehsmarketplace.com

* Greenway Environmental Inc., Stone Bluff, Okla.: www.Greenway Environmental.com

* American Safety, Atlanta: www.americansafetygroup.com

* Johnstown America Corp., Chicago: www.johnstownamerica.com/jac

* The American Plastics Council (APC), Sacramento, Calif., and Moore Recycling Associates Inc., Sonoma, Calif., have launched the California Recycled Plastics Markets Referral Service: www.caplasticsmarket.com

* The Lavergne Group, Omaha, Neb.: www.lavergneusa.com

* TransComp Systems, Orange, Calif.: www.transcomp.com

NEW ADDRESS * A new truck leasing firm, Lease Alliance, has been established at 36800 Woodward Ave., Ste. 230, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. Phone: (248) 203-2222 or toll-free: (877) 880-6600. Fax: (248) 203-2224. E-mail: lease911@aol.com

NEW FACILITIES * Superior Services Inc., Milwaukee, has opened its Hickory Meadows Landfill in Chilton, Wis.

* Safety Vision Inc., Houston, has opened a new International Division.

* City Carton Company Inc., Iowa City, Iowa, has opened its seventh recycling facility, Creston Recycling Facility, in Creston, Iowa.

CORRECTION In the landfill management article "Don't Forget the Fundamentals" [September 1999, page 82], Waste Age accidentally described the anaerobic decomposition process incorrectly in "Step 1: Know Your Landfill Gas."

Trash turns into gas through anaerobic decomposition but is NOT characterized by large quantities of carbon dioxide with no methane content.

We regret the error and apologize to the author of the article, Ron Brookshire.