Steve Linehan, senior project manager with SCS Engineers, has earned a companywide reputation for his knowledge, expertise and integrity. He was recently named a 2020 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient.
SCS Engineers is an environmental consulting and contracting firm with locations across the country. The company provides core services that include solid and hazardous waste management, renewable energy, remediation and environmental compliance.
Linehan oversees solid waste and environmental services projects from SCS’s Oklahoma City and Wichita offices. His expertise includes solid and hazardous waste regulations, landfill design, and regulatory compliance.
Linehan recently spoke with Waste360 about his career with SCS Engineers and how he got his start in the waste management industry.
Waste360: What brought you to the waste management industry?
Steve Linehan: I’ll start a little bit before that. I worked for a firm that did a lot of infrastructure design — highway, culvert and drainage design, things like that. I was working towards an environmental master’s degree, and an opportunity came up to work with a small, 12-person environmental firm.
After that, I was in an environmental department manager position with another firm in Wichita. That was with Terracon, a geotechnical materials testing and environmental services firm. As the department manager, my focus was on overseeing the solid waste group and the regulatory compliance group.
Waste360: What are some skills you learned from that job that you are able to use now?
Steve Linehan: As a department manager, because I oversaw what others were doing, more than anything, the thing I took away from it was leadership — being able to oversee several people at one time, making sure people were comfortable and safe, and making sure we were making our work profitable.
Waste360: What happened next?
Steve Linehan: SCS reached out to me to see if I would like to at least look into coming to SCS. I talked to the person who is my current boss, and I decided that it was a good fit because it was much more focused on environmental services. I made the switch, and I have been here for three years.
Waste360: What are some things you value about the company or your position that you have?
Steve Linehan: I value the flexibility with the company, the laid-back nature of the company. They are not huge into forcing the numbers into your face. I appreciate my position because I can be a lot more hands-on with this company, with my position.
Waste360: Do you like having more of a hands-on approach?
Steve Linehan: I don’t know a whole lot of engineers that relish the idea of just managing people or just being an executive or something like that. I mean, I’m sure there are some, but I’m not one of them. I’m one that likes to be in the thick of design work and managing my projects.
Waste360: What is a project that you have enjoyed working on during your career, or a challenge that you had to find a solution to that you thought was interesting?
Steve Linehan: A challenging project that I am working on right now is a one of our solid waste clients wanted us to completely redesign their scale house area and their household hazardous waste area for two reasons. One reason was to move it out of the way, to make way for a new cell. The other reason is that the facility is getting older.
That is a new thing for me. We are basically having to do site design, versus designing a cell and a liner system and things that we are more accustomed to. So we had to subcontract it out to some architects and mechanical and electrical engineers to make this all come together, to make sure the utilities run correctly, and to make sure the drainage runs correctly.
As an environmental engineer, we don’t get into that kind of site design, but it has been really fun and challenging. At the same time, with that support group of architects and other engineering disciplines, we have made it work. It’s been kind of neat to see it come together.
Waste360: What advice would you give a young person about entering the waste management industry and being successful in it?
Steve Linehan: A person coming out of college may think, “Solid waste? That’s just trash.” But I am looking to see if I can put somebody out in the field to do some work and see how things are done in the field, at a client’s job site.
I would say, to succeed, don’t be afraid to go out and learn the ropes for the first two, three, four years. It’s dirty work a lot of times. Sometimes it’s not, but a lot of times it’s dirty work. But don’t be too proud. You have years ahead of you to work your way up the ladder.