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From left: Rob Wallace, field services operations manager; Chad Hathaway, field services project manager; and Greg Eichmeyer, emergency response operations manager
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
From left: Rob Wallace, field services operations manager; Chad Hathaway, field services project manager; and Greg Eichmeyer, emergency response operations manager

2024 Dynamic Dozen No. 5: Environmental Works Inc.

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SBJ: This is another year for EWI on the Dynamic Dozen list. What has been the key to continuing your growth?
Jamie Sivils: We have a very strong internal culture that attracts the best people, and our clients respond to having the best people take care of their project and they want to use us again and again.

SBJ: And the services you offer are somewhat varied and unique, correct?
Sivils: If you’re somebody that needs one of our services, you probably are having a very busy day already. You might be in a crisis, a product line is shut down, something’s not working. You need somebody in there quickly, who can show up and actually solve the problem. We hire very competent people and give them a lot of authority so that client knows if they call EWI, it’s going to get solved today and get solved right away. The growth just happens organically because of that.

SBJ: How do you manage the company’s growth?
Sivils: We’re not very centralized and don’t try to do everything from one place. We look at each of our offices as kind of their own company where they can make their own decisions, pick their own vendors and hire the people they think fit their group. So, instead of running a company of 350 people, we’ve got 10 companies that are all running themselves. We do centralize some of the things that can’t do themselves, such as insurance, accounting and some of the main services that a company needs. When you’re looking at it as a small, independent decision-making group, that’s not as hard to manage.

SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Sivils: In the long term, I think it is. In the short term, we wouldn’t mind maybe slowing down just a little bit and absorbing some of the new employees, to make sure they’re aligned with the culture. If you’re constantly growing and adding new people, sometimes you don’t get to spend the time with the person you just hired to make sure they really understand the culture and how we work together.

SBJ: How have your goals changed with the recent growth?
Sivils: I don’t know that our goals have changed. But we’re maybe giving more emphasis on protecting the autonomy of our individual offices and allowing them to be a little different than another office. When you get to this size, there’s a tendency for bureaucracy to creep in. We have to be careful of the top-down management that might make sense on a spreadsheet, but it’s not factoring in the realities of each individual autonomous office.

SBJ: What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Sivils: One piece of advice I got a long time ago, I don’t even remember who said it, was the idea that people will rise to the responsibility level that you give them. Trust people, give them more responsibility than you think maybe they can handle and see what they do, and then don’t micromanage. It’s amazing what people will do when they know that a lot is expected of them and that they have the ability to choose how they’re going to do it and how to execute. You’re going to make mistakes, and learn from them. That’s OK. That’s just natural.

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