They Clean Up Nicely!
Atlas Environmental Solutions manages waste systems and wins clients’ trust
Chief Operations Officer Bobby Farrington of Atlas Environmental Solutions had just arrived home after a hectic day at work. The phone rang. A water treatment plant for the city of Firebaugh, California, had a spill—1,000 gallons of concentrated hydrochloric acid, to be exact. The chemist knows the acid, or even the mist from its concentrated form, can cause irreversible damage to a person’s body, or even lead to death, should it come into contact with the skin, eyes or internal organs.
Bobby called for reinforcements and within an hour, he was joined by CEO Jason Moody as well as Jason’s brother Vince Moody, Chief Financial Officer. “We might have big fancy titles, but at the end of the day, we’re out there on the ground, moving drums, getting dirty and helping to clean up spills,” Jason says.
The crew worked through the night to contain the spill and decontaminate the area. By 4 a.m., Atlas Environmental Solutions had neutralized the problem, hours before the plant’s employees arrived to work for the day.
The company’s quick response and careful work are among the reasons Atlas Environmental Solutions is a firm of choice for clients across the state of California, according to Jason. Headquartered in Fresno, California, the company provides 24-hour emergency spill response, environmental compliance services, waste management, transportation and disposal, and on site training in subjects including emergency response awareness and hazardous spill response. “We are a full-service environmental consulting and disposal firm,” Jason says.
The company commonly serves health care systems, manufacturers, industrial clients and municipalities. Vince explains that a typical workweek involves everything from emergency calls to environmental audits to on site management and consolidation of hazardous waste. “We’ll get a call at 3 a.m. from a hospital needing a diesel spill cleaned up immediately. The next day, our service technicians will be on site at another hospital repackaging hazardous pharmaceutical waste from small containers into larger, more cost-effective 55-gallon drums. Later in the week, we might visit a large manufacturing client to audit their handling of waste or hazardous materials, checking for spills and making sure hazardous substances are packaged and labeled properly,” he says.
Atlas Environmental Solutions recently added a new service offering—zero-waste disposal for hazardous and regulated waste streams. “By recycling these streams, we alleviate regulatory burdens and costs for clients and help them improve their sustainability metrics,” Jason says. “We are one of the few environmental companies in California to offer this service.”
He cites an example of a hospital’s pharmaceutical waste. “Instead of disposing of hazardous pharmaceutical products that can end up in a landfill, we deliver that material to a treatment facility where the material is incinerated to create steam that powers a nearby energy plant. The ash from the incineration is then used as an additive in cement. The entire stream is reused or recycled, giving clients a zero-waste solution for disposal,” he says.
By recycling or reusing the entire waste stream, clients reduce their costs as well. “In California, you pay for the hazardous waste you generate. The amount of hazardous material you recycle doesn’t get counted against you, so you’re reducing your overall costs,” Jason says.
Bobby explains that the practice alleviates the environmental exposure associated with landfill disposal. “If a landfill leaks, clients are financially responsible for the cost of cleanup. If the material is recycled, however, a client’s responsibility ends at the recycling facility,” he says.
“We feel a sense of pride that we offer this service. It’s the right thing for the environment and it helps our clients by decreasing costs and reducing their environmental footprint,” Jason adds.
Two Ford Fiestas, Zero Dollars
Whether finding new recycling opportunities or identifying better ways to clean up sites, Vince loves the variety of the business. “You never know what’s going to come your way. I love figuring out how to deal with different situations and finding new ways to help our customers,” he shares.
Vince began learning about the business shortly after graduating from college. “Our grandfather owned an environmental services company. That’s where both Jason and I got our start. Our grandfather taught us how to manage environmental concerns, package waste and dispose of it properly,” he says.
With a solid foundation in environmental services, Jason and Vince struck out on their own in 2014. “It was scary as hell starting our own business,” Jason says. “We were leaving a company that was stable and we both had young families.”
Jason recalls with a laugh the duo’s first office. “We started in our mom’s living room,” he says. “We’d purchased two Ford Fiestas to get around to clients in Northern California and the South Valley, and we literally had no money.”
Bobby joined the company in 2015, and Atlas Environmental Solutions expanded from brokering to offering full-service environmental expertise. “Before, we’d outsource waste transportation and disposal services. Today, we do it all—cleanup, transportation and disposal. It’s a lot more paperwork with permitting and licensing, but the move has allowed us to better serve our clients,” Jason says.
Staying True to Their Roots
In the company’s early days, Jason and Vince were never worried about getting enough business; they were worried about growing too quickly. “The scariest thing is learning to manage growth without sacrificing who you are,” Jason says.
He explains that their core values are rooted in being accessible and available to all clients, regardless of size. “We provide our smallest clients with the same level of service as our largest clients,” he says.
“There’s no difference in how we serve the guy who has two drums and calls us twice a year and our largest client [that we provide service to] three times a week,” Bobby says. “We make sure projects are handled efficiently, and we take the time to listen and address customers’ questions and concerns.”
He adds that flexibility is a key differentiator. “With a larger environmental services company, you might have to call a 1-800 number, and it could be days before a service technician can help. With us, clients can call our cellphones at any time, day or night, and we can be on site within hours,” he says.
“The worst thing is to say no to a client,” Jason says. “We’ve never done that. We might ask for a second to figure an issue out, but we’re going to do everything in our power to find a solution to their problem.”
“There’s no difference in how we serve the guy who has two drums and calls us twice a year and our largest client [that we provide service to] three times a week. We make sure projects are handled efficiently, and we take the time to listen and address customers’ questions and concerns.” Bobby Farrington, Chief Operations Officer, Atlas Environmental Solutions
‘Family Goes Beyond Blood’
Atlas Environmental Solutions has a team of 14 employees—many of whom started with zero experience in environmental services. “Our best service technician used to work at 7-Eleven. He has an outstanding work ethic,” Bobby says. The company invests a great deal of time and energy into making sure employees are properly trained. “We have an OSHA-certified trainer on staff, and new employees work closely with Jason and Vince for an extended period of time so that they fully understand our safety, management and service protocols,” he says.
“At the end of the day, our employees represent Vince, Bobby and me,” Jason says. “It’s crucial they understand exactly how we want things done and why we do the things that we do.”
And once an employee is part of the family-owned company, Jason says that person is treated like family. “At our company, family goes beyond blood. Our employees work hard for us. It’s important that we take good care of the people who take good care of us and this business,” he says.
Benefits of The Blue Book Network®
Although Vince says the team works hard and plays hard, he admits in the last few years, there’s been a lot less time for play. The company stays busy. “When we started Atlas Environmental Solutions in 2014, we hit the ground running, and we haven’t stopped since,” he says.
With a small marketing budget, most of the company’s work comes through word-of-mouth referrals—and The Blue Book Network.
When Ron Thomas, a Senior Business Development Manager at The Blue Book Building & Construction Network, first met Jason and Vince in 2015, the company was housed in an office the size of a shoebox and had all but $500 to its name, according to Jason. “I told Ron I wasn’t sure how we could afford to sign up, but Ron sang the praises of The Blue Book. I told Ron if he was that confident, we’d trust him and join. A few months later, we landed one of our largest jobs to date—all thanks to The Blue Book,” Jason says.
“I remember walking into Jason’s office sometime later, telling him I wasn’t sure if The Blue Book was worth it,” Vince says. “The very next day, we got a call for a cleanup that paid for The Blue Book for the next 10 years.”
The trust Jason and Vince put in The Blue Book Network is not unlike the trust clients put in Atlas Environmental Solutions. “I remember when our grandfather passed away, the funeral was held in a large Catholic church,” Jason says. “Half the church was filled with family and the other half with clients who had driven from across the state to be there. I won’t ever forget that. My grandfather earned the trust of all those clients, and that’s exactly what we’re working to do at Atlas Environmental Solutions.”
Jason reinforces the team’s commitment to earn and keep clients’ trust. “The materials some of our clients deal with can melt your face off,” he says. “They can cause serious harm to people and to the environment—and regulatory fines can be steep. We are asking clients to trust us to manage and dispose of waste properly, and to provide consulting services that keep them in compliance with regulatory requirements and help them protect people and the environment. If clients trust us with something as serious as that, I’m going to make sure we’re earning that trust each and every day.”