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Keeping an eye on the environment.

Bryant Company Stays Busy As Ecological Concerns Take Center Stage In The '90s

Officials at Cierra Inc. have a unique concern.

While many business leaders must worry about their companies not doing enough, Cierra's management worries the company may be trying to do too much.

The Bryant-based environmental consulting and management firm offers services ranging from waste management to site remediation to the installation and removal of underground storage tanks.

It's enough to keep Dewain Tennant and Bud Finley busy.

"We're not a bunch of technicians sitting around in a back room saying, 'Come to us,'" says Finley, Cierra's executive vice president and marketing director. "We go out there and offer help. We bundle up our expertise and offer it to a variety of clients."

The property auditing portion of the business investigates sites to determine their environmental status. Environmental auditing will play a major role in Cierra's future, according to Tennant, the company's president.

Remediation -- the creation and implementation of cleanup plans -- also plays a key role in Cierra's activities.

"We don't want to be a run-of-the-mill anything," Tennant says. "We want to be able to apply our expertise in geology, engineering and biology."

Cierra's 11-member staff has more than 60 years of experience in various environmental fields.

Tennant, for instance, has more than 18 years of experience in environmental engineering, including a master's degree in aquatic biology from Tennessee Technological University at Cookeville. He came to Arkansas to develop remediation alternatives for Rocky Branch Creek, Bayou Meto and Lake Dupree near Jacksonville, all contaminated with dioxins as a result of defoliant manufacturing.

Cierra Vice President William Davies' background lies in civil and municipal engineering.

Robert Irving, another vice president, has practiced environmental law for more than five years. He represents several major industrial clients as both their environmental attorney and as a consultant.

Finley is the marketing mastermind. He once was an account executive for what is now Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, a Little Rock advertising agency. He also operates Finley & Co., a real estate and mortgage firm.

"We do a lot of speaking, a lot of letter writing and a lot of calling," Finley says. "We put booths at trade shows. And we deal with all of the major law firms."

Staying On Top Of Things

Part of the company's appeal is its ability to implement new technologies in what has become a lucrative field.

One example is the technology known as bioremediation, the dispensing of wastes such as petroleum hydrocarbons, perchlorates, pentachlorophenal and other compounds in natural settings.

Finley tells of the problems faced by one client, an Arkansas bank that was forced to foreclose on a poultry producer.

"You have 63 acres of chicken manure," he says. "One way to resolve it is to go in ... and haul it away. It's expensive, and the client doesn't want to do it.

"This is a way to do it naturally and build up the wetlands."

The bioremediation tactic Cierra pitched to the client entailed digging pits and lining those pits with sprinkler systems to control moisture levels. Through the sprinkler systems, bacteria designed to destroy the contaminants are introduced.

The bacteria, or "bug" in Tennant's words, are designed to dispose of the contaminants without harming the environment.

"The bugs eat the stuff and then die," Tennant says. "So when you leave, there's nothing left to harm the environment."

"It takes months, but it doesn't disturb your work atmosphere," Finley says of the process.

Of the company's competition in the environmental field, Finley says, "If we stay on the cutting edge, that sets us apart. And we have the staff to do it."

Simple Solution

Cierra, originally known as Commercial & Industrial Environmental Review & Risk Auditors, has found recycling to be a simple solution to the waste problems of many clients.

For example, a Pasadena, Texas, plastics manufacturer approached the Arkansas firm with a problem -- what to do with by-products left over from the manufacturing process.

"They just put it in barrels and hauled it off," Finley says. "They had warehouses full of it."

With more than a million pounds of the by-products on its hands, Cierra took a different approach -- shredding.

The plastic is broken down into tiny pellets. The pellets are then sold to a Kansas cement producer that uses them as fuel in its kiln.

Various types of plastic products, from milk cartons and pesticide containers to pipes, can be recycled, Finley says. The petroleum content of the scrap allows it to be used as a fuel source.

"We ask people, 'Can we pick up your scrap?'" Finley says. "Of course, we charge them for it. But they don't have to pay to dump it, and they don't have to worry about someone coming to their door 10 years from now and saying, 'Hey, we've got a problem here.'"

With so many aspects of the environmental business, Tennant and Finley have been forced to make tough decisions about the scope of Cierra's operations.

"We don't do 24-hour hazardous spill cleanups," Finley says.

"And we don't do asbestos abatement, although we're equipped to do it," Tennant adds.

With the environment becoming more of a concern, however, there should be plenty to keep Cierra employees busy for years to come.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Corporate Conservation, part 3; Cierra Inc.'s waste management services
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 24, 1992
Words:872
Previous Article:Pollution prevention.
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