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Profile: August Mack Environmental.

Geoffrey Glanders remembers finding himself on a drilling barge in Louisiana in 1981 with a crew of French Canadians who weren't too impressed with the young Indiana University geology graduate.

Then came one night at a poker table.

"For whatever reason, I was extremely lucky, I started winning and I cleaned everybody out," Glanders says, a grin beginning to appear on his youthful face. "I had instant respect. Never mind four years of college and all the background: 'This guy can play poker.'"

Five years ago, Glanders took a gamble of a different kind, forming his own environmental consulting and engineering firm. What began as Hoosier Environmental Services with four employees and $300,000 in revenues, is now August Mack Environmental Inc., an Indianapolis-based company with 40 employees and offices in three states that expects to have revenues of $6 million this year.

While the dramatic growth has been welcome, the original name did pose an identity problem. The term "Hoosier," after all, has an entirely different meaning in many other parts of the country. "When we started to cross state lines with our marketing and our new offices, we ran into some resistance," Glanders says. "The name didn't carry well. It was too territorial."

So Glanders and partner Brian Petriko, vice president of operations for the firm, sat down and mulled over new monikers. After deciding against several high-tech sounding names, they chose names from relatives who were businessmen: "August" (Glanders' grandfather's name, and his middle name) and "Mack" (Petriko's grandfather's last name).

August Mack's services include:

* investigating sites for potential environmental contamination;

* remedial action to clean up any problems that are found, whether August Mack does the cleanup itself or provides project supervision;

* above-ground and underground tank management;

* industrial hygiene consulting;

* pollution control.

Last year the company did more than 500 "jobs," ranging from simple soil tests to major pollution control projects. The company's client base has doubled in the past couple of years, with about half its work being done for industrial clients, 20 percent for petroleum-industry clients and the rest divided between lending institutions, the state and municipal entities. Among others, August Mack has done business with Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Eli Lilly & Co.

August Mack's success has hardly been luck. The company has focused on a core market of 25 to 30 industrial clients, assembled a qualified staff able to handle their diverse needs, built strong bonds with those clients with the help of a stable work force, and benefited from that core group's referrals.

Glanders admits that the increasing awareness environmental issues have received in recent years has helped and August Mack has used its marketing to educate potential clients.

"It's not the strong sell," Glanders says. "That's not going to work. It's got to be more of a consultative-type selling and that's what we're trying to do--consult and help solve their problems."

While Glanders is 33, he's been in the business a long time. As a teenager growing up in South Bend in the mid-'70s, he took a job with Environmental Instrument Systems, a company that was gearing up for work associated with the then-new Clean Air Act. Glanders spent his high school and college summers climbing the smoke-stacks of coal-fired power plants around the state, taking samples and loving it.

"It was a great way to save money for college. I was making $5 an hour, which was really big money back then," Glanders says. "And more importantly, I was learning some of the trade."

After graduating from IU in 1980, Glanders continued to learn his trade. First he worked as a field geologist for a Houston-based oil field service firm, which assigned him to the barge in Louisiana. Then he worked with URS Engineers, a New Orleans-based firm which served as the environmental staff for a number of big oil companies. Later he worked as a hydrogeologist in Baton Rouge for company that specialized in ground water contamination testing and remediation.

When Glanders' wife, Karen, became pregnant with the first of their three sons in 1985, they decided to move back to Indiana, where Geoffrey took a job with ATEC Associates Inc. Glanders served as a project hydrogeologist for one year, then served ATEC as environmental division manager for three years before going out on his own in 1988.

Founding an environment engineering company was something Glanders had been preparing for since his days with URS in New Orleans. He tailored his resume with experience in soil contamination, ground water and air pollution, solids and hazardous wastes. When he finally took the plunge and launched Hoosier Environmental, new federal laws designed to address leaking petroleum storage tanks were taking effect.

"When we started in 1988, the timing was right," he says. "The market was booming because of the underground storage tank regulations, so it was relatively easy to get started in that capacity."

August Mack still does a lot of work with storage tanks. "Our original customers are still some of our strongest supporters," Glanders says.

But the firm has strengthened its original core services in air, water, soil and hazardous-waste issues. It has prepared to help clients deal with new environmental regulations as they have been issued. For example, a major subject now is the Clean Air Act, renewed by Congress in 1990. The original Clean Air Act regulated only seven hazardous air pollutants, while new provisions have increased that number to 189.

For now, August Mack is doing "air inventory audits" of clients, trying to determine which regulated chemicals are present at sites and at what levels. The company then determines where in the manufacturing process the chemical is used or created, and suggests alternatives to get the chemical out of the production loop. More advanced treatments may be necessary on occasion, but August Mack is looking for the simplest solutions first.

"Although many of these issues are complex, there are practical solutions that should be looked at first. It's not this big black box that they need to be afraid of," Glanders says. "It's not as much increasing awareness of the problem as it is increasing awareness of the solution."

Sometimes the solutions aren't that simple, or inexpensive. In those cases, Glanders says, client education takes on an even greater importance, making sure the client understands just what they could be looking at in terms of cost and commitment before the testing begins.

That's been especially important during the recession. Glanders says August Mack sees very few clients who waver from a commitment to solve an environmental problem. But there has been a tendency for companies to delay spending on large projects that don't affect day-to-day compliance with regulations now in force.

Glanders believes Indiana is not in terrible shape environmentally, though like all states with an industrial history, it does have its share of problems and problem areas.

Attempting to address some of them, the state last year began a Voluntary Remediation Program. Under the program, individuals or businesses voluntarily clean up environmental problems, and when the state is satisfied with the cleanup, it promises not to sue for future liability. Among other things, the measure is expected to help owners of contaminated property sell their real estate to buyers that otherwise would be nervous. Glanders chairs the technical committee developing implementation standards for the program, and believes the historically pro-business state is balancing environmental and commercial concerns well.

Despite the recession, August Mack is growing. The firm opened an office in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin in 1992, and opened another office in the Chicago suburb of Westmont this year. The company lists registered engineers, hydrogeologists, geologists, certified industrial hygienists, toxicologists and environmental scientists among its employees.

Glanders sees a world of opportunities for August Mack in the future. Environmental problems abound in the former Soviet Union and its satellites. And the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement could open new markets in Mexico and Canada.

But for now, the one-time poker whiz of the bayou says August Mack will continue to focus on its core clients, helping them play the hands they are dealt.
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Title Annotation:August Mack Environmental Inc.
Author:Mengle, Rev
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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