After a year spent clearing hundreds of New Orleans drainage basins following Hurricane Katrina, hauling away lead-laden soil from dozens of homes in Omaha and preparing to help on a project assessing the inner workings of each and every building on all U.S. Air Force installations worldwide, a Lawrence consulting company is about to clean up.
At Lawrence City Hall.
Tuesday night, Environmental Management Resources Inc. will receive a Foundation Award from the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The ceremony will be part of the Lawrence City Commission meeting that starts at 6:35 in the commission meeting room at Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
The award recognizes the company - which provides environmental consulting, testing, engineering and construction services in 30 states - for its "substantial" job growth during the past year, said Jamie Blaylock, the chamber's director of business retention and attraction programs.
Today, EMR has 74 employees working out of seven main offices and 11 project offices in 11 states. The Lawrence headquarters, at 1311 Wakarusa Drive, has 29 employees, up from 22 a year ago as business literally poured in.
Following Hurricane Katrina, EMR landed a $12 million contract to hire subcontractors and rent equipment to clear silt, debris and other materials from drainage systems in Orleans and Jefferson parishes of Louisiana.
At one point EMR had 65 employees living out of a church and others huddling three to a trailer as they worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
As difficult, challenging and mentally trying as the work was, the job did produce some long-term benefits for the firm, said Connie Cook, chief executive officer.
"When a small company can respond like that, you do get some recognition," she said.
Other federal agencies took notice. EMR joined a team hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to help remove soil contaminated with lead that had spewed from a nearby smelter in Omaha. The job included bringing in new soil and replacement sod.
Now the company is working with the Air Force on several projects, including assessments of buildings worldwide, construction of a roof at a base in San Diego and making electrical upgrades at an airfield in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Add it up, and Cook figures that the work will continue to keep her staff busy. She anticipates the firm adding employees at an annual rate of 10 percent to 15 percent.
"We think there's a lot of really nice opportunities out there," she said. "We're building a good, nationwide reputation."