Terracon's David Hopkins Sets Sites on Solar

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Sep. 11, 2017 12:00 am   2 min read

David Hopkins, senior principal and office manager at Terracon Consultants Inc. (Jason Burt)

David Hopkins has almost 30 years of experience in environmental consulting and marketing. He had been principal and COO of Genesis Environmental Consulting Inc. for eight years when it sold to Terracon of Lenexa, Kansas, in 2004. Before that, Hopkins worked for American Interplex Corp., James L. Grant & Associates and Environmental Systems Co.

Hopkins holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Arkansas Tech University. He is a registered professional geologist in Arkansas and Louisiana. He says he grew up in a pro-industry family and enjoys the investigative and problem-solving nature of his work.

Tell us about your work with solar farms, and where these installations are going in.
We are working with installations all over the state, with a higher concentration of activity in the eastern half of Arkansas.

Site selection is a critical step in successful solar farming. We are providing a phased approach to site selection using Terracon’s GIS-based data mining system that combines publicly available information (wetlands maps, flood maps, geologic maps, etc.) with Terracon’s own historical environmental, soil boring and groundwater data. Combining this data with our professional environmental and geotechnical engineering opinions has proven to be an extremely beneficial and economical alternative for site selection. Once the site is selected we perform site specific environmental assessments and geotechnical analysis.

Why does a national company like Terracon have such a large presence in Arkansas?
Historically, national firms have not fared well in the consulting market in Arkansas ... By acquiring our existing environmental firm, Terracon enhanced our local capabilities, added new service lines and provided national expertise and resources. Terracon did not attempt to change our local culture or to fix something that wasn’t broken. They worked with what made us who we were and made us better.

Name and explain industry trends Terracon has been affected by.
The recent federal regulation changes associated with coal combustion residuals from electric utilities has resulted in a significant increase in landfill design and permitting projects for our Little Rock office. Expansion of the energy grid, specifically transmission lines and substations, has provided a tremendous amount of work for our environmental site assessment group. We are currently working on several large highway projects in Arkansas mostly through the [Transportation Department’s] Connecting Arkansas Program … The program has created a large burst of activity in highway construction which will last into 2023.

What are your plans for Arkansas over the next, say, five years?
Terracon has just opened a project office in Springdale, and we plan to convert that to a full-fledged office in the next few years. We are also evaluating adding offices in Jonesboro and Texarkana.

What was your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it?
At the beginning of my managerial career, I believed that being the boss meant that others serve you. Over time I discovered that, to be successful as a leader, the higher you go, the more you serve.



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