At Harbor Environmental Inc., Fixers Help Clients Sleep Better

At Harbor Environmental Inc., Fixers Help Clients Sleep Better
Trena Adair, at right, facing, president and principal at Harbor Environmental Inc., talks with Andrew Rike and Leslie Davis during a recent meeting. (Karen E. Segrave)

Trena Adair founded consulting firm Harbor Environmental Inc. of Little Rock in November 2007. Her college classmate and former co-worker, Leslie Davis, joined the business eight months later because, both women said, they wanted to be in charge of their own destinies.

They had worked together at Engineering, Compliance & Construction Inc. of Little Rock and both have over 20 years of experience in the industry.

“Trena and I both, I think, are fixers by nature. We want to fix problems for people,” Davis said. “You know, if you fix their problems, you can keep them happy. And consulting allows you to do that. [It] allows you to work with people to get them in a better place. One of the best compliments a client has ever given me is that ‘I sleep so much better now that Harbor is on board.’”

She and Adair, along with Andrew Rike, own the firm, which employs 35 people and brought in $3.4 million in revenue last year.

Davis said Harbor plans to grow by opening offices in other states to build its regional presence. It already works all over the country, in Ireland and in the United Kingdom. Five employees are based in Louisiana, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Adair said Harbor is working to diversify its client base. She wants the business to be sustainable for the next 50 years, and selling the firm is not part of that vision, she said.

Adair leads one of the firm’s three divisions, its safety services team. Davis leads its environmental group, and Rike leads its engineering group.

Safety services clients include food manufacturers, regional utility contractors and utilities, Davis said.

Its environmental consultants help health care systems, industrial facilities and manufacturers with environmental permitting. The division is also an Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality contractor and works for the Military Department of Arkansas.

The firm’s engineers design water and wastewater projects and help obtain permits for those, Davis said.

The integrated approach sets Harbor apart, she said, and a large part of its business is auditing companies’ operations and then helping managers and owners achieve regulatory compliance.

Adair added that the firm is always looking at new ways to provide solutions to the same problems.

Harbor also values its employees, Davis said. “We invest in our employees from a perspective of continuing education but also in work-life balance. We think it’s really important that they have something to do outside of this place.”

“We want to work more like a family than bosses. I don’t do really well when somebody walks in and says, ‘Well, you’re the boss,’” Davis said. “I might be, but let’s not talk about it. So we really try to keep everything on a pretty flat level. We don’t have a lot of hierarchy and not a lot of red tape. … We’d much rather focus on taking care of clients rather than dealing with internal structure.”

Harbor emphasizes that every staff member must demonstrate six behaviors: make it better, build relationships, do what’s best for the client, work like you’re on a stage, take responsibility and be organized.