1400 Weston Way
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380
Telephone: (610) 701-3000
Fax: (610) 701-3186
Web site: http://www.westonsolutions.com
Employees: 1,800 (est.)
Sales: $637.82 million (2018 est.)
NAICS: 541620 Environmental Consulting Services; 541330 Engineering Services; 541714 Research and Development in Biotechnology (except Nanobiotechnology); 541380 Testing Laboratories
Weston Solutions Inc. provides a range of environmental consulting, design, engineering, and construction services that are designed to solve problems associated with air, water, and land pollution; hazardous material and toxic waste treatment and disposal; workplace hazards; product use; energy conservation; and data and information systems. It provides rapid response and emergency services and specializes in infrastructure redevelopment, which it defines as bringing facilities, land, buildings, and other resources that have been environmentally compromised back to profitable use. Weston Solutions's clients include private industry, federal agencies, and state, county, and city governments. The company operates domestically and globally through a network of 60 offices located throughout the United States.
Roy F. Weston acquired an interest in the earth and its ecosystems at an early age. As a child growing up in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, the budding environmentalist spent much of his time outdoors, engaged in pursuits such as fishing and hunting. By the time he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, he was already considering a career that would keep him involved in environmental issues. Choosing a major in civil engineering and a minor in sanitary engineering, Weston graduated from University of Wisconsin in 1933. He then continued his education, studying public health engineering at the University of Minnesota before completing a master's degree in civil engineering at New York University in 1939.
Fresh out of college, Weston was hired by the Philadelphia-based Atlantic Refining Co. as an industrial pollution control engineer. Because the concept of environmental responsibility was just then becoming an issue for U.S. industry, such positions were virtually unheard of. Weston was only the second industrial pollution control engineer in the nation.
Weston stayed at Atlantic Refining for 16 years. By 1949, however, he was already laying the foundation for his own business by taking on consulting work in his spare time. In 1951 he merged his sideline consulting business with that of two other environmental consultants: Wes Eckenfelder and John Hood, of Ridgewood, New Jersey.
During the early 1960s a recession put the brakes on traditional industrial wastewater business, leading Weston to expand its client base by tapping the public sector. The resulting infusion of new government clients catapulted the company into a period of rapid growth. By the mid-1960s, with 62 employees, Weston had outgrown its space in Newtown Square. It moved to a 53-acre estate in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which had been built during the 19th century by the attorney and environmentalist John F. Lewis. In 1967, with revenues climbing near $2 million, Weston opened regional offices in Illinois and Georgia. By 1969 the company had a staff of almost 200 and had opened two more regional offices—in New York and Texas. That same year Weston made its first public stock offering, generating capital for even greater expansion.
The 1970s were a time of tremendous growth in the environmental consulting and engineering industries. In 1970 President Richard M. Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), charging it with the mission of protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment—air, water, and land. The EPA's role included finding ways to clean up and prevent pollution, ensuring compliance and enforcement of environmental laws, assisting states in environmental protection efforts, and raising the public's awareness and understanding of environmental issues. The formation of this new agency set the stage for sweeping changes in U.S. environmental regulation.
Throughout the 1970s the EPA created programs and proposed legislation that were designed to clean up the air and the water. The decade's environmental initiatives included setting new standards for auto emissions; phasing out the use of lead in gasoline; limiting industrial water pollution; banning the use of various toxic substances in manufacturing and farming; and establishing standards for the treatment of the public drinking water supply. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, the EPA also began establishing controls over the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
As the environmental movement picked up steam, Weston's business also grew. Although the company's original focus had been on wastewater cleanup, the growing concern over other types of pollution led the company to broaden its range of services. It rapidly moved into new fields, including air pollution controls, solid waste management, and the treatment and disposal of hazardous materials.
The decade was also a time of tremendous geographic growth for Weston. In 1970 the company established a European subsidiary, Weston Europe S.p. A., in Milan. The following year saw the opening of an office in Kobe, Japan. The company also established a research and development lab and in-plant pollution control services unit at its Pennsylvania facility.
During the mid-1970s Weston sold its European subsidiary to focus more intently on building up its domestic business. Between 1973 and 1976 the company opened facilities in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Virginia. It also expanded via the acquisition of four environmental engineering and consulting firms: Phillip Steel & Associates, Battaille Associates, Trygve Hoff & Associates, and Environmental Engineers, Inc. Weston's expansion rapidly swelled its gross earnings; between 1974 and 1976 its revenues grew from $10 million to $15 million.
Roy Weston, who was by then in his late 60s, had already semiretired, turning the company's day-to-day operations over to a younger management team. By the end of the 1970s, however, Weston grew dissatisfied with his managers' performance. After firing two different presidents in two years' time, the spirited founder recaptured control of his company, taking its daily operations back into his own hands. In 1979 Weston and his family bought out the company's shareholders, returning it to private ownership status.
That year marked the passage of the landmark federal Superfund legislation. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as the Superfund Act) addressed the identification and remediation of hazardous waste sites. The law authorized the EPA to compel responsible parties to clean up the abandoned sites. It also provided a $1.6 billion federal fund for site remediation in the event that the responsible parties could not be identified or located or failed to act.
The establishment of this fund meant that millions of dollars were suddenly earmarked for hazardous waste disposal, providing tremendous opportunities for environmental consulting and engineering firms. Weston wasted no time taking advantage of the new legislation. In 1981 the company became one of the nation's first Superfund contractors. It would go on to win more than $500 million in EPA contracts for Superfund site cleanups by the end of the decade.
The Superfund legislation also created more nongovernment work for the company. As the EPA pressured private industry to clean up its act, more and more companies turned to firms such as Weston to help them solve their waste disposal problems. By 1987 the company's client list included half of the Fortune 500 companies. Private-sector contracts accounted for approximately 45 percent of total revenues that year.
Not surprisingly, Weston's sudden influx of public and private business fueled a major growth spurt during the mid-1980s. Between 1982 and 1987 the company's revenues more than quadrupled, growing from $22.2 million to $98.7 million. Its earnings increased from $315,000 to $2.7 million during the same time span. To accommodate the growing business, Weston expanded into new facilities in new locations, adding a dozen new offices and hundreds of employees. It also made four new acquisitions: Peer Systems, Inc., Charles R. Velzy Associates, Inc., Gulf Coast Laboratories, Illinois, and ATC Incorporated.
In the midst of its frenzied expansion, Weston went public again with a 1986 public offering of 1 million shares priced at $12.50 per share. Despite bringing new shareholders into the mix, Weston and his family retained tight control of the company. The stock offered to the public carried only one-tenth of the voting power of the regular common stock—which was owned by the company's officers and directors.
By 1990 Weston had more than 2,500 employees, 49 offices in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and revenues of around $224 million. It was ranked as the third-largest environmental consulting firm in the nation by the Engineering News Record. With the company seemingly poised for continued success, Roy Weston retired in 1991. His son-in-law, A. Frederick Thompson, became the company's chair, and William Marrazzo became its CEO.
The company's downturn was serious enough to bring Roy Weston out of retirement. In March 1996 the 85-year-old Weston replaced his son-in-law as chair. He held the seat for only five months before resigning again. Under Marrazzo's leadership the company took steps to become less dependent on government contract work and more focused on private industry. Implementation was slow, however, and the company continued to struggle, finishing 1996 with a net loss of $16.7 million.
By spring of 1997 the Weston family, which controlled 62 percent of the company's voting power, told the company's board of directors that they were unhappy with the strategy to move away from government work. Under threat of being ousted by a new slate of candidates, Weston's five outside directors soon resigned their positions. They were replaced with candidates who had close ties to Washington and to government agencies that had traditionally been Weston clients. Shortly after the orchestrated change of directors, the company's president and CEO, Marrazzo, tendered his resignation.
By the end of 1997 the company was ready to begin implementing a revised strategy. This involved moving away from traditional low-growth environmental services and emphasizing new high-margin, high-growth areas. As such, the company's main focus became infrastructure redevelopment—bringing facilities, land, and other resources that had been environmentally compromised back to profitable use—for both public- and private-sector clients. Weston returned to profitability in 1998 and remained profitable into 1999. It finished the year with net revenues of $147.8 million, compared with $140.4 million for 1998. Profits for 1999 were $988,000—up from $858,000 for 1998.
During the early 2000s an ownership transition plan was set into motion for the company. First, it went private in 2001, then it announced a new name, Weston Solutions Inc., in 2002, as part of its transition to full employee ownership. In 2002 the company experienced record-breaking numbers in revenues, contract bookings, and safety performance. When the completed recapitalization strategy was announced in June 2003, Patrick G. McCann, the company president and CEO, cited Weston Solutions's success since 2001 and asserted, “Becoming a 100% employee-owned company will provide even greater stability and continuity of strategy and values, ensuring our ability to support our mission and the missions of our clients.”
During the first decade of business under the Weston Solutions banner, the company was contracted to respond to challenges that drew on its emergency and rapid-response capabilities. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, it was on the scene performing asbestos sampling on a scale never before needed. The company's expertise in decontamination and biochemical sampling was put to use when anthrax-laced powder was found on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, just weeks later. In 2004 the company was awarded a military contract to provide onsite remediation, construction, and ongoing support at Iraq's Umm Qasr military base. Among the projects completed were the construction of a wastewater treatment plant and the repair of the installation's sanitary sewer and water distribution infrastructure.
In August 2007 Roy F. Weston died at age 96, just months after attending a celebration of the company's 50th anniversary. McCann called the company's founder “a remarkable man,” as reported by the Daily Local News, adding, “He was a tireless advocate for environmental progress and, in fact, was one of the earliest proponents of the concepts of sustainable development—long before it became popular.” The following year Weston Solutions was contracted by the U.S. Department of State to manage the renovation of the U.S. embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. In 2009 the company was awarded a contract to design and build an office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan, a quasi-diplomatic organization that filled a void created when the United States ended its official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan during the 1970s. The controversial project was originally slated for completion by 2015 but was delayed in 2013 by lawsuits that were filed by local workers against Weston Solutions. The office complex opened in 2018.
Between August and December 2017 Weston Solutions found itself on the front lines of multiple disaster scenes throughout the United States. In August, team members were mobilized to assist in disaster planning, assistance, management, and recovery efforts in preparation for and response to Hurricane Harvey's devastation in Texas and Louisiana. Hurricanes Irma and Maria followed in close succession, causing extensive infrastructure damage in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other regions in the Caribbean and along the U.S. Gulf Coast. From wastewater treatment and remediation of hazardous spills to site rehabilitation and infrastructure support, Weston Solutions's expertise was in high demand.
Then, in response to the massive wildfires in California that began in early December, Weston Solutions teams were deployed not only to conduct household hazardous waste collection, asbestos surveys, and air monitoring and sampling, but also to implement cutting-edge environmental data management systems. The company's website featured a year-end wrap-up of these activities, concluding, “These teams and all who support them through our highly connected network are what the 60-year strong Weston culture is all about.” In 2018, with revenues of more than $600 million per year, Weston Solutions seemed to be strengthening its position as an influential player at the crossroads of business, industry, environmental sustainability, and science.
Updated, Pamela Willwertb Aue
Weston Solutions Global, Inc.
AECOM; Bechtel Group, Inc.; CH2M HILL Companies, Ltd.; Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc.; Tetra Tech., Inc.
DiStefano, Joseph N. “Pa. Contractor Fight Stalls U.S. Taiwan Project.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 8, 2013.
———. “West Chester Cleanup Firm Branches Out.” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 31, 2010.
Mayfield, Dan. “When Workers Buy In.” Albuquerque (NM) Tribune, July 22, 2002.
“Roy F. Weston, the Founder of the Environmental Company That Still Bears His Name, Died Saturday.” Daily Local News, August 21, 2007.
“Weston Becomes 100% Employee-Owned.” Business Wire, June 30, 2003.
“Weston Certified by DOE as a Qualified Energy Service Company.” Manufacturing Close-Up, March 2, 2011.
“Weston Solutions Wins State Dept. Work in Taiwan.” Philadelphia Business Journal, April 1, 2009.
“Weston to Revamp Military Bases: Four Installations to be Upgraded.” MEED Middle East Economic Digest 48, no 5 (January 2004): 10.