Lewis Environmental Continues to Expand, Providing 24/7/365 Environmental Services
Lewis Environmental has a presence nationwide, including in Polk County, and that’s critical to providing clients with safe, reliable and comprehensive environmental services.
Started in 1996, Lewis Environmental opened its Lakeland office in November 2014, said Senior Vice President Brandon D. Smith.
“One of our clients from the Northeast was expanding their operations into Florida, and they wanted Lewis to remain involved as a premier industrial maintenance and emergency response contractor. The Lakeland location was chosen because it was halfway between Orlando and Tampa, which was the basis of their expansion.”Brandon Smith, Senior Vice President
The company employs about 25 people full time in its Lakeland office, but “we are looking to expand here,” said Jim Sergey, Southeast Area Account manager. “Our headquarters is right outside Philadelphia, and we are very established there. That’s our goal down here — to eventually have a larger presence in the whole state of Florida.”
Lewis is well known for its emergency response capabilities, most of which are spills, Sergey said. “Say a truck has an accident and spills some acid. After the police and fire do their jobs, we go in and clean up, test the soil and provide a boom if the acid gets into water to prevent the spill from spreading.”
Its environmental services also include scheduled work like industrial cleaning, Sergey said. That includes such work as tank cleaning, soil remediation and “anything contaminated that needs cleaning. We do non-hazardous and hazardous waste management in an environmentally compliant way.”
In 2022, Lewis continued to support its existing clients while bringing on new ones, adhering to the company strategy and core values.
“Most of our business is from repeat customers who trust to work with the Lewis brand. We survive on our core values of safety, accountability, quality and integrity,” Smith said. “This is our culture and who Lewis is as a company. Our safety program is paramount in the industry, and we always want to do the right thing. We each hold ourselves accountable and strive to do the best we can every day.”
Emergency Response Services
Lewis responds to all levels of emergencies, from typical non-hazardous releases like diesel fuel spills to highly hazardous responses that require self-contained breathing apparatus. Smith gave some examples:
- The company has responded to assist in cleanup efforts from Hurricane Irma in 2017 to Hurricane Ian in 2022.
- Local staff respond to a pipeline incident in Kansas.
- It provided assistance to a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“Lewis has the ability to pull resources from each of our five offices, located in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida, to assist in any emergency anywhere in the United States,” Smith said.
Now, the company is looking at entering wastewater tanks, Sergey said. “To enter a confined space, we need to set up the work in such a way that it’s safe so if someone has a medical incident in there, we can pull them out safely.”
Sanitization & Disinfestion Services
The pandemic was a trying time for the company, like much of the rest of the world, but it also provided opportunities.
“When the pandemic shut down the country in 2020, Lewis remained open as an essential business,” Smith said. “During this unprecedented time, we were uncertain of the outcome and what our business portfolio would look like to survive the pandemic.”
The safety of its employees was first and foremost, he said, so the company had to figure out how it could operate while ensuring its employees were protected against COVID.
As routine “truck-in-a-ditch” spills declined, he said, “the uptick of sanitizing and disinfecting service increased. Lewis performed hundreds of sanitization and disinfection services from pharmacies and transportation (air, trucking, bus) to large warehousing and retail stores. To this day, Lewis continues to provide a wide array of sanitization and disinfecting services.”
Taking Care of Employees
Lewis’ skilled workforce is OSHA trained, including competencies in HazWoper and confined space, Sergey said.
Employees also must pass drug, alcohol, Department of Transportation and criminal background checks, Smith said. “Part of our clientele includes nuclear, power generation, pharmaceutical and industries where these background checks are necessary.”
Training and upward mobility is critical, he said. “We have developed programs, such as the Future Leaders of Lewis (FLL), where these employees will become the next generation of leaders for Lewis Environmental.”
There’s more, Smith said. Lewis also has:
- Instituted an anniversary bonus program so employees receive money when they hit milestone markers in their career.
- Offers referral bonuses. “We heavily rely on our own employee referrals, in which we have an employee referral bonus program, as well as word of mouth. We have had many candidates apply who have seen us working at an emergency response or at their facility.”
- Is trying to keep the lines of communication open between senior management and employees, everything “from growth strategies to their own growth potentials.”
“We are looking for a project manager because of our growth,” he said. “But that’s it. Our guys stick around. If you treat people right and you get them to buy in, and they feel like they are part of the solution and they matter, they are going to stick around.”
Lewis would not be successful without partnerships in the communities it works in, Smith said.
“Lewis participates in local charitable organizations each year, from providing shelters with pies during the holidays to providing bikes for Toys for Tots. Giving back to the community is as important as the work itself. Without our local community support, we would not be as successful as we are today.”