Shane Rigter, Business Development Manager at Next Environmental Inc.
|For our April 2020 Newsletter, we asked Shane about Next Environmental, some insights into contaminated sites, and a bit about his life outside of work.
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Can you briefly introduce yourself and Next Environmental?
First of all, thank you for shining the spotlight in my direction! I’m thrilled to discuss Next Environmental and share our involvement in the Capital Region. My role as Business Development Manager boils down to exactly as it sounds – developing the business. This involves growing our market share, expanding our service offerings and territory that we service, prospecting for new Clients, nurturing existing Clients, and delivering value to each and every project we are engaged for. I am typically the main point of contact for our projects and try to distill the often confusing world of environmental rules and regulations in a business-centric, easy-to-understand way, which is one of the several ways we differentiate from our competitors. The typical engineering model takes a technical/regulatory approach on most projects, whereas we begin with the business issues and work backwards from there; the “top down” approach if you will. We also provide fixed pricing on every stage of investigation, including remediation, which is a new offering to the marketplace and garnering a lot of praise from our Clients who see the value in reducing or even eliminating their risk when it comes to contaminated sites.
Next Environmental has been doing work in Victoria for many years, but only recently opened an office here. What prompted you to do so?
Indeed. We’re by no means new to town, as we have been providing services in the community since before we were called Next Environmental some 20+ years ago (formerly part of SRK Consulting). However, we decided that it was high time we open a local office, which officially took place in October 2019. Part of the reason was we felt that our value proposition was in high demand, however it was difficult to compete cost-wise with local firms who did not have to send team members over from the Mainland. Now that we are local, our costs have dropped significantly, and can provide our flat rate Stage 1 PSI or Phase I ESA investigations which we guarantee in 5 business days. It’s been a game changer for many of our Clients who operate in a world where speed is of the utmost importance.
Another primary reason was we saw how desirable the Capital Region has become to developers and investors in recent years, and felt it was a great time for us to become involved in the community’s future.
How has the role of Environmental Consultant changed over recent years?
Next Environmental focuses primarily on site investigations and the remediation of contaminated sites. The Contaminated Sites Regulation (“CSR”) was created April 1st, 1997 (no joke) and was a relatively small document at the time. It’s evolved into thousands of pages of rules and regulations and is constantly changing. Our role as an Environmental Consultant is to know these rules and regulations inside and out so our Clients don’t have to, and with the constant evolution of the CSR, keeping up with things is a full time job itself. It’s important for members and readers to know that dated reports and old data collected from historical investigations may not be ‘up to snuff’ with today’s regulatory standards, and it’s always good to have a qualified professional review any historical documentation prior to making any big decisions. We happen to be one, of course, so feel free to call us anytime with questions. I’m always happy to share what insights I can with no cost obligations.
What are the biggest pitfalls you see developers face when working on a contaminated site, and how can they mitigate or avoid them?
Often we see first-time developers or even experienced developers who haven’t had to deal with a contaminated site before try to do the bare minimum at the on-set of an acquisition or development, only to run into larger issues at a critical point down the road.
What we often suggest, and anyone who has dealt with a major remediation can attest to, is to obtain as much data up front as possible so you can make an informed decision about next steps. Whether this is at the acquisition or pre-development stage, the more data you have, the better understood the problem is and the more refined the clean-up cost becomes. With Next Environmental, we’re now able to provide what we call a GFPQ or Guaranteed Fixed Price Quote for every stage of investigation, including remediation, which aids in eliminating the contamination risk that can occur throughout the development process. Developments are already risky enough, so we’re proud to be able to help remove at least one of those risk elements from our Client’s pro forma.
What advice do you have for developers considering the purchase of a contaminated site?
Do it! We work for some of BC’s largest developers who rarely purchase sites that don’t have some sort of ‘hair’ on them. Why? There are a lot of ways to leverage your Environmental Consultant to help get a great deal on your next acquisition, or to provide certainty to your lender or prospective buyers to avoid large financial holdbacks, depending on the business case. Next has years of experience and data that you can leverage, and with our fixed cost model and guaranteed turnaround times, we can assist with making any contamination issue less risky and less expensive. There are some incredible deals to be had on contaminated sites and when you work with teams who know what they’re doing, there are often huge upsides. In many cases, it’s all about how you package the deal, which is something we specialize in helping with.
What is the most challenging part of your job, and what do you love most about it?
The most challenging part of my job is delivering bad news to property owners who did not realize their site was contaminated at the time of purchase, either due to the fact they did not conduct any environmental due diligence at the time of purchase, because something was overlooked, among many other reasons. Unfortunately, this is all too common, which is why a thorough investigation is such an important step when purchasing property.
The best part of my job is the people I get to work with every day, which include developers, commercial lenders, mortgage brokers, commercial realtors, architects, lawyers, engineers, construction teams, and of course MY TEAM. No two days are the same, and working alongside so many amazing industry professionals is something I enjoy and value beyond words.
What advice would you give young professionals wanting to pursue a career as an Environmental Consultant?
Ask for coffee! Many people in the industry are happy to sit down and discuss their roles and companies with people who are interested and want to learn about where they see themselves fitting in. Ask lots of questions, and once you choose a lane that you enjoy and are good at, stick with it. I’m happy to chat with anyone who’s interested, or connect them with someone who may be better suited than I, so feel free to reach out to me.
What do you love most about Victoria?
Every time I’m in Victoria, which is about once a month for meetings or projects, I can feel my blood pressure drop, and the people are so friendly and easy going. The proximity to the Ocean, its walkability, and the architecture and history make it such an attractive City to live, work and play in. It’s definitely a place I can see myself calling home in the future.
When you’re not working, what are your favourite activities?
You’ll find me on the golf course on the weekends. I’ve been an addict since I was young, and try to get out a few times a month, time permitting. Fortunately for me, my role allows for time on the course with Clients as well, so I occasionally get to enjoy what I love most while on the job!
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
People that know me these days would likely be surprised to know that in my ‘past life’ I was really into skateboarding, and you probably could have found me at the skate park or somewhere I shouldn’t have been rolling around on four wheels listening to punk music or heavy metal or something…. Don’t let the suit fool you!