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SYDNEY — When Keith Sampson left his New Waterford home after graduating high school in 1990 to pursue his baseball aspirations at the American university level, he had no idea his related studies would lead him to a rewarding career in environmental consulting.
His journey through baseball and academics saw him start a small company to supplement his income while he was working as a teacher grow. That project has since grown to 18 offices across America and was recently named one of that country’s fastest growing companies.
“I wanted to make sure I got a good education but as far as what I’m doing now I can’t actually say back then I was planning on running a business,” Sampson said, during a phone interview from Shreveport, La., home base for SRP Environmental. “I really was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do.”
The third-basemen chose Wisconsin University to begin his university studies because it gave him a chance to play baseball a bit more than other options after high school. He also got to play in some summer leagues while in Wisconsin and led to two summers of baseball in Boston.
“I got a really good education and I got to play against some really good players so it was a very positive experience.”
When not on a baseball diamond, he studied toxicology at Wisconsin and then obtained his masters in environmental planning and management from Louisiana State University. He started his environmental company in 1996 while putting an education degree he also obtained along the way to use.
“I was looking to do something to supplement income and that type of thing and within a very short period of time it went from doing it kind of on-the-side while teaching, to having to do it full-time, to hiring employees, to opening offices all over the US.”
Today, his company has 18 offices and more than 70 employees as he eyes other acquisitions and potentials for expansion. Environmental services, industrial hygiene, catastrophe response and restoration, environmental health and safety training and safety consulting are the among the company’s listed specialties.
“Facilities that are contaminated and need to be cleaned up, we will go out and do the soil and groundwater — all the testing — and then implement the best approach that would make sense to go ahead and do what they call remediation, so exactly what they did at the (Sydney) tar ponds,” he said, about one aspects of his work. “That’s not always the same procedure we would use but that is basically what we do.”
Recently, Inc. Magazine placed SRP Environmental on its Inc. 5,000 list, which recognizes the fastest growing private companies in America. It was the fourth time SRP made the list but it’s 1,948 ranking was by far the highest. In a country with more than 20 million private companies, Sampson was honoured to be recognized again by one of America’s best known business magazines.
As for future growth, the magazine notes that the environmental consulting services market will increase 47 percent over the next few years, hitting $43.8 billion by 2025, so Sampson expects there to be new opportunities.
“It’s been a really good experience. It’s just crazy to look back and see how far the company has grown.”
Sampson makes it back home every couple of years to see his parents, Bobby and Frances (Janssens) and often stays for more than week before heading back to Louisiana.