50th Anniversary Series: An Environmental Consulting Firm Then & Now—The Nineties

normandeau associates environmental consulting nineties history 1The Normandeau Pennsylvania team deploys vibracoring equipment to collect sediment samples. (Photo ca. 2009.)

 

The 1990s: Expansion into PA
Normandeau Associates, Inc., continued to grow and diversify in the 1990s. In 1994, Normandeau acquired RMC Environmental Services based out of Pennsylvania. The acquisition of RMC was pivotal for Normandeau, as RMC was very similar as a company; however, it operated in a different geographical region—mainly PA, surrounding states, and the Pacific Northwest. RMC was nationally recognized for its fisheries and hydropower services, and also offered field sampling services and freshwater biological lab expertise. RMC had ongoing projects with public utility companies like Philadelphia Electric (now Exelon)—aligning well with Normandeau and its expertise and markets.


With the acquisition of RMC came many experienced and noteworthy scientists and specialists—some of whom would become Normandeau lifetime employees, such as Dilip Mathur, Ph.D., and Paul Heisey. Dr. Mathur was an internationally known fisheries scientist who specialized in fisheries issues at hydropower facilities. Paul Heisey was instrumental in the development of the patented HI-Z Turb’N Tag, a device that provides efficient and economic analysis of mortality/survival rates of fish at turbines, spillways, and other downstream passage routes. Thanks to Mr. Heisey’s patent, the HI-Z tag added to Normandeau’s expertise and reputation—the success of which continues today.   

normandeau associates environmental consulting nineties history 2
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Left photo: Excerpt from HI-Z Balloon Tag Patent. Right photo: A Common Nase (Chondrostoma nasus) buoyed to the water surface by Normandeau’s HI-Z Tags after downstream passage through a turbine at a hydroelectric power plant. (Right photo credit: Clemens Ratschan, TB Zauner.)

 

normandeau associates environmental consulting nineties history 4Photo: Pictured here is Pam Hall—longtime president and CEO of Normandeau Associates—working closely with a fellow colleague. 

 

As the 1990s came to a close, Thermo decided to sell its professional services companies including Normandeau Associates. Normandeau President and CEO Pam Hall along with Normandeau senior management began internal discussions and a decision was made to purchase the company from Thermo and make it employee-owned using a leveraged ESOP. Over 20 senior managers initially invested in the company to demonstrate to lenders their commitment to the buyout.

 

Where We Are Now
Today, Normandeau’s offices continue to offer a robust array of fisheries and water quality services (among many others) to hydropower and power plant clients throughout the country. Normandeau assists clients with permitting and relicensing needs and ensures that companies are remaining compliant with any and all federal and state environmental laws and regulations (see entrainment & impingement). Whether Normandeau scientists are monitoring for contamination and/or potential impacts on marine or freshwater species, the organization maintains the highest respect for quality both in the field and in its own labs. 
 

normandeau associates environmental consulting nineties history 1Photo: A Normandeau's biologist calibrates and deploys long-term water quality monitoring equipment.

 

In much the same way that Normandeau monitors for water quality and effects on biological life, it has also started providing many construction monitoring services. Normandeau can monitor water, habitats, and more before, during, and after major construction—providing fish detection and startle work, pre- and post-dredging bathymetric surveys, sediment sampling using vibracore and clamshell dredges, habitat assessments and essential fish habitat surveys, water quality and turbidity monitoring during dredging and jet plowing, underwater noise monitoring during construction, and post-construction mitigation site monitoring.

normandeau associates environmental consulting nineties history 6Photo: Normandeau can often be found onsite during construction projects—like this pile driving event.

 

Normandeau scientists continue to make headlines regarding their outstanding work. In 2017, Dr. Dilip Mather received the American Fisheries Society, Fisheries Management Section Award of Excellence. This award is bestowed upon inspirational fisheries leaders who have made a substantial impact both nationally and internationally. Dr. Mathur’s successful career longevity (52 years) is what lead to this great recognition. Although Dr. Mathur recently retired, his wish was to have this award remain at the Drumore, PA, office for all to see and take pride in: “It was awarded to me, but everyone in this office made it all possible.”


Normandeau is still going strong as a 100% employee-owned company. As an organization, Normandeau believes that employee ownership provides a competitive advantage in an industry that is characterized by mergers, consolidations, and restructuring. Eligible employees are enrolled in the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)—where they receive company shares in the ESOP Trust at no cost and become vested over time. Each year, Normandeau’s ESOP donates time and money to surrounding community organizations and causes—issues and areas that employees truly care about. Being an employee-owned business provides long-term rewards in the form of company stock to Normandeau’s biggest asset—its employees. And it’s a tradition the organization hopes to continue indefinitely.