The ZWEIG Letter – Top Player

Tenacity makes them hot


Repeat hot Firm winner provides superior service, has a passionate team and doesn’t allow failure.


keithAs Keith Sampson will tell you, running a Hot Firm is challenging. Schedules are irregular; raising a family is difficult.


But Sampson, CEO of SRP Environmental, LLC (Shreveport, LA), a 25 person full service environmental consulting, health and safety consulting, environmental services, and health and safety training through our network of offices in North America and the Pacific, is a calculated risk taker who says that failure is not an option.


After making an initial appearance in The Zweig Letter Hot Firm List in 2011 at No. 124, SRP Environmental is again among the 100 fastest growing firms in 2012. Not bad for a firm founded only in 1996.


In the following interview, Sampson shares his thoughts on several topics.


ThE ZwEig LETTER: what does it mean to be a hot Firm?


Keith Sampson: The Hot Firm designation is a testament to our firm’s tenacity and resiliency, especially in light of the difficult economy that the nation has weathered over the last three years.


TZL: how did you get where you are today?


KS: The key to our success has been to consistently provide superior service to our clients by creating a qualified team that is passionate about what they do. A firm is only as good as its people.


TZL: Do you remember your first paid job?


KS: My first paid job was as a produce clerk in a grocery store.


TZL: what did you learn then that still influences the way you work today?


KS: I learned that work ethic is critical to the success of any endeavor. You have to be willing to learn, willing to work hard and willing to lead.


TZL: what is it in your DNA that drives you to success? is it audacity and risk- taking; a can-do attitude and a relentless pursuit of perfection; something else more abstract?


KS: I believe that most entrepreneurs are risk-takers, albeit to varying degrees. I would consider myself a calculated risk taker. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with people who are willing to take a risk when the right opportunity presents itself. Furthermore, as a leader of a Hot Firm, you have to believe in yourself, in your people, and be able to overcome adversity and reach your goals despite any headwinds that present themselves.


TZL: in today’s difficult business climate, what does it take to succeed? is the spectrum of failure a motivator?


KS: For our firm, failure is not an option. When you have spent years building a firm, you not only feel responsibility for its success but also for the employees and their families, who have helped make the firm what it is today. In order to succeed you have to be willing to continue growing, learning and expanding the firm into diversified markets.


TZL: where do you see this industry in 10 or 20 years? what trends are influencing it? what about your company?


KS: I believe that several themes will continue to be driving forces within our industry over the next 10 to 20 years. In order to meet the demands of a growing population, the energy, agriculture and infrastructure sectors are going to see rapid growth. As such, SRP Environmental is positioned to support companies in those industries with an array of compliance services. Our clients can count on us to provide an integrated suite of services, including environmental compliance, remediation, safety training and consulting, as well as industrial hygiene.


TZL: Do you hold someone as a special mentor? how did this person influence who you are?


KS: I really can’t think of any one person that I would say is a special mentor.


TZL: what’s the one trait you most admire in people and why?


KS: I think tenacity is the most admirable trait because it is usually the driving force behind most success stories. Tenacious people ignore the critics, overcome the obstacles and never take their eye off the goals. They believe in themselves and refuse to give up regardless of the circumstances.


TZL: Describe the most challenging thing you have ever done/the biggest challenge you have taken on outside of work.


KS: I would have to say that raising a family has been the biggest challenge for me outside of work. Trying to raise children with values and achieve a home/work balance is very difficult when you are an entrepreneur. Being a principal is not an 8-to-5 job and neither is being a father/husband.


TZL:   what lesson learned would you pass along to a recent college graduate embarking on a career in the A/E/P and environmental consulting fields?


KS: I would urge them to learn as much about the various services in the field as possible. It is fine to specialize in a couple of areas but being able to assist with other services within a firm makes you a hot commodity. Multi-faceted employees are incredibly valuable because they can assist with different projects and support customers across industry sectors.