How Smart Problem Solving Keeps One Environmental-Engineering Firm on Top

by Anne Bouleanu
- Dec 5 2013 - 4 min read

No matter the industry, every entrepreneur will face small-business challenges. From staying on top of trends to hiring staff and managing challenging projects, it’s no secret that running a company is far from easy.

However, small firms such as Meridian Energy & Environment have found both human and technological solutions to streamline operations. Marie Stephens, one of the founders of Meridian, shares insight about her firm’s project process, how rental software has improved their workflow, and what she and her team has learned about running a successful company.

Meridian specializes in full-service environmental engineering, working with clients to develop strategies to tackle environmental issues. Projects include renewable-energy system design, air pollution control, environmental engineering, site remediation, and health and safety monitoring. With such a wide range of clients and jobs going on at once, issues are sure to arise.

Small Business, Big Success

One of the more trying tasks Stephens and her team took on involved an ecological risk assessment for a site with both contaminated soil and groundwater. Due to the sheer size and complexity of the endeavor, Stephens said the project was particularly challenging. However, she was able to effectively manage business operations by assembling a staff capable of rising to the occasion.

“We gathered the project team and divided up the many tasks within the project scope, which included evaluation of a chemistry database, constituent characterization, exposure assessment, toxicity assessment, and risk characterization,” Stephens says.

rental software
Meridian team doing a boiler inspection

It turned out to be more complicated than that, however, as many environmental initiatives often are: “We worked with state regulators to develop risk-based cleanup standards for soil and groundwater and sent them multiple drafts of the report to get their input.”

In the end, the project was a success due to smart problem solving and quick decision-making, which Stephens says is one of the benefits of running a small organization.

“As a small firm, we can make decisions quickly, be particular about the work we want to bid on, stack our workload with a wide variety of projects, and maintain a fun office culture,” she says.

While smart hiring and keeping cool when under pressure are all signs of a well-run business, Stephens fully acknowledges that working at a smaller organization comes with its own particular set of troubles.

“With this freedom, though,” Stephens says, “come some challenges that larger firms may not have.” Finding an appropriate work/life balance, for example, can be challenging when Meridian is operating with all hands on deck.

rental software
Meridian’s in-house treatability laboratory

Tech Solutions for a Modern Industry

One of the ways Meridian has been able to cut down on stress while still reducing costs for companies and clients is through the use of tech solutions, particularly by renting Autodesk software.

Meridian purchased a rental license for AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite, a program that Stephens says has improved workflow and management of large-scale projects.

Stephens uses the software suite to create intricate facility drawings for engineering projects and, as she says, “to support our findings or depict areas at a facility where we are performing investigations for environmental projects.”

These expert drawings help improve client-relationship management across the business, as Meridian staffers are able to quell any client concerns by bringing out a dynamic model of the project to come.

The use of the AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite also facilitates teamwork at Meridian by allowing them to view on multiple machines. “It allows us to share and collaborate on drawings easily when multiple people need to provide input,” Stephens says.

And as renters of the software, they are able to save more money for small-business operations. “We don’t have to strain our cash flow to get the necessary product, and we don’t have to have an in-house expert for technical support,” Stephens says. “Our usage can also grow as we get more projects.”

This flexibility fits in well with Meridian’s overall business model, as Stephens and her fellow co-founders originally launched Meridian to provide new and interesting services to help improve the environment as well as the company’s bottom line.

rental software
Meridian team member Richard Moore doing landfill gas monitoring

“We all worked together as owners of another firm and found ourselves disagreeing with the direction the other owners were taking that company,” Stephens explains. “We wanted to provide services to the alternative-energy industry, as well as a variety of industrial clients.” Thus, Meridian was born.

Starting a small business can be demanding, but as the success of Meridian shows, with the right level of expertise, a great staff, and a smart use of technology, dedicated entrepreneurs may soon discover they have become industry leaders.

To learn more about the benefits of renting software, check out 5 Reasons Why Renting Software Makes Sense for Small Businesses. And for tips on balancing work and life, read 5 Tips for Balancing Work, Life, and Interior Design.

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