Employee Spotlight – David Stegall, Waste Profiling Manager

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Meet our awesome team member, David!

David has been with ACTenviro for 13 years! He is responsible for the profiling of hazardous waste for our Southern California region, as well as expanding the universal waste profiling program from the whole company. In addition, he helps the sales team with routing waste to the appropriate TSDF facility. He works full-time out of our Santa Fe Springs branch.

Where are you from/where do you live?

I’m from LA. I grew up in Monrovia, California, born and raised, and I live in Glendora, California.

Why did you join ACTenviro?

I had a friend I’d worked with who got hired as an operations manager when they were first rolling out the Santa Fe Springs branch. And right after he got hired, he recruited me to come over and help him. It was 2009, right in the middle of the recession. A lot of people thought I was crazy for quitting a stable job and jumping on board with something new. But after talking to a lot of people who worked there, it just made sense.

What’s the best thing about working at ACTenviro?

I really, really believe I’m working with the brightest people in the industry. And just being a part of the growth of the company. It’s been fun to watch our office go from $100,000 a month to a million dollars a month.

What do you like best about your day-to-day job?

I like doing the right thing in this industry. In my opinion, a lot of companies will do more in the gray area of the regulations. ACTenviro really pushes doing the right thing. To me, it’s challenging but it’s fun to do the right thing.

What does “sustainability” mean to you?

It’s meeting our needs for today without compromising the abilities of the next generation. Meeting both our needs for today and the needs for tomorrow. I think it’s a happy medium.

What’s your favorite activity when you’re not working?

I do private training for goalkeepers, for soccer. I ride my motorcycle, watch my kids play sports. I like history documentaries.

What’s your favorite food?

Pizza. Or a good steak.

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Bora Bora. It’s isolated and tropical. It’s a left-alone place. Beautiful. Blue waters.

What’s your passion?

Manchester City Football Club.

Thank you for sharing more about you with us, David! We appreciate you being on our team!

Join the team!

Are you interested in working with David and ACTenviro’s other awesome team members? Check out our Careers page to learn more!

Employee Spotlight – Chris Dean

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Chris Dean has been with our team for 11 years and runs what he calls an “island” for ACTenviro. As Site Manager of the Sandia branch in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he manages 19 people and three programs: hazardous waste management, pollution prevention and recycling, and solid waste disposal. While he handles one client, they have many locations from which Dean is responsible for picking up and managing various kinds of waste. 

“We have our own database where Sandia submits requests for us to pick up either hazardous waste or solid waste or do pollution-prevention tasks,” Dean says. “Each day, our guys check the request system to see what types of things we are going to pick up that day. There’s probably a couple of hundred buildings out here that do mostly research and development, and they all generate everything from the most exotic chemical waste to just cardboard, plastics and all kinds of stuff that can be recycled.“

“Before we can pick anything up, as far as haz waste goes, we have to characterize it. They’ll list all the chemicals they want picked up. Then our chemist goes through and characterizes it first, which means he assigns all the waste codes to it, to make sure that when it comes to our facility, we can get rid of it. This is a permitted facility, so we have 365 days to get rid of any kind of waste we get. We have to take a close look at everything before it comes in and make sure it’s something that we have a disposal facility for, or we find alternatives for things like explosives or radioactive materials.” 

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It’s a big job, but one Dean has been preparing for his entire professional life. He holds undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry, as well as two master’s degrees: one in Toxicology and one in Biochemistry and Microbiology. For many years, he ran the Department of Health Laboratory for Environmental Chemistry for the state of New Mexico, at which he held quite a few positions, including EPA Auditor, Director of Quality Control, and Forensics Investigator and Expert Witness. He retired from the state lab and, in 2006, he began working at the Sandia site as the Site Chemist. When ACTenviro took over in 2012, Dean became the Site Manager. 

Part of Dean’s work at Sandia is helping the company achieve its ambitious “zero waste goal”: of all the solid waste generated by the laboratory, they aim to recycle or repurpose up to 90% of it. According to Dean, the city of Albuquerque recycles about 24% of its waste, and some recycling powerhouses in California approach 30%. Under Dean’s watch, Sandia has reached 68%. 

To achieve that number, Dean credits the fact that ACTenviro actually sorts the trash, which doesn’t happen in most places. “We do it all here, and we’re super-organized about how we do it, and then everything’s baled and weighed,” he says. 

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“We have a giant bay, and we dump everything on the floor. It’s all in bags — we have the janitorial staff throughout Sandia trained to bag cans and plastic bottles together, and shredded paper and some other stuff. When we dump the trash on the floor, we sort stuff out into various groups like plastics or cans or metals or wood. Then that’s all redirected to recycling, where the baler bales all the trash that’s going to the landfill, rather than just dumping the truck into the landfill.” 

As impressive a number as 68% is, Dean doesn’t rest on his laurels. He is focused on reaching Sandia’s 90% goal through incremental improvements. They have recently started composting the huge number of paper towels generated on the whole campus, using hundreds of containers for the sole purpose of collecting paper towels or food. They’ve started recycling toner cartridges, as well. 

Dean devotes about 70% of his time to hazardous-waste management and the remaining 30% to pollution prevention and solid waste. It’s a formula that is clearly working. ACTenviro’s team consistently receives performance awards at the highest level, scoring a grade of “A” from Sandia for fulfilling their site contract. 

“We don’t do things the way everybody else does,” Dean says. “Everything is very customized to Sandia. We’re working with them to make sure they’re compliant with everything, and they don’t violate RCRA and DOT’s myriad of regulations. The performance award gives us a little bit of satisfaction.” 

Join the team!

Are you interested in working with Chris and ACTenviro’s other awesome team members? Check out our Careers page to learn more!

Employee Spotlight — Natalie Djakovic, Office Manager

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Meet our awesome team member, Natalie!

Natalie has been with ACTenviro for 5.5 years and does a little bit of everything in her role as office manager in Santa Fe Springs. She works full-time and her main responsibility is handling billing for the branch. Because of this she is directly involved with Sales and Operations, helping with the execution of client jobs and vendor relations. Daily, she works closely with ten people in the office, as well as supervises the office’s team of OSRs. Natalie is always there to tie up loose ends or tend to urgent needs and we love having her on the team!

Where are you from/where do you live?

I was born and raised in Chino Hills. We recently moved, but still in Chino Hills! I’ve lived there my entire life.

Why did you join ACTenviro?

I accidentally fell into the environmental industry right after college at another environmental company. And then one of the project managers I’d worked with came to ACTenviro as the branch manager. He offered me a position, and I took it, and I’ve been here ever since.

What’s the best thing about working at ACTenviro?

The people. We’ve got a really good team, and everybody works really well together. That’s definitely the best part.

What do you like best about your day-to-day job?

It’s never the same, which is good and bad, but mostly good! Every day is different. You never know what’s going to come up, so it keeps things interesting.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve encountered on the job?

I don’t know if anything unusual has ever come up because I’m in the office. I’m not out in the field, so, I don’t have anything crazy for you. But I’m sure some of the field guys will probably have some crazy stuff.

What does “sustainability” mean to you?

Doing things that are the most environmentally conscious for the planet — not taking the easiest route necessarily, doing your research and finding alternatives that may not be what everybody else might do. It’s looking at things and saying, “We’re going to do things a little bit differently to try to make things better for the planet.”

What’s your favorite activity when you’re not working?

Spending time with my kids and my husband. We like going to the beach. We like going to the parks. My kids are eight months and three years old, so they’re little, and we can’t really go too many places. But we like spending time outdoors. My son loves sports, so we’re constantly outside playing with soccer balls and basketballs and tennis balls, and all that stuff.

What’s your favorite food?

Ooh, sushi, definitely. Anything with raw fish. Any kind of sushi, rainbow rolls, salmon rolls. I really like poke. Poke’s delicious, probably more of my favorite than sushi.

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Serbia, which is where my family is from. I’ve been there a million times, but I go back as much as I can. I love it there. I wouldn’t choose anywhere else.

What’s your passion?

I really like working with people. I like figuring out the processes and being in between everything. I like being in the middle and knowing everything that’s going on. I don’t think there’s one thing, so, anything that’s related to people and being connected to people is really what I like doing.

Thank you for sharing more about you with us, Natalie! We appreciate you being on our team!

Join the team!

Are you interested in working with Natalie and ACTenviro’s other awesome team members? Check out our Careers page to learn more!

Employee Spotlight – Kenneth Vu, Program Manager

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Meet our awesome team member, Kenny Vu!

Kenny has been with ACTenviro for almost 3 years and is responsible for the waste program at a Facebook site in Redmond, Washington. His role encompasses investigating tools and determining waste applicability solutions for how to manage waste properly, managing waste at the facility, and transporting it offsite for treatment and disposal. He works full-time on-site with a team of six other ACTenviro employees to service and support Facebook’s waste management efforts for the company’s environmental compliance program.

Where are you from/where do you live?

I was born in Los Angeles, California, but I’ve spent the past 22 years up in the Seattle area, so I call it home.

Why did you join ACTenviro?

I was working at another environmental company prior to joining ACTenviro, and someone I had worked with there had joined ACTenviro and recruited me to come to the company. I got a sense ACTenviro was a company that took notice of its individual employees, and I really appreciated that. I also heard the CEO, Tim Smith, is very involved with projects and really hands on, and that was something pretty unheard of — I’ve never been at a company where the CEO was that involved on what I’ll call the ground floor.

Once I was here for a couple of months, I really came to appreciate the level of respect and autonomy I was provided to perform my job functions. That’s something that doesn’t happen everywhere — where there is true trust between management, where I’m in a position that my skills can be utilized to perform the job as I best see fit. That’s the difference I’ve definitely noticed with this company.

What’s the best thing about working at ACTenviro?

The manner in which I’m allowed to execute my roles and responsibilities. I appreciate that others are trusting of me, and they acknowledge my skill sets, and they allow me to do what I think is best. I don’t feel like I have a lot of restrictions to manage my team, and I find that very refreshing and very invigorating, because it’s almost like the sky’s the limit. I get tremendous support from management, but also support from the folks I work with day-to-day. It’s truly something special.

What do you like best about your day-to-day job?

Working with my team, my personnel. I really enjoy that we’re all working together to be the best versions of ourselves, however we can get to that point. I find it very challenging and very rewarding when we can get to a point where we can look back six months, 12 months, and say, “Wow, we did this together.”

I really enjoy personnel management and personnel development. Thankfully, I’m in an environment, both from the client side and from the ACTenviro side, where I’m able to focus on that, and that’s something I look forward to every day.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve encountered on the job?

Nothing quite surprises me nowadays!

What does “sustainability” mean to you?

Sustainability to me is the ability for an individual, organization or party to keep trucking along in a manner that is beneficial to them and making changes to ensure we’re successful in the future in whatever manner.

What’s your favorite activity when you’re not working?

I enjoy taking my car to the racetrack. There are these track days, and I’ll take my car, prep it and run around the track and drive fast. That’s what I like to do.

What’s your favorite food?

I’m very passionate about tortillas, so anything in a tortilla — tortilla-based cuisine.

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Australia is on my top-three bucket list right now. I love the warmth and the sun. Australia has plenty of beaches and a lot of great reef work — I’m really into snorkeling. They also have the Outback, and I enjoy that desert scene of just hiking in places that are very desolate, and I think Australia offers a lot of that.

What’s your passion?

Besides the tortilla-based cuisine, I just like tinkering with things. I tinker with my car, with electronics. I’m into general tech stuff. That carries over to tinkering with work, and I’m constantly looking to improve things. I look at all aspects of what I can tinker with in that department. I never kind of sit back and say, “This is done. I don’t need to do anything more with this.” I’m always messing around with things. Tinkering is what I call it.

Thank you for sharing more about you with us, Kenny! We appreciate you being on our team!

Join the team!

Are you interested in working with Kenny and ACTenviro’s other awesome team members? Check out our Careers page to learn more!