It was in second grade when Marc Eichenholtz discovered his passion for geology after a classmate brought in her rock collection for show and tell.
“I thought that it was the coolest thing, it was a box filled with all of these shiny rocks and I remember going home and telling my dad about it,” Eichenholtz said. “The next day he came home with a box of rocks and a book from the Museum of Natural History which helped to encourage my interest in geology.
Eichenholtz’s dad frequently took him to gem shows, fossil hunting and other places that only fueled his excitement. “It stayed with me forever that I wanted to be a geologist,” he said.
After graduating with his master’s degree in geology, Eichenholtz pursued his career, working in the mining and environmental consulting industries – until he met a group of clients for lunch one afternoon.
“I got to lunch, and it ended up being more of an intervention. They thought that I should start my own company and I thought I was just going out to lunch,” he laughed. “They said it’s time for you to do it for you and that was a very big moment in my life. I went home, talked with my wife, thought about it, and the next day I gave my notice and started my own company.”
Nine years later, Eichenholtz is the president of MAS Environmental, LLC, a leader in the remediation of contaminated sites serving clients like Sams Club/Walmart, Giant Oil and numerous banks.
“The groundwater beneath Florida can be so precious and because it is often at a shallow depth, that whenever contamination gets into the subsurface, it puts public and private supply wells at risk. Our job when we get hired is to assess the risk, determine where the contamination is in the subsurface and then design and implement treatment technologies to clean it up before it gets into the water supply,” he said.
MAS Environmental, LLC is determined to solve difficult environmental issues on behalf of their clients and to make the process as simple and effective as possible while protecting the environment and drinking water supply.
Keeping a Competitive Edge
For MAS Environmental, LLC, a significant part of their competitive edge lies in the maintenance and ownership of their own treatment systems, their very competitive pricing and their superior customer service. They currently own 24 of their own systems operating at a 95% run time compared to the 70 – 80% average runtime in their market.
“By owning our own systems, we have a competitive financial advantage over our competitors and by redesigning the systems to achieve our high run times, we are capable of remediating contaminated soil and groundwater more quickly than our competitors,” he said. “This also insures that our potable water supply remains safe and that there is no risk to human health or environment.”
Overcoming Challenges and Looking Toward the Future
Over the last 9 years of growing the business, Eichenholtz has found the greatest challenge to be finding talent.
“Hiring individuals with not just technical knowledge, but with ambition, work ethics and great communication skills is so important,” he said. “We have to go through 50 to find two, but we work hard to find those two. The ones who want to work hard and excel in their career.”
Another challenge for Eichenholtz is competing with the big-name firms and changing the clientele mindset.
“We have the talent and the knowledge to compete with any size firm but changing the client’s mindset from thinking ‘I’m going to go with the big-name company because big name companies are always better,’ has been a challenge,” he said.
Looking toward the future, Eichenholtz hopes to continue their controlled growth, expand upon their service areas and branch out to other states.
“Short term, we’d like to do an acquisition or two geographically for clients that we have in the state and continue to grow with our existing clients,” he said. “Our main goal is to grow to a comfortable level, to provide great service and never say yes to things we can’t do.”
MAS Environmental Company Culture
The philosophy at MAS is that if you are going to be working 8 hours a day at a company, you need to enjoy the people and types of work you do. To accomplish this, Eichenholtz has fostered a diverse, inviting and inclusive work environment for his team members.
“We are incredibly dynamic culturally with people from all over the world, different ethnicities, different religions and different backgrounds and I think that’s what makes it fun to work here. Family is the most important thing, in my opinion, so I try to make it a family culture,” he said.
One of Eichenholtz’s favorite moments during his workday is sitting in his office and hearing the playful banter back and froth between his employees throughout their workspace. Whether it’s a sports team rivalry or the age old Geologists versus Engineer jokes, Eichenholtz says his employees enjoy being around each other.
“I think because of our culture; our retention is high. Many of the people that are here have been here since the beginning,” he said. “We continue to grow and part of it is because we take care of ourselves and we take care of our customers. We just try to do the best job we can, and it reflects well on us.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“Don’t be afraid of the challenge. The first time you open the door and say, ‘I’m on my own now,’ it’s scary, but it’s wonderful to start your own business from scratch and watch it grow,” he said. “Then you can open your door in the morning to your office space and say “Wow, we built this” and close the door at the end of the day and look back and say, “that was a good day.” There’s a lot of pride to that when you’re an entrepreneur.”
What it Means to be an Honoree
Being chosen as a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree this year provided MAS Environmental with the recognition that Eichenholtz and his team deserved.
“Sometimes there’s a lack of appreciation for the work we do. To receive awards like this, it’s a lot of pride for the people that work here to say look what we did,” he said. “We try to put out the best products possible and for us to get recognition for it is great.”
Notable Philanthropic Involvement
After his first wife passed away from cancer, Eichenholtz created a foundation to increase awareness for Ovarian Cancer. This foundation has sponsored a nationally televised Public Service Announcement and continues to fund a nursing scholarship for a second-year nursing student at Hillsborough Community College.
MAS Environmental is also actively involved with the Tampa Downtown Partnership, Leadership Tampa and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.They are committed to protecting the fragile water supply here in Florida and provides solutions to assess and clean up adversely impacted soil and groundwater, keeping it safe for the public.