It was 26 years ago (May 19, 1995), I, with two 18-month-olds crawling around my feet and a very energetic Regina (Walden’s first office manager), launched Walden Associates Inc., now known as Walden Environmental Engineering. The journey started from adversity when I learned that the company where I was working and thriving was “up for sale.” The thought of working at a “big firm” was not very appealing to me. Giving it some thought, I was sure that I could break out on my own and build a customer-centric company applying the principles of cost-effectiveness, timely responses, and partnerships.
So, I made my plans known to Regina and Dave O’Sullivan, another coworker and eventual employee. To my surprise, they were not just interested in joining me, but they were enthusiastic about the opportunity. The first four weeks of operation were a blur of activity, buying insurance, setting up computers, and payroll while I was out beating the bushes for clients. My initial goal was to call a long list of contacts that I had listed in a notebook, which I still have! I got to number six on the list before I got my first expression of interest. It came from Mike Pasicallo of Blue Waters Environmental. He told me, “I will meet you at Kitchen Cabaret at 5:00 am tomorrow. Come wearing field clothes.” I met him, and we drove to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where his firm was working on a complicated tunnel cleaning project.
On the way there, he told me that he needed a Confined Space Entry Plan for the project as the work was dangerous and the need was far beyond an OSHA 10-hour, for example. After looking over the situation, I headed back to the office to write the first Walden proposal and subsequent Confined Space Entry Plan. The next morning, I was on-site conducting a toolbox safety meeting and overseeing the work. Through a combination of a strong ventilation system and continuous air monitoring, the project progressed with divers manually hand cleaning the tunnel. The work continued in that manner for six months. For three weeks, I worked eight-hour shifts at the Navy Yard and then returned to the office in the evening to make calls, schedule appointments, do work, and follow up on leads. Those days turned into long nights and early mornings.
After three weeks, O’Sullivan joined Walden and staffed this project until it was complete. That was Walden’s first job, and there have been many, many more since, primarily because of all the dedicated and hardworking people who have worked at Walden and continue to work here. I think back about that project and see a thread that carries all the way to the present time—thoughtful problem solving, responsiveness to clients’ needs, and cost-effective services that everyone at Walden has demonstrated.
As I often say, I learn something new at Walden every day through books, circumstances, client problems, and coworkers. All of that drives me on this marathon and inspires me. Thank you all for your support, dedication, and hard work–coworkers, clients, and colleagues–these last 14 months have been very challenging, but we seem to have made it thru the worst and will continue to grow and thrive by working together.
Thank you all, and happy 26 years of Walden.
Joseph Heaney III, P.E.
President and Founder