Dr. Richard Ellison


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Testimonials from Founders of very Successful Professional Companies who had been mentored by Richard Ellison, Ph.D., P.E.

“When Dick opened a D’Appolonia office in Albuquerque to serve the Nuclear Waste industry, he asked me to take the lead on the “flagship” Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) project. With Dick’s detailed assistance, we were able to build a powerful staff of engineers and scientists to assist in making that project to be the only deep geologic disposal site for nuclear wastes in the country. With extreme focus on servicing the customer's need for high end technical performance under demanding schedule, I with Dick's total backing was instrumental in growing our services by tenfold in one year. When Dick decided to start his own company, Environmental Solutions, Inc. (ESI) he asked me to invest in and create the Northern California Division. Using the same problem solving philosophy, we were able to grow ESI to revenue of $35 million in 10 years. All of those experiences were key to me starting my own very successful company when ESI was sold.”

Dev Shukla, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO (Ret,), Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc.

 “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for Dr. Ellison at Environmental Solutions, Inc. right out of college.  I was immediately thrust into some of the most challenging Superfund and landfill sites in California, while being mentored by Dick and his team of top industry professionals.  I learned the importance of emphasizing quality and sound scientific judgement in every product that left my desk.  This philosophy, inculcated to everyone on the team by Dick, has been the cornerstone of my approach to my professional career.”

Roberto Puga, P.G.
Co-Founder, Project Navigator, Ltd.

“I joined Environmental Solutions after working for six other engineering companies, and was immediately impressed with the high level of performance demonstrated by the employees of the firm.  Under Dr. Ellison’s exceptional leadership, the employees of Environmental Solutions worked extremely hard while gaining knowledge and experience at a rate much greater than most other engineers in the industry due to the complex and varied projects handled by the firm.   Dr. Ellison’s rare ability to comprehend complex technical issues, simplify those issues, and then convey that information to clients and others was critical to my understanding of the project approval process.    I attribute much of the success of my own firm over the last 18 years to the many lessons I learned from my time working with Dr. Ellison.”

Lawrence Gates, P.E.
Co-Founder and President of DRC Engineering, Inc.

“Following a catastrophic failure of a major coal refuse slurry dam in southern West Virginia, Dick Ellison offered me an opportunity to organize a group of engineers and specialists whose purpose was to solve a multitude of complex problems associated with hundreds of active marginally stable coal refuse dams and embankments that without modification could have also resulted in failure.  Through Dick’s leadership I was able to manage these projects to a successful conclusion and eventually spun-off my own consulting engineering business to provide an array of engineering services to various clients over a period of nearly 20 years.  I defined my success as capitalizing on an opportunity and employing my own drive and hiring motivated employees who shared my passion to grow the business.  It takes creativity to envision these opportunities, which Dick Ellison has demonstrated with a variety of businesses over several decades.  We all worked hard, had fun and thoroughly enjoyed developing a number of clients who appreciated our efforts and professionalism.”

Richard G. Almes, P.E., D.GE.
Founder and CEO (Ret.), Almes & Associates, Inc. Consulting Engineers

“I was a principal of a consulting firm in Denver when I met Dick at a California Mining Association meeting. We both were doing similar consulting on large open pit mines. I had discussions with Dick about how fast his company was growing and his need for experienced managers in California. I was impressed by Dick’s passion and drive for perfection which quite frankly rejuvenated my approach to business and drive to excel in engineering.  As a result, I joined Dick’s Environmental Solutions, Inc. as a Principal in his main Southern California office and spent 5 years at ESI working with a great staff on some of the most important projects in the fields of mining, water resource management and contaminated site remediation. After Dick sold ESI to a larger public company, I decided to move on and start my own group, Strategic Engineering and Science (SES). My staff and I often felt that SES was ESI reborn which added to our confidence to compete successfully with other established and larger companies.  The experience at ESI and working with Dick were invaluable toward helping me to grow SES rapidly and eventually attract a buyer which allowed me to become financially independent.”

Ian Hutchison, Ph.D., P.E.

Founder and CEO, Strategic Engineering and Science, Inc. (Now SLR)

“I was initially exposed to Dr. Ellison’s approach to solving problems and growing a professional group when I became a member of his “special project” team.  The special project team tackled unconventional projects with significant challenges. As a young engineer, it was the opportunity of lifetime to have Dr. Ellison as a mentor.  It was a natural progression to join Dr. Ellison when he decided to start Environmental Solutions, Inc. (ESI). That experience of learning how to build a very high quality, rapidly growing consulting Group was key to me eventually starting my very successful engineering and construction firm.”

S. “Sean” Shahin, P.E.
Co-Founder and Senior VP, PIVOX Corporation

“While working with Dick in a start-up firm about 30 years ago, Dick provided the vision and the strategy to lead D’Appolonia Consultants from about 20 people to one of the largest independently owned engineering companies in the world in its specialty areas. Working together, we always had a lot of fun and were able to build and train a staff of professionals recognized as worldwide leaders in the geotechnical engineering, geology, seismology and environmental engineering. The experiences of working with Dick and observing how he pursued new business and motivated people and clients were key to me in starting my own successful consulting firm”.

Paul C. Rizzo, Ph.D., P.E.

Founder and CEO, Rizzo Associates

“In 2001, my former partners and I sold an environmental and risk management consulting firm to Dick Ellison, CEO of TRC Companies, Inc. At the time, our primary reason for selling was to combine our significant risk management expertise and loyal client contracts with Dick’s “one of a kind” innovative Exit Strategy Program to better and more creatively serve our significant energy clientele. In the next 5 or 6 years, we contracted and executed over $150 million of new Exit Strategy liability transfer projects for TRC. During that period, we had very little direct competition because few companies could assemble the multi-disciplined teams Dick had established, and also be willing to put much “skin in the game” with corporate contractual guarantees and Cap Insurance from AIG, to financially assure the contracts for the mitigation of pre-existing environmental, asset retirement, and facility decommissioning obligations”. 

Vance Fairchild
Founder and Former CEO of ECON Capital and more recently G2 Partners, LLC

“For many years I had the privilege to work closely with Dr. Ellison, solving some of the most challenging Superfund Projects throughout the US and was most impressed with Dick’s ability to always surround himself with the best and brightest people as well as his passion for the work and his commitment to problem solving in a way that was both challenging and enjoyable.  We worked many hours together dissecting the issues to their core and reassembling them with greater clarity and knowledge all the while being challenged by the assembly of talented experts in their disciplines. Together, we were able to grow and expand a group of problem solving professionals with the reputation of being the best at developing the most cost effective solutions that could be accepted by our clients, governing agencies and often the public.   I walked away better for having worked with Dick and I profess to blur the lines between work and play, while working hard and playing even harder.  I have taken this philosophy, and the unique experience of working with Dick, with me over the past 20 years of starting and growing my own company.”  

Edmond Bourke

Founder and CEO C2 REM