Behind the List with Jim Cinelli of Liberty Environmental Inc.

Growing organically and through acquisition

Jim Cinelli, president of Liberty Environmental Inc. in Reading, is helping to create a science center in Reading. - (Photo / Christopher Holland)

Keeping our environment clean is imperative to quality of life. Fortunately, there are companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley that devote their services to maintaining a sustainable, healthy environment.

With pollutants and other contributing factors detrimental to the Earth, the need for environmental remediation firms is critical.

Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions and shed light on the services provided by an environmental remediation firm is Jim Cinelli, president of Liberty Environmental Inc. in Reading.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Liberty Environmental been operating in the region and what are its primary services?

Jim Cinelli: Liberty has been in business for 14 years. We provide environmental consulting and engineering services, with focus areas that include site assessment and remediation, regulatory compliance and natural resources.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Liberty Environmental has encountered throughout its years in business?

Cinelli: As a consulting firm, our staff is our greatest asset. So our greatest challenge, and one that we feel we have excelled at, is finding and keeping top-quality professional staff. This has enabled us to maintain steady revenue growth and has enhanced the personal and professional growth of our employees.

In addition to organic growth, Liberty has found growth opportunities through acquisitions. As baby boomers have begun to retire, there are many small firms in our industry that are now seeking buyers.

Liberty has had a number of acquisition opportunities during the past 10 years and has successfully capitalized on two of them, which has allowed us to add expert staff and expand our client list and geographic reach. We are currently exploring two additional acquisition opportunities that will provide even greater geographic reach and will allow us to have a stronger presence in certain markets.

LVB: What have been some of the most notable projects that Liberty Environmental has completed on a local level? What are some projects that are currently underway or in the pipeline?

Cinelli: One notable project that Liberty recently completed is the Hamburg Logistics Park located off of I-78 in Berks County. The project includes 2.3 million square feet of warehouse space, and required a substantial permitting effort with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

After an intensive design effort, the project has been approved and is currently under construction. Liberty’s natural resources group will be continuing to monitor the establishment of replacement wetlands on the site for at least five years.

Liberty has worked on a number of successful brownfield redevelopment projects in the area and is currently working on the former Glidden Paints property in Reading. The 22-acre property has an over 100-year history of varnish and paint manufacturing and is proposed to be redeveloped for commercial/industrial reuse.

Most of our environmental compliance work is confidential, however we are supporting many food, metals and plastic manufacturers throughout the Lehigh Valley with air quality permitting assistance and other environmental compliance matters, from routine reporting to strategic environmental planning.

LVB: How does Liberty Environmental directly stimulate the local economy? How does it get involved with the local community?

Cinelli: Liberty’s headquarters are located locally, and two thirds of our employees are located here.

One of our main goals is to enable our clients to address the environmental issues that they face in the most cost-effective manner. So by applying our expertise, we help local developers complete their real estate projects and local manufacturers expand their operations in shorter time frames, bringing more jobs and prosperity to the local economy.

The team at Liberty is heavily involved in the local community. We have organized stream cleanups around our regional offices, grown and planted native plants at an elementary school garden in the city of Reading and [had] many other activities just in the past year.

Our team serves on numerous boards and is involved in a lot of civic groups. The firm supports their engagement by contributing financial and technical resources to our employees’ volunteer efforts.

Personally, I’ve also been involved in founding a science center in the city of Reading. I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of community support since it was announced a few months ago, and I’m hopeful that we can secure $3 million of funding and break ground within two years.

LVB: What does the future look like for Liberty Environmental? Does it have plans for growth?

Cinelli: Our focus on our core competencies and commitment to be a knowledge leader in our industry will lead to future organic growth of the firm. Coupled with a focused acquisition strategy, we foresee substantial growth in the coming years.

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