By Sarah Hall
When Brian King started HSE Consulting Services, LLC, in 1997, he ran the one-man operation from his house.
It’s a little bigger now.
With two locations and more than a dozen employees, HSE Consulting will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2022. HSE’s team helps clients with safety compliance and training, hazardous material exposure assessments, asbestos, lead based paint, mold, environmental assessments and indoor air quality.
King says launching the company was “one of the best decisions I ever made.”
In 1996, after gaining experience in the asbestos and environmental consulting industries, King was working for an engineering company providing industrial hygiene services and stack testing required by the Clean Air Act Amendment when the company decided they no longer wanted to provide stack testing. King had a choice: he could strike out on his own with the $45,000 of work he already had contracted, as well as testing equipment and a company van offered by the engineering company, or he could take the position of Corporate Health And Safety Director he was offered at another company.
“At the time, my wife and I had just finished building a new home, and to top it off she had recently given birth to our youngest son,” King said. “It was an interesting decision. But I had confidence in my ability, and I had always wanted to be my own boss, so I took the engineering company up on its offer and formed HSE in early 1997.”
For several years King, an American Board of Industrial Hygiene Certified Industrial Hygienist, performed stack testing for industrial clients while adding industrial hygiene projects, including a survey for the Air National Guard in Niagara Falls, NY, preparing site specific health and safety plans and conducting training. When mold became recognized as an indoor air quality issue, King’s knowledge and experience as a CIH proved to be very helpful on large loss projects including the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi after Hurricane Rita/Katrina. HSE also worked on one of the country’s first major mold remediation projects.
“Water damage resulting from ice dams affected approximately 900 units out of 1,500 in about five different complexes in the suburbs surrounding Detroit,” King said. “Working with the insurance adjuster and the property owner we assessed the damage, developed a remediation plan and provided contractor oversight during the project to ensure the work was done properly.”
Now HSE’s clients include residential and commercial customers in both the public and private sector, from schools, municipalities and government agencies to industrial and manufacturing facilities and environmental remediation firms. The company also rents out health and safety equipment for confined spaces and community air monitoring, noise and vibration, among other things.
“We’re very diversified, so we fill a lot of niches,” King said. “One of the more interesting services we provide is asbestos consulting—building surveys, project monitoring, etc.—and laboratory analysis of asbestos and mold samples.”
HSE is the only laboratory in Central New York with a transmission electron microscope (TEM). This piece of machinery allows technicians to analyze materials with the smallest asbestos fibers.
“[Those fibers] really are the most dangerous from a health perspective, because they can penetrate deep into the lungs where they can’t be eliminated,” King said.
King said the TEM can see particles at the molecular level, which no other microscope can do. In New York State, some samples—non-friable organically bound (NOB) materials—require TEM analysis.
“We decided to purchase this very expensive tool and do extensive renovations to our facility to accommodate the TEM because in the end we felt that our clients deserved the sophisticated analysis with the convenience of a local dedicated supplier,” King said.
Gene Cochran, Corporate Sales and Marketing Manager for HSE, said the TEM is just one of the things that sets HSE apart from its competitors.
“HSE has tremendous value in all we offer our clients,” Cochran said. “From analytical in our laboratories, to working with different manufacturers and industrial facilities in keeping their workplace safe and compliant with New York State and OSHA standards, and the training programs we offer can assist literally any businesses.”
In order to continue to serve its client base, HSE has expanded, moving into a 4,000-square-foot building in Cicero in 2011. The firm also opened a satellite office in Endwell five years ago. And according to Vice President of Operations Dan Hoosock, they hope to open additional satellite offices throughout New York state.
“We are always looking to expand our offerings to include services that are complimentary to those that we currently provide, and that benefits our clients in improving the health and safety of their workforces or the protection of the environment,” Hoosock said.
King said expansion is contingent on maintaining the same level of service.
“We would only do this if we can maintain the quality and integrity and value to our clients that we have now,” he said. “While we appreciate every opportunity we won’t take on a project unless we think that HSE is the right choice and that we can accomplish the client’s objectives.”
HSE is able to provide such a high level of service because of its employees.
“This is a very educated group of individuals with extensive experience and knowledge in their respective pieces of the business,” Cochran said.
“All of the people we’ve hired have helped grow HSE in one way or another,” King said. “However, a couple deserve special mention: my wife, Tina, eventually came on board full time and is now the CFO, and Dan Hoosock, HSE’s Vice President – Operations is an excellent manager and trusted executive. I seek their counsel for just about every major decision HSE makes. And we would not be the company we are without Doug Gee, our laboratory manager, who is without a doubt the most accomplished laboratory manager in the area.”
Indeed, King strives to be at the top of the environmental, health and safety game.
“I’m a competitor, so I love the competition to be the best and the work that this requires,” he said. “To be the most knowledgeable so as to advise your clients appropriately, you have to constantly study the subjects upon which they request your assistance. To attract the best talent, you have to work on the business to make sure you’re doing everything you can to be the employer of choice among your competitors. To give your clients the best value, you have to work on your pricing to ensure that the company makes an adequate profit while still being competitive—our clients know how hard we work for them to get the results they need. We compete internally to continually improve ourselves, our processes, our service and ultimately our client’s satisfaction.”