Executive Summary / The Pacesetter

The market for environmental services is growing nationwide, and L.A. is no exception.

The group of companies on this year's list willing to disclose revenues showed a 36 percent increase on an annualized basis for the first five months of 2002 compared to the prior year. (The revenues totaled $151.2 million for five months compared with $194.4 million for all of last year.)

The environmental services category is a broad one, including everything from solid waste management to testing of soil and water.

Waste Management, the largest company on the list by virtue of its 1,400 local environmental employees and the No. 1 waste hauler nationwide focuses on solid waste management, but others run the gamut.

Earth Tech and Parson Infrastructure & Technology, Nos. 2 and 3, offer services ranging from wastewater treatment to environmental remediation for government and corporate clients.

Newcomers are EIP Associates at No. 20 and Almega Environmental & Technical Services Inc. at 25.

Laurence Darmiento

The Pacesetter: Waste Management Inc.

A year ago, Houston-based Waste Management Inc., the nation's largest waste hauler, was on the mend from a late 1990s acquisition binge that left it saddled with $11 billion in debt and hemorrhaging red ink.

The company also was hit by an insider trading scandal and accounting irregularities that required it restate earnings downward by $1.7 billion for the years 1992 to 1997.

The new strategy? Sell off peripheral operations like hazardous waste incineration and refocus on core waste management operations, while improving internal operations and customer service.

It appears to have worked. The company, which saw losses as high as $771 million in 1998, reported net income of $503 million in 2001, compared with a net loss of $97 million a year earlier, even as revenues fell to $11.3 billion from $12.5 billion in 2000.

Its debt is down to $7.7 billion and its stock is trading above $25 after hitting $13 in 2000.

Waste Management has 12 L.A. County offices serving cities throughout the county. It operates the Bradley Landfill and Recycling Center in Sun Valley, where it maintains regional offices.

Its 1,400 local employees involved in environmental services are more than the next several companies on the list combined.

Laurence Darmiento

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