February 2023 – Meet Connor Smith, Anderson Environmental Contracting LLC

What is your educational background?

Eastern Washington University. Degrees in communications, leadership, and philosophy.

What drew you to work in the environmental sector?

I grew up on a wheat farm, so sustainability and an attunement to a healthy environment has been engrained (forgive the pun) in me. While the Pacific Northwest has a very strong industry, it also focuses on sustainable practice with forethought about our impacts. The consultants and engineers in our region do a phenomenal job at maximizing economy without sacrificing our environment. It’s an amazing industry to be a part of.

In a word, describe yourself.


What’s one interesting fact about you that most people don’t know?

As a hobby I teach cooking classes. The kitchen is my happy place!

How do you balance your career and family?

Family always comes first, and this ideal is strongly supported by AEC. I work hard when I’m on the clock but when it’s time to be with family the company is very good at letting that precious time be free.


What drew you to your company initially?

Honestly, I needed a stable job and they needed someone with marketing experience, it was pretty simple. After being hired, AEC continued to present opportunities for growth, and I took the initiative to get where I am today.

What are three words to describe your company?

Chaotic, family, lively.

What is your favorite part about working for your company?

I couldn’t tell you which of these three I value more: 1) the flexibility AEC offers with my daily schedule and working around personal time, 2) I’m never bored, there’s always a client to call, tradeshow to attend, line card to update, coworker to assist, and more, and I hate being bored, 3) the trust upper management has in its team (I can’t stand helicoptering…), independence and self-determination are promoted at AEC, and 4) the people I work with. My team has some of the best people I have ever met, and I’m thankful to have such an incredible work family.

What has been your favorite project at your company?

Our PFAS treatment system installation in Airway Heights, WA. When the first reports of contaminated drinking water became public, I was working in Airway Heights at the time. I got to see the situation firsthand and experience the community’s worries. Then, after moving, I started working for AEC who was actively involved in cleanup/treatment. It’s amazing to see the direct impact we’re having on a community that I was so involved in. We’re helping people get fresh water to their homes, it’s awesome!

How has your company helped you in your career development?

AEC has helped me develop in too many ways to count. I’m given constant opportunities for growth, I’m given the time and opportunity to learn more about our industry and business in general, and I’m given hands-on training and education from some extremely skilled and knowledgeable individuals. Our President and Owner, General Manager, Operations Manager, VP of Sales, and our Project Managers all provide growth opportunities to everyone at AEC; all these individuals have over 30 years of varied business, financial, sales and marketing, construction, drilling, and environmental experience, and they take the time to teach and push our team to continually grow.


What has your involvement been with NEBC?

As a company, we have been proudly sponsoring NEBC for years. As an individual, I exhibit and attend nearly all trade shows and events. I would love to become more heavily involved as I learn more about our industry.

What is the best professional advice you’ve received?

Never stop learning and never stop wanting more for yourself.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates who want to work at your company or in the industry?

If you want to work at AEC, you must be ready for anything. Nothing is allowed to go to plan because everything in construction is constantly updating, shifting, rescheduling, etc. You have to accept chaos and combat it head on to get the job done. It’s tough work to manage, coordinate, and perform, but it makes it that much more rewarding.

If you want to work in the environmental industry, you have to care. The industry is lucrative and there are ample opportunities for businesses. It’s easy to tell who wants to make a quick buck and who actually believes in the mission. Companies and individuals shouldn’t lose site of the purpose behind the efforts we all go through; the labs, consultants, engineers, construction and drilling teams, site owners, and communities don’t have time for people who don’t care.

What is your industry’s wish list for the next five years?

Jokingly, somehow find a few billion dollars to start up the projects we’d all like to get working on. Financing a cleanup is difficult, especially for site owners that don’t have grants, insurance, etc. to lean on. I know it’s frustrating for the people that want to get their sites clean but don’t have a reasonable way to get it done.

Realistically, short of our industry finding that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, I’d love to see more design/build opportunities. The cost savings and efficiency over the life of a project is significant when industry partners can be a full-service package vs piecing a team together the traditional design/bid/build way.

What trends do you see as a part of the industry?
AEC has seen a huge uptick in treatment systems lately. Understandable with PFAS being such a hot issue, but we’ve seen it for many contaminants and for all manner of applications (long term treatment, spot cleanup, environmental controls, etc.)