Stormwater Burden to Bliss
Trinity Green Services tackles compliance so clients can focus on construction
Trinity Green Services’ crews usually are the first subcontractor to appear on a construction site. Their job is to quickly install the necessary erosion control before construction can commence. This critical task is designed as part of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3) to ensure that the disturbed soil from construction activities remains on-site.
Without such a program, rain can wreak havoc, allowing sediment to spill off the site, clogging roads, waterways, drains and other areas. Trinity Green, with headquarters in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, Texas, provides turnkey stormwater and erosion control services to minimize risks to contractors who need their sites protected at a reasonable cost.
“Under the Construction General Permit, any construction site that disturbs an acre or more of developed or undeveloped land must have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWP3 as it’s known in the industry,” says Rusty Combs, Trinity Green’s President. “Our SWP3s are customized to comply with federal, state, city and site requirements.”
Rusty explains that a SWP3 identifies all pollution sources that could affect the quality of stormwater discharges from the construction site as well as describes practices to reduce pollutants from the site’s stormwater discharges. In addition, the plan helps assure compliance with the site’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to disturb soil—a document required by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Additionally, the SWP3 requires routine inspections and reporting to ensure compliance.
Care and Compliance
“Contractors are burdened with environmental responsibilities on any construction project,” he says. “That’s where we come in. We evaluate the current erosion control plan and make recommendations on which best management practices will protect the site with the lowest lifecycle cost. Then we install, inspect and maintain these practices for the life of the job.”
He explains why a turnkey approach to stormwater and erosion control protection makes contractors’ lives easier.
“With our approach, it’s a lot faster and more efficient. We are constantly on-site doing regular inspections to ensure compliance, and we have the crews that can come back in to fix anything that requires attention,” he says. “The best part for our clients is that they only have to make one phone call. Whether it is a SWP3 or erosion control issue, we work it out within Trinity Green and solve the problem for them. That puts time back in their day to focus on construction.”
One of the company’s recent exemplary projects was setting the stage for the $500 million Choctaw Casino & Resorts expansion in Durant, Oklahoma, in 2019. The expansion boosted hotel rooms from 600 to 1,600, increased the gaming floor and added other amenities.
“The contractors needed a massive rock check dam installed to protect a wetland. We were able to get a crew mobilized and the rock delivered within a few hours of when we were notified. The resulting structure was 100 feet long in a C shape and approximately 4 feet tall. Also, the contractor was told that no sediment could hit the road at all during construction,” he remembers. “This is virtually impossible on a construction site, but we recommended installing cattle guards within the construction entrance. They gave us three days to find a vendor and have the guards delivered. We made it happen and our solution worked.”
He describes Trinity Green’s principal job as protecting the owner because he or she must sign the NOI and is held responsible for any mishaps coming from the site.
“We end up having a close working relationship with these contractors who are bringing us in earlier on their jobs because of our consultancy role,” he adds.
For example, he describes early involvement on a large water pipeline project in which Trinity Green designed and installed the erosion control program to protect the disturbed soil created by the pipeline installation.
“We needed to protect every house, road and waterway for 50 miles. We were able to determine which areas really needed erosion control and those areas where it was unnecessary due to natural topography,” he says. “By doing it this way, we were able to save them more than 25% in their budget for our scope of work. And, we were able to lower the client’s liability by taking the extra risk of making sure the program would work. We were on the hook if it didn’t.”
Reputation and Response
Trinity Green builds and maintains relationships with homebuilders, developers and general contractors for its work.
“Our reputation for quality work and customer service is what helps us earn new business. It’s word-of-mouth,” he adds. “Everything in our company is about taking over the burden of compliance from clients so that they can focus on construction.” Trinity Green doesn’t just focus on larger clients; it serves custom homebuilders as well.
“Several years ago we had a client building a home in Southlake. The terrain was tough and a neighbor to the project was not happy about the build and was working the city to try and make life difficult,” he says. “Joe Geraty, a Consultant for Trinity Green, spent time meeting with the neighbor, city officials, TCEQ and even attended city council meetings to ensure the project was able to proceed. It’s important to do our best for all clients; they deserve it.”
Rusty took over the company’s leadership in 2011 and has owned the company since 2018. He’s most excited that the company recently formed a six-person leadership team to guide the growing company and implement Traction’s Entrepreneurial Operating System. Among team goals are breaking down silos and ensuring that all parts of the business share knowledge and information to achieve continuous improvement. “The more everybody understands what’s going on, the better we’ll do,” he says. “We feel like a family and value each other as individuals. There is a lot of kindness in our company, but don’t mistake us as pushovers.”
To ensure high-quality service, Trinity Green strives to attract the best people. The company has about 60 employees today, which is about triple the number it employed in 2008.
“It’s more important that we find the right person than his or her experience in our business. These are people you’d be proud to work with—folks who give back and are selfless,” he says. “We live by a set of core values and try to have it influence everything we do. Humility is at the top. It’s most important to give the best service to clients and work as a team.
“If you put others first, anything is possible,” he says.
Trinity Green’s employees give to others by supporting more than a dozen charities like food banks and homeless shelters as well as youth sports teams on a rotating basis.
Rusty praises his team for its ability to attack obstacles instead of just complaining about them. He points to an example illustrating his team’s problem-solving skills and ingenuity.
“Every difficulty has an opportunity; we try to find those and improve all the time. Several years ago, a local city mandated rocks wrapped in wire for inlet protection. We had to scramble to build the first one but then we realized the device had potential.
“We added several unique improvements and then adopted it as our standard inlet protection. We mass-produced these “Rocksoxx” and have a patent for one of our upgrades. Now, we sell them to competitors, our own vendors and for projects out of state,” he explains.
He also identifies several Trinity Green employees who exemplify the attitude and determination he wants for his team.
“Our head of accounting, Carrie Millner, started with us as an hourly employee answering the phones. She worked diligently, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and her Certified Management Accounting designation. She works tirelessly to serve her team and our clients,” he says.
Rusty tells the story of C.J. McCormick, one of the company’s longest-tenured consultants.
“He first began selling at a car wash, came to work for us as an inspector and then as project manager. When the time came, he jumped at the opportunity to work with clients on new projects. He has been very successful because he is relentless in advocating what is best for the client,” he says.
The Trinity Green team keeps busy, with workers tackling about 600 different jobs, from inspections and installations, each week. Growth is another company goal, with new services, such as electronic Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (eSWP3s), safety inspections, hydromulching and water quality ponds, being added. In addition, Trinity Green has already expanded its services to San Antonio and Austin and identifies Houston as its next target market.
“Overall, I’d say our goal is to be the best turnkey SWP3 and erosion control company in Texas,” he says.