LONG BEACH, CA − SCS Founder, Executive Vice President, and Director Emeritus Tom Conrad passed away on December 7, 2022. His enduring legacy is SCS Engineers, an environmental consulting and contracting firm formed by Tom, Bob Stearns, and Curt Schmidt on April 1, 1970, in Long Beach, California. This was eight months before the US Environmental Protection Agency was formed – Tom, Bob, and Curt recognized that responsible waste management was increasingly important and necessary to protect the environment and human health.
Over the ensuing years, Tom helped EPA develop solid and hazardous waste regulations that provided appropriate and protective environmental controls that were also practical. Tom’s work led to important federal landfill rules such as EPA’s Open Dump Inventory and Classification Criteria of 1978, which eventually led to the RCRA Subtitle D rules of 1991 – still in effect today. Other examples include guidance documents for land disposal of hazardous wastes in the 1980s and research in support of EPA’s Underground Storage Tank regulations in 1988.
Tom was involved in numerous important projects throughout his career, including developing the filling and phased closure plans for Fresh Kills Landfill in New York City, the world’s largest landfill at the time. The work included wetlands protection and shoreline improvements. Today, SCS is involved in redeveloping the closed landfill – brownfield into a premier park and recreational facility.
He pioneered landfill gas to energy (LFGE) generation, expanding it significantly as an industry. Today, SCS remains a national leader in biogas and renewable energy.
Tom was considered an “engineer’s engineer.” He employed rigorous analysis and evaluation of potential solutions, utilizing a solid, methodical engineering approach to his work and all of his projects, which remains part of SCS’s culture.
Tom felt that one of his greatest achievements was hiring and mentoring many good people, including SCS’s current leadership team, President Jim Walsh, and Senior Vice Presidents Mike McLaughlin and Bob Gardner, in whose capable hands Tom watched the company grow its environmental services and thrive. He was proud of SCS’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan, enabling SCS to share annual profits with every employee, giving everyone an ownership stake in the company.
Tom retired from SCS exactly 46 years after founding SCS. He stayed as Director Emeritus and continued providing counsel at company Board meetings. In November 2021, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) awarded Tom their highest honor, The Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his pioneering work and leadership in the solid waste industry.
Everyone who knew Tom Conrad over the years respected him for his integrity, hard work, and dedication to his family, friends, employees, and community. We at SCS still base our firm on the principles and values Tom used when founding the firm. As an early adopter of sustainability, we thank him for leading the way in designing environmentally sound solutions for business and society. There is more work to do, but the world is a much cleaner, safer place now than in 1970 when Tom started SCS.
A Celebration of Tom Conrad’s life will be held in April 2023.