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2011 Hall of Fame Inductee: Roy F. Weston, PhD, PE, DEE

More than 50 years ago, Roy F. Weston began translating a societal imperative — addressing the environmental threat to the global quality of life — into a business challenge. He combined a wealth of philosophical foresight with an entrepreneurial fervor that pioneered the environmental services industry.

Environmental Statesmanship – An honorary degree in 1981 from Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa, cites Mr. Weston as “having been in the forefront of the environmental movement for almost half a century — long before the assault on man-made health hazards became self evident and certainly long before the attack became a fashionable avocation for less than expert crusaders. He is an environmental statesman of vision and depth.”

Mr. Weston was an active, pronounced advocate of the environmental concept of sustainable development, defined as meeting society’s present needs and aspirations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Tirelessly, his speaking engagements, writings and personal contacts encourage private and public sectors alike to eliminate waste and environmental degradation up front through more efficient management of the world’s precious resources.

Building a Business – Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1933, Roy F. Weston entered public sector service as a sanitary engineer for the Wisconsin State Department of Health. Then, following completion of his master’s degree in sanitary engineering at New York University, he joined the Atlantic Refining Company, responsible for solving the pollution problems at its Philadelphia refineries. At the time, he was just the second engineer hired for a full-time industrial pollution control position; Dow Chemical had hired the first.

Atlantic Refining management knew of their young employee’s desire to begin his own environmental consulting firm and encouraged his entrepreneurial zeal. In 1949, he began consulting on a part-time basis as his permanent job allowed. Six years later, consulting became his full-time focus and, in 1957, he officially established the company that still bears his name.

In building his business, Mr. Weston engineered a management approach to environmental hazards — combining emerging life sciences technology with sound business principles. His fledgling firm stayed at the industry’s forefront with his emphasis on managing the interrelationships among diverse technical, economic and social parts to an environmental problem. Uniquely, the WESTON business mission focused on integrating multiple disciplines to creatively craft technically sound, economically viable, socially progressive and publicly acceptable solutions for correcting existing problems and avoiding future ones.

Industry Leadership – Throughout his career, Mr. Weston was immersed in the in-depth analysis and interpretation of the short-term, intermediate and long-term effects of pollution abatement measures and systems; and, moreover, their technological, economic, aesthetic, sociological and political impact. Consequently, he became an acknowledged industry authority, continually sought for his input to the development and substantiation of pollution control rules and regulations at local, regional, state and federal government levels.

Mr. Weston helped raise the consciousness of his peers about the significance of interdisciplinary relationships in solving environmental problems. As a result, he initiated the name change of the American Academy of Sanitary Engineers to the present American Academy of Environmental Engineers. Similarly, he chaired the committee that recommended changing the Federation of Sewage and Industrial Waste association name to the Water Pollution Control Federation, which was changed in 1992 to the Water Environment Federation.

 Mr. Weston accrued a long list of credentials and accolades for addressing the environmental threats to our global quality of life, including: 1973 National Engineer of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers; Election to National Academy of Engineering in 1976; 1990 Entrepreneur of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award by Ernst and Young, Inc. and Merrill Lynch; American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Lawrence K. Cecil Award in 1993; and Technology Council of Greater Philadelphia’s Legend CEO Award in 1994. He was named in Engineering News-Record 125th Anniversary issue “125 Years…125 Top People” in 1999. As recently as April 2007, he was recognized as a Hall of Fame Award winner by the Chester County, Pennsylvania Economic Development Council for his social imperative, addressing the environmental threat to the global quality of life.