Kathryn and Ross Thomas, both former Navy pilots, have purchased a majority interest in ANAMAR Environmental Consulting, Inc. They will serve as chief executive officer and chief financial officer, respectively.
Anamar is a woman-owned small business headquartered in Gainesville, Florida, pursuing the veteran-owned small business designation, and is a major player in the sediment testing and analysis field, concentrating on dredging-related projects. The company specializes in environmental sampling and monitoring, project design and management, data review and interpretation, and report preparation.
The company was founded in 2000 by Nadia Lombardero, who adopted the acronym created by her father who constructed it by using his children’s’ initials. She retains an interest in the company and will continue with Anamar in an advisory role, while pursuing personal goals such as teaching, mentoring and helping women get involved in science.
“I am very much a part of Anamar,” she said.
Lombardero holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Texas A&M University, and an Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology from the University of Florida. She specializes in managing navigation-related projects, primarily associated with dredged material evaluations.
Michelle Rau, who has been with Anamar since 2002, also holds an interest in the company, and will serve as chief operating officer. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Conservation and an Master of Science. in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida. In addition to her work leading field efforts, she will deal with clients, prepare budgets, assign field teams, and add her expertise to projects.
The four owners signed the agreement of sale and reorganization on October 31. Lombardero said, “Adding a business arm to the company will enable expansion into new areas and better concentration on its existing areas of expertise in high quality environmental compliance work.”
A Good Fit
The deal came about when Kathryn and Ross Thomas were looking for a business opportunity at the same time as Lombardero was looking to change her career direction. A mutual friend and colleague brought them together, and the agreement was soon made.
CEO Kathryn Thomas served six years in the U.S. Navy flying SH-60B Seahawk maritime strike helicopters, deploying to the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea for ballistic missile defense operations aboard a guided missile cruiser. After leaving the Navy, she organized the non-profit Yoga 4 Change, which works with veterans, incarcerated individuals, vulnerable youth, and those dealing with substance abuse, helping more than 20,000 individuals in 2016 alone, and continues to operate.
Her experience collaborating with private and government agencies will be a strong point in her leadership at Anamar.
Ross Thomas is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds master’s degrees in national security policy and business administration from Georgetown University and the University of Florida, respectively. He is the son of a Naval officer, and grew up on Navy bases in the United States and abroad. He deployed twice to the Asia/Pacific region where his destroyer participated in freedom of navigation operations, anti-piracy operations, multi-lateral naval exercises with allied nations, theater anti-submarine operations and fisheries patrols. He flew the SH-60B Seahawk and MH-60R Seahawk maritime strike helicopters. He left the Navy after serving 10 years, and brings his military experience and expertise in process improvement and risk management to his position as Anamar’s CFO.
The two were attracted to Anamar as a marine-oriented company with a 17-year partnership that had established a strong reputation in the industry. Because they are relatively new to the industry, they plan to learn from Anamar’s existing management team, while adding their own knowledge and experience to the expansion of the company.
Shipping Requires Dredging
Ross describes viewing the magnitude of worldwide shipping from the air.
“In the Straits of Malacca, the volume of shipping is incredible,” he said. In Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, the importance of seaborne commerce is obvious. “There is no shipping without dredging,” he said.
Ross is looking forward to expanding the company into related areas Anamar has not yet explored. Dealing with the effects of rising sea levels, dredged material management, and shipping are obvious subjects for study.
“The beneficial use side has a ton of potential,” Ross said. “The U.S. is so dependent on seaborne commerce. The criticality of that can’t be overstated,” he said.
Kathryn described her experience in the Mediterranean on a cruiser, where entering a port involved going through a locking system. She observed the amount of work and man-hours that took to safely maneuver a huge ship through the locks. Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar, she observed how close the ships were to each other and to the shores of Europe and Africa.
After those experiences, “pulling into home port brings a great peace,” she said. “Coming to Anamar feels like we’re coming home. It’s an amazing field, and we want to bring our own understanding to it,” she said.
“With Kathryn and Ross Thomas focusing on business development, the technical staff can focus on managing projects,” Rau said. “They will take the lead on contract management, and Nadia will continue to add her technical expertise and long-term strategic ability,” she said.
Complex Areas of Expertise
The company employs scientists and technicians with degrees and experience in business administration, chemistry, computer science, ecology, engineering, environmental science, fisheries science, geography, natural resource conservation, soil and water science, statistics, and toxicology. Together, they provide the industry with services that address complex environmental and permitting issues.
Anamar’s expertise includes monitoring Dredged Material Management Areas (DMMAs), especially those located offshore. This includes new site designations — doing baseline studies of fish, benthic, vertebrate and water column life in the proposed DMMA area. After the areas are put into use, the company evaluates their performance.
Anamar maintains a work space office in Portland, Oregon, for the use of technicians working on projects in that area.
“These sites are very important to the ports and to the public,” Lombardero said.
Rau is involved in a team that is now engaged in a new offshore site designation analysis off the West Coast. The company has become proficient in these jobs in the past seven years, developing partnerships with companies that provide resources such as research vessels and hydrographic surveying capabilities in many areas.
Rau was the project manager for designating the new Jacksonville ODMDS in support of the harbor deepening project. She led the baseline site designation studies and was the lead technical writer for the environmental impact statement. Other major projects she has worked on are Charleston Post 45 Harbor Deepening Section 103 Evaluation, Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Section 103 Evaluation, and Charleston Harbor ODMDS expansion.
Looking back on her career, Lombardero said, “I enjoy participating in projects that include multi-agency coordination and are interdisciplinary. Working with the EPA and the USACE in bringing the Southeast Regional Implementation Manual up to date with the current requirements and procedures for evaluation of the ocean disposal of dredged material in Southeastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coast waters was a very professionally rewarding project. Likewise, working directly with ports like Canaveral Port Authority, and being able to be part of the team involved in growth strategies has been a wonderful opportunity to be part of large expansion projects from beginning to completion.
“Being an integral part of Port Canaveral’s sediment management team for the last 15 years and being involved with the numerous expansions, deepenings, new cruise terminals, channel modifications, and ODMDS monitoring has been a part of Anamar’s history,” she said.