Meet Shannon Riley, owner of One Stop Environmental, a full-service environmental company she founded in 1999. Asbestos, mold, hazardous waste removal and disaster cleanup are all part of her daily routine. She’s also a wife and mother of four. Smart and confident, Shannon’s success is no accident!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in Birmingham, graduated from Mountain Brook. I stayed in Birmingham because it is a great place to raise a family.
Tell us about your job.
I started One Stop Environmental as a hazardous materials emergency clean-up company in 1999. I was a new mom, and after several months of staying home with our first born I decided I wanted to run my own company so I could control my fate and my schedule. One Stop Environmental just celebrated its 15th birthday. Over the years, One Stop has grown into a full-fledged environmental maintenance and clean-up company with offices in Alaska, California, New Mexico, Idaho and Alabama. Our employees work literally all over the country for our clients. We have responded to countless hazardous chemical emergencies and natural disasters, and we work daily for great companies like US Steel, Alabama Power, foundries and tier 1 suppliers. Heavy industry and manufacturing facilities make up the industrial side of our business, and the commercial side of our business handles removal and disposal of asbestos, mold and lead.
How did you get into the hazardous waste business?
Furman University has a good chemistry program. I became a research assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico where I chemically broke down nuclear waste into environmentally friendlier compounds. It was a wonderful job, but I wanted to be back in the South. I discovered the adrenaline-filled world of hazardous materials emergency response as a field chemist, where I literally would put on a rubber suit and air tank and walk into train wrecks and help determine how to clean up the spill. It was a thrill, just as running One Stop has been. Neither is as exciting as raising Griffin, James, Harris and Reagan — my four kids who keep me on my toes and often make me feel like I am in a hazardous chemical spill.
Earth Day is tomorrow, April 22. What are three things that our readers could do to make a difference on the planet?
Recycle your household goods; use glass cups or glass bottles, not plastic bottles and cups; and take one day a week off from the car and walk.
With four kids how do you find balance between work and home?
Some weeks I am a great mom, and other weeks I am an award-winning CEO. I am never both, but I have learned each role will ebb and flow. Thankfully, I have an awesome team at One Stop, and I leave each day in time to be the last mom in the carpool line to pick up my youngest two at elementary school. In the end, our family is close, and we make it work with a healthy dose of sacrifice, mercy and graciousness.
What did your bedroom look like when you were a teenage girl?
My room was neat and clean — all except my drawers! I loved to scrapbook, so I always had a project laid out on my desk. But the outdoors held more of my interest. Unless I was asleep or studying, I was rarely in my room.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Protect your cash.
What advice would you give to others?
Do not fear your dream, chase it. It could always be worse, and it could always be better. Just do what you do with all you’ve got.
What upcoming local event are you most looking forward to?
Boil in the Hood is a great annual block party where I enjoy the food and people.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
With four kids I am always at a field or a track event, but I like to dip into Avo for a drink and appetizer with Richard or friends.
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
The Olive Branch right now — it shifts with the time of year.
What are you listening to?
FM radio 89.9 The Way.
What books are you currently reading?
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
Well, I love disasters, and that makes me good at my job. But Richard (my husband) and my friends give me a hard time for being a closet prepper. I don’t have a bunker or a “bugout” bag, but only because they keep me sane.
If your house was on fire, what’s the one nonliving thing you would grab?
No need to grab anything other than my Bible; all my photos are online.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and faith.
Time in the garden, warm fires in the outside fireplace on our patio, and the Montana starry nights.
Thanks for sharing, Shannon!
And thank you, Catherine Mayo, for today’s beautiful photographs! www.catherinemayo.com.