By Cherie Koester, CEO // 2022-10-10
September 1, 2014 feels like it was yesterday honestly. I felt tapped out of my profession at this point, like my efforts were falling on deaf ears. The leap of faith I took to start Earthworks was astounding. With 5 children at home, the pressure to succeed was stifling.
Taylor Morrison, specifically Jeff Deason and Shannon MacDougall saw something in me that I truly didn’t even see myself. My first solo contract was 15 homebuilding communities in the Phoenix metro area with various degrees of completion. Land development to vertical phase construction, they allowed me the honor to consult for them and I couldn’t be more grateful.
From that point on, it’s been a whirlwind of positives and negatives, hard right turns and a few left turns, all without a roadmap. Uphill battles and slamming downhill slides have been the name of the game. Entrepreneurship is bipolar. Unfortunately or possibly fortunately I’ve managed without the meds. Some might question that…ha!
I’ve spoken of incredible highlights of my career, Earthworks and now ERX’s successes, all of which I’m incredibly proud. I’ve shared the many losses I’ve endured both professionally and personally during this experience as well. I’m open about my now adult children holding distinguished positions at Earthworks. They are my entire existence and not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for their presence in my life and now my business. Thank you Madison McMain, Braxton Gries and Savannah Gries for supporting your momma day in and day out. All three have graduated from ASU and brought their education and grit back to Earthworks, I’m ever grateful for each of you and love you to the ends of this planet and beyond. I know all three of you will do amazing things in your life and careers as you already have begun, I’m blessed to watch each of you in your areas of expertise.
One area I haven’t recognized enough and shame on me is my ridiculously supportive staff. When I say staff I mean my extended family and friends that help build this business continuously.
My sister, Hilary Goodine, has been with me for literally her entire life (hahaha) but professionally for almost 5 years. Hilary is a silent gift that manages finances both professionally and personally, she keeps me out of trouble, her job is bigger than we share I assure you. Hilary is somewhat of a shadow dweller that has more knowledge and skills than she shares.
One of my life crutches, Dawn Joseph, both a dear friend and loyal employee has been with me for nearly the entirety of Earthworks. Dawn was my first employee and I’m so grateful for the insanity she’s seen me through since the beginning. She has taught me to say less “fucks” and practice more silence (all of which we know is difficult for me). Yet today, she still hasn’t died from all the things I put her through, bravo Dawn!
During my tenure at Maricopa County I connected with three colleagues that now join me at Earthworks. Mark Hubbard, Director of Training and Development, Brendan Haugh, National Operations Analyst & Advisor, and Michael Burton, Senior Technology Manager, have not only supported me and Earthworks but they have brought such incredible talent and knowledge to this team. All three of you are irreplaceable as not only a pivotal part of this company but as my friends and comrades. Mark and Brendan continue to bring wit to the company that is needed in our hardest days. Mark with his sense of family and Brendan with his love of the team both mean so much to me and this company. Michael has developed ERX into an unstoppable force. His knowledge and ease of implementation are refreshing day in and day out.
Aaron Gordon joined Earthworks in 2018 as a Compliance Manager and swiftly rose to every challenge we set before him. Now, as part of my management team Aaron brings a fresh set of eyes and organizational skills that are essential to this company.
Lastly, we come to Richard Howe, Earthworks National Operations Manager. I met Richard when he was still at ASU and I returned for an alumni night to talk with current students about my line of work. Richard was the ONLY student who actually talked with me and seemed even remotely interested in what I had to say. By the end of the evening I was convinced I needed to hire him simply for his curiosity (I also figured he would be cheap). Not all days have been smooth for Richard, I’ve had to remind him on occasion who he was dealing with….the man continues to amaze me….as he has refused to throw in the towel and give up on me nor Earthworks. I have witnessed Richard grow from a young college student to a reliable, caring, diligent and downright honorable man that truly gives all of his efforts to his faith, family and career. I am forever grateful for his loyalty even though he is much more expensive today.
All of our Regional Managers, Blake Curran, Matt Trygg & Johnathan Clayton continue to amaze me in their willingness to take our service to the next level. Our Leads, Senior Compliance Managers, Compliance Managers and all office staff have been nothing but pleasurable to work with, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty and diligent work.
My clients have given me the greatest honor by trusting that I will and can do what I promise. Thank you especially to Brian Cook who continues to trust my abilities and the abilities of Earthworks. All of our clients are truly blessings to Earthworks and I vow to continue our top level customer service and expertise. I cannot thank the many clients of Earthworks enough! We now service 19 of the top 20 builders in the United States!! We have clients in 24 different markets throughout the United States, 58 employees and consult on 1,200 different permits.
Cheers to the last 8 years and I’m excited to see where the next few decades take us!
Cherie Koester, CEO
Earthworks Environmental, LLC
ERX Industries, LLC