Reader Profile: Mike Christofferson

Aug. 15, 2013

By now, every contractor on a site where soil is disturbed knows that a key part of the project is the development of a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP). The SWPPP provides a site description, identifying pollution sources and appropriate measures to reduce potential discharges. It starts with a site evaluation, assessment, and planning, then moves to erosion and sediment control best management practices (BMPs), good-housekeeping BMPs, post-construction BMPs, inspections, recordkeeping and training, and final stabilization. It’s a process so detailed that there are companies that do nothing but work on SWPPPs for other companies. Such is the case for Silver Leaf SWPPP in Lehi, UT. The company is a subcontractor that works with general contractors or earthmoving contractors to install and implement the SWPPP on a job site. The company does everything from consulting and design work to the implementation of the design onsite.

“More and more, people are realizing the importance of clean water,” points out Mike Christofferson, who started the company four years ago. “Everybody likes to swim and fish in the lakes and have clean drinking water, but it’s also about site cleanliness and keeping your site looking good.” On many high-profile jobs, the public is paying heed to whether it’s a messy job site, he adds. “This comes down to choosing the correct products for your job and sediment control,” he says. “You want something that is going to work for the duration and perform correctly.” SWPPP is here to stay, Christofferson points out. Given that, he believes his company provides a needed service that a client doesn’t have to worry about. Clients agree: Christofferson is seeing a lot of repeat business. “We’re able to take this and deal with it, and they’re able to go vertical with their project.”

What He Does on a Daily Basis
Christofferson wears a lot of hats, but over the past few years, he has moved out of the field and back into the office, where he concentrates his efforts on business development and marketing, working directly with clients and finding new jobs while his operations manager runs the day-to-day operations.

What Led Him Into This Field
Christofferson studied construction management at Brigham Young University, then found work with a general contractor and later with an earthmoving contractor. “Having seen both sides of it, I realized that there was a need in Utah for a subcontractor that would come in and specifically do SWPPP,” he says. “They had for a long time given the earthwork contractors the SWPPP portion.” In his work for the earthmoving contractor, Christofferson observed that the field crews didn’t enjoy the SWPPP work, nor were they good at it. Operators were being taken off of machines to do it; revenues were lost. Christofferson saw the need for the work as a subcontractor and started his own company.

What He Likes Most About His Job
Christofferson loves working on large projects. “We’ve gotten to the point where in all of the major projects in the state of Utah, whether we’re a first-tier subcontractor or a second-tier subcontractor, it’s fun to be part of it.” He enjoys the flow of the process and returning to the site on a regular basis doing maintenance after the BMP installation.  He also enjoys owning his own company. “There are stresses,” he concedes. “But they are different stresses than in working for somebody else. I enjoy running my own business.”

His Biggest Challenge and What He’s Doing to Meet It Christofferson’s biggest joy also is his greatest challenge. “Running a business is probably the biggest challenge,” he says. “It’s in managing cash flow and making sure we have enough good workers to handle our workload.” His challenge specific to SWPPP is to continually establish his company as the region’s SWPPP expert. He’s focused on meeting that challenge by keeping up with changes and in staying involved at state and local levels. In the end, he says, it comes down to a lot of training and a lot of continuing education-not just for his own workers, but also for those in the construction community.
About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.