At the end of the 2020-21 financial year, my team and I have taken the time to reflect on a year that was “challenging” – to say the least.

2020 was a year like no other, with devastating fires and floods, a global pandemic, and social and political inconsistency. Feelings of loss, uncertainty and change were felt by all. These events also brought new opportunities and highlighted my team’s strong communication, flexibility, and resilience. As we look back and face up to the new challenges that the end of 2021 is bringing, we choose to focus on the positives and stay strong together.

When we first went into lockdown, we were fortunate that the 4Pillars team had the ability to work from home, and that we already had cloud-based software in place, which allowed us to maintain access to our documents, customer relationship management tools etc. This assisted our transition to full remote-working. We were able to stay connected as a team via videoconferences and continued to collaborate with each other and effectively deliver the high-quality services that our clients are accustomed too. The fact that we made significant changes without losing any continuity in projects is a testament to our strategy and agility.

To add a bit of variety to our routines, we would occasionally dress up formally for team meetings, and kept the instant messages flowing, so we never felt isolated and alone. We also continued our Lunch and Learn program, simply by converting to online-presentations rather than in-person. These sessions allow one team member the opportunity to share with the others a deep dive into a particular topic. Some notable topics during the year included environmental noise modelling, conducting environmental audits, the NEPM and its role in contaminated land assessments, and the EPA’s Noise Policy for Industry. We also took the opportunity to take part in various online courses and webinars, to ensure we continued to invest in the professional development that puts us at the cutting edge of environmental service delivery.

As the year progressed and the pandemic seemed to get under control in our lucky country, we were able to get back together and enjoy COVID-safe picnics, office doggo visits, and headed to the pub every now and then for team trivia and a schnitty! As Christmas approached 4Pillars got into the holiday spirit and volunteered with the Salvation Army, for a day sorting toys and hampers for the less fortunate. This was something the team found fulfilling and enjoyable, especially considering the additional strain that COVID-19 has placed on many members of our community.

2020 was certainly challenging for our project work, with the lockdown and economic uncertainties causing hesitation for clients and investors. This was particularly apparent in industries such as construction and land development. However, regulatory compliance requirements were ongoing, and we were fortunate that many of our long-term ‘EnviroNow’ clients provide essential services – i.e. waste, recycling and mining, so they were able to continue operating.

The management of the pandemic and loosening of restrictions meant that 2021 started strong. Confidence grew in the market and we saw an increase in our short-term projects, such as waste classifications, asbestos clearances, tailored site assessments, environmental site assessments, remediation works, and approvals. The team was busy again with a variety of field work and reporting.

In March we were thrilled to find that we were the winners of the 2021 Client Choice Award for ‘Best Environmental Firm (<$30 million revenue)’. As the award is based solely on client survey responses, it was amazing to know that our clients value our professional services. All the positive feedback reinforces our goals, and that the development of our services are heading in the right direction! To celebrate our big win, the team headed out from the office early one afternoon to test their skills at archery followed by dinner. Archery was all fun and games until someone started keeping score – (to say the gang is competitive is an understatement).

My team continued to evolve in 2020-21, as we said farewell to Rosie and Steph, who scored exciting positions in other companies – we wish them the very best. We also welcomed two new members to the team – Sophie and Kay – and are looking forward to the positive input they will continue to have!

As the team and workload continues to increase, it was only fitting that our asset base, equipment and accommodation grows as well. In early 2021 we moved into a newly fitted out workshop that will allow us to run our field operations more efficiently. Our fleet also grew with two new vehicles at our disposal, allowing us to respond to clients more quickly and deal with a broader range of field situations.

We completed close to 100 projects during 2020-21, many of which required us to bring innovative approaches to the table, to solve complex problems. Keep an eye on the website for some case studies of the particularly notable ones! tweet

Although the year was unprecedented and challenging, my team and I were still able to achieve the goals that we set at the start of the financial year. Our market share and brand recognition is increasing, which is mostly still driven by word-of mouth referrals from satisfied clients. Our continued positive relationships with partners in the legal and geotechnical professions have resulted in the number of referrals increasing year on year. The complexity, value and risk of our projects also continues to increase, which proves our ability to deliver and demonstrates that clients trust us in these scenarios. EnviroNow is also growing steadily and we have been working hard to refine the offering and roll out an entry-level option that will be beneficial for clients in a broad range of sectors.

This year has been tough, and there are more tough times ahead. However, we have proven time and time again that we are a team that punches above our weight and 4Pillars will continue to work hard to deliver great outcomes for clients and great outcomes for the environment. Thanks to all of our valued clients for their support throughout the year. Stay safe!


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