How big a hire was Liza Sherrer when Ambipar Response’s US CEO Shannon Riley recruited her to One Stop Environmental in 2002? There’s this: Her former employer hired four people to replace her. And then there’s this: Nearly all of her clients followed her to One Stop. “When word got out that I’d moved, they started calling me. What’s more,” she continues, “I’m still working with most of them today. Some of those relationships go all the way back to 1989. I’ve been doing this so long, some of my younger clients call me Mom!”
It’s safe to say that Mom, also known as Ambipar’s Southern Regional Disposal Coordinator, has built a reputation for consistently delivering the kind of outcomes that justify the trust clients place in her.
”Liza is one of our true differentiators,” says Tony Feagins, Ambipar’s Southern Regional VP. “State-by-state, she knows practically everything about proper procedures for the removal, transport and disposal of waste — hazardous or not.” And while she does command a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of industry regulations and best practices, Liza believes her greatest strength lies in her sheer determination to solve clients’ problems — no matter what.
The answer is “Yes.” Most of the time.
Make no mistake: By “solving problems,” Liza means doing things right. “On very rare occasions, I’ve had clients who insisted on plans of action I knew would be unsafe for our crews. Whenever that’s happened, I just walked away from those jobs.” (BTW: Liza’s happy to note that quite a few of those clients later returned, hat-in-hand, admitting that she’d been right.)
She also occasionally hears the old line, “That’s how I’ve been doing it for 20 years.” Her response, offered with a respectful smile: “Yes, but that was 20 years ago. Things have changed since then.” When it comes to keeping current, Liza is the human search engine. “I have so many dependable sources keeping me updated: A great network of professional contacts and colleagues. Industry newsletters. Mail services. My longtime friends at ADEM. And of course, whenever I’m not 100% confident about something I’m working on, I’ll research the issues myself.”
A man’s job? Sure. A woman’s job, too.
Up until 2019, Liza was just as likely to be found in the field as the office. “I did a lot of the work, hands-on, that our crews do every day. I know how things are supposed to be done, and I know what can be done on any given job.” So when she occasionally hears from field crews that a certain job can’t be done a certain way, it’s not uncommon for them to hear, “Yes you can. I’ve done it myself.” That experience, she notes, is also invaluable in accurately preparing bids and planning work schedules.
Liza also uses her expertise to support the Ambipar account managers, new and experienced alike, who now do her legwork in assessing project needs. “They already have a solid understanding of what we do. But whenever they come-across something they don’t fully understand, I’m just a FaceTime call away — and we can look at things together, in real time.”
All of which leads to the question: Why no more field work?
Rewind to 2019. In February, Liza was in Disneyland with her grandchildren. “We must’ve walked 15 miles every day,” she remembers. Within a month, her legs began failing her — to the point where she was at constant risk of spontaneously falling-over. “I still say, it’s not the falling that hurts. It’s the landing!” Turned-out Liza had suffered spinal cord compression, serious enough to warrant a risky surgical procedure.
Liza’s surgery brought a measure of relief, but she still needs a walker to ensure she stays upright. It’s the kind of setback that most people her age would consider a spirit-crushing disability. “Not me. I decided that, since I lacked the physical strength for a full workweek, I’d spend my newfound time outside the office enjoying my life — with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”
And no, Liza never seriously considered retirement. “I’m still mentally as sharp as I ever was. In the office, I’m as productive as I’ve ever been.”
On her off days, she adds, “When clients really need me, most of the time I’m just a call away. What can I say,” she smiles. “Once a Mom, always a Mom!”