A Historical Perspective from Charlie Head

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In 1993, Paul Sanborn, Scott Shillaber, Chip Crocetti, and I started Sanborn Head. We were long-standing colleagues who trusted each other—we were confident in each other’s professional standards and technical skills and we looked forward to collaborating. We had a simple philosophy at the time: “Work as hard as you can to build trusting relationships with great clients by providing highly responsive service and great work product.” This philosophy has not changed with time.

From our original “office” in the back of a local restaurant, and then soon after from our office in a renovated old house near downtown Concord, NH, we never looked at geography as a limiting factor. In fact, not long after our founding, we were retained to provide a broad array of technical services to an industrial client in Ohio who has used our services extensively ever since on a global basis. Other clients, both local and national across the spectrum of the markets we serve have followed, and most remain clients of Sanborn Head to this day.

As the firm began to grow, a number of former colleagues, as well as new friends joined us to help catalyze our growth. Most of the “first generation” Sanborn Head leaders have known each other from college or initial employment situations. The high level of internal trust, which observers have commented is unique, fundamentally underpins our external relationships with clients and other stakeholders. We enjoy collaborating with each other, we love the challenges of the work we do, and we are committed to our clients and to work in their best interests.  A few of the many major achievements in the early years included:
  • 1993: Opening of our Ohio office;
  • 1994: First major Superfund project win with staff of 16; opening of our Massachusetts office;
  • 1995: First major project work in Eastern Europe and China;
  • 1996: Open Sanborn Head PC of New York; first major involvement with landfill gas as an alternative energy source; and 
  • 1998: Opening of our Vermont office.

As we entered the new millennium, our growth continued. The great people who have joined us along the way have helped us to continue to solidify our reputation in each of our major client markets.  Since the inception of the firm, we have steadily worked throughout North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and in Asia; a major milestone was reached in 2002 when we opened our branch office in the United Kingdom.

In 2005, Paul Sanborn, a mentor and friend with whom I had closely worked for 23 years, and one of the finest consultants I have ever known, fulfilled a long-standing plan to retire.  Paul’s retirement began what we expect to be a gradual and transitional passing of the leadership “baton” to new generations of Sanborn Head leaders.

Who we are today at Sanborn Head is very much a product of where we have come from.  Even though our firm has evolved, our Core Values can be traced back to our early days.  We still work in a highly collaborative and collegial manner that allows us to challenge each others’ thinking on the way to reaching consensus.  Client service, achieved through responsiveness and technical excellence, is still our main thing, and we also recognize this must be balanced with a work environment that is personally and professionally satisfying and rewarding for our staff. While managing cash flow no longer has the sense of urgency it did back in 1993, our long-standing commitment to sound financial and business practices has served us well in the economic uncertainty of these times.  We believe in the importance of maintaining the firm’s private ownership and in being responsible stewards of the firm for future generations. 

We also believe that the success of Sanborn Head depends on us continuing to do the right thing on behalf of our clients and staff−for this is how we earn trust.  And trust in each other, trust-based relationships with our clients, and trust in knowing that Sanborn Head is really bigger than any of our personal interests, is what has made us successful.