With a shared vision, a solid business plan and rented space at the South DeKalb Business Incubator, childhood friends Albert G. Edwards and the late Marcus L. Reese launched Corporate Environmental Risk Management, LLC (CERM) on August 23, 1995. The two met during the first day of a high school Industrial Cooperative Training Program which was sponsored by Mattie T. Blount High School in Prichard, Alabama and offered through the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Mobile, AL District). It was during that chance encounter that the duo was introduced to the A/E/C Industry, flourishing a friendship and the making of a life-changing business partnership.
The early beginnings of CERM provided scalable opportunities to test the partners abilities as technical specialists and business owners. Furthermore, examining benchmarks coupled with training through A/E/C industry associations resulted in the firm refining its vision. This included integrating a human element into the front-end of the built environments’ process of planning, designing, and building communities along with support systems. Deemed a critical “value added” component, this model has proven to be invaluable for the growth of CERM, while assisting its clients with addressing issues involving equity, inclusion and sustainability.
Another component that shaped the company early on was its sense of service to its employees and community. It was critical to both Edwards and Reese that they create a professional business focused on giving back to the community. This included creating an environment for employees to excel, supporting civic programs and introducing young adults to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers through various outreach activities such as CERM’s Shadowing Program.
Through this commitment and drive, the minority owned and operated engineering, environmental and program management consulting firm has since grown from a two-man start-up to an award-winning organization with over 100 talented professionals consisting of project managers, technical leaders, planners and support staff covering the southeast U.S. region.
Edwards and Reese’s willingness to invest heavily in their employees, youth and the greater community has helped CERM thrive and will always be a part of its rich collaborative culture and legacy.
Photo: The late Marcus L. Reese and Albert G. Edwards, The Atlanta Tribune’s Minority Business Owner of the Year Honoree, at Turner Field on August 18, 2016.