Spotlight on Steve Robinette
Operator – Western Iowa
Steve Robinette helps customers navigate the waters of compliance.
When Steve Robinette saw an ad in the newspaper for a PeopleService job 16 years ago, he couldn’t imagine the fulfillment he would gain from a career in this field.
“I like my work in this profession because it requires a wide range of skills, from mechanical to analytical, observational and even public relations,” he said. “Skills that I get to use towards something that is important to me…public health and the environment. No day is the same. One day you may be behind a desk and the other day you’re in the trenches.”
Steve’s days are so varied because he serves a wide range of customers with a wide range of challenges. “The most challenging problems are always compliance related problems,” Steve noted. “We often start work with communities that have major water and wastewater compliance issues. We get them straightened out and phase through facility upgrades we plan for together.
“With all of our customers, we provide consistent notice of, and navigation through, regulatory compliance. We keep them informed on current regulatory issues and anticipate what’s lurking around the next corner.”
How can your community know that your system needs help?
When asked how communities can determine their water and wastewater infrastructure needs, Steve provided this advice: “Implement our maintenance and operational programs including hydrant flushing, sanitary sewer cleaning/televising, manhole inspections and valve exercising. By doing these things we are able to pinpoint problems, potential or otherwise, and provide a plan of action that keeps the plant running smoothly.”
“Outdated infrastructure contributes to inefficiency in water and wastewater plants. When infrastructure is deteriorating, you are producing more water than you otherwise would at a water treatment facility. You may be treating unnecessary flows in a wastewater treatment facility because the system isn’t as ‘tight’ as it could be. Power costs, chemical costs and wages all go up and equipment serviceability goes down. It’s unnecessary inefficiency that can be prevented. Most important, keeping your facility in compliance keeps your town’s name out of the news.”
Control is actually gained with PeopleService on board.
A common misconception among cities is that they will lose control when they outsource their water and wastewater system maintenance. After 16 years Steve has perspective on that. “While I appreciate those concerns on the surface, it’s not what communities actually experience. When we partner with a community, their councils and city staff actually have more control because they have many people to turn to with any concerns – and that starts with me. There isn’t a council member or mayor who doesn’t have my number and who doesn’t feel free to call when they have concerns or questions. Plus, when communities partner with us, they get a depth of experience from all of us in the company. That’s a lot of years seeing things and finding solutions to deploy. As far as costs are concerned, our ability to pool together staff and expertise often go a long way in saving city’s resources.
“For example, there are occasions where we bring in staff from other communities to help cover when an employee is on vacation or leaves their position for weeks or months at a time. If we were not there it would exhaust that community’s ability to fill that position.
“At PeopleService, everyone has each other’s back in this company. It really does feel like family, from the President down to the maintenance tech. We’re all in it for our customers. So when you work with us you keep – and actually increase control – and you never have to worry about ‘intentional’ regulatory compliance, safety, facility/infrastructure maintenance, or customer satisfaction. We’ve got your back.”