Mr. Lathan currently serves as the President of two distinctly different companies, The EI Group and Environmental Risk Innovations (ERI). The EI Group (EI), started by Mr. Lathan in 1988, is a full-service engineering consulting firm, employing approximately 100 people corporate-wide, with offices in Research Triangle Park, (Headquarters) and Charlotte, NC; Roanoke/Richmond, VA; Greenville, SC; Louisville, KY and Atlanta, GA. ERI, which manages environmental risk for commercial lenders, was established in 1999 and is located in Charlotte, NC.
Mr. Lathan launched The EI Group in 1989, following an 8 year career with General Electric, as the EHS Manager for GE’s Electrical Distribution & Control Division, comprising over 65 industrial facilities worldwide, involved in the manufacture of electrical switchgear. Although EI’s original mission was environmental consulting, focusing on permitting, compliance, property assessments and contamination remediation, by the early 1990s, Mr. Lathan recognized the need to develop EI as a full-service environmental, health and safety (EHS) consulting/training services firm. At that time, Mr. Lathan began guiding EI towards the private sector, targeting manufacturing, commercial banking and corporate real estate management companies. Today, EI has evolved into a full service EHS consulting/training services firm. EI’s professional staff includes a) occupational health professionals, who promote worker health and wellness; b) industrial hygienists and safety specialists, who monitor the internal work environment for occupational hazards, perform industrial safety audits, develop corporate safety programs and provide safety training; and c) environmental scientists/engineers, who perform environmental compliance audits and environmental permitting, environmental due diligence services to identify soil/groundwater contamination and facility energy audits/sustainability programs. EI’s representative sector clients include Michelin, Wells Fargo, Norfolk Southern and CSX Railroad, Duke Energy, Sprint, GE, GSK, US Steel, Motorola, International Paper, Corning and Dominion Power, among others. Public sector clients include the US DOD; the NC, SC, VA, and KY Departments of Transportation; both the UNC and UVA systems, private colleges in NC, VA, KY and SC; NC, SC, VA, and KY public school systems and over 100 municipalities/counties throughout the Southeast.
Following the development of EI in 1989, Mr. Lathan was approached by the First Union National Bank (FUNB) Credit Policy Department in 1999 (at that time, FUNB was the nation’s fourth largest domestic bank, which subsequently merged with Wachovia in 2002 and acquired by Wells Fargo Bank in 2008) to develop a separate company to which FUNB’s Environmental Policy Group (EPG), a subset of FUNB Credit Policy, could be outsourced. Elimination of the FUNB’s EPG and outsourcing their internal support function was a logical business move, since environmental risk management was not deemed to be a core discipline of the FUNB corporate mission. From 1989-1999, EI had established a successful track record with FUNB (EI was awarded FUNB’s “Supplier of the Year” award in 1998), through their work with the FUNB Corporate Real Estate Group, performing environmental assessments of bank acquisitions targeted by FUNB and responding to tenant issues regarding indoor air quality at corporate-owned properties. EI also supported EPG, performing environmental site assessments (ESAs) on commercial property loans. Mr. Lathan accepted FUNB’s offer and developed a totally entity, ERI. Unlike traditional environmental consultants, ERI does not perform environmental field assessments, but reviews the assessment work performed by these firms or electronic data available on commercial properties on which banks are providing commercial loans.
Following the acquisition of Wachovia Bank in 2002 by FUNB, Mr. Lathan guided the rapid expansion of ERI’s environmental risk management service model to other major banking clients, including Wells Fargo (2003), Bank of the West (2005) and Union Bank, based in California, as well as several Chicago/Midwest based commercial lenders, including Fifth Third Bank, Associated Bank and The Private Bank (2006-2007). ERI also begin targeting numerous community and regional banks, who did not have the resources to maintain an internal environmental risk management function, as these smaller commercial lenders became more conscious of environmental risk due to an “ever increasing” banking regulatory climate. ERI’s flexible environmental risk management model is custom-tailored to each of their banking clients. ERI’s support ranges from “turnkey” environmental risk management services for commercial lenders who do not have the resources/desire to maintain an “in house” environmental risk management function, to assistance with overflow environmental risk review work, during periods of peak loan demand. As a result of the flexible business support model in managing environmental risk and the experienced staff Mr. Lathan has assembled since their inception in 1999, ERI has become the nation’s oldest, largest and most experienced environmental risk management consulting firm. ERI’s model has freed banking institutions to concentrate on their core mission – providing commercial loans to the private sector. ERI’s primary strength is the collaboration of ALL of their experienced environmental risk management professionals from a single location at their office in Charlotte, NC, which augments sharing of professional resources to meet demanding commercial loan closing deadlines, as well as the close interaction of ERI’s “in house” talent for peer review of our work products to enhance quality control.
Prior to launching EI in 1989, Mr. Lathan was the EHS Program Manager for the General Electric’s Electrical Distribution and Control Division (GE-ED&C). His primary responsibility as EHS Manager at GE-ED&C included the oversight of all environmental, IH, safety and occupational health compliance programs at sixty-five (65) domestic and international manufacturing facilities which manufactured electrical switchgear. Mr. Lathan began his career in 1979 as a consultant for Pacific Environmental Services (PES), developing New Source Air Quality Standards for various industrial sectors for the USEPA, after graduating with a BS Chemistry/MS in Public Health from the UNC-Chapel Hill.