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How We Work: Our Approach to Serving You


What's it like to work with Douglas Herring & Associates? We describe below the kind of results you can expect from working with us and we set forth the values and philosophy that underlie our approach to our clients and our work. We identify the beliefs and policies that guide the operations of DHA and make it unique among Bay Area environmental consulting firms.

Expected Results

We extend and expand the capability of your staff. With nearly 30 years of project management and CEQA experience, DHA's principal provides important expertise that may not be available within your organization. With our network of associates and technical experts, most of whom have 20 to 30 years of hands-on experience, DHA offers a breadth and depth of experience rarely found in a single agency or company. All of this expertise is at your service.

We boost the productivity of your staff or employees. By reducing the work load of your over-extended staff, their stress levels will go down and the quality of their work will go up. By selectively outsourcing discreet tasks to DHA, your staff will be able to focus on what they do best and bring more attention to their most critical work.

We help you contain ballooning project budgets. Working as a coalition of independent professionals and small businesses, we are able to offer superior services at lower cost (often substantially lower) than our larger counterparts. We make sure you maximize the value received for your consulting expenditures.

We get it right the first time. Although not all pitfalls are completely avoidable, the thoroughness we bring to every project means there is less potential for unpleasant surprises part way through a project. This reduces the need to backtrack or revise the approach being taken, potentially lowering efficiency and impeding progress.

We help you navigate easily through complex regulatory requirements. Many modern projects face a bewildering thicket of regulatory hurdles that must be crossed prior to successful project implementation. Grappling with them can distract staff and prevent them from working efficiently in their areas of expertise. From the broad-based CEQA requirements to the intricacies of federal, State, regional, and local laws regulating biological resources, water quality, air quality, and much more, we bring expert knowledge and guidance as well as assistance in securing necessary permits.

We reduce liability risks. Because of the thoroughness we bring to each project and the breadth and depth of experience and knowledge that we draw from, we are able to get much closer to the "bullet-proof" document that can withstand a legal challenge in the unfortunate event that one is brought to bear. However, by preparing robust documents as a matter of course, we reduce the likelihood of legal challenges in the first place.

We effectively manage complex projects and coordinate multiple participants. From coordinating multiple components of an intricate project to directing and overseeing multiple contractors or other participants, to tracking and managing budgets, our extensive experience in project management allows us to keep projects moving forward efficiently, on time, and on budget.

Guiding Beliefs

A job worth doing is worth doing right. We take pride in producing high-quality work that reflects well on DHA. We believe that society benefits from the work we do, a belief that increases our incentive to do the best that we can do. We don't like to cut corners in our work because we don't believe it serves our clients well. Therefore, our focus is more on providing high-quality services than on providing a product at the lowest price possible. However, we have learned that this is a cost-effective approach because it reduces costly mistakes, the need for revisions, and improves the defensibility of our products.

What's good for our clients is good for us. We want each and every client to be highly satisfied with our services. We want this for its own sake, simply for the satisfaction of having happy clients. But we also know that enthusiastic clients are more likely to bring their future business to us and to recommend us to others with similar needs. Our experience has proven this to be the case.

A well-planned project is good for business. Thoughtful and intelligent planning reduces the need for costly revisions and avoids delays related to poor coordination or unanticipated procedural and permit requirements. Good planning allows a project to progress to completion more quickly, with fewer problems arising. Spending time and money up front for proper planning reduces total project costs and allows our clients to move on to the next project more quickly.

Protecting the environment is good for business. Many of today's consumers are drawn to environmentally-friendly products and developments, and are even often willing to pay a premium for a positive contribution to the environment. This trend is evidenced by the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles. "Green" and/or energy-efficient developments can be marketed as such to attract such socially conscious consumers and to earn the development a place of distinction in the community.

Honesty is the best policy. Concealing problems does not serve our clients' best interests or contribute to the type of reputation we strive for. Open, honest communication allows problems to be identified quickly and addressed promptly so they aren't exacerbated and don't spiral out of control. We are committed to forthright communication, and expect the same from our clients. Only when we are aware of any problems occurring can we effectively correct them and improve our service.

Our Approach

What is it like to work with DHA?

We are committed to our clients' satisfaction. Our goal is to have every client's needs be met throughout project implementation, and to have each client be enthusiastically satisfied with the experience of working with us when the project is completed. We strongly encourage our clients to let us know any time their expectations aren't being met so that we can make appropriate corrections.

Flexibility is critical. Each project is unique and every client may have varying needs and different priorities. One size does not fit all. We approach each project with the same attitude: what are the specific needs of this project and how can we tailor our services to best meet those needs? We design each project to produce the desired results for your agency or company with the least amount of struggle.

A quick response is guaranteed. We understand how frustrating it can be working with a consultant who doesn't return phone calls or emails. We don't just try to be responsive; we guarantee your phone calls or emails will be returned within one business day — though more typically the response time will be measured in minutes or hours.

Continuity is assured. When a project manager departs for another job in the middle of a project — not an uncommon occurrence in today's economy — project momentum can be lost, consistency and quality can suffer, and details and even critical issues can slip through the cracks in the transition to a new manager. Bringing a new manager up to speed on a complicated project can also increase project costs or direct resources away from critical substantive work. There is no risk of this happening with DHA, where every project is managed by firm principal Doug Herring, who has been running the company for close to 20 years, and will continue to do so throughout the company's lifetime.

Every project is performed by seasoned senior professionals. In larger firms, the day-to-day hands-on work of project implementation is typically performed by junior personnel who frequently have just a year or two (or less) of experience. At DHA, virtually all substantive work is performed by DHA's principal, who has nearly 30 years of experience, or by associates and technical experts who, in the vast majority of cases, have 20 to 25 years or more of practical work experience. Dollar for consultant dollar, this means that our clients get superior service and products for less money.

Now that you have a better idea of how we work, the results you can expect from working with us, and our philosophy of working with clients, please go to our Services Offered page to learn about the specific services we offer.

"At one point we were really swamped with work and we were using seven different outside planning consultants, and after a while Doug just kept rising to the top. We have used former planning directors who are now consultants — great writers with really good analytical skills, but Doug's work was just superior."

"For the fees he charges you get a lot of bang for your buck, and it costs less than hiring a larger consulting firm."

Dennis Tagashira, Planning Manager
City of Hercules Community Development Department
Hercules, CA

"Doug, I also wanted to tell you that in 23 years of reading EIRs and neg decs, the IS/MND that you prepared for this project is one of the best — so well-written and full of thoughtful, complete analysis. What a pleasure to read."

Maria Pracher
Land Use and Environmental Attorney
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP
San Francisco, CA

"I hired Doug because of his expertise and personality, but I also find it more personable to work with a smaller firm, and find that you get a lot of value for your money with his firm. You're talking to the principal, and you get a direct response from Doug. You get him right away; you don't have to go through 15 people or a voice mail system to get a response."

Don Kahler, Vice-President
Rhodes & Jamieson
Pleasanton, CA

"Doug has got a lot of experience in the environmental document process, and he . . . has a good group of people that he has worked with on a regular basis that he feels comfortable relying on."

Elizabeth Dunn
Community Development Director
City of Pinole, CA

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Photography by Doug Herring
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