Secondary Containment: Why Just Participate When You Can Win?

winning in oil containment

Recently, James Harrison, a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers with a dubious reputation, made headlines for tackling a couple of unsuspecting and seemingly harmless foe, in the form of participation trophies awarded to his two sons, ages 6 and 8. He announced via his Instagram account that the trophies would be “given back until they EARN a real trophy,” to ensure his boys aren’t “entitled to something just because they tried their best.”


Harrison’s outspoken criticism has sparked much debate from camps on both sides, with many parents applauding his antics. While George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel finds nothing wrong with awarding a 5 or 6-year-old for their efforts and willingness to play the game, he admits in a blog post “Sooner or later, kids are going to learn that the world is not fair, everyone keeps score, and we are not created equal.” Others, like blogger Jenn-Anne Gledhill, mother of a seven-year-old boy on a local soccer team, views participation awards as a way to thank the kids for participating. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying ‘thank you,'” she says.

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We don’t care if you support #TeamTrophy or #TeamHarrison when it comes to participation awards for youth sports. However, when it comes to adequate secondary containment solutions for oil-filled equipment, utility companies should seek out the BEST of the BEST, not just a bench player.

best at oil containment

You will come to find when working with C.I.Agent Solutions that we don’t simply innovate products – we’re in the oil containment solutions industry. In other words, we go beyond just participating to provide total secondary containment systems, to tackle all your hydrocarbon management challenges … #WINNING!


This Is Why We Win

In honor of James Harrison and his rant against entitled children filling the rosters of today’s youth sports organizations, we present five reasons why C.I.Agent Solutions is a proven WINNER in secondary containment solutions.


  1. Winners SOLVE Problems
    (Participants ignore problems)
  2. “Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.”  -Tony Robbins

    For years, utility companies didn’t want to talk about their low-volume waste problems in underground vaults and manholes. When pressed, “we don’t have any issues” or “we don’t want to talk about it” was always the response. This seemed shocking to us, especially since there are an estimated 5 million electrical utility vaults and manholes in the U.S. Plus, much of our underground infrastructure is aging poorly. Could there really be NO problems to note?

    Underground utility vault wastewater filtration
    Solving sediment and debris problems in underground utility vaults with C.I.Agent VSF systems.

    Not the case, according to Jim Rowen of USWAG, who said in 2014, “Most utilities have manhole and vaults, and all of them have challenges.” It seems problems DID exist. So we began to ask questions, to figure out if we could help. It was not easy. Many utilities remained secretive and reluctant to share any challenges. But we kept asking.

    Eventually, we extracted the information, and discovered we could help fix one recurring problem. It seems chronic water intrusion, along with sediment and debris build-up, plagues many underground vaults with automatic pumps. Water and electricity just don’t mix, as we’ve pointed out before. To the delight of our customers, we developed a line of Vault Sump Filter (VSF) systems as an easily-installed, minimal maintenance solution.

    #TipforWinning Always ask a plethora of questions! Sometimes that’s the only way to identify what the real issue is!


  3. Winners take risks
    (Participants stay “inside the box”)
  4. “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”  -Frederick B. Wilcox

    secondary containment

    We know there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for everybody, especially with secondary containment. What works for one utility, may not be effective for another. With all containment comes tradeoffs and/or maintenance. Tradeoffs are in all aspects of life; people use risk levels to make decisions about those tradeoffs. In secondary containment, the most prevalent risks are financial, political or environmental. It’s up to the client to decide what risk levels and tradeoffs they can live with, and we’ll customize a solution to accommodate their needs.


  5. Winners are part of a team
    (Participants are apart from the team)
  6. “Goals should be realistic, attainable, and shared among all members of the team.”  -Coach Mike Krzyzewski

    Coach K knows something about winning – and how to get teams to work together and achieve success. We’re of the same mindset, and believe everyone involved in the secondary containment process, from both the customer and the sales side, needs to win to achieve success.

    We utilize manufacturer reps to sell our line in various territories across the United States and Canada. In our 2014 corporate training sessions, we introduced the WIN-WIN-WIN concept, in which, the utility, the rep group and manufacturer all need to win to achieve success. The utility WINS by receiving a product, service or solution that fulfills a need and offers a great ROI. The rep group WINS by positioning themselves as a problem-solving hero to the utility, while solidifying the relationship, and receiving a commission. And we WIN because the needs of both the rep group and the utility have been met. WIN-WIN-WIN


  7. Winners learn from mistakes
    (Participants blame others)
  8. “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”  -Vince Lombardi

    To real winners, nothing hurts more than losing. But as any successful coach or businessman will attest, you only really lose if you learn nothing from the loss. Mistakes are inevitable, despite our best efforts. When a mistake is made, it’s important to accept it. If you are responsible, admit your error. Then correct it and move forward with your newfound wisdom.

    perfecting secondary containment solutions
    There were numerous problems with one of our Polyvinyl Liner Systems, including ripped vinyl, exposed and degraded Barrier Boom, and the wrong type of back fill (creek rock).


    perfecting secondary containment solutions
    Even though the client didn’t ask us to, we offered to completely correct all the problems and potential problems with their secondary oil containment. That included installing new polyvinyl liner, backfilling with the recommended stone, and installing two HFF Oil Stop Valves on the downslope of the unit, to ensure no hydrocarbons leave the property.

    Recently, we had to correct a mistake we made many years ago, at a small co-op in Florida. An oil containment system we installed wasn’t providing adequate containment, and required constant maintenance. Upon closer inspection, we identified what was wrong and accepted the blame. Even though the customer didn’t request it, we offered to replace their faulty system free of charge, and upgrade their level of protection in the process. What it cost us in time, effort and materials were worth the expense … the peace of mind the utility received because of our updates was an added bonus, for us and for them!


  9. Winners never give up
    (Participants often quit)
  10. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”  –Robert Collier

    All sales professionals are familiar with barriers to entry – there are often more barriers than doorways in the hellish obstacle course known as the sales process. But what makes the winner different from all other participants is the perseverance and will-power to overcome those hurdles.

    oil containment
    There are a LOT of substations in the United States, and our goal is to provide secondary containment to as many as possible!

    We’ve heard a myriad of excuses from potential customers. “We don’t need secondary containment,” say some. “It’s not in our budget,” say others. “We’re just a small municipal, way under the EPA’s radar.” “I have an SPCC plan or something similar.” “We’re not near any navigable water.” “I don’t make those decisions, go talk to the environmental engineers.” Etc., etc., etc. For most participants, this is the end of the line. There are simply too many obstacles blocking the path.

    At C.I.Agent Solutions, we view such obstacles as opportunities. There are an estimated 70,000 substations in the US providing energy for more than 300 million customers. A significant number of them DO NOT currently have secondary containment, or have sub-par containment in dire need of upgrading. Luckily, no matter your needs, we have you covered. If we don’t have a solution, we won’t rest until we pioneer a new one – because we’re winners, we solve problems, and we never quit!


    Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner


    Will giving participation trophies to all the children in the recreational youth league spawn an irrefutable generation of entitled narcissists with deep-rooted adversity to exerting effort to achieve success? Eh … who are we to commentate? We’re definitely not experts in the prolonged psychological effects of youth sports. Our area of expertise lies solely in engineering innovative secondary oil containment solutions for electrical utilities. And in that category, we stand alone at the top as clear-cut winners, no participation trophies in sight!






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