ILTA Member Feature: Rob Ferry
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ILTA Member Feature: Rob Ferry

Some members may be familiar with Rob Ferry as a long-time trusted consultant for ILTA, a role he’s filled for many years. Though Ferry is now retired from his position as Managing Consultant for Trinity Consultants, he continues his involvement with ILTA.

Ferry’s career in the industry began back during the period of the Ford presidency.

“While he was serving as president, I was starting my career as a structural engineer with a tank building company, where I designed the first aluminum domes ever installed on petroleum storage tanks,” Ferry said. “The dome building unit was spun off as a separate company, and I was appointed the General Manager at the tender age of 28.”

Though Ferry loved running that company, he devoted almost every waking hour to it. To resolve this dilemma, he resigned without any plan for what to do next.

“Through a series of events beyond my control, this led to the founding of a consulting firm we called TGB Partnership—with ‘TGB’ standing for ‘Two Guys in a Basement,’” Ferry said. “My business partner and I thought we were establishing a business to consult in structural engineering, focused on aluminum structures. But through no plan of ours, we had environmental work find its way to the basement from the very first day.”

Ferry had been involved with the API committee that develops emission factors for storage tanks since 1980, initially as a dome manufacturer with the self-interest of seeing that emission factors were developed for tanks that were equipped with dome roofs.

“While I hadn’t thought of myself as an expert in that field, others on the committee apparently did, and through the 24 years of operating TGB, the majority of our work was related to air emissions from storage tanks,” Ferry explained, noting that much of TGB’s work involved developing technical responses to EPA and to various state and local regulatory agencies as regulations pertaining to storage tanks were developed. “This first-hand knowledge of the regulations, coupled with first-hand knowledge of the emission factors, led me to develop workshops on Storage Tank Regulations and Emissions. Over the years, these workshops were attended by thousands of participants, from both industry and the regulatory agencies.”

Ferry also developed a computer application for estimating emissions from storage tanks, which he called TankESP. This program became widely used by industry, as well as by EPA and multiple state and local agencies. This success attracted the attention of larger consulting firms, and in 2017 TGB agreed to be acquired by Trinity Consultants.

“This was a real blessing for me, not only because it provided the opportunity to work with the wonderful people at Trinity, but also because it facilitated being able to retire and leave the support of TankESP to others,” Ferry said. “So now I’m largely retired, but I continue to do some work pertaining to rule development and compliance. I have peace of mind in retiring, knowing that I’m leaving the work to such a highly competent team at Trinity!”

Ferry’s first exposure to ILTA occurred during his time managing the aluminum dome company.

“We exhibited at the trade show beginning in the early ‘80s, and I made technical presentations at the Operating Conference from time to time,” Ferry recalled. “After founding TGB, I partnered with ILTA for many years in the presentation of my workshops, as well as continuing to be a presenter at the Operating Conference.”

More recently, as a contractor to ILTA, Ferry has been leading development of industry comments to EPA on revisions to the air regulations that pertain to the terminal industry, something he said has been a great privilege.

“I’ve taken this on in retirement in part because it’s important work in that these changes to the air regulations will have outsized impact on the industry—and I particularly enjoy working these issues with the ILTA group because they are immensely pleasant people to work with!” Ferry said. “It’s very helpful when working on advocacy issues to have a team that is both technically knowledgeable and congenial. I’ve been involved in commenting on storage tank regulations since the original NSPS Kb rule in 1984, and this is the most effective team I’ve worked with.”

For his work, Ferry was recently honored by ILTA with the association’s first-ever Distinguished Service Award.

“It is, of course, very kind of ILTA to honor me in this way,” Ferry said. “But, as I joked with Kathryn [Clay, ILTA President], it could also be a bribe to keep me working!”

Ferry shared his thoughts on the challenges the industry is facing from an environmental perspective at the present moment.

“The monumental challenge facing the terminal industry will be gearing up to comply with the major changes being made to the air regulations,” he said. “These regulations allow only a few years to implement the facility changes required for compliance, and it will be challenging to marshal the necessary resources to make this happen.”

When it comes to industry environmental policy in the coming years, Ferry believes there may be some shifts.

“In addition to the pending revisions to EPA air regulations for terminals, we’ve recently been seeing a trend of EPA issuing Information Collection Requests (ICRs) to terminals under the authority of section 114 of the Clean Air Act,” Ferry explained. “These ICRs have been requesting that terminals monitor emissions from storage tanks in ways that have not previously been required. This, coupled with the emerging emphasis on environmental justice issues, raises the question of whether an entirely new paradigm for regulating air emissions is on the horizon.”

Outside of work, Ferry’s primary activities have always involved faith and family.

“I was involved with prison ministry for over 20 years and have taught Sunday School for over 30 years,” Ferry said. “My wife and I moved from North Carolina to Virginia earlier this year to be closer to our children and grandchildren, and I’ve already gotten involved in coaching our youngest grandson’s youth soccer team.”

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