on October 25, 2013 - 9:27 PM
, updated October 25, 2013 at 9:39 PM
July 27, 1937 – Oct. 23, 2013
Gerhard J. Neumaier, a co-founder of the Lancaster-based environmental services firm Ecology & Environment, died Wednesday in Buffalo after a short illness. He was 76.
Mr. Neumaier was born in Covington, Ky., and graduated from Kaiser High School in Dayton, Ohio. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from the General Motors Institute and a master’s degree in physics/biophysics from the University of Buffalo.
Mr. Neumaier’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident at an early age. As an eighth-grader, he was named “outstanding newspaperboy” by the Dayton Journal Herald in 1951 for showing an impressive increase in subscription sales along his route.
From 1964 to 1970, Mr. Neumaier was a scientist at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory in Cheektowaga. In 1970, he and three partners founded E&E in a small office over a carpet store in West Seneca. They grew the business into a leading global company in the environmental services industry, with more than 1,000 employees and completing more than 50,000 projects in 122 countries.
E&E went public in 1987 on the American Stock Exchange and was twice named one of the fastest-growing public companies in the United States by Fortune magazine.
In 1988, Mr. Neumaier led the design effort for E&E’s $5.5 million new corporate headquarters in Lancaster, incorporating “green” building techniques long before they were widely used. “We wanted this building to convey the fact that we believe in what we’re doing,” Mr. Neumaier said in 1988. The building was recognized in 2008 as the oldest structure in the world to be awarded the highest level of certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Mr. Neumaier was the longtime president, chief executive officer and chairman of E&E. In 2008, he stepped down as president and CEO, while remaining chairman.
“Gerhard’s leadership in adopting a multidisciplinary approach to solving environmental problems was ahead of its time when E&E was founded in 1970 and is one of his enduring legacies,” the company said in a statement. “E&E’s family will continue to rally together and build upon the original vision Gerhard dedicated so much of his life to.”
In August, Mr. Neumaier was removed from his position as chairman of E&E amid a management shakeup, but he remained on the board. He resigned his board seat in September.
Mr. Neumaier, an East Aurora resident, was active in numerous environmental and civic causes. He won the Paul MacClennan Environmental Citizen of the Year Award in 2000 from the Erie County Environmental Education Institute and the Exemplary Citizens Award from the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site Foundation in 1990.
Over the past 50 years, Mr. Neumaier developed a theory of physics linking the motion of the solar system with the quantized order of the atom. He established the Foundation for the Study of Physics of Gravity.
He also was a member of the board of directors for Audubon New York.
He is survived by his wife, Ellen; a son, Kevin; a daughter, Kirsten Shelly; and a brother, Bert.