2022 WWD Young Pros: Keith Sommers, U.S. Submergent Technologies

June 2, 2022

From starting as an Intern to becoming General Manager, Keith Sommers has helped bring new equipment and capabilities to the market and is a dedicated water professional.

About the author:

Bob Crossen is the senior managing editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Crossen can be reached at [email protected].


Name: Keith Sommers

Age: 31

Education: BA in Economics from New College of Florida & MA in Economics from USF

Company: U.S. Submergent Technologies

Title: General Manager

What is your greatest personal accomplishment to date?

Finishing my education.

List some of your professional accomplishments.

Rising to the role of General Manager after starting as an Intern. Working to bring new equipment and capabilities to market by accurately scoping and pricing jobs. Bidding and winning over 20 million of work as an estimator. Successfully bidding, winning, and managing a complicated project of over 4 million over the course of 4 years.

What has been your most memorable project?

Restoring the capacity of an interceptor line for the City of Tampa while it was operational and under flow. One access point required booming out over 40' off a bridge to the river bank 30' below and pumping material up to the truck. It was exciting to see all of the equipment's capabilities combine to do a job no one else could.

What did you do before entering the water industry?

I worked at a community non-profit serving members of the community with substance use and mental health issues. Seeing people who were facing down some of the toughest challenges in life gave me a deep appreciation for their perseverance and drive.

What was the biggest lesson you learned when you entered the water industry?

I've learned that the people who work in this industry are some of the hardest working people around. I'm continually impressed with the pride and ownership they take in ensuring their jobs get done and services continue functioning for their communities.

How do you expect your generation will influence the water industry?

I think that my generation will bring a more diverse background of skills, experience, and education to the industry. Today there are many more ways to get involved with the industry compared to 15 or 20 years ago, so I think that will bring new perspectives on organization, management, and how to approach some of the stickier challenges this industry faces.

What are your aspirations for your water industry career?

To grow this branch with our employees, not on them.

In what extracurricular work activities would you like to be (or are) involved in?

I'm a recreational fisherman, so anything having to do with water health, sea life, or sea birds.

What are your hobbies?

I am an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, outdoor sports, and music.

What is your hidden talent?

I can do a kickflip.

Tell us a "secret" or something about you nobody knows.

I'm an open book.

What volunteer work do you do?

Not much currently.

In what ways are you involved in your local community outside professional work (organize fundraisers, youth group counselor, etc.)?

I help coach a recreational league softball team.

What are your passions?

I am passionate about doing right by people and the environment. Both are good examples of how you get the results commensurate with the effort and care that you put into them.

Describe a memorable moment with family or friends.

I love traveling with my family. One memory that sticks out is a hike that we took in the Faroe Islands that took us to a seaside cliff with the ruins of a WWII military base on it. It was really cool to see into that piece of history.

Who has been your greatest personal (or professional) influence and why?

Denver Stutler and Richard Smith. Denver for his vision and leadership and Richard for his mentorship when I first started at USST.