EPA site inspection is a phrase guaranteed to strike fear in the heart of any company executive -- unless, of course, she happens to be Pat Ricketson, CEO of Hazardous Waste Consultants Inc., in Orlando. Ricketson has developed a thriving business conducting ersatz inspections for customers nervous about a possible visit from a real EPA inspector.

The practice inspections are actually an outgrowth of her core businesses: cleaning up toxic sites and transporting hazardous waste. To handle those kinds of jobs, Ricketson has to know EPA regulations inside out and understand how inspectors operate. So it was only natural for customers to ask her what they could expect when the EPA came calling. A former teacher, Ricketson decided the best way to show them was to walk them through their sites while she played inspector. The service has proven so popular that in its first year it accounted for 20% of her company's $2.5 million in sales -- with little marketing, no new capital investment, and no additional insurance.

In addition to the inspection service, Ricketson gives biannual seminars on hazardous-waste assessment. She says she's had no problem filling them up. "It's like talking to people about shark-feeding frenzies," she says. "They are terrified -- and they want to know every gory detail."

-- Teri Lammers