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Civtec keeps building on fibre roll-out

“We made deliberate choices to offer a great service, use the right tools and meet the needs of our customer All these things have kept the work flowing.”

Director & co founder, Renae Smart

Renae Smart, co-founder of infrastructure construction company Civtec, knows the key reason why the company blossomed at this years Westpac Waikato Business Awards – a team of great people focused on delivering for our customers.

The business began in 2014 and through a combination of timely opportunism and sound business practice has grown today to a team of over 270 operating across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Canterbury regions.

“We were thrilled to take out the Supreme title at this year’s awards, this is a real nod to our team that they are getting it right” says Renae.

It’s not the first time that Civtec has shined at the event, with Renae taking out the Emerging Leader Award in 2018, a hint to the fact that this was a business intending on going places.

Renae’s passion for the industry she operates in is apparent as she describes how proud she is of Civtec, a sentiment shared by co-founder and husband, Shane Smart.

Like any starting business, Shane, a civil engineer, and Renae, who has a professional background in software and consulting, worked hard in the company’s formative years, seizing the opportunity when the national fibre roll-out began.

“Shane literally started out as a man in a van, there was massive demand and our business quickly expanded.

“We made deliberate choices to offer a great service, use the right tools and meet the needs of our customer All these things have kept the work flowing.”

Understanding that fibre connections are not a repeat type of business activity, Shane and Renae know where the transferable skills and equipment are in their business.

They know the team are talented at solving problems and with a growing fleet of underground construction technologies realised the opportunity to diversify into other utility services such as Water, Power and Gas.

Running a high growth company can be ‘a roller-coaster ride’ Renae says it is important to have good people on the team and create the kind of company along the way that people want to be part of. Civtec has a strong purpose of ‘Improvement through Connection’ and a core belief of putting people at the centre of the business.

“We have an excellent leadership team, with Pele Tanuvasa, Civtec CEO, at the helm that never lose sight of our purpose’ says Renae.

Operating in the contracting sector is a blend of the competitive and the collegial, as Renae explains.

“It’s an interesting industry to work in because it can be very competitive and then it can also have a strong element of working collaboratively with other companies to achieve an outcome. We like that aspect to our business.”

Focus on infrastructure spend is topical at the moment, and Civtec is positioned as a strong delivery partner across various parts of the industry, including three waters.

2020 has been a mixed bag for many businesses and Civtec was not immune to the challenges of Covid. Taking over an existing company in Christchurch just on lock-down just added another challenge to the mix.

“To be honest, when I heard the Lockdown announcement, I felt a little sick, but then we just went into crisis management mode and worked through it.”

During that time, about 15% of the staff were actively operating to deliver essential service, while the balance were at home. Those that could work from home, carried on remotely albeit in a limited capacity.

“This was a test for the business but we discovered, through that journey, that we cope really well in a crisis.”

Three months ago, Renae took herself out of the operational management sphere re-titling her role today as Group CEO.

“This is great for Shane and I. I can concentrate on the strategy, and Shane can be our impact player, coming in and out of projects as needed. It plays to both of our strengths and adds value for the team.”

Topping off a positive year in 2020 is the much-awaited move into the fit for purpose new premises, in Horotiu.

Renae says the whole team are looking forward to being together again on one site.

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