2016 marks Civiltec Engineering’s 30th anniversary! Civiltec was founded in 1986 in Pasadena, California by Richard Shroads. The original concept was to provide general civil engineering work with a focus primarily upon private development, subdivision design and federal design-build projects. Civiltec moved its headquarters to Monrovia, California in 1990 which continues to house the core corporate functions of the firm. In 1992, with the addition of David Byrum and others, Civiltec re-focused its services onto water engineering, environmental engineering and general municipal engineering.
Shroads opened the Prescott, Arizona office in 1993 with the mission of expanding Civiltec’s quality civil engineering offering to central Arizona. Civiltec has since established itself as the premier civil engineering firm in the area specializing in transportation engineering, water and wastewater engineering and surveying. Shroads and Chris Dusza opened the Phoenix, Arizona office in 1999. The Phoenix management and staff specialize in in flood plain management, surveying services, street improvements, water system analysis and improvements, sewer system analysis and improvements, storm drain system analysis and improvements, grading and drainage projects, area master drainage studies, hydrology studies, hydrologic modeling, and hydraulic modeling.
To celebrate Civiltec’s 30th anniversary, we asked some of our longtime employees and Civiltec’s Founder to share a few words on their memorable moments and what they look forward to in the future.
W. David Byrum, P.E. – Principal Engineer, President
With Civiltec for 23 years
Civiltec is a career dream come true! My dad asked me when I was a very young boy what I wanted to do when I grew up. He always reinforced that I said ‘I want to build things.’ My family assumed I would be a contractor of sorts, although they snickered at family gatherings that I was better at demolition than construction. My fascination with ‘building things’ took me through electro-mechanical engineering studies, mechanical engineering studies and civil engineering studies. It also took me through: working in the oil industry in West Texas for my dad while in high school; a cable TV company building cable systems to help support myself through school; a hydraulics laboratory at Caltech pre-and post-graduation; the engineering division of Public Works at the City of Arcadia, CA where my first exposure to field work occurred; the ladder from a designer to Principal Engineer and VP of a small engineering firm in Arcadia, CA; and to Civiltec in 1992 to fully realize the dream. I realized the ‘things’ were designing and construction managing infrastructure projects, building career-long working relationships with fellow employees at Civiltec, clients, contractors, vendors, and consultants from other disciplines and Civiltec itself.
Together, we are still building Civiltec. The sign out front of our offices always indicates ‘under construction.’ Current construction activities include enhanced business development in both California and Arizona, improved communication and shared work between offices, addition of highly skilled people in all locations, development of a shared vision of our future and implementation of a continual strategic planning process. The leadership of Civiltec is hard at work in the due diligence phase of a new Strategic Plan with upcoming vision and planning retreats in the spring of 2016. We will all embark on implementation of the new Plan by summer with quarterly accountability follow-ups to ensure we stay in alignment. Civiltec personnel and our clients will realize the benefit of this effort for many more years to come.
My favorite type of projects are the ones that we can really show our expertise of conceptualization, planning, design and construction management–the ‘cradle to grave’ projects. I am truly lucky to have had the opportunity to complete many such projects centered on new reservoirs, pump stations, groundwater wells, treatment plants, and pipelines. What a thrill to take an raw idea through this process to a fully operational facility that provides service to so many! A reservoir, pump station and pipeline in San Marino sticks out as one truly rewarding to bring to fruition.
Now is an exciting time for Civiltec. Since 1986 and especially in the last decade, we have expanded our staff and added unrivaled expertise, introduced leading-edge technology to the way we accomplish our services, fully developed our seven service lines, and taken the steps necessary to solidify ourselves as engineering industry leaders in Southern California and Arizona. We are harder at work than ever before to provide our clients with the best technical and personnel resources while continuing to enhance their experiences with us. The reason we exist is to deliver legendary service that our clients trust and deserve. Please join me as we pause to celebrate 30 years of business and reflect on our successes–what an accomplishment! I want to wholeheartedly thank you all for helping me realize my dream to build things and for the trust you place in me to lead us through a new era for our firm.
Daniel R. Busque – Senior Designer / IT Technician
With Civiltec for 22 years
Before I joined Civiltec Engineering, I worked for another civil engineering firm for five years as a hand drafter and CAD drafter. I joined Civiltec and did hand drafting and also was involved with their CAD program. I was asked to help out with the IT troubleshooting after a few years with Civiltec and been doing IT since. For me, one of the more memorable things during my time with Civiltec has been my involvement in the technology shifts: transitioning from hand drafting to CAD drafting, moving from pen plotters to inkjet plotters and large-format laser plotters, starting as a four-computer office to now using 20-plus computers, etc. I also helped Civiltec setup their drafting standard using AutoCAD, which has been the most rewarding contribution I have made: standardizing how we produce our computerized projects.
The most memorable projects are the school projects we do for WLC Architects. Over the years, we have received a growing amount of work from them, which I believe is due to how well we prepare plans. I also was proud to be part of the Arrowhead project. It was 17 miles of stainless steel pipe where the point of connection was up in the mountains down to Arrowhead’s processing center in Ontario, CA. I will always appreciate working on projects that you can see and appreciate after they are built, such as schools, reservoirs, wells, pump stations and post offices.
David Song, P.E. – Associate, Project Manager
With Civiltec for 10 years
2015 has been the most memorable year for me so far, and the biggest year for growth. My team and I have been involved with a lot of challenging, but rewarding projects. Some highlights were that we began working with new clients like City of Chino, City of Compton and Liberty Utilities. We also continued to enjoy completing projects with long standing clients like Valley County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division, San Gabriel County Water District, Suburban Water Systems and Sunny Slope Water Company. Civiltec’s vision has always been to provide quality civil engineering services to our clients. Over the years, we have seen our reputation positively influence existing clients and bring us new ones. Our staff has also grown to develop new service lines to accompany the ever-growing needs of the public sector.
Our first project with the City of Garden Grove stands out as one of my favorites. It was a $700,000 contract to complete design and full construction management for about six miles of pipeline, including permitting with multiple public agencies that included Orange County Public Works, Orange County Transportation Authority, CalTrans and the City of Stanton. It is the largest, most complex project that I have been involved with to date. The project was completed to the satisfaction of the City, which then led to multiple sole sourced projects that we have also completed.
Shem Hawes, P.E. – Senior Engineer, Principal
With Civiltec for over 8 years
What I enjoy the most about Civiltec is getting to work with professional, skilled coworkers who help us consistently deliver high-quality results to our clients. It’s been a pleasure seeing Civiltec steadily grow, both in terms of our number of clients and projects as well as our staff. Civiltec’s leadership quality continues to develop and we are committed to training up the next generation of Civiltec leaders to ensure a bright future for our company.
All of the projects that we have worked on at Civiltec have been great and memorable in their own way. One that stands out in particular is the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant for the City of Los Angeles. That was the City’s first design–build project ever and we worked with the City to come up with streamlined solutions to stay on a fast track for completion. Our team delivered an efficient design for efficient construction while navigating all the natural obstacles of a highly regulated process.
Chris Dusza, P.E., C.F.M. – Principal Engineer, Vice President
With Civiltec for 20 years
One of the things I have appreciated most about my time here at Civiltec is that I have had the opportunity to personally work on a variety of project-related tasks from the initial survey, to design and drafting, to project engineering and management, to construction staking and construction management. Engineers rarely have the opportunity to work on every level of a project. The experience I have gained with Civiltec over the last 20 years has not only made me a better engineer, but it has given me a deeper appreciation of what all our staff does at every level. I make it a point to expose staff to as many aspects of our work as possible because I want them to have the same experiences that I had.
Civiltec’s mission has always been to be the engineering firm of choice for our clients and having a great environment to work where we can treat each other like family. As we hit our 30th anniversary, I feel it is important to point out that our vision now includes attempting to internally transition ownership from one generation to another. We will always hold onto our established values, but it is an exciting time to see the influence on vision from the next generation.
My favorite project to be involved in was the flood mitigation associated with the Schultz Fire–a wildfire that burned over 15,000 acres near Flagstaff, Arizona in June 2010. From 2010 to 2015, I had the opportunity to work with many different engineers, engineering firms, contractors, scientists and residents who were devastated by the flooding after the fire. The mitigation projects were groundbreaking in terms of the forest restoration efforts integrated with the neighborhood improvements. There were so many obstacles, but the team refused to quit. There is no greater satisfaction as an engineer than to hear from the people who were impacted most that the projects we designed and built are working, and that the improvements have literally changed their lives for the better.
Andrew Shroads, P.E, C.F.M. – Project Engineer
With Civiltec for 9 years
One of the more memorable points in time for me was after a year of full-time employment with Civiltec, when I was able to wrap my head around all the steps that go into delivering a civil engineering project. That’s when I began to really take off with the engineering and project management roles. My LEAP training last year also really helped to expose me to good project management practices, so I’m grateful that Civiltec was so supportive of me during that training.
Similar to Chris Dusza, the most memorable projects for me were those related to the Schultz Fire Mitigation. Seeing the devastation of the flooding after the fire was an eye-opener, and I’m honored that I got to work on engineering projects that alleviated the flooding and positively impacted the residents in that area.
Richard Shroads, P.E., P.L.S. – Founder of Civiltec Engineering
While in engineering school at Cal Poly Pomona, I worked at a medium-sized engineering firm in San Marino, California specializing in multi-faceted elements of Civil Engineering. This firm was structured in eight specialty engineering departments – Planning, Engineered Grading, Flood Control, Wastewater, Water Resources, Mapping, Roads, and Land Surveying. During my tenure there, I was fortunate enough to have worked in each of these departments. I was able to learn a lot about these various engineering categories and after graduation, even manage some of these departments. It also happened to be that, during this time, a new technology was presenting itself to engineers: computers. For the first time in engineering history, each engineer, designer, draftsman, and technician was being equipped with a computer terminal wired to a mini-computer for use in computerized calculating, drafting, and (yes) even plotting plans and maps. I was in charge of managing our new technological revolution.
It was during this time of love for engineering coupled with intrigue of this new fascination called computer technology, that I felt the enthusiastic desire to create a new venture with some of my past fellow engineering students. After quite a bit of thought, two former students and I decided to create a new Civil Engineering company that would run on the enthusiasm of youth and the coolness of computer technology. Thus, it was no stretch to think of naming our newborn something that captured these two ideologies. “Civiltec”… Yes, that will do nicely! (We almost chose the name “Civiltech,” but Civiltec seemed so much more pure that it won out.) We incorporated the firm in 1986 and trekked into a world of the unknown.
We set up our first office in a multi-storied office building on Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena. It was chosen because the building managers would actually lease 400 square feet to a start-up company with no money and no credit. We had just enough room to set up three drafting tables, a computer (of course), a pen plotter, and a refrigerator. Bathrooms were down the hall. We were most fortunate, however, to have a sliding glass door access to an outdoor second-floor balcony where, while working long into the night, we could escape for some fresh air. That was the beginning.
The three Cal Poly graduates were the first Civiltec employees. Later, I modified the ownership structure to include a good friend I worked with at my former job as well as my brother-in-law who were good surveyors. As we grew, we brought in a seasoned engineer and a couple of young graduate civil engineers. This group of talent caused the company to be put on the map. We engineered hundreds of private development projects and began public agency engineering work at that time.
After some time, it was discovered that opportunities for growth in our field were presenting themselves east of Los Angeles. It was time to investigate the Inland Empire and even Arizona. After much time spent doing market research, it was obvious that there were great opportunities for Civiltec in Arizona since growth was bustling statewide. Taxes were low and less restrictive regulations were attracting attention from businesses all over the country. I was so optimistic about this opportunity, we bifurcated the firm into a Civil Engineering firm (Civiltec) and a Land Surveying firm (Western States Surveying), and we reshaped Civiltec to include two new partners from another engineering firm I had great relations with in the past. Civiltec’s current President, David Byrum, is one of these partners. It was a memorable time. I moved to Arizona to oversee the new endeavor there. Traveling back and forth from Arizona to California was commonplace but, with perseverance, we were able to make two companies out of one, establish Civiltec branches in California and Arizona, and broaden our abilities to serve new markets.
As we continued to grow, my partners and I became more involved in learning corporate management issues. We attended seminars about corporate finances, liability, law, strategic planning, business development, marketing, economics, and other such non-engineering issues. We were launching ourselves into the next step in corporate existence. In 2006, we began strategically planning for our future. In August of that year, we held our first company-wide strategic planning session. This was truly the beginning of the Civiltec metamorphosis.
- Our Vision: A company with multiple offices with several employee/owners, top quality civil and water resource engineering company to be the company of choice for employees and clients alike.
- Our Culture: To grow in size while preserving our open, empowering culture, staying focused on our core values, preserving the employee qualities we enjoy whilst serving clients that provide us sound opportunities for profitable growth.
- Our Core Values: Integrity, Communication, Leadership Development, Employ the best, Family-like, Continue our Education, Client Service, Have fun, recognize success, Employee retention, and Desire to help one another (across all offices).
With help from management consultants, this corporate growth led to development of an updated stock buy-sell agreement, a leadership transition plan, and an ownership transition plan. Now, we feel the excitement of having two new managing partners in our firm, who bring fresh new ideas. Transition brings on change, which brings on innovation and new developments, which all lead to exciting opportunities. Now, as we hit our 30th anniversary, I am reminded of the changes kindled by myself in the early days of Civiltec’s existence.
In looking back at the history and making of Civiltec, from a one-room, 400-square-foot office overlooking Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena to our 30th anniversary, it offers one a peace of mind and solace to know that every person involved in our company–past and present–has created a sense of goodness for fellow employees and the clients we have been so privileged to serve.
Many times I have been asked “What was your favorite or most memorable project?” I will say I thoroughly enjoyed solving engineering problems throughout the realms of all facets of civil engineering. I have enjoyed helping to provide new, safe, neighborhoods for families to live in. I have enjoyed providing safe engineering for new office complexes for people to work in. I have enjoyed engineering reliable water supply, storage and distribution systems for people to rely on. I have enjoyed the advent of surveying with chains, then electronic distance measurers, then total stations, and now Global Positioning Satellites and even robots. I have enjoyed designing roads, highways, transportation corridors, pavement preservation techniques. I have enjoyed analyzing watersheds, studying rainfall-runoff characteristics, storm drainage and flood control facilities.
Most of all, I have enjoyed designing structures to withstand the forces of nature. You can see from all of the different types of projects I enjoyed working on as a civil engineer, they all have one thing in common: they benefit mankind and make this world a more convenient, safer place to live. That is truly a noteworthy project. But my most favorite of all projects has been my involvement in Civiltec. Since its birth to now, it is most gratifying to know that so many people from employees, to vendors to clients, have been touched by relationships somehow connected through the people of Civiltec, which make their lives a little more whole.