Congratulations to Octavio Solorza on his 30 years with Civiltec Engineering!
Octavio’s journey with Civiltec began with two significant run-ins with Rick Shroads. The first occurred while he was attending California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: after seeing his potential, Rick hired Octavio to work for Lind & Hillerud, Inc., a Land Development engineering firm based in San Marino.
After twelve months, Octavio moved from Lind & Hillerud to Kenneth I. Mullen Consulting Engineers. There, he met David Byrum. Six months later, Rick asked him to work full-time for his new company, Civiltec Engineering.
The firm was founded in 1986; Octavio joined the team in June 1988. At the time, Civiltec was entirely focused on residential and commercial land development and surveying projects. Octavio began steadily expanding his portfolio to include site improvement design for educational facilities, religious facilities, water system facilities, and more. Throughout his time at Civiltec, Octavio has been the project manager and designer for municipal engineering, land development, and federal design-build projects throughout the southern portion of the State of California. Project locations have ranged from the cities of Chula Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Ramona in San Diego County, to the City of Brisbane in San Mateo County. Other locations have included a variety of cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County, as well as Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Kern, Santa Clara and Fresno Counties.
Over the course of three decades, Octavio has worked to support and guide his teammates as a Project Manager and, later, an Associate. We wanted to give him a chance to reflect on his time with Civiltec.
What was it like becoming an Associate of the firm?
From the time I was in high school, and definitely when I was in college, I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I was not sure what type of work I would be doing, but I was eager to create. I enjoy that our job is essentially designing and constructing something that withstands the test of time.
My responsibilities over the years have grown in number and scope. I still do the same type of work related to site development and surveying, but now, I essentially manage my own service line. I prepare proposals, manage projects, oversee team members, work with clients, and more. Becoming an Associate felt like a natural progression.
What is your favorite part of any new project?
I have managed many aspects of projects, from project management and design to interacting with public agencies and clients. My favorite part is working on the project itself. Most of the projects I design are related to academic institutions; for me, that is a lot of fun. The idea that these projects will be here long after we’re gone is very rewarding.
The work that I do helps communities. That is what civil engineering is all about: helping society thrive.
In your 30 years with Civiltec, what has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
The philosophy of work! After being in this field for so long, I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge of what goes into a project. However, I have learned to approach each project as if it was new or as if I was unfamiliar with the client. I like to be thorough. Even if the project is in a city we have worked in before, it is important that we still do the research.
This also means working more directly with those who will be reviewing the projects and working on them firsthand. These people will be our partners when submitting a project for review. I like to make sure our client gets the best possible service.
I have been here so long that people have come and gone; but relationships are important. I have learned that it is essential to be involved with the people you will learn from the most.
Since joining Civiltec, how has your life changed? Do you have any hobbies?
When I first started, I was about 24-years-old and single. Throughout my time with the firm, I got married, had four children, and started getting old! I have had all of my biggest life events while at Civiltec.
On the company side, Rick was the President of the firm. Today, David serves in that role. Civiltec has grown immensely and I am very appreciative of the opportunities that have been provided to me.
Typically, when I’m not in the office, I’m at home and spending time with my family. My kids played many sports over the years, so I have attended games, watched my kids play, and coached. Nowadays, I am mostly watching. My daughter – the youngest – plays club soccer.
My and my wife’s goal is to make sure all our children graduate from college. Two of our sons, Matthew and Zachary, followed my path and attended Cal Poly Pomona. Matthew graduated a couple of years ago and Zachary is working on his degree. Our second-oldest, Andrew, graduated from Cal State LA and is going back for his Master’s degree as a Physician’s Assistant. We are so proud of our kids. Two more to go!
How do you want to help Civiltec grow in the future? Is there anything you want Civiltec to achieve?
Rick, David, and the company owners have been working on the Leadership & Ownership Transition (LT/OT) Plan. I would like to help the transitions and get everything in place so Civiltec can continue after the current leaders, myself included, are gone.
My other goals are more training for current teammates and guiding the firm in looking for new talent. Civil engineering is a broad field and takes a lot of work and time to gain the knowledge necessary to do well in your job. The only way to continue growing is through patience.
Today, I am happy to say that Civiltec is a relatively large engineering company. In order to grow, we could potentially open another office in California. But I believe that opening another office should take into account how well we can serve our clients. It is more important that we keep a solid client base and the expertise to service them well with the staff we have.