Staff Spotlight: 25 Years with Raymond Buettner, III

Senior Designer 

We’re so happy to have you on our team after 25 years! Let’s have a silver jubilee in the form of a staff spotlight! You’ve seen over half of our company’s history and it is with your keen lens that we’d love to see through today. How have we changed and grown? Professionally have you changed? Let’s take a look at Raymond’s career growth at Civiltec. Congratulations again, we couldn’t do what we do without you. 

What did you do before joining Civiltec? (Work/School) 

Long story short, I taught 7th & 8th grade English and History at a Charter School in Chino Valley. Chris called me in May of 1998 and asked if I needed a summer job because they needed some help on their survey crews. I said, “Of Course, I’m a teacher.” I started out working with the survey crew as a rodman and then started helping with drafting. In the spring of May 2000, I made the career change and came to work for Civitec full-time.  

What made you decide to pursue engineering? 

I went to Northern Arizona University as a Civil Engineering student. After my Freshman year, I switched to Education and received my B.S. in English with a secondary teaching certificate. I really enjoyed being a teacher but after being exposed to actual civil engineering, I just found my niche.

What has made Civiltec your workplace “home?” 

From day one Civiltec has been about the people who work here. It’s like an extended family and we all work very well together. I think each office has its own culture but overall Civiltec has stayed true to a work/life balance and I feel blessed to have been here as long as I have.  

What does a Civiltec day look like for you? 

For the most part, my day and week can change to a multitude of different projects that we work on. For example, Richard and I have completed 4 well projects for the Town of Prescott Valley in the last 5 years and Mark and I completed 2 reservoir projects (a 2-million-gallon steel tank and a 3-million-gallon prestressed concrete tank).

I also managed all those projects during construction and saw them all the way through to final approvals and as-builts. Currently, I have been working on the Long Term Flood Mitigation projects for Coconino County as well as managing the construction phases of those projects. I think this is why I enjoy my work here at Civiltec. There is such a variety of things we do in our Prescott and Arizona offices that every day brings something new.  

What has been one highlight in the past 25 years? 

I would say the biggest highlight has been our work in Coconino County with the fire mitigation and drainage infrastructure we have designed and constructed. What we have been doing comes with a lot of interaction with multiple funding sources and agencies as well as working with the residents affected by the flooding and fires. I did get to meet the late John McCain who came up to our projects in 2012 for a photo op and to see the progress. That was kinda fun but in the end, it’s the satisfaction of looking back and knowing we helped make a significant difference for all those affected by the fires and flooding.    

How is it being Prescott’s event ambassador? What do you think creates a comfortable work/fun environment? 

HA! The group we have at Civiltec works together to find ways for us to have a little fun at work and break up the work day is what makes this a great place to work. Just a fun Cinco De Mayo lunch, ice cream day, or hot dog day. It’s fun to break up the work day by kicking back and chit-chatting about things that are not work-related.

Our big events are fun too: Christmas Parties on John Wayne’s yacht in Newport Beach or picking up a game at Chase Field. It’s nice to get away from the office and learn more about those you work with because Engineering is truly a team effort.

You spent a lot of time teaching and now coaching. How do those skills translate to your day-to-day work?  

Teaching was fun and I might still be doing it but the opportunity I had 25 years ago began with lots of prayer and one very scary decision to change careers but I have never regretted one moment. Coaching is a passion of mine. I mostly started coaching to spend time with my sons. As a coach, you learn the value of communication, organization, and working as a team. I think you also learn how every athlete is not the same and you have to approach every athlete like you would an employee or co-worker.

I have spent 14 years coaching many levels of soccer including club and it’s obvious that if you don’t work as a team or move on the field as a team you are doomed. Much like the cliche, there is no I in a team. As I said, engineering and building our projects with town managers and contractors comes down to a team effort. Finding solutions to issues that come up on a set of plans or field conditions is the same as being aware of how your position on the field is affecting your team’s chance to score a goal. My other passion is swimming and I’ll be entering my 3rd year as the assistant coach to the High School Swim Team that Civiltec sponsors.     

If you’re just getting into cooking with a smoker, what do you recommend getting or cooking first, and how? (meaning you got any hacks?)

Again HA! When I got my smoker I looked up what to smoke and everyone said brisket was the most difficult. So naturally, I started with brisket. I’ve learned a couple of things and my biggest smoking brisket hack would be to use butcher paper and pay attention to the time to crutch. Also, never rush a brisket. There’s the saying, good things come to those who wait, that’s true with smoking a brisket. My second hack is that I’ve been dabbling with getting the brisket to the crutch and then putting it in the oven to finish it.  

Any recent woodworking or refurbishments you’ve undertaken and wish to share?

The last thing I did was a stool for my wife for her plants on the back porch this past Christmas. I wish I had more time for woodworking. I would love to have a workshop like Ben Napier’s, Home Town, someday.  

What is the best advice you have ever heard (or said)?

If you borrow something from someone, return it better than you found it. 

Read more about Raymond with previous staff spotlights here and here