Shem Hawes, PE
Principal, Senior Engineer — Fullerton
What have been some highlights of your work at Civiltec over the last decade and a half?
As a principal, I have had the opportunity to engage in the operations and growth of the company at many different levels. As a working partnership, our efforts have been strategic in making Civiltec a great place to work. Most of the highlights in recent years revolve around collaboration with wonderful employees who have dedicated numerous hours and through creativity and industry have been an integral part of the success of the Civiltec team. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these employees. Our greatest highlight is working with our clients as partners. Our Clients are awesome and we so appreciate the work we are able to do for them. Our ability to grow over the last decade has been in large part attributable to our clients commitment to us and giving us great opportunities to serve them.
What project are you most proud of in your time here?
Projects have been plentiful at Civiltec and have ranged in complexity and scope within the wastewater, water, storm water, streets and roads, and transportation disciplines. Many projects have included various improvements such as site civil, ROW work, heavy mechanical, treatment process, architectural, structural, HVAC, electrical, instrumentation and controls. I am most proud of the work that the Civiltec team performed for the Hollywood Casino Advanced Wastewater Treatment project. This project was highly complex and included various engineering disciplines to complete. Our team worked very closely with the Contractor and Owner to streamline the process and make treatment system selections early on in the project development. This enabled design of structural and building elements to be formalized and sized very quickly. As I recall, we were directed to start design in the month of August and by the following month, the contractor had initiated excavation work in preparation for the concrete basins and building footings. The treatment plant was operational by the following March. Many other projects have been rewarding and I primarily attribute this to working with great clients and having the wonderful support of our valued staff. Recent projects that have brought much satisfaction have included the Wadsworth treatment plant project for PWP, Southern California Edison Catalina Island Drought Contingency Plan and System Wide Operations and Maintenance Manual, Three Valleys Municipal Water District Miragrand Well, Monte Vista Water District Plant 30 Nitrate and 1, 2, 3 TCP Treatment Plant Construction Management, Cal Domestic Water Company Well 8 PFAS treatment plant along with many others.
What has changed in your time here? From when you started back in 2007, to becoming a partner in 2014 , to now?
When I began at Civiltec in 2007, the Monrovia office was situated in an adjacent space of the same building to where we are now. The office environment was predominately organized in silos such that certain design and engineering disciplines were operating in one space of the office while others were focused on other disciplines and primarily working for one Project Manager. When we moved over to the adjacent space in the same building the following year, our office culture changed slightly and project team members began to work more collaboratively across engineering disciplines and teams. We began to understand the value of each member’s talents and opportunities to cross train our employees and get them involved with different project types. This has been a great foundation for integrating each of our projects into the overall operations of Civiltec. Where certain staff had an expertise with a certain discipline, our teams were able to expand to incorporate those staff into the design execution of different projects being managed by different Project Managers. This has enabled better communications within our offices and led to better products for clients. As we emerged from the great recession, our operations began to be more streamlined and we relied on technology to further integrate our offices with shared servers across all of the offices. Between 2007 to 2014, we were blessed to bring on our company controller who has been instrumental in making our ability to weather financial ups and downs very easily. As a Project Manager and Company Associate during this time, it has made project accounting so much more streamlined and transparent.
After becoming a partner in 2014, we have strategically brought on board additional competencies to support office management and business development. Our marketing manager has been so instrumental in focusing our business outreach programs and with the leadership of our Office Manager in Monrovia, they have expanded our business presence. I often think of them as our Chief Officers of Charity as they do an extremely good job at keeping our clients in the know of our business practices and sharing joy during the holiday season. We have done numerous service projects in the community over the past 7 years, and this has been rewarding for me personally and as a company, our staff has been able to share in community as well as team building. Luckily within the last few years, we also hired our Human Resource Manager and Recruiting Specialist to support the growth in personnel and to also look to the future while adding talent to our team. Ultimately becoming a partner has accelerated my ability to contribute to some of the successes that Civiltec has enjoyed over the years. Our partnership continues to expand and has grown from 3 to 6 in the last 7 years.
What do you think is unique to the experience here at Civiltec?
The most unique element to the Civiltec experience is satisfaction in knowing that our team is an integral part of the water community and we deliver solutions to our Clients that advance their objectives in meeting customer needs and complying with regulatory requirements. To think of all of the projects that we have implemented from concept to construction; while passing through planning, cost benefit analyses, preliminary design and implementation and further in those designs becoming working systems that really matter to the communities that our clients serve, is an awesome feeling. Water is a precious resource in the southwest and our efforts to plan for drought, improve water quality, expand reliability, ensure redundancy and support growth have uniquely made Civiltec a force for good in the communities that we serve. Our projects are implemented with an end goal in mind, and ultimately consider a number of factors including environmental impacts, sustainable design, client objectives and community support.
What advice would you give to engineers just starting their career?
Young engineers have bright prospects and opportunities ahead of them. We are able to see their contributions to team success much earlier in their career development than prior generations were able to. In any advancement, our young engineers should be confident in their current abilities and look forward to continued growth in their careers. This process takes time and patience. Civiltec strives to provide opportunities that are challenging, yet on point with the competency of these engineers as they are tasked to prepare project documentation. There is an ebb and flow to what the young engineers are learning and sometimes they may not grasp the directions that a project is taking. This is a great opportunity to reach out to our senior staff and look for guidance and learning. In this enterprise, I would encourage our young engineers to be prepared to offer solutions to the question that they may have prior to engaging senior staff. In this mind set they become a stakeholder in the ultimate solution. Also, be patient with yourselves as you engage in project development. In a world where many of the accommodations we enjoy are available at our fingertips, due consideration and methodology is needed to fully internalize what is being learned. Most things in life that are rewarding and inspiring are brought about by small advancements that lead to great accomplishments.
What is the most interesting thing going on right now in the Fullerton office?
Civiltec opened the Fullerton office in December 2020 and we were fully equipped with integration with all of our offices through the cloud by January of 2021. Most of the furnishings of the office were put in place by January of 2021 as well. Expanding to Fullerton has enabled Civiltec to have a greater presence in Orange County and serve both our Orange County and Inland Empire clients much better. In the Fullerton office, we enjoy the proximity to great restaurants, golfing at the neighboring driving range, exercising at the neighboring park and collaborating as team members on projects and company activities. I have to say that video connectivity has brought all of our offices closer together. Team building through the company wide step challenge, superhero bingo events, kahoot trivia and much more keep us afloat and excited about being on the Civiltec team.
What’s a hobby or interest that you have that others may not know about?
Over the years, I have become more enthusiastic about mountain biking and often head out to some of the local trails in the Chino Hills state park. In most of the adventures I am joined by my two sons. They often question the length of many of our journeys. One journey had us commence our bike trip in southern Utah just east of Bryce Canyon. The path began in a little town called Boulder, Utah and we embarked on a 70 mile journey from there to Bullfrog, Utah. The main element of the trip was to end up in Lake Powell to enjoy a few days on the lake. I think the prospect of water sports on the Lake got my kids past the grueling ride through the southern Utah heat. I also spend a significant amount of time volunteering in community sports programs for youth as well as volunteer as Bishop of a local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. These volunteer opportunities have been very rewarding as I have been able to mentor and coach the next generation of youth as well as support local and regional needs through service, food programs for the needy, work and job development, expanding educational opportunities and spiritual enlightenment.