Fast 50 contender: Civtec
The Deloitte Fast 50 is heating up, with only a couple of weeks to go until the final results are revealed at the Festival of Growth. As we prepare for the big event, our team spoke to Renae Smart, CEO of Fast 50 finalist Civtec, about her business's approach to fast growth, their journey to the Fast 50 and their new robot employee.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and what your company does?
I'm the Chief Executive of Civtec, a construction company that works primarily in the utility sector. We started five and a half years ago and we've grown really quickly, expanding from telco to power, water, gas and other civil construction. We operate through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty but we have projects that we work on from Bombay to the lower North Island.
Why did you start your business?
My husband Shane and I decided that we were going to have a really relaxed life about five years ago. We were going to start a ‘man in a van’ business with each of us working four days a week around long weekends of beaching, fishing and hanging out with our kids. That idea lasted for about five seconds and then the business just grew quickly and here we are today. No three day weekends!
Why did Civtec enter the Deloitte Fast 50?
We’ve entered a few times and we were on the index in 2017. The Festival of Growth is a really fun day - you learn so much and meet other people doing cool things. So when we thought we'd probably make the cut again, we decided to enter.
How would you define Civtec’s purpose?
Our purpose at Civtec is ‘Improvement through Connection’. We spend all of our time connecting people with fibre, water, gas, power or footpaths, but it’s also about the people connection. We want to make sure that everything we've touched is better when we leave it; that includes the sites that we visit through to the interactions and conversations we have. Those connections are physical but they're also social and emotional as well.
Do you get outside advice when it comes to the big decisions?
Shane and I have been really good at bouncing things off each other from the outset, making sure that we’re testing what we're doing and talking about what's happening.
That being said, we wanted to make sure that we had an external perspective as well, so we have an advisory board who we meet with at least quarterly. We also have other trusted advisors that we tap into when we need certain types of skills on a decision we're making. It’s important to have those work networks when you're a business owner because people aren't always readily available if you don't make the effort to go and find them.
How are you considering technology in your business plans?
My background is in tech so I love it. We’re living in a digital world and Civtec are connecting people all the time so we have to figure out how to make the most of it. Our most recent technology piece is that we've actually recruited our first digital employee - a robot affectionately named Bender, for everyone who loves a Futurama reference! Bender processes a lot of the administration that's boring for our team but really necessary, freeing them up to do the interesting stuff.
How have you adjusted your business approach while experiencing fast growth?
Fast growth means that you're constantly looking for people. When you’re under that pressure, it’s tempting to take anyone who can walk, talk and breathe at the same time but that’s not a great recruitment strategy! We've taken our time to recruit the people that we need, focusing more so on their personality and attitude than their degrees. It’s worked well for us – all our people get what ‘Improvement through Connection’ means and they live it.
Aly Wrightson is the Fast 50 Campaign Lead in the Deloitte Clients & Marketing team.