June marks 10 years since we introduced our fresh alternative to MEP engineering in Texas! Anniversaries are great occasions to pause and reflect. We can’t say it has been a “wild ride,” but it has been exciting, fulfilling and stressful – sometimes all at the same time. We’ve had several conversations in recent weeks wherein a person expresses surprise to learn or realize that CZ is only ten years old. Admittedly, this imbues a touch of pride because, to us, it means our team is consistently performing with a high level of service and professionalism.
First, we extend a great big “Thank You” to all the architects, owners and community leaders who have graciously engaged us in varying ways these past ten years. We know there are many good options in the market and we are deeply appreciative of every opportunity. We have formed many friendships and truly enriched our collective lives. We’ve worked on some wonderful projects together…and some challenges here and there of course.
Much has changed since the days of Blackberries and Palm Pilots (think way back to the time before iPhones) in 2006. We’ve steadily grown from a staff of six to over fifty today. We’ve added four service divisions to complement our founding MEP team – Commissioning, Building Analytics, Water/Wastewater and IT/Security. We’ve moved our office three times and worked on over 1,500 projects. We have acquired licenses in seventeen states and two Canadian provinces, and even produce drawings in French!
CZ is not “your dad’s” engineering firm (unless you’re one of the dozens of children that have been born to CZ staffers over the years). We endeavor to keep our ideas fresh and young. We try to push the boundaries of a “traditional” engineering firm. What does this mean? Build a culture and environment that makes engineering fun and meaningful. Embrace knowledge, training and advancement. Be out in the community and give back to our owners through sponsorships and community service. Build a brand and market it. Buy an abandoned 1920’s building with tons of character and redevelop it in a manner that reflects our engineering values. Commission an 8,000 lb custom BBQ trailer and smoke lunch for fifty or one hundred people – once or twice a month! To the extent we can, give back to our architect clients by sharing opportunities and connecting them with owners and their projects. These traits certainly aren’t new to business, but they were arguably new to MEP engineering in south Texas.
Without question the most fulfilling part of growing CZ has been assembling our all-star team. It took us a few years to figure it out, but we eventually crafted a very intentional recruiting and hiring process that has been remarkably rewarding. From the beginning we never wanted to build a firm defined exclusively by our own personalities. Yes, we know the name is “Cleary Zimmermann,” but that was to make sure we could put food on the table in the early days using our reputations. We believe that in professional services, each person is an entrepreneur in his or her own right. Although there is certainly more to the business than this, work often follows a reputation, which is why all our value is derived from our people.
Our challenge continues to be making CZ a culture where the very best in our profession, aka “rock stars,” want to work: where peers challenge each other to improve; where compensation is competitive or better; and where opportunity for advancement abounds. As new generations enter the workplace in the coming years, we’ll continue to evolve, improve and enhance our employee benefits and amenities.
Out in Front
A close second in the fulfillment category has to be sticking with our quest to stay out in front. From sustainability to the latest software tools, we have continually strived to set the bar high for our profession. We committed from the beginning to sustainability and have consistently led ever since with LEED certified designers and many certified projects. We added our Building Analytics division in 2010 to bolster our qualifications in sustainable design; this team specializes in sustainable modeling, energy analyses and computational specialties. Although commonplace today, our earliest projects were in Revit, which was just coming on the MEP scene in 2006. We were one of the first firms to embrace it because we felt like it was the future. And then there was our Commissioning Division in 2008, which we invested in heavily with instruments, tools and staff since commissioning is a big part of LEED and sustainable design in general. And finally, we exemplified sustainable design by selecting an abandoned 1920 warehouse for our new office in 2010. This labor of love brought about plenty of stress, but in the end it has provided us a far better home than we could have anticipated.
In the next ten years, apps, smart phones, tablets, drones and ultra-high speed connectivity will continue to transform our profession and practice in ways we can’t yet predict. Geographical boundaries continue to melt in the virtual world as well. We’re looking forward to these unknowns and are working hard to keep ahead of the curve.
When it comes to excitement, a good bit of this stems directly from our project diversity. Our rock star engineers have broad resumes, and this has given us many opportunities. In addition to hundreds of home field projects in Texas, we’ve been privileged to work over the years on numerous projects in many other states, northern Africa, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Canada. In Texas, our work has touched nearly every major market sector: hospitals and healthcare, K-12 education, colleges and universities, manufacturing, office space, municipal and industrial water/wastewater, and on and on. All of our international work has been U.S. defense related. Our out-of-state and Canadian work has been mostly U.S. defense and water/wastewater. There is rarely a dull day at CZ, and consequently we feel that there are few better places than here for graduate engineers to commence their careers, or for seasoned engineers and support staff to be creative and challenged each day.
The Next 10
Our brand colors are intentionally blue and gold: blue for dependability and gold for service. “Dependability” is a product of experience, excellence and attention to detail – all components that should be fundamental to engineering services. “Service” stems from communication, responsiveness and coordination with our clients, owners and with each other. These values pretty much sum up the experience we endeavor to render every time you partner with CZ. We can’t say that these values are perfectly executed YET, but we will work tirelessly over the next ten years to get as close as we can by continuing to only hire the very best people, and continuing to train, challenge and improve ourselves to give you our very best.
Cheers for the next ten, and more!
By Wade Cleary and Danny Zimmermann