Over the coming weeks The Chamber of Commerce is sitting down with each of the winners from the recent Westpac Waikato Business Awards to find out what they did to stand out from the crowd. Our “Winners Insights” begins with Pele Tanuvasa, Chief Executive of Civtec, who took home awards for Business Growth and Strategy, Service Excellence and the 2020 Westpac Supreme award for Business of the Year. 

A heart-warming story about a pigeon called George is the ideal anecdote to sum up why Civtec won the 2020 Supreme gong at this year’s Westpac Business Awards.

George is a friendly pigeon who joined the Civtec team at their former premises in Perclo Place, Te Rapa. It was there he became somewhat of a mascot for the telecommunications and utilities infrastructure company. As much of a part of the family as any of the humans who work there, it was only natural that George would move with the team to their new premises in Horotiu. That move has proved fortuitous for George as he has now found love there with a special lady pigeon, thanks to the Civtec team.

“We live life by design, we do cool stuff, and we’re good humans,” said Civtec Chief Executive Pele Tanuvasa. As George would no doubt attest.

Civtec started in 2014 from a single person business with one van, to being a nationwide provider in 2020 and employing more than 250 staff. It is a constant commitment to delivering great customer service that Pele attributes the company’s rapid success.

“For our team, the feeling that you get when you deliver a job well done and go the extra mile for your customer and clients are the things that give us energy day in and day out.”

Civtec understands the needs of its community because it is made up of passionate, focused members of its community with many of its employees being born and bred here in the Waikato. With a purpose of “Improvement through connection”, Civtec has built a culture that plays to its core values of courage, confidence, agility and flexibility, forward-thinking and care. Or, as they like to put it: “Don’t be a dick.” It is philosophy that enables them to make a significant, and positive, difference to individuals and the wider community.

Many of the Civtec team have come from large, traditional organisations, full of bureaucratic red tape, stale thinking and a lack of empathy. Seizing the opportunity of being a fresh, young business and a chance to learn from other workplaces’ mistakes, Civtec has been deliberate in its approach to team building and culture setting. Its team are encouraged to be flexible, adaptable and given the confidence and tools to innovate and cut through the red tape.

“We’re deliberate in how we go about our business so that we don’t end up doing business with ourselves and losing sight of what’s important.”

Their foundation for winning has been resilience and learning as 2020 was not the first year Civtec entered the Westpac Waikato Business Awards. Since 2016 they’ve been regular finalists in the “Business Growth” and “Strategy and Service Excellence” categories. It is their persistence to keep trying, learning, and improving that has been rewarded with winning both categories in 2020. Pele said the feedback from judges had been invaluable and a key contributor to Civtec’s extraordinary growth over the years.

“Having successful business owners and operators bring another lens to our operation has really helped to either confirm or reassess our approach.” The insight provided by these multiple perspectives has enabled Civtec to tweak the business model when needed and provided the confidence to stick to basics, delivering value with great customer service, and wait for the success and recognition to come. 

Being crowned the Business of the Year means just a little bit more in 2020, a year that has been plagued by uncertainty, rapid change and pessimistic forecasts. Civtec has proven it is more than capable of rising to the occasion. As an infrastructure company the challenges of growing populations, ageing infrastructure and climate change require Civtec to stay agile whilst remaining forward focused. There are many opportunities to be forged and seized over the coming years and Civtec has shown in a chaotic year that it is able to embrace and adapt to that change.

Civtec is fortunate to be helmed by a strong leadership team. Group CEO Renae Smart was the recipient of the Westpac Waikato Business Awards Emerging Leader award in 2018. Together with her husband, Director and founder of the business, Shane Smart, as well as Pele and the wider leadership team, they have established Civtec as a problem solver in its industry and grown a reputation for being honest, innovative and reliable, evidenced by winning the Service Excellence award amongst heavy competition. Civtec knows that its competitive advantage is its incredible team, and this award is a reflection of that.

“It’s all well and good telling a great story but unless we’re all on the waka together and paddling in the same direction, it’s not going to mean a thing. These awards have always been about recognizing our Civtec whānau and showing them what we’ve known all along – they’re awesome, they do great things every day, and they are setting Civtec up for our ongoing success into the future.”

It is inspiring to see such incredible success in a homegrown, Waikato business and Civtec is sure to an industry leader nationwide for years to come. The Waikato Chamber of Commerce is proud to count such an exciting, young business amongst its membership. Congratulations Civtec. 


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