Richland, Washington – August 17, 2017. This year marks RC Engineering and Construction Management’s 10th Anniversary, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about where we have come over the years and the exciting future that lies ahead.
Already well into an exciting and eventful 2017, I sat down with Colette Steinwert, RC’s President and Co-founder, to take a few moments and reflect on not only this past year, but on the past 10 years—a look back on the company’s origins, aspirations, and accomplishments up to this point:
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years—it’s gone really fast—but I’m amazed how far we’ve come over that period of time. We’re doing things that I had no idea that we were going to do. I don’t want to say surprised at where we’re at, but the things we’ve been able to accomplish as a team has really made me proud.
What made you decide to start this business?
Truth or something that would be worth saying? The truth is we needed a job!
Rob and I together knew we could put our two different skill sets together and take it much further than we each could individually. He has the construction and engineering background, while I have the business management and federal business development background.
We saw that we have very synergistic capabilities; there was no reason we couldn’t be successful putting that together. We’re really customer service-oriented and we like to help solve problems for clients. We wanted to take it beyond just he and I just doing our own things.
What were your visions for this company back in 2007? Have you met or even surpassed those visions?
Oh, we’ve absolutely surpassed them. When we started this company, we just knew we wanted to use our skills in a meaningful way to help our clients solve tough challenges, but didn’t have a focus for what we wanted to do when we… “grew up,” basically. It was a matter of looking at the opportunities that were out there for our two skillsets and parlay that into a marketable set of services. For that reason, we chose to start slow and didn’t take on additional employees for the first year or so to make sure that we really had a vision of where we wanted to go, study the market, and decide where the opportunities lie and what we could do.
Our very first project was Rob supporting the estimating department at one of the Hanford primes and that helped us solidify just exactly where we could take the business and what we could do.
When we started this company, we had no idea that we would become really specialized in estimating and project controls, and we had no idea that we would build this whole professional services company around project and construction management. Now we have successfully secured federal prime contracts such as a $20M nationwide cost engineering contract with the US Army Corps of Engineers and a DOE prime contract for construction inspection services.
What were your greatest accomplishments since your start in 2007? How do you define your successes?
The greatest of our accomplishments, aside from winning federal prime contracts, is really the core team that we’ve built. I really feel like we have a fantastic support staff in-house that forms the nucleus of the company. It’s not just getting people to put out on projects; it’s about being a company that cares about our people and having a team that embodies our core values.
What’s your favorite part of running RC? What excites you the most?
The MooLattés in the afternoons! [laughs]
What I really like… my favorite part is when we’re working on a really difficult project and we all pull together as a team; it’s that comradery that happens when you’re figuring out how to get through some of the challenges. For example, when I look at the recent $400M NNSA proposal that we were hired to manage and produce for the client, we all had a part in it. We came together, worked hard for our client, and helped them win. That’s the cool stuff that we do, when we’re working at as a team. And the MooLattés.
It’s the family atmosphere that’s really important to me and Rob, because it’s what makes us want to come to work every day.
Do you have any advice for your fellow colleagues, or those following in your footsteps?
Advice… value your team. As the owner, you set the ground rules, but it’s up to you to ensure it’s for everybody’s best even if it’s not always the popular choice. Be strong and stick to what you know is right for everyone, not just yourself, one person, or a small group of people.
If I were to talk to someone who was just getting off the ground, I’d say don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of people that have been in those same shoes. Make sure that you learn a lesson from mistakes and how to impart that into your company. Share that information with your team, because when you all learn, you all get better, and you all have a better experience overall.
Where do you expect to go over the next 10 years? In what ways do you expect to grow?
I absolutely want to see us go nationwide and possibly worldwide. As a company, I want to continue to build our reputation in our core service areas but move into more strategic service areas—niche capabilities. As we graduate the 8(a) program, moving into unique service areas will be very important.
I’d very much like to see us grow to a 150- to 200-person company, with different centers throughout the country. However, I don’t want us to lose our small company personality. I want a consistency of culture; not an “us or them, here or there.” As we grow it’s not just success for the company, it’s success for everyone.
Do you have any closing remarks that you’d like to add?
We wouldn’t be where we are without our people. That’s one of the absolute most important things to Rob and me: we did not do this, our team did this, and made us successful.
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