Shaping the Landscape
Civil 1, Inc. committed to being a trusted adviser
When Curt Jones, President of Civil 1, Inc., made the decision to leave a prominent civil engineering firm in 1993 in hopes of starting his own business, he had a computer, a basement office and zero clients. But Curt had a vision for creating a company that aligned with his values and priorities. “I had to decide whether I wanted to work for myself or someone else for the rest of my life. In running my own business, I could set the direction and shape the culture of the company,” he says.
Twenty-seven years later, Curt leads a tight-knit team of employees who are helping to shape the landscapes of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. From small residential to $1 billion energy projects, Civil 1 has become a powerhouse in site design.
Headquartered in Woodbury, Connecticut, the company provides civil engineering, land surveying and land use permitting services for residential, commercial and industrial clients in both the public and private arenas. “We partner with clients to develop site engineering solutions that meet their vision and goals,” Curt says.
The team of land development specialists works closely with developers and property owners from concept to completion. “A client might come to us with a piece of land and an initial concept. It’s up to us to implement the most suitable design for access, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, parking, sanitary and wastewater systems, and stormwater management. We also work with clients throughout the review and approval process to make sure the land is properly zoned and permitted. We then work closely with the architect and the design and construction teams to inspect and document the construction progress and provide any additional survey or engineering services, including necessary reports to local, state and federal permitting agencies,” says Emily Jones, who has served as a Project Manager at Civil 1 for 10 years and is Curt’s daughter-in-law.
Opening the lines of communication starts with that initial meeting. “When clients come to us, we take the time to really listen to their problems and concerns. We’re not out to develop a cookie-cutter solution. Every project is unique. We tune in to identify specific needs so we can develop a custom solution,” Curt says.
The team works closely together on projects and prides itself on being responsive and proactive. “There are seven people on this team, and we all know what each person is doing. If there is an issue on-site, you’re not waiting two weeks for someone to come out. We work together to get clients the help they need when they need it,” Emily says.
Taking care of customers means strong communication throughout the life cycle of a project. “We don’t ignore phone calls. We follow through and work to keep those lines of communication open,” Curt says. “If we hit a challenge, we talk through it and get it resolved quickly.”
A hallmark of the company, according to Curt, is its commitment to earning clients’ trust. “We are very upfront and straightforward. We’re not out there chasing the lowest bid. We believe we add value in being a trusted adviser that anticipates issues from the very get-go.”
With team members who have up to 30 years of experience, there’s not much that Civil 1 hasn’t seen. “When new clients come through our doors, we can tell them exactly what they can expect and what hurdles they might encounter. We have been doing this for so long, we minimize those surprises,” Curt says.
Best and Brightest
The seasoned professionals at Civil 1 include professional engineers, a licensed land surveyor and a draftsman. “We have a very loyal, hardworking team here,” Curt says. The company’s first employee, Director of Engineering Brian Baker, joined Civil 1 in 1996 and is still with the firm 24 years later. “We are always looking to provide additional service offerings, and experience counts in this industry,” Curt adds.
The company also has an eye on mentoring and bringing along new talent, as well. “We recruit the best and the brightest,” Curt says. Civil 1 most recently added Project Engineer Siyuan Cao, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the team. “During our first meeting, Siyuan told me that his name is pronounced ‘C-One,’ like our name Civil 1. That seemed pretty serendipitous to me,” Curt says. The company sponsored Siyuan through the Green Card process, and when Siyuan finally received his permanent residence card, the whole team celebrated. “This was Siyuan’s lifelong wish. We had a big celebration with family and friends,” Curt says.
That spirit of camaraderie and support is woven throughout day-to-day life at Civil 1. “We nurture a team atmosphere at Civil 1. If someone has a tight or difficult deadline, that person can call on the team for help. We pitch in, show our support for others and together get over these temporary hurdles,” he adds.
Keeping Projects in Motion
When you work on $1 billion projects, harnessing that power of collaboration and teamwork helps to keep construction activities in motion. The company’s work with the town of Oxford, Connecticut, has kept the Woodruff Hill Industrial Park going forward for more than 15 years. “This is a 290-acre industrial park near Waterbury-Oxford Airport and is an ongoing project,” Curt says. Over the years, Civil 1 has completed permitting and plans for road grading, utility placement and stormwater management for 17 industrial building lots.
“This is an environmentally sensitive area with a lot of wetlands,” Emily says. “It required unique solutions for access to the site while still protecting the surrounding wetlands and aquatic species. Extensive erosion control and wetland protection measures as well as detailed site planning were required, and we have followed the project closely to provide ongoing inspections and recommendations throughout the construction process.”
When Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) proposed locating its new Towantic Energy Center at Woodruff Hill Industrial Park, the company turned to Civil 1 for site planning assistance. “The CPV Towantic Energy Center is an 805-megawatt, natural gas-fueled electric generating facility that powers up to 750,000 Connecticut homes,” Curt says.
As the site civil engineer, Civil 1 provided services that included initial concept, permitting drawings, Connecticut Siting Council testimony, specifications and construction administration, as well as design and construction services for the 4,400-linear-foot road that connects the project to Waterbury-Oxford Airport. “To be a part of this project was exciting for our team,” Curt notes.
Along the Stamford, Connecticut, waterfront, Civil 1 assisted in site planning and permitting for Harbor Point, a LEED-ND Gold-certified, mixed-use, transit-oriented development. The 100-plus-acre property features more than 3,000 residential apartments, restaurants, retailers, 20 acres of public parks and four marinas.
The company developed the complete civil site package for Harbor Point, including detailed grading plans, storm drainage and utility plans, and landscape and lighting designs. Civil 1 worked diligently to include state-of-the-art, low-impact stormwater management techniques into the site design in order to achieve the level of sustainability needed for a LEED-certified development.
A passion project for Civil 1 is work for the Waterbury Police Activity League (PAL), which promotes partnerships between youth, law enforcement and the community through educational, athletic and recreational programs that encourage team building and foster positive relationships.
Civil 1 provided pro bono site planning services to help the nonprofit transform a blighted and contaminated former industrial area into a park for community youth. The company worked alongside environmental experts to revitalize the brownfield area and to remediate existing groundwater contamination, according to Curt. Civil 1 obtained the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so that the site could be planned around the property’s wetlands. Additionally, the company designed the foundation of the basketball courts to use durable, long-lasting post-tensioned concrete. The park also features baseball fields and a snack pavilion. “The Waterbury PAL’s youth program is nationally recognized, offering services to about 4,000 area children. Helping out our community is not only the right thing to do, but it also feels great,” he says.
“Whether we’re working with a major energy company, helping out a nonprofit or guiding a young family in building their first new home, we care deeply about our clients and are passionate about being a trusted adviser,” Curt adds.