Building a winning engineering team

Mauro Plenzik talks about how Maskell Plenzik & Partners has kept abreast of a changing marketplace, remaining prepared, nimble and capable

Mauro Plenzik is principal of Maskell Plenzik & Partners Engineering Inc. in Calgary.

Mauro Plenzik
Mauro Plenzik

What is Maskell Plenzik & Partners Engineering and what do you do?

Plenzik: Maskell Plenzik and Partners is an electrical engineering consulting firm that specializes in buildings’ electrical, communication and security design. Further to the broad range of design services we provide on buildings’ electrical systems, we also specialize in roadway and intersection lighting design, electrical forensic investigations and power studies.

We have offices in Calgary and Edmonton to service our clients in Alberta and Western Canada.

Our goal is to help our clients achieve their design and construction goals. We are able to put our experience and creativity to work and provide solutions to challenging electrical design issues. As engineers, we love solving problems and making sure we provide the best solutions to our clients.

What are some of the biggest projects you’ve worked on?

Plenzik: There are a handful that stand out and our firm is proud to have been involved with some large and very interesting projects in the past 20 years.

The largest institutional project our firm completed was the new Edmonton Remand Centre, with a construction cost of approximately $560 million. It can be considered as one of the most-state-of-the-art penitentiaries in the country with all mission-critical systems backed up for full redundancy operation. It holds 2,000 inmates and has the capacity to expand to 3,000.

The SAIT Trades and Technology Centre was a very interesting project as it was a significant redevelopment of the SAIT campus. It consisted of the demolition of the old parkade next to 16th Avenue and a couple of older buildings on the west side of the campus. The existing field south of Heritage Hall was stripped down and a new partially underground parkade was built back up with a new artificial turf soccer field on the top. The views of downtown at field level are next to none in the city. Three new high tech buildings were constructed to form the new Trades and Technology Centre. The redevelopment consists of four new five-storey buildings with a gross floor area of 675,000 square feet in total.

The Bow Valley College Campus redevelopment and the new Calgary Police Service Headquarters also made the list and were two large projects that our firm is very proud to have been a part of.

What have been some of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur in Alberta in recent years?

Plenzik: There are so many challenges entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. In recent years the market in  Alberta has changed dramatically and I find that being a visionary has probably been the single most challenging factor. You are constantly re-evaluating the market and your success rate on certain types of projects and continually adjusting your strategy and targets. We have a good partnership group and we are constantly discussing the challenges, how to deal with them and where the new opportunities may emerge.

What is your vision for the company?

Plenzik: My vision has always been stable growth in terms of business and client group for our firm. Business development with existing clients and networking with new clients is key to our future sustainability.

Our firm also operates in niche markets that contribute to our overall growth, therefore supporting and nurturing those markets is very important to us. We want to ensure that we can continue to support, mentor and grow our talented engineering staff, which puts us in a position to continually provide better engineering services for our client group.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about being an entrepreneur?

Plenzik: It’s amazing where advice may come from and how you process it. Over the last 10 years I have done a great deal of coaching in youth soccer at the Tier 1 level and have acquired a lot of advice which has helped me draw parallels in terms of managing an athletic team and managing a business. The best piece of advice I received was to establish your philosophy on how you want to run your business, come up with a plan and a strategy, execute the plan and stay true to your course.

You can’t be in the game without your team. Your business is made up of a team, the team needs to know the game plan and the strategy to be successful, they all need to train to improve and develop their skill sets, and once they get on the field, the level of execution will determine the outcome. Proper coaching along the way becomes the anchor of your business.

You experience the ups and downs and in recent years those have occurred with greater frequency. The core philosophy always stays the same and you make the small adjustments along the way to ensure you are always competitive in the game.

Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.

© Troy Media

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