Steve Collie is the director and shareholder of New Zealand-based construction company Mt. Rex Shipping. Mt. Rex is primarily involved in canal dredging, sand procurement and general construction work. It is also a subsidiary of Atlas Concrete, a family-owned concrete company in New Zealand.
Collie owns and manages a fleet of canal dredging barges, a privately owned dock, dry dock and a workshop. Simply put, Mt. Rex Shipping dredges for sand and transports that sand over to its parent company to make concrete.
But Collie is not the everyday construction worker. He is a manager first and is extremely hands-on, partially because it is a family-owned business and he grew up in construction. A business run by a family is one with history, reputation and client/employee loyalty. These businesses are extremely important for local economies, especially considering the work done by Mt. Rex Shipping.
Being around Mt. Rex Shipping for so long, Collie understands the intricacies of how the business works and every moving part of the company. He fixes boats, manages, contributes to board meetings and handles a number of other day-to-day operational functions. One of his talents is finding problems before they become major issues, which is inevitable in most cases.
The company is also small enough to retain that small business feel, which allows the company to offer unique, hand-crafted services to its clients at a competitive price. Steve has grown up in construction and made a serious name for himself in New Zealand.
Steve Collie grew up around the construction industry and, more specifically, under his father’s guidance. Once he returned from World War II, Collie’s father founded the company; he started with a single truck. It has since evolved into one of the largest construction companies in New Zealand. Furthermore, the company owns its own land and equipment, giving it an edge over competition. This also allows Mt. Rex Shipping to have complete control over its fleet.
Steve Collie has been part of the family-owned business his entire life. Collie even helped set up and manage the barge side of the business (Mt. Rex Shipping) and like his father, started out with a single little tugboat. Mt. Rex has since become a major corporation.
The company, according to Collie, offers services much more sophisticated than any other firm in New Zealand. Due to the fact that Mt. Rex was started more recently than Atlas Concrete, he was able to assess competition and outdo it at every turn to become more efficient. One example is how Mt. Rex gets its sand. Most dredging companies, for instance, get sand from local, popular beaches. This caused Mt. Rex to dredge sand up from the harbor.
Dredging is primarily done near coastlines. The idea is to excavate sediments (off the ocean floor in this case) and repurpose them elsewhere. Dredgers, according to Steve Collie, have been used to reclaim land, replenish sand on beaches, prevent coastal erosion and even allow for gold mining in certain parts of the world. Mt. Rex Shipping focuses on gathering sand and using it for the concrete wing of the business. This allows the company to be its own supplier and it cuts out the middleman, an extremely profitable move for all parties (and clients) involved.
In harbors especially, dredging is almost a necessity. If left alone, bays, harbors, channels and docking areas will fill up due to silt and sand that wash downstream (for lakes and river areas) or up from the ocean. Having a harbor and then not having a harbor would be devastating for any economy and a number of businesses. Big cargo ships need to be able to carry goods in and out of harbors, an impossible process if the harbor is too shallow.
Dredging can also be used for preparatory construction projects such as docks, piers and even bridges. The idea is to dig out foundations to fill with concrete, solid rock and steel supports. Land reclamation or even creation is another form of dredging. Entire islands can be created with dredgers and their beaches replenished with sand and sediment. In terms of construction materials, gravel sediments and sand are major suppliers to concrete companies and large building projects.
While dredging is an important part of the daily routine for Steve, his primary concern is managing his company. His goals are to make Mt. Rex Shipping more productive, efficient and reliable in every way imaginable. Collie’s managing talents, as mentioned, largely stem from his upbringing in the construction industry. This allowed him to understand the small details and look at the big picture at the same time, a rare trait among managers.
Steve Collie’s uncanny ability to predict problems is another reason he has become so successful in New Zealand’s construction scene. His intuition has served him well throughout his career and he looks forward to working hard in the future, no matter where Mt. Rex Shipping takes him. The company has been through a lot of changes in the past few decades and he is always on the forefront of what needs to be done to keep dredging, shipping and succeeding.
Another unique aspect of the company is that while it is big in terms of scale, Mt. Rex still maintains that small business vibe. This allows Steve to manage every aspect of the company to ensure its future success, an outcome that is almost inevitable.
One of Steve Collie’s primary goals is to keep Mt. Rex Shipping up and running like always. He understands that the differences that made the company successful to begin with - such as dredging harbors instead of beaches, staying small and others - are the main reasons it will continue to be successful. Collie looks forward to moving the company in new directions and adapting business models just like his father has done with Atlas Concrete since WWII.
He is passionate for achievement and recognizing the success that his company and employees earn from hard work and results. To Collie, it is not all about the money. He is not interested in traveling, flying around the world or retiring anytime soon. His only focus is growing his company and enjoying his work while he does it. Making the most effective and efficient company possible is what keeps the future bright for him.
For Steve, being a business owner is all about challenging oneself. Without personal goal setting, high expectations, commitment and integrity, there is no chance that a business will succeed. In fact, a business without these qualities will not succeed because the owner does not understand the prime essentials of building a business.
Steve Collie has already made a major impact in the New Zealand construction industry and is looking forward to doing the same for many years to come. The dredging business is all about moving material and rebuilding. What better outlook on business from a lifelong construction guru?