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50 Best Companies To Watch 2018

Thriving on Innovation: The Conti Group, a Creator, Builder, and Operator of Businesses, Masters the Tricky Balance of Using the Past to Shape the Future

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The Conti Group has a 112-year history of building successful, reputable businesses that make a positive impact- Kurt G. Conti

Building technology is entering a new era thanks to smart services, software, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Traditional product-centric suppliers will be greatly challenged by a host of emerging competitors and digital disruptors. To survive and prosper over the next decade, these incumbents will need to master or acquire digital capabilities and rapidly enhance their commercial effectiveness, organizational flexibility, and operational excellence.

Considering this, we are thrilled to present The Conti Group– a company dedicated to building and operating innovative businesses across a wide landscape of industries, including infrastructure, technology, transportation, and energy.

The Conti Group was founded in 1906 and is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey.

Interview Excerpt: Kurt G. Conti, CEO

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

The Conti Group was established to reflect the current state of our 112-year-old family business. What started in 1906 as an Italian immigrant stone mason, grew and developed over the generations to what we are today – a creator, builder, and operator of businesses. We grow companies and ventures using creativity, innovation, and hard work. We are invested in global infrastructure projects, biotechnology, and energy markets. Our horizons are unlimited. Our ethical approach to business combined with a keen eye for opportunity and a collaborative spirit create successful results for the Group, our partners, and the communities we serve.

“Earning trust and respect of consumers is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

‘Done Once. Done Right.’ isn’t just our motto, it’s what guides every aspect of our relationships with stakeholders in our businesses, especially our customers. Our success over the years has been based on continuously earning trust and respect. It isn’t enough to maintain relationships; our customers must feel that we are constantly striving to earn everything involved in our relationships. Customer trust and respect are directly related to how hard we work and the quality of the services and products we provide them.

How do you keep your company up and running? What are the factors that help your company compete on a global platform?

We build businesses. Building a business is like building a bridge or a road. However, those businesses don’t exist in a vacuum.Planning, execution, and vision are all intricately linked. There’s careful consideration given to the process, but the most important factor in competing and winning is having a product or service that fits the target market. Without the right product-market fit, success becomes an almost-impossible goal to achieve, no matter how hard or smart you work.

How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform at large?

Our history at The Conti Group is based on engineering and construction, but entrepreneurship is in our DNA. Superior and expansive information technology is the result of engineering and entrepreneurship converging. In one sense, we seek to find new ways to do old things. We use hardware and software to improve efficiency and production. In another sense, we use old ways to solve new problems. For example, our Conti Federal Services company focuses on disaster response after hurricanes, tornados, and other natural disasters. Managing crucial tasks in these situations is not very different from supply chain and workflow management for construction projects. However, advancements in robotics, drones, and artificial intelligence give us enormous capabilities to improve both responsiveness and proactivity.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Our latest company is Tenna, an Internet of Things (IoT) company providing the first comprehensive platform for construction companies to find, track, and manage all their physical assets. Globally, society is amid the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and today it is manifesting itself in the IoT. By connecting assets machine-to-machine, Tenna opens almost unlimited possibilities, especially when considering the amount of infrastructure that is needed and is being built worldwide.

Tenna comes on the heels of our most recent transaction – a sale of a majority interest in Conti Solar. What began as an innovative and non-mainstream strategy in 2002 developed into an extremely profitable sustainability business for Conti. Since then, the renewable energy market has expanded, and Conti Solar has been at the forefront of that growth to become an industry-leading renewable energy development, engineering, procurement, construction, and operations company with solar and energy storage projects totalling more than 500 MW throughout the United States and in select international markets. With this deal, we proved the merits of our vision over 15 years ago and we brought in a partner with the much-needed capital to further grow the solar business exponentially.

An organization is defined by its core values. What are your company’s core values and how are they helping you to succeed?

Integrity & Honesty – We value open and honest communication with our clients, placing a premium on sharing information, both good and bad, clearly and quickly. It is the foundation of our company that we do business this way, even though at times it may cost us money or opportunity. Because of these deep-rooted principles and our pride in our reputation, at Conti, we say what we mean, and we mean what we say.

Learning & Progress – At Conti, the development and success of every employee at every level is directly linked to the growth of the company. Working at Conti means that every day, our employees embrace a mindset of striving to learn and improve. Throughout our organization, we foster formal professional growth and cultivate a growth mindset. Our priority on learning and progress creates an environment where our people acquire new skills, become adept at solving problems, and ultimately, forge their own career paths.

Entrepreneurialism & Innovation – Our constant eye on innovation has helped our company thrive through a 112-year period of incredible change. At Conti, we are always striving to evolve. We recognize that the successful businesses twenty years from now may be very different from the successful businesses of today. As a result, we are always challenging our people to be proactive, pursue new opportunities, and embrace change as a means to grow.

Pride – The people who work at Conti are proud to be a part of our organization. Being at Conti means having pride in our history, pride in who we partner with, pride in our people, pride in our work ethic, and pride in our high standards and track record of delivering quality results in everything that we do. We are proud to live up to our motto: Done Once. Done Right.

As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

The Conti Group will continue to do what it has historically done – build meaningful, successful businesses. Our recent years have been focused on harvesting and reorganizing The Conti Group into a structured holding company. This gives TCG the flexibility to bring resources to portfolio companies that will benefit most from those resources while maximizing the overall value of the Group. While the businesses themselves may change over time, our commitment to our core values and sense of entrepreneurial innovation remain steadfast. We will continue our 112-year tradition of building successful companies.

The Man Behind The Vision: A Brief Background

Kurt G. Conti, CEO: Kurt Conti is an entrepreneurial creator of companies and business opportunities. He began his career as an intern with the company, starting from the ground up and working in almost every functional and management position within the company. When he became the CEO of The Conti Group in the early 1990s, he sought to first transform the company from a regional construction contractor into an industry leader, and later into the diverse group of companies it is today. With his acute business sense, a wealth of experience and unmatched work ethic, Mr Conti provides avenues to investors and partners for extraordinary returns. His interests involve energy, biotechnology, infrastructure, construction and real estate. Committed to global development, Kurt’s initiatives add vibrancy to communities and serve the common good.

"We are proud of our heritage, and since 1906 we have evolved from a construction company to a diversified firm representing various industries including engineering, renewable energy, real estate, technology, and beyond."