The Consultant: Matthew Malozi of Civitas Regio talks about shared responsibility and building community

Brian Pedersen//December 20, 2019

The Consultant: Matthew Malozi of Civitas Regio talks about shared responsibility and building community

Brian Pedersen//December 20, 2019

Matthew Malozi, co-founder and president of Civitas Regio in Allentown. (Photo by Brian Pedersen) –
  • Organization: Civitas Regio
  • Position: Co-founder and president
  • Hometown: East Allentown
  • What book are you reading right now?: “Better Buses, Better Cities.”
  • If you were stranded on a desert island, what non-essential items would you want with you? : I would take my acoustic guitar. I would take The Beatles “Rubber Soul” album and I would learn it from front to back and would take “The Godfather Parts 1 and 2” and watch them.
  • If you could pass on one piece of advice to a younger you, what would it be?: I would say, be mindful of the fact that your perspective will change over your lifetime.
  • If you could bring one thing to the Lehigh Valley from anywhere in the world, what would it be? A greater desire for a lifestyle less dependent on cars.
  • Are you a print person or digital?: Digital for business and print for pleasure.
  • Something your co-workers don’t know about you?: I don’t actually enjoy wearing a suit and tie.
  • When you were a child, you wanted to be… In the construction trades. I always thought I’d be involved in building things.
  • What’s your dream vacation?: An extended stay in a European or U.K. city. For all these reasons: the built environment, the history, the architecture, the public spaces.
  • Who are your fantasy dinner guests?: Ben Franklin. I would love to talk to him. John Lennon and Bill Murray. Franklin and Lennon for their humble beginnings and their accomplishments and their personal foibles and then Bill Murray, basically to keep it light and get Lennon riled up. I think it would be a heck of a dinner.
  • When you brag about the Lehigh Valley to people outside the area, you say… That it is a great place to raise a family. I made a conscious decision to move back here for that reason. My wife and I bought a house in West Philadelphia but when the time came, this was where we wanted to raise our children. We are very active in the community.
  • What’s your guilty pleasure?: Baked goods, especially chocolate.
  • What makes for a great day?: There’s a certain look I get from my kids that makes me feel like a great father, so when that happens that’s a pretty good day.

With almost 30 years of experience in the civil engineering industry, Matthew Malozi of Bethlehem has taken on a variety of leadership roles over the years and formed a new company earlier this year.

Named Civitas Regio, the small consulting firm formed in April and occupies office space in Velocity, an incubator in downtown Allentown.

Using the words “citizenship” and “region,” in its name, the firm aims to embody the ideals of shared responsibility, common purpose and sense of community with an area distinguished by similar features, such as a neighborhood.

It’s that community and neighborhood focus, coupled with the longevity of engineering experience that Malozi and his staff share that allow the firm to tackle many local projects with a broad range of engineering, planning and environmental services.

Malozi previously worked at RETTEW Associates Inc. for seven years, and Traffic Planning & Design Inc. for nearly 20 before deciding to start a new company.

As co-founder and president of Civitas Regio, Malozi helps both private and public sector clients with civil engineering and related services.

He also volunteers and offers professional leadership in a number of capacities in the community, including serving on the city of Bethlehem Planning Commission, the Bethlehem Area School District, and the American Council of Engineering Companies Eastern Pa. Chapter.

He recently sat down with Lehigh Valley Business to share details about himself and his approach to doing business in the Lehigh Valley.

LVB: What got you interested in the engineering field?

Looking back at my age now, I enjoy the built environment. If I had not gone to college, I would probably be in the building trades now. Upon graduation from college, my first job was with a transportation-engineering firm. I enjoyed the subject matter very much but I enjoyed taking a step back and being able to see the big picture of the operation of an engineering firm and preferably, a very employee-focused operation.

My second job with RETTEW was a much larger organization when I joined, about 500 people when I started there. Upon reflecting, in starting this organization, I found I was energized by a smaller growth-oriented and agile company. Here, we talk about something and make a decision and we do it. I want to see where we can take it, how much it will grow.

LVB: What challenges do you see facing the engineering industry?

Staffing. If national unemployment is at 3.5 percent, in engineering, it’s 0 unemployment or pretty darn close to it. Everybody is working. Everybody is waiting for the fresh grads to come out of college. The talent supply is low right now. Business is good. The Lehigh Valley is diverse and growing at a constant and moderate pace, which is healthy. There’s opportunity here for a lot of different reasons. It’s a good time for engineering right now. I think civil engineering is an underrated profession.

LVB: What have been some of your favorite projects?

Urban infill and redevelopment projects have been my favorites. Taking underused parcels and putting them into productive use, particularly in the cities in the underutilized areas.

You can talk about sustainability but when you concentrate populations in areas that already have infrastructure in place you are not running power three miles out in a cornfield. There’s an overabundance of automobiles. We’re still terrible when it comes to transportation. Electric cars are not even going to solve it. Thirty percent of the mass of available land area in a city could be set aside for vehicle storage. More parking means less city for real estate.

The Seville in Easton, that’s the development of a surface parking lot in downtown Easton into a mixed-use retail-residential building. It’s fully approved so I would assume construction would begin next year. In terms of sustainability, it’s taking a low functioning piece of real estate in an urban core and putting it into productive use and eventually more residents in the downtown which is important to the economy and local community. The residential component in downtowns is so key. There haven’t been much market rate apartments in the downtown. It is adding to the diversity of housing options in the downtown.

LVB: How did you form your company?

The formation of the company was something that’s been in my mind for several years but what made it a go was meeting up with the right people to get it started. This was the right time. It was an opportune time with the economy here in the Lehigh Valley. We do a lot of due diligence for St. Luke’s real estate transactions and those involve surveys and environmental site assessments. [Other clients include] Liberty Property Trust, Peron Development, and Serfass Construction.

LVB: Where do you see the local economy heading?

I think it’s unlikely we’ll have a recession unless some disrupter occurs. The diversity of the Lehigh Valley economy across different sectors and our geographical position across the Northeast…will enable the constant and moderate growth to continue. The fact that we are in a decade of expansion is because it’s been so constant. I’m bullish for 2020 again with the dearth of available talent being a concern.

Health care, we expect that to be a very good field, warehousing and logistics, multifamily probably still has some life left in it but the demand seems to be there and particularly, urban development. I think the demand for urban living will remain strong. [And also] urban style living in a more suburban setting with open space contiguous to it. There’s density to it but it’s out in a township. Those sectors will continue to expand.

LVB: What person influenced you the most and why?

Malozi: My response would be, who hasn’t influenced me? There are teachers, professors. If I had to choose one, I would choose Ben Franklin because I went to the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin started that. Those years that I spent there were so formative to me as a person. I study him and the school he founded was a major influence. Those years and the time I spent there were hugely transformative for me. Franklin I would say is more of a role model.