Commercial Construction Market Shows Signs of Recovery

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 30, 2011 12:00 am  

Doug Wasson, president and CEO of Little Rock's Kinco Constructors, said public-sector projects account for most of the work these days, especially jobs related to education.

"We're just trying to ride the storm, or whatever else you want to call it," Wasson said. "Every job counts. Margins are lower.

"We had a decent year in 2010, and we're looking pretty good for 2011. It's not going to be a banner year for us. But we're proud and happy with everything we have."

The volume of projects coming up for bid drastically diminished during the past couple years, which has ramped up the competition.

"We used to be in pick-or-choose mode because there were a lot more, bigger projects to bid on," Wasson said. "If you miss it now, it's a while before another one comes along."

Michael Belt, president of Little Rock's Progressive Constructors Inc., said the construction slowdown was testing the staying power of companies and the size of their rainy day funds.

"We've had more opportunity to bid on work in the last five months than we probably have during the two previous years," Belt said.

"There are more prospects, but the market is still slow. Every job that comes out has 12 bidders, and some of the bids are for wages. People are trying to survive."

He said there were encouraging signs with retail work beginning to come back a little along with some manufacturers looking to expand.

"Realistically, 2011 looks a little flat, but 2012 looks better," Belt said.

Progressive didn't make the top 20 list this year.

However, the company posted revenue of $10 million, a whopping 66 percent rebound over 2009.

The company has landed enough projects such as a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Cleveland, Okla., to keep plugging along until the market improves.

"We're basically living off of investments, making enough to keep the doors open," Belt said. "We're holding our cash, waiting on better times, so we're ready to make hay when the sun shines."



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