Baldwin & Shell Looks Outside Arkansas for Growth

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Apr. 28, 2014 12:00 am  

Scott Copas (left), the new president and CEO of Baldwin & Shell, has unveiled a strategic plan for the company. Bob Shell (inset), the chairman of Baldwin & Shell of Little Rock, said that for the first time in the company’s history it is “tippy-toeing” into markets outside of Arkansas.  (Copas photo by Mark Friedman | Shell photo by Michael Pirnique)

For 67 years, Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock turned down jobs outside of Arkansas.

That self-imposed policy changed last year when the construction company did some renovation work in Nashville, Tenn., on a natural gas fueling station for Trillium CNG of Chicago. That change ushered in a new era for the company, founded in 1946.

In January, Baldwin & Shell announced that Scott Copas, who had been with the company since 1977, was its new president and CEO, replacing the longtime head of the firm, Bob Shell. Shell, 83, remains at the company as chairman.

The news came on the heels of Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway, another of the state’s largest commercial contractors, announcing that it also had a new CEO, Greg Williams, who replaced Bill Hannah on Jan. 1. Hannah also remains at Nabholz as chairman of the board. 

At Baldwin & Shell, Copas plans to grow the company by renewing some services and for the first time courting construction jobs outside the borders of Arkansas.

“There’s only a limited amount of construction work in the state of Arkansas,” Copas said in his office at the company’s headquarters last week. “Now we’ll follow our clients wherever they want us to go.”

Copas, 61, hopes the expansion outside Arkansas and the focus on other lines of service will boost the company’s revenue.

Baldwin & Shell’s revenue in 2013 was $88.8 million, down 10.1 percent from the previous year and 58 percent off from 2010 when the company’s revenue reached a high-water mark of $211.1 million.

Copas blamed the 2013 drop in revenue on the scrapping of a $45 million school project the company had planned to do in Jacksonville. In addition, he said, the North Little Rock School District’s $223 million capital improvement program, which Baldwin & Shell is working on along with other contractors, was delayed nearly a year.

Still, its revenue was strong enough to place the company at No. 4 on Arkansas Business’ list of the largest commercial contractors in Arkansas based on revenue. 

Copas said that the company’s revenue is expected to increase 30 to 35 percent in 2014 over 2013’s numbers.

“You’re starting to see private money come back into the economy for the development of retail,” he said. “And that was a large part of our business at one time.”



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