VCC Still No. 1, Bell-Corley Comes On Strong Among Contractors

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2005 was a good year to be a commercial contractor in Arkansas, according to a census of some of the state's largest firms.

Total revenue among 24 companies hit $2.13 billion during 2005, compared with $1.85 billion among 23 firms for 2004.

Among the current roster of 24 companies, 17 reported revenue growth. In some cases the one-year increase was significant.

Bell-Corley Construction LLC of Little Rock made its debut in the list, reporting 2005 revenue of $24.2 million. That performance represented a one-year doubling of revenue and staff.

Bell-Corley's fledgling Rogers office is credited with contributing 30 percent of the firm's total revenue last year. The company's bountiful 2005 also drew national recognition from Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines.

Bell-Corley Construction ranked No. 44 in Inc. magazine's Top 500, a list of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. That ranking was backed by a three-year growth of 1,266.8 percent.

The company ranked No. 27 and was the lone Arkansas firm among Entrepreneur magazine's 12th annual Hot 100, a list of the fastest-growing companies in America.

Focusing on small to mid-sized commercial projects, Bell-Corley does business in Arkansas and a 10-state region that extends east to Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Dixie Construction LLC of Fayetteville recorded a whopping 150 percent increase in 2004-05 revenue. The gusto of northwest Arkansas powered its $30 million revenue as well as other firms.

EWI Constructors Inc. of Russellville pointed to its Fayetteville office for helping boost its 2005 revenue to $31.2 million, a one-year jump of 43.8 percent.

The running order of the largest commercial contractors reflected a few changes, including two newcomers to the top 10.

Ideal Construction of Crossett ($39 million) leaped from No. 16 to No. 9, powered by a 62.5 percent revenue growth.

MDH Builders Inc. of Little Rock ($36 million) moved from No. 13 to No. 10, backed by a 44 percent increase in business.

Vratsinas Construction Co. of Little Rock ($510 million) kept its position at No. 1, reporting one-year revenue growth of 20 percent. At No. 2, Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway ($365 million) recorded a 29.3 percent revenue increase.

That resulted in the firm recapturing the spot from CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock ($360 million). CDI slipped to No. 3 with a 10.7 percent revenue decline.

Two Little Rock companies flip-flopped the No. 4 and No. 5 positions. May Construction Co. ($120 million) went to No. 4, and Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. ($96 million) went to No. 5.

Both firms reported slight drops in business: May down 7.7 percent and Baldwin & Shell down 6.1 percent.

Exiting the 2005 roll call of Arkansas commercial contractors is B.B. Vance & Sons. The Jonesboro firm was acquired by Nabholz at the end of 2004.