Revenue Surpasses $1.5 Billion Mark For Top Contractors

Arkansas' Largest Commercial Contractors
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Business was good for Arkansas commercial contractors during 2003, as overall revenue among top firms increased 16.4 percent.

The combined 2003 revenue of the 24 construction firms in this year's list registered $1.5 billion, compared to $1.3 billion in 2002.

The tally was the first time in four years the group recorded an overall increase. Revenue growth at half of the firms was clocked at 20 percent or better.

May Construction Co. of Little Rock led the pack with a whopping 88 percent increase from $52 million in 2002 to $98 million last year. (See related article, Page 21.) The performance helped push the firm from No. 6 to No. 5 on the list.

Vratsinas Construction Co. of Little Rock retained the top spot with 2003 revenue of $305 million, up 7 percent over $285 million the previous year.

CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock and Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway flip flopped positions in the 2003 roster. A 23.6 percent jump in revenue sent CDI Contractors to No. 2 at $267 million, over $216 million in 2002. After experiencing a

nice rebound to $236 million in 2002, Nabholz Construction grew 5.9 percent to $250 million (No. 3).

Rounding out this year's top five is Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock. Revenue at the firm, which works exclusively in Arkansas, expanded by 12.6 percent, hitting $102.3 million (No.4) after $90.8 million (No. 5) in 2002.

B.B. Vance & Sons Inc. of Jonesboro posted an impressive 78.7 percent revenue gain that reached $25.2 million in 2003, up from $14.1 million the previous year. The surge carried the company from No. 19 to No. 12 on the list.

"We're seeing growth in all sectors: schools, churches, medical and some industrial," said Gene Vance, president of B.B. Vance & Sons. "Our biggest jump was in school work."

From his vantage point, Vance sees the heart of his northeast Arkansas market in Greene and Craighead counties remaining fertile ground.

"2004 is shaping up to be another good year," he said. "Right now, we're hitting on an $18 million-$20 million clip. It looks good into mid-2005 as well. There's a lot of work on the drawing boards. We're interviewing and negotiating on a lot of projects."

The construction business in general was so good during 2003 that all but two of the 24 construction firms in our survey reported revenue growth.

Revenue at the Little Rock district office of Hensel Phelps Construction Co. declined 12 percent from $94.4 million in 2002 (No. 4) to $83 million last year (No. 6).

The Greeley, Colo., firm decided to close its Little Rock area office in June. Without an Arkansas presence, Hensel Phelps will be exiting our list next year.

Oversight for its Arkansas jobs will be divided between two district offices: the South Central District in Dallas and the Southeast District in Orlando, Fla.

Van Horn Construction Inc. of Rus-sellville encountered a one-year revenue decline of 17.8 percent to $23 million (No.16). The company reported $28 million in 2002 (No. 9).

Field Report

Bill Clark, chairman and chief executive officer of CDI Contractors, is among those reporting signs of continued good activity on the construction front.

"2004 is really going gangbusters," Clark said. "It looks like '05 and '06 are going to be as good."

CDI has begun setting steel for the $22 million special events center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The project was put in motion by the largest private donation in UALR's history, a $20.4 million gift from Little Rock businessman and philanthropist Jackson T. Stephens.

The 124,000-SF center will include a 5,600-seat competition arena to serve as the home court for men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball. It will also have an auxiliary practice court; men's and women's locker facilities; and sports medicine, weight training and academic support facilities.

CDI is about to start steel work on the $15 million Heifer International headquarters in downtown Little Rock. The 100,000-SF facility adjoins the Clinton Presidential Library development, a CDI project that is winding down.

Clark reports that work is a third complete on a $52 million Embassy Suites hotel, convention and parking deck development in Frisco, Texas. A $28 million Embassy Suites project in Hampton, Va., is 20 percent complete.

He notes that construction demand remains strong in the retail and hotel sectors as well as education- and medical-related projects. Clark expects the outcome of the statewide school equalization mandate will unleash a lengthy string of jobs.

"I'm going to be shocked if that total isn't $1 billion or $1.5 billion in renovated or new K-12 construction," he said.

More Business

In addition to CDI Contractors, May Construction and B.B. Vance & Sons, nine other firms recorded 2003 revenue growth of 20 percent or better. The list includes:

• Ramsons Inc. of Jonesboro at 44.8 percent.

• Progressive Constructors Inc. of Little Rock, 42.8 percent..

• Latco Inc. of Lincoln, estimated at 40.8 percent.

• Delk Construction Co. of Bald Knob, 32.6 percent,

• Kinco Constructors LLC of Little Rock, 28 percent.

• MDH Builders Inc. of Little Rock, 27.1 percent.

• Dave Grundfest Co. of Little Rock, 25.5 percent.

• East-Harding Inc. of Little Rock, 21.6 percent.

• SSI Inc. of Fort Smith, 20 percent.

Six of the Seven other companies joined Baldwin & Shell Construction with double-digit revenue growth in the 2003 survey.

• James H. Cone Inc. of Little Rock, 16.2 percent.

• CWR Construction Co. of North Little Rock and L.R. Mourning Co. of Little Rock, both with 14.3 percent growth.

• Van Tassel-Proctor General Contractor of Little Rock, 12.7 percent.

• Buildings Inc. of Springdale, 12.5 percent.

• Oakridge Builders Inc. of Springdale, 10.3 percent.

• Flynco Inc., 8.9 percent.