Posted 4/28/2014 12:00 am
Business among the largest Arkansas general contractors was down as a group during 2013. Nine of the firms on this year’s list of largest commercial contractors recorded revenue gains while 13 reported declines. Three firms reported no change.
Combined 2013 revenue for the top 25 companies was down to just under $1.9 billion, a decline of about 9 percent compared with 2012.
VCC of Little Rock topped this year’s list with revenue of $607 million. A 15.6 percent gain helped push the company past last year’s No. 1: Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway.
“We continued to build on our core repeat business by staying diversified with multi-family, health care, office and hospitality projects,” said Sam Alley, chairman and CEO of VCC. “Project sizes have also increased significantly in the past 12-18 months. 2014 should be a banner year for VCC. Our company is pushing forward to some project openings that will be historic for us.”
The biggest move on this year’s roster was posted by Dayco Construction Inc. of Damascus. Revenue more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, which took the company from No. 25 to No. 15 at $30 million.
“We had a real good turn, even though the economy hasn’t,” said Russ Mahan, controller at Dayco. “We’ve been fortunate to stay in the public sector.
“We’re bidding jobs left and right. You just never know. There’s a lot of work out there.”
Bid jobs in the public sector has been the company’s historical business realm, but Mahan said Dayco is responding to more and more requests for qualifications related to construction management work.
“That takes you out of the public bid process and puts you into more of a political situation,” he said regarding construction management. “But you have to do it to chase work.”
Business at No. 3 CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, a subsidiary of Dillard’s Inc., was noted in the retailer’s annual report for the 12 months ending Jan. 31:
“Net sales from the construction segment decreased $11.5 million or 11 percent during fiscal 2013 as compared to fiscal 2012 due to a shift in the timing of certain construction projects. The backlog of awarded construction contracts at Feb. 1, 2014, totaled $196.5 million.”
CDI’s revenue for the fiscal year that ended Feb. 1 was $129.5 million, which included $35 million worth of work done for Dillard’s.
A 20.3 percent gain in revenue took Salter Construction Inc. of Conway from No. 22 to No. 17 at $24 million.
“We have some high hopes for this year,” said Nathan Salter, president of Salter Construction. “We think we’ve positioned ourselves for more growth.”
Salter said retail construction is starting to bounce back after trailing activity in other sectors.
“We’re pretty heavy in multifamily, and multifamily is really hot,” he said.
That trend is continuing into 2014 with apartment jobs in central Arkansas and deals in the works for northwest Arkansas. Hangar construction at the new Conway airport is adding to the workload. Dental office construction has provided a busy niche for Salter too. The company has two projects underway and four more on the books.
“We’ll probably end up doing five to eight this year,” Salter said.
Tate General Contractors Inc. of Jonesboro registered a 19.4 percent revenue gain that took it from No. 18 to No. 13 at $32.2 million. Gaylon Tate, CEO of the northeast Arkansas firm, indicated that holding its position could be difficult.
“It’s kind of slow right now,” Tate said. “We’re doing some small things and finishing up some big projects. We’ll probably be down in the $20 million range next year, but a lot could happen between now and next year.”
Kinco Constructors LLC of Little Rock recorded 2013 revenue of $59.7 million, a one-year gain of 10 percent.
“We had a really good year in 2013,” said Doug Wasson, president and CEO of Kinco. “A lot of it is still in public-sector work. I see a little bit more movement in the private sector for 2014.
“We are getting a lot of calls and inquiries. That’s encouraging. It’s more than I’ve seen in the last three to four years.”
Wasson said the construction jobs up for grabs represent a mix of projects across the commercial sectors.
“I’m optimistic on 2014,” Wasson said. “There’s a lot of activity out there.”