Commerce Construction's Dennis Moore Sees NWA Activity Returning to 'Realistic Levels'

Dennis W. Moore is the president and CEO of Commerce Construction Co. in Springdale. Founded in 1971, Commerce is touted as one of the oldest locally owned general contracting firms in northwest Arkansas.

Dennis W. Moore, who grew up in Ada, Okla., and Randell Snavely purchased the company from Terry McConnell in fall 1993. Mark Prenger became a stockholder in the company in 1995. After the death of Randell Snavely in 2003, his share of the company was acquired by Junior Lopez.

Moore holds a Bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in computer science from East Central Oklahoma University in Ada, 1974.

What got you interested in the construction business as a career?

I was working for a contractors association and met Leo Anhalt of SSI Inc. of Fort Smith and Bob East of East-Harding Inc. of Little Rock. Both were very successful and seemed to enjoy the construction business. I always liked to build all sorts of projects growing up, and I enjoy seeing the end result of having a project come together. Bob and Leo encouraged me to get into the construction business, and it has been all I had hoped for. I have been blessed.

What did Commerce Construction do to ensure its survival during the Great Recession?

Our company did not have any debt, so we continued the business of taking care of our great group of loyal customers. We did not participate in taking jobs below cost to survive. Our company is blessed, and these down years in construction were actually some of our best years. If you take care of your clients, they will take care of you.

What are the biggest issues facing your profession?

Having enough subcontractors who have skilled craftsmen to do quality projects. Then, of course, you always have the competition from other general contractors who are competing for a slice of the pie and who often do not have the same core values as we do.

What is the business climate in your market area, and what is the near-term forecast?

We are living in one of the best areas of the country. Back when everything was going crazy, people were throwing out inflated bids, and the quality of the work wasn’t always good. We made less money during that time, but when the tap got shut off, we had a steady flow of business from our repeat customers. It’s not going back to like it was, but it’s returning to a realistic level. We try not to be all things to all people. We just try to take care of our repeat clients in a way that makes them not want to think of using someone else.

What’s the most significant thing you have learned about the construction business during your career?

Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. Treat the customer as you want to be treated and if you mess up, fix it.

What was your best business decision?

Hiring Mark Prenger, Junior Lopez and Janice Milner as well as many great superintendents and making sure that they got to share in the company profits.

Worst?

Trying to micromanage a project manager’s project from the home office.