Construction is thriving in just about every corner of California, according to specialty contractors participating in ENR California's annual survey. Revenue in 2013 jumped nearly 10% for the top 50 ranked firms. That was on top of a 42% gain in 2012.

Nine of the top 10 firms benefited from rising revenue during 2013, and 13 of the top 20 experienced double-digit growth. Two firms—San Jose-based California Drywall and ISEC Inc. in Fremont—reported revenue increases of more than 50% last year.

"The market changed virtually overnight," says Jim Watson, president and chief operating officer of The Raymond Group, Orange, which tallied a revenue increase of more than 36% in 2013. "Building owners and our general contractor clients suddenly started firming up deals and signing contracts. We went from wringing our hands wondering what we were going to do to unprecedented backlogs in just a few months."

Most firms foresee continued growth into next year. "Most dramatically, we predict an increase in privately funded projects," says James C. Ure, executive vice president with Bomel Construction Co., Anaheim Hills. However, he anticipates a reduction in public projects.

Finding highly skilled workers is a challenge for subcontractors, especially in light of ever-more-complex work. "The level of sophistication required of today's electrical foreman or engineer is extremely high," says John Boncher, president and CEO of San Jose-based Cupertino Electric. "Companies that can recognize, adapt and evolve to take advantage of the fast pace at which things are constantly changing are those who will come out on top."