Las Vegas-based PENTA Building Group reported growth within some key market sectors, "but there is still far more competition than we have historically seen," says Jeff Ehret, PENTA president. "We need to keep focusing on doing the things well that differentiate us from our competitors."

Some firms are optimistic about Las Vegas, including Phoenix-based Kitchell Contractors. "Our backlog for 2013 and 2014 is strong, including a re-entry into the Las Vegas market," says Dan Pierce, president. The firm logged $242.8 million* in 2011, and ranked 7th overall in the region.

Renovation Up, Transportation Down

Renovation work increased across the Southwest, topping at $1.8 billion in 2011, compared with $1.3 billion in 2010. But the biggest market sector success was residential, up 329%. "Our projections show that, specifically in the multifamily sector, market growth will continue at a fast pace for the next 36 months before leveling off in 2015," says Jim Kurtzman, vice president of client development at Phoenix-based Hardison/Downey Construction.

The traditionally active transportation sector fell 43%. Highway contractors such as FNF Construction, Tempe, are diversifying to stay active. "FNF will focus on performing more custom aggregate production in the Southwest and North Dakota, along with continuing improvement in our core types of work in federal and local highway work," says Jed Billings, CEO.

The scarcity of public funds has made infrastructure projects more competitive than ever, says Curtis Broughton, senior vice president and general manager, Skanska USA Civil, Peoria, Ariz. "While there is demand for new highways and other vital infrastructure, there is no consensus on how to fund them."

Funding is a key factor in virtually every market sector, particularly in public projects, says Bo Calbert, president of Tempe-based McCarthy Building Cos. Southwest. "Hopefully, after the presidential election we'll see more confidence, and it will positively impact funding availability for large projects."

*Note: Kitchell provided a correction to its 2011 annual revenue, from $157.2 million revised up to $242.8 million. This would move the firm up on ENR Southwest's overall ">Top GC ranking from 15th to 7th.