Barry Moore, president of Brandt, a Carrollton, Texas-based mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractor, makes it perfectly clear: “We said that we were not going to participate in the recession.”

While the downturn has been a heavy financial blow for many specialty contractors and sent many executives scrambling for solutions, Brandt chose to stick with the strategies that have kept the firm on a steady upward path in recent years.

The firm continued to pursue a broad mix of work, including a healthy dose of large projects with repeat customers. Although highly competitive bidding squeezed profit margins, Moore says Brandt continued to invest in its employees and technology, holding true to its core values of care, integrity, perseverance and agility. By remaining committed to core customers, Brandt has demonstrated its ability to be flexible with the type of work it pursues and the way it delivers projects.

The strategy paid off. In 2010 Brandt tallied $340 million in revenue in the region, the highest in its 59-year history and a 49% increase from 2009. The firm's $279 million in regional revenue from mechanical work earned it the top spot on ENR Texas & Louisiana's list of Top Mechanical Contractors.

In light of its success in a down economy, ENR Texas & Louisiana named Brandt its Specialty Contractor of the Year.

Big Name, Big Jobs

Reputation played a heavy role in Brandt's ability to secure work in a down economy, Moore insists. Although general contractors and owners can command cheap bids, Moore says a proven track record still holds weight. He estimates that about 50 companies provide 80% of the company's business, in large part because of a history of good results.

“We do what we say we are going to do, and we have never [missed] a schedule,” says Mark Zilbermann, CEO of Brandt. “We try to give our customers one less thing to worry about.”

Megaprojects in its core markets, such as the $557-million San Antonio Military Medical Center North project at Fort Sam Houston and the $325-million Dallas Convention Center Hotel, boosted the bottom line. Brandt provided $120 million in mechanical and plumbing services at the medical center to project joint venture contractor Clark/Hunt, and $39 million in mechanical and plumbing at the Dallas hotel, a project for Balfour/Russell/Pegasus, a joint venture consisting of Balfour Beatty Construction of Dallas and Pegasus Texas Construction, both of Dallas, and H.J. Russell & Co. of Atlanta.

Nick Jobe, vice president at Clark/Hunt, says the medical center “was a tough project, fast track and large. Brandt stepped up immediately, manned up quickly, and they were very professional.”