The leaders of regional contracting firms say that 2014 is unfolding as part of a slow, steady recovery, despite a dip in revenue last year for most GCs. The ranking of top contractors in this issue is based on 2013 revenue, which was down for most area firms.

This year "is a little healthier than 2013, led by the industrial, health care and office markets," says Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction Corp., Salt Lake City. "Generally speaking, we are in a slow and steady uptrend."

Moore says the slower pace of the recovery should help avoid another "boom-and-bust" cycle and may somewhat ease the industry's labor crunch.

Tom Horsting, senior vice president, Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Aurora, Colo., agrees. "We've seen particular growth in the hospitality and senior living markets; however, subcontractors and skilled laborers are in high demand across the board," he says. "This is not isolated to the Rocky Mountain region, but a challenge being faced across the country."

Nearly all firms say there are more projects to chase. "The good news is that work opportunities are more plentiful. The bad news is that work opportunities are more plentiful," says Clark Atkinson, president of Denver's Shaw Construction. "The shift from a few years ago of ample work force and limited work, to today's reality of ample work and limited work force, has created significant project delivery challenges and profit fade."

The strength of various market sectors depends upon location, but most of the surge comes from the private sector. "We are pleased the office, mixed-use and [transit-oriented development] market segments are continuing to flourish. Reuse and repurpose is a strong 2014 theme," says Greg A. Schmidt, president, Saunders Construction Inc., Centennial, Colo. "This all translates to a deeper strength in our economic recovery."