ENR New York’s annual ranking of Top Specialty Contractors covers a wide variety of subcontracting sectors, with some specialties faring well while other areas weakened.
The Top 10 firms in New York and New Jersey reported combined revenue of $2.97 billion in 2017, holding steady with the previous year. However, there was a slight decline in total revenue of the top 30 specialty contractors on the 2018 list compared with last year’s ranking. Revenue for 2017 fell to $3.84 billion from $4.03 billion for 2016, a drop of 4.7%.
Among the 2018 listed firms, those in the mechanical contracting sector fared best, with the top five companies reporting $935.56 million in revenue, an 11.3% increase from $840.82 million a year ago.
But in terms of revenue growth, the top three demolition specialty contractors saw the biggest percentage increase, a rise of 37.9% to $38.92 million from $28.23 million.
New Jersey firms seemed to have fared better than those in New York. The Top 20 companies in the Garden State posted top-line growth of 4.7%, to $626.4 million, from $598.4 million. Survey respondents in the Empire State reported revenue falling 6.7% to $3.21 billion from $3.66 billion.
Lafayette Metal & Glass Co., this year’s Specialty Contractor of the Year, rose to No. 20 on the main rankings, with revenue that increased to $35 million from $22 million. The firm also remained third on the glazing/curtain wall breakout ranking, with that portion of its business growing to $30.4 million from $22 million. However, that sector’s top three firms reported combined revenue dropped 11.4%, to $360.7 million from $407 million.
The top 10 electrical contractors also reported a combined revenue decline, with the total falling 6.1% to $1.85 billion compared with $1.97 billion; two listed firms maintained their rankings or saw improvements.
O’Connell Electric Co. jumped to fifth place from eighth on the main list and rose from fifth to fourth on the electrical breakout list. Five Star Electric Corp. remained at No. 1 for electrical contractors and No. 2 among all specialty contractors in the region.
Russ Lancey, chief estimator and vice president at Five Star, says the company has seen the most opportunity in public works and transportation.
Indeed, the largest regional project Five Star completed in 2017 was at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, while its largest to break ground in the same period was at Newark Airport’s Terminal 1.
But that sector’s strength also poses one big challenge, Lancey says: “Finding quality employees to oversee large-scale, high-profile public works and transportation projects.”
Lancey, as well as Allied Fire & Safety Equipment Co. sprinkler division manager Marios Goumalatsos, noted big changes this past year in the way projects are delivered.
“The number of design-build projects have drastically increased,” Lancey says.
Goumalatsos adds that there’s “more emphasis on coordination,” but that “doing it with BIM or some other form of 3D modeling is challenging” in terms of being able to find qualified project managers and BIM operators.
In New Jersey, Goumalatsos says he has noticed “an increasing number of multi-use buildings with residential spaces above.”
To that end, Allied’s largest project completed in 2017 was the Hahne & Co. renovation project in Newark, which transformed the now-defunct department store into a mixed-use development.