Contractors Keep Active as Southeast Region Stays Hot
While rumors of future market slowdowns persist, at least on a national level, Southeast contractors are continuing to chase new opportunities at a frenetic pace while trying to keep on schedule with current projects.
“It’s been busy for the last five to six years,” says Mike Bartlett, executive vice president for JE Dunn Construction in Atlanta. And for now, at least, Bartlett expects more of the same.
“Frankly, we are seeing brisk opportunities in all of our Southeastern market centers,” he says, singling out Atlanta, Tampa, Savannah and Charlotte with “especially active” construction markets in their urban core, along with industrial and manufacturing projects throughout the Southeast. Overall, the firm’s most active markets include multifamily, office, higher education and health care.
In South Florida, other markets are keeping contractors busy. Brad Meltzer, president with Plaza Construction of Miami, says, “We are still seeing strong retail, even though all you read is that retail is dying in America.” Meanwhile, that region’s hospitality sector has added projects, and “condominiums are actually coming back now that supply has been significantly absorbed,” Meltzer adds.
This year, ENR Southeast’s Top Contractors ranking lists 105 firms that collectively reported slightly more than $37.2 billion in 2018 regional revenue. By state totals, Florida ranked first, with nearly $14.8 billion in revenue coming from the Sunshine State. The other state-by-state revenue totals included: North Carolina with $7.1 billion; Georgia with $6.9 billion; Tennessee with $3.4 billion; South Carolina with $3 billion; and Alabama with $1.9 billion.
Revenue reported from 2018 construction activity in Puerto Rico increased significantly from a year ago. Respondents collectively reported $185.3 million in revenue, compared with $39.3 million in 2017 revenue.
As construction activity across the Southeast maintains its robust pace, the region’s labor shortage remains a primary challenge.
“It’s the No. 1 issue for all of us and our trade partners,” says Bartlett with JE Dunn. “I have even been hearing from clients trying to staff our completed projects that require operations staff that they are unable to meet their needs on staffing.”
Somewhat ironically, the region’s population growth is fueling construction activity but not enough workers to meet the demand, says Nick Largura, CEO with Superior Construction Co. Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.
“Population growth in the Southeast, specifically Florida, has fueled development from multifamily to entertainment and everything necessary to link it all together,” says Largura.
In Florida, new project starts aren’t slowing much, except residential, “which seems to be reaching capacity as it struggles to find additional land capacity, Largura says. “I anticipate housing slowing down as associated infrastructure catches up with demand.”
About the Ranking
ENR Southeast’s Top Contractors survey ranks firms based upon revenue from the previous calendar year. Along with revenue, the main ranking includes other information about each firm, such as top markets and recent contracts. Additionally, we’ve included five pages of breakout lists ranking firms based upon state and specialty market sector revenue.