Despite an uncertain national outlook, continued demand across a spectrum of industry segments is driving revenue in the Pacific Northwest, according to some of ENR Northwest’s most productive specialty contracting firms.
Ten firms participated in ENR Northwest’s annual Top Specialty Contractors survey and reported combined 2018 regional revenue for Alaska, Oregon and Washington of $756.19 million, a 4.78% jump from the $721.7 million that the top 10 firms posted in 2017.
Rosendin Electric, which rose to the survey’s No. 2 spot, from fourth place last year, reported year-over-year growth that stems from business in health care, higher education, data centers and the solar and wind renewables sectors. The firm expects a continued robust market, says Gwen Carr, business development manager at Rosendin. The San Jose, Calif.-based electrical contractor reported 2018 Northwest regional revenue of $154.08 million, up 77.9% from $86.81 million in 2017.
“If the market dips a bit, there’s enough variation to create long-term sustainability that would not take a hard hit with market downturns,” says Carr. But trade labor availability could impede market growth. “We can only leverage our local labor so long before we start needing workers to travel from other areas, which then brings the issue of affordable housing for those workers traveling to Oregon/Washington,” Carr says.
Nationally, economic indicators show mixed signals about construction’s trajectory, says Anirban Basu, Associated Builders & Contractors chief economist, who advises a “wait-and-see” approach. ABC’s Construction backlog indicator climbed during 2019’s first nine months, but construction spending and employment have softened. Outlook for public spending remains bright, and Basu notes a pickup in infrastructure spending despite the lack of a federal full-fledged infrastructure plan and points to the water and sewer, transportation and highway and street segments as positives. “So far, state and local governments have come to the rescue, supported by rising collections of income, sales and property taxes,” he says.
MasTec Inc. held the No. 3 spot in the ranking with 2018 regional revenue of $133 million, up 30.4% from $102 million in 2017. The infrastructure engineering firm, headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., says its operating segments have seen growth in 2019 and expects that to continue—especially in communications related to 5G wireless, 1-gigabit fiber and fiber backhaul deployment, and cable operator system upgrades. “We are well positioned to take advantage of the increasing demand for high-speed connections needed to support cell phones, the internet and technologies that continue to evolve,” says David Shujman, COO of MasTec’s SEFNCO Communications subsidiary.
MasTec also expects its electrical transmission segment to drive top-line expansion through demand for line upgrades, reliability spending and transporting green electricity to consumer and industrial markets.