Sacramento’s Tricorp Hearn Stays Busy in Rough Economy

It’s no secret that the construction industry has been hit with an economic sledge hammer the last few years. With a national unemployment rate currently hovering around 12% and countless projects sitting in limbo, the sector definitely has a way to go to reach levels seen before the recession of 2007.

Even with the 17,000 jobs that the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) estimates were added last month, the industry’s total employment rate hasn’t moved much the past year because so many workers are leaving the industry.

Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, said in recent AGC press release that “despite five consecutive months of construction employment gains, the overall employment picture is essentially unchanged from a year ago. Construction employment appears stuck in a state of mild monthly flux with little change to the overall number of jobs.”

According to Simonson, construction firms employed 5.539 million people in October, up from 5.522 in September, an increase of 0.3 percent. The sector's overall employment in October is 20,000, or 0.4 percent, higher than one year earlier when firms employed 5.519 million workers. But overall, Simonson says construction employment remains down by nearly 2.2 million compared to six years ago when the sector's employment peaked at 7.7 million workers.

AGC officials said in the press release that the October data did not reflect impacts from Hurricane Sandy and other storms. They said reconstruction efforts that will take place throughout winter would have minimal overall effect on construction employment.

In the same news release, Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said that “even as some firms pick up work repairing damaged buildings and infrastructure, other firms will suffer as previously planned projects are cancelled or delayed.”

But as I wrote about this week, there are some companies like Sacramento-based Tricorp Hearn who have found niche markets and are prospering. For Tricorp, it’s hospitality and multi-family. As company president Steve Hunter told me, “business is great for us. We found ourselves in a couple of markets that are moving forward - hospitality and multi-family - and that’s where we are capitalizing on most projects.”

Hunter, who formed the company 10 years ago with collegues Ken Cohen and Tony Moayed, says that hospitality currently accounts for about 60 percent of Tricorp’s business. In fact the company currently has four hotel projects underway in California that represent more than $40 million in contracts values for Tricorp.

The projects are located in the cities of Anaheim, Salinas, Union City, and San Diego.

The Anaheim hotel, developed by DKN Hotels, is a 120-room Springhill Suites by Marriott. The four-story, 80,000-sq-ft project sits 2.5 acre next to Disneyland. It was designed by Tempe, AZ-based PK Architects.

The Salinas hotel is a 105-room, 80,880 sq-ft Hampton Inn & Suites, with four wood framed stories over concrete podium and subterranean parking. It was designed by San Francisco-based RYS Architects and is being developed by Cadius Partners Limited.

In San Diego, the company is building a 182-room, 91,120-sq-ft Hampton Inn & Suites in prestigious Mission Valley, near Sea World. The LEED Certified  project is being developed by TZ Development and was designed by Jones|Ballard Architects.

And in Union City, Tricorp is constructing yet another Hampton Inn & Suites that is also designed by RYS Architects. This 90-room, four-story hotel, developed by Lotus Hotels, will comply with the Cal Green Code and will feature energy efficient appliances, an indoor pool, bioswales, and is design-build.

With all this hospitality work going on and the New Year around the corner, Hunter sees a bright future for his company.

“We see 2013 as a great year for hospitality and multi-family,” he says. “Our plan right now is to grow by another 15 to 20 percent next year in volume.”