There's growing concern about the state of specialty contractors these days, both in the Southeast and across the nation. As we noted in this month's Top Contractors report, numerous general contractors have stated they are seeing an increasing number of specialty firms that are financially incapable of performing, and GCs and sureties are seeing more subcontractor failures.
At the recent annual convention of the Construction Financial Management Association in Orlando, incoming chairman Erika Urbani, a CFO with a California-based general contractor, told ENR that oftentimes specialty contractors don't realize how weak their balance sheets have become until it's too late.
"We are witnessing the financial weakening of a substantial portion of our subcontractor base," Urbani said. "We are faced with the need to manage cash distribution through increased use of joint checks and advance payments to keep subcontractor labor forces on schedule."
In the Southeast, the situation appears to be a mixed bag. While some geographic regions are experiencing definite upturns in construction, such as Miami and Orlando, others definitely are not. Atlanta, for instance, with a commercial building market that one of our Top Contractor sources described as "virtually nonexistent," seems to hold special challenges for subcontractors.
The recent results from ENR Southeast's annual Top Specialty Contractors survey—which will be published in the Sept. 10 issue—reveals a similar good news-bad news situation. First, the bad news: Only 75 firms participated in this year's survey, down from the 110 that did so a year ago—and well down from the survey's peak of 200 a few years ago. Since survey participation seems to reflect the ebb and flow of the Southeast market, that's not a good sign.
Also, overall revenue was down slightly, again. A year ago, the 110 firms that participated in ENR Southeast's survey collectively reported roughly $4.5 billion in revenue. This year's cumulative regional revenue total came in at about $4.4 billion.
On the upside, doing the math of fewer firms generating a similar revenue total equates to a bigger "average" for each participant. By this calculation, there was significant improvement, from last year's average of $40.9 million to the current average of $58.3 million. Of course, this average reflects only the relative strength of those firms that chose to participate in the ranking.
Additionally, of this year's top 25 specialty contractors, 14 firms reported increases, and only four indicated decreases. The seven other companies in the top 25 were either flat or had not participated in the survey a year ago.
ENR Southeast will delve further into our survey's data, and the overall situation for the region's specialty firms in our upcoming Sept. 10 issue. For now, here's the list of the 75 specialty firms that will be included in this year's ranking, by alphabetical order.
Ace Electric, Inc.
Action Electrical & Mechanical Contractors
APG Electric, Inc.
Baker Paint & Contracting Co., Inc.
Baker Roofing Co.
Bauer Foundation Corp.
Builders Plus, Inc.
Cherokee Enterprises, Inc.
Cleveland Electric Co.
Comfort Systems USA, Inc.
ComNet Communications, LLC
Comprehensive Energy Services, Inc.
Crowther Roofing & Sheet Metal of Florida, Inc.
Cullum Mechanical Construction, Inc.
Cypress Construction & Coatings, Inc.
D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co., Inc.
Demolition & Asbestos Removal, Inc.
Dillon Pools, Inc.
Don Works USA
EMCOR Group, Inc.
Faith Technologies, Inc.
Fly & Form, Inc.
Garney Companies, Inc.
Gate Precast Co.
Genesis Elevator Co. Inc.
Graydaze Contracting, Inc.
H. R. Allen, Inc.
Inglett & Stubbs, LLC
Ivey Mechanical Co.
Latite Roofing and Sheet Metal LLC
M.C. Dean, Inc.
Merit Electric Co., Inc.
Mersino Dewatering, Inc.
Mill-Rite Woodworking Co., Inc.
Miller Electric Co.
Muns Welding and Mechanical, Inc.
Payne Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc.
Piedmont Mechanical, Inc.
Player and Co.
Plummer Painting & Waterproofing
Power Design, Inc.
Precision Concrete Construction, Inc.
Precision Walls, Inc.
Principle Partners, Inc
Rawlins Mechanical Contractors Inc
S&S Painting and Waterproofing
Seretta Construction, Inc.
Specialty Finishes, Inc
Sutter Roofing Co. of Florida
Team Industrial Services, Inc.
Tecta America Corp.
Terry's Electric, Inc.
The Miller Clapperton Partnership, Inc
Tri-City Electrical Contractors, Inc.
United Forming, Inc
Wayne Brothers, Inc.
Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc.
White Electrical Construction Co.
Windemuller Technical Services, Inc.