The recession may have wrecked havoc on our list of Top 50 Contractors, but those on top show staying power.
We all know the recession changed things, particularly in the construction industry. One of the most tangible ways to see that change is tracking our list of the Top 50 Contractors through the years.
Every year, the Business Observer ranks the top 50 contractors from Pasco to Collier counties by revenue. Participation in our list is voluntary, and we depend on contractors to provide us with the information we need to compile the list. This can be telling in itself.
Familiar faces from the list during the boom disappeared with the recession, as did the mammoth revenue numbers. This gave way to a new crop of contractors who found ways to survive and thrive while other companies went out of business.
Not only have the faces changed, but the nature of the contractors' work has shifted. In the boom, residential dominated the list as large condominium projects sprouted across the coast. In the recession, public work became king.
In this year's list, you'll see a mix — a positive sign of a recovering residential market. Public projects still make up the majority of the work for contractors on the list, from hospital and school projects to roads, but there are some bright spots for the private sector. Although residential projects are still sparse, some large multifamily projects were started in 2012, and retail projects are once again making an appearance. The crown jewel of private projects is Arthrex Inc.'s new 190,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Ave Maria, a project large enough to be listed as a few of the contractors' notable projects for 2012.
Another positive trend gleaned from the list is the performance at the top of it: Of the top five contractors, all but one posted rising revenues the past two years. In 2012, three of five posted double-digit percentage increases in annual revenues.
The chart to the right, showing the total revenues from all contractors listed the past three years, provides a visual representation of the recovery: slow, but steady.
Overall, while some contractors continue to struggle with the pain of a slogging residential market, others have started to rebuild their companies and the Gulf Coast economy. The pace of growth is slow, but we get the sense that it's sustainable. One theme in particular has come from interviewing those who top the list: Now that they've survived, they're here to stay.