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Hung Tough

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 11:47 a.m. October 7, 2011
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Entrepreneurs
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When Joe Holland was a walk-on special teams player for the University of Pittsburgh football team in 1997, he would do just about anything to get on the field.

Like the time a coach asked if he could snap the ball on kicks and punts because another player went down with an injury. Holland jumped at the chance, though he neglected to tell the coach he had never snapped before.

That never-say-no spirit is how Holland runs Holland Construction, which has locations in Sarasota, Hanover, Pa., and Columbia, Md. The firm survived the market downturn, albeit without boom time-like growth. Its diversity in clients and industries, says Holland, fostered stability in the three locations. “We are in a good position,” says Holland.

Holland, 34, is president and CEO of Holland Construction. He lives in Sarasota with his family and travels, usually Tuesday through Thursday, to offices and worksites in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Just like at Pitt, where he played in 1997 and 1998, Holland decided the best way to survive the recession was a do-it-all mantra. It's a strategy many other Gulf Coast construction firms have had to undertake. “We will do anything,” says Holland, “from change a door knob to building a whole new building.”

Indeed, recent projects range from a small job for the Sarasota Ballet to an office renovation for Sarasota-based Sun Hydraulics, a $151 million firm. Holland Construction is also the lead firm behind an 18,000-square-foot store for national office supply chain Staples, currently under construction in downtown Sarasota.

The $3 million Staples project, on Fruitville Road and Links Avenue, replaces a proposed a luxury condo complex spread over two 16-story towers. That project was a casualty of the real estate market collapse.

“Staples has wanted a presence in the downtown area for a long time,” says Holland. “It's pent-up demand.”

The construction firm was founded in 1907. Back then it was Hostetter Construction. The Holland family bought the firm in 1981, and changed the name Jan. 1, 2010.

Joe Holland first worked for the firm when he was a teenager in the early 1990s, when he swept floors and cleaned sites. He worked for the company during summers at Pitt, and he joined it full time after graduation in 1999. He was named president and CEO in 2007.

Holland has managed several of the company's milestone projects in the last few years. In Maryland he oversaw construction of a 25-acre corporate park, which featured 300,000 square feet and a hotel. He also supervised the transformation of a 36,000-square-foot historic warehouse in Baltimore.

In Florida, meanwhile, in addition to Staples and Sun Hydraulics, the firm under Holland's watch has become a local leader in the highly competitive area of medical office build-outs and renovations. It recently completed $2.5 million worth of medical jobs, including work at the Waldemere Medical Center next to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Holland says a major recession-era challenge has been to price projects right. The firm wants to win jobs, but not work at cost just to get by, like other firms have had to do. “We don't want to be the lowest-price builder,” he says, “but we want to stay competitive.”


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