The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 25, 2012


By The Building Tradesman

Better bottom lines for U.S. contractors     

The big ship of U.S. construction is turning.

One of the measures of the health of the U.S. construction industry is how much money the nation’s largest contractors are making. Every May, the Engineering News Record compiles the numbers on those earnings, as well as where each Top 400 contractor ranks compared to the year before.

“Is the construction industry finally coming out of the recession?” the ENR asks. “Among contractors, it depends. For those in the industrial, manufacturing and petroleum sectors, work is picking up. In the power markets, pipeline work is growing as permitting advances. But in the public infrastructure and buildings markets, contractors are scrambling to get their share of a diminished yet stable workload.”

The ENR continued: “The slow turnaround in the construction market can be seen in this year’s ENR Top 400 Contractors list. As a group, the Top 400 generated $282.14 billion in contracting revenue in 2011, an increase of 8.8 percent from 2010’s $259.41 billion.

However, the nation’s big contractors have a ways to go before returning to the record level of $338 billion in combined contracting revenue, set in 2008.

Barton Malow of Southfield continued to lead Michigan-based contractors in revenue, showing up at No. 38 on the ENR-Top 400 list, the same spot as in the past two years. Next was Detroit-based Walbridge, ranked No. 47 – also at the same spot as last year.

Other Michigan-based contractors on the list (and their position on the list compared to 2011) include: Lakeshore Toltest (#93, -22); The Christman Co., Lansing (#160, +4); Commercial Contracting Group, Auburn Hills (#216, +18); Roncelli, Inc., Sterling Heights (#223, +69); Aristeo Construction, Livonia (#242, +9); Granger Construction, Lansing (#250, +54); Lamar Construction, Hudsonville (#258, unlisted in 2011); Ingenium International, Detroit (#304, -33); Rockford Construction, Grand Rapids (#318, +31); Clark Construction, Lansing #344, -78); Triangle Associates, Grand Rapids (#354, -1) Wolverine Building Group, Grand Rapids (#366, -2); George W. Auch, Pontiac (#372, unlisted in 2011), and Pioneer General Contractors, Grand Rapids (#400, -9).

The top five contractors in the nation rarely have much turnover, and this year was no different.  They include Bechtel of San Francisco, Fluor of Irving, Texas, Kiewet of Omaha, The Turner Corp. of New York and KBR of Houston.

Turncoat legislator deepens labor’s hole

The bar for getting a pro-labor, Democratic majority in the Michigan House moved even higher May 22, when state Rep. Roy Schmidt announced that he was switching sides, from the Democratic to Republican Party.

The Grand Rapids lawmaker twisted his dagger by making the switch at the filing deadline, not allowing Democrats to find a suitable candidate to run against him. Dems now have to win one more seat statewide, for a total of 10, to regain control of the state House.