ARCHIVED  December 1, 1997

Earth movers

Local general contractors span state, nation, globe

The work of Northern Colorado˜s general contractors doesn˜t yet span the globe, but one day soon, it might.
From California to Florida, office buildings, airports, shopping centers, prisons and schools have been built by companies based in Northern Colorado.
been built by companies based in Northern Colorado.
Building completed under the name of the farthest-reaching company, Greeley-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co., can be found as far west as Guam. The largest general contractor in Colorado, the company˜s goal is to be internationally known, said Jerry Morgensen, president and CEO of Hensel Phelps.
Last year, the volume of in-place construction (total volume of projects completed) was $826 million. This year, $975 million is projected.
"We don˜t have contracts for this yet, but we are looking to expand to Korea and the Middle East," Morgensen said. "In Korea, we˜re looking at building a military airport. Our long-range goal is to become an international contractor."
Hensel Phelps has come a long way since a man by the same name began the company in 1937 with home building and remodeling. Now the 31st-largest general contractor in the United States, about 80 percent of its business is out of state.
But you don˜t have to look far to see work by Hensel Phelps. The general contractor at the Eastman Kodak Co. plant in Windsor, Hensel Phelps played the same role for the Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver and was one of the primary general contractors for Denver International Airport.
Farther afield, Hensel Phelps worked for the U.S. Air Force in Guam capping a landfill, in Austin, Texas, as construction manager on a wafer fabrication plant for the Korean company Samsung Austin Semiconductor and as the designer/builder on the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, Wash.
"We don˜t specialize in anything," Morgensen said. "But I don˜t think we˜d put up a patio for a home."
Hensel Phelps has branched to Irvine and San Jose, Calif., Austin, Texas, Little Rock, Ark. and Chantille, Va.Hensel Phelps developed people, too
Hensel Phelps˜ reach goes beyond buildings. In a way, the company has also developed people.
Patrick T. Roche is an example. He˜s the founder of Roche Constructors Inc., a Greeley-based company whose work in 1996 totaled $77 million. In the late ˜60s, Roche was living in Los Angeles and working as the project manager for Sears. He moved to Colorado due to a job offer from Hensel Phelps in 1969. Just a few years later, in 1971, he left Hensel Phelps and struck out on his own.
Roche Constructors is family owned and operated. Roche˜s son, Thomas, is the president, while his daughter, Sandra, is the legal counsel.
Between 50 percent and 60 percent of the work Roche Constructors does is in-state. The client base is diverse, with projects that range from banks and schools in Nevada, to the word headquarters of Cabela˜s (a sporting good business) in Sidney, Neb., to the EFTC Corp. manufacturing plant in Greeley, to the Carson City, Nev., public safety building, a $20 million project expected to be complete in 1999.
Thomas Roche said that if Roche Constructors had a niche, it would be public-safety buildings, including prisons and schools. This despite the fact that they˜ve built 32 Albertson˜s stores in the last 10 years.
"Diversity has helped us to grow," he said. "But public-works wise, there is a lot of need for jails. The county jails in these areas (Roche just completed the Weld County North Jail Complex) are outdated and undersized."
He said most of the company˜s work is for cities and counties, not the federal government. Further, "About 50 percent of the company˜s projects are for city and county public works projects," he said.
Roche has branch offices in Las Vegas and is licensed to work in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
"We plan on working in the Western United States for the next five years," Roche said. Neenan focuses on Colorado
The majority of the Neenan Co.˜s work, 95 percent, is instate. The $45 million Quantum Peripherals building under construction in Colorado Springs, at 460,000 square feet, is the company˜s largest project to date. The projected completion date is sometime in late 1998.
Neenan is finishing up a $16 million building for Ball Aerospace in Broomfield˜s Jefferson County Airport. Pacifica Centennial Research & Development in Louisville, Boston Chicken headquarters in Golden and Celestial Seasonings in Boulder are other Neenan projects. This year, Neenan will begin construction on an office building in Tucson, Ariz.
David Neenan, CEO, said the company˜s niche is high-technology, medical and the "entrepreneur-driven industry."
"Our vision is to develop ÔArchistruction˜ into such a powerful force for our clients that it will transform the industry," he said. Archistruction is a trademarked word invented by the Neenan Co. to identify the type of work it offers. On-staff architects handle the majority of the work. However, they do collaborate with outside architects and other consultants for specialized projects.
Archistruction is "a fulfillment system to ensure seamless delivery to customers. A strategy to pull together an industry that is classically fragmented," Neenan said.
In 1996, the Neenan Co. did $104 million in total projects completed. The company˜s annual growth rate is at about 30 percent to 35 percent, Neenan said.
"We want to be at $250 million in five years," he said.
Like the Neenan Co., 95 percent of Alliance Construction Solutions˜ work is instate. Alliance projects range from Colorado Springs to Brush, to the new Fort Collins high school; a 285,000-square-foot, $30 million project completed in 1995. Alliance is working on plans to build a school in Nebraska, and hotels and commercial offices in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Our industry has almost too much work right now," Alliance president Clayton Schwerin said. "Such that we are finding shortages. The current one is in cement. It˜s one of the reasons we aren˜t doing more work out of state."
Alliance has 15 projects under construction throughout Colorado and eventually plans to open branch offices in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore.
Schwerin bought the company Baldwin Construction in 1994, changing the name to Alliance Construction Solutions in 1996. Company revenue in 1996 was $42 million. Projected revenue for 1997 is $50 million.Schwerin said Alliance˜s scope is "as diverse as possible, but the higher emphasis right now is on hotels and elder-care projects." This emphasis reflects a booming hotel market. The U.S. hotel industry is expected to add 127,500 new rooms in 1997, according to a report by Coopers & Lybrand of New York.

Local general contractors span state, nation, globe

The work of Northern Colorado˜s general contractors doesn˜t yet span the globe, but one day soon, it might.
From California to Florida, office buildings, airports, shopping centers, prisons and schools have been built by companies based in Northern Colorado.
been built by companies based in Northern Colorado.
Building completed under the name of the farthest-reaching company, Greeley-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co., can be found as far west as Guam. The largest general contractor in Colorado, the company˜s goal is to be internationally known, said Jerry Morgensen, president and CEO of Hensel…

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