Hensel and Phelps corporate offices in Greeley. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

Hensel Phelps builds on relationships

In its 78 years of operation, Greeley-based Hensel Phelps has grown from a small sole proprietorship to one of the nation’s top 20 national contractors, with eight offices around the country.

As a 100 percent employee-owned operation, the company prides itself on building great relationships with both employees and clients and is well-known for its work on many major Colorado landmarks, including Denver International Airport, History Colorado Center, the Colorado Convention Center, Elitch Gardens, the Wellington Webb municipal building and the Denver Justice Center.Merc100_2015noco

The company had stagnant growth during the years immediately following the economic downturn but has rebounded in the last two years, with Colorado revenue of $329.6 million in 2014, a 75 percent increase from 2013.

Allan Bliesmer, district manager and vice president at Hensel Phelps, said his company weathered the economic downturn because of its focus on client relationships and its employees.

“Rather than downsize or lay people off, we kept all of them and continued to build relationships” so that when the recession came to an end the company was able to move forward, he said.

One thing that has kept the company afloat even during tough times is that it serves a number of different sectors, said Bliesmer. Hensel Phelps works in the hospitality, military construction, health-care, technology, retail, office market, education and aviation industries.

“You name it and we have built in that sector,” he said. “That is one thing that helps us when you see fluctuations in the economy. When one of the sectors isn’t as strong as the other, it doesn’t impact us a great deal on our growth.”

The company is projecting nationwide revenue of $3.3 billion in 2015, $400 million of that in Colorado alone.

“I think our growth locally is really a byproduct of the market in Colorado. It is great. We have been here a long time. It is really building those long-term client relationships. When the economy gets better and those relationships come to bear, that’s when construction comes again,” he said. “It is maintaining those relationships through our career and our clients’ careers and building upon those relationships.”

The company employs 2,100 people nationwide, about 350 of them in Colorado.

Hensel Phelps doesn’t do in-house design. It works with architects and engineers to help it with its designs. It instead focuses on construction management and general contracting. Over the past five years the company also has added facilities management to its list of services.

Instead of just building a project and handing the keys to the owner, the company can stay and manage the building for from one to 20 years, he said.

The rise of technology has helped make Hensel Phelps more efficient in managing projects. The biggest problem affecting the construction industry is finding a good and skilled workforce.

“That is a challenge for us in our industry to continue to grow that work pool,” Bliesmer said.

Hensel Phelps and other contractors invest a lot of time speaking to high school students and trade schools to get them interested in becoming carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians.

“That’s the limiting factor within our industry now on what can be accomplished,” Bliesmer said. “It will be a factor in the cost of construction. We are seeing it now and it will continue from time to come.”