- Architecture, engineering, design-build and general contracting firm Clayco announced earlier this month that it is opening a new West Coast regional office in the Los Angeles area that will serve as a base for its operations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona, where it has a total combined project backlog of more than $2 billion.
- Joining Clayco in its new office as senior vice president of integrated services is architect Rob Jernigan, former managing principal at Gensler. Also coming on as a senior vice president on the West Coast is Emery Molnar, former executive at both Swinerton and Gilbane Building Co. Helping to lead the new office will be current Clayco vice president and shareholder Ryan McGuire, who spent more than 10 years at McCarthy's Southern California office before joining Clayco in 2014.
- All of Clayco's business groups and subsidiaries will be represented in the new office. Clayco's real estate arm, CRG, already has a Southern California office in Newport Beach, California.
Clayco said its revenue for 2020 was $3.8 billion and anticipates that will increase to $4.5 billion this year. The company performs work in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors and also has an architectural and design subsidiary, Lamar Johnson Collaborative.
Clayco's other business units are:
- Concrete Strategies, which performs more than $200 million annually of concrete construction work.
- Ventana, which fabricates and installs glass products and framing systems.
- Decennial Group, the company's real estate development, investment and asset management arm.
Bob Clark, founder and CEO of Clayco, told Construction Dive that the company made an attempt a few years ago to establish a West Coast office but the costs were too high, particularly when it came to hiring and recruiting.
"We just decided at the time that we would try to service all of our accounts out there the way we do the rest of the country — from Chicago and St. Louis — and wait for an opportunity," he said. "We certainly didn't know it would be a pandemic, but we're in a cyclical business, so we just knew at some point [the West Coast market] would soften."
In fact, he said, the company would not have been able to hire the level of West Coast talent it has pre-pandemic.
"So the pandemic kind of created this interesting market for opportunity," Clark said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also shifted the nature of Clayco's opportunities in the Pacific region.
"Within a couple of months of hitting, we could see that our business was really ramping up in the e-commerce space," he said. "We could just see the handwriting on the wall."
In fact, Clark expects distribution centers, data centers and a move toward localized manufacturing and warehousing to drive significant growth in the West.
But COVID-19 is not the first market interruption that has provided new opportunity for the company.
"When we look back at our entire history, most of our growth in terms of quality talent in the organization has come during downturns," Clark said. "Even in the last major downturn, when everybody was really upside down during the Great Recession, Clayco hired a tremendous number of people. We were adding talent like crazy."
Clark said he doesn't characterize moves like this as taking risks but, instead, taking advantage of opportunities, unlike other companies that try to wait out the turbulence.
"My philosophy has always been that you're either on a spiral up or you're on a spiral down and there is no status quo," Clark said.