With 27 years of construction experience under his belt, Corbett Nichter was recently named executive vice president at Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based MAPP. The general contractor has projects across the country and specializes in retail, office, warehouse and hospitality work among other commercial sectors.
In his role as EVP, which he started in April 2022, Grapevine, Texas-based Nichter aims to expand the company’s footprint and deepen key relationships.
Here, Nichter talks with Construction Dive about growth in the Sun Belt, 2023 headwinds and past work he’s proud of.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What’s unique about the Texas market and why are you bullish right now?
CORBETT NICHTER: MAPP has had a presence in Texas for decades. Our continued success in Texas has driven significant investment in life sciences and advanced technologies, an additional floor in our offices in Uptown Dallas as well as recruiting some of the best business leaders in the region.
The Texas market is significant and diverse. In 2022 we had the ninth largest gross domestic product in the world and a 10.1% increase in GDP compared to the national average of 6.9%. Most importantly, Texas remains an incredibly business-friendly state and we’ll continue to see additional growth in a post-pandemic economy. Texas has been the center of growth in the United States, and by default the world, with Dallas Fort-Worth and Austin being major factors in that growth.
What are you hoping to accomplish in your new role as EVP?
As executive vice president, I am continuing to build the organization by adding key industry players to our team of talented professionals. Our brand is driven by our people and culture, which will always be my focus, including maintaining our excellent relationships with our trade partners.
Additionally, I look forward to expanding our footprint to support the growing markets in the Sun Belt, especially in Texas, with innovation, efficiency and excellent product and service.
In light of the current economic conditions, are you preparing for pullback in certain sectors you work in? If so, how?
Across the industry, we’re seeing and responding to a shift in projects. For example, ground-up office construction will slow from a very robust pace over the past few years to only select deals, such as corporate relocations moving forward. Construction firms will need to be even more efficient and willing to travel outside of their predominant metropolitan statistical areas to build for their clients.
We have experienced great success with our national clients in delivering via this model, but it does offer more of a challenge for our teams and sacrifices by our team members, which we certainly appreciate. This also reinforces the need -– and MAPP’s commitment to -– top talent, and maintaining a culture where these professionals feel rewarded and appreciated for their dedication.
What is the regulatory environment like for contractors in Texas? Any pieces of legislation of note on your radar?
Texas is the most business-friendly state in the country, and [Texas trade association] TEXO and Associated General Contractors of America continue to be great advocates for our industry. While there is upcoming legislation related to design, construction and insurance, one of the most significant changes in Texas legislation in the last decade was the passage of SB 219 in 2021.
In short, Texas shifted the liability for defects in any design/specifications from the contractor when the plans are provided by the owner, or owner’s architect or engineer with noted exceptions, one being design/build projects. Because of this, I believe we will see an accelerated approach to the contractor design/build delivery method over the near term.
What are some of the main challenges you anticipate in the year ahead?
With the Federal Reserve anticipated to raise interest rates at least into Q3 2023 and with exit cap rates being uncertain, I believe we’ll see much less speculative office and industrial building than in prior years.
This, coupled with continued escalation in construction materials and commodities, will certainly impact construction starts as pro formas are no longer able to achieve the desired internal rate of return.
Do you have a favorite project you'd like to tell us about?
A current project that brings me great personal happiness is the Doswell Medical Building project for Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas. Our team is working alongside the leadership from Nexus, Pritchard & Associates and HKS Architects to design and build a new facility for an organization that specifically supports women and their journey to recovery.
Projects like this are one of the reasons I took on this role with MAPP. It’s an honor to join a team of such strategic, forward-looking professionals that truly care for their team and deliver on meaningful construction projects that enhance our communities.