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North Bay construction leaders reveal how the pandemic has affected revenues, jobs, materials costs

The world remains vigilant in the battle against the coronavirus, and that is true for the area’s top contractors and their firms.

But there’s more to watch, like the cost of materials, the availability of labor and the threat of a return of wildfires.

Asked by the Journal for a status of their industry, some of those leaders reported good news as well. They are busy, with some projecting revenues increasing from the single digits to more than doubling.

Here’s these leaders’ view of the status of building in the North Bay.

Robert Cantu of Western Builders, Santa Rosa

Robert Cantu

Western Builders, 1400 N. Dutton Ave., No. 19, Santa Rosa 95401; 707-542-3213; westernbuilders.info

How long has this business been operating?

19 years

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Commercial, design-build and custom residential.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020?

Expecting similar to slightly higher revenue in 2021.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

Reactions in the pandemic slowed or stopped the planning and entitlement phases of several projects.  Some projects will and are delayed, while some will never start due to shifts in the materials expenses.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Material price increases.  Abnormal increases across the board.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

The supply of projects will sustain itself over the year.  We will likely see a downward trend in 2022 due to projects not starting the planning and entitlement phases in 20/21.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

The hike in materials have created uncertainty in the end-user client.  Those who can absorb the increases will to avoid further increase.  Several investor-driven projects will no longer “pencil” and will become non-starters.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

It has reshaped material choices and preferences.  Building codes are also starting to change in some areas in reaction to the wildfires.  The impact has been an increase in building costs.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

110,000-square-foot Napa Office Building- Merging of complex building and finish systems.

Architectural firm office- Being chosen to build for an architect is a genuine compliment.

Retail financial branch location- Complex multiphase redevelopment of interior, exterior and site while keeping the facility up and running throughout the construction process.

Mark Davis,  Wright Contracting

Mark Davis

Wright Contracting, 3020 Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa 95407; 707-528-1172; wrightcontracting.com

How long has this business been operating?

Since 1953 (68 years).

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Wright Contracting is a general contracting company that specializes in commercial construction, including wineries, hospitality, education, medical, multifamily, high-end residential and more.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We expect a slight decrease in revenue in 2021 due to the completion of a couple of major projects and overall delay in new project starts due to the pandemic.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

We’re adjusting to Zoom meetings and calls versus in person, face-to-face interaction with clients and design team. Construction takes a collaborative approach/effort, which is difficult to achieve via remote observation.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Material cost escalation and product lead times. As a builder, when you commit to a price and a schedule during the preconstruction phase based upon the market at that time, and the market completely changes over the ensuing months, finding ways to meet this commitment is a challenge.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

All indications are the industry is looking to recover, with many projects in the design and/or permitting phase. However, the material availability and continuing material price increases will undoubtedly cause some projects to stall.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

With the uncertainty in both material availability and pricing, we have seen both the aggressive and cautious approaches by clients.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

I would say the wildfires have significantly impacted our current and upcoming projects due to clients’ increasing interest in options to achieve higher fire protection means. But in most cases, the changes in building materials and methods are being dictated by recent code changes and/or insurance requirements, which is leaving clients with little choice.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

Santa Rosa Junior College Athletics Complex

Wright Contracting partnered with TLCD and ELS Architectural firms to design and build a new athletics complex on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus, including baseball, softball and soccer fields; a 52-meter race and diving pool; associated out buildings; stadium bleachers with press box; a new football/track fieldhouse, including locker rooms, showers and restrooms; a classroom/team room; coaches offices; conference room, and storage and a new entry gate and kiosk with ticket office; snack shack and bathrooms.

One of the interesting things about this project is that it is being delivered via the Design-Build delivery method. This method has proven to be highly successful, as demonstrated recently on the Jeff Kunde Hall project located on Elliott Ave. In line with the college’s environmental building goals, the project will adhere to their Zero Net Energy requirements.

A first phase of the project involved reconstruction of Bailey Field’s turf and track, along with replacement of the electronic scoreboard plus other upgrades and improvements.

Caritas Village

Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa and Burbank Housing are partnering to create Caritas Village, which will consolidate and expand the existing on-site Family Support Center and Homeless Services Center located in downtown Santa Rosa into a single comprehensive homeless support services facility totaling approximately 46,587 square feet with three elevators.

The center will provide an emergency shelter; a day center for day services, including showers and laundry; a full commercial kitchen and dining area; overnight areas for different needs and user groups; a kids area; a secure courtyard; kennels for dogs; a medical clinic; transitional living space; wraparound services; extensive security and access control systems; and administrative offices.

Caritas Village will replace Catholic Charities’ aging facilities on Morgan and A streets, which currently serve 2,000 people a year. This is a long-term solution to the crisis of homelessness in Sonoma County to help get people off the streets and into permanent housing.

Caritas Village has been designed with enhanced neighborhood safety and security in mind, including 24/7 on-site management, improved lighting and safety features, and inner courtyards for program participants. Project funding is coming through a variety of federal, state and philanthropic sources.

Enchanted Hills

In 2017, wildfire destroyed many of the structures at Enchanted Hills Camp, as well as over 700 trees. Overall, 20 structures, almost half of the buildings, were destroyed. The Enchanted Hills team is rebuilding the camp in phases so that portions can be used, while others are under construction. The current phase includes new underground electric and water, including a 420-foot bore section to go under Wing Canyon creek. There will be new 12KV medium voltage electrical distribution, new water tanks and a new parking lot with a 450W Photovoltaic System. A future phase will include construction of 11 cabins, two bathhouse buildings, and a 7,000-square-foot Commons Building that offers a gathering space with an indoor and outdoor kitchen, dining area and program space — deep in the most beautiful part of the camp, in the shade of the Redwoods.

Thomas Dawson of Precision General Commercial Contractors (courtesy photo)

Thomas Dawson

Precision General Commercial Contractors Inc., 7250 Redwood Blvd., Suite 214, Novato 94945; 415-332-8390; precisiongc.com

How long has this business been operating?

More than 20 years.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Precision General Commercial Contractors, Inc. is a California-based construction company with projects throughout the U.S., specializing in the rehabilitation and new construction of multifamily real estate. With over 50,000 units built, Precision offers full spectrum construction services, including pre-construction, bidding strategies and cost analysis — custom tailored to the needs of our clients.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020?  What is contributing to that?

We expect about 5% revenue growth due to demand.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

We have had to quickly adapt to the changing personnel schedules and our field services, moving a large portion of our work and meetings to a remote format.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

The COVID climate has made the building of relationships much harder to foster.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

Great, demand is up!

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

The impact of the material prices has had an adverse effect on project starts; owners often see that the commodity market increases are transitory. Lumber pricing has the most impact on the owner deciding when to start a project.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

The current wildfire threat has not had a significant impact on our business; we typically are working on infill sites.

What are your three biggest jobs right now?  What's interesting about them?

Dutton Flats, Santa Rosa – 41 units of new construction; 100% affordable family project; environmental re-use project. Previously home to a Christmas tree lot.

The intention of this project is to assist in alleviating the shortage of affordable housing exacerbated by the Santa Rosa fires in recent years. The project incorporates sustainable construction best practices with an emphasis on energy and water conservation, and will include solar hot-water heating and rainwater harvesting to water the drought-tolerant landscaping. Wherever practical, the project will incorporate recycled and repurposed materials.

Pullman Lofts, Santa Rosa – 94 units of rehabilitated and new construction; two-phased, mixed income project (74 units market rate and 24 units affordable); transit-oriented project.

Located at the site of a former lumberyard near historic Railroad Square in Santa Rosa adjacent to the SMART passenger rail line. The complex was named after Pullman cars, railroad sleeping cars that were built and operated on most U.S. railroads by the Pullman Co., founded by George Pullman, from 1867 to 1968.

Most of the initial site work has been done, including removing more than 1,300 tons of concrete, which was recycled.

During excavation, workers discovered over 1,000 linear feet of railroad track that once belonged to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The tracks will be incorporated into the landscape design of the apartments and its community areas.

Pony Express Senior Housing, Vacaville – 60 units of new construction; senior-restricted project serving low-income seniors and senior veterans.

The development will provide affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income seniors and seniors experiencing homelessness in Vacaville, and incorporate a “Wellness Center” where health care professionals and community members can provide medical, dental or community services necessary for the residents.

Jerry Eddinger, Eddinger Enterprises, Healdsburg (COURTESY OF EDDINGER ENTERPRISES)

Jerry Eddinger

Eddinger Enterprises Inc., 62 W. North St., Healdsburg 95448; 707-433-5113; www.eddingers.com

How long has this business be operating?

Since 1968.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Custom residential and commercial building.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020?

Between 8%-10%.

What is contributing to that?

Low interest rates and natural growth in Sonoma County.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

We adapted early and implemented best-cleaning practices and safety protocols immediately.  Over 95% of our staff is vaccinated and, combined with our standard safety practices, we’ve created even safer jobsites.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Getting material in a timely manner and higher material costs.  Longer lead times have negatively affected every project.  We are advocates for our customers and the long lead times on materials can be very discouraging.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

Demand is very strong.  We’re hoping the supply of labor and material can keep up.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

We try very hard to keep our customers up to date on price changes and decisions affecting them.  Customers are eager to get started.  We’re proactively ordering materials early and that is helping with cost increases and shipping dates.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

Like all county residents, our customers are very aware of these threats.  Current building and fire codes have greatly increased fire resistance but we’re also helping with vegetation management for defensible space.  Prepping for generators is typical for every project.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

The Matheson – The Matheson is a new three-story building on the Healdsburg Plaza with a restaurant, roof top bar and housing — all owned, operated and built by locals.  Built within the constraints of the original Garrett Hardware building on the Healdsburg Plaza, this is a large job in our active downtown and we’re trying very hard not to disturb our local businesses during construction.  This will be a downtown jewel when completed.

Honor Mansion – Honor Mansion includes a Jack Nicklaus putting green, pickleball and bocce ball courts, pool and beautiful drought-tolerant landscape.  The building will consist of remodeling the existing mansion for a total of 13 bed and breakfast rooms per our CUP.

Healdsburg Lumber Company – this new headquarters allows HLC to continue their 100-year-plus tradition and remain in Healdsburg.  The site is in city limits but, without some typical city utility infrastructure, the location is challenging and interesting.

Daniel Garon, Devcon Construction, Inc.

Daniel Garon

Devcon Construction Inc., 1480 Cader Lane, Suite C, Petaluma 94954; 707-765-1580; devcon-const.com

How long has this business been operating?

Devcon Construction, Inc. started in 1976.  The North Bay branch started 18 years ago (2003).

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Commercial General Contractor.  We have built office buildings, light industrial, retail, tenant improvements.  Generally do not do public works.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020?

What is contributing to that?  2020 was our biggest year to date in the North Bay.  We anticipate a 5% growth, mostly in the light industrial market.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

The restrictions brought on by the pandemic have made us more resourceful.  We are sourcing alternative methods and materials during design to avoid delays down the road.  We are packaging projects where it makes sense to improve purchasing power.  We are spending increasingly more time with customers to better understand their goals and make sure we help to achieve them.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

The toughest problem to deal with has been reductions in staff, whether it’s at the building departments, (who were largely working remotely) or material suppliers, (some of whom weren’t working at all).

Our goal has been to identify potential problems early (i.e., delays caused by material supply disruptions or permit delays due to lengthy plan checks), and notify our customers to give them a chance to react or change course where necessary.  So far, that’s been effective.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

I anticipate that construction, especially in the light industrial market, will continue to stay healthy.  There have even been rumors that office tenant improvements may be making a comeback.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

It depends on the type of customer and the nature of the project.  If the customer is, for example, a national company with a lot of buying power, they have more resilience to fluctuations in the market.

The smaller, local developers are a bit more price sensitive.  Whether large or small, all of our customers are looking for ways to anticipate or limit the fluctuations in the material market.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

The wildfires and power outages have been a boon to the backup power market: generators and power walls.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

We are doing a large TI for a growing optical coatings company in Santa Rosa.  Everything is interesting about them.  They have a great team running the show and their manufacturing process borders on magic.

We’re wrapping up a last-mile facility for a large logistics company in American Canyon.  What’s interesting about the logistics company is how many of these facilities are in the pipeline.

We are doing a series of projects for a biotech company in Petaluma.  There’s a lot of focus in biotech right now and it’s interesting to see how nimble a company can be responding to changes in the market.

Kevin Ghilotti, 30, president of Team Ghilotti Inc. in Petaluma, one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019. (PROVIDED PHOTO)

Kevin Ghilotti

Team Ghilotti Inc., 2531 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma 94952; 707-763-8700; www.teamghilotti.com

How long has this business be operating?

14 years

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Paving, grading, underground, concrete.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We anticipate that our annual sales for 2021 will grow by 7.5%.  The revenue growth is attributable to the increase in local private sector needs for housing, and increased prices due to increased costs.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

Our company has always regarded the safety of our employees with the utmost concern.  It presented challenges for employers who have employees who travel, and how to navigate keeping a safe working environment without imposing on employees’ rights.

No other illness has seen such strict shutdowns, local ordinances, state ordinances, and federal ordinances — some with very conflicting guidelines.  Our company erred on the side of protecting the employees’ while being in compliance with local ordinances.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Undoubtedly trying to comply with Cal/OSHA, CDC and local health departments regulations and rules that were changing sometimes daily, with rules being put into effect retroactively.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

Looking at our bidding calendar starting to fill up and talking with agencies, I’m hopeful that more work is coming in our area.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

Since most of our work is public works projects, the hike in material prices may make the jobs cost higher than agencies intended with their engineers’ estimates.

They are still eager to get their projects as they have been stacking up since the pandemic, and are slowly getting more jobs put out to bid.

It has been a struggle to get quotes in on a timely fashion for us to put our proposals together. Some vendor quotes are only valid for five days with all the shortages in materials.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

With the agencies we are working with, road closures and detours are top of mind for planned evacuations.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

North Trunk Sewer Project for the City of Santa Rosa is our biggest at the moment — $8.9 million. We are relocating a sewer main on Chanate Road. The city has been engineering and working on this project for over 10 years prior to bid date. It is also our largest underground contract to date.

Our second-largest project is the second-phase restoration of Lower Colgan Creek for the City of Santa Rosa. Restoring creeks are so necessary, especially as we draw closer to drought season, making sure that unwanted vegetation is removed, and structures are installed to protect the existing wildlife.

Our third-largest project is the 2021 Paving Project for Solano County. Paving is always rewarding as it provides not only a smoother driving experience for the public, but improves the safety of traveling.

Mike Ghilotti, president, Ghilotti Bros. Inc., San Rafael (GHILOTTI BROS.) Sept. 20, 2017

Mike Ghilotti

Ghilotti Bros. Inc., 525 Jacoby St., San Rafael 94901; 415-454-7011; gbi1914.com

How long has this business been operating?

Since 1914, 107 years.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done?

Ghilotti Bros. specializes in all facets of site development, including underground, grading, concrete and paving work.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We are forecasting 37% growth in revenue in 2021 vs. 2020, and contribute that to our strategic initiative developed in 2020 to hyper-focus on private works specifically in the North Bay.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

Well, it certainly has made us appreciate returning to life as we knew it pre-pandemic, but the major change is complete digital field operations.

Additionally, it has shed new light on the value of full closures when performing road work both for safety and increased productivity.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

The biggest challenge for GBI during the pandemic was confronting the public perception that, although we were fully complying with CDC guidelines while performing work as an essential business, that we were putting the health and safety of their neighborhoods at risk.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

The construction industry in the North Bay is looking very strong as most cities and counties are finally realizing the infrastructure crisis and starting to invest in its repair, while at the same time demand for housing and commercial development is a welcome opportunity for GBI to use our 107 years of experience to provide world-class quality and service.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

We see the hike in material costs as a short-term impediment to the construction industry. Our customers are moving forward with their projects.

A good example is the Adobe Road Winery project in Petaluma, where they knew the value of their project starting now trumps holding off.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

We have not experienced any redirection with respect to wildfires and power outages.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

Grove Village — an 18-acre project that has 136 lots, 23,000 yards of dirt that is being moved, and is part of increasing necessary housing for Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa Court House — installing EQ drains that are about 40-50 deep that go under the entire footprint of the building, approx. 1,184 drains.

Adobe Road Winery — a new world-class winery and entertainment complex overlooking the Petaluma River.

Jesse Malone & Steve Ronchelli, Jim Murphy & Associates

Jesse Malone & Steve Ronchelli

Jim Murphy & Associates, 464 Kenwood Court, Suite B, Santa Rosa 95407; 707-576-7337; j-m-a.com

How long has this business been operating?

34 years

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

We build custom homes, wineries, hospitality and private commercial projects.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We are essentially level, however there is a significant uptick in our backlog starting 2022. We have been careful to only take on projects that we know we can manage well with the team that we have.

At times, the general shortage of skilled labor and qualified management limits our ability to confidently take on more projects. Our brand is far more important than an increase in revenue.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

There have been a number of positive effects to our operations, management tools and processes. Online collaborations over MS Teams and Zoom have become very efficient and effective, particularly when you introduce the clarity of Revit models.

Coordination meetings, direct access to remote build partners and clients, and the general ease of digital interface has been a big game changer from a design and construction standpoint. We would have never developed and adopted this technology this quickly without necessity.

Although it was basically always in the cards to do so, converting permit applications to a strictly digital format has been a big improvement. The application process, the exchange of comments from the various county departments and the online tracking are all great improvements to the process that would have taken years to implement without the urgent need for a “no touch” process.

Conversely, digital exchanges do little for morale or company culture.  We need to work hard to make sure we are all connected and content.

From an administrative standpoint, we are generally far more aggressive with procurement, buy out and design clarity as they relate to schedule, compared to 18 months ago.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Internally, child care. We are a family-oriented firm and a lot of our team members have small children. Between home schooling demands, absence of child care, working from home and just a general concern for safety, it can be hard to keep folks connected and focused.

Externally, communication. Particularly with custom homes, in-person human connection can be critical. Reviewing materials, picking fixtures and making design decisions is tough to do over Zoom. But the real challenge is truly communicating with your client and architect without the benefits of being in person. Reactions and body language are lost in Zoom calls.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

We are not optimistic that labor or material costs will come down as dramatically as they came up. Material/manufacturing lead times will continue to encumber the process for at least the next year.

There is plenty of work out there, however, our industry’s overall revenue will be defined by our ability to expedite the flow of materials and labor.

More investment should be made in fostering our next generation of builders and tradespeople.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

Clients are certainly asking to “buy out” scopes and materials as early as possible. Although we are not optimistic that prices will come down considerably, we also don’t see a need to panic and buy materials way before you need them.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t double your anticipated lead time for most construction materials. Most of our projects take 2-to-3 years, so we are in it for the long haul with our clients. Our subs and suppliers have been absolutely outstanding in working hard to keep costs down, keeping us informed and making good decisions when purchasing goods.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

Certainly, auxiliary sprinkler systems, fire-resistant construction materials, defensible landscape design, emergency/back up electrical systems, and secondary access and egress roads are very common considerations on every single project these days.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

We are building a few beautiful estate homes at the moment, but our anchor project is a large resort. We started on the development team 16 years ago and we are finally scheduled to break ground in July.

Seth Maze of GMH Builders (courtesy photo)

Seth Maze

GMH Builders, 901 Broadway, Sonoma 95476; 707-757-5050; www.gmhbuild.com

How long has this business been operating?

GMH Builders is going on its sixth year of operation.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

GMH Builders is a construction management and general contracting firm specializing in health care, education, hi-tech, multifamily, hospitality, winery, brewery and select residential projects.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We anticipate a 50% revenue increase in 2021 over 2020. We attribute this growth from demand for new construction in the markets we serve and our ability to secure reoccurring work with a loyal client base.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

The experience of the pandemic along with the mandated restrictions has changed the way GMH Builders approach business operations.

We provide alternate work-from-home options for employees with children. We kept web meetings, which are much more productive when compared to prior to the pandemic. Web meetings can be just as effective, requiring zero travel time. In-person meetings are still preferred, particularly in construction.

To date, pandemic protocols are fully implemented and remain in place, which has had a negative effect on labor productivity.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

In 2020, it was particularly challenging to keep track of the myriad of requirements impacting construction project schedule.

Emergency essential projects entered into the mix of increased activity and change. These events required rescheduling and reassignment of dedicated employee and subcontractor resources to ensure operations continued. In 2021, a number of our secured projects are resuming and new projects are emerging.

These events are creating a new strain on our preconstruction teams and impacting some projects with longer than expected lead times.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

GMH Builders expects construction demand to continue to rise. Challenges with the supply chain are emerging. There are building material shortages and labor remains an issue. The rise in demand coupled with the decrease in labor and materials is resulting in cost escalation.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

Customers are leery and want to be informed.  They remain eager to get started.  We look to mitigate these impacts as much as possible, offering options for customers.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

Utilization of emergency back-up power and non-combustible materials is being incorporated in our projects. Additionally, we’ve installed stand-alone emergency power back-up systems for commercial facilities and residential sites.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

Russian River Health and Wellness: We’re building a medical clinic alongside the Russian River. It is a structural steel and concrete podium building, with hybrid light gauge and wood-framing.

Confidential Hi-Tech Cleanrooms: We’re working on multiple R&D cleanroom spaces requiring core and shell improvements to structure, MEP systems, and build-out.

Cherry Creek Village Affordable Housing: We’re building affordable housing to benefit the Cloverdale area. Cherry Hill Village will replace multiple 1930s-era cottages with 24 units of permanent affordable housing with on-site community amenities.

McDevitt Construction Partners principals, from left, William McDevitt, Peter Rosell and Phillip Raymann (courtesy photo)
McDevitt Construction Partners principals, from left, William McDevitt, Peter Rosell and Phillip Raymann (courtesy photo)

William McDevitt, Peter Rosell and Phillip Raymann

McDevitt Construction Partners, 3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 6, Petaluma 94954; 707-763-3000; mcdevittconstruction.com

How long has this business been operating?

43 years

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Commercial construction.  Automotive dealerships, both ground up and remodel.  Multifamily housing.  Industrial and factory buildings.  Tennant improvement projects.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020?

About 100%.

What is contributing to that?

One large mixed-use project that includes affordable housing and a homeless shelter.

Additionally, we have experienced no project cancellations.  Projects are continuing to move from preconstruction to construction.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

We have become more efficient with our time spent in meetings.  Zoom and other platforms for meeting has become a great new tool.

Overall, we have also become more conscious of the health and safety of our company and the daily operations and interactions.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Permitting.  With local building department officials working from home and/or limited work hours, the permitting process has struggled to move with continuity, putting the construction start dates at risk.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

Very strong due to potential clients having high levels of liquidity and capital, which is being used to grow and improve their businesses.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

It’s costing us, our subcontractor partners and clients to absorb the increases.   Despite the cost increases, the forecast is that costs will continue to rise.

This means project owners who delay construction for a few months may not achieve the desired price point.  All of our clients have been eager to move forward now and not wait.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

Very little.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

32-unit affordable housing project with a homeless shelter. The Homeward Bound project will provide shelter for homeless (people) and increase affordable housing to meet a specific need in the community. McDevitt Construction has a long history of collaborating with nonprofits in Marin and Sonoma.

Concord Auto dealership tenant improvement project.  Three car dealerships to receive tenant improvements and exterior facelift.

The three separate car dealerships are part of the same ownership group.  Each dealership must come online within a tight time frame in order for the next building to start construction.  Logistically, all stakeholders in the project must deliver for a smooth transition and timely finish.

Food manufacturing plant for a performance energy bar startup.  This project includes processing equipment from Europe and has provided a great opportunity to coordinate with some of the top people in the industry in order to meet tight timelines for producing product.

Roger Nelson, Midstate Construction

Roger Nelson

Midstate Construction, 1180 Holm Road, Petaluma 94954; 707-762-3200; midstateconstruction.com

How long has this business been operating?

Since 1935.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

General Contractor in the North Bay that focuses on multifamily residential; affordable and market rate housing, new and rehabilitation, office, industrial, hospitality, wineries, retail, medical, historical renovations and public works.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

Gross revenue will continue to grow due to the demands of construction in the North Bay.  We expect a 40% growth relating to revenue.

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

Midstate has always approached its operations with the highest regard to safety and client relationships. The pandemic only increased our safety measures on our jobsites, as well as in the office.

Schedules, working from home, Zoom meetings and coordination on jobsites all brought unique challenges that Midstate confronted successfully with flexibility and creativity.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Social distancing and daily health check-ins presented a challenging impact on our jobsites. These requirements forced our superintendents to view scheduling and jobsite protocols from different perspectives.

Maintaining the project schedule while not allowing crews to be working side by side in the same working space was very difficult.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

Our outlook is positive with the affordable housing projects, school district projects and public works projects.  Our backlog is strong.  Material cost increases may make the affordable and market rate housing project not financially feasible until material demand and pricing decline.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

Affordable and market rate developers will not be able to afford these increases in material costs.  Projects most likely will not proceed until material costs decline.

What are your three biggest jobs right now?

Largest North Bay Projects:

The Altamira, Sonoma: $19 million

Residential project, Windsor: $129 million

Community center project, Windsor: $15 million

Craig Nordby, Nordby Construction (courtesy photo)

Craig Nordby

Nordby Construction, 1229 N. Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa 95401; 707-526-4500; nordby.net

How long has this business been operating?

Since 1978.

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Nordby brings to every project over four decades of experience in commercial, residential and wine cave construction throughout Northern California.

With eight companies now under the Nordby umbrella, we provide an unparalleled range of expertise across a complementary spectrum of project types, paired with a deep understanding of the wine region and surrounding areas.

Divisions of the company:

  • Construction Services
  • Signature Homes
  • Wine Caves
  • Signature Builders (Idaho)
  • Metal Buildings
  • Custom Projects
  • Winery Advisors
  • CannaBuild Services
  • Pre-purchase Site Consultation
  • Pre-purchase Due Diligence
  • Progressive Pre-Construction
  • Hire Contractors
  • Scheduling
  • Permitting
  • Decipher Inspection Reports
  • Cost Repairs
  • Networking
  • Early Risk Identification
  • Budgeting
  • Maintenance Planning

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

We anticipate a year-over-year increase of roughly 30%. The increase in revenue growth is a mixture of projects that were scheduled to begin in 2020 but were delayed due to the pandemic (about 60% of the anticipated increase), and new projects that have come online this year as the economy recovers (about 40% of the anticipated increase).

How has the experience of the pandemic and restrictions it brought over more than a year ago changed the way your company approached its business operations?

The primary change to our business operations has been the increase in remote communications and meetings, and the advent of the Zoom meeting, both in our sales and marketing efforts and in our operational management.

The effects have been a balance of positive and negative. On the positive side, we have become more efficient in our planning of meetings; decreased travel time and subsequent impact on the environment; and we have developed processes for effective online connections and coordination between large groups (which puts us in a much stronger position should a similar experience arise again).

For instance, we now hold our monthly operations meetings exclusively on Zoom, and anticipate continuing the practice into the future. On the negative side, online communications are by nature less personal and subject to distractions. We’ve found that there are significant differences in people’s abilities to successfully communicate in an online environment, so our leaders have taken an active role in mentoring and mitigating those differences.

We have established clear best practices and set the standard from the top down, setting expectations and providing proper lighting, sound and speakers, and cameras.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

The three most difficult issues have been remote communication, which we addressed above, availability and cost of materials, which we address below, and field operations. In the field, we have adjusted schedules to decrease the number of subcontractors and crew on location at any one time, in addition to increasing our already robust expectations for cleaning, testing and construction site sign-ins.

We operate in different cities and counties, each of which has its own interpretation of regulations, so we have had to become adept and proactive in anticipating the individual challenges of each job site.

We do anticipate schedules to gradually correct themselves as we are able to have more crews on-site, but as we have done with remote communications, we have learned and proven our ability to pivot, which increases the resiliency of our ongoing operations.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

We anticipate a fairly robust economic recovery. We also anticipate that the high cost of materials will decline, though possibly not to the levels we saw pre-pandemic. Lumber is leading the way, and we expect other materials to follow.

In a recent NCBE meeting, Dr. Robert Eyler presented a compelling comparison of the current economy in Sonoma County with that of 2019. He has found that regional employment has largely returned to 2019 levels, and anticipates further improvement moving forward. We do hope that the federal government keeps a close eye on inflation risks, and acts appropriately to mitigate them.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

The heightened cost and availability of materials is one of the three primary challenges we outlined above, as it directly impacts the feasibility and cost of our projects.

We have found that our clients have had mixed reactions to the increased costs — some are hesitant and others remain eager (sometimes more eager) to move forward.

Whether they think costs will continue to increase or decrease really is a matter of their individual risk assessments. Our role is to provide the best-informed opinions we can based upon our experience and current market conditions.

How much has the threat of wildfires and/or power outages changed what customers are asking for in their projects, either commercial or residential?

The most significant impact on our clients, by far, has been the issue of insurance, whether obtaining insurance for new builds or maintaining insurance for existing properties. We are also seeing increased calls for building resilience, which in turn impacts the ability to obtain insurance, including metal buildings, stucco, metal roofs, roof sprinklers, soffit sprinklers to deliver fire-dampening foam, and so on.

We have ramped up our R&D efforts accordingly, talking to vendors, understanding the costs and benefits of new products and technologies, and relaying best practices to clients.

Finally, of course, there is the critical practice of creating more defensible space around structures.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

Here are three of our most significant projects, in each of our practice areas:

● Commercial construction: Antica Winery, located in the Atlas Peak AVA. We are building an exciting new hospitality structure for this winery owned by the Antinori family, one of the world’s oldest and most respected wine-making families. We expect to complete construction in Spring 2022.

● Residential construction: Chalk Hill Road Private Residence. We have just poured the foundation for this 8,300-square-foot residence, a contemporary home by WA Design. The design includes areas of exposed concrete slab as finished flooring, so this stage of the project requires perfection to the 1/8th inch.

● Wine cave construction: We have a number of wine caves under construction. One of the most exciting is at Inglenook in the Napa Valley, designed by Matt Hollis Architects, where we are constructing caves and an underground production facility.

Paul Thompson, Thompson Builders Corp. (Duane Gillette photo)

Paul Thompson

Thompson Builders Corp., 5400 Hanna Ranch Road, Novato 94945; 415-456-8972; tbcorp.com

How long has this business been operating?

32 years

Briefly, describe the type of construction work done.

Commercial, high-density housing and heavy civil public-works projects.

How much revenue growth are you anticipating in 2021 over 2020? What is contributing to that?

With the end of COVID in sight, we anticipate a 25% increase in revenue this year.

Also, of all the issues created for your business in the past year, which one has been the toughest to deal with, and why?

Many financial institutions have retracted from the marketplace, thereby exacerbating apprehension in the industry, which caused some projects to be placed on hold for a time.

Going forward between now and the end of the year, what is your outlook for the construction industry in the North Bay?

We are cautiously optimistic, though it’s still too early to tell.

Specifically, describe the impact of the hike in the price of materials. Is that causing customers to be leery about starting jobs, or are they eager to get started and avoid even more price increases in the future?

Many appear to be in a “wait and see” mode.

What are your three biggest jobs right now? What's interesting about them?

Fuel Cell/ Corrosion Control Hangar at the Moffett Federal Airfield, $54,219,500

New construction of an 85-foot-tall fuel cell and corrosion control airplane hangar that will be utilized to maintain and upkeep the California Air National Guard’s HC-130J Hercules high-wing cargo aircraft and the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. The 46,600 square feet of building space on approximately a 13-acre site includes aircraft wash rack system, paint and blast booths, utility storage, aircraft support equipment, shop/storage yard, parking expansion, various amenities for the Air National Guard personnel, and site/utility improvements.

Veterans Memorial Building / Senior Center YMCA Project, $51,747,000

The new structure consists of 45,000 square feet of multipurpose rooms, caterer’s and demonstration kitchen, welcoming lobby for social gathering, a 299-seat theater, exhibit space honoring veterans and celebrating NFL alumni, mini-gymnasium, wellness and adaptive PE studios, and various conferencing and administrative space for Redwood City and a host of nonprofit organizations who partner with the city to provide numerous community services.

CHP Hayward Replacement Facility, $47,067,000

New construction of a state-of-the-art California Highway Patrol Facility in Hayward.  The highly secure 5.5-acre site will include 48,000 square feet of structures containing offices, conference rooms, evidence storage, shower and locker rooms, auto service facilities, vehicle fueling stations and parking with PV canopies.  This alternative delivery Design Build Project will be LEED Silver Certified at completion.

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