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A Conversation With … David Ross

President, Ross Construction Group LLC

Posted online

What are the biggest challenges facing the construction industry?
It’s definitely the workforce. Everybody is fighting that. But it’s not just the workforce; it’s the increased competition for the workforce. You’ve got more people in the industry now, more businesses, and so you’re increasing your competition for your subcontractor base. If the economy continues to improve, that just means there’s still more competition for those employees, for subcontractors.

What’s your forecast for the industry amid a looming recession?
We’ve stayed plenty busy the last two years locally, and the market is still good here. We’re always having to look six, 12, 18 months out for what’s coming down the pipeline. It sounds like 2020 is going to be a pretty good year. There’s been a lot of hurdles in the last 12, 15 months as far as the tariffs. That’s changed things quite a bit, but people are still moving along with projects that they need. Nationally, the materials are down; getting product is harder. It takes more time. Our lead times have stretched out where we used to see maybe an eight-week lead time. They’re moving out 12, 16 weeks sometimes. It just means you have to be on top of it all the time.

What jobs are you working on now?
We’ve got a big project for Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper. It’s about a 430,000-square-foot distribution center. Everybody’s excited about it because it’s bringing all of their local distribution onto one campus. You don’t get a lot of 430,000-square-foot buildings around here. It’s got a conveyor system that’s going to go from their production facility to their distribution facility, kind of like a skywalk bridge. It’s going to be all glass. Then we’ve got a 150,000-square-foot building going for one of the SRC companies. We’ve also got a project down on Cherry and Pickwick, which has some retail, restaurants and a couple of loft apartments. It’s in a 120-year-old building and an old auto repair store. It’s fun that a lot of redevelopment projects are still happening inside of Springfield. That’ll continue to be part of what you see in Springfield is that renovation and/or demolition to build what you want, where you want it. (Hickory Hills Country Club) is something we’ve been working on for the last few months. It’s been phased since last spring where we remodeled the entire clubhouse. The second phase we added a new patio bar and a pavilion for their outdoor dining, and then we remodeled their pro shop.

You’ve outgrown your current office space. What’s on the horizon for growth within the company and do you have plans to expand?
We’re trying to figure out how to manage growth. That goes back to the employees. We’re not going to just go out and chase work and hire people to hire people. They have to be a good fit. We have a lot of opportunity outside of our market right now, outside of southwest Missouri. A lot of it is client based. We’ve got some clients that are asking us can you do this here? We really need to be able to build our internal infrastructure because the last thing we want to go do is try to get outside of our market and hurt our existing clientele here.

You left what was then Morelock-Ross Builders Inc. with your brother Andy in March 2017 to start this business, with your dad Kenny joining in March 2018. Why did you want to start this family business?
It was just something that we felt it was time for. We had some employees that were ready to go with us. (My dad) is the vice president of sales and business development, Andy is the vice president of operations and then I’m wearing the president’s title. We have 19 employees right now. With all of our employees, that’s part of the family, too.

David Ross can be reached at david@rosscgllc.com.

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