Tell us about your company, which you started last year after a 16-year stint with Walton Construction. We’re a construction management firm, a design-build firm and a general contracting firm. The company currently has five employees. Cindy Thompson had been with me about six years at Walton, and she’s here handling office management and accounting. Adam Parks and Darrin Beck had been with me at Walton for a number of years and are both construction managers over here, handling all aspects of the business, from estimating to field supervision to project management. And Bruce Johnson just joined. He had been with me at Walton for about 14 years.
Our desire would be to stay probably within a 100-mile radius of Springfield. Given the right situation with the right client, we’d do anything nationally.
What led you to open Q & Co.? We’re a group of professional constructors that I put together that is basically the result of the closing of Walton Construction. I left about a year before they closed the office here. With their decision to close the local office in Springfield and sell off their assets to a company called Core, I felt there was an opportunity to bring that group of people back together. It may take years to assemble that group back into as dynamic a group as we once had. … I spent a few months talking to a number of subcontractors, architects and owners, and finding out what they thought the needs were in the community.
Tell us about your team’s project experience and what you’re working on now. When I was at Walton, we had a lot of success dealing with ecclesiastical work, and we did a number of projects with (several) architects – youth centers, sanctuaries and some lodges near Lake of the Ozarks. We’ve done a lot of manufacturing and industrial work – design-build, in both of Springfield’s industrial parks through the years. Probably the biggest thing that we’ve been working on in the last year is a project with John Deere Corp., which has announced that it will build a new facility of about 275,000 square feet in Strafford. We’re doing that project as a design-build. It’s the third project (our team) has done for them locally.
Beyond economic conditions, what challenges came with opening your company? The biggest concern that I had was whether clients had the ability to build. With some of the shakeups in banking and lending, it became tough to borrow money and expand like they may have wanted to.
Another major concern was the stability of the local subcontractor-supplier base. In our industry, unemployment is probably still running close to 20 percent, so there’s a lot of unemployment. That’s a good thing if you want to start a company, and you’re looking for qualified people, but it’s a very concerning matter when you figure out all those people are unemployed due to a lack of work. As a result, there are a lot of companies that are financially strained at this time, and that’s a major concern moving forward. As a construction company, we are managers of the work. The physical work, 95 percent is done by subcontractors, so we’re only as strong as our subcontractor base.
What’s your top goal right now? To re-establish the group of people we have in the market as a legitimate option for owners and architects who are looking to do quality projects. … Springfield went through, in 2007–08, phenomenal growth (with) the airport terminal project, the (Southwest II power plant), JQH Arena and projects at St. John’s and CoxHealth, in addition to all the other growth in the community. Those all came to an end at the same time the economy went into a downturn, and it was awfully tough around here. … I still think people are approaching (projects) very cautiously. There is a fair amount of opportunities out there to put together proposals for pricing for owners to see if they want to pursue a project. ... The wants are starting to turn into needs, but they’re still very cautious.
The downturn of the economy really took a toll on a lot of managers, because we’d all built good staffs with very competent people, and unfortunately, due to the economy, many of us had to say goodbye to some of the best professionals we’d ever worked with in the industry, and those people are also our friends. I’m gun-shy to grow too quick for fear that we may have to face those same decisions again, and those scars are still pretty fresh. [[In-content Ad]]
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.