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Focus – Construction Forecast – An exciting 2017

image Brian Webster, President, KWA Construction, Addison, TX

DALLAS/FORT WORTH – What markets do you expect KWA and the industry to see an increase in over the course of 2017? Why?

    KWA Construction specializes in multifamily construction, but we do expect to see another year of continued increases over all markets simply because of the strong population growth and immigration to Texas. Dallas/Fort Worth specifically has gone above and beyond to attract corporations from all over the country and we definitely see the impact in our fast-paced industry.

In your perspective, what is your projection for the Dallas/Fort Worth construction industry for 2017?
    A major trend that we’ve noticed in the last few years has been the resurgence of Dallas and Fort Worth, so we predict an increase in HUD financing in order to help provide affordable housing options for the underprivileged in North Texas. This is, of course, driven more by tight financing requirements in place by lenders, and fortunately HUD makes deals possible that otherwise may never happen because of not being able to meet traditional financing requirements. As of today, we have four HUD housing complexes in our portfolio, two under construction and several in the works – and we’re as proud as ever to do our part in the revitalization efforts of the area.
    We also believe there will be a continued tight subcontractor labor market. While Dallas may be fortunate at the moment with a surplus of construction projects underway, the multifamily development industry has been facing a challenge of a shortage of subcontractors. But, with everything else going on and the successes we’ve come across, we’re staying optimistic.
    Overall, we believe the industry will stay strong and near capacity. With production currently projected to increase as it did in 2016, it’s going to be a year of endless opportunity.
    What do you think the keys to success will be for your company in 2017?
    I envision a major driver for success in 2017 will be doing more with less. There will be more of a focus on productivity of subcontractors and less on how many people are on the job, in order to maintain schedules and increase the overall quality of work for everyone.
    Another major key to our success in 2017 and beyond will be the recent restructure of our leadership team. Richie Keene has graciously accepted the role of executive vice president while Keller Webster, founder and president of KWA Construction, has transitioned to chairman. Keller will still oversee the company as an advisor and continue to guide us into a successful new year, which is extremely important now that competition is becoming more apparent since DFW is such a hot market. But, Keller has decades of experience in this industry and I have big shoes to fill as the new president.
    As we do now, we will maintain a focus on customer service, continue to improve virtual construction systems and enhance communication platforms.

    What do you think will be different for your company and the industry in 2017 compared to the previous year? Are there any trends generating buzz?
    We believe the market is driving owners to negotiate contracts with general contractors in place of competitive bidding, due to their overflowing workloads and the uncertainty of the process. Instead of putting projects up to bid, developers are talking with contractors they know and contractors with whom they’ve previously worked with in order to negotiate a contract. Competitive bidding doesn’t seem to be a driver of overall project savings so developers are more willing to pay-up for quality, and in turn, alleviate some of the risks including unforeseen costs, understaffed teams and slower turnaround times of a project.
    The process is transparent this way, and I think more and more companies will get on board.

    How would you sum up the last five years of business at KWA and what do you predict for the next five years?
    The most appropriate word that comes to mind is growth – growth in the market and growth in the workplace. In August, KWA was ranked one of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies by national business publication Inc. Magazine. Since 2012, we’ve nearly doubled our revenue and increased our workforce by more than 20 percent. We feel lucky to have been able to add talented and hardworking individuals to our payroll and construct much-needed multifamily housing units throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
    We’ve been extremely lucky to be selected as general contractors by companies including Seneca Investments and GroundFloor Development for multiple projects in recent years, which I believe speaks to our high quality of work and team members. Continuously collaborating with these companies means KWA is seeing bigger projects and more responsibility – which we are more prepared for than ever for the coming years.
    We’ve also recently made the switch from BIM 360 to Procore Technologies, the cloud-based project management solution. As most people in this industry know, having the tools on-hand to help your team work as efficiently as possible is huge. So other than going almost entirely paperless since the switch, we’ve been able to work more efficiently, eliminate any margin of error and increase productivity of all individuals working on a given project from the office to the job site.
    Having a digital job site, along with Procore, is imperative at this stage in our company. Tools such as 60” touch-screen smart monitors and personal tablets help our team members work more collaboratively and instantly share documents, and in turn, has benefitted our clients. They’ve significantly cut down on time spent waiting on the status of a critical RFI or a pending submittal; now, they can access it in the palm of their hand on the jobsite itself. This is certainly a change for our company, and we already feel it’s a step in the right direction.
    We look forward to continued growth and refinement of our processes and staff, and learning of bigger and better ways as we welcome more Millennials into the business. With the incorporation of these factors, KWA Construction is in for an exciting 2017.
    Founded in 2004, general contractor KWA Construction specializes in multifamily developments. ­–mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net