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Texas’ 2010 Top Contractors

Fighting back in a tough economy

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Diversification, backlogs and sharp pencils have kept some Texas contractors at the top of their game. A snapshot of this is seen in the profiles of the following six firms.

Don Krueger Construction is building Victoria West High School and Harold Cade Middle School in South Texas.
Photo: Don Krueger Construction
Don Krueger Construction is building Victoria West High School and Harold Cade Middle School in South Texas.
E. E. Reed Construction recently completed the 25-story Legacy at Memorial apartment complex in Houston.
E. E. Reed Construction recently completed the 25-story Legacy at Memorial apartment complex in Houston.
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Don Krueger Construction “We had our best year ever,” says Kevin R. Krueger, president of Don Krueger Construction in Victoria. “We got lucky and got most of our work the summer before everything went down, so it was a good time for us.”

Don Krueger reported $84,250,000 in revenue in 2009, all of it in Texas. It ranked No. 67 on the Top Contractors list. The family-owned firm, established in 1962, has focused on work outside urban areas in smaller towns. Repeat clients represent more than half of its business.

School construction dominated Krueger’s 2009 portfolio, with some office and build-out work. Krueger recently signed a contract for an office project for Karnes County and a $1.9 million fire station in Victoria.

“There are a lot of small projects out there, but the big anchor projects over $20 million, $30 million dollars, they’re just not many,” Krueger says. “People are waiting until things are a bit more certain, and the bond issues that were passed are not to the point where they have plans to bid on.”

The company is building a $63-million, 429,000-sq-ft high school and junior high for Victoria Independent School District in Victoria and a $12 million project for San Diego ISD in San Diego.

“About all there is right now is school construction,” Krueger says. “For the last year, there has been about zero in privately funded projects to look at, and it’s normally about 20% to 30% of what we do.”

That forced Krueger to shift more attention on the K-12 market.

“We’re seeing fewer projects, with more bidders and lower margins,” says Krueger, adding that contractors from other regions in the state and from out of state are entering the South Texas market. “Right now there are too many contractors and too few projects for all of us to do.”

JE Dunn Construction Kamal Ariss, vice president of JE Dunn Construction in Houston, also cited increased competition as a challenge in 2009.

“We saw pressure on fees and general conditions because of the competition, but we continue to focus on our core strengths to continue to grow,” says Ariss, adding that the company’s core strengths are higher education, health care and public-sector work. “Diversification has been critical for us and we continue to be focused and strategic in pursing diversified work.”

Even with the increased competition, JE Dunn secured several new projects in different sectors that will take it through 2010 and into 2011. That includes the $11-million Zachary Scott Theatre Center in Austin, which will start...

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