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Cover Story - April 2005

Louisiana's Top 80 Contractors

Contractors rebound with 6 percent increase in overall revenue

By Sam Barnes

Louisiana's Top 80 Contractors List >>

A 6 percent increase in revenue among Louisiana's top contractors is indicative of the economic rebound long predicted by economists. Calendar-year revenue rose from $3.3 billion in 2003 to nearly $3.5 billion in 2004 when comparing contractors that reported for both years.

This nearly reversed a decline of 8 percent suffered the previous year.

Perhaps most positively, the increase appears to be widespread and not necessarily the result of major increases among only a few companies.

As a result, there were few significant advances or declines among contractors in the rankings, with the exception of Walton Construction Co. LLC, which launched itself into the number two spot in the building construction market. It was the first time for the company to be ranked in the breakout list.

Other movers in the building breakout were MAPP Construction LLC of Baton Rouge, moving up from seventh to third in the state; and Milton J. Womack Inc. of Baton Rouge, which moved from eighth to fifth.

    Also of note:

  • The Lemoine Co. LLC of Lafayette retained its position as the top building contractor in the state

  • Turner Industries Group LLC of Baton Rouge retained its position as the top industrial contractor in the state

  • Performance Contractors Inc. of Baton Rouge moved up into the number two spot in the industrial market breakout

  • Cajun Constructors Inc. became the top public works contractor in the state, moving up from fourth place last year

  • Boh Bros. Construction of New Orleans retained its position as the top transportation contractor for the third year in a row

  • Barriere Construction Co. LLC of New Orleans continued its climb in the top transportation contractors ranking, moving up to the third spot

Economy rebounds. A slight reversal of fortunes in the coming years, with the construction industry gaining 4,300 jobs during 2005-2006.

"Although high natural gas prices were largely responsible for the sector's recent problems, it is those same high prices that will provide a positive jolt going forward," said Loren Scott, James Richardson and A. M. M. Jamal in the Louisiana Economic Outlook, 2005-06.


McGraw-Hill Construction's Dodge Analytics Group predicts that the power and utilities market will get the biggest boost in 2005, with construction investment rising by as much as 115 percent; followed by multi-family construction, increasing by 43 percent; dams, water and sewer construction, rising 42 percent, and commercial construction, rising 25 percent.

Industrial construction should experience a "slight kick" due to turnaround projects during 2005, said Al Bargas, president of Associated Builders and Contractors' Pelican Chapter in Baton Rouge.

"In 2005 we may see a slight improvement," Bargas added. "I don't see the chemical industry getting markedly better because of the cost of natural gas, so it will be focused on environmental and maintenance type projects."

Although many in the industrial sector have been doing better this year, the relief isn't affording enough confidence to move ahead with expansions, said Connie Fabre, executive director for Greater Baton Rouge Industrial Managers Association.

"Contractors might be seeing more maintenance contracts pick up, possibly some smaller projects they've been holding off on the past couple of years, but I haven't heard of any major projects in the area," she said.

The good news is that several liquefied natural gas projects, about $600 to $800 million each, are slated for Louisiana, said economist Loren Scott.

"Two are underway and several more are almost through the permitting phase," he said. "LSU's Center on Energy Studies says the projects will bring 14,000 associated construction jobs."

Derrell Cohoon, CEO of Louisiana AGC in Baton Rouge, said the commercial sector is seeing some improvement and continues to "sustain the state's economy. It isn't as huge as it has been, but it is still very positive."

Everyone in the industry is still waiting on passage of a new highway bill.

"Hopefully, after the election we will see a lot more movement out of the administration and Congress," Cohoon said. "Once we get a federal highway bill, I think we'll see a lot of improvement."

Many Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development projects are actually progressing more rapidly because they are funded solely by the state.

"DOTD privatized the program and that is really expediting things," Cohoon said. Through 2008, $2.3 billion have been allocated to projects specifically earmarked to be funded by TIMED.

The AGC advocates using taxpayers' dollars to build infrastructure that, in turn, spurs private development, Cohoon said. That philosophy has proven successful in downtown Baton Rouge, where the state invested $400 million dollars in what has been an $800 million growth spurt.

"We need to be doing that sort of thing across the state with highways, airports, rail systems and ports," Cohoon said.

Developing the ranking. While researching for the Top Contractors ranking, Louisiana Contractor asked contractors to submit construction-specific revenue figures for the calendar, not fiscal, year. They must also have had a permanent office in Louisiana the entire year.

Contractors included a breakdown of the types of construction their work was concentrated in. Categories include building, industrial/process, manufacturing, water supply, sewerage/waste disposal, transportation, hazardous waste and power.

The information was arranged in two separate lists - one ranking all contractors with a permanent Louisiana office according to their in-state revenue only, and the other ranking all Louisiana-based contractors according to their total revenue.

By distinguishing between the two, it was easier to determine the major players in the state's construction market.

Also included are Top 10 breakout rankings for the major market sectors, including transportation, industrial/manufacturing, building and public works.

During the research phase, various methods were used to accumulate the necessary information. Initially, survey forms were e-mailed and mailed to general contractors throughout the state, then were followed up with phone calls or faxes.

Louisiana's Top 80 Contractors List >>





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