Driving design quality

Clayco opens Phoenix office | Construction Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Chicago-based architecture, engineering, design-build and general contracting firm Clayco has furthered its western expansion with the opening of an office in Phoenix.
  • In addition to its more than $300 million in building projects currently underway in metropolitan Phoenix, Clayco has completed more than 3.3 million square feet of corporate, industrial, manufacturing and e-commerce facilities in the area, according to a press release. Its most recent project there, the 309-unit residential mixed-use building Skye on 6th (shown above), broke ground last week.
  • Clayco’s decision to open a Phoenix office stems not only from the substantial work the firm has taken on there, but on the region’s ability to offer a sizable pool of construction industry talent, as well as degree programs turning out future talent.

Dive Insight:

The move marks the second time in less than three months that the construction company has opened a new office in the western U.S. In May, the firm launched a market expansion with the unveiling of its Los Angeles-area office that serves as a base for its operations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona, where it has a total combined project backlog of more than $2 billion.

Located in the Biltmore neighborhood, Clayco’s new Phoenix office is led by executive vice president Anthony Johnson, along with an executive team of vice president of economic development Kim Poole, vice president of operations Bryan Zehnder and project executive Lindsay Johnson. 

“To grow further, we will need to add thought leaders and innovators,” Johnson said. “Phoenix is an area where the population is growing substantially, and there are lots of sharp people in the construction industry there.”

The company also hopes to tap into new talent from the area’s many colleges, he said.

“They’ve also got a great construction engineering program at Arizona State University [in suburban Tempe],” he said. “We’re always looking for self-motivated, innovative and entrepreneurial people. And Phoenix is a great market for that type of person.”

In selecting Los Angeles and Greenville, South Carolina, for other office locations, Clayco was just as intent on gaining know-how and expertise. “It goes back to the talent discussion,” Johnson said. “There’s a growing workforce in these cities to execute our work. And there’s a growing workforce there to produce the construction materials we need.”  

Today’s challenges

While Clayco may have addressed a pressing need for talent by launching its Phoenix office, the company is not immune to the headaches faced by construction firms across the country. The shortage of both construction materials and labor has proven especially vexing.

“One or the other is a challenge, because there is a shortage of both,” Johnson said. “The unique challenge of the situation we’re in right now is the basic unpredictability of what will happen next with the escalation of costs.”

If these challenges can’t completely be surmounted, they can at least be mitigated through open communication with key stakeholders, Johnson believes.

“The strategy we lean on most is communication, in all honesty,” he reported. “We go out of our way to overcommunicate with clients, so we can work with them to implement mitigation strategies. And then we overcommunicate with our key suppliers as well. We’re an open book with them, so they understand our needs and we understand theirs, as we look to help our customers and they look to help us.”

Clayco’s growth strategy will be to continue building its organization around the industry’s best talent. Said Johnson: “We’ll go where the talent is, and where our customers need us to go.”