Muckleroy & Falls looks to past in planning the future

A. Lee Graham

Muckleroy & Falls balances tradition and innovation in landing construction projects. Even as field managers communicate via tablet computers, the Fort Worth firm considers handshakes and telephone calls the best modes of communication. “We still feel very strongly that telephone conversations are the best ways to communicate, especially in our business when you’re on deadline with managers in the field,” said Zach Muckleroy, vice president of the commercial construction firm, which has seen a recent uptick in business. That’s a stark contrast to the years since the 2007-2008 recession rocked the industry. Developers put projects on hold as construction firms scrambled for business. But Muckleroy & Falls found value in the vacuum, using the time to equip its field personnel with computer tablets.

“Technology is influencing everything we’ve done, from field operation to email,” Muckleroy said. “The bonus of downtime is you have time to think about your business; the downside is there’s not much work.” That’s no longer the case. In fact, business is booming. From a four-story, 39,707-square-foot shelter for Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County that is slated to open this fall to new offices planned for Harris, Finley and Bogle PC, Muckleroy & Falls find its days packed with projects. Also among them is the renovation of 70,000 square feet of downtown space for Alcon Laboratories Inc. “We were anxiously awaiting this opportunity for four years,” said Zach’s father, Harold Muckleroy, founding partner and CEO of the company, which has transformed some of the parking garage space across from The Tower on Throckmorton Street for Alcon’s office use. Alcon’s local headquarters remains at 6201 South Freeway.

Industry trends After watching retail and office projects stall following the recession, Zach Muckleroy has noticed a resurgence, which is reflected in industry findings as well. According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s third annual construction outlook, which was released late last year, spending is rising in all sectors. Jones Lang LaSalle, now known as JLL, found spending on education facilities leading all nonresidential building sectors nationwide at $79.4 billion, followed by health care construction at $41.9 billion and office construction at $36.8 billion. Those increases mirror Muckleroy & Falls’ local observations. The firm’s recent health care projects have included Texas Eye and Laser Center, Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Fertility Clinic and Arlington Sleep Disorder Center. “We’re very excited about the fact that the market has appeared to have turned the corner,” Harold Muckleroy said. “We are cautiously optimistic that it’s going to be sustainable.”

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So confident is the firm that it’s hired several new employees in the past nine months – 11 field superintendents, two estimators, one project manager and two project administrators. That brings total full-time staff to 24. Housing the team should be no problem, as the company plans to move from its 4,000-square-foot office at 2880 Hulen St. to a 5,000-square-foot corporate headquarters at 5801 Edwards Ranch Road in the Clearfork development west of Hulen. The firm hopes to make the move by January 2015. It will lease part of the first floor of a 16,000-square-foot, two-story office building; Oil and Gas Information Systems Inc., will occupy the second floor. Both firms will own and serve as developers of the building. But staff expansion and relocation are just the latest steps by a company seemingly in increasing growth mode. “We are working on several projects in the next six months,” said Harold Muckleroy. “That will result in some additional hiring, and we’re very excited about that.” He declined to divulge more details. The company is equally excited about its future home after years of moving offices. From digs on Rogers Road to the Hulen space, Muckleroy & Falls looks forward to planting roots, though its history already runs deep. Harold Muckleroy, who played defensive back for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in the early ‘70s, founded Muckleroy Construction Co. Inc. in 1979. He built a reputation for commercial building before joining forces with former colleague Max Falls to create Muckleroy & Falls in 1995.

The partners – and their company – have their work boots firmly planted in four stated values: leadership, honesty, loyalty and a solid work ethic. “We’re dedicated to client-centered relationships and building them on those four values,” said Harold Muckleroy. “We like to think that if you polled past clients, they would say we were working in their best interests,” he said. “We consider ourselves very diverse in the types of projects we do, and we look forward to what’s ahead.”