Signs of a rebound from the recession have been in the making the past few months, including a burst in the construction industry as homebuilding begins to recover both regionally and nationally. Rampart Construction LLP, which specializes in the booming multifamily home sector, is at the forefront of a housing comeback. Improving market conditions have helped the Grapevine-based general contractor jump from No. 49 on the 2011 Top 100 Private Companies list, with $55 million in billings, to No. 19 this year, with billings tripling to $165 million. Founded in 2004, the firm had signed several long-term contracts just before things came crashing down, according to Johnny Yates, Rampart’s vice president of business development. “These projects, along with hanging on to key personnel, is what held Rampart together and allowed us to be staged for the economic comeback in Texas,” Yates said. “We did a lot of work on relationships and marketing efforts during the downturn, which allowed us a quicker start than most. In addition, Rampart is a Christian company with strong moral values that believes in our people and those that we work with.” The firm operates primarily in Texas, with offices in Austin and San Antonio, but it recently completed a project in Oklahoma and will start on its first one in Atlanta later this year. “We hope to build a southeast market that is as successful as our Texas market has been,” Yates said. Rampart encourages a team approach to all its projects, It has 103 employees, 42 of whom are local. More than 90 percent of the company’s projects are subcontracted. Rampart offers preconstruction services including early budget development; pricing updates throughout the design phase; value engineering; quality control; review of documents to assure quality of products; total project scheduling; advice on labor availability, subcontractor selections and material availability; and assessment of constructability. When selected to be the general contractor for a construction project, Rampart Construction ordinarily joins the project team at the end of the design phase. Construction services include cost monitoring and control, subcontractor management, field engineering and site management, safety assurances, quality control, close-out and warranty. According to Yates, multifamily has been one of the strongest sectors of the economic comeback in Texas, and Rampart is benefiting from the demand. Rampart Construction recently was named by Multifamily Executive Magazine (May issue) as the No. 1 multifamily general contractor in the United States. Locally, some of the company’s notable projects are Hillwood’s Monterra Village Phase II and Hillwood’s Sagestone Village, both in the Alliance area. “To date, Austin has been our busiest market,” Yates said, “but Houston is moving up on the picture.” The company’s stable of clients includes Archstone, Ardent Residential, Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc., L&B Realty Advisors LLP, Post Properties, Simmons Vedders Partners and Winston Capital Corp. As the demand for construction continues, Rampart plans to slowly hire additional workers, Yates said. But skilled workers are getting harder and harder to find, he added. “The construction industry is trying but the lack of an immigration program, current labor shortages and escalating market prices are trying to hold it back,” he said. “Our focus is on our existing relationships and client base. Our growth continues to be the result of our people, and we will continue to focus on building relationships, being a team member and delivering quality product,” Yates said.
While the Big Six markets – New York; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Seattle – show signs of economic recovery, the following secondary markets are heating up, according to five industry insiders:
• Curtis Walker, director of acquisitions for Atlanta-based Wood Partners: Denver • Michael McRoberts, managing director and head of Prudential Mortgage Capital’s agency lending programs: The upper Midwest, such as Michigan and Ohio • Ryan Severino, an economist for New York-based market research firm Reis: Portland, Ore. • Lili Dunn, chief investment officer at Greensboro, N.C.-based Bell Partners: South Florida • M. Patrick Carroll, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Carroll Organization: Houston Source: Multifamily Executive Magazine