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May 5, 2017

Survey: Compass General Construction

Photo courtesy of Compass General Construction [enlarge]
Main Street Apartments is a 128-unit mixed-use project in Kirkland that Compass is building for Continental Properties.

Specialty: Multifamily and senior housing

Management: Dan Selin, president; Peter Anderson, vice president; Bob Strum, vice president

Founded: 1998

Headquarters: Kirkland

2016 revenue: $200 million

Projected 2017 revenue: $250 million

Projects: Main Street Apartments, Kirkland; Elan Uptown Flats, Seattle; Aegis at Ravenna senior housing, Seattle




Compass Vice President Bob Strum chatted with the DJC about his new position at the company, the residential construction surge and other topics.

Q: You’re going to become president of Compass in 2018. What opportunities do you want to pursue?

A: The initial priority for me is to continue building on our strong company culture with this amazing group of co-workers! Our teams do a fantastic job of consistently delivering quality projects for our owners.

Opportunities we are pursuing relate to strengthening our great owner and subcontractor relationships to ensure we are meeting their objectives, and helping them plan strategically for future projects.

Q: How have you been keeping pace with the surge of residential construction?

A: We haven’t attempted to keep pace with the surge! Compass is focusing its resources on delivering an exceptional owner experience, not chasing additional volume. Our workload is directly indexed by the capacity of our existing teams.

Q: What’s the company’s biggest cost-related concern?

A: Like everyone else, our biggest cost-related area of concentration is in the escalating cost of labor without a commensurate increase in quality/experience.

I am keenly focused on our subcontractors and working to ensure clear communication and expectations while remaining nimble enough to respond to their needs if a challenge presents itself.

Q: What’s your outlook for multifamily construction 3 to 5 years from now?

A: I believe that the pace of development may slow somewhat, due to permitting challenges and incremental tightening from lenders. This would be a welcome opportunity for the local market to catch its breath, settle down a bit and get healthier.

The passage of ST3 has opened up substantial areas of (comparably) affordable land that is well-suited to multifamily development. Due to the vibrant businesses that are continuing to grow in Seattle, I anticipate a healthy construction market for the next three to five years.

Q: What’s an interesting trend, and what does it mean for your firm?

A: I’m really fascinated by the new people that are coming into our industry.

I am regularly impressed, especially by our younger people who have fantastic drive combined with curiosity, and their ability to look at processes and techniques from a completely different perspective. Their fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a fearless approach to hard work contradicts the millennial stereotype we’ve all heard about.

I’d put our younger people up against anyone, they will figure out how to win every time!


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