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May 2, 2013

Survey: Lease Crutcher Lewis

Image courtesy of Lease Crutcher Lewis [enlarge]
Lewis is working on a $68 million science building at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus.

Specialty: General contracting for commercial, institutional and residential projects

Management: Bart Ricketts, CEO

Year moved to Seattle: 1939

Headquarters: Seattle

2012 revenues: $290 million

Projected 2013 revenues: $300 million

Current projects: UW Bothell Science and Academic Building; Village South; Lakeside Athletics

The building market in Seattle is revving up, and Lease Crutcher Lewis is ready to capitalize.

Since the recession began, Lewis has doubled efforts to deal with a more challenging contractor market.

“For four or five years, Lewis has been focusing heavily on being lean in everything we do,” said Carey Crutcher Smith, the firm’s marketing coordinator. “We’ve been leveraging building information modeling software so our estimates and design coordination are faster and more precise and subcontractors have the confidence to bid lower. Also, field crews get one-page and one-screen how-to manuals for that day’s work in the field. Just-in-time delivery keeps things running like clockwork.”

As a result, Smith said Lewis is achieving better productivity rates, which are “really paying off as jobs are setting aggressive cost, schedule, quality and safety targets and then beating them one after another.”

Although retail and large health-care projects are slow these days, the apartment market in Seattle is strong, as well as downtown Bellevue, Smith said. “The office market has been gearing up for the next round, both Amazon-related and in general,” she said. “The same is true with hotels. Retail is still slow and public buildings are pretty slow right now.”

Throughout the recession, Lewis has maintained a focus on sustainable building. “Our sustainability focus began in 1990 and has increased steadily,” she said. “Most of our jobs pursue sustainability in some way, whether overtly, such as recycled timbers or ground-loop heating, or through added focus on operational efficiency.” She said Lewis’ focus on sustainability is constant, no matter how well or poorly the economy is doing.

With the improving economy, Lewis has boosted its staff. “We’ve been adding staff at a moderate clip as workload and prospects have increased,” Smith said. “As always, the key is finding great people and only growing to the extent that we can do that.”

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