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May 2, 2013

Survey: Skanska USA

Rendering courtesy of Skanska USA [enlarge]
Skanska is starting construction this year on the 129,000-square-foot Stone34 project in Seattle. When it opens next year, it will house the new headquarters for Brooks Sports. Skanska is also the project’s developer.

Specialty: Construction and development

Management: Chris Toher, executive vice president and general manager (building); Trent Irick, Northwest operational manager (civil); Lisa Picard, executive vice president and regional manager (commercial development)

Founded: 1946

Headquarters: Seattle (local), New York (national)

2012 revenues: $386 million (Seattle office)

Projected 2013 revenues: The publicly traded company cannot report those revenues because of securities regulations

Current projects: New headquarters for Brooks Sports in the Stone34 project in Seattle; 78,000-square-foot Vashon High School on Vashon Island; Explosives Handling Wharf 2 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Poulsbo

The DJC asked Skanska USA about its projects, and concerns and trends in the industry. Here is what Chris Toher, executive vice president and general manager, had to say.

Q: What types of projects will thrive in 2013 and 2014? Which ones won’t?

A: We see numerous opportunities emerging with commercial office construction and education — on university campuses and with local school districts. There will continue to be opportunities in the health-care market, such as medical office buildings and clinics, though the next several years will not feature the types of large hospital expansions that were the hallmark of the past five years. Infrastructure work is needed, though funding will determine the volume of new work. The tenant-improvement market remains quite strong throughout the region.

Q: What are the biggest issues facing the construction industry in the Northwest?

A: We have to put innovation and efficiency to work to help clients achieve their business and branding goals. We’re not just there to build. We have to understand what a new facility is to a client and how we can help them realize their visions.

To that end, we also must focus on attracting, developing and retaining talent. There’s competition for projects and intense competition for the best talent in the field and in project management.

As the industry implements leading-edge technology and becomes more efficient, we have to make sure we’re offering the right workplace culture and opportunities for the brightest people so that they choose our industry over others. Our people are the ones who drive new thinking and value to the client.

Q: In recent years Skanska USA opened a commercial development division in Seattle. What advantage does this give you?

A: It allows us to provide clients with a broad array of services to meet their business needs. Skanska has a long history of development globally and, here, we started with a group of local, experienced individuals in the development industry.

The development unit complements the construction units and can self-finance projects without any lenders. That gives potential tenants the ability to secure space designed for them — rather than meet lender requirements — and bring their spaces online faster.

We can align our plans with the needs of the market and the surrounding communities. When you combine that ability with decades of regional construction expertise, we can offer a full-service model for the clients.

Q: How is Skanska’s workload shaping up in the Northwest in 2013 compared to 2012?

A: While we cannot project revenue per securities guidelines, we’re excited about the year ahead. Opportunities in the market right now mean there is the potential for 2013 to be a great year.

Q: Does Skanska plan to enter any new markets in the Northwest in the coming years?

A: We’ve been working throughout the Northwest for more than 60 years. Together with Skanska’s Oregon office, we’ve done work beyond Cascadia and into Montana, Idaho, Alaska and more. We continue to evaluate opportunities throughout the Northwest.

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