April 24, 2014

Trendsetters: Construction

Mike Vogel | 2/1/2008

Steve Davis
Steve Davis [Photo: Gregg Matthews]

The Good Side of Real Estate

Steve Davis

Welbro Building
President/CEO, Maitland

Golf handicap: 9

Favorite course: Pebble Beach

Favorite hole: No. 8

Favorite building: The Welbro-constructed Church Street Station Exchange, for its unique features and mix of entertainment, food service and retail. “It was just a fascinating building.”

Not everyone in real estate is sucking wind. Steve Davis says Maitland-based Welbro Building entered 2008 with the largest backlog in its 29-year history.

Revenue will come in between $325 million and $350 million, he anticipates, which should move the company up from 200th place on Engineering News-Record’s national rankings. He says large-scale commercial construction hasn’t seen the slowdown that residential and residential-oriented commercial projects have.

The son of a Marine colonel, Davis spent an unsatisfying year at Cal-Poly before choosing the University of Florida out of a catalog. He earned a degree in building construction, spent nine years as a Marine pilot, worked in Orlando for a general contractor and then joined two frat brothers at Welbro. He’s now one of its six owners.

Known best for work in the hospitality sector, Welbro gets about 20% of revenue from building for public schools and colleges.

Unlike many contractors, Welbro directly employs a large number of craft workers — as many as 250 — rather than subcontract everything. That brings its workforce to 450, gives it more control and brings in $30 million to $40 million a year in revenue.

This year, Davis plans for Welbro to begin doing building information modeling, using computer capabilities and visualization to detect conflicts in designs before construction to save on time and expense.

Davis, 60, knows retirement must be coming but hasn’t “solidified any plans.” Says Davis, “I enjoy what I’m doing.”

Tags: Trendsetters, Housing/Construction

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