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Building Abroad

Just off a runway at Kuala Lumpur’s Subang Airport is Spirit AeroSystems’ new Southeast Asia headquarters. The 244,000-sq.-ft., $35-million manufacturing and design facility for the Kansas-based airplane manufacturer features a wing-shaped awning and floor-to-ceiling windows revealing a stylish, modern lobby.

For Haskell, the Jacksonville firm that designed and built the facility, the Spirit headquarters represents a growing international presence. Since it opened a Mexico City office in 2003, Haskell has seen its international business grow 10% annually and become the “fastest-growing and most strategically important part of our business,” says CEO Steven Halverson.

Haskell, which employs 800, has taken on commercial and public building projects in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico. Its Jacksonville office handles projects in Asia and Europe.

“Our clients are Fortune 500 multinationals. Their business is increasingly global,” Halverson says. “That means their facilities are global.”

Halverson says his company has taken on more work recently for foreign firms interested in building in the U.S., including Rolls-Royce, which hired Haskell to build a $40-million jet engine manufacturing facility in Virginia. “The United States is becoming more cost-competitive,” Halverson says. “We are still a higher cost, but the gap has closed.”

Most of Haskell’s projects continue to be for American companies or universities in the U.S., but about 20% of the company’s $600-million in annual revenue now comes from international projects. Halverson expects the international piece of the business to grow to 25% of revenue in five years.