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Trendsetters: Construction

W. Scott Trethewey
W. Scott Trethewey [Photo: Eileen Escarda]

W. Scott Trethewey
Moss & Associates
Senior vice president, Fort Lauderdale

Moss & Associates: Founded less than four years ago by Bob Moss, former chairman and CEO of Centex Construction Group. Annual revenue: More than $600 million

Education: Bachelor’s of business administration, accounting, College of William and Mary

Risk factor: “The risk in this business is infrequent but severe.”

Born and raised: Pittsburgh

Family: Wife, Linda, daughter of his high school principal; children, Jack, 14, Katie, 12, Scotty, 7, Dan, 5

As he combed through accident and loss data for the construction industry, Scott Trethewey found something interesting. Trethewey, 42, a senior vice president at construction firm Moss & Associates, says that while steel erectors, masons and concrete workers might appear to be the most dangerous trades, in reality the most frequent losses were occurring in the electrical and mechanical trades. “It was kind of counterintuitive,” says Trethewey.

The discovery prompted change at Moss. Safety was already a top concern in obviously dangerous jobs that involved unskilled labor or man-crushing materials. But master electricians, because of their skill level and experience, weren’t getting as much attention from safety teams. At Moss, they do now.

Trethewey’s data mining has enabled his firm to anticipate where injuries are likely to occur — and to deploy safety teams accordingly. Superintendents
and subcontractor foremen talk to workers about potential perils and see to it that losses come in under actuarial projections.

The ability to understand how accidents are occurring and track subcontractor performance is just a side benefit to the way Trethewey and Moss approach safety. Frustrated that the common industry measurements weren’t adequate, they devised their own forecasts that specified safety performances for specific jobs and for each subcontractor’s piece of a project.

The model program, one of Trethewey’s innovations since he joined fast-growing Moss in 2005, made Moss one of the few construction companies in an OSHA safety recognition program. In addition, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group last year awarded Moss four of the eight gold awards for safety it gave out nationally for building projects that came in with injuries at 20% of the National Bureau of Labor Statistics average. Moss also is well below average in common industry measurements such as loss cost per man-hour and incident rates. Holding down injury-related costs gives it an edge in pricing work.

Ricardo Morales Jr.
Ricardo Morales Jr. [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]

Scouting Opportunities

Ricardo Morales Jr.
The Morales Group, Chairman, Jacksonville

Bio: A Havana native, Morales, 70, went to high school and college (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in the U.S. and officially emigrated to the United States in 1960. He started his own company in Jacksonville in 1978.

The Morales Group: $20 million in annual revenue. Has developed 1 million square feet of warehouses, shopping centers and flex space in the Jacksonville area, retaining ownership/management of 600,000 square feet of that.

Luxury residential construction: “I have to credit that part to my son, Rick (Ricardo Morales III).”

Division of labor: Rick Morales is president of Morales Construction Co. and is in charge of day-to-day activities. The president of Morgar Realty, the group’s real estate development and management services company for small-business clients, is Fitch King.

Scouting: “We’re looking for opportunities now. We’re very lucky in that we haven’t been hit by any of the pullbacks. We’re ready, willing and able.”

In Cuba: Morales’ family was the largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, concrete pipe and aggregate.

As a Cuban in Jacksonville: “It was a very welcoming place from day one.” He meets every Friday for lunch with Cuban friends.

JaxPort: Chairman of the Jacksonville port board. The port is building a $220-million container terminal and plans one that will cost $360 million. “The expansion of the Panama Canal provides a great deal of impetus for the Asian carriers to come to the East Coast, Florida in particular.”

Tennis: Started on the “club A team and gradually went to the C team.” Loves to ski. Has a boat.

Volunteering: Treasurer of the St. Vincent’s Hospital Foundation and vice chairman of the Ambassadors of the St. Vincent’s Foundation.

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.”