Case Studies

Ball Construction Co. Inc.

Commercial interior build-outs in southwest Virginia

Ball Construction Co. Inc. has been in business since 1960. David Ball established the business as a small, specialized contractor, eventually expanding the operation to serve a broad range of needs in the regional market. From a headquarters in Norton, Virginia, the Ball Construction team tackles a range of construction contracts, specializing in interior build-outs and restoration.

After 55 years in business, the company is managed by the Ball family’s second generation. David’s son, Mike Ball, has been in the construction industry since 1976 and now serves as the company’s president.

Mike employs approximately 20 full-time employees who perform a range of tasks in-house. From a single office in Norton, Virginia, the crew provides turnkey interior construction solutions to clients in southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee and southeast Kentucky. “We are almost at the very edge of the state,” Mike explains. “Kentucky is 30 minutes away and Tennessee is an hour, so we don’t typically have to travel too far.”

While Ball Construction is a relatively small business, diverse in-house capabilities and strong relationships with strategic partners and clients have kept the business going, even through a few tough years during the recession. “Larger companies can take on the larger contracts and smaller companies are limited to smaller projects,” Mike notes. “We fill in an important gap between those.”

Complex commercial projects

A majority of the company’s projects are commercial build-outs. The crew has worked in a variety of settings, including grocery stores, hospitals and municipal offices, among others. Ball Construction also offers residential construction services, although Mike notes that those projects make up only 10 percent of the company’s volume. The team self-performs concrete, drywall, metal stud, door and frame installation, hardware and painting, relying on subcontractors for additional services included in any given project scope.

One of Mike’s favorite recent projects has been work for a company called Optafuel, a biomass research operation specializing in alternative fuels. “We just wrapped up work on a new research and development lab for the company,” Mike says. “Most of the contract was comprised of interior build-out work, converting an existing warehouse into a laboratory, offices and storage space. It is a pretty state-of-the-art laboratory. We were on-site for about eight months.”

The team also recently completed work at Appalachian Health Care, a local doctor’s office. “The facility has about 50 exam rooms and we performed the interior build out for exam rooms, procedure rooms and waiting areas,” Mike says. “The building is off a little mall-like area with a few other types of health care providers other than doctors. There is also a physical therapist’s office, audiologist’s office and a home health agency.”

Ball Construction is constantly adding new projects to the lineup. For 2015, Mike reports that his team has a steadily growing backlog. “Right now we are doing a lot of smaller projects throughout our service area,” he elaborates. “One of them is an intensive care unit renovation at a hospital.”

Maintaining a share of the market

While Mike and his team have stayed busy over the years, there have been challenges to growth. Particularly during the recession, the business faced strong competition. With many larger, private projects drying up or facing delays, Mike notes that many of the larger contractors had moved down a tier to mid-size projects, pushing out contractors like Ball Construction in the process.

“For some time, we saw a lot of bigger companies taking these projects for next to no profit, just to keep people busy,” he explains. “Margins are still pretty tight, though we have seen more opportunities over the last few years.”

As the market recovers, there are still aspects of the business that present challenges. Maintaining a reliable supply chain has been difficult due to fluctuating materials prices. Mike is also concerned about bringing on new employees in an industry that has seen a decline in interest with young people.

“We have survived and we still have plenty of work,” Mike notes. “We have good relationships with our strategic partners and we have a great team. Many of our employees have been working with us for 20 years or more and we plan to keep them busy over the coming years.”

Mike has no extravagant plans for growth. He is happy with the size of the business and proud of his team’s ability to meet the needs of clients. For the foreseeable future, Ball Construction Co. Inc. will continue to provide reliable and professional interior construction services throughout Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Published on: July 8, 2015

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