Case Studies

Martin-Harris Construction Company

Commercial, residential and industrial general contractors in Las Vegas

Martin-Harris Construction Company (MHC) has been in business since 1976, when Frank Martin established the business to serve a range of clients in Nevada. Based in Las Vegas, the company employs nearly 200 people, including project managers, superintendents, foremen and laborers along with management and administration professionals. The business has a diverse market footprint, serving the commercial, industrial and residential sectors, performing project management and general contracting, as well as some in-house labor.

The second-generation family business has achieved several awards and recognitions over the years for growth, safety performance and philanthropy. Guy Martin, Frank’s son and now senior vice president of operations, has spent his entire career working for MHC.

“In my 32 years with the company, our value system has never changed,” Guy explains. “Every one of our five core values – honest and integrity; responsibility and accountability; mutual trust, respect and cooperation; consistent performance through teamwork; opportunities for clients and associates to achieve their goals – is a covenant we make with our associates. We have terminated employees for violating covenants and our core values.”

Martin-Harris Construction Company

Who needs a niche?

The company does not operate within a specific industry niche, rather changing focus to suit the needs of clients. MHC has remained on the front end of economic shifts. Throughout the recession, Vegas was hit especially hard. Many projects were put on hold and even abandoned as developers ran out of capital. To stay afloat, MHC took on public projects and between 2008 and 2011, 90 percent of revenue was from federal government owned projects.

As the market returns, trends have shifted once again. Many of MHC’s current projects are re-starts of the projects neglected in the downturn and bought by owners from banks. “We have done $140 million in re-starts for multi-family, timeshare style and commercial projects,” Guy says. “We have developed an internal protocol for how to complete abandoned operations. Banks and lending institutions are financing these projects based on our estimates and we have a lot of work coming in.”

While the company’s work is centralized in Las Vegas, MHC has performed contracts across the country. The business recently completed a group of projects for the Wyndham Hotel Group in Irvine Califronia, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. Other work includes the construction of a corporate headquarters for Allegiant Airlines, a four building renovation project.

“We gutted them and rebuilt the interior on a fast track basis,” Guy elaborates. The business also has five restart projects underway in Las Vegas.

One of Guy’s personal favorites is an ongoing project for Konami Gaming in Las Vegas. The team is pulling together a 200,000-square-foot expansion, doubling the square footage of the facility.

“There are aspects of its construction method that aren’t typically done,” Guy explains. “The building has a basement and is built using 55 foot tall concrete panels. Wall panels are cast on weight slabs adjacent to building and picked up and set on a concrete wall 4 to 10 feet off the ground.”

Taking care of business

Guy takes great pride in the dedication of the MHC associates, many of whom have worked for the business in excess of a decade. “We have 30 superintendents, many of whom have worked for this company their entire careers,” he explains. “The average tenure for our office and field personnel is approximately eight years.”

This factor made it all the more difficult to lay off employees when the economy tanked in Las Vegas. The business dipped from 1200 people down to 140 at its lowest point. As the company recovers, however, most additions to the staff are rehires.

Now that the market is picking back up, Guy emphasizes that managing expenses and margins are still invaluable to the business. The company still faces many challenges, between growing pains, a slow recovery and changing policies in Nevada.

“We are forecasting a level of growth, but some initiatives in Nevada could severely and deeply inhibit our ability to grow here,” Guy elaborates. “We were worried about a tax on revenue, where the state would tax you whether you make money on the job or not. It’s an activity tax. On our books we have a considerable amount of work that was contingent on this ballot initiative. Luckily, the initiative was defeated in November.”

Guy remains cautiously optimistic. Relationships with clients, strategic partners and trade associations offer support that keeps the business going. A broader geographic reach also allows the crew to pick up contracts outside of the immediate area.

“With the brain trust that exists within our country, there is nothing in the world that we can’t build,” he says. “It all depends on where the market goes and what the needs are in the cities we operate in.”

Through a tough recovery over the coming years, Martin-Harris Construction Company will continue to provide quality, safety, integrity and service while executing complex projects throughout the United States.

Published on: July 2, 2015

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