From the Desk of Will Pender - September 2021

We’re sprinting toward the fourth quarter, and what a year it’s been. In the past nine months, we’ve seen supply chains struggle to regain their footing, lumber prices rise and fall, and owners return to the bid table to kickstart postponed projects.

Meanwhile, e-commerce has pushed industrial development to new heights, and office development is slowly returning, as well as hospitality and healthcare.

The construction industry has undergone monumental shifts and Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP) hasn’t been immune to that. While our strategy to build our project backlogs in anticipation of another recession insulated us during the pandemic, AP has still undergone some changes.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

In June, I became president of AP Gulf States. Joining such a well-respected company with 75 years of history is an honor and natural next step after 17 exciting years in the industry.

I went from field operations and truly learning what it means to be a builder for the first part of my career, to focusing on the “blocking and tackling” of business pursuits, preconstruction, planning, and profit/loss for the past seven years. As a result, this diversity of experience has given me the perspective to understand what matters most to AP, its employees, and its stakeholders.

Of course, I know I stand on the shoulders of giants – both in terms of AP’s existing national and regional leadership teams, as well as the folks who have mentored me to be the leader I am today.

A trusted advisor, a contractor of choice

Throughout the pandemic, so-called “low-bid” contractors seemed to snap up whatever projects came up. In that type of environment, from an owner’s perspective, it’s understandable. However, AP has never strived to be a lowest-bid contractor.

Why? Because in our 75-year history, our primary goal has been to be a trusted advisor. Sometimes that means value management in a way that provides a bid below our competitors’ offers, while sometimes it means collaborating with owners to secure materials and trade partners that meet their real estate needs – whether or not it means a higher price tag.

The underlying theme is that we strive to be a contractor of choice for our clients, trade partners, and employees. Part of this focus has been making pre-project planning and logistics key priorities, while also working with best-in-class people. We want people to love working with us and to love being a part of our team, and that means working closely with our clients and our people to always do the right thing.

A foundation for the next generation

If all goes according to plan, AP Gulf States will look like a much different company in the next few years. However, rest assured that our priority will always be to maintain our family feel. It’s the reason we have such a tenured regional leadership team and something our younger team members value greatly.

As I get older, I can’t help but notice the faces around me are getting younger. To me, this is the most exciting thing about our industry. I love seeing the passion of the younger folks in the A/E/C world. They bring new ideas about how projects are developed and built, and they’ll be the ones finding the right balance between adopting new technologies while holding onto AP’s focus on building meaningful relationships.

It’s no secret the construction industry is facing a labor shortage. In the coming year, AP will do its part to show young people they have a future in our industry. How will we do it? By meeting these students where they are: the classroom. And by leveraging our team’s decades of knowledge and wisdom to provide them with priceless experience through meaningful internship opportunities.

The way forward

What’s next for AP? Personally, adjusting to my new role with AP has been like drinking out of a fire hose. Joking aside, I’ve enjoyed absorbing and assimilating into AP’s culture. Now, I’m working with the regional leadership team to identify what I like to call “Great… Even Better If” opportunities. Furthermore, we’re focused on envisioning what AP Gulf States will look like in five years and how we can take incremental steps every day to ensure we realize that vision.

From a wide-angle lens, as the economy stabilizes, we’ll continue to diversify our business mix. AP’s leadership did a great job before and during the pandemic – setting up jobs from PGA of America’s HQ in Frisco and Potter County’s District Courts Building in Amarillo, to expansion and renovation projects for schools in San Antonio.

AP Gulf States plans to build on that foundation by concentrating on five to six key sectors and distributing projected growth. But that plan will only bear fruit if we keep our finger on the pulse of new technologies that stand to make us more efficient and continue to attract and retain the best and brightest in the industry.

If the pandemic has taught our industry anything, it’s that change is inevitable. It’s how you manage through change that makes all the difference. At AP, we’ve already turned the page on the next chapter.


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