I think what sets us apart is our project diversity,” says Mike Perry, president of HBD Construction. “We are a service-oriented company and have a very diverse project history that we have constructed spanning all sectors of construction.
“We have good experience in design/build and design/assist delivery methods and quite a few repeat customers.”
HBD Construction’s project portfolio is broad and diverse, and includes the construction of everything from a new microbrewery, zoo parking and garage renovations to senior housing, luxury high-rises and affordable family housing for veterans. This diverse project mix “keeps everyone on their feet” and adds to employee’s knowledge and experience, allowing the company to apply it to multiple types of projects, Perry says.
“Not only is it just interesting from a personal standpoint, but it keeps our guys sharp,” Perry says. “They are not mired down in one repeat kind of project; they can find challenges and solutions in all types of construction. They might see a challenge occur in multifamily housing and then apply [the same solution] to a retail building.”
As one of the top-15 general contractors in the St. Louis market, HBD Construction tackles many challenges but ultimately, “construction is construction,” Perry says. He explains that there are “concrete issues, roof issues, windows issues” and these materials span most all types of construction, as does the company’s expertise in using them.
HBD Construction is especially excited about revamping the 25-story Roberts Tower in St. Louis. “Being part of the new resurgence of downtown St. Louis is very exciting because the downturn in the economy essentially stalled the construction in downtown St. Louis for years,” Perry says. The sleek glass and concrete building was developed by businessmen brothers Mike and Steve Roberts of St. Louis. Although the exterior was finished, only the first and second floors of the interior were completed before the recession struck and work stopped.
UrbanStreet Group of Chicago bought the site and hired HBD to modify it from the originally planned 55 condos to 132 apartments. Plans also call for banquet rooms to connect to the hotel on the second floor.
Another project ready to start is the renovation of a 1920s hotel building by the Vencino Group that will be converted into affordable housing for veterans and their families. St. Patrick Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will have offices onsite.
HBD is constructing a new microbrewery in the Grove area of St. Louis. The Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, started by two former Anheuser-Busch employees, is opening the brewery in a 58,000-square-foot building that once housed a paper distributor. One of the challenges for this project was the transportation and installation of the brewer’s huge 15- and 18-foot tanks. HBD’s diverse project experience provided the custom logistic solutions that will make the transportation and installation of the brewing tanks possible.
The brewery project is significant because it represents a return to industrial rehab work for HBD. During the downturn, HBD focused more on market segments like senior housing projects, which continued at a brisk pace despite the economic recession, said Perry. Expectations have increased for these projects, as well. As people live longer and standard of living improves, “antiquated and outdated nursing homes are no longer acceptable,” Perry notes. Instead, these are modern facilities with better food and a design that makes the facilities feel more like homes with kitchens, appliances and amenities for residents’ use, making their experiences less like hospital patients.
“The economy is coming back now so we are seeing more activity in retail, too. We are also looking at a few office opportunities. There is a little bit of every market starting up again.”
Although obtaining financing remains a challenge for some clients, Perry says he is “certainly optimistic about our future here. We see things starting to move in the marketplace. I’m optimistic work will continue to expand. Volume decreased over the last four years of recession but I’m optimistic that trend will reverse itself.”
HBD Construction was founded in downtown St. Louis by Horace B. Deal in 1922. The company has always been headquartered in St. Louis and remains there to this day, Perry notes.
Over the years, HBD Construction has worked on historic St. Louis sites such as the F.W. Woolworth & Co. Building, Fontbonne College and the Soldier’s Memorial.
The Deal family managed the company for five-and-a-half decades, selling to three longtime employees in 1978. Then, in 2004, Perry, Brian Kowert, chief operations officer, and Daniel O’Keefe III took over the company and changed the name from H.B.D Contracting Inc. to HBD Construction. They were later joined by Kowert’s sons. Brian Kowert Jr. is vice president/partner and Paul Kowert is controller/partner.