E.J. Smith Construction

 

E.J. Smith ConstructionE.J. Smith Construction Co. is making its name known throughout Dallas as a quality contractor. 

By Chris Petersen

The name of Emmitt Smith already carries a lot of weight in and around Dallas, having won three Super Bowl rings and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a running back for the city’s beloved Cowboys. But in recent years, Smith’s name has gained notoriety in the construction world as well as one of the principal owners of E.J. Smith Construction Co. LLC. President and CEO Eugene Walker says the company has spent the last several years building a strong reputation in the Dallas construction market along with some high-profile projects throughout the city and surrounding area.

Walker, the majority owner of the company as well as president and CEO, says the company was established in 2010 with Smith as a partner. E.J. Smith Construction started its first project in early 2011, and since then the company has positioned itself in two main sectors of the industry – infrastructure heavy/ highway and civil construction, and commercial building construction.

The construction market in Dallas is performing stronger than many of the nation’s other major metropolitan markets, and although Walker says that means more opportunities for E.J. Smith Construction, it also means the competition has become a lot more plentiful in recent years. “The competition is extremely steep primarily because we’ve had a lot of migration into our marketplace,” Walker says. “The economy has been good here, and the construction industry has been robust.”

Even though the glut of competitors from outside the region has driven down profit margins and made it more difficult for the company to bid for work, Walker says E.J. Smith Construction continues to gain ground in Dallas. He credits the company’s success to its ownership, its skill and its willingness to adapt to customers’ requests. Smith’s name may never become more associated with construction than the gridiron, but the name of E.J. Smith Construction should become better known throughout the Dallas marketplace in the years to come.

Putting Work in Place

As a company specializing in general contracting and construction management, Walker says E.J. Smith Construction’s advantage is in the fact that it can coordinate construction activity on the job site. “We put work in place; I think that’s a differentiator,” he says, adding that the company’s status as a minority-owned contractor also gives it provides an value-added bonus over many of its competitors.

The company’s skill and expertise in concrete construction has been demonstrated on a pair of recent, high-profile projects in and around Dallas. Appropriately enough, E.J. Smith Construction partnered with general contractor Manhattan Construction where E.J. Smith Consruction was awarded foundation-related work for The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas – the new headquarters and practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys. The 700,000-square-foot facility is being built in a partnership between the Cowboys organization and the Frisco Independent School District, which is spending $115 million on the multiuse project. The entire project is expected to be completed by late summer 2016.

Before the Cowboys project, E.J. Smith Construction was involved with another major project in the Dallas area. Walker says the company served multiple significant roles on the construction of Terminal A Enhanced Parking Structure at Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport. The company oversaw construction of all elevated structural concrete work as well as self-performing crews. Walker says the company partnered with general contractor Austin Commercial on the three-year, three-phase project. “It was a really good project for us, and we were able to deliver it early,” he says.

Overcoming Challenges

The amount of activity in the Dallas market has been good for E.J. Smith Construction overall, but it has brought some challenges along with the opportunities. Primarily, Walker says, it has made cash flowing projects more difficult as subcontractors and suppliers have heightened expectations for payment.. “In a robust marketplace, where you have suppliers that are basically picking and choosing who they work with, they’re changing their terms and conditions,” Walker says. “For a small business, that puts us in the business of financing projects.”

Clients also have heightened expectations, especially in terms of the technology E.J. Smith Construction is expected to be proficient in on a project. Walker says many developers require the use of building information modeling technology in their projects, and E.J. Smith Construction has adapted to that requirement by training its staff in the software’s use.

Walker says the future looks good for E.J. Smith Construction. The company recently won a contract to build a garage on the new Toyota campus being built in the region, and the company also is looking to get into more heavy highway work for the Texas Department of Transportation. No matter where its work takes it in the future, Walker says, E.J. Smith Construction will be ready to take the ball and run with it. 

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