Jon M. Hall Co.

With the residential crash of the construction market in 2006, many companies were left scrambling to survive and adapt to the new reality that replaced the boom of the past. Many companies simply didn’t make it, those that did took from the experience lessons that will help them rebuild and thrive in the new construction market. Jon M. Hall Co. of central Florida weathered the storm and came back strong thanks to perseverance, diversification and a great reputation.

Jon Hall, founder of the company that carries his name, has been in construction most of his life through family businesses. He learned his trade while working with his father, starting when he was in fifth grade. By the time he was 21 years old in 2000, he was ready to start his own company.

Jon M. Hall Co. started doing a variety of jobs and focused on the residential market when it started growing in 2002. “In ’02 we had around 30 people, and by ’06 we were up to 170,” Hall remembers. “At our peak [in 2005 and 2006], we were doing 16 to 18 residential neighborhoods a year.” Things started to change at the end of 2006, though, and the residential construction industry started losing momentum.

“We realized [in 2006] that the residential market was going to slow down, so we started branching out and doing other work,” Hall says. “We became Florida Department of Transportation (DOT)-certified so we could bid DOT work. We got into municipal and commercial work when the market crashed in ’06. We got out of it [residential construction] because there was no work to be done.”

During the years that followed, Jon M. Hall Co. had to downsize and adapt to the new construction reality. “The competition was eating everybody alive, it was fierce,” Hall recalls. “We turned ourselves into more of a construction management group. We did everything from buying and selling foreclosed homes to restaurant chain build-out projects, whatever we could do to wait out the seemingly never-ending recession.”

In 2011, things started to pick up again in the construction industry in central Florida, and Jon M. Hall Co. started hiring again to take on an abundance of work over the next two years. “In the second quarter of 2012, the market continued to grow at a more comfortable pace in the Orlando [Fla.] area, so we added about 30 people to our crew,” Hall explains. “We’re trying to be cautious and not bring too many people too fast and be liable for them.”

The new construction market comes with a different attitude from that of years past. “People are now educated about what could happen if they’re too aggressive,” Hall says. “The banks have also changed, borrowing money has become tougher, so not everybody can run out and become a developer. Home prices are now reasonable and make sense. Your average person can now buy a new entry-level house in a subdivision for $180,000.”

The recovery period is slowly being felt in the area, but most companies seem to be taking it one step at a time. “There is enough work now to where people are busy, but the profits are nowhere near where they were before the crash,” Hall notes. “Most companies are not going to run out and buy equipment and hire people; we are going to take it slowly.”

Back at Work

Jon M. Hall Co. is currently working on two residential neighborhoods in the Orlando area. “We have a subdivision on the west side of Orlando with 115 lots for single-family homes,” Hall says. The other project is a subdivision with 95 single-family homes located northwest of the city.

The construction company is also participating in the development of housing facilities for the University of Central Florida (UCF). “It’s a $50 million, high-end dorm project with a fitness center, rooftop patio and central courtyard pool,” Hall explains. The building, located across the street from the UCF football stadium, is a loft-style apartment complex, with the typical unit consisting of four bedrooms, a centralized kitchen and family room.

Jon M. Hall Co.’s portion of the project will cost just under $1 million. The company will develop the site package: the underground utility services, storm sewers, sanitary structures and exterior fire system. The company will deliver exterior concrete work, dirt work and a 7,000-square-yard visitor’s parking lot. Construction of the UCF housing facility started in August 2012 and it is scheduled for completion by July 2013.  On the commercial side, Jon M. Hall Co. is also working on three site projects: a convention center expansion project, amusement park expansion in the International Drive area of Orlando and a hospital expansion.

Good Relationships

When Hall looks back on the last seven years, he has to admit it has been a roller coaster, and he credits good people and relationships with pushing him and his company through the worst of it.

“I have to attribute our success to our team members,” he says. “We try to give them the tools they need, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without the exceptional hard work of our group.”

The importance of people extends outside of the company. “We have used the same suppliers throughout the past 12 years,” Hall adds. “We have great relationships and history with the clients, and we have a good reputation. We do quality work, have people at the highest level in our industry – very professional, educated – and deliver on time.”

With pockets in the residential area of central Florida growing, Hall expects to see consistent work for the next two years and is feeling cautiously optimistic. “Adjusting to the economy and the market has been difficult, but I’m hoping for some consistency in the market,” he says.

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