After years of increases from large projects, local commercial and industrial contractors have finally felt the economic slowdown.
At just shy of $2.5 billion, Los Angeles County billings were down 14.5 percent in 2002 among the 25 largest local contractors.
With the slowdown came quite a few shifts on the list. Swinerton Building and Turner Construction Co. traded places after Turner's 2002 billings declined by more than $30 million from the year earlier. Swinerton inched up $5.1 million from the previous year.
A newcomer to the list is Bernards Bros., which debuted at No. 6, with $132 million in 2002 billings and various education projects in progress.
Five contractors reported revenue declines of more than $60 million, including No. 1 Tutor-Saliba Corp. PCL Construction Services Inc. saw year-over-year revenues decline by $91 million, the steepest on the list, and slipped to No. 12. With a drop of $66 million, Pacific National Group, No. 13 last year, missed the cut-off for the list at $32 million in 2002 billings.
Once the head-and-shoulders leader among L.A. contractors, Tutor-Saliba Corp. has seen its grip on the top spot has become more tenuous. The builder, still the largest general contractor in the county, posted a 22 percent drop in local revenues during 2002.
Tutor-Saliba reported $244.5 million in billable work countywide. That puts the gap between it and No. 2 Swinerton Builders and No. 3 Turner Construction Co. at less than $8 million. Last year's lead was $46 million.
"In general, there is less work available," said Ronald Tutor, the company's president. He cited the economic downturn and the difficult times in the California public sector as reasons for the slowdown.
Tutor-Saliba fared better nationally, with billings down only 10.5 percent from last year.
Tutor said business is beginning to pick up locally, particularly with government-funded projects. "The Los Angeles Unified School District bond issue is putting out a great deal of work and Caltrans is bidding a lot of highway (work)," he said.
Local projects in the works include the $400 million UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, slated for completion in October 2004.
The company has also begun construction on a new high school in the eastern San Fernando Valley. The $36.5 million contract was awarded by the Los Angeles school board in January and is slated for completion in roughly 18 months.
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