Giants Cautiously Optimistic

So, are we entering a recession? Yes and no. For the nation's largest mechanical contractors, the answer is probably no. Contractors who are in the residential market or building strip malls will feel differently.

So, are we entering a recession? Yes and no. For the nation's largest mechanical contractors, the answer is probably no. Contractors who are in the residential market or building strip malls will feel differently.

The basic reason is that the recovery coming out of 9/11 has been slow and steady, so many markets are not overbuilt and contractors still have solid backlogs.

The markets targeted by large mechanicals, such as 100,000-sq.ft.-plus office buildings, hospitals and healthcare, hotels, universities, plants owned by Fortune 500 owners, and water and wastewater treatment, are all solid if unspectacular.

Office building vacancies are low compared with 10-year averages because, coming out of 9/11, building was depressed. Travelers are paying high rates for hotel rooms, because the market isn't saturated. Healthcare is booming because of the aging population and because hospitals are in tight competition with each other. Many schools were built in the ‘70s for the Baby Boomers and they either need to be replaced or renovated.

Our Book of Giants coverage begins on page 32.

Most profitable Giants

Most of the Giants decline to answer the net profit question and those who do are often not the largest. Here are the nation's most profitable large mechanical contractors and the top managers who produce the best bottom-line results.

Rank Company/Location Top executive Net profit
114 Century Mechanical Contractors Inc., Ft. Worth, Texas Rodney Campbell, president 16.00%
34 Snelson Cos. Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Wash. Ed Shannon, president/COO 14.00%
101 HACI Mechanical Contractors Inc., Phoenix Tim King, president 12.20%
9 Roto-Rooter/Service America, Cincinnati Rick Arquilla, CEO 10.00%
26 Coastal Mechanical Services Group, Melbourne, Fla. H.W. Hauser, chairman 9.37%
95 BCH Mechanical Inc., Largo, Fla. Daryl W. Blume, president 8.60%
103 Farmer & Irwin Corp., Riviera Beach, Fla. Steve R. Irwin, president/CEO 8.00%
53 Environmental Air Systems Inc., Greensboro, N.C. James R. Bullock Jr., president 6.00%
121 Anron Heating & A/C, North Babylon, N.Y. Thomas Luerson, president 5.00%
112 DiGesare Mechanical Inc., Schenectady, N.Y. David DiGasare, president 5.00%
Source: CONTRACTOR magazine Book of Giants survey