**This article/interview first appeared in the NY Business Journal on 4/4/16**
Peter Serpico has his work laid out for him. He recently stepped up as CEO of New York-based Omnibuild Construction, the company behind the 35-story, 600-key Doubletree Hotel project in Midtown.
Previously CEO of Cava Construction, which OmniBuild recently purchased, Serpico now oversees a total of 21 projects throughout N.Y.C. – including the 29-story, 249-key Hilton Garden Inn at 6 Water Street in the Financial District and the 30-story, 179-key Courtyard Marriott at 133 Greenwich Street.
Omnibuild and Cava have operated under a strategic partnership since 2010, Serpico told New York Business Journal. Read on to find out how the merger affects his approach to the construction, what industry trends he has noticed and why the company expects to cash in around $200 million in revenue this year.
Are there plans to continue growing with M&A?
One M&A deal is good for us right now. We want to focus on controlled, sustained growth in order to keep the culture extremely connected and unified. We’re not looking to get complacent though. Our aim is to create opportunities to facilitate growth in a healthy manner, opportunities that inspire and challenge us.
How has the acquisition of Cava Construction helped Omnibuild?
It enhances our ability to compete in the New York City marketplace. The merger was completed in November and so it really set-up Omnibuild to go into 2016 full steam. Omnibuild and Cava engaged in a few joint ventures over the past five years so there was a synergy in place already. We are also able to take on larger and more complex projects now. Right now is a boom-time for construction so it ensures we can deliver on the demand that we are seeing across the city.
How long will this ‘boom-time’ last?
It’s difficult to speculate. After the number of new building permits issued by the city bottomed out in 2010, we’ve since seen a steady and dramatic increase leading us to today. There is a lot of concentrated activity in Manhattan and now Brooklyn especially, and that is sure to last through this year. It could be the case, and we hope, that after this the other boroughs experience their share of economic growth and the building development that comes with it.
What are the top challenges facing construction and infrastructure companies in New York?
Construction can be cyclical and while demand is high now, we want to prepare and structure our business so that it is a cornerstone of the city’s construction industry for generations to come. Construction and infrastructure companies, like everybody else, need to take steps to ensure that they have staying power no matter the market. For us, that means identifying the projects that are the right fit for our firm and taking on challenges that improve the city where we are building it.
What affects the cyclical nature of construction?
Generally, it goes hand in hand with the rest of the city’s economic forces. Right now we are seeing increases in employment across the city, wages of workers have risen recently, cost of living is high and tourism is flourishing. With new hotels and buildings popping up, often the older residential and commercial spaces feel pressured to renovate in order to stay top of class. We are certainly seeing that now, and it’s a space we have a lot of experience in.
Where is the industry in terms of technology changing how workers, on site, interact and function?
One major innovation that has really caught on in the past five or six years, and is now becoming an industry standard, is Building Information Modeling software. BIM is an important part of almost every step in Omnibuild’s work. It visualizes detailed designs and provides the architect, engineers, and contractors a roadmap for the construction project at hand. The more complex the project, the more benefit BIM provides to the process.
Has business ramped up in recent months?
Yes. Last year was very strong and this year is shaping up to be even stronger. We announced in February that we’re expanding our workforce in 2016. Omnibuild is actively accepting applications for project managers, superintendents, assistant project managers and estimators. Omnibuild has 21 major projects underway in the New York Metropolitan area. We’re excited about all of them, but to name a few, the Hilton Garden Inn at 6 Water Street, the Courtyard Marriott at 133 Greenwich Street, and the Doubletree Hotel at 350 West 40th Street are all in progress.