We are excited to share that Shreve Land is featured in the August issue of Business in Focus! We had a great time recalling our history and sharing what we think makes us special, our people.
Most of you are probably familiar with the Shreve Land story, but in case you want a peek behind the current, below is the featured article. You might learn something new like the fact that Carl started at Shreve Land as an elevator operator. Hasn’t he come a long way!
Although we’ve grown over the years, I still consider every employee a family member.
In total, the company, which handles both new construction and renovation, has built more than 18,500 multifamily units and has earned nearly $1.1 billion in cumulative construction revenues.
The company’s history stretches all the way back to 1967, when James B. Nowery started building single family homes. The business quickly expanded to include commercial work, eventually spreading to the east coast and then to Texas when the Shreveport market weakened in the 1980s. “We took on the challenge of multifamily projects for one client and it just took off from there,” recalls Shreve Land Constructors’ President, Carl Bantle.
Mr. Bantle started working for Shreve Land Constructors when he was just 15 years old, as a summer job. “I was the elevator operator for the renovation of the Travis Place office building,” he shares, “and it’s remained the same building that we’ve occupied since then.” After working in Dallas and Los Angeles in both construction and development, Mr. Bantle purchased the business. While the company has expanded dramatically, he has been careful to maintain its founding values and family culture. “Although we’ve grown over the years into a multimillion dollar general contractor, building throughout the southeast, I still consider every employee a family member.”
Integrity and honesty are still the core of the business. “Being fair, and treating people as we expect to be treated is big in my book. I instill the value of fairness in our people and our ways. It’s bothersome to me that the construction industry sometimes gets tagged with excessive change orders and/or price gouging.” The secret to accomplishing this is simple, he insists. “I imagine myself being on the other side of the table, that I’m in the owner’s shoes,” he explains. “I ask myself, ‘how would you want to be treated by your contractor?’”
This commitment to treating people fairly also extends to the company’s subcontractors, as well as clients. “We believe that it is a team effort. We have an open door policy and keep the communication open with everybody in the firm. I am always looking for good ideas from all employees, whether they are young and right out of college, experienced field hands, or have been with us for 20 years.”
In return, Shreve Land Constructors’ employees are remarkably loyal and a huge asset to the company. “Our strategy is [to have] quality people,” Mr. Bantle explains. “I trust all of our employees. We have some that have been here 25 years; some of with whom I went to elementary school.”
The team also generates a diligent effort to build a solid foundation and strong relationship with clients. “Our business is all about people, both in-house and our customer base,” says Chief Operating Officer Craig Prothro. “And treating people the way we want to be treated helps us develop that relationship. We are currently building our 14th project for one client. That is the type of owner-contractor relationship that we are looking for.” That kind of recurrent business is actually the norm for Shreve Land Constructors. “Our track record of this repetitive business is something that I am very proud of. It shows how we earn the trust of our clients by supporting them through every phase of the construction process,” Mr. Bantle shares.
While the company’s primary focus is multifamily projects, the team boasts a significant versatility and a wide breadth of experience. Shreve Land Constructors’ signature commercial projects include the Bossier Parish Community College campus (BPCC), the Sci-Port Discovery Center, and IMAX Theatre. Mr. Bantle states, “Probably our biggest accomplishment was the completion of the Design-Build project at Bossier Parish Community College and our continued success with the college.”
The construction of the new Bossier Parish Community College campus was the largest state funded capital construction project in Northwest Louisiana since the construction of the LSU Medical School 44 years ago. To create the new campus, Shreve Land Constructors was responsible for constructing nine buildings covering 334,000 square feet of the 71 acre campus, at a cost of $54 million. “We continue to work with them in the development of their campus expansion,” advises Mr. Bantle.
The company’s most recent work for Bossier Parish Community College involved the construction of an advanced manufacturing training center. “Benteler Steel, a large German-based company, is building a $900 million manufacturing facility at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier,” Mr. Prothro reports. “They are helping to fund the project to train the people who are going to be running that plant in two years.” The $16 million Design-Build project was certainly a challenge, but the team pulled it off without a problem. “It was done on a very tight schedule,” Mr. Prothro remembers. “And it was completed under budget, on time, and with zero change orders.”
The team is optimistic about the future of the construction market. “Like many in the construction industry, we endured some tough times over the last few years; however, things have really picked up and we are fortunate to have established relationships with some good new clients,” Mr. Bantle remarks. “The past two years for the industry as a whole have been very strong; we are seeing a significant increase in construction revenues. There are a lot of projects out there, and for the first time in two years we have a nice backlog of work, which is desired for construction companies. I think it’s going to be pretty strong for the next three to four years, both in multifamily and commercial construction. The Gulf Coast seems to be very strong from Louisiana across to Texas. There are some new, large industrial plants along the coastline, which is helping the multifamily market, and in turn will help the retail and commercial markets.”
Of course, this upturn can create its own set of obstacles. “Unfortunately, when the market is that busy, it brings some challenge,” Mr. Prothro says. The primary concern in meeting supply and demand is two-fold. “The subcontractors are so busy that it is hard to get them to move out of certain markets,” he explains. “There is some difficulty getting sufficient manpower because everyone has so much work and the prices are escalating – and that brings challenges not only to us, but to the owners that we contract.” Shreve Land’s keen estimating team is keeping a close eye on these escalating expenses. Mr. Bantle adds, “It’s our belief that rising construction costs are going to become a problem here in the future.”
Shreve Land Constructors is focused on maintaining its profitability in the face of these challenges while simultaneously maintaining its focus on integrity, quality, safety, experience, and client relationships. Mr. Bantle declares, “We continue to update our strategic plan and work on implementing those initiatives religiously.” This plan does not aim for rapid expansion. “We don’t want to be the biggest; it is not our goal to be the largest contractor.” Instead, the goal for Shreve Land is to do the best job possible every time – for every client. “Additionally, we are pretty strict about qualifying our owners. We don’t just go to work for everybody; we are not looking for every deal out there. It’s our goal to select quality-minded owners with similar business philosophies.
As a result, slower expansion will come naturally – which is exactly what the team wants. “Our goal is slow, continued growth through the next three to four years,” Mr. Bantle summarizes. “We are looking to expand and grow on a controlled path.”