When you have a state that has seen as much growth recently as Florida has, the role of construction within this state can’t be overstated. It’s not just buildings, apartments and homes either. Millions or even billions of dollars spent on highways, bridges, airports, sewage systems, resiliency projects, anything infrastructure-related – not to mention sports stadiums and arenas – are also driving the construction industry in the state. And then there’s maintaining the delicate balance between building and keeping Florida’s natural beauty intact.
For our first-ever Construction Power 100, City & State Florida not only looked at the major construction companies both within our state and with major local footprints, but also government officials who oversee, utilize and invest in construction in a major way, along with advocates and lobbyists who keep Florida building. We also considered thought leaders who are pushing construction into the future, whether it’s developing new materials and technologies or looking at how buildings can be more durably built in the face of more intense tropical weather.
On April 7, 2022, Jared W. Perdue was named by Gov. Ron DeSantis to head the department that pumps out a lot of money in state government construction contracts. The Department of Transportation has billions of dollars to divvy out to companies to repair and rework roads throughout the state, including more than $7 billion in the 2023 budget. Perdue had worked for the FDOT for 18 years prior to his appointment, most recently as the secretary for District 5, where he oversaw the I-4 Ultimate Project, which pulled together several different improvements for one of Florida’s most vital highways.
Holding executive positions for more than 35 years at Lennar Corporation, Stuart Miller has served as president of both the company’s homebuilding division and former investment and commercial properties division. He’s been with Lennar, based out of the Miami area, through many transitions, including its 1997 spinoff into LNR Property Corporation and its 2018 merger with CalAtlantic Group, which made Lennar the largest homebuilder in the U.S. Miller recently announced Lennar Corporation has halted plans to spin off its multifamily subsidiary, Quarterra, in order to wait for more favorable market conditions.
Though perhaps known more for his leadership of two notable boards of trustees – those of the University of Florida and his alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Mori Hosseini got his start in the business world with ICI Homes in 1980. ICI has since grown into one of the largest homebuilders in Florida with its custom homes, and its largest markets include Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. Hosseini is also an active political donor, sending money to Republicans and a few Democrats as well as PACs, and has been an important intermediary between UF and the DeSantis administration.
As CEO and chief lobbyist, Rusty Payton oversees the Florida Home Builders Association, a group representing more than 8,000 members seeking to ease home-building restrictions, advocating for standardized codes and representing builders and trade partners. Affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders, the association also works with 23 local branches around Florida. This past summer the Tallahassee-based trade organization supported Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson for his work to keep housing affordable and improve the lives of local business owners. It was one of several endorsements Payton’s organization made this year, also including Attorney General Ashley Moody and CFO Jimmy Patronis.
No sector in construction is more closely linked to the Florida government than transportation, and it helps those working in the intersection of transportation and construction to have someone like Ananth Prasad in their corner. Prasad, who served as the state’s secretary of transportation from 2011 to 2015, has been highway builders’ biggest advocate in Tallahassee since 2017, when he became FTBA president. With the FDOT spending billions – including the recently announced Moving Florida Forward plan, which on its own has a $4 billion investment in highways – Prasad’s connections and know-how continue to help construction companies statewide.
With approximately 25,000 employees in over 500 locations across the U.S., infrastructure service giant MasTec’s revenues have grown more than than 800% since Jose Mas was appointed CEO in 2007. Meanwhile, Jorge Mas has been involved in MasTec since its inception in 1994. Growing up in the construction industry, the Mas brothers worked their way into the executive suite: Jose Mas leading the company through expansion into pipeline construction, renewable energy resources and wireless infrastructure, Jorge overseeing a private equity group and founding subsidiary Neff Corporation, which provides rental construction and utility equipment. Jose Mas is a major donor to political campaigns for both political parties at the local and national level and serves on the board of the University of Miami. Jorge Mas has been recognized as one of the United States’ most influential Hispanic leaders by Latino Leaders magazine.
As the state’s lead regulator, Melanie Griffin’s department oversees the state’s builders, building codes and the people who inspect those buildings. Griffin, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in late 2021, has a background in law – she worked at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick – and small business, both of which are a major part of construction in this state. The department will be playing a big part as codes change thanks to both advancing technology and events like the Surfside building collapse, and Griffin, along with DBPR leaders Donald Shaw (Construction Industry Licensing Board), Krista Woodard (Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board) and Thomas Campbell (Building Codes and Standards Office), will be tasked with setting and enforcing them.
Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo, a lawmaker from Miami, reached across the aisle to work on reforms after the devastating Surfside building collapse in his district in 2021. In the days and months after the collapse, Pizzo would regularly update his constituents about federal, state and local action in response to the tragedy. He was also a big advocate for the condo-inspection legislation – which was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Daniel Perez of Miami, an influential South Florida politician who’s also the future House speaker – that passed during a special session in May 2022.
Appointed to his position in June 2022, Pedro Allende helms a department with a billion-dollar budget and 1,000 employees focused on Florida business, workforce and technological development. He previously worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as deputy assistant secretary for infrastructure, risk and resilience policy. His state agency oversees the signing of state business contracts, as well as the construction and management of state buildings across Florida.
Moss Construction, ranked highly on ENR Southeast’s Top contractors list, is led by CEO Scott Moss alongside Brett Atkinson and Andrew McAllister, the firm’s co-presidents. Moss is behind the construction of major projects, including high-end office spaces, solar plants, airports and major league ballparks, like Miami’s LoanDepot Park. Growing up around the industry, Moss’ first job on a concrete-forming crew fueled his interest and spurred him and his father Bob to start Moss – a now-$1.8 billion company employing over 750 people across the U.S. Moss is also a frequent donor to candidates in both parties, both in Florida and nationally.
Operating out of 21 regional offices, Walsh Construction remains an industry stalwart in its 125th year of contracting. As the head of Walsh’s Archer Western operations in the Western and Southern U.S., Daniel P. Walsh monitors startup and staffing and supervises progress on a variety of large scale highway, transportation and civil projects. Walsh is leading the construction to replace the northbound I-275 Howard Frankland Bridge connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg over Old Tampa Bay in what will be Florida’s largest bridge to date with construction to be complete by 2026. Archer Western joined with Miami-based de Moya to revitalize Interstate 395 in Miami, including the “Bridge for the Ages.”
Michael DeNapoli, who was nominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s executive director, will have big shoes to fill assuming he’s approved by that organization’s board. Under Trey Price in 2022, the FHFC received the largest state allocation for housing initiatives ever, with more than $512 million. DeNapoli is not unfamiliar with helping build capital for others: He led the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Office of Small and Minority Business Capital and chaired the Florida Development Finance Corporation. In his DEO director role, DeNapoli oversaw the state’s Homeowner Assistance Fund.
At 19, Tom Murphy Jr. became the youngest contractor in state history, advancing to start his own company which he eventually sold 18 years later before founding Coastal Construction. As chairman and CEO, Murphy leads a team of over 400 people across nine markets including hospitality, mixed-used and disaster recovery. Ranked highly on ENR Southeast’s Top Contractors list, the South Florida construction company also has a philanthropic arm, Coastal Cares, which provides monetary and in-kind contributions to each of the communities Coastal builds in. Coastal’s Patrick E. Murphy, the son of Thomas Murphy, previously served in Congress.
Four generations in, Nick Largura continues a family legacy at Superior Construction. With hands in the company’s Southeast and Midwest operations, Largura facilitates strategic planning, large-scale capital expenditures and key partnerships. Ranked highly among Florida’s construction firms in 2021 based on revenue with $494 million, Superior Construction has facilitated mass-transit buildouts and leveraged resources for natural disasters, such as its most recent work on Lee County bridge repairs following Hurricane Ian. One of the more high-profile Superior projects was the reconstruction of the interchange of Interstate 10 and U.S. 301 west of Jacksonville.
Brothers Tom and Harley W. Miller founded Miller Construction Company 50 years ago and completed their first project – three office buildings and a residential project in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The rest is history for the Millers, who’ve completed more than 500 commercial projects for Florida’s private sector, including office buildings and industrial, manufacturing and distribution and health care facilities. Most recently, Miller Construction built the new state-of-the-art home of Miami’s WPLG-TV, and are working on the Tampa Commerce Center.
A strong voice for the commercial construction industry’s dealings with the Florida Legislature, Carol Bowen started her lobbying efforts on the state’s east coast, eventually moving up the ranks to the ABC’s top post. Thanks in part to her 2022 advocacy work, state residents got a sales tax break in September on hand and power tools and gear. Dubbed the “Tool Time” holiday, the new weeklong benefit passed by lawmakers was estimated to save consumers $12.4 million. She’s also the founder of Carol Bowen Strategies.
The agency overseeing 125 miles of expressway in Orlando and its surrounding counties emerged from the coronavirus pandemic with plans to spend $4 billion over five years on maintenance and construction. Laura Kelley found ways for the agency to reward repeat toll-booth customers with discounts – a perk recently supplemented by discounts initiated by Gov. Ron DeSantis. She also completed State Road 429 Wekiva Parkway looping Orlando and revamped Orlando International Airport’s north interchange months earlier than expected. Kelley has announced plans to retire soon and leaves the agency on a sounder financial footing.
Republican state Sen. Jim Boyd has taken on the mantle of property insurance reformer since his tenure in the Florida Senate began in 2020. During last year’s special session that was centered on fixing the troubled property insurance market in Florida – which, in turn, has a significant impact on the state’s construction industry – Boyd authored the 105-page bill that ultimately passed. An insurance agent outside of his service in the Florida Legislature, Boyd has centered the reform on reducing the frequency of insurance litigation in Florida, which he says is driving up prices.
Before he was a state representative and, as of this year, a state senator, state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia was first a mortgage broker and then a homebuilder in Spring Hill. Ingoglia founded Hartland Homes in 2002, and in his time as a state legislator, fellow legislators made sure to turn to him for assistance with bills regarding construction and homes. In his time as a state rep, Ingoglia forged a strong relationship with Gov. Ron DeSantis. He has served as the state’s Republican Party chairman and was one of then-President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters in Florida.
Despite construction slowdowns, Balfour Beatty’s Scott Skidelsky remains optimistic for the Southeast region, citing strength across the firm’s multifamily, education, hospitality, amusement and commercial projects. Among its Florida projects are the Camden Lake Eola mixed-use in Orlando and SeaWorld’s IceBreaker roller coaster. Skidelsky rose through the ranks as senior vice president and chief operating officer at Balfour before becoming president in 2018. The firm, which completed more than $1.2 billion in construction in 2022, ranks high in the South Florida Business Journal’s contractors list and ENR Southeast’s Top Contractors list.
Ongoing construction may seem the constant price for traveling highways, but Miami is taking this to new heights, transforming Dolphin Expressway near downtown into a double-decker highway. Darlene Fernandez leads the independent agency managing the project portion dealing with Miami-Dade County’s toll roads. The long-term, $840 million project – which involves State Road 836 and Interstates 95 and 395 – is a joint effort with the state and includes a signature bridge that will change the city’s skyline. A civil engineer, Fernandez has worked in public and private sectors and served as a county board member for the organization she now runs.
A go-to lawmaker on matters of construction and regulation, state Sen. Travis Hutson, who is based in District 7, comes by that expertise through his family’s business. The Hutson Companies’ SilverLeaf development, which is in St. Johns County and within Hutson’s district, is one of the U.S.’ fastest growing developments with more than 1,000 homes sold in 2022. He serves on three committees which touch on construction (Banking and Insurance, Finance and Tax, Regulated Industries). Hutson introduced one of two bills (the other was introduced in the House by Rep. Stan McClain) to assist Floridians recovering from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
Alongside state Sen. Travis Hutson, state Rep. Stan McClain introduced one of two bills designed to bring relief in many ways to Floridians following Hurricanes Ian and Nicole; the state Senate bill passed in the end. McClain is himself a certified residential building contractor, and has been the Marion County Building Industry Association’s executive director. Like Hutson and state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, McClain has become a reliable source for those who are writing bills around construction and contracting.
In the realm of construction, good direction in licensing and code enforcement is crucial. Donald Shaw heads up the state’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, which regulates various job groups and licensing within the industry. Shaw has worked for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation since 2013, starting out as a government analyst and then analyst supervisor before taking over as executive director of the CILB in 2021. Last appointed to the commission by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020, James Schock has chaired a body tasked with evaluating and strengthening these codes, which are slated for a significant update this year. A civil engineer and a past president of the Building Officials Association of Florida, Schock is a structural specialist, a former Jacksonville building inspector and now a floodplain manager for St. Johns County.
When he was just 20 years old, Sergio Pino purchased Century Plumbing, which quickly grew into the largest Hispanic-owned plumbing company in the nation. Pino continued to strike gold, establishing many land acquisition and development industry companies before he founded Century Homebuilders Group in 1995. Offering more than 40 model home options and accounting for over 16,000 homes throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the company is the largest Hispanic-owned home builder in the nation.
The high-caliber work of attorneys Melinda Gentile and Stephen Reisman ensures their firm’s continued standing as a top power player for legal matters tied to construction. Their firm has a reputation for being on the forefront of new regulations and carving out beneficial legal strategies. Both are well-regarded for their early detection and resolution of disputes, informed by their years entrenched in procurement processes. As a woman, Gentile received a lot of pushback early on in her career – and went on to found the Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference that draws hundreds of participants each year. Reisman is a six-time “Lawyer of the Year” in Miami, according to Best Lawyers, and he serves as an adjunct professor on two University of Miami programs.
A novelty in today’s polarizing politics, Shawn Hamilton receives kudos from both sides of the aisle and among conservationists for his leadership of Florida’s environmental agency. A military veteran, Hamilton served at DEP for 13 years before becoming chief protector of the state’s natural resources – including more than 12 million acres of public land – and the regulations to safeguard them from the hazards that come from land development. Certain projects in the state require DEP approval, and the agency also provides funding for projects such as water lines and resiliency infrastructure.
With more than $130 million in construction projects under his belt, Michael Strickland’s early career managing commercial construction projects led him to start his own Lakeland-based company in 2001. Strickland’s company has a big footprint in Polk County, including Lakeland’s Fire Training Complex, and the firm also has taken on several state construction contracts. A member of the state’s Construction Industry Licensing Board appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott, Strickland has previously served as chair of the state board which regulates the industry.
Home builders have Kari Hebrank to thank for her assistance in securing recent legislative wins intended to speed up the construction process. Legislators reduced restrictions and fees on local septic inspectors, granted builders new freedom to relocate gopher tortoises to public land, increased the number of state employees hired to handle environmental permits and prohibited local governments from significantly changing building plans post-permitting unless those plans do not comply with building or fire codes.
Comprising 69 chapters with over 22,000 commercial contractors, the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast chapter based in Pompano Beach is led by construction veteran Peter Dyga. Implementing policies and providing support for officers and board members, Dyga has been vocal about issues affecting the industry, recently penning an op-ed in praise of Florida’s maintenance inspection reforms following the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse that claimed 98 lives. Dyga also expressed concerns about the damages incurred on the industry’s supply and labor due to Hurricane Ian.
As senior vice president of the Southeast region of powerhouse construction firm Turner, David Robinson has overseen several Florida projects. Under his leadership, Turner built the 443,000-square-foot American Express Corporate Center in Sunrise and the Jackson Health Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center, which houses 72 hospital beds in Miami. Robinson has been with Turner since 1986, with stops in Boston, Connecticut and Germany. Turner has also had billions of dollars worth of Florida government contracts, including maintenance work on buildings.
With the recent opening of an office in the Deerwood Park area of Jacksonville, Gilbane’s new buildout serves as the firm’s hub for north Florida projects and U.S. federal business. The expansion has allowed for the construction of new projects like the 374,000-square-foot FIS corporate office building in downtown Jacksonville. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Heidi DeBenedetti provides guidance on federal and southeast division projects and oversees the firm’s safety, risk and insurance, information technology, and merger and acquisition analysis.
Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig, Michael J. Thomas was the lawyer on a variety of multimillion-dollar cases, including resolving $15 million construction delay and completion claims and obtaining a multimillion-dollar jury trial verdict against a luxury high rise condominium. He currently represents clients on all aspects of the design, development and construction of residential, commercial and mixed-use projects. Thomas is also the co-chair of the National Construction Law Practice. Greenberg Traurig boasts 45 offices in over 75 jurisdictions, with six Florida locations, and was chosen as a Law360 Construction Group of the Year for 2023.
Throughout his 19 years at Holland & Knight, Ben Subin has represented a number of contractors, owners and manufacturers, including serving as lead project counsel on a $2.3 billion, six-year reconstruction case for a major highway corridor and defending claims on $500 million energy cases. As practice group leader of the firm’s Florida Construction Industry Group and member of the firm’s directors committee, Subin is one of 54 attorneys nationwide named a client service all-star by the BTI Consulting Group, Inc. for two consecutive years.
Asael Marrero enforces the regulations of Miami’s $3 billion annual construction industry. His department doles out 26,000 construction permits and conducts 140,000 inspections every year. Marrero has worked for the City of Miami for more than five years, and previously served as the Miami-Dade County division director for design and construction services. In total, he has more than a decade and a half of experience in local government management.
Founded in 1969, the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter represents the interests of 450 member companies from Gainesville to Naples. As 16-year president and CEO of the Tampa-based chapter, Steve Cona brings his skills in negotiation, budgeting, operations management, sales and trade associations to run the chapter, which also has members from the firm’s national board. The chapter recently lobbied to reduce retainage and increase continuing contracts to better reflect industry trends.
Bringing longtime experience as president of ABC’s Northern California and Nevada chapters, Michele Daugherty is striving to connect, educate and advocate for Central Florida’s construction industry. The chapter publishes a bi-monthly magazine covering commercial construction news and collaborates with Florida’s four other chapters to push back against laws and regulations opposed by the industry. ABC is the only construction association in the state to have a legal rights foundation for merit shop employers.
With higher-education administrative experience and time spent running her own CPA firm, DeeDee Rasmussen assumed the role as president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors’ North Florida branch three years ago. Serving 24 counties, ABC’s Florida chapter was incorporated in 1985 and functions as a networking and development resource for the construction industry. Located in Tallahassee, with a satellite office in Pensacola, the chapter offers classes and advocacy efforts for the industry and recently provided relief assistance for disasters like Hurricane Ian.
Chartered in 1993, ABC Florida’s First Coast Chapter reaches nearly 200 member companies across 11 counties to represent thousands of Northeast Florida construction industry professionals including contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and associates. Behind these efforts is President and CEO Karin Tucker Hoffman, who’s been leading the chapter of the largest statewide commercial construction association for the past 13 years. Hoffman brings executive experience in building industry association advocacy work and real estate property management.
They say if you build it, baseball dreams come true. Gary Condron’s recent $8 million gift to his alma mater, the University of Florida, led to the new $65 million ballpark being named after his family. His total athletic donations total more than $30 million, making the former baseball player the biggest single donor ever to Gator Boosters. Condron got his start in a 1978 startup that grew to an expansive operation, building millions of square feet of warehouses for the likes of Amazon and reaping close to $1 billion in annual revenue, more than $300 million of that in his home base of Jacksonville.
Over the past 20 years, Alan Cahill has worked to transform Hubbard and Blythe Construction into a major business success story. As a subsidiary of parent company VINCI Construction, the firm has earned its reputation as a leading heavy civil contractor of the Southeast under a global network of 330 agencies and 770 production sites. Since his earliest days as project superintendent in Florida 40 years ago, Alan Cahill has overseen the company through myriad transitions, and currently manages a network of over 3,500 employees.
Michael C. Brown is committed to seeing the construction industry flourish. Bolstering talent amid a labor shortage and working to diversify the industry remain some of Brown’s biggest goals. With more than 30 years of experience under his belt, nearly 20 of which he spent in executive positions at Gilbane Building Company, Brown has delivered over $3 billion worth of construction across the Midwest, West and Southeast. At Skanska, he currently leads Florida’s regional operations and serves as executive sponsor to numerous national initiatives.
Known for their work in litigation, advocacy and lobbying, GrayRobinson showed once again how strong a team it fields in construction law. Serving clients from 15 markets nationally, the firm saw a strong rebound following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hitting record revenue and double-digit profit increases in 2021. From defects and delays to injuries and deaths, Trevor Arnold has handled a variety of complex construction disputes in his 21 years at GrayRobinson. Arnold has litigated and tried residential, commercial and civil works projects with experience in litigation, arbitration, mediation, loss prevention and risk management – and was promoted to chair in 2018 after providing years of leadership experience. Meanwhile, Christopher Dawson’s work in lobbying and government relations included playing a big role in the property insurance special session in Tallahassee in 2022.
With nearly 40 years of industry experience, Jay Fayette recently returned to Suffolk as president of its Florida East Coast unit based in West Palm Beach. Fayette brings experience in managing eastern seaboard construction operations, negotiations, estimating and overall project execution. After 12 years at Suffolk, Florida Gulf Coast President Peter Tuffo has taken on an additional position as director of national gaming and entertainment. The national company, which has its headquarters in Boston, takes in $5 billion in annual revenue and has 2,500 employees across the country.
Kast is behind the construction of some of South Florida’s most iconic buildings, including the recently opened Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale. Michael Neal’s years spent holding executive positions at Bovis and Coscan Construction prepared him to lead the team at Kast, which ranks among the top regional contractors in gross billing, according to the South Florida Business Journal. Neal, who returned to the position after a brief retirement in 2021, is responsible for strategic growth initiatives, building the firm’s client base, geographic expansion, market sector diversification and also co-investment at Inlet Cay Investments.
Gainesville’s campus is seeing more than $1 billion in improvements come together as part of the University of Florida’s Campus and Landscape master plans. Led by Curtis Reynolds and supervised by Carlos Dougnac, along with Director of Construction Frank Javaheri, the projects underway include a new public safety building, a data services building and an honors college dorm, along with general road upgrades and work around the Reitz Student Union. Students may complain about the green-screened fences, but UF is going to look a lot different soon. Reynolds has been with UF since 2010; Dougnac has been a construction executive for various colleges for more than 20 years; Javaheri has worked for UF since 1985.
Though it’s not as much work as is happening in Gainesville, FSU’s campus is seeing more than $800 million in construction and refurbishments itself. The construction team, overseen by Kyle Clark and supervised by Sadie Greiner, is pulling together, among other things, expansion of the recently opened FSU student union, a brand new building for its college of business and a new interdisciplinary research facility. Clark has been part of the FSU executive team since 2013. Greiner and FSU’s director of planning, design and construction, Mike Materna, are both relatively new to the campus, joining in 2022.
With new federal legislation to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, it’s a good time to be a trained architect and attorney with an extensive career bringing such projects into existence. Robert Alfert Jr. excels at serving public or private undertakings or a marriage of the two. His recent project list includes the Orlando International Airport’s new $2.8 billion terminal, expected to handle 10,000 travelers a day. He’s also a vocal proponent for developers taking advantage of the financial support available for expanding the network of electrical vehicle charging stations.
Navigating complex commercial and residential contracts, Akerman attorneys Leslie Tomczak and Stacy Bercun Bohm represent myriad lenders, developers and contractors in a range of projects including health care facilities, offices, campuses, shopping centers and mixed-use high rises. As a LEED-accredited professional, Tomczak represents clients with sustainable building issues and brings prior experience as a commercial leasing lawyer. Bohm is one of the first lawyers in the state to achieve both construction law certification from The Florida Bar and LEED accreditation.
When Tampa Mayor Jane Castor needed to replace Carole Post as head of the city’s agency over planning, building permits and revitalizing Tampa neighborhoods, she turned to Lakeland. Specifically, Castor hired Nicole Travis, Lakeland’s deputy city manager, who worked in her former city to create private-public partnerships to reinvigorate its downtown. Among Travis’ efforts so far are work toward helping residents with a citywide housing crisis.
With annual construction projects exceeding $250 million, Current Builders has built more than 50,000 multi-family units with 15 million square feet of commercial and industrial construction. Michael C. Taylor has managed day-to-day operations for the company since 1982, recently overseeing the construction of a milestone transit-oriented apartment community, Avida Aventura, in the center of Aventura. The Pompano Beach-based firm ranked highly among regional contractors in gross billing, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
When Michael Kaufman co-founded Kaufman Lynn construction in 1989 with three other individuals, he couldn't foresee the award-winning, 225-person operation it would become. Consistently ranking as a top general contractor in Florida, Kaufman Lynn Construction was recently behind the $150 million redevelopment of JM Family Enterprises’ office headquarters. The company was lauded in 2020 as Engineering News Record’s Contractor of the Year. Kaufman Lynn was also the contractor on the recently opened Brightline station in Boca Raton, a $56 million project.
A policy wonk who leverages the legislative process for his clients, Marco Paredes Jr. uses his extensive background at all levels of government as a competitive advantage for his influential firm. His legislative work includes new measures benefiting developers negotiating with local governments. Most recently he has turned his attention to Ocala-based On Top of the World Communities, LLC, a developing retirement community on 13,000 acres with a plan for 10,000 homes and already-established recreational amenities that include golf courses and pickleball courts.
As third-generation leader of highway construction firm Anderson Columbia, Joey Anderson III leads more than 1,200 employees on major highway, runway and paving and infrastructure projects. Recently, Anderson Columbia, which has more than 60 years of experience building Florida’s infrastructure, was awarded a $3.265 million contract to rebuild roads in Bay County, which is still recovering from Hurricane Michael. Projects awarded to the firm are among the largest state contracts, including a 2021 contract for work on an Interstate 10 interchange west of Crestview.
Well versed in business, commercial and real estate litigation with an emphasis in construction law, Thomas Wert represents numerous institutions, developers and large and middle-market companies for Orlando law firm Dean Mead. Wert is also a circuit civil court mediator and serves on the board of directors of Associated Builders & Contractors of Florida and Associated Builders & Contractors' Central Florida Chapter. Under Wert’s leadership, Dean Mead negotiated a contract for a $30 million, 143,000-square-foot hospital neurological center in South Florida.
Amassing more than $1.19 billion in new contracts in 2022, Power Design has expanded from its humble beginnings in 1989 out of Mitch and Dana Permuy’s St. Petersburg home. The contracting firm specializes in multiple roles on any site: electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and systems technologies. CEO Frank Musolino has been with the top general contractor and construction firm in Tampa Bay for over a decade and a half, while the Permuys serve as chairs.
Currently in his second stint in the role – he left in 2011 to become the director of community development for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity – William Killingsworth heads up the department responsible for planning and permitting in a rapidly growing city. Jacksonville had the 15th-largest population growth in the United States between 2010 and 2019, and shows no signs of slowing down, with major work in the Shipyards and Cathedral District coming in.
The founder of the National Association of Black Women in Construction, Ann McNeill is a longtime champion for minority leadership in the industry and leads one of the first Black- and women-owned firms in South Florida. She also has built a second career as motivational speaker, sharing her wisdom about work-life balance culled from her decades in the business. One of her latest passion projects is ensuring local, minority-owned businesses are involved in building a new $20 million fire station in her hometown of Riviera Beach.
In October, two attorneys with Miami firm Bilzin Sumberg gained notice with their article on JDSupra questioning the wisdom of Florida Senate Bill 4-D. That bill, which changed condominium law by addressing problems brought forward after the Surfside condo disaster in June 2021, focused on mandatory inspections and structural integrity studies. Kevin Koushel and Martin Schwartz, experienced attorneys in condominium law, weighed in that the bill causes more problems than it solves, with potential issues that condo boards and builders will feel going forward, mostly in the eventual price to consumers and residents. The piece gained notice in Forbes magazine.
Forty years deep into his construction career, Al Fernandez is most proud of the family-like atmosphere ANF Group has created for its team members. As one of Florida’s most successful family-owned construction companies, the Davie-based firm specializes in preconstruction, construction management, contracting, design-build and development under the Fernandez brothers and their co-principal Al Gil. The firm tripled its $60 million business unit into a $180 million business unit in less than three years. Among their most recent projects was the Eurus at Miramar community, which won an excellence in construction award in 2022.
After heading the Southeast region of Suffolk Construction and increasing its annual revenue from $60 million to more than $400 million, Rex Kirby founded West Palm Beach-based Verdex Construction. He currently leads on myriad projects across a variety of sectors at Verdex, which ranked No. 3 in 2019 of the fastest growing companies with revenue over $25 million, according to the South Florida Business Journal. Previously, he spent 15 years as senior vice president of Suitt Construction, where he developed skills in value engineering, cost management and project estimation.
The Butters family has been headquartered in South Florida for the past 30 years. Mark, who’s head of the construction division of the firm, is educated in construction management, and Malcolm, with a masters degree in real estate and a bachelors in finance, brings real estate investment experience as CEO. Recent projects include the iPic movie theater in Delray Beach and the First Sawgrass Commerce Center in Coconut Creek. The firm is a six-time recipient of the National Association of Industrial and Office Property’s South Florida chapter developer of the year award.
After COVID-19 delayed everything from shipped materials to granted permits, the construction industry is surging forward again, and once again James Pyle has plans to meet the demand for multifamily housing. It’s not a surprising move for a CEO who, undaunted by the dismal 2008 economy, bought out his partners and forged ahead. His 25-year-old company has completed over 25,000 multifamily units, and Jacksonville residents anticipate the opening of Presidium Park, a 334-unit development with premium amenities near St. Johns Town Center and the University of North Florida.
Founded just over 80 years ago, Beauchamp Construction Company served as a pillar in Washington, D.C., in the leadup to World War II. Responsible for the 1954 construction of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, the business eventually expanded to South Florida in 1980 and has remained a prominent fixture in Miami development. The executive team has remained largely the same since, operating under CEO Dean Thomas’ guidance in the construction of high-rises, garden-style apartments and resort style living. This includes The Crosby, a planned high-rise at Miami Worldcenter.
When Lane Construction, a Connecticut-based company with an office in Florida, landed the $218 million deal to increase capacity at Orlando’s busy intersection of Interstate 4 and Sand Lake Road, it was the third such deal this year in Florida for Lane. Ignacio Botella’s company also has pulled in contracts for the widening of Florida’s Turnpike in Lake County and improving the I-4/I-275 interchange in Tampa. Botella took over as Lane’s CEO and president in 2022, after serving as parent company Webuild’s deputy general manager for global operations and executive director for the Americas since 2018.
One of Florida’s foremost structural shell contractors, CSCI specializes in concrete, masonry, and framing services across Florida under Daniel Goldburg. More than 18 years in leadership at CSCI and USI Building Solutions have prepared Goldburg to manage a 125-member team that completes over 4,000 residential-home shells – including excavation and foundations – per year. Ranking among South Florida’s top contractors in gross billing, CSCI prioritizes quality, speed and safety as it continues to attract large prominent production home builders.
Founded in 2001 by President Guillermo Fernandez and Executive Vice President Miguel Cerra, Link Construction Group has grown exponentially – most recently with its expansion into the greater Orlando area. Specializing in LEED and sustainable building, design-build contracting and more, the company, headed by Fernandez for nearly 22 years, has established itself as a community mainstay. Link has involvement in more than 20 charities and nonprofits.
When Terry Stiles transitioned out as CEO in 2015, his son Kenneth, then executive vice president, took over. Kenneth is in charge of communicating with financial service partners and identifying new business opportunities while implementing the company’s 50-year sustainability and growth plan. With more than 300 employees, Stiles Corporation is responsible for over 50 million square feet of office, industrial, retail, mixed-use and residential projects throughout the Southeast. Among Stiles’ recent projects are Belmont Village in Fort Lauderdale and the revamped Tri-Rail station in Pompano Beach.
With a repeat customer base of more than 90%, Thornton Construction Company has been acquiring loyalist clients since Thomas Thornton founded the company in 1998. After working alongside top firms in Florida, Thornton started his own full-service contracting and construction management business which assists clients in preconstruction, design and construction. He spearheaded aviation, health care, commercial and residential projects, including recent major projects at Florida International University, and led the firm from a two-man operation to a company established across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
A joint venture between Skanska, Granite and Lane, SGL Constructors was behind the $2.3 billion I-4 Express, the Orlando-area highway's managed lanes. A massive feat for SGL, the 21-mile corridor is one of the largest infrastructure projects undertaken by Florida to date. Under project director William McGuinness, 21 million hours of work by local and industry professionals resulted in the culmination of usable express lanes and reconfigured interchanges for the 220,000 daily visitors, businesses and residents of Central Florida.
Hurricane Ian caused between $50 billion and $65 billion in damage following its landfall in September 2022, and three of the state’s counties hit hardest have a lot of rebuilding to do. As important as those doing the repairs are, so too are those who make sure the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed at the county level. James French, David Loveland and Ben Bailey head up the departments that handle planning and permitting for these counties, and their departments will indeed face a lot of work ahead.
Ranked the top contractor on ENR Southeast’s Top Contractors list, Brasfield & Gorrie has been in construction for nearly 60 years, employing over 3,500 workers across 13 offices with an average project value of $29 million. In May, the Alabama-headquartered firm opened its Coral Gables office under Mike Peters, continuing its work across multiple sectors in South Florida. Responsible for the recent construction of several South Florida hospitals, and just announced as the contractor on a new federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, the firm specializes in health care, commercial, hospitality, multifamily and senior living.
For BCC President and CEO Jose Muñoz, the best construction happens under the design-build process. As president, principal and co-owner for the past 17 years, Muñoz guides daily BCC Engineering operations with partner Ariel Millan. The firm has provided general engineering consulting services for state departments of transportation (including Florida’s), expressway authorities and municipal agency work programs. It’s responsible for the redesign of the northbound lanes of the I-275 Howard Frankland Bridge, the largest bridge in Florida with over 2.6 million square feet of bridge deck area spanning Tampa Bay.
Before walls go up, countless tasks must be done to clear the land, ready the infrastructure and protect the environment. These civil and utility construction services – provided by over 900 people employed by Chris LaFace – bring in more than $350 million in annual revenue, securing his company a place on the short list of top contractors for the Tampa Bay area. Along with maintaining client trust, LaFace dedicates himself to making a difference, including his support of the Tampa Pig Jig. The popular music and barbecue fest is an annual fundraiser for kidney disease run by a nonprofit led by LaFace and his friends.
Bahar Amarghani is an expert in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building at UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning, sharing her expertise with the city planners and builders of the future. She was a 2022 LEED fellow for the U.S. Green Building Council, and the university’s Green Building Program, which she established, has made UF the top public higher learning institution in terms of green building certifications. Among those UF buildings is the O’Connell Center – the basketball arena’s renovations include a bipolar ionization system for cleaner air.
Arindam Chowdhury, who’s the chair of Florida International University’s Department of Civil Engineering, also helps run the influential “Wall of Wind” facility in Miami. The WOW team’s work has shaped building codes throughout the Southeast and helped patent mitigation technologies for limiting damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. His team’s innovative facility, an airplane hangar with fans that simulate Category 5 winds, is described as being as effective for the building industry as crash tests are for the automobile industry.
Work on the massive project involving Jacksonville’s Shipyards and the Jaguars’ new practice facility continues to employ a lot of workers. Among them are workers trained by Construction Ready, which recruited from the city’s Eastside neighborhood. The goal of the Atlanta-based nonprofit is to train skilled workers, giving them the basic foundation to begin a career. Similarly to how these new workers are helping build for the Jaguars, Scott Shelar’s company got started by helping build Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons.
Karlie LaCroix is playing a major role in helping advance what may end up being a time-saving piece of technology for construction: artificial intelligence that streamlines the estimating process. Togal.AI professes to measure project spaces, objects and walls in a fraction of the time normally needed. The product was awarded top prize at the 2022 eMerge Americas Startup Competition. LaCroix, who is also a business development administrator with Coastal Construction, is a key player for the construction/tech startup.
Jim O’Leary has held several executive positions since joining Jacksonville-based Haskell Construction in 1989. He now oversees eight cross-country offices and international operations, has led on over 150 projects with Frito-Lay and has worked with major brands such as Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Nike and Boeing. Haskell is also the general contractor for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new practice facility. Ranked the second-biggest Florida-based construction company according to Statista, Haskell earned $1.45 billion in gross revenue for 2021, and also came in atop the Jacksonville Daily Record’s top contractors list.
The Doral-based general contractor has made its mark throughout southern Florida, in both the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area and the Fort Myers-Naples region. Ramirez has been president of JAXI since 1986, and has studied to become LEED certified, while also serving on Miami-Dade County’s Unsafe Structures Board. JAXI Builders are currently completing such projects as Prima Luce, a condominium being built in Fort Myers, along with Pine Park Villas in Pinecrest.
As leader of his family’s enduring construction firm, Roger B. Kennedy Jr. oversees an operation that brings in more than $219 million in annual revenue, making it one of Orlando’s largest. He touts his family-owned company’s long history and its team-oriented approach, and says his company’s debt-free operations gives it a competitive edge. Specializing in building apartments, condos and hotels, Kennedy’s firm worked on the $261.4 million Glasshouse O-Town West, one of the city’s most expensive projects last year.
Starting out as a 12-person operation in 1985, Stellar’s design engineering and construction firm is now an industry leader in refrigeration systems. The Jacksonville-based company employs approximately 750 people and was ranked fourth in ENR’s 2022 top food & beverage manufacturing service providers. Named CEO in 2022, Brian Kappele rose through the company’s ranks and now oversees Stellar’s global operations including project development and execution in refrigeration, prepared foods, sliced meats, poultry, dairy and beverage industries.
Presiding over each division and handling Wharton-Smith’s business arm, Ron Davoli has more than 35 years of construction and engineering experience. Headquartered in Sanford with branch offices in Tampa, Jupiter and outside of Florida, the contracting, construction management and design firm has helped bring clean water, schools, fire and police stations, parks and more across the state. Last spring, Davoli handed the role of president to Tim Smith while staying on as CEO.
Combining over 20 years of contracting experience with more than 26 years of energy experience, founders Tony Burke and David Martinez provide design-build, general construction, construction management and pre-construction services. Burke Construction recently launched two company offshoots, Burke Sports Construction Group and Burke Energy Solutions. The company is also responsible for the construction of 18 schools in several different counties across North Florida.
After two decades in successive roles running the company’s preconstruction services, Jon Roemer now oversees the entire operation for one of Central Florida’s largest construction firms. With an annual revenue of more than $132 million, his company has carved out a niche building new store sites for companies like Publix. Roemer’s firm has started on a new Publix at Epperson Ranch in Wesley Chapel and recently finished the long-awaited Publix in Jacksonville’s San Marco neighborhood, a retail structure sporting a second-floor grocery store and ground-floor parking.
In the face of increasing storms such as Hurricanes Ian and Irma, which caused billions of dollars in damage, demand for strong materials to withstand tropical weather is rising. Thanks to an $800,000 grant from The National Institute of Standards and Technology, three University of Miami professors will begin work on projects with that aim. Prannoy Suraneni, an engineering assistant professor, is leading work on ways to create more sturdy seawalls against erosion and storm surge. Meanwhile, Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, also an assistant engineering professor, is partnering with Brian Haus, an ocean sciences professor, on how hurricane winds, storm surge and wave loads react to existing structures.
The rise of prefabrication and modular building in Florida is disrupting the old model of contracting separate services from facility design to building the final structure. And William Finfrock’s family business has emerged as a leader in this new industry space, touting its streamlined approach and its patented DualDeck® practice of precasting and prestressing concrete floors that can be built with trusses for electrical and mechanical systems off site before assembled on site. The result, Finfrock says, is a faster build for less money, without the headache of overpopulated construction sites.
Justin Starnes, who began with Colorado-based firm Hensel Phelps in 2002 as a field engineer, took over as the firm’s Southeast district manager in January. He has a tough act to follow: Kirk Hazen, who recently retired, led the way on several major projects, including including the first of its kind Blue Express Curbsides effort at Tampa International Airport, which received the Florida Department of Transportation’s commercial service airport project of the year award.
Though the company was formed in 1974 in Miami, an Orlando-based project may raise Gomez Construction’s profile in the coming year. That city’s Brightline station, which will be located at Orlando International Airport, will take up more than 37,000 square feet and include a bar and retail experience. It’s not the first time Orlando Gomez’s firm has been a part of a major Orlando transportation project, having worked on airport remodeling as well. Orlando Gomez has been part of his family’s firm since 1985.
With nearly two decades of experience serving in positions across all facets of the industry, Brooke May is well suited to lead preconstruction and construction pursuits for Belpointe as it steps up its presence in Tampa. The metroplex is one of the nation’s top spots for residential demand, and May’s local expertise coupled with prior work managing multifamily and hotel projects stand to make a key difference. The move expands Belpointe’s Florida footprint beyond initial investments in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, where redevelopments are resulting in hundreds of new units in high-end apartment home communities.
Sauer is a longtime Jacksonville contractor known for its work on projects large and small, from Jacksonville Country Day School to the Village at Hyde Park affordable housing complex. But Kevin Kelly and his company picked up a major trophy with the $37 million-plus deal for additions to three U.S. Navy training facilities in Kings Bay, Georgia, just over the state line. It’s not the first time Sauer has worked with the Navy in the Jacksonville area, having helped build the LCS training facility at Naval Station Mayport.
One notable construction trend in Florida is prefabrication, in which materials are made off site then brought to the site to be built. B&I has its own prefabrication facility in Florida, where it creates piping, sheet metal, plumbing and electrical materials. In addition, B&I is one of the state’s biggest speciality contracting firms, known for its work in mechanical contracting. Gary Griffin has been president of the Fort Myers-based firm since 1995, and B&I has seen its profits improve tenfold since he took over.
Chris Traylor began his career for family-owned construction firm Traylor Bros. Inc. as a heading engineer on the South Bay Ocean Outfall in San Diego, while his brother Mike worked as a field engineer in the company’s bridge and marine division. Growing together with the company, the two assumed their current roles in 2007 and 2008 and have collectively overseen the overhaul of major projects since, including work on the northbound I-275 Howard Frankland Bridge. The company had worked on the southbound span between 1987 and 1992.
The former vice president of a luxury pool contractor in Palm Beach County, Don Cesarone Jr. was reappointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Construction Industry Licensing Board in July 2019. The board, which Cesarone chairs, is responsible for licensing and regulating the construction industry. He spent more than 46 years in the pool construction industry, and now uses his expertise as an expert witness.
In his hometown of Jacksonville, Paul Bertozzi leads one of the city’s fastest growing businesses – it even notched a 35% revenue jump in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. Starting in 2014 with a first-year revenue of $7.5 million, his firm has raised that sum to $189 million in 2020, rivaling larger, long-established private businesses in town. And the multi-family development projects keep coming his way. Recent projects include The Exchange and Barlow, 486 new units near the heart of San Marco, and One Riverside, a 270-unit complex underway in Brooklyn.
CPPI has long established itself as a go-to construction partner, especially for health-related enterprises. Brian Leslie and Breck Weingart guide the firm’s strategic growth, and recently contracted with their alma mater, the University of Florida, to build a new Ocala hospital. The 150,000-square-foot facility will feature 10 emergency department rooms, another 10 for inpatients, four surgical spaces and a medical imaging area. The CPPI team also continues to support Santa Fe College’s Charles R. Perry Construction Institute, the site Gov. Ron DeSantis chose to announce the $89 million “Building Florida Future’’ workforce training initiatives in early 2022.
A carpenter by trade, Brandon Bey spent his early days as a certified contractor assessing whether homes could withstand hurricanes on behalf of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Now he owns a company that is spending up to $60 million in state dollars for rebuilding and renovating single- and multi-family housing for hurricane-hit communities. Based in Cooper City, Westerfeld Construction’s state contract focuses on properties in southwest and northwest Florida damaged by hurricanes Irma and Michael.
Nathaniel Marty started as a senior project manager 10 years ago and ascended through the ranks to his company’s top post. His commercial construction firm – well-known for its laser-like focus on local projects only in Duval and four nearby counties – continues to be recognized for its fast growth and touts that nearly 80% of new business comes from repeat business and referrals from satisfied clients. The company also builds its own employee base through an apprenticeship program.
A company with its roots firmly in Naples, DeAngelis Diamond has seen itself grow where it now has a national footprint. Both David Diamond and John DeAngelis have been with the company since its start in 1996. Among the projects this firm is currently or has currently worked on is the Triton Cay apartment complex in Fort Myers, along with the Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center in Naples. In 2021, DeAngelis Diamond had revenues of $365 million, according to Business Observer.
Altman, which has an in-house contractor, has been a mainstay of South Florida residential development and construction for more than 50 years, and in 2021, the group had gross billings of $80 million. Joel Altman and Seth Wise have overseen projects such as the upcoming Altra Kendall in Miami-Dade County and the award-winning Altis Blue Lake in Palm Beach County. Joel Altman began his firm in 1968, based out of Boca Raton, and Wise came aboard in 2018 when BBX bought 50 percent of The Altman Companies. Wise became the CEO on Feb. 2, after BBX completed its buyout of the company.
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