Construction industry execs reflect on year of full workloads, high costs, curveballs

High demand for new projects has 2021 shaping up to be a banner year for many West Michigan construction firms, even as executives grapple with higher costs and longer lead times.

Those were among the year-end reflections from West Michigan construction and design industry executives, who said they’ve been busier than ever even as the typical project planning and execution process has faced major disruptions. Despite navigating through uncharted waters for the industry and the ongoing pandemic-related stressors, executives who spoke with MiBiz remain bullish, citing full project pipelines and backlogs stretching well into the future.

  • Pat Cebelak, president of Triangle Associates Inc.: The focus for Walker-based Triangle Associates this past year and going into 2022 is building on its core markets in West Michigan, including K-12, higher education, health care and commercial retail. Cebelak said the company is committed to building up the communities with projects in West Michigan.
  • Brad Laackman, president and CEO of Honor Construction Inc.: The backlog for Grand Rapids-based Honor Construction is “probably double” what it was in 2019. The company has been ramping up projects throughout 2021, and Laackman sees a promising future for Honor Construction for the next couple years with growth in the multifamily and technical office space.
  • Brad Thomas, president and CEO of Progressive AE Inc.: Over the past year, Progressive AE Inc. has tried to evaluate how each of the sectors it serves has been going through industry-specific changes so the company can best serve its clients on ongoing projects. According to Thomas, that’s meant in part helping clients reconfigure their physical spaces to adapt to the hybrid work model that many companies, including Plainfield Township-based Progressive AE, have been adopting at their corporate offices.
  • Zachary Verhulst, founder and managing principal of PURE Architects: After founding PURE Architects in August 2020, Verhulst was named the 2019 Young Architect of the Year by the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The new Grand Rapids-based firm is finding its footing as it seeks to embrace remote working and take on additional projects and clients, Verhulst said.
  • Amanda Webb, vice president of operations at Catalyst Partners: Grand Rapids-based Catalyst Partners specializes in providing third-party certifications such as LEED, WELL and Living Building Challenge. Webb told MiBiz that the COVID-19 pandemic has Catalyst focused on how to optimize projects and improve the airflow inside of buildings.