Why Brasfield & Gorrie Moved To The Gables
Here’s a sign of the strength of the construction industry in South Florida: One of the country’s largest private contractors has opened an office in Coral Gables, employing an initial 45 people in the Colonnade building downtown.
Brasfield & Gorrie may not be a household name here, but you’ve likely seen some of its local projects, like the new Waterford office buildings in Miami’s Blue Lagoon area and the updated medical facilities at Mercy Hospital in Miami. In 2021, the company was named Contractor of the Year for the U.S. Southeast by industry magazine ENR. Its revenues that year reached $4.2 billion.
Founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1964, Brasfield & Gorrie has been working in South Florida since Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. It initially handled South Florida business from its Orlando office, but decided in 2015 to make the area a focus.
Two experienced managers then moved from Orlando and began developing a local portfolio. The company now handles some $150 million in South Florida projects annually, up from $20 million to $30 million a year in the early 2010s, “and climbing,” says Mike Peters, vice president and division manager for South Florida. “We’ve built a team. We’ve built a backlog. We’ve proven this is a good, productive market to work in, with a bright future,” he says. “Then, we got the green light to open the office.”
Key to the contractor’s local growth is South Florida’s fast-rising population, a recent Florida law that makes approvals for hospital expansions easier, and long-term relationships with clients that include hospital giant HCA Healthcare.
Brasfield & Gorrie also handles more work in-house than many contractors, allowing greater control over scheduling and quality. Besides the 45 staffers at its Gables office, the company employs another 50-plus craftspeople in South Florida, from carpenters to crane operators, says JT Sanders, vice president and general superintendent. That local in-house capacity is one reason HCA Healthcare keeps awarding Brasfield & Gorrie competitive bids, says Russell Maass, senior construction manager for the hospital powerhouse. Brasfield & Gorrie proved itself renovating Mercy Hospital, mobilizing fast to rebuild Mercy’s seawall after Hurricane Irma in 2017.That helped its selection to build HCA Healthcare’s largest project ever: the new $235 million hospital by Nova Southeastern University in Davie.
“They’re just good at what they do,” says Maass about Brasfield & Gorrie. “They take care of us no matter what we throw at them – hurricane remediation, window replacement, interior renovations or new hospitals.”
Why the Gables? Sanders and Peters say they chose Coral Gables for the new office because its small-city vibe blends well with the company’s culture. The Gables also is home to some of the company’s design partners and many employees already lived in the area. Having Miami International Airport nearby didn’t hurt. “And we fell in love with the Mile,” says Sanders, lauding the restaurants, shops, hotels, and walkability of Miracle Mile and Coral Gables’ downtown.
Of course, South Florida’s busy construction market has its challenges. Labor can be tight, and materials sometimes take time to arrive because of supply-chain disruptions since COVID-19. And some locals also aren’t yet familiar with the Brasfield & Gorrie brand name. Two big South Florida projects underway could raise the company’s profile, however: a new surgical tower at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital just outside the Gables, and the headquarters for Spirit Airlines in Dania Beach.