7/22/16 San Antonio Business Journal: San Antonio’s expansion drives growth for the companies that cater to it

July 25, 2016 by Will Schnier P.E.

July 22, 2016

By Katie Burke

Only those living under a rock haven’t noticed that San Antonio is in the middle of an all-encompassing growth spurt.

A rising population, continued job growth, geographical expansion and a steady stream of new developments across the residential and commercial sectors has provided a colossal boost to San Antonio businesses — especially those catering to the real estate market.

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Everything from architecture and civil engineering firms to construction and property management companies have posted substantial growth rates in recent years — substantial enough to place them among the fastest-growing companies in San Antonio, according to a Business Journal survey of local private-sector employers.

Among the top 25 on the Business Journal’s list of fastest-growing companies, 14 are related to real estate and development, including notable companies such as Liberty Management Inc. at No. 3, Big Red Dog Engineering & Consulting at No. 4, Galaxy Builders Inc. at No. 8, Central Builders Inc. at No. 12, Ready Rentals LLC at No. 21 and Joeris General Contractors Ltd. at No. 24. Those 14 businesses in the top 25 had an average rate of revenue growth of 106.7 percent from 2013 to 2015. And 23 of the top 50 also fall into that cohort.

During fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1, 2015, the city of San Antonio’s development services has processed more than $2.2 billion of construction permits.

The department awarded more than 2,355 residential construction permits during that period, and with the U.S. Census Bureau projecting Bexar County to grow at double the national 4.1 percent rate, those figures are expected to continue climbing.

Meanwhile, businesses are coming along for the ride.

Liberty Management CEO Kevin Knight said a lot of his company’s recent growth can be attributed to the city’s rising population, job growth and an uptick among investors putting money into San Antonio’s residential market.

“Investors are seeing future growth and a strong economy here,” Knight said. “People are moving here and driving a lot of the growth. And not only are people moving here, but businesses keep moving in, too. I see a bright future for a long time to come, and all I see is positive, positive, positive if I’m in Texas.”

Liberty, which expanded its San Antonio operations into Dallas and Houston earlier this year, is planning to add to its 14-person team throughout the year because, as Knight said, “as we add more properties, we’ll need to add more people to handle the growth.”

Longtime San Antonio firms are continuing to expand their presence, with several companies branching into new areas or refocusing their business on sectors they expect will propel their growth. Joeris General Contractors acquired San Antonio-based Koontz Corp.’s commercial division in May to strengthen its private development presence in areas such as corporate office, automotive and medical construction.

The steady rise in private development work has also led Yantis Co. to narrow in on more subdivisions and private contract work. The company is also building its future headquarters in an area that CEO Mike Yantis said will be a hotbed for future development — the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin.

For Galaxy Builders President Neilesh Verma, the years ahead will be about controlling the growth the multifamily general contractor has experienced. The company has picked up numerous jobs as a result of rising demand for market-rate, luxury apartments.

“We believe our growth will continue; however, we will be very cautious by trying not to grow too quickly,” Verma said. “Our expectation is to have moderate, controlled growth year over year.”