Employees of Engineered Structures Inc. in Meridian used to push a red pin into a map of the Treasure Valley marking locations where the general contractor completed projects. President Neil Nelson says the company stopped updating the map when some areas, including the Eagle Road corridor near ESI headquarters, were “redded out.”
The company now maintains a digital version with more than 700 pins, some of which cover several projects.
A “redded out” map is a good problem for Idaho’s largest contractor and construction management company, which has more than 400 employees and reported sales of $433 million in 2016. CEO Tom Hill and President Neil Nelson co-own the company.
ESI built many of the Treasure Valley’s most recognizable buildings. Those include Eighth & Main and the Inn at 500 Capitol in Downtown Boise, the Micron College of Business and Economics at Boise State University, and the Scentsy headquarters in Meridian.
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Founded in 1973, the company survived the Great Recession and has grown during the recovery by expanding from its original business: project management. The company now does some of its own construction work and manages subcontractors. ESI also now bids on federal projects and works in multifamily and industrial sectors.
“Being adaptable is important,” Nelson says. “Having a resume that says, ‘We just did a Hyatt in Salt Lake City,’ that’s how we got the Inn at 500.”
ESI aims to increase its revenue by an average of 10 percent per year in each of its markets. The company has profited thanks in part to regular customers, including Gardner Co. of Salt Lake City and Boise, as well as regular work from Boise State University and Whole Foods. WinCo is the company’s top client, with more than 65 projects, most recently a distribution center in Texas, Nelson says.
Growing with those key partners is Nelson’s favorite part of the job.
“I have some people I work for who are more important to me than any certain building that was fun to do,” Nelson says.
This story appears in the June 21-July 18, 2017, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on commercial construction. Click here for the Statesman’s e-edition, which includes Business Insider (subscription required).