Look for the waters where there aren’t many sharks’: Despite recession, Dallas firm ramps up hiring!

Jun 10, 2020, 1:16pm EDT

As COVID-19 and a recession swept across the nation, many companies decided to eliminate jobs, creating the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. But The Crowther Group, a Dallas-based construction general contractor, decided instead to start hiring. “All of the things that I’ve read and I’ve studied as a business owner have always told me to look for your blue ocean,” said president and CEO Thomas Crowther. “When everyone is swimming in shark infested waters, look for the waters where there aren’t many sharks.” The Crowther Group specializes in commercial construction. For the last three years, construction in Texas was booming, Crowther said. Now things have slowed down from that record pace.

Despite this, The Crowther Group has remained stable, even three months into the pandemic. By using this time to hire recently laid-off talent and seeking contracts in industries expanding despite COVID-19, the Crowther Group has remained successful.
Now is the time to seek out new employees, Crowther said. As large companies are reducing their size, there are unemployed workers who may be a great fit for smaller companies such as Crowther. “As a small business, one key individual can be a differentiator in your company,” Crowther said.

The Crowther Group generated about $12 million in revenue last year. Austin Bridge & Road awarded Crowther a contract in April to build a platform extension at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit station at Cityplace. Dallas Independent School District is finalizing a contract with the company as well, Crowther said. DART spokesman Mark Ball said the primary contractor awarded Crowther a subcontractor role to handle concrete, structural and finishes to Cityplace Station. The subcontract was valued at $834,964, he said.
Construction contracts have hit a pause in the retail, aviation and hospitality industries, Crowther said. However, the circumstances of the pandemic make other industries ideal for construction. For instance, less traffic and talk of a new federal spending bill means now is the time to acquire transportation contracts, he said.

The K-12 education sector is also expanding, Crowther said. With kids out of school, districts are eyeing expansion projects, he said. “Essential work that’s actually been active prior to COVID-19 has continued,” Crowther said. Crowther is a member of the Regional Black Contractors Association, an advocacy group for African American contractors. Kimberly Shaw, President of the RBCA, said the projects in industries affected by COVID-19 are going to be delayed. If construction hasn’t already started, many projects may be scrapped entirely because it no longer makes financial sense for the developer, she said. This has caused a pause in new work. General contractors are becoming more competitive in seeking new contracts. However, the construction industry has learned from the crisis, Crowther said. He believes his business will be more innovative as a result. The greatest asset in keeping his company steady during this time has been his faith, he said.

By Spencer Brewer – Contributing Writer