As I write this month’s blog, I am at 37,000 feet flying from Hong Kong to Manila. Ultimately, I will end up on Boracay Island in the Philippines for the wedding of two of my best friends, Angela & Eric. That’s probably more information than you need to know, but for me it is the culmination of a roller coaster ride of a year and one that ends on a high note – both literally and figuratively.
The year began with hopes of a steady economic recovery and hopeful growth in our markets that include multifamily, student housing, senior housing, military housing and hospitality. At one time or another in 2011, we had new construction or renovation projects in every one of these market segments and were fortunate to be busy…perhaps busier than most. We started the University House Central Florida student housing project near UCF, the Serenades by Sonata memory care facility in Longwood, Florida; the Lost Creek Apartments project in Manatee County, Florida; and Heroes Village military housing at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. In addition, we were already working with Vacation Villas at Fantasy World on their new water park and administration building as well as remodeling timeshare units for our long time client, Orange Lake Country Club.
The outlook was very positive, especially compared to 2010. Our pre-construction and estimating department was busier than ever working on both certain and potential projects. Many of these projects, however, were stymied mid-year by the uncertainty of the US financial situation. The inability of our politicians to work towards a solution that was in the best interest of our country frightened many. This made decision making difficult as related to financing and development. The hesitancy continued for the remainder of the year with not only political bickering between parties, but the onset of next year’s election and the candidates sparring for position. Continued financial unrest both domestically and abroad did nothing to help the situation. Thus, uncertainty continued.
In addition to all this, the financial strength of many subcontractors and suppliers was being tested as result of lower margins and tighter competition. Some of these venders, many seasoned with a history of fiscal responsibility, fell by the wayside effecting the schedules and economics of projects. This was not a recipe for success and, unfortunately, we have not seen the end of these failures.
In spite of all the challenges we faced, we were fortunate to continue to capture work. We negotiated the second phase of the Heroes Village project, began pre-construction on the next Serenades at Sonata to be built in Winter Garden, Florida and started a renovation project in Las Vegas with our teaming partner, Penta Building Group. Penta and WPC are also preparing to break ground on the next tower of The Grandview at Las Vegas. In addition, we were selected to provide pre-construction services for two downtown Orlando multifamily projects and have been working with a new client on multifamily deals in Tampa and South Florida.
The old adage that people do business with those who they know, like and trust is very true for WPC. The opportunities continue to be there as we build on lasting relationships and cultivate new ones. Those developers that value what we provide over our competitors, who want exceptional rather than acceptable, will be who we work hard for and will be the ones that help us survive in these continually troubled times. Building Beyond the Blueprint is more than just a saying; it is the culture of WPC and our efforts will always be to strive to distinguish ourselves through something more than being treated as a commodity.
As I prepare to land in Manila, I also prepare to arrive at gate 2012. WPC remains cautious about the future regardless of what we are faced with. We will always follow the words of my father; wake up everyday and work hard. Although I won’t share with you the shenanigans that will no doubt occur at this wedding, trust me when I say that it will be memorable. These are the kinds of memories I hope all of you had for 2011 and will have in 2012. I wish all of you safe and happy holidays and may hard work and the pursuit of excellence lead to much success in the coming year.