Skanska Wants More of Nor-Cal Pie

By Sharon Simonson

Swedish construction giant Skanska AB is stepping up the intensity of its pursuit of Bay Area business.

Already, at the end of last year, the company booked $347 million in new revenue related to its just-signed contract to build the first Santa Clara County BART extension. Skanska USA Inc.’s civil division is one of three partners on the $772 million job to build the 10-mile extension plus two stations, six at-grade crossings and two above-grade crossings.

The new director for Skanska’s Northern California building division, which will contribute to the BART work, says the company believes the deal is pretty much only the start.

“We do plan on making a major impact in Northern and Southern California,” said Bruce Holms (pictured), executive vice president and general manager of Northern California operations. “Northern California is a market that is of high interest to us because of the potential that is here.”

While Skanska has operated in the region for some years, it has kept a reasonably low profile, doing work on behalf of national clients and emphasizing organic growth, rather than growth through acquisitions, as it has done in other U.S. markets.

Holms is based in Skanska’s Oakland office. He oversees 76 salaried Northern California workers and is looking to hire more. He spent the previous nine years on Skanska’s executive team in Seattle but has done work for more than 30 years along the length of the West Coast, including Hawaii and Alaska. He has relocated to the Bay Area.

Skanska is one of the world’s 10 largest construction companies and has 52,000 employees in Europe, the United States and Latin America. The United States is the company’s largest market, representing 28 percent of annual revenue. Sweden represents 23 percent.

Besides the building division, Skanska USA has a civil division, an infrastructure development division and a commercial development division, which does ground-up development for the company’s account. The development division currently does business in Houston, Washington, D.C., Boston and Seattle, including while Holms was there. There is no timeline for bringing the development division to Northern California, he said, but as far as he is concerned, it can’t be soon enough. “I had the opportunity to see the growth potential they can provide,” he said.

The company’s chief executive told Reuters earlier this month that he wanted to grow Skanska’s U.S. presence. “That is where we see the greatest possibilities,” Johan Karlstrom said.

“Both Northern California and California as a whole are huge markets,” Holms said. “When I first got down here and started listening to the business development people telling me about the opportunities, there were so many and so much, you get to the point where the plate is almost overfull.”

Construction industry sources told The Registry in November that Skanska and Redwood City-based DPR Construction Inc. had been selected as the general contracting team for the proposed 3.1 million square-foot Apple campus in Cupertino (STORY HERE), but that has never been confirmed by Apple, DPR or Skanska. Holms also declined to comment, though he noted that he had seen The Registry report.

On Jan. 10, Skanska published a news release saying its building division had signed a contract for $170 million with a “confidential customer” for a project in the western United States. Work was to begin immediately, according to the company statement.

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