Up for a Challenge

Speegle Construction

Speegle Construction, Inc. offers construction services to a range of sectors from healthcare, education and aviation to utilities, municipalities and government. We spoke with owner Troy Speegle, who says he owes it all to his father Jim.
1970 was the year Speegle Construction was founded by Jim Speegle, who had worked with his father in construction as well as having a background in civil engineering. In 1996, Speegle opened a field office in Northwest Florida in order to tap into the opportunities provided by the area’s many military installations. Success followed along with the relocation of its corporate headquarters in Niceville, Florida in 2002. That same year, Jim named Troy the President of the family company.

Because of the diversity of its offerings, Speegle works with everyone from vacation home buyers to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the not-for-profit agency Children in Crisis, and Northwest Florida State College. Currently, in New Mexico and Arizona, Speegle is working on several Air Force projects. In New Mexico, there is a C-130 hangar being completed at a cost of $20 million.

“It’s a fairly new air base which used to house the F-16s,” explains Troy. “A bunch of C-130s were sent to New Mexico without an adequate infrastructure. They came from our neck of the woods and so we decided to follow them and helped to build one of four hangars to house them.”

Also at that base, Speegle just completed a $25 million two storey office administrative building used to train airmen on how to fly UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). For the Air Force, Speegle is constructing a $2 million parachute drying tower at Cannon Air Force Base. Parachutes are hung up in the drying tower in order to make sure that no mold develops.

“We are waiting on word for an $8 million dining facility at Cannon (Cannon Air Force Base) that is needed due to all of the new staffing and buildings going up there,” Troy shares. Then there is the work being done at the Phoenix area Luke Air Force Base squadron operations facility. This two storey office building for the Lockheed Martin F-35 program is sixty percent finished and will be used for training and for pilots going through pre-flight and post-flight briefings. Speegle won this project based on work done at Eglin Air Force Base where the F-35s were originally stationed.

“We were tied in here with that program and instrumental in doing the infrastructure along with their dining hall. When the planes went out to Phoenix, we went out there too. We leveraged our relationships and experiences on this program to work out in Phoenix. It’s a relationship business. Construction always has been.”

Many companies are specialists in one particular trade or application. However, early on, Jim Speegle saw an opportunity to branch out through site and utility work. The company started to buy heavy equipment since there was so much development going on. A new identity was needed in order to market the company as a horizontal construction site company. That was the origin of Site & Utilities Solutions Inc., which has been active in supporting Speegle and its own contracts. The new developments also were a catalyst in starting BetterBuilt of NW Florida, which builds high-end residential houses along the scenic State Road 30A corridor.

“We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop,” says Troy. “We can help our customers with commercial, residential and horizontal projects. It is different business lines that are targeting different segments of our markets.”

BetterBuilt has, since entering the residential market, delivered seven houses in the $750,000 to $900,000 range – all sold. More work is underway, so the residential sector is looking very good at present. “The dirt sector (horizontal) is not very sexy, but is a precursor to the houses and we are seeing people get off their money that they have been sitting on, and starting to put it back in dirt. We feel that is it very fertile ground for us to be working on as well.”

Speegle has ambitions to expand its reach in the commercial market. The Florida Panhandle was hit pretty hard by the recession but, before the bottom fell out in 2007, there was a lot of activity in gulf area real estate. Then it came to a dead stop. The impact on the area was economically devastating until 2013 saw some stirring in the housing markets. People were starting to build houses again, particularly in the 30A corridor along the Florida Panhandle. Speegle had a beach head along the 30A corridor and it began construction on new houses. “So, when we talk about developing relationships and commercial work, I am excited that we have something to talk about,” says Troy. “Two years ago, we would have had nothing to talk about.”

Through networking, Speegle used its sister company Site and Utilities Solutions to perform the development on horizontal construction, as well as the water, sewer and infrastructure for some new houses at Alys Beach.

“Those people gave us a very good reference and we have been networking with other developers and major landholders. Things are just starting to stir and because we are active with our houses and horizontal construction. We are finding that we are getting more opportunities to bid on some multi-use or some strip retail centres. We are seeing that work accelerate.”

Troy likes to talk about the heart of the company’s values. The people who work for Speegle, he believes, have a similar heart and a passion for helping others. “A lot of companies, as you are well aware, use this as a marketing strategy. I couldn’t care less if anybody knows about it because it’s more important that action is taken as opposed to talk.”

When the company chooses organizations to work with, it looks for ones that care about the whole person. “We found an organization that is very active in taking care of foster children. They are not just housing them but also trying to take care of their emotional and spiritual needs. This lines up with our values.”

Funding is also being provided to another organization – a medical clinic –that takes care of those people who do not have medical insurance, and support is being provided to a centre that gives about two hours per day of afterschool tutoring with a mentor. Speegle also supports orphans in third world countries by providing funding to build orphanages and then look after the children.

When asked to cite an example of a project with unique challenges, Troy mentioned a job at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City. This very complicated design build project came about after 9/11 and was critical to national security. The building was designed to monitor the skies over the southeast quadrant of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. Speegle had to select architects and contractors. This project could not fail and had to maintain constant operation.

“Boy was it a challenge! A very compressed schedule to get it done. We had to pull the team together in order to streamline construction. It was a collaborative effort to get this project done by a tight deadline. It was a very invigorating project to know that as people sleep at night, that building is watching over the skies and the seas, so we don’t have to be afraid of being attacked.”

One element that separates Speegle from its competitors is the high level of technical competence within the people who work there. They will tackle some of the more difficult projects and find them to be fun. The company takes on some of the most complex builds in the U.S. and strives to make them energy efficient, often to LEED silver and gold standards.

Speegle is also a family of companies addressing many different levels of needs that clients have. The people that work for Speegle care for what they do. They are passionate about building, and quality is as important to it as safety.

Troy says that he owes a lot of his success to his father. “I would be nothing if it wasn’t for my dad. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in owning the company. I watched my dad struggle growing up, so I am so proud of the fact that he did what he did and I stand on his shoulders.”

July 21, 2018, 3:26 AM EDT

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