Steamboat construction company TCD downsizes
Steamboat Springs — TCD, the construction company that branched off from TIC 17 years ago and expanded across the Western Slope, is significantly paring down its size and scope amid a construction industry experiencing a devastating lack of work in Routt County.
“We’re downsizing, for sure,” TCD President Rick Brodie said Tuesday outside TCD’s headquarters on Jacob Circle off Downhill Drive west of downtown Steamboat Springs.
That downsizing was evident at the building where a lone staff member sat in an office near the unmanned front desk and a few workers cleaned up excess material across the street. TCD had a clearing sale of office supplies, construction equipment and more earlier this week, selling everything from conference tables to office chairs.
Brodie has been TCD’s president since 2000 and was one of TCD’s original founders when it split off from The Industrial Company. He said the company’s downsizing has been “continual over the past two years,” as TCD staff dropped from about 130 at its peak to “12 to 15” on Tuesday.
“It’s certainly the construction lag due to national economic factors,” Brodie said.
Those factors have hit Routt County’s construction industry hard.
According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Labor, the construction sector in Routt County saw a 26 percent decline in payroll and a 35 percent decline in employment from 2007 to 2009.
Construction employment in Routt County averaged 2,889 in 2007, 2,625 in 2008 and 1,890 in 2009. The yearly averages are based on quarterly employment figures for the largely seasonal industry.
Scott Ford, director of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, provided the figures and said they paint a grim picture.
“We have seen a contraction in the construction trades that is bigger than any of us have ever seen. To a certain degree, this is a little bit of uncharted waters,” he said. “We’ve lost a percentage of jobs and a percentage of likely local income — that certainly has a ripple effect on any economy.”
Ford said the economic recession hit the construction industry harder than any other in the Yampa Valley.
At its peak, in the fourth quarter of 2008, he said, construction employment represented 30 percent of Routt County’s total payroll and 19 percent of all employment. By the fourth quarter of 2009, those figures had fallen to 16 percent of total payroll and 12 percent of employment.
‘Too many to mention’
Signs are not indicating a turnaround in 2010.
According to the Routt County Regional Building Department, the valuation for building projects permitted in Steamboat Springs — including alterations and additions to existing buildings — was estimated to be $14.3 million for the first six months of 2010, compared with $25.3 million during the first six months of 2009.
“I think there’s a lot of remodels and additions these days, more so than brand-new projects,” said Sarah Fox, vice president of Fox Construction. “It’s very hard for any contractor to stay afloat right now.”
Brodie said TCD isn’t closing its doors, just downsizing while he and others figure out the business’ future. Brodie said he hasn’t decided what to do with the building on Jacob Circle.
A TCD employee said on the phone Tuesday that the company’s Breckenridge office has closed. A call to that office was routed to Steamboat.
Brodie said TCD’s future is uncertain.
“Right now, we’re waiting to see. … There’s not a lot of things happening in Routt County,” he said. “The bidding environment is pretty tough right now.”
TCD’s downsizing represents a significant hit for the local construction job market.
The company specialized in commercial construction and, over the years, built many structures across Steamboat, including the Steamboat Pilot & Today building on Curve Plaza.
Brodie said TCD’s local projects, especially near the base of Mount Werner, are “too many to mention.”
“You could go up anywhere around the mountain and … we’ve been involved with most everything,” he said.
Scott Franz contributed to this story.
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