40 years and still growing
It was 40 years ago today, in 1971, that Skanska first entered the U.S. - the world's largest construction market.
Nixon was in office, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain were dividing the world, China was still Maoist, telephones were wired to the wall and if you had a computer it filled the room. Outlets from Detroit – Motor City and Motown – ruled the roads and topped the charts.
Tunneling and bridges intital activities
Skanska's first U.S. contract was the extension of the 63rd street subway line in New York City. This opened the gates to the underground and a second subway project, this time in Washington, DC. While tunneling and bridges were the initial activities, operations soon expanded into the commercial building sector as well. In fact, there are even families living in Skanska built homes, although the U.S. home market is not in focus today.
Expansion into building construction
Before long, Skanska advanced into building construction. Medical and bioscience, and telecom and health care companies were repeat customers. As were both private and public educational institutions, including the Ivy League universities.
While the initial success was "self-made", Skanska's continued expansion is based on the acquisition of well-managed, established, local specialty companies. Typically, the object of acquisition was a business partner from a joint venture. This rocketed the company into a top position in the U.S.
Skanska the largest contractor in New York and Florida today
Today, Skanska has a nationwide footprint and is a leader in green construction and is the largest contractor in both New York and Florida (according to business weekly ENR). The green Skanska office in Empire State Building is proof of the green potential, even in historic buildings.
Stuart Graham, current vice chairman of Skanska's Board of Directors, joined the company in 1990 when Sordoni, a construction management company he co-owned was acquired by Skanska. Since then, Stu has been instrumental in Skanska's further U.S. expansion.
Billiondollar business through structured capitalizing on strengths
"Joining Skanska gave us the financial muscle to go for big projects. In a few years, we grew from a hundred-million-dollar business into a billiondollar business", says Stu.
"I must stress that this is the result of the efforts of our dedicated and client-focused staff. Naturally, our subsequent development is also the result of capitalizing on our strengths in a more structured fashion. We developed global networking, synergies, common procedures and values."
"Our efforts in the fields of green, ethics and safety have really built trust for our brand. And this will also help us win new projects and an increased market share going forward. After 40 years of growth, we are one of the biggest players in the U.S. But we have yet to maximize our capacity. There are still more opportunities for us."
The underground and bridges still profitable
The initial U.S. underground success remains a solid source of income. Current Manhattan public transport projects include the 7 line and 2nd Avenue Subway extensions as well as the PATH station with its spectacular Calatrava-designed Oculus building. Bridges are another success area, especially those connecting Manhattan to its neighboring boroughs – the Triborough, Roosevelt Island, Queensborough, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges were all built between 1880 and 1909 and have been routinely maintained by Skanska since 1980.
Skanska expanding across the nation
From its East Coast stronghold, Skanska is expanding its footprint across the nation. From west Florida, Georgia and Texas in the South, to the Rockies and further West in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington State, Skanska is gaining ground. In addition to its geographical expansion in the U.S., Skanska is now advancing into the PPP and commercial development sectors. The first Skanska developed offices are currently rising in Washington, D.C., and in neighboring Arlington. The first PPP projects are currently being developed.
Growing within civil construction is the next step
"We are still advancing. Although we are one of the largest contractors in the U.S., our market share is still less than 1 percent. The next step is to grow our civil construction footprint and 'do everything we do, everywhere we are'. There will be plenty of opportunities for us going forward," says Mike McNally, Skanska's executive vice president responsible for the American markets.
"We are also entering new segments. The U.S. PPP market will offer great future potential for us. And our first commercial property development project in Washington, D.C., will be a true show case for the One Skanska approach."