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Archive for Thursday, November 11, 1999

HARRIS BUILDS MARKET REACH

November 11, 1999

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Harris Construction Co. Inc.'s new Oklahoma City office already has $15 million worth of work, and room for up to $30 million in a single year.

Harris Construction Co. Inc. is heading south of the border for more green.

Harris Construction, a third-generation Lawrence-based business, has opened a new office in Oklahoma City to coordinate its growing business in the land of red clay.

The company is building a new $4.7 million grocery store at the Potawatomi Nation Reservation in Shawnee, Okla., and is renovating a handful of small retail sites. Two grocery renovations in Oklahoma City already are complete.

And there's plenty more where that came from. With $15 million in projects already lined up in Oklahoma through next summer, Harris Construction is ready to build on its valuable out-of-state relationships.

"Between the activity in that market -- and the tornadoes, the natural disasters they've had during the past year -- there's a lot of opportunity down there," said Bo Harris, the company's president and chief executive officer. "We intend to grow the business there. More than likely, that office would support in the range of $30 million a year."

The family-owned company -- with Lawrence roots tracing back to Harris' grandfather, George Washington Harris, in the 1920s -- last year handled $40 million worth of residential, commercial and industrial construction and renovation in Kansas and Missouri. A year earlier it had net income of nearly $1 million.

Today, Harris Construction has 100 employees in three offices: Lawrence headquarters, 3200 Haskell; Kansas City, Mo.; and Oklahoma City.

Harris Construction started its Oklahoma work with renovations for two Price Choppers in Oklahoma City -- each with a value of up to $900,000 -- and now has a number of projects awaiting signatures elsewhere in the area.

"It only makes sense that we continue to build in this busy construction market," said Dane Heneger, vice president of operations for Harris' Oklahoma City office, which has four employees. The office opened as the company wrapped up its fiscal year in June.

Heneger, an Oklahoma City native, transferred home after working for three years in Harris Construction's Kansas City office, which is located in the Livestock Exchange Building downtown.

The Kansas City area also is paying off for Harris Construction. Work is under way for a $4.6 million shopping center in Lee's Summit, Mo., expanding on the "design-build" relationship Harris forged with the Bowes Group, which owns Price Choppers in the Kansas City and Oklahoma City areas.

"Most of the business we're talking about is repeat business," Harris said. "Construction's really changed and you've got to make contact with regional and national, repeat-type of building clients. We're much more inclined anymore to be on projects scattered across the Midwest."

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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