Government Contracts Spur Fast Growth for Bush Construction
The task presented to A.J. Loss in 2008 was straightforward: launch a new vertical building division for Davenport-based McCarthy-Bush Corporation while serving as the new company's first-ever president and its only employee. Loss was excited.
“It was an opportunity to build and grow a construction company the way I had hoped and dreamed it would be done,” he recalls. Loss, recognizing that government contracts would be a key part of the company’s success, also was very interested in learning about CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). He quickly signed up for a seminar describing its services. Nearly six years later, Bush Construction has grown to 60 employees and can boast about awards of more than $61M in government contracts during 2011–2012. Those projects, among others, include the $13M first phase of the Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront Campus, a new $21M maintenance facility for Rock Island’s transit district MetroLINK, and the $6M renovation of a Rock Island industrial building into the Jackson Square Housing Complex.
“CIRAS’ PTAP has a lot to offer businesses,” Loss says. “They have counseled us on how to work with small businesses and establish joint ventures, and they have used their data-mining capabilities to provide information we need to successfully compete for contracts.” Government contracting is “not for everyone,” Loss adds. “CIRAS serves as a valuable resource in finding critical information and knowing the right people to contact.” One of the first challenges Bush Construction faced involved finding the right contracts to pursue. Many government programs are targeted at small businesses to help them succeed in the marketplace. But Bush, because of its parentage, wasn’t viewed as small. “We are affiliated with the McCarthy-Bush Corporation, which has a long and respected history in construction, mining, and steel fabrication," Loss explains. "We have great bonding support....and that means we've been able to bid on projects that a start-up company typically cannot. The downside, however, is that we were classified as a large business even in the beginning, when I was the only employee."