Specialty: Retail, hospitality, corporate, health care, residential, mixed-use
Callison CEO Bill Karst says all of the firm’s markets and all its locales are running at “fever pitch.” Revenues grew about 30 percent last year to $103 million. Staff expanded 16 percent to 550 employees.
About one-fifth of Callison’s work is in the Puget Sound region, and the majority is in the United States. But at 28 percent last year, the share of international work was the highest the firm has ever done.
11 projects in China
In the last year and a half, Callison has opened offices in Shanghai, Los Angeles and New York City, and is currently increasing its staff in London.
The Pearl of the Gulf project in Qatar, on the Arabian peninsula, is the biggest that Callison has completed to date. Callison will wrap up the design process in December on the $2.5 billion man-made island-city that features 28 residential towers and a marina for super-yachts.
Almost all of the firm’s international projects incorporate residential work.
“It’s the cash engine, because you can sell condominiums early in the development process,” Karst said.
Economic growth throughout Asia is putting pressure on raw material prices and tightening labor markets. It’s not just China, Karst said.
“India and the Middle East are right behind it,” he said. “There really isn’t a dead zone in the global market.”
Karst has noticed globalization among developers and investors. U.S. investors are spreading out beyond the United States and Europe, while Indian and Chinese developers are branching out around the world as well.
He said the frenetic growth is making developers wince at prices and become impatient for results.
Callison has had to be selective in the projects it takes on, despite its ongoing recruitment of more talent. On the residential side, the firm has had to ask for more time to get projects done than developers are used to.
Karst said growing the firm any faster than its current pace couldn’t be considered rational.
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