Veteran condo developer joins Clayco
(Crain’s) — Longtime residential developer Thomas Weeks has been named principal of Clayco Inc., a St. Louis-based construction and development firm that is expanding its Chicago office.
Mr. Weeks, 48, the former president of Related Midwest who went off on his own a few years ago, expects to play a general management role at Clayco, but says generating new business is a big priority.
“My goal is to find those deals with existing clients and with new clients to leverage what Clayco can do with all its core competencies,” he says.
Working against him is a construction and development industry that is recovering from the recession but still sluggish. Yet Clayco has gone on offense, making Chicago the hub of its national growth plans. Clayco Chairman and CEO Robert Clark moved to Chicago last year and has been actively recruiting new employees here.
Clayco has about 60 employees in its Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace offices, and another 300 in the field locally; Mr. Clark hasn’t set a hiring goal but envisions adding as many as 100 more in the Chicago area in the next few years.
Clayco is the second-largest contractor in the Midwest, with 2010 revenue of $880 million, up from $471 million four years earlier, according to trade magazine Engineering News-Record.
The company ranks 18th among contractors active in the Chicago area, with local revenue of $137 million last year, according to Crain’s 2011 List of Chicago’s Largest Contractors. Recent projects here include a 650,000-square-foot distribution center for 3M Co. in DeKalb and a buildout of Thompson Coburn LLP’s downtown law offices.
While Clayco would like more work here, Mr. Clark says its expansion in Chicago is part of a broader strategy to get more jobs throughout the country. He says he likes the city because it draws talented people with the skills Clayco is seeking and has airports with flights that “reach everywhere,” making it easier to visit clients.
“It’s become difficult to travel out of St. Louis, and our business is about traveling,” he says.
Mr. Weeks, who has a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts and a law degree from the University of Chicago, has spent the past few years consulting and developing a major residential project in the Turks and Caicos. From 2000 to 2007, he was president of LR Development Co., which was renamed Related Midwest.
While best known as a developer of downtown luxury condominium projects, Related Midwest also offers a range of services, including design and construction, one reason the leap to Clayco made sense, Mr. Weeks says.
“It’s really got that full-service aspect that we had at LR,” he says. “It’s a platform I feel comfortable with.”
Clayco is busy in the student housing market, but people shouldn’t read Mr. Weeks’ hiring as a sign that the company is making a big push to expand in the residential sector.
“If there are opportunities in residential, of course my expertise will be helpful, but it is not a focus,” he says.
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