John Murray, President of Teal Construction, talks to us about the devastation in the Rockport area and how he is adjusting operations in his commercial construction company to get everyone back up and running.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the Web site. We’re talking about the recovery from hurricane Harvey. And there’s a, there’s a tremendous amount of reconstruction going on. There’s a tremendous amount of rebuilding going on and it’s something that, there’s a lot of people involved in that rebuilding. We got some guys in here this week that are going to tell you a little bit about it. I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry had to step out for a minute. My business partner George Walden is over there in the co-host chair. What do you think man?
George Walden: Well, I’m excited about listening to what John has to say. Unfortunately, John’s home was right in the middle of the eye of the hurricane. So he can talk devastation like no one else can right at the moment in Houston. And I’m quite excited about hearing what he has to say about what’s going on to recover from this, from this terrible hurricane.
Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt. And the entire Texas coast had significant amounts of damage. None worse than Rockport, Corpus Christi area. Teal Construction is a commercial construction company. John Murray is the President here in the studio. John, welcome to the show sir.
John Murray: Thank you for having me.
Matt Register: So, tell me a little bit about.. well being a resident of Rockport is… you know, tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing different. Tell me about Teal Construction and then, what it is you guys are doing different now because of the storm.
John Murray: Well, Teal’s… I’m second generation Teal. My dad started this company back in the late 40’s. It was Murray Building Company. In late 50’s it became Teal Construction. We, were a commercial industrial contractor, we work all over the state of Texas and surrounding states. We’ve, we’ve been the design, builder, construction manager, we do all aspects of the business. If you’re talking about the hurricane and I do actually live in Rockport. And if you look at the satellite imagery, the eye of the hurricane came right smack over the top of my house.
Matt Register: Sure.
John Murray: And it did significant damage in the area. I would say probably 20 percent of the homes there, have significant damage. And most all of them have bad damage. We were fortunate, our house we live in was built more like a commercial building. It was built to Miami-Dade specs when I built it. It came through okay, except for flying debris.
Matt Register: Well, talk to me a little bit about the repair because this isn’t the first storm you guys have gone through as a company.
John Murray: No.
Matt Register: What is the pattern generally look like when there’s a big storm that comes through?
John Murray: Well, when you, in that particular area right now, the first thing that had happened is we had going secure, we had clients that had to have property secured. Once we secured properties, got them cleaned up. At least got all the wet and damaged materials out that were going to create a bigger problem with mold and other such things. Next step was to assess what, what had to be done. Structurally, what problems or what the repairs were going to be. The length of time it’s going to take to get the insurance adjusters and meet with them, do the estimates. All that still in process right now. We’re now, pretty much, waiting for the adjusters to come back with what the insurance companies is going to want to do.
Matt Register: So this is a, this is a month long or more process. This isn’t something to where instantly all the repair work comes in. It takes some time to assess the situation, get the adjusters in, figure out who’s going to pay what.
John Murray: That’s right.
Matt Register: And the big boom of work comes in month two or three after the, after the storm has already hit.
John Murray: Exactly. We’re, we are still, right now, talking with adjusters and insurance companies. We’ve secured all the projects that we’ve immediately been called in on. But then there’s also going to be a tremendous influxes of work come over the next two, three, four months, once the insurer settlements are made. People have to then put these buildings back into their intended use.
Matt Register: Well this has been a 24 hour a day job for you. I know just you being able to take a break and come here and talk to us was a leap. Because your, your phone’s ringing off the hook and you’ve been moving since the moment the storm hit, have been going 24/7. Correct?
John Murray: Phone starts ringing about 7:00 o’clock in the morning and it turned off the other night at 9:30pm. And since then my wife makes me turn it off earlier.
Matt Register: Well, it’s something that and probably for the next foreseeable future, that’s the way life is going to be. Right?
John Murray: Quite some time. We haven’t even got into all the flood damage from Houston to Louisiana yet.
Matt Register: Right. You’re just dealing with the stuff down in south, in South Texas.
John Murray: Right, right.
Matt Register: Nope. That’s, that’s very interesting. Talk to me about what some of your new construction project, because you were a company at full speed any way before this storm. Right?
John Murray: Right.
Matt Register: And the storm now has added additional work to you. But tell me about some of your current projects that are, that are ongoing.
John Murray: Well, we’ve, we’ve got a real interesting project in Corpus Christi for a power company who did a miraculous job of putting all our power back into service in short order. It’s a hundred thousand square foot hardened building that’s going to double as a hurricane, hurricane evacuation center. And it’s their service facility for the corpus area. We’re, our San Antonio office has a great project going for the San Antonio water systems. Houston’s our, still our home office and we’ve got work anywhere from Brazoria, Beaumont, all over Houston and surrounding areas. We’re doing a lot of municipal work, some schools, car dealership work, all types of retail, commercial. We do a lot of banks. Frost Bank is a great customer of ours.
Matt Register: But are you seeing projects are back to full speed after the storm?
John Murray: All of our projects got up and running real quick. We were able to get them back up and going as soon as we could get our employees back together. Our first concern, of course, were for our employees and then our next concern was for existing clients. And then moving forward to our clients needs from the storm.
Matt Register: Sure.
John Murray: Then other opportunities to step up and do what we can do.
Matt Register: How are you guys finding the optimum way to operate knowing that, that building supplies are, are getting scarce and lead times are increasing. Labor is getting harder to find as more and more crews are popping up. How are you able to operate and adjust to accommodate that?
John Murray: Well, first thing, first thing we did was we looked at sheet rock supplies. That’s always, you know, when you think about all, everything’s been flooded…
Matt Register: Sure.
John Murray: And all the sheetrocks being torn out and replaced. We immediately made sure we had, for all of our existing projects, all sheetrock we needed purchased for those jobs. Put it in storage, in the warehouses, wherever we need to put them. And did the same thing with any lumber that we might need, roofing materials, those type things that are affected by the storm.
Matt Register: You finding any, any labor issues with all of the labor need right now with the reconstruction?
John Murray: There’s two things affecting the labor. One is, and the reconstruction is just getting started. What’s affecting labor right now, so much of the labor force was displaced by the storm…
Matt Register: Right.
John Murray: Themselves. But their own needs to get their homes back together and their lives back together and getting them back, back to the work force. But yes it’s going to, it’s going to get tough. They’re going to be spread out.
Matt Register: Well, interesting. John Murray is the president of Teal Construction. What’s the web site overthere for Teal construction?
John Murray: Tealcon.com.
Matt Register: Tealcon.com. And guys, if you are driving and don’t want to take notes, we’re going to have it linked right there from Texasbusinessradio.com. Very interesting. With a construction company, because you know, the storm affects all kinds of things in the reconstruction side. Right George?
George Walden: Right. But I do have a question for you. Do you think you’re going to see significant changes in building codes and how will that affect the future?
John Murray: I think we’ll have some changes. Yeah, we’ll see more of the codes, I think, like we see in Florida and, which will help. We won’t have, if you look at, like Rockport, if you go through Rockport a lot of the places built in the last 10, 15 years, they stood pretty well.
Matt Register: Yeah.
John Murray: The places built in late 70’s, early 80’s, they suffered the worst damage.
Matt Register: Well, no doubt. Codes sometimes can, can help and it maybe, it certainly, you know, every community throughout the zone that was impacted by this is going to be taking a hard look at that. You know it does save structures. Right? So the old, the older stuff the codes didn’t apply too fell down, the stuff that the codes did apply too, weather fairly well. Well John, thank you very much for joining us sir.
John Murray: Thank you.
Matt Register: John Murray, President of Teal Construction. Guys we have to take a quick break. We’re going to be back right on the other side talking more about the reconstruction from hurricane Harvey. We’ll be back.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.