Sunday, November 10, 2002

Builder moves up - for now



By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

This year's move up the Cincinnati 100 list could prove to be bittersweet for Cincinnati United Contractors Inc., the Loveland-based commercial construction company.

CUC, which will mark its 25th anniversary next year, moved up 23 places on the list of largest privately held companies, to No. 71 from 94, on about a 10 percent increase in sales.

But Chuck Kubicki Sr., president, said the company might find it difficult to repeat that performance next year in the face of the slump in commercial construction activity.

"This year should really separate the men from the boys,'' Mr. Kubicki said.

The economic slowdown has left the local commercial real estate market saturated with available space, he said, which has slowed new construction.

Despite an uptick in August, commercial construction contracts in Greater Cincinnati are down about 15 percent this year.

There's so much space available that it might take a couple of years to work off the inventory, Mr. Kubicki said.

CUC doesn't disclose revenues, but its position on the Cincinnati 100 list means that its sales exceeded $61 million last year.

As a full-service company, CUC does design-build, industrial, retail, office and land development. It also provides property management and architectural services.

Mr. Kubicki said a key to the company's success has been its customer focus.

"Once we get a customer, we never lose them,'' he said.

As a testament to that, he points to repeat customers such as Down Lite Inc., for which CUC has built six buildings, and Hillman Fastener, for which CUC has done five projects.

Mr. Kubicki said CUC's business last year was helped by a couple of major projects.

It built Clopay Corp.'s world headquarters and research center in Deerfield Township. The 130,000-square-foot building in Governor's Pointe North combines offices for Clopay Building Products, Clopay Services and Clopay Plastics.

CUC also developed a couple of major retail centers in Milford.

Despite the state of the commercial real estate market, CUC expects to be a survivor, Mr. Kubicki said.

He started the company with financial support from Ralph Anderson, chairman and founder of Belcan Corp., the Blue Ash engineering services company, and also a member of the Cincinnati 100.

After working for a residential builder, Mr. Kubicki struck out on his own in 1978, bidding on and winning a contract for a 40,000-square-foot building in Blue Ash for Feintool Inc.

Over the years, Mr. Kubicki has lost track of how many projects his firm has built, but they include a number of high-profile buildings in the growing area from Milford to Mason.

E-mail mboyer@enquirer.com.



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