Rankings October 16, 2015

No. 2 Fastest Growing Private Company: Wide Geographic Reach and Diverse Products Elevate Level 10

Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal

Level 10 Construction is known for undertaking big, technically challenging commercial projects — from multitenant mega-campuses to Facebook expansions designed by Frank Gehry.

But the general contractor’s growth is also coming from places that might surprise you.

For an example, head 470 miles south of Level 10’s Sunnyvale headquarters. That’s where Level 10 built two new exhibits for the San Diego Zoo — one for the Asian leopard and another for a mountain lion. It helped in the construction of a 375-foot slide at SeaWorld San Diego, opened last year. And it’s also building a residential apartment tower in the city’s downtown, Level 10’s first residential-only building.

“We’re really trying to be diversified in our work and hit a lot of different markets, so we can ride through the tide when the market shifts,” said Doug Collins, vice president of operations for Level 10.

The diversity in geography and product type is partly responsible for the company’s tremendous growth over the last couple of years, which plunked Level 10 into second place on the Business Journal’s fastest-growing private companies list for 2015.

Indeed, Level 10’s revenue trend line has been nothing short of meteoric. Formed in 2011 by a group of former Rudolph & Sletten executives, the contractor — which is backed by real estate developer Jay Paul — reached $624.7 million in 2014 and is on track for $710 million this year and $810 million in 2017.

In the last two years, Level 10 has expanded well beyond its traditional book of Jay Paul-related business. Level 10 is proposing on — and winning — tenant-improvement work from a growing list of tech, biotech and healthcare clients. In the last year or so, it’s completed ground-up developments for Facebook, the University of California, San Diego, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities. And, of course, it’s going vertical on what will be perhaps its most prominent calling card: 181 Fremont, an 800-foot tower in San Francisco’s Transbay district.

What’s behind the success? “Our growth is directly attributed to our people,” Collins said. “We’re only as good as the people doing the projects. And we go after the best in the market.”

Level 10 opened its San Diego office in 2013, recruiting R&S veterans as it has done in Silicon Valley. While Collins says the Bay Area will always remain Level 10’s core market, Southern California is complementary because a lot of companies are growing in both places.

As for those zoo jobs? No, it’s not as much revenue as an office campus. But it has its own challenges and rewards. “The zoo is a very cool place to work because you’re around all these animals,” Collins said. “You’re working around the eating and feeding times of animals, because the construction operations can disrupt their daily activities. It requires coordination with the animals and their handlers. And you have a whole public portion you have to be aware of.”

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