Rex Kirby Headshot

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY INVEST

June 2022 — Invest: spoke with Rex Kirby, president of Verdex Construction, and discussed the rapid population growth that has helped spark a boom in construction of homes and rentals. “The challenge now is that it’s getting unaffordable,” he said.

How has your 40 years of experience shaped your vision of the industry?
No one will forget the recession between 2008 and 2012. It was probably the toughest time we’ve ever had in this business because the struggles were so bad and went for so long. My takeaways during that time were twofold. For one, I started my own company and immediately started to diversify the project types we were involved in. We’re active in seven industries right now, with a lot of emphasis on apartments because there are so many people moving here. But we don’t want that to take up more than 50% of our portfolio because eventually everything slows down, and you don’t want to ride one wave for too long or you’ll end up empty. That is important to remember in our current economics. Secondly, we want to grow at a steady pace and not get ahead of the ability to find good people to join our team. We don’t strive to be the biggest, we want to be the best.

How are relocations to Palm Beach impacting the area and economy?
Relocations are very much still a trend. People are still pouring in and our projects have reflected that. We have a 402-unit apartment called Tuttle Royale in Royal Palm Beach, with another 264-unit apartment called Tortoise One starting in Downtown West Palm Beach. We’re also starting 1415 Centrepark, a 250-unit apartment building near the Palm Beach International Airport, as well. It shows the huge need for rentals and that the market is still very active.

The challenge now is that it’s getting unaffordable. Rents have been going up dramatically and I know some properties that have raised their rates five times just because they could. The
concern right now is going to be where is everyone going to live who can’t afford $3.50 to $5.00 per-square-foot lease rates? It’s a huge topic in Palm Beach County and the county government is considering a bond referendum right now to help with that. To that end, a lot of apartment complexes are putting a higher percentage of workforce housing into their portfolio. Some of that is a base requirement but, mostly, people understand that it’s something that needs to be tackled. The requirement is 15% but some developers are offering 20% to 25% workforce housing in their market rate apartments. We have to do that in order to make it work financially for everyone.

What is your assessment of talent recruitment in construction right now?
As we’ve grown, we’ve still been able to attract great workers because we work hard to maintain a good brand. That’s important because people want to work for a company they feel good about. We’re construction managers so, for the most part, we have professional people managing and building the projects and that group is in high demand.
As an example of real industry need, you can hardly find a plumber with any capacity right now. If we can find young people who want to be plumbers, they’d make a fortune. We haven’t quite been able to solve the pipeline issue to feed our craft industry and get it back to where people respect having a trade that offers a good living. We promote it all the time but getting more emphasis on vocational training for people who don’t want to be behind a desk is something we need to do more as an industry.

How can your personal story of starting out with a small crew and evolving into a major construction management company inspire a new generation of talent in the industry?
It has been a fun and remarkable ride here. We’re eight years in and will be doing $250 million in revenue this year and already have a backlog for 2023 well in excess of that. We will grow easily in the next two years. Honestly, it just goes back to relationships built over time. I’ve had a lot of developers who didn’t have to work with us but wanted to see us succeed and we got their support as a result. They were willing to give us that first job and first chance. The second thing is that I wanted to make sure we didn’t sacrifice our brand by growing too fast. We want the right people to fit our culture and grow the right way. We’re doing our fifth project right now for our very first client and that’s the way I want the company to grow: not just doing one and done projects but building relationships with clients and growing with them. People in the industry still like to work with people they like. That is something that will never change.

Aloft Hotel Rendering

West Palm Beach-based Verdex Construction recently broke ground on the 14-Story Aloft Hotel by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale. The project will consist of 138 rooms and various amenity spaces for client Green Park Management. The project was designed by Adache Group Architects. Completion is expected in the Spring of 2023.

The Aloft Hotel will feature a second-floor lobby with a bar and outdoor terrace. The 14th floor will have a covered roof deck with a pool, cabanas, business center and gaming area. The 13th floor will house the fitness center and yoga terrace. Meeting rooms and business centers will be scattered throughout floors three through 13.

The hotel is being constructed on an infill lot located at 501 SE 24th Street, just minutes from the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and Port Everglades.

“Our team has extensive experience building on infill sites requiring detailed traffic mitigation plans,” said Verdex Construction President Rex Kirby, “we’re excited to be selected as the builder on this vital project.”

The Aloft Hotel will be Verdex’s second Marriott project for Green Park Management.

Verdex Construction’s most notable projects include The Canopy Hotel by Hilton in downtown West Palm Beach, 1000 North Restaurant in Jupiter and The Pointe on Westshore Apartments in Tampa. Verdex is headquartered in West Palm Beach with offices in Tampa and Gainesville.

In just over seven years, Verdex has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including being selected as a 2022 Best Places to Work, 2021 Builder of the Year by the AIA Palm Beach and a finalist for 2021 Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal.


ABOUT VERDEX CONSTRUCTION
Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor headquartered in West Palm Beach, FL with offices in Tampa and Gainesville. Led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 40-year veteran in the construction business, Verdex provides general contracting services to clients including preconstruction, construction management, and design-build. Verdex is committed to “Building Something Better” through exceptional service, a fundamental focus on safety and quality, and value to owners, customers and the community. For more information, visit www.verdex.com

 

Best Places to Work - News

Verdex Construction has been honored as a 2022 Best Places to Work by the South Florida Business Journal in the medium company category (50-99 employees).

Team members shared that their favorite benefits at Verdex are the health and wellness options, the bonus program and the multitude of training and development courses. Additionally, the leadership team’s open-door policy and companywide weekly meetings is appreciated for its transparent, family-orientated atmosphere.

When team members were asked to choose a word that best describes their work environment, the majority of the team picked “Integrity.”

“We truly strive to make this a place people want to be and a company people want to be part of,” stated Rex Kirby, CEO of Verdex Construction. “We know the effort can never stop and we always have to be working to get even better.”

Verdex Construction’s most notable projects include The Canopy Hotel by Hilton in downtown West Palm Beach, 1000 North Restaurant in Jupiter and The Pointe on Westshore Apartments in Tampa. Verdex is headquartered in West Palm Beach with offices in Tampa and Gainesville.

In just over seven years, Verdex has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including being selected as the 9th largest General Contractor and a finalist for the 2021 Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal, as well as the 2021 Builder of the Year by the AIA Palm Beach.

ABOUT THE BEST PLACES TO WORK AWARD
The Best Places to Work awards conducted by the South Florida Business Journal are based on confidential surveys being sent out to each firm’s employees to rate the company’s culture, benefits, leadership and organization as a whole to ensure nonbiased results.

ABOUT VERDEX CONSTRUCTION
Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor headquartered in West Palm Beach, FL with offices in Tampa and Gainesville. Led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 40-year veteran in the construction business, Verdex provides general contracting services to clients including preconstruction, construction management, and design-build. Verdex is committed to “Building Something Better” through exceptional service, a fundamental focus on safety and quality, and value to owners, customers and the community. For more information, visit www.verdex.com

Toby Johnson Headshot

VERDEX CONSTRUCTION ADDS INDUSTRY VETERAN TOBY JOHNSON TO SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM

TAMPA, FL (January 7, 2022)- Verdex Construction has selected Toby Johnson as Vice President and Managing Director of their Florida West Coast team. Based out of Verdex’s Tampa office, Toby is responsible for regional operational excellence, increasing Verdex’s presence in the market, advancing Owner and Subcontractor relationships and supporting Verdex’s seasoned Tampa team.

Having successfully grown and operated multiple companies, Toby’s expertise at creating consensus to find solutions and engaging with people at all levels ensures Verdex’s culture of quality, responsiveness and integrity are ingrained in their West Coast operations. He was noted as a “Top 100 Leaders in Real Estate and Construction” in 2021 by the World Real Estate and Construction Forum.

“Toby brings a wealth of experience and skills that allow Verdex to continue expanding on Florida’s West Coast and help pave the way for repeated success,” said Verdex Construction President Rex Kirby.

Verdex Construction’s projects on Florida’s west coast include The Pointe on Westshore Apartments and Azalea Apartments in Tampa and The Crossings at Palm Aire Apartments and Lakewood Ranch Apartments in Sarasota. Verdex is headquartered in West Palm Beach with offices in Tampa and Gainesville.

In just over seven years, Verdex has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including being selected as a 2022 Best Places to Work, 2021 Builder of the Year by the AIA Palm Beach and a finalist for 2021 Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal.

About Verdex Construction
Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor headquartered in West Palm Beach, FL with offices in Tampa and Gainesville. Led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 40-year veteran in the construction business, Verdex provides general contracting services to clients including preconstruction, construction management, and design-build. Verdex is committed to “Building Something Better” through exceptional service, a fundamental focus on safety and quality, and value to owners, customers and the community. For more information, visit www.verdex.com

2022 Best Places to Work in South Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, FL. (January 4th, 2022) Verdex Construction has been recognized as a “2022 Best Places to Work” by the South Florida Business Journal in the medium company category (50-99 employees).

Surveys were sent out to Verdex Construction employees to rate the company’s culture, benefits, leadership and organization as a whole to ensure a nonbiased result. Rankings will be revealed at the February 17, 2022 Best Places to Work Awards ceremony.

“We truly strive to make this a place people want to be and a company people want to be part of,” stated Rex Kirby, CEO of Verdex Construction. “We know the effort can never stop and we always have to be working to get better.”

To see the entire list, please visit: https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2022/01/04/2022-best-places-to-work-awards-medium-company.html

Click here to view Verdex Construction’s list of Awards and Achievements.

About Verdex Construction
Verdex Construction was founded by Rex B. Kirby, Jr. a 40-year veteran of the construction industry. In just seven years, Verdex Construction has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including the #9 spot on the South Florida Business Journal’s Top Contractors List. Verdex Construction’s recent projects include Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach Downtown1000 North, an upscale restaurant/club on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter; Town Lantana Apartments in Lantana and Westshore Apartments in Tampa.