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

The Crossings at Palm Aire Rendering

Verdex Construction has been awarded two major multifamily projects in Sarasota by developer Eastwind Development. The Crossing at Palm Aire Apartments and The Pointe at Lakewood Ranch, both designed by Forum Architecture & Interior Design Inc., are slated to begin construction this year. These will be Verdex’s fourth and fifth projects for Eastwind Development and will be managed from our Tampa office.

The Crossing at Palm Aire Apartments will consist of seven 3-story and 4-story buildings totaling 315 Class-A units on 32 acres with an environmental preserve located in the middle of the project. Amenities include a 7,400 sf, 2-story clubhouse featuring a coffee lounge, game room, co-working space, fitness center and resort-style pool. Completion is scheduled for Summer 2023.

The Pointe at Lakewood Ranch will consist of two 4-story apartment buildings totaling 160 units on 20 acres. Building 1 features 112 units and amenities including a 11,000 sf clubhouse with fitness center, salon, pet spa, group fitness/spin room, steam room, media room, game room/card lounge, library, craft room, dining area, lobby, leasing offices, pool and green space. Building 2 houses the remaining 48 units. This project will also include surface parking, two stand-alone 5-car parking garages and one 6-car parking garage with a maintenance bay. Completion is scheduled for Spring 2023.

“Sarasota is seeing lots of multifamily housing development growth and we’re pleased that Verdex’s West Coast expansion is a part of it, ” said Verdex Construction President Rex Kirby.

Verdex Construction’s most notable projects on Florida’s west coast include The Pointe on Westshore Apartments and Azalea 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

Rex Kirby Power Leaders 250
The South Florida Business Journal’s 2022 Power Leaders 250 has been announced and Verdex’s President and CEO, Rex Kirby made the list!

Photo Credit: Jock Fistick, South Florida Business Journal

Pompano Station Apartments Rendering

West Palm Beach Based-Verdex Construction has been chosen to build Mayla Residences in Pompano Beach for Grover Corlew. Designed by MSA Architects, the new mixed-use project will have two 8-story buildings totaling 355 units with integrated garages and a pedestrian bridge. Amenities include a 2-story clubhouse with a fitness center, coworking space, dog spa and two pools. The project includes 60,000 sf of ground-level retail space. Construction will begin in February 2022.

To learn more about this project, visit 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

Chris Taraba Young Professional Award Winner, Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce

The Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce named Verdex Construction project manager Chris Taraba as its Young Professional of the Year for 2021.

Chris has over nine years of construction project management experience on multifamily, commercial, office, senior living, education and municipal projects. In his five years with Verdex Construction, he has risen rapidly from Assistant Project Manager to Senior Project Manager.

He has developed strong leadership and management skills and shares his talent as the Chair of the Verdex Internship and Young Professionals committee. He has also been asked to participate in the company’s annual strategic planning for the past three years.

In addition to an intense workload with multiple deadlines, Chris makes time to volunteer and has been recognized for his leadership talents. He is the Past Chair of the Palm Beach North Chamber Young Professionals Steering Council (2018-2020), as well as a graduate of the North Palm Leadership Class of 2018. He currently is part of the Urban Land Institute Leadership Institute Class of 2021. He is also active in the Economic Council of Palm Beach County as an Emerging Leader and with the Construction Association of South Florida as a Future Leader, representing the voice of the millennial generation.

Chris graduated with a B.S. Purdue University. He was a Chancellor Medallion Recipient as an Outstanding Student and was inducted into the Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society.

About Verdex Construction

Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor based in West Palm Beach, FL, led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 35-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

City of Pompano Beach Senior Activity Center Rendering

Verdex Construction has broken ground on the Pompano Beach Senior Activity Center located at 2005 NW 9th St., Pompano Beach. This project for the City of Pompano Beach consists of a one-story, 8,500 sq. ft. facility with indoor and outdoor amenities. The architect is Bermello Ajamil & Partners of Miami. Verdex hired more than 40-percent of its subcontractors and vendors from Pompano Beach, fulfilling a promise to the City that a significant portion of the work would be executed by local firms.

The interior will include multiple activity rooms, a fitness center, a spacious lobby and lounge area, a prep kitchen for catered events and office space with special anti-microbial HVAC coatings for top air quality and cleanliness. There will also be an outdoor activity area. Construction is expected to be complete in approximately 10 months.

“This community has asked for a senior activity center for many years so we look forward to providing them with a modern, long-lasting gathering space to enjoy,” said Verdex Construction president Rex Kirby. “We are also proud to have achieved a 40-plus-percent local subcontractor participation for this project which ensures a good portion of the work remains with Pompano Beach based businesses.”

Verdex Construction’s recent projects throughout South Florida include the Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach Downtown; 1000 North, an upscale restaurant/club on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter; and Town Lantana Apartments in Lantana. Verdex also has projects underway in both Tampa and Gainesville.

In just over six years, Verdex has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including being selected as a finalist for 2020 Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal, finalist for 2020 Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, Builder of the Year by the AIA Palm Beach, and being selected as a GrowFL “Company to Watch”.

About Verdex Construction

Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor based in West Palm Beach, FL, led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 35-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

The District Flats Apartments

More than 100 people, including West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, joined Verdex Construction on Thursday, May 13 for the grand opening celebration of The District Flats. The 178-unit development from Palm Beach Garden’s-based Eastwind Development is located at 1050 Blanche St. Guests included West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and City Commissioner Christina Lambert.

The District Flats features a modern-industrial, four-story building surrounding a central courtyard, swimming pool and deck area; a three-story building surrounding a garden amphitheater; and a three-level, 250-space parking garage enhanced by a large mural at the entry. A kinetic sculpture from local artist Beju also greets visitors as it waves in the wind.

The pet-friendly community also includes a dog park and the and commercial space that will eventually be home to a stylish cafe. There are 26 studio apartments; 86 one-bedroom, one-bath units; and 48 two-bedroom, two-bath apartments, along with a 3,000 sq. ft. clubhouse.

Designed by MSA Architects, with Verdex Construction as the general contractor, The District Flats is located south of the trendy Grandview Public Market food hall and other nearby retail and entertainment outlets like Steel Tie Distillery, Steam Horse Brewing Company and Gypsy Life Surf Shop.

All units will feature nine-foot ceilings, keyless door entries, programmable thermostats, tile & wood plank flooring, stainless steel appliances including a built-in wine fridge, granite countertops, pendant light fixtures, bedroom ceiling fans and energy and water conservation features designed to lower monthly resident utility bills.

Twenty percent of the apartments (36 units) in The District Flats are allocated as workforce housing and discounted for households with an annual income equal to or less than 140-percent of the annual median income for Palm Beach County. The project is just blocks from both the Tri-Rail station and Palm Tran, providing the critical mass transportation component that is essential for working families.

Ryan Ackner, Director of Special Projects

Verdex Construction has appointed Ryan Ackner as Director of Special Projects. He will be based in the company’s West Palm Beach headquarters.

Ackner has been managing partner at two South Florida real estate development and construction firms. As Director of Special Projects at Verdex, he will manage interior renovations and buildouts, as well as smaller or specialized new construction. He will work closely with owners and design teams to establish best-in-class products and pricing along with safe logistics for work in occupied buildings.

Ackner worked on construction projects in occupied buildings while in high school, allowing him to gain practical experience before attending the School of Architecture at both the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University.

“With so many new companies relocating to South Florida, we anticipate significant growth in the number of companies that want to create their own spaces,” said Verdex President Rex Kirby. “Ryan has the experience to complete these projects with a focus on value for our clients.”

Verdex Construction’s recent projects throughout South Florida include the Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach Downtown1000 North, an upscale restaurant/club on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter; and Town Lantana Apartments in Lantana. Verdex also has projects underway in both Tampa and Gainesville.

In just over five years, Verdex has earned numerous awards and prestigious industry recognition, including being selected as a finalist for 2020 Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal, finalist for 2020 Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, Builder of the Year by the AIA Palm Beach, and being selected as a GrowFL “Company to Watch”.

About Verdex Construction

Verdex Construction is a privately held building contractor based in West Palm Beach, FL, led by founder and President Rex Kirby, a 35-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