Hercon Construction owners Jeff and Tracey Herigon found that flexibility and refocusing were the keys to maintaining their business
CANVASES WAITING to be hung on periwinkle walls line the floors of a 10-by-10-foot conference room in the Hercon Construction Inc. office in a cul-de-sac at the end of Chapel Hill Road.
“That one there is in Heritage Wood,” owner Jeff Herigon says as he points to a green and gray wood-panel and stonework multi-story home with a big bay window. “This one is a custom in Spring Creek,” he adds, directing his attention to another canvas.
As Hercon Construction celebrates 10 years in the industry, Jeff and his wife, Tracy Herigan, reflect on making it through some of the hardest times the construction business has endured.
“Back in 2002, we had the bug to start a business, so we did,” Tracy says. The couple called central Missouri home before striking out to do what Tracy calls “the big corporate thing.”
“We did the bounce-back,” she says.
“After we had kids, we wanted to plant roots and start a business,” Jeff adds. Although the couple planned to diversify the business by building both residential and commercial buildings, the market decided otherwise.
“There was the housing boom, and we got sucked into that,” Jeff says. For half a decade, Hercon prospered by building custom and spec homes around the county. Then the downturn hit and half of their business disappeared. After being forced to let go of their housing-boom employees, it was once again just Jeff and Tracy.
“We were working out of our garage,” Tracy says. “We’d have these big-time clients from St. Louis and elsewhere coming into our garage.”
Refocusing the business
It was during the downturn that the Herigans began to refocus their business. Although residential permits plummeted during the recession, nonresidential permits remained relatively stable. Hercon began to build more commercial buildings in the absence of residential opportunities. Now, they’ve finally struck the balance they were aiming for in 2002.
“Some people call it luck; others say it’s being prepared to take advantage of whatever opportunities are presented,” Jeff says. He credits Hercon’s relative success in the downturn with flexibility and adjusting to the market.
“Big companies can’t move as fast as we can, so we’re better equipped to deal with a change,” Jeff says. In its new office space, Hercon has again expanded to a seven-member team.
For the past 10 years, the company has flown under the radar with much of its work tucked away in subdivisions and out in the county, but even that is changing.
“We recently did three major buildings, and we had to go buy signs and everything,” Tracy says. “We just never needed any of that before.” Nine out of 10 customers are repeat or referrals, and often a residential job will lead to a commercial job and vice versa, Jeff adds.
“The main goal is always to focus on the individual client,” Jeff says. “We need to deliver the construction project, commercial or residential, based on their needs.”
Some of Hercon’s work in the area includes the Columbia Independent School remodel and that of Amber House Bed and Breakfast in Rocheport, in addition to many homes. Big clients also include Veterans United and the Kroenke Group.
After 10 years in a rocky industry, when asked if they will be celebrating their anniversary, Jeff shrugs and says, “We should. … We might.”