MANATEE COUNTY — In a way, Jack Cox’s handprint is all over the East County.
As president of Halfacre Construction, Cox has overseen the construction of many of the community’s office and other buildings throughout the years.
“There’s no way I could drive home and not pass a building Halfacre wasn’t a part of,” Cox said. “Forty years is a long time.”
The company, started by Bill Halfacre in 1970 and purchased by Jack Cox’s father, John, in 1984, celebrated its 40th anniversary June 11.
During Halfacre’s lifetime, the now-Lakewood Ranch-based contractor has been responsible for constructing many of the buildings in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, including what Cox calls the “Cadillac of buildings,” the facility for Gold Coast Eagle Distributing. Halfacre also is working on projects such as the remodel and expansion of Braden River Elementary School and the construction of RiverLife Church on Morgan Johnson Road.
“It’s neat to drive down the street and see you were part of a successful project,” Cox said.
Jack Cox started in the business the same year his father purchased the company from Halfacre, first working on the company’s construction team, digging foundations. Since then, he’s held pretty much every position in the company, including truck driver.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had,” said Cox, who became a partner in the business in 1998 and president in 2001. “I never really worked anywhere else except bartending in college.”
Halfacre’s forte has always been a design/build concept, in which Halfacre does both the building design and construction, but it also has offered construction management services as the market dictates.
“It goes back to what the customer wants,” Cox said.
But of all Halfacre’s accomplishments — many of which are memorialized in awards from manufacturers and magazines and line a conference room in its Lakewood Ranch campus — perhaps the one Cox prizes most is the company’s involvement in the community. In fact, nearly every employee is involved in community service, assisting organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“My dad was a big fan of helping underprivileged kids, and it’s been (something the company has carried on),” he said.
Halfacre’s community involvement varies by area. In Hillsborough County, for example, it has chosen to focus on military and veterans causes, constructing a military memorial for special forces at MacDill Air Force Base, and getting involved with the Special Operations Warriors Foundation, which provides college scholarships to youths who have lost a parent who was serving in the military.
Cox said the company’s spirit of community involvement impacts the work ethic of employees.
“That mentally carries over into the quality of the project,” Cox said. “We wee it as a service.”
Throughout its history, Halfacre has expanded its operations into Pinellas and Hillsborough counties while continuing work in the Sarasota/Manatee area.
Because the company is still fairly small with just 35 employees, Halfacre is able to offer more personalized service, Cox said.
“I’m involved in all our projects,” he said. “They aren’t getting a middle man.”
That special attention to detail, he added, has helped the company secure many repeat customers — so many, in fact, that the repeat customers provide the majority of the company’s work.
In the first half of 2010, Cox said the business has seen an increase of 40% in requests for quotes for work. And even though the economy hasn’t fully picked up, Cox said he’s considering opening an office in Palm Beach County, where the company has been working for the last eight years.
For more information on Halfacre Construction, visit www.halfacreconstruction.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].