- January 13, 2016
He started with Crawford Construction in 1992 as a carpenter before working his way up to finally owning the business.
There he was 23 years later, with a shovel in his hand.
Jeffrey Smith didn't mind doing a little digging, though, as he broke ground in December on his company's future office in Lakewood Ranch, a site just down the road from its current site on Professional Parkway West.
The $1.7 million building is another sign that residential and economic growth is expected.
Crawford Construction, which was formed by Smith's uncle, Robert Crawford, in 1978, opened a Lakewood Ranch office in 2002. It specializes in commercial construction.
"We built (the current office) on a dirt road," Smith said. "Now we are building on a road that is closed."
The new building will be fronted by Interstate 75 which should provide more exposure for the business.
After doing more than $31 million in projects in 2015, Smith said business is back to the level it had reached before the housing crash of 10 years ago. With more than 5,000 new housing units planned as Lakewood Ranch expands to the south, Smith hopes that positive trend continues.
His company constructed 13 stores inside The Mall at University Town Center and did the interior framing of the mall.
That mall, of course, and other commercial construction was a product of an expanding area.
"Rooftops breed retail," said Smith, who lives in Lakewood Ranch. "We probably are two years behind residential growth.
"Of course, when residential dips, I dip later."
Smith said the company, which has 45 employees, hopes to be in its new headquarters on June 1 and it will occupy just over 6,300 square feet while another 4,000 square feet will be rented to two businesses.