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Tim Penick

Concrete business plan keeps TB Penick on track for growth

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More than a century ago, Thomas Beverly Penick cemented his place in San Diego history by using horses to haul sand and gravel to construction sites.

Although the landscape has undergone massive makeovers since the Kentucky-born entrepreneur hopped off a train in 1905 with his family in tow to test his skills in the West, Penick's vision to provide quality services as a concrete contractor lingers with every successor.

Enter great-grandsons Tim, 45, and Marc Penick, 51, brothers who have served as president and CEO, respectively, of San Diego-based TB Penick & Sons Inc. since 1999. The duo's desire to tap different markets and explore technology advancements in construction and project management may explain why the company has remained a mainstay in the city's building industry for 103 years.

TB Penick & Sons is considered one of the 100 fastest-growing firms in San Diego based on 2006 revenues of $115 million, and sales are expected to reach $135 million this year, according to Tim Penick.

"We're on a pretty steep growth track," he added, "so we retain earnings sufficient for growth, and we also issue generous incentive bonuses to the teams that are the engine of that growth."

With a work force that includes 400 employees, leaders are determined to continue undertaking projects in all three divisions, which include structural concrete, general construction and innovative concrete systems.

No doubt, TB Penick & Sons has evolved since the days when crewmembers mixed their own concrete in a "tea-pot trailer" and spearheaded roadway-construction efforts for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Now they test eco-friendly paving systems such as lithocrete, grasscrete and Save the Fish Porous Concrete.

Penick cited three important factors behind the company's ongoing success: "Creating new products and services for our clients and an environment of opportunity for our people; moving to quality in relationships, finished product and client experience; and never forgetting that productivity and excellence are lifeblood," he said.

Penick also believes the company thrives by targeting appropriate construction markets, such as military, education, entertainment and religious sectors.

TB Penick & Sons could profit from time vested in two $600 million, multiple-acquisition construction contract programs for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, an entity that manages naval construction.

TB Penick & Sons is also working alongside Turner Construction Co. on a design-assist basis to construct eight buildings valued at $11 million, as well as a 14-story concrete tower for the University of California, San Diego's $93 million north-campus housing project, slated for completion by 2009.

It also inked an $18 million contract for San Francisco State University Library with Barnhart Inc.to provide design-build services for a $98 million, six-story concrete addition and seismic upgrade.

"Our most exciting projects are out of town," Penick said. "We follow clients, and in doing so we end up staying there. Within the last 20 years, we've been expanding the business geographically."

Iatarola is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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