Key Construction is expanding with its third office outside of Wichita, this time in Oklahoma City.
“It’s always good to have diversification,” says CEO Ken Wells.
Key also has offices in Tulsa and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Wells says that was important during the recession in part due to the public school work it was able to do in Tulsa.
“Through the recession, our Tulsa office was almost unfazed,” he says.
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Oklahoma City resident Bryce Thompson will run the new office. He’s been commuting to work with Key for seven months and has managed several projects, including the new Warren 21 theater.
“We just met Bryce, and it’s just a good fit,” says president Dave Wells.
Key has been working in Oklahoma City for years building banks, hotels and retail such as Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs.
“We’ve been there, we just haven’t had a presence right there,” Dave Wells says. “It’s always better if you’re there than if you’re not as far as having an ongoing long-term relationship with somebody.”
Dave Wells says Thompson, an Oklahoma native, will cultivate new relationships and nurture existing ones.
“I have a lot of relationships already and they (are) going to help us hit the ground running,” Thompson says.
Dave Wells says some of Key’s current employees may want to move to Oklahoma City.
“It’ll lead to more opportunity for everybody,” he says. “It’ll also give us another hub for hiring talent, which is a big deal anymore.”
Key, which has 112 employees in Wichita, has about 25 employees in Tulsa and another 25 in Texas. Each of those offices does about $50 million to $60 million a year in business.
Key has had the Tulsa office for 12 years and the Dallas-Fort Worth office for 14 years.
It used to have offices in Kansas City and Denver, too, but Dave Wells says they weren’t a fit.
“Kansas City was a result of the recession as much as anything,” Ken Wells says.
“The recession was tough,” Dave Wells says.
He says Oklahoma City makes sense, and not just because the company has already successfully been doing work there.
“Oklahoma City and Tulsa are a lot more culturally akin to Wichita,” Dave Wells says. “Work ethic, just the type of people. … Kind of like the difference between Wichita and New York.”
He says those Oklahoma cities are “more relationship oriented, not big cut-throat, East Coast mentality or any of that.”
Thompson says his family is in Oklahoma City.
“It is home,” the University of Oklahoma graduate says.
“I love Oklahoma City,” he says. “We’re committed to Oklahoma City.”