Rebuilding America: Construction industry keeping busy

Dan Field
Tony Otto, owner of Otto Construction, at a 3,600-square foot home he built in The Estates at Palisades Highlands southwest of Osage Beach.

We’re all in this together.

We’ve heard that a lot over the past two months as we’ve sheltered in place, or stayed at home or whatever the term you use to try and meet COVID-19 health care guidelines.

But there are some services and trades that are considered essential. One of those is the home services and construction industry – we need what we need when it comes to our homes. Contractors, plumbers, electricians and others in the DIY trades are still at work.

Another emphasis in all of this mess is the need for family; the importance of leaning on one another to protect our mental health.

The late Shaun Otto and his brother, Tony, joined their father, Bob, in Lake Ozark in 2003 and began growing their dad’s already successful construction business that he started in 1991. And today, Tony’s son, Nathan, is creating his own path to success with. At Nathan’s side is good friend Jonathan Mudd, who’s Hard Rock Excavation, Septic, and Landscape LLC, dovetails nicely with Nathan’s and Tony’s business plans.

And they’re all doing fine, thank you.

“We are very busy” Tony said. “We have seen a great up-tick in our business over the past four months. We are a steady company, but the amount of opportunities this spring is running more than normal it seems. The project sizes are fairly large as well.”

He forecasts a strong market for the next few years, and he’s optimistic about what lies ahead for not only his business but that of his son’s and others. 

“I know that the current news cycle is doom and gloom and the world is coming to an end, but I truly believe our middle American, rural American, non-urban living has great appeal when this type of event occurs. I have had individuals with second homes here tell me they have no desire to go back to the city when they can live here, away from the chaos that is going on,” he offered.

His company is seeing a good number of new builds along with the normal remodel additions. He says the “cheap money” is helping drive the market at the lake.

“We have seen many people planning for retirement or just retiring now instead of waiting,” he said. “They want that last home or remodeling of their lake home to be their forever home.”

Younger perspective

As millennials, Nathan and Jonathan are seizing on the moment.

“We have had the opportunity to exist within our technological element very efficiently,” he explained. “In reality, we feel like we have become more accomplished since the beginning of lockdown. We are operating in the same arenas of production through new arenas of technology with older and younger generations that are already proficient in the arena. And we absolutely love it.”

And business is good. They haven’t seen a decline in business. Just the opposite, Nathan, a 2009 School of the Osage graduate, explains.

He and Jonathan are seeing more opportunity by encouraging customers to work through social media options. There are countless online options available for contractors like Nathan and Jonathan to communicate with customers.

In addition, he explained, many second homeowners have left their primary homes and now spend a great deal of time at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“This has focused more attention on homes that need work and has opened more opportunities to meet with customers -- if they are comfortable with it,” he offered. “This creates a more personal relationship that you wouldn't normally see. Visitors and second homeowners are all quick to come to town every weekend when they're still locked down for an undetermined amount of time in their hometowns.”

And, with the neighbor helping neighbor mantra in this coronavirus world, it’s family and friends working together.

Nathan started working with Otto Construction in the summer of 2009. In the last 11 years, he has spent eight years with Otto Construction. It was through his experience with Otto Construction and the observations of watching has dad run his business, and the support and vision of his business partner, Jonathan, that gave him the knowledge and inspiration to do it himself, he explains.

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