Top 10 construction companies in the U.S. for 2021
By Andy Brown and Jenny LescohierAugust 18, 2021
The past year has been filled with new challenges for the U.S. economy and the construction industry, but both have come through it showing an admirable level of resilience, which can be seen in this year’s rundown of the largest contracting firms.
To see which companies are dominating the American playing field, we pulled the following list from the annual International Construction Top 200, produced by our colleagues over at KHL.com, which ranks firms worldwide in terms of total annual sales.
U.S.-based leading contractors continue to make up 13% of the list with 33 companies out of 200. For perspective, Chinese contractors make up 39.9% of the sales total with only nine firms, while Japan takes the largest number of top contracting firms at 34, with only 10.6% of the sales total.
Combined sales for American construction firms within the world’s top 200 contractors totaled $227 billion in 2020 (the last year of complete data), which is flat compared to 2019 figures. China’s contractors, on the other hand, had combined sales of $697 billion, up from last year’s total of $631 billion, which was 36.2% of the total. A sobering reminder of China’s growing economic strength.
The order of the latest U.S. top 10 is similar to last year, up until the top four spots, which saw some shifts due to the recent housing boom, which has firms focused on residential construction edging out those involved in other segments.
The following U.S. firms are ranked from 10 to 1 based on 2020 figures:
10. Kiewit Corporation - Kiewit Corporation is a privately held construction company based in Omaha, Nebraska and founded in 1884. Privately held, it is one of the largest construction and engineering organizations in North America with 2020 sales of $7.9 billion.
Serving a variety of markets - including building, industrial, mining, oil & gas, power, transportation, power, and water/wastewater - Kiewit is an employee-owned company which operates through a network of subsidiaries in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
9. McDermott International - McDermott is an American, Panamanian-domiciled multinational engineering, procurement, construction and installation company with operations in the Americas, Middle East, the Caspian Sea and the Pacific Rim. Incorporated in Panama, it is headquartered in the Energy Corridor area of Houston, Texas.
With annual sales totaling $8.4 billion in 2020, McDermott promotes itself as a “premier, fully-integrated provider of engineering and construction solutions to the energy industry. Our customers trust our technology-driven approach to design-and-build infrastructure solutions to responsibly transport and transform oil and gas into the products the world needs today.”
8. Whiting-Turner Contracting - Whiting-Turner is based in Baltimore, Maryland, providing construction management, general contracting, design-build and integrated project delivery services on projects small and large for a diverse group of customers.
With 50 locations across the U.S., the company was founded in 1909 by G.W.C. Whiting and has always been an engineer-run company. According to its website, Whiting-Turner is “financially independent, with no debt, and maintains a bonding capacity of $4 billion.”
Whiting-Turner has annual sales of $8.7 billion.
7. EMCOR Group - EMCOR Group is a company based in Norwalk, Connecticut. Listed on the Fortune 500, EMCOR provides mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure and facilities services to commercial, industrial, utility and institutional customers.
With annual sales of $8.8 billion, EMCOR employs more than 33,000 professionals at over 80 companies in 170 locations. It provides critical infrastructure systems, including electrical, mechanical, lighting, air conditioning, heating, security, fire protection, and power generation in “virtually every sector of the economy and for a diverse range of businesses, organizations, and government.”
6. Pulte Group Inc. - PulteGroup Inc. is a home construction company based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company is the third largest home construction company in the U.S. based on the number of homes closed. Pulte operates in 44 markets in 23 states.
Since its founding in 1950, PulteGroup claims to have delivered almost 750,000 homes throughout the U.S.
“What began as a single home built by the hands and entrepreneurial spirit of our founder Bill Pulte, is today the nation’s third largest homebuilder with operations in over 40 major cities,” according to the company website. “Marketing under some of the industry’s best known brands: Pulte, Centex, Del Webb, DiVosta, American West, and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, we can meet the needs of first-time, move-up and active-adult homebuyers.”
Pulte Group has annual sales of $11 billion.
5. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. - Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. is an American international technical professional services firm. The company provides technical, professional and construction services, as well as scientific and specialty consulting for a broad range of clients globally, including companies, organizations and government agencies.
Based in Dallas, Texas, Jacobs employs 52,000 people worldwide and has $13.5 billion in annual sales.
With a focus on sustainability and modern solutions to the world’s critical issues, such as transportation, water supply and health, Jacobs states it is also working toward becoming a more equitable corporation.
“Together, we are building a new Jacobs; inclusive of diverse people, capabilities and perspectives,” Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou is quoted on the company website. “We are winning in the marketplace, capturing attractive growth opportunities for complex work we are uniquely positioned to perform.”
4. Fluor Corporation - Dropping from number three on last year’s list to number four this year, Fluor Corporation is an American multinational engineering and construction firm headquartered in Irving, Texas.
Fluor’s 44,000 employees provide professional and technical solutions that “deliver safe, well‑executed, capital‑efficient projects to clients around the world,” the company states.
Fluor is ranked 196 among Fortune 500 companies and has provided engineering, procurement and construction services for more than 100 years. It’s annual sales total $15.6 billion in 2020, down from $19.2 billion in 2019.
At the start of this year, Fluor named a new CEO, David E. Constable, and outlined a new strategy to “become the preeminent leader of professional and technical solutions,” building upon the realignment of its operations into three new business segments - Energy Solutions, Urban Solutions and Mission Solutions.
“My top priority since being named Fluor’s CEO has been to work closely with the Board and the management team to develop a strategy that addresses the mega trends that are impacting how we do business,” said Constable. “With an emphasis on sustainable outcomes and creating shareholder value, our new strategy leverages our world-class expertise and rewards Fluor for the value we provide while improving our financial position and creating a fit-for-purpose organization.”
3. Bechtel Corporation - Also dropping a spot in the rankings this year, from number two to number three, is Bechtel Corporation, an engineering, procurement, construction, and project management company founded in San Francisco, California and headquartered in Reston, Virginia.
“Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world’s infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place,” the company’s website states.
With annual sales of $17.6 billion in 2020 (compared to $21.8 billion the year before) Bechtel serves the Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; Oil, Gas & Chemicals; and Mining & Metals markets. Its services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations.
Bechtel was founded in 1898 by 25-year-old Warren A. Bechtel who was nearly bankrupt and left Peabody, Kansas with his pregnant wife, Clara, and headed 100 miles south in search of construction work and new opportunity. “Thus began an epic journey that would span more than a century of building, five generations of his family, and eventually much of the globe,” the Bechtel website states.
The Hoover Dam was the company’s first megaproject and represents a pivotal event in Bechtel’s history. Dedicated in 1935, “Hoover Dam was a make-or-break proposition for my grandfather,” Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. was quoted. “It became the birthplace of many of the great traditions of the present Bechtel organization.”
2. D.R. Horton Inc. - Considering the current housing market boom, it’s no surprise that “America’s Largest Homebuilder” (as its website claims) D.R. Horton Inc. rises two positions to the number two ranking on our list.
Incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Arlington, Texas, the company claims it has been the largest homebuilder by volume in the U.S. since 2002.
Founded by Chairman Donald R. Horton in 1978, D.R. Horton broke ground on its first home in Fort Worth, Texas. “Since that day, the company has defined its success not by bricks and mortar, but by the satisfaction of the families that make our houses their homes. Our foundation is a single, guiding principle: a value-first dedication to the individual needs of each and every one of our nation’s homebuyers,” the company states.
D.R. Horton has 2020 annual sales of $20.3 billion, up from $17.6 billion in 2019. According to the corporate website, D.R. Horton has delivered more than 850,000 homes since its inception. The company operates in 44 of homebuilding’s top 50 markets in the U.S., and claims it ranks among the top five in 35 of these.
1. Lennar Corporation - Continuing to hold the top spot, Lennar Corporation is a home construction and real estate company based in Fontainebleau, Florida.
Lennar began in 1954 when Gene Fisher and Arnold Rosen formed F&R Builders in Miami, Florida. In 1956, Leonard Miller became co-owner and partnered with Rosen. Leonard and Arnold combined their names to rename the company Lennar in 1971, the same year Lennar Corporation went public.
After decades of acquisitions and introductions, Lennar merged with CalAtlantic Homes in 2018, creating the largest homebuilding company in the U.S. Lennar has $22.5 billion in annual sales, up only slightly from 2019’s total of $22.3 billion.