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Real Estate - Commercial

Raleigh Construction Firm Opens Coastal Office In Leland

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Apr 9, 2024
Bobbitt’s Vice President and Regional Leader, Chris Knight, is moving from Charlotte to Leland to lead the construction firm's new office. (Photo courtesy of Bobbitt)
North Carolina’s coastal growth inspired Bobbitt, a Raleigh-based construction company, to expand its office presence to Leland, the company announced on Monday.

The office is located at 9600 Ploof Road in Leland in the Ploof Road Business Park. Bobbitt specializes in design-build work and commercial and industrial construction, according to company officials. Design-build firms can work with clients from a project's design phase through the construction and delivery of a finished product.

“We are certainly one of the largest if not the largest design-builder in the North Carolina area,” said Bobbitt’s Vice President and Regional Leader Chris Knight.

Knight was hired in January to lead Bobbitt’s coastal office. He previously led Samet Corporation’s Charlotte office which oversaw $400 million in projects, Knight said. His move to Bobbitt, and eventually to Brunswick County, felt right considering the company culture at the Raleigh-based firm, he said.

Bobbitt has worked on projects in the coastal region for 10 years out of its Raleigh office, Knight said. The firm’s projects have contributed more than $80 million in direct economic impact on the Wilmington area, according to Bobbitt's news release. A physical presence in the area will allow Bobbitt’s team to further integrate into the community and expand its project portfolio along the North Carolina coast and the northern South Carolina coast.

One aspect of the greater Wilmington area that Bobbitt officials found attractive is the population boom the region has seen in recent years. The Wilmington metro’s population grew 2.8% between 2022 and 2023, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We see really good traction in the public sector with the growth in the population,” Knight said. “There's going to need to be a lot of new infrastructure in Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick counties. Those are all going to just burst at the seams with infrastructure projects.”

Bobbitt’s current client base in the region includes Crosswinds Church in Leland, the Pender County Health and Human Services Center and a large industrial client Knight declined to name.

Until the Wilmington team is hired, about seven employees from Raleigh will work at the Leland office. Knight’s team is actively hiring about 10 Wilmington-area residents, he said. After the first year, the market will determine the number of additional hires in the area. The more projects Bobbitt signs on the coast, the more hires they will need.

“All those types of projects will drive our hiring needs, but we certainly could see in a two to five year period ... 20 to 30 employees out of that office,” Knight said.

The construction firm plans to complete projects up and down the coast, but company officials chose Leland as its home base due to the availability of flex space, or customizable industrial sites, in the area.

There is a lack of flex space in the Wilmington metro, Knight said, so Bobbitt officials leased what was available. They looked in multiple counties bordering the coast and Ploof Road Business Park had the flex space they needed, he said.

Business parks in Brunswick County have seen consistent demand in recent years, said Bill Early, executive director of Brunswick Business and Industry Development (BBID).

Early and his team did not assist in Bobbitt’s deal with Ploof Road Business Park, but his organization advocates for industrial space to be built in the county.

The International Logistics Park on the border of Brunswick and Columbus County sold all its industrial space before construction was completed. And flex space in Leland Innovation Park is also fully occupied, Early said.

Bobbitt officials stated they plan on signing $30 million to $40 million in construction projects by the third year in the Wilmington area, and $50 million to $100 million by the fifth year, Knight said.

His team plans to hold a ribbon-cutting at the office May 1.

“We see really good traction in the industrial space,” he said, “we're very bullish on the coastal market.”
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