Donavan Everett, Charlotte Hornets

Black-Owned Firm To Oversee $215M Arena Renovation For Charlotte Hornets In Joint Venture

A Black-owned construction firm spearheading $215 million renovation of the Spectrum Center, home arena for the Charlotte Hornets.

Embarking on its second-largest revenue-generating project ever, D.A. Everett Construction Group  (DAECG) plans to begin work this spring on the $215 million renovation of the Spectrum Center in North Carolina.

Launched by Donovan Everett in 2013, DAECG is improving the home arena of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets in a joint venture with industry powerhouse Turner Construction.

Called “The Reimagine Spectrum Center,” the project will include many upgrades. They include providing more gathering space for fans, adding 2,500 lower-level seats, enhancing concourses, improving suite and founders’ levels, creating new club space, and increasing social gathering spaces near food/beverage sites.

Enhancing the firm’s strategic growth and visibility

Everett told BLACK ENTERPRISE that his firm’s stake is 20%. That means the project will garner DAECG  an estimated $15 to $20 million in new revenues this year and around $25 million in 2025 when a larger piece of the facelift is done. Work will begin in May 2024 and is expected to end ahead of the 2025-26 NBA season.

The high-profile project is expected to greatly impact D.A. Everett’s growth strategy and make it a more noticeable player in a highly competitive industry. The Black-owned construction management and general contracting firm predicts revenues of over $100 million this year, up from a peak of just over $70 million last year. New projects like Spectrum and existing ones are projected to fuel the gain.

Revenue aside, Everett says the Spectrum deal will be a windfall for the firm in many ways long after the work is finished. “This project has gained a lot of attention locally and nationally, allowing us to become omnipresent. It will further position us to secure other large commercial and public assembly projects locally and regionally that we might not have otherwise been positioned for without it.”

Armed with over 25 years of experience, Everett has led and delivered commercial construction projects exceeding $2 billion. As DAECG’s president and CEO, Everett’s duties today include driving the firm’s growth plan, fostering strategic partnerships, and building high-performing teams.

Growing experience as a sports and entertainment contractor

Everett says Turner Construction and his firm won the Spectrum Center contract approved by the city of Charlotte after competing with two other reputable firms. He says Turner’s successful completion of the State Farm Arena renovations for the Atlanta Hawks and his firm’s recent renovation of the Bojangles Coliseum-Oven Auditorium renovation for Charlotte were catalysts that show the companies were the best team for the venture.

“This project affords D.A. Everett increased visibility of our qualifications and capabilities and allows us to strengthen and grow our experience as sports and entertainment contractors,” Everett says.

DAECG largely provides advanced planning and preconstruction services and construction management. It caters to multiple sectors, including automotive, healthcare, higher education, life sciences, public assembly, and the government. It operates in North Carolina, South Carolina, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The firm now has 14 active projects in North Carolina and South Carolina. Its current Confidential Life Sciences project in the Charlotte area is 100% controlled by DAECG. Everette says it is the firm’s largest revenue generator, bringing in $69 million. Other high-profile projects include the $250 million NC Department of Health and Human Services HQ Campus Phase 1 Project in Raleigh. Another is for Winston-Salem State University, a $51 million auditorium renovation for the HBCU in North Carolina.

Sustaining growth despite challenges

To help facilitate and sustain its growth, Everett and his team intentionally set lofty goals. He says that includes constantly checking that the firm is meeting financial performance goals and doing work within its strategic plan. “Along the way, we experienced some challenges and failures, as expected in this business, but we never lowered our target; we assessed, looked for the lesson, and kept pushing forward.”

He shared that over 80% of his firm’s revenue comes from repeat clients and stand-alone work. He added the firm has a robust pipeline with projects backlogged out to 2027. Its ambitious revenue goal is to be a sustainable $250 million company by 2030. “We are going to continue to go deep into the markets that we currently service and continue to drive service excellence to our clients.”

Moving forward, Everett says his firm will keep monitoring the health and growth of new markets. That calls for identifying geographical expansion opportunities in Southeast U.S. areas like Atlanta. “Atlanta has a great inclusive business environment, especially for Black-owned businesses, and the vertical markets that we serve have strong fundamentals for continued construction growth trends in that metro market.”

Identifying a niche and filling a void

The enterprising entrepreneur initially chose an alternative option to finance his business as he didn’t want to seek traditional bank funding. “I decided to seek out $150K private capital from a ‘rich uncle’ to start my business.” Everett’s firm has been honored often for its work, including this recognition.

Everett was introduced to the industry after growing up in a construction and real estate investment family and working at his father’s residential construction company. His background includes working for over 10 years on large-scale construction projects for Balfour Beatty before starting DAECG to control his destiny.

 “I also saw a void in the market of Black-owned commercial construction companies that were operating at large scale or didn’t appear to have a growth mindset after years of being in the business.”