Constructing A Life That Works

During his 15-year career, Malcolm Briggs held several high-visibility spots in broadcast media. He has been a television sportscaster, an anchor for an NBC affiliate in St. Louis, and a radio commentator for several Super Bowls. Over the years, Briggs cultivated a loyal audience. But in 2001, the highly successful sports anchor put an exit strategy in motion and bid farewell to broadcasting.

“I knew I was not going to be on television forever. Plus, the hours and being away from my children began to wear on me,” he says. “While I was working, I used that time to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

Having worked several summers on construction job sites, Briggs had amassed years of experience. Driven by the excitement of building for others, the Kansas State University graduate gave the construction business-an industry that is comprised of more than 56,000 African American-owned companies-a try. His decision paid off.

In November 2001, Briggs started ICR Mechanical L.L.C., which later became ICR Construction Services, a general contracting company that builds commercial properties for public entities and major corporations throughout Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

When Briggs, 43, first created the company, he took on a partner. Briggs fronted the $30,000 in seed capital to cover salaries, insurance, union dues, equipment, and rent for the 1,200-square-foot office space, while his partner agreed to run back-office duties. The two farmed out work to subcontractors. In six months, the company secured $500,000 in contracts, taking on clients such as Anheuser-Busch and AmerenUE, a St. Louis power company.

Finding success has not been without its challenges. Without warning, Briggs’ partner abruptly left the business. “He told me it was too stressful and he didn’t want to do it anymore,” Briggs recalls. Without skipping a beat, Briggs transformed the 56-employee company from a mechanical contractor into a general contractor, solicited the expertise of several mentors within the industry, and began vying for public projects. With this new plan, Briggs was able to secure business by aligning his company with contractors looking to work with a minority subcontractor.

ICR now has more than 30 clients. They have snagged several lucrative contracts, including building a portion of the Toyota plant in Indianapolis, two Walgreens stores in St. Louis, a new branch of the National City Bank of Missouri, and a new interior for the American Airlines terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. ICR has also completed re-fabrication on several St. Louis public schools, roadwork for the Missouri Department of Transportation, and is currently constructing the ESPN Radio Studios in St. Louis. Revenues reached nearly $15 million in 2005, and Briggs projects they will exceed $20 million in 2006.

The company has made quite an impression on its clientele. “We had three branches being built simultaneously by three different contractors,” says Shaun Hayes, president and CEO of National City Bank of Missouri. “Malcolm brought the project in on time and on budget. That’s what led us to select him to build the next four to six