WDS Construction’s SBA-backed Expansion Fuels Additional Growth

Situation

Ben Westra is the fourth generation to own a general construction business. WDS Construction is in fact named for his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, in whose business Ben learned the ropes. After college he worked in that firm’s Pennsylvania office, eventually returning to Wisconsin.  He started WDS in 2005 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin when a previous client offered to award him a project if he started his own company.  With private collateral, he launched from his mother’s sewing room and eventually moved to a rented 5600 square-foot facility.

WDS Construction is a national general contractor, serving primarily retail clients.  They have also completed projects for medical facilities, auto dealerships, schools, offices, cold storage, and industrial spaces.  They provide design-build, architectural, and engineering services. The company works on the guiding principles of safety, service, integrity and value.

After eleven years in business and a history of steady expansion, the firm was outgrowing its rented facility. “We literally had employees working from closet spaces,” says Ben. 

Solution

With the help of a $2 million long-term, fixed-rate SBA loan in 2016, WDS constructed a new 27,000 sf state of the art headquarters completed in 2017.  Today, WDS has eight project managers with specialized expertise, and its revenues have grown from $3 million in its founding year to well over $100 million in 2017, with revenues nearly doubling over the past three years.   In the same time period, employment has also nearly doubled from 33 to 58 employees. Throughout the life of the company, Ben has focused on keeping net worth up in order to have the bonding capacity to demonstrate financial health.

Impact

While charitable giving has been important to him since the beginning, in 2018 Ben started WDS Works LLC to help local non-profits with construction projects.  They were able to side the local concession stand, provide design services to a local college, supply and install carpeting at the YMCA, and accomplish much more.  His staff also is encouraged to support local causes.  He is on the board of the YMCA and the Beaver Dam Scholarship Fund and is active in other ways with both organizations.  Ben Westra received the 2018 SBA Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year-Honorable Mention award.

Company Name: 
WDS Construction
Location: 
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin