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Fluor CEO sees domestic growth in infrastructure, gas

By Liz Segrist
Published Feb. 22, 2013

Fluor Corp. CEO and Chairman David Seaton said he believes the U.S. is on the cusp of growth again — if the regulatory stars align.

The main impediment to continued company growth in the United States is its regulatory environment, Seaton said during a news conference before the Greenville Chamber’s annual awards dinner Thursday.

Fluor Corp. CEO David Seaton said the main impediment to continued company growth in the U.S. is its regulatory environment. (Photo/Liz Segrist)Fluor Corp. CEO David Seaton said the main impediment to continued company growth in the U.S. is its regulatory environment. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
Fluor, a global engineering construction company, is currently performing $35 billion of work in the Gulf Coast alone, Seaton said of the Texas-based company, which has operations in Greenville. His major concern is how timely the project permits can be acquired.

“The question is: Will the government infrastructure — federal, state and local — be a growth supporter or a growth inhibitor? Right now we need jobs,” Seaton said.

Seaton said he expects continued growth potential in the Gulf Coast, specifically Texas and Louisiana, for the shale gas sector.

He also sees growth potential in the U.S.’s transportation and infrastructure sector as public-private partnerships come to fruition post-recession to tackle aging infrastructure.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand in the U.S. for capital spending and investment,” Seaton said.

Fluor reported $27.6 billion in revenue for 2012, an 18% increase from the year prior, according to its recent earnings release. Its record 2012 revenue was mainly due to strong growth in the industrial and infrastructure and oil and gas business segments.

The company has been able to grow internationally as countries monetize their resources to meet infrastructure needs, Seaton said. The company has a little over $38.2 billion in backlog — with more than 75% of it outside of the U.S.

“The rest of the world has continued to grow. We’re able to grow in spite of what the United States is doing with capital from an investment perspective,” Seaton said. “The U.S. is one good budget deal away from regaining that dominance.”

In 2011, Fluor saw growth in South America, specifically in Chile, Peru and Argentina, and in 2010, the company did more work in Australia than in any other country.

The Middle East continues to be an area of growth for Fluor, including the Greenville location’s work to build and maintain American troops’ airbases in Afghanistan.

As for the pending sequester, Seaton believes it won’t be a major factor for Fluor since its operations are mainly in maintaining and supporting military operations, as opposed to defense machinery production.

Seaton, a University of South Carolina graduate, began his career with Fluor in Greenville in 1984.

“I took the job because I was in the middle of grad school and I needed money. I moved up here from Columbia to work at Daniel, and here I am, 28 years later,” the Fluor CEO said.

Fluor Corp. employs around 50,000 employees worldwide and works in more than 66 countries. Fluor employs around 2,100 in Greenville.

Fluor serves a global client base in the energy, chemicals, government, industrial, infrastructure, operations and maintenance, manufacturing and life sciences, mining, power and transportation sectors.

Fluor is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under “FLR.”

Previous coverage

Fluor Corp. reports 18% increase in revenue for 2012
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