Doubling Down on Vegas

Better Building Systems dug in to survive in its hometown, and now it’s diversifying there

Because of its location, BBS does a lot of contracting work for the hospitality and entertainment industries. Recently, it renovated and painted the exterior of the Riviera Hotel & Casino.

At a Glance

Location
Las Vegas

Founded
2007

Employees
50

Specialties
Contract management and design-build work

Though the adage suggests that, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Bill Shoning and his team at Better Building Systems (BBS) put a positive spin on it: what’s built in Vegas stays in Vegas. Founded in 2007, BBS is still a young company. Its 50-person team stuck with the principles of collaboration, adaptability, and ingenuity to weather a tough economic climate in one of America’s entertainment capitals, and it has now established itself as one of the area’s premiere general contracting and construction-management firms, fielding work on everything from hospitality renovations to solar arrays.

“With the market falling out shortly after we started doing business, it made things rough out of the gate,” Shoning says. “But this really challenged us to be innovative and adapt our services for a new market.” On the eve of the bubble burst, Shoning had already identified ways that the construction industry was falling short. By pinpointing these shortcomings, his firm was able to start building new relationships with clients despite the downturn. “A lot of our competitors were more focused on the work than actually serving the clients,” Shoning says. “Our main focus is service, and we only work with subcontractors and vendors who are able to deliver on this aspect.”

Due partly to its proximity to Vegas and partly to Shoning’s own interest, BBS specializes in contracts with clients in the hospitality and entertainment industries—the primary contributors to the Vegas area’s economic health. As such, much of BBS’s work is in the public eye, which generates an added sense of reward and excitement among the staff. “We do 99 percent of our work in the Las Vegas Valley, and 90 percent of that work is done on the Strip,” Shoning says. “I’ve worked on the Strip for years, and it’s still fun to go there.”

Most recently, BBS was involved in painting and renovating the exterior of the iconic Riviera Hotel & Casino. The Riviera needed to remain open during construction, so BBS used an atypical rigging system that did not interfere with casino operations or the coming and going of patrons. “This was a very intricate job,” Shoning says. “We built a lot of swing stages to reach all of the areas on the six individual towers.”

The firm used an unusual rigging system to allow the Riviera casino to remain fully operational for the length of the project.

Although BBS often seeks contracts within the hospitality industry, Shoning says that, in the wake of the recent economic upheaval, diversification has been crucial for his business. “Outside of hospitality, we’ve touched on a lot of other industry sectors,” Shoning says. “We’ve done a lot of work in the solar industry and light-commercial areas.”

Maintaining a commitment to diversification and adaptability is what Shoning believes will allow BBS to continue to grow. Additionally, as the solar industry continues to mature in the Las Vegas Valley, photovoltaic projects, such as the one BBS is building for the Faith Lutheran High School, will become more common—and perhaps even necessary for preserving the infrastructure and greater economic vitality of the region.

“Our goal is to stay adaptable and be open to new opportunities,” Shoning says. “We strive to be the contractors of choice, and we’re always proactive in working with the client to help them get a final product they can be satisfied with.” ABQ