October 02, 2015
Awards & Recognition

Clark and Horizon Raising the Bar in Houston

Even by small business standards, Horizon Group started small. Founded in 1995 by Al Kashani, the Houston-based general contractor’s first job was a bathroom renovation. The project’s total value: $575. But, as Al notes, “Every job is important. You are only as good as your last job.” Horizon’s performance on their first job earned them additional work from the same client and soon, their project values had jumped from three figures to seven.
A few years later, Sadie Rucker, Al’s former colleague at the University of Houston, joined Al as a partner of Horizon. The two worked out of an apartment above Al’s garage, sharing a single table, chair, phone, and computer. In the first year, Horizon, a certified HUB/MBE/WBE business, grew its revenue to $3 million. But Al and Sadie knew that if their company was to grow larger, they’d have to leave the garage and have more than one superintendent on the payroll.
With a new office and a growing number of employees, Horizon pursued and performed work in Houston’s higher education market. Al and Sadie gradually increased their firms capabilities, branching into real estate development and, as bonding capacity grew, took on construction-manager-at-risk and design-build projects. Around this time, Horizon and Clark began a dialogue about potential work opportunities; then the two companies found themselves working together in an unusual place: the classroom.
Both companies supported Houston Community College’s Building and Contracting Leadership Program. Horizon and Clark employees helped develop and deliver program curriculum; Horizon even enrolled interns into the program for added training. As the two companies learned more about each other — inside the classroom and out — a mutual admiration grew. Both companies understand the importance of small businesses to the local economy and share a corporate culture of client service and a safety-first focus; this alignment would prove to benefit both companies, as well as greater Harris County.
Following the program, Horizon expanded its portfolio to include a variety of municipal projects for the county, the City of Houston, and local airports, increasing its annual revenue to over $40 million. The firm has earned several accolades for its work in the area, including a “Minority Contractor of the Year” award from the Houston MBDA Business Center. The firm also was named one of the “Top 25 Prime Contractors for Diversity” by local publication Subcontractors USA. As Clark looked to grow its presence in Houston, Horizon emerged as a natural partner.
A joint venture of Clark and Horizon will break ground on the $80 million Harris County Joint Processing Center this fall. This project, which will consolidate city and county inmate processing activities, represents a milestone project for Harris County. Though not contractually obligated to small/HUB business participation, Clark/Horizon understands the importance of identifying and developing these companies. The joint venture is making a good faith effort to acquire small/HUBS business participation and has set its own goal of 15 percent. 
Working as a fully-integrated team, Clark/Horizon is committed to identifying and training Houston-area businesses to increase their capacity and win work on the Joint Processing Center and additional local work. As Horizon can attest, for a small business, even the tiniest contract can be a step in the right direction.