Confident: Alex DeCouto admits the industry is in trouble but says he can ride the storm. • Photo supplied.
Confident: Alex DeCouto admits the industry is in trouble but says he can ride the storm. • Photo supplied.
The construction industry has slowed down - but this hasn't stopped Alex DeCouto from buying his own building firm.

He has snapped up Greymane Contracting Ltd, with the paperwork being signed last Friday.

The building trade has suffered due to the credit crunch, with many big budget projects due to end in the new year and none taking their place.

But despite the industry's economic woes, Mr. DeCouto said the chance to be his own boss was too good to resist.

He added: "It feels great, empowering and frightening. It feels like a natural progression for me."

Mr. DeCouto is the immediate past president of the Construction Association of Bermuda.

He has more than 10 years experience in the building industry and, prior to joining Greymane in 2007, he was a quantity surveyor and project manager at BCM McAlpine.

He also worked as an assistant quantity surveyor at Woodbourne Associates and began his career as a labourer and mason's apprentice with GL Construction Company.

Mr. DeCouto started an MBA five years ago and said the "eye opening" experience helped him achieve his goal of owning his own business.

He added: "My future is in Bermuda's construction industry.

"Greymane is a sophisticated company and acquiring the business is a way to invest in the industry and chart my own future as well as that of our employees.

"For our clients, it will be business as usual and we will continue to operate as efficiently and competitively as anyone in the industry."

He admitted it would be better to take over during a construction boom but claims that "when opportunity knocks it's not always at the best time".

He added: "This opportunity came along and I had to take it. I don't see myself doing anything else.

"My future is here in construction and if I'm going to take the risks then I'd rather be at the helm with responsibility for my own decisions."

Greymane Contracting completed a $40 million renovation of The Reefs in September and is also responsible for major construction or renovation projects with Fairmont Southampton, Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Elbow Beach hotel cottages and Tucker's Point Town Homes.

The firm provides construction management services, general contracting and interior finishing.

It also operates a retail warehouse for building materials at its location in Bakery Lane, Hamilton.

Mr. DeCouto revealed Greymane is currently building 30 units in St. David's for the Bermuda Housing Corporation's Harbourview Village project.

The firm has also just finished new office space for Lancashire Re.

But Mr. DeCouto admitted that he expects the construction business to suffer as 2010 starts.

He said: "I don't think we've hit bottom yet.

"That will come early in the new year - January and February.

"A lot of the architect offices are saying they have a few things going but they still have to get through the planning process - it can take several months until they're actually starting construction."

With the completion of major projects such as the Bank of Bermuda building, the Washington Mall and the new courthouse and few new projects on the horizon, there is a chance there could be job losses in the industry in the coming months.

Mr. DeCouto said: "There needs to be two or three large projects to get off the ground again in the new year.

"The John Swan building is still going so it's not going to be apocalyptic... just a significant slowdown."