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SPOKANE, WA-The Alberta-based construction company of Graham Group Ltd. is in the process of buying the assets of Shea Construction Inc., once one of the largest construction companies in the Spokane area.

As early as last spring, Shea began battling rumors it was making what moves it could, including plans to sell some of its equipment, to fend off hard times. Its work force was cut from 70 to 45, and many of the company’s assets had been taken into the possession of XL Specialty Insurance, a Philadelphia bonding company.

Last month, the general contractor closed its doors, but not before the formation of Shea Graham Construction Inc., a new subsidiary of Graham’s U.S. holding, Seattle-based Graham Contracting Ltd. According to reports, Graham expects its newly-formed company’s will operate in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Northern Idaho and Western Montana within five years. GlobeSt was unable to obtain comment by deadline.

The 75-year-old Graham Group has eight offices in three Canadian provinces. Its 2000 earnings were listed as $300 million (Canadian), and expectations are that figure will increase to $400 million this year.

Sources say Shea’s remaining 45 employees will be moved to the payroll of the new entity, but both parties have declined to disclose the terms of the transactions.

Shea emerged in 1986 from the split of former Levernier-Shea Construction Inc., founded in 1974. Throughout the 1990′s the company was a major presence in the construction industry here. Local publications had listed Shea’s 2000 revenues at about $50 million, with its payroll peaking at 200 employees. Shea’s highest-dollar year was recorded in 1997 at $56 million.

Some of the company’s largest projects were the $39-million Health Sciences Building for Washington State University and a $28.6-million addition and renovation to Lewis & Clark High School near downtown. Shea was able to complete all of its final projects, including a $2.3-million expansion for Rosaeurs Supermarkets Inc. in Hood River, Oregon.

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