Utah born and raised, family-owned Layton Construction has quietly grown into one of the top commercial building firms in the country and is the brand-behind-the-brand in a slew of iconic structures in Utah and around the country.

Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, Smith’s Ballpark, Hale Centre Theatre and Real Salt Lake’s America First Field are just a tiny sampling of the local projects constructed by Layton. The luxurious Montage Deer Valley is a Layton project, as are Vanderbilt University’s newest 1-million-square-foot student housing complex in Nashville and the Hollywood Galaxy Mall in Los Angeles.

And to get an idea of how prolific the company is, it’s currently engaged with 230 live projects.

Humble beginnings

Founded in 1953 by Alan W. Layton, the business has been operating since 2004 under the leadership of one of his sons, David S. Layton, who is being recognized later this month with the MountainWest Capital Network 2024 Utah Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

MountainWest noted the size and scope of the Layton Construction operations, headquartered in Utah but running 12 offices around the country, employing some 1,500 workers and generating $3.5 billion in revenues in 2022. Company sales have increased tenfold under David Layton’s leadership and the firm has held the top spot on MountainWest’s list of the revenue growth companies in Utah for the last four years in a row.

Along the way, Layton Construction has poured millions into local philanthropic efforts, including medical research, sports and higher education. The company has been a premier supporter of Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith’s 5 For the Fight program and helped the organization hit its goal of raising $50 million for cancer research just seven years after launching.

“Under David S. Layton’s leadership, Layton Construction has grown to become a vital, wide-reaching business that represents the best of Utah industry,” said Steve Wilson, chair of MountainWest’s network event. “Layton’s extraordinary business acumen, philanthropic spirit and passion for Utah and its communities make him the perfect choice to be our 2024 entrepreneur of the year.”

Dave Layton, president & CEO of Layton Construction, is photographed in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
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While Layton Construction’s portfolio and accolades are world class, David Layton says the key behind the company’s stellar success has been about staying focused on continuing the humble and straight-shooting business practices begun by his father over 70 years ago.

“My father learned his work ethic as a young man and he taught us that hard work is what gets you ahead in life,” Layton said. “That background is really the underpinning of all that we do and the key to our success in a tough industry.”

Layton said the company saw early success as his father found a niche in building public schools and would later branch out with projects for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU and medical facilities for University of Utah Health.

As the company’s reputation grew, thanks to a track record of quality work that stayed on schedule and on budget, so did interest from outside the state.

“Even though our workforce was concentrated in Utah, we found a way to say yes to opportunities outside the state,” Layton said. “And we were able to figure that out and repeat our successes in a growing geographic area.”

Following the work

So far, that’s expanded to project completions in over 40 states and Layton Construction ascending to become one of the top commercial builders in the country. The company has built expertise in numerous sectors, including sports and entertainment venues, warehouse and distribution, hospitality and health care.

Layton said the company’s expansion, both in scope and size, has reflected the country’s population growth patterns with business growing rapidly in areas including Southern states and the West.

On top of the underlying business ethic seeded by his father, Layton said the company has stayed successful through its commitment to a supportive company culture and the value it places on employees.

“We’re not run by a policy manual,” Layton said. “We’re governed by culture and our values. We embrace talented individuals and bring them into our culture but enable them to demonstrate their leadership skills and creativity.

“They bring their skills and strategies into the effort to advance our plans and deliver the best outcomes to our clients.”

Construction on the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy continues on May 4, 2016.
Construction on the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy continues on May 4, 2016. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

And great outcomes have been a hallmark for work Layton Construction has done on behalf of longtime client Hale Centre Theatre, according to theater co-founder and CEO Mark Dietlein.

While Hale Centre is now operated by a nonprofit group, its genealogy reflects, like Layton Construction, another multigenerational Utah success story that tracks back to Dietlein’s grandparents, Ruth and Nathan Hale.

Layton Construction completed its second project for Hale Centre, a building owned by Sandy City, seven years ago and the structure for Hale’s theater-in-the-round format is a marvel of design and engineering.

One-of-a-kind project

The 130,000-square-foot venue includes two performance spaces, a 900-seat main stage and 460-seat jewel box theater that hosts tens of thousands of patrons every year. And Dietlein notes its unique design, one that consists mostly of curved walls and a main stage arrangement that includes a 70-foot deep scenery pit and soaring overhead space that accommodates fly-in stagecraft, posed uncommon construction challenges.

The job also required a plan to mitigate a very low water table that lies about a dozen feet under the theater site, and extra-burly concrete work that included building a circular underground structure with walls 3-feet thick to counter the hydrostatic pressure of that underground water flow.

But Dietlein said David Layton and his team navigated those challenges without issue and the facility remains as robust and gleaming as it did when the venue opened in 2017.

“The thing that I really, really appreciate about the company is the day-in, day-out type of stuff,” Dietlein said. “His teams are just good, solid, quality people. They’re creative, they come up with ideas and they’re engaged, focused and excited about their projects.”

Dietlein said that even with the unexpected issues that arise with any complex, $65 million project like the Hale Centre, the construction team were always forthright and ready with solutions.

“They’re just really straightforward,” Dietlein said. “There’s never any attempt to dance around problems ... and their project managers are very, very good about keeping you abreast of where the obstacles are and the options for solutions.

“I love doing business with people who are straight and don’t try to cover things.”

The people behind the buildings

David Layton’s enthusiasm for his clients’ projects is woven throughout discussions of the family business and, when asked to list his favorite buildings, he circles back to the experiences he’s had with the people and companies behind those buildings as the source of his highest satisfaction. Those remembrances include his time working with Jon Huntsman Sr., and the construction of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

“To sit down with Jon Huntsman and be right there, hearing this incredible man talking about his commitment to treating cancer and searching for a cure, his commitment to patients who would be treated in his hospital was just an incredible experience,” Layton said. “It was a privilege to be a part of building this hospital where hope and successful outcomes for patients would become possible.”

Layton said he’s looking forward to continuing to grow Layton Construction’s footprint in Utah and across the country and working to fulfill his clients’ dreams and aspirations in the world of built space.

“These projects begin as dreams and we get to be a part of making them tangible and meaningful,” Layton said. “These are the trophies, so to speak.”

Dave Layton, president & CEO of Layton Construction, surveys the construction of The Worthington in Salt Lake City.
Dave Layton, president & CEO of Layton Construction, surveys the construction of The Worthington in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News