Forté Specialty Contractors COO Luke Jackson, CEO and founder Scott Acton, and CFO Scott Bulloch PHOTO COURTESY OF FORTÉ SPECIALTY CONTRACTORS
As the founder and CEO of Forté Specialty Contractors (fortedesignbuild.com), Scott Acton has created restaurants, commercial properties and luxury residential homes for some of Las Vegas’ biggest names, including Steve Wynn. Here, Acton sounds off on how he built a $12 million empire from the ground up—in just two years.
Take us back to the beginning. What sparked your passion for design and development? I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and was quickly put to work in my dad’s shop, the place where I fell in love with the creative process. I am the third generation in the design-build business. My grandfather started as a plasterer for Walt Disney in the ’50s and helped pioneer the art of working with rock. My dad later started Acton Animation and built the shark used in Jaws for Universal Studios Hollywood. After completing the Treasure Island pirate ships in Las Vegas, I was ambitious and wanted to start my own company.
From left: A look inside Steve Wynn’s private home, built by Forté Specialty Contractors; outdoor and indoor views of two separate custom homes at The Summit in Summerlin. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FORTÉ SPECIALTY CONTRACTORS
Forté is unique in that it touches hospitality, theme parks and luxury residential design. What has been the driving force in your multifaceted career? The short answer is curiosity. We work in a very archaic industry where there is very little innovation, so if you are an innovative problem solver you will quickly shine through. I have always had a passion for creating experiences for people, whether that be in a restaurant, on a ride or in a home. Once you see someone light up when they are in an attraction you helped build, you are hooked for life!
Las Vegas visitors and residents know your astounding work—from Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen to Wynn’s Parasol Down Bar to The Spa at Encore (and many more!). Which hospitality project in Las Vegas has been your favorite thus far and why? My favorite Las Vegas project is Hell’s Kitchen. It was the fastest restaurant we built—in 14 ½ weeks. The project had a huge budget and scheduling issues, and the location was incredibly challenging as well. As you know, it is right on the Strip where thousands of people are walking around the site night and day. We went to work, figured it out and delivered it on time and on budget.
In your opinion, what sets Forté apart from other design and development companies in Las Vegas? We are a very innovative group of people with unique experiences only a few have been fortunate enough to have had. Our team has been exposed to processes, schedules and building techniques that not many are familiar with, namely those that exist in the entertainment and hospitality world. Working for Steve Wynn was like SEAL team training for what was ahead of us. It was never easy but always worth it. It made us who we are today.
What does your ideal day in Las Vegas look like? My ideal day consists of visiting as many projects and team members as possible! Being able to shake hands on a job site, aid in ensuring that nothing is missed in quality or design, and showing up for my team is my ideal day. Leaving a job site sending photos to the owners and knowing they will be happy fills my cup. A sunny day, no wind, would help that significantly as well.
“I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A PASSION FOR CREATING EXPERIENCES FOR PEOPLE, WHETHER THAT BE IN A RESTAURANT, ON A RIDE OR IN A HOME.” –SCOTT ACTON
What do you love most about what you do? I love the people most, my co-workers, and I love the creative outlet this business has made possible. Figuring out a way to build, plan and execute something that I am told is ‘impossible’ is the best part of my job, including delivering that ‘impossible’ on budget and on schedule. However, I think the family that Forté is and has become to me is also what I love most. We are constantly collaborating, teaching and, most importantly, growing together.