Press Release: 01.16.2014

McCarthy Celebrates 150 Years of Building America

McCarthy Holdings, Inc. is kicking off its 150th anniversary celebration this month, firmly cementing the company as one of the oldest American-owned construction companies with offices nationally. Founded as a family-owned business in 1864 during the height of the Civil War, McCarthy is now the nation’s 8th largest domestic general contractor (Engineering News-Record, May 2013) with 2013 revenues exceeding $3 billion.

“When McCarthy began, the focus was on serving customers in the local community and building with the highest quality,” explained McCarthy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bolen. “The same principles that helped get the business off the ground in 1864 still guide us today: a focus on meeting each client’s needs, a willingness to work hard together to bring exceptional value to every project, and genuine people committed to improving people’s lives.”

Founded by Irish immigrant Timothy McCarthy, the building company began as a lumber business focusing on constructing farmhouses and barns around Ann Arbor, Mich. Three of the founder’s children went into the family business, and in 1907, incorporated the firm in Missouri. 

Over the next 50 years, the company completed projects at the World’s Fair in San Francisco, in Alaska and in the Panama Canal Zone, building a thriving business through two World Wars, the Great Depression and decades of civil unrest. In the 1970s, McCarthy began its ascent to national prominence in healthcare construction management, as well as becoming the nation’s largest design-build parking structure builder. In 1984, Michael M. McCarthy, great grandson of company founder Timothy McCarthy, assumed the position of chairman of the board and went on to lead McCarthy’s continued growth in healthcare and further expansion into the semiconductor, biopharmaceutical, educational, R&D and general manufacturing markets, with the company becoming a major player in each.

In the 1990s, the company continued to expand with a focus on tackling the most complex construction challenges, becoming a national in leader the science & technology, laboratory and water treatment markets. In 1996, the McCarthy Employee Stock Ownership Plan was created, and on April 12, 2002, Michael McCarthy sold his majority ownership interest in the company to its employees. He was the final family member to have an ownership interest in the firm. Today, McCarthy is structured as an S corporation employee stock ownership plan (S ESOP) with approximately 1,700 salaried employee-owners, positioning the company as one of the largest employee-owned companies with this structure in America.

Throughout the 2000s, the company continued to respond to changing client needs, becoming an industry leader in sustainable, renewable energy and entertainment projects. In 2005, MC Industrial, Inc., an independent McCarthy company, was created to meet the highly specialized construction needs of the industrial marketplace.

“Our new adventure as a 100 percent employee-owned business began during an extremely difficult time for our nation, right after the events of September 11, 2001,” explained Bolen in 2012 as the firm celebrated a decade of 100 percent employee ownership. “Despite the nation’s economic highs and lows over the same time period, employee ownership has literally transformed our company. It’s made us even more client focused because it’s in everyone’s best interest to meet or exceed client expectations. Moreover, with the addition of the ESOP, our employee owners now have an additional retirement benefit — an outstanding advantage from which all Americans could gain.”

In addition to this significant ownership transition, just a few notable McCarthy highlights over the past 150 years have included:

  • Cultivated and maintained an entrepreneurial culture where employees are empowered to respond to changing client needs;
  • Successfully streamlined processes and implemented industry-leading techniques to become one of the safest builders in America;
  • Remained committed to being a true, self-performing builder to better control schedule, quality and cost in support of the company’s mission to be The Best Builder in America;
  • Developed and rolled out a multitude of technology innovations to enhance building efficiencies in the field, ranking McCarthy among the industry’s leaders in the use of virtual design & construction;
  • Launched the innovative McCarthy Quality Without Question program, focusing on proactive planning for quality and tracking of quality incidents to improve superior results for clients;
  • Focused on developing the best builders in the business, positioning McCarthy as the #6 training organization in America by Training Magazine in 2013, the highest ranked contractor on the list

Clients have trusted McCarthy with thousands of projects over the past 150 years. A sampling of notable projects include: Fleet Air Base at Coco Solo in the Panama Canal zone (1933); International Place in Boston (1982); Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. (1988); Clark Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Alton, Ill. (1990); The Salk Institute for Biological Studies East Building Addition in La Jolla, Calif. (1995); major renovation of the iconic Space Needle in Seattle (2000); one of the largest, most visible parking structures in America for the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. (2000); Hollywood & Highland® in Hollywood, Calif., including the new permanent home of the Academy Awards® (2002); Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, one of only eight BSL-4 labs in North America (2005); Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant in Phoenix, the largest design-build-operate water project in America (2007); AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas (2009); Hakkasan Las Vegas at the MGM Grand (2013); and the only “net zero energy” biological laboratory in the world for J. Craig Venter in La Jolla, Calif. (2013).

“Few companies ever get the privilege of making it to 150 – not just in the construction industry but in any industry,” commented McCarthy President and Chief Operating Officer Derek Glanvill. “Client focus, inspired leadership, dedicated builders, a willingness to take risks and an overall commitment to doing what’s right are the foundational elements our company stands on today. We are proud to share this milestone achievement with those we call our McCarthy family today, along with clients, industry partners and our communities. We are looking forward to working together on the next McCarthy chapter that is already being written.”

About McCarthy
At McCarthy, we’re just getting started. For 150 years, McCarthy has been building communities across America, both by constructing essential projects communities rely on, as well as by helping those who need assistance. Knowing how to build from preconstruction through completion is a tradition that will continue as McCarthy endeavors to advance the value of its expertise and deliver the highest quality, job-site safety and ultimately, the best final project costs. Repeatedly honored as a Best Place to Work and Healthiest Employer, McCarthy has approximately 1,700 salaried employees with offices in St. Louis, Atlanta; Collinsville, Ill.; Portage, Ind.; Kansas City, Kan.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Dallas, Houston; Albuquerque; and San Diego, Newport Beach, San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif. McCarthy is 100 percent employee owned. More information about the company’s history is available by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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