McCarthy Improvement Co.

For a business that began in 1897, McCarthy Improvement Co. is doing very well. The company specializes in concrete paving services but offers its clients much more. “Like any other operation, we had to diversify to stay in business,” claims Ron Sines, executive vice president. “There really isn’t much we don’t do.”

Under the McCarthy business umbrella, McCarthy Improvement combines its expertise in both concrete and asphalt paving with Foley Construction’s earthwork and underground utility services and Bellamy Bridge Builders’ bridge building and repair services. “Our operation enables us to handle all types of infrastructure work,” Sines says. “We can complete a project from the dirt work all the way through to the finished pavement.”

Proven Track Record

The company began in Davenport, Iowa, and has performed heavy construction work in Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Missouri. Due to the seasonal work interruptions during the Midwest’s winter months, McCarthy sought to pick up its income during those slow periods by opening offices in Atlanta and Laurens, S.C. “We currently have Midwest and Southeast divisions,” Sines says. “Initially, we had many of our workers traveling to Georgia.” Now, he says, the firm has established a good crew of workers in the Southeast that have a proven track record of quality work and repeat business. The firm has performed work for airports, military bases, retail centers, interstate roadways and even golf courses.

“McCarthy has a great relationship with the Georgia DOT,” Sines says, which helped considerably when the company won the bid to perform the widening and rehabilitation work for I-85 through Coweta and Fulton counties. The project entails rebuilding two of the three travel lanes, and adding shoulders on the outside and in the median. The Coweta portion, budgeted at $107 million, was comprised of continuous reinforced concrete (CRC) with CRC shoulders. The Fulton portion, budgeted at $51 million, featured CRC-constructed roadways with full-depth asphalt shoulders. Work also included a permanent concrete barrier wall and drainage structure, as well as accommodating for a fourth lane for future expansion.

“Because of our good working relationship with the Georgia DOT, we were able to pitch a value-engineering proposal for the Coweta project,” Sines says. “We proposed a way to eliminate the temporary site work to save money.”  However, because the plan would involve a different operation that would be modified near the end of construction, it had to be accepted by the DOT in order to secure the savings. 

“If we had a contentious relationship with [the DOT], we would never have been able to offer this alternative,” he claims. “Those are the times you know you have a good relationship—whenever we propose something, the DOT, at the very least, takes our ideas into consideration.”

Another proposal McCarthy’s team offered dealt with the project’s staging issues. “Sometimes we don’t realize what problems will exist until we get to the job site,” Sines notes. The issue involved a problem with traffic interference which backed up terribly when lane closures were in place. “We worked together to create staging that alleviated traffic backups while making the working environment safer,” he says. “As a result, traffic flowed very well throughout the duration of the project.

“Our policy is honesty and fairness with both clients and vendors,” Sines asserts. “That way, when issues arise, everyone is open to discuss alternatives that are acceptable for everyone.”  McCarthy’s goal is to establish long-term relationships with both subcontractors and vendors. “We have a good track record of working out those types of issues,” he claims.

McCarthy Improvement strives to be current with the latest technology. “We’ve invested in stringless paving and dowel bar inserters, which save substantial time at the jobsite,” Sines says. “We’ve also implemented GPS- and laser-controlled equipment.” He adds that much of the current equipment is built to be adapted to newer technologies. “Even our earthmovers are designed to adapt with laser or GPS,” he notes.

Expansion Mode

In-house training is an integral part of McCarthy’s operation. “We have a lot of on-the-job training and we also send our workers to training classes,” Sines says. “Most of the equipment manufacturers offer classes on how to operate and maintain their equipment, and teach the latest building technologies.” Safety is also a large area of concern. The company has dedicated corporate safety officers and holds annual safety seminars for its employees.

Sines believes that McCarthy’s turnkey service offerings give the company an edge over its competitors. “We have the capability to provide whatever work a client needs in-house, which is one of our key advantages,” he claims. “We also have a specialty – concrete paving – which we’re very good at.” The company is currently in an expansion mode, which has a lot to do with the firm’s well-thought-out reaction to the economy. “McCarthy has the forethought to offer other services at a competitive price to get the work,” he says.  

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