Forty Years and Still Growing
A.W. McCay Contracting emphasizes client relationships
For 40 years, A.W. McCay Contracting, Inc. has been providing quality commercial construction services, including build-to-suit and renovations, to the greater Pittsburgh region and Ohio.
Founder Augustus W. “Gus” McCay III gives much of the credit for his long-term success to his company’s mission statement, which says: “A.W. McCay Contracting was founded on godly principles with a desire to honor God, first and foremost. We service our clients with quality, timeliness and fair pricing. We desire to earn the trust of our customers as well as our employees, subcontractors and suppliers, and to treat each with the highest level of integrity and respect.”
McCay launched his company in 1978 out of his home office, just a year after graduating from college, by building a log home, although that wasn’t what he started out to do. “It was just a fluke,” McCay says, “but it led from one log home to the next, and then we started doing regular standard homes.”
In the early years, the company focused on log homes and other residential work, but in 1983, A.W. McCay Contracting moved into commercial construction focusing on smaller buildings, such as 7-Eleven stores and BURGER KING® restaurants. The only residential construction the company does now is the occasional job done “only as a favor,” McCay says.
The company incorporated in 1995 and currently has an average annual revenue of $25 million. A.W. McCay Contracting continues to try and improve what they do every day and is working to grow the company with hopes that Gus’ son, Greg, will one day take over the business.
Major Regional Builder
Although, according to McCay, he has done more than 22 BURGER KING restaurants and more than two dozen 7-Eleven stores, that is no longer the company’s primary focus. The company is now a major regional builder of hotels and medical, governmental, financial and office buildings as well as religious facilities, restaurants and other retail. “We’ve done 15 hotels and we’ve done over 30 office buildings,” McCay says. The company’s biggest project was a $12 million Hilton Garden Inn.
Each project can present its own set of challenges, but no matter the problem, McCay finds a way to solve it. “We just had an interesting project where we did a Hampton Inn by Hilton with a parking garage below it,” McCay says. “The soil was so bad we had to sink huge caissons 80 feet deep to stabilize the building. A lot of specialty things were done there,” McCay says.
Among its services, A.W. McCay Contracting provides general contracting, design-build, construction management and construction project development. The company also does LEED or green building construction. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. McCay says that almost all of the hotels the company does are LEED projects, which can be challenging with issues like sourcing local material.
A.W. McCay Contracting also does historic renovation work, which can be particularly tricky, but also rewarding.
One of his most difficult projects was the renovation of an old church in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. From 1908 until 1993, the building housed St. Elizabeth Church. But for most of the last 20 years it had been home to a succession of nightclubs and a music venue. Now on its way to being a house of worship again, the interdenominational Orchard Hill Church is renovating it for a new campus.
Refurbishing the turn-of-the-century building was not without its share of problems. “The roof was rotted out so we had to tear the roof and the cupola off the building,” says Travis Wertman, McCay’s Director of Construction. “Just the amount of work to get us to the point where we could install new trusses to even build…that has been a challenging project for sure,” he adds.
Operating out of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh, A.W. McCay Contracting works mainly in Pennsylvania with some projects in Ohio. But its work is not limited by geography. “We have been invited to quote jobs as far as the Rocky Mountains in Virginia,” McCay says.
The company employs between 15 to 22 full-time employees, many of whom, like Wertman, have been with the company for years. Wertman just entered his 13th year, having started out as an entry-level project manager and estimator before moving into all project management. This year, he was promoted to Director of Construction.
These long-term employees are part of the reason why McCay is a special place to work, Wertman says. “Our office manager has been here as long as I have, for 13 years. Some of our field employees have been here more than 20 years. One of our supervisors, Chris Newcamp, started right out of high school and has been with the company for 33 years.”
Last year, due to the company’s growth, A.W. McCay Contracting added Rich Marino, a senior estimator, and Lisa Kenna, another project manager, to its staff. The company also added a new administrative position in the project management/estimating department and a new administrative assistant in the financial department. From longstanding employees to new hires, the company has a very family-oriented atmosphere. “Everybody cares about each other from a personal standpoint. You know you’re not just a number in the pecking order,” Wertman says.
“We try to keep things very light-hearted,” McCay adds.
The family atmosphere extends to employee efforts to help the community. Wertman recently rode in the MS150 Escape to the Lake fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. “It was a 168-mile bike ride from Moraine State Park to Conneaut, Ohio, over two days. Our team raised around $4,000 for MS. Personally, I raised a little over $2,000. All our employees contributed,” Wertman says.
While several employees are involved individually in outreach/charity, the company is looking at getting more corporately involved in the community. “We haven’t put a program together yet, but probably two months ago it was brought up at one of the staff meetings,” McCay says. “We’re working toward trying to get ourselves established in the community a little bit more,” Wertman says. “We want to find some places where we can go out as a group and support some kind of cause to help the people local to us.”
McCay credits his employees and subcontractors with helping to make the business a success. Like most general contractors, much of McCay’s work is accomplished through subcontractors. “Everybody says success is about pricing and taking care of customers,” McCay says. “I would add it is also about paying our subs on time and delivering jobs on time, weather permitting.”
According to Wertman, A.W. McCay Contracting also puts tremendous emphasis on customer service, and that has led to a lot of repeat business and to many clients becoming friends. “We always try to have a great working relationship with our clients by being fair and honest. The integrity of this company is a very strong asset,” Wertman says.
“We treat our clients fairly. We do our jobs to the best of our ability. We always try to make sure we are giving 100 percent for our clients and for the project,” he adds.