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McCarthy Leverages Diversification, Skill

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McCarthy Building Cos. has had a standout year. From overcoming unique challenges in Las Vegas on the Hakkasan Nightclub and Restaurant to meeting the demands of the unique people-moving Sky Train at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport—and handling a plethora of projects in between—the firm has burnished its reputation and legacy.

Images courtesy of McCarthy Building Cos.
Water in the desert McCarthy will break ground this summer on Odysea Aquarium, the third stage of a $175-million project that began on a parcel of land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
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Due to these reasons and many others, McCarthy has been named ENR Southwest's 2014 Contractor of the Year.

The company is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Timothy McCarthy began a lumber business in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1864, and soon thereafter became a builder of farmhouses and barns.

Although headquartered in St. Louis, the company opened a Phoenix office in 1979 and has been among the largest contractors in the Southwest for more than a decade. Among the firms participating in ENR Southwest's Top Contractors survey, McCarthy, with $441 million in revenue in 2013, was ranked No. 1. In the past three years, the firm has been among the top three firms in revenue.

Even though McCarthy has been successful nationally and in the Southwest for decades, suppliers and customers say the firm has never outgrown its commitment to be responsive and collaborative.

"They are a big company, but working with them is like working with a local company," says James Piotrowski, solar director for Arizona Public Service Co.

Charting a Successful Path

Many firms working in the Southwest compare current revenue numbers to the more active pre-downturn days. While McCarthy also saw a dip during the recession, they have steadily gained work during the recovery, posting revenue of $345.12 million in 2011 and $389.75 million in 2012. Bo Calbert, president of McCarthy's Southwest region, says a big reason for the firm's recent success is a diversification plan that began in the 1980s.

"The first thing I started figuring out was that you had to be diversified," Calbert says about his early days in the Southwest. "By the end of the 1990s, we were a $100-million company."

The survey results show that McCarthy's diversification has spread to several categories. The firm ranks first in the Southwest in power, sewerage/solid waste and water projects. McCarthy ranks second in education, health care, hospitality and renovations.

The firm also seeks out projects no matter the scope, says Justin Kelton, vice president at McCarthy.

"We will do a job no matter the size. It's about what our clients need," Kelton says. "A lot of what we do is smaller jobs of $50,000 to $10 million."

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