Quality, Service, and Safety

MacKay Construction Services

As prevention is always better than cure, big players all over New England choose Boston, Massachusetts-based MacKay Construction Services for its capabilities in the construction field, its valued craftsmen, and its impressive fleet of heavy equipment and vehicles. There is no need to wait until a piece of equipment can be found, as the company will just send in its own gear to do the heavy lifting, concrete pumping, and everything else a job site possibly needs.
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The company’s commitment to safety is one of its most distinguishing factors and absolutely everything possible is done to keep its workers safe on site. MacKay has a full time safety officer and has created its own safety program tailored to the work it does. Its employees also hold Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour training course cards.

This industry leader prepares sites for construction, performing earthwork, which includes soil remediation and excavations; utilities; curb and paving for roadwork; pile driving and marine work. It even offers equipment rental.

Its full-service concrete division specializes in architectural concrete finishes in addition to pouring super-flat concrete slabs and sidewalks. Its services to the City of Boston include civil works packages that deal with everything from roadwork and city parks to climate change resiliency work on Boston’s Waterfront.

“We offer everything needed to get construction projects out of the ground as well as complimentary services. While anyone can buy a load of new equipment, we focus on building relationships, quality, and service. That really sets us apart in the industry. That and our people, because we are only as good as they are. Our people are really great,” says President James MacKay.

The entire MacKay family is ready to assist customers, night or day. James, his mother Vicki MacKay and his father, Operations Manger Thomas MacKay, together with Estimator Kyle Annutto and Senior Project Manager Rob Robinson are available at all times.

“For us, it is always about the bigger picture, and at the end of the year, while two or three jobs may end up with tight margins, it is about being a trustworthy preferred supplier,” says James, adding, “It really is about our relationships, which is why we understand that business is about give and take.”

James’ greatest pleasure can be found in looking into new technology for the business and buying new equipment which helps the improve company’s efficiency. There is no doubt that construction runs in James MacKay’s veins. “Buying a boat doesn’t really do much for me, but buying a big shiny new dump truck or new GPS system on a bulldozer – now we’re talking. That and my wife and two daughters get my heart going,” James smiles.

While the company is known for its site work, excavation, and concrete foundations, it is particularly favored by the public sector for installing superb recreational facilities. Probably the most famous of these is the Mayor Thomas M. Menino Park on Boston’s waterfront, near the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown Navy Yard. The park’s significance for the local community goes beyond recreation as it was created as a result of the Boston Bombings. This unique, modern space affords people of all physical abilities and ages not only space to play but a place to recover from physical trauma.

The park was awarded the The Boston Society of Architects for Accessible Design Award in 2016. “Mayor Menino was visiting the Spaulding clinic when he decided that the hospital needed a park. Many of the recovering victims got prosthetic limbs and could use the park to rehabilitate,” says James.

Another accessible park on which the company is currently working is being built in honor of the bombings’ youngest victim, Martin W. Richard. Martin’s Park is situated next to Boston’s Children’s Museum at the South Boston Smith Family Waterfront. “Martin was only eight years old and very sadly passed away. His parents, Bill and Denise Richard, raised $8 million to bring this vision to life in his memory,” James says. “We don’t really do these types of jobs for profit. For us, it is about giving back. We really enjoy working on these projects because so many people join hands to make it happen. The city support from Mayor Walsh and his staff really make these types of projects run smoothly.”

The children of Boston are very close to this company’s heart, and it does what it can to ensure that as many kids as possible are provided for within the community. It is a sponsor of the Martin Richard’s Foundation to help support its mission of inclusion, development, and kindness. For this big-hearted company, giving is a serious deal, and so it also joyfully supports Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s toy drives and many other charities in the city.

MacKay’s projects are as diverse as its abilities. It has completed everything from boat ramps and cofferdams throughout Massachusetts to intersection improvements throughout the city of Boston to site demolitions, fills, and much more. It even installed the flagpole and traffic separation median at Ashburton Place at the State House in Boston, Massachusetts.

The company is very well represented throughout the industry and holds memberships with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Labourers’ International Union of North America, the American Concrete Pumping Association, and several other organizations. “The partnerships with our local unions make us stronger and we are fortunate to have good leadership,” says James.

MacKay Construction Services is particularly proud of its employees and always makes sure that they have the most up-to-date equipment to ease the job and maintain the quality for which the company is respected. Three in-house mechanics keep everything running as equipment failures and breakdowns lose too much time when outsourced.

“It really is thanks to our great teams that everything here runs so smoothly,” James says. This hands-on president grew up in the industry, and his father worked as a supervisor. After he finished high school, James worked for a paving and utility company. It is here that he realized the gap in the market for a company where quality and service came first. In 2004, he bought a backhoe and went to work.

Within the first two years, James had four employees and was doing so well that he decided to take on bigger jobs, for which he, of course, needed really good staff. At this moment, the 2009 recession hit the country – but this meant that the market was suddenly flooded with well-qualified craftspeople.

“As painful as the recession was, it actually helped me to load up on a lot of my key staff,” says James. The business could now take on turn-key excavation and concrete packages and performed its first million dollar project in that year. Fifteen years later, it is approaching $22 million in work annually. The company today is pre-qualified with MassDOT and the MBTA.

James has a wealth of useful advice for start-ups. “If you are starting a business, make sure you love what you do. Running a business is 24/7, and you have to be truly passionate with whatever you are setting out to do,” he says.

James’ own observance of this philosophy has led to the company winning a number of awards over the years. It was rated number fifteen in New England’s Engineering News-Record’s list of top specialty contractors. It was also a finalist in Caterpillar’s contractor of the year contest in 2016, which was a great honor for the company, and was the youngest company owner to be nominated for this award.

After the first few years’ spectacular growth, it has now settled into a comfortable and sustainable ten to fifteen percent annual increase in revenue. The company’s president attributes this healthy growth to a brilliant team of people, without whom it would simply not be a living, breathing entity.

For this family man and his company, life is about doing the right thing correctly the first time, an approach that has brought the firm nothing but success and will, no doubt, continue to do so. James thanks his parents, Tom and Vicki MacKay, and grandparents for their continued support, along with his wife, MaryLuz and two daughters Aryanna and Alyza.

September 18, 2019, 12:12 AM EDT