James McIntyre, Managing Director at Melcar Group, tells us about the company’s origins with “a sledgehammer and a vision”, and how the business is moving forward to answer the demands of the market
“Aidan Carolan started this firm with a sledgehammer and a vision.”
The words of James McIntyre, Managing Director, sums up the origin of Melcar Group (Melcar) and underpins the drive behind the company.
Melcar was established in 1989 in the US. With over 32 years of vanguard experience, the company takes a global approach to the continuously evolving infrastructure industry.
Within this space, Melcar is a driving force in underground and aerial construction, directional drilling, microtunneling and auger boring. The firm has built its unwavering reputation by undertaking the most difficult projects, providing exemplary results in a demanding industry.
With extensive experience in densely populated cities. Melcar ensures that the local communities, environment, and existing infrastructure are minimally affected during construction, while preserving the safety of all who are involved, be they the workers or the public.
“And today, we’re a prominent force in the infrastructure construction industry,” McIntyre tells us. “Throughout the company’s history, we have gone from being a telecommunications contractor to being a horizontal drilling contractor, and through added capabilities we became a trenchless construction contractor.
ACROSS THE POND
Melcar began with Aidan Carolan who immigrated to the US from Ireland in 1986. He had, prior to moving to the US, gained experience scaffolding in London, UK, and used his knowledge and skills to scaffold all across New York City (NYC).
“At that time telephones were becoming more common in high rises and the wealth of the average person was increasing,” McIntyre explains. “Those living on the upper floors of the buildings needed telephone lines to reach them, and you had to work through peoples’ closets, fire escapes and other places to facilitate this.
“As for streets, many didn’t have overhead electric lines and it was cheaper to set these up underground. You would have to go under multiple driveways to reach the person who had purchased a telephone, and so the workers would dig a trench perpendicular to the driveway under multiple properties to get there.
“Early in his career, Aidan used a sledgehammer to get the job done. One day, he saw another company using a very early version of a directional drill to bore a tunnel through which to feed the cables and noted that he and his colleagues were actually getting the job done faster by hand. Aidan then realized that if he and his team used a drill, they could get the job done 10 times quicker, and so they turned to directional drilling.”
From this single vision, the business that later became Melcar skyrocketed, providing a wide range of services supported by its founding values of quality, safety and reliability.
LEADING FROM THE FRONT
The nature of Melcar echoes throughout its operations and ties in deeply with how it is led; company values trickle down from management level and there is instilled a sense of communal effort that makes Melcar what it is.
“We are lucky to have Aidan leading our company, and he sets a great example to our colleagues,” McIntyre tells us. “He leads from the front and is out in the field every single day to ensure quality, productivity, and safety above all else.
“It is this dedication that all of our management follow and encourage across the company, and this in turn has helped us form a very unique culture in the business.”
According to McIntyre, part of what makes Melcar different to its competitors in the sector is this dedication of its employees, and the consequent loyalty that stems from this. The company has an incredibly high retention rate and prides itself on valuing each colleague as an asset, recognizing individual efforts and helping bind the work community under a roof of collective effort and stake.
“I learnt early on that it is a rarity in our industry to have such loyalty, both from an employee and employer perspective,” McIntyre explains. “However, this starts with the employer, the company. To get this kind of working culture and result it starts at the core with upper management, and if the company itself is not dedicated to its team members, how can a business ever hope that its staff will be in return.”
And from a service point of view, Melcar stands above and apart from its industry peers as a true innovator of service offerings, supplying the market by specializing in all forms of construction to answer a wide range of demands.
One aspect of Melcar’s innovative nature is exemplified in its capacity to adapt to the needs and requirements of the market and customers. The company is currently transitioning from being an underground construction contractor to focusing more on being an infrastructure contractor, as McIntyre elaborates.
“We are aiming to be the one-stop solution for any infrastructure project, from the engineering side to the finished plant,” he says. “Whether the projects are based in the areas of water, telecommunication, electric, or gas, we are looking to provide this full service from inception to the implementation and design, and through to the end process for the customer in their home.
“And at the same time, it is an exciting time for Melcar when it comes to adapting to balance underground and above ground operations due to the variety of different needs for either separate environment. For the foreseeable future, infrastructure development is going to be above ground, and so being able to combine capabilities in both environments is going to be a huge and important aspect of business.”
Moving forward considering this, Melcar is planning to continue to make large investments into its microtunneling capabilities. The company currently owns all of its microtunneling equipment – that provides installation ranges of up to 144-inches – and is a 100 percent in-house provided service, with the majority of revenue made by Melcar being placed back into the company to better prepare it and expand its capabilities into the future.
This kind of investment is not solely being placed in the realm of service provision, however. Melcar is also geared towards investment in its own teams of employees; dedicated staff that drive the company forward.
“Our current and future investment in our business capabilities hinges on our investment in the Melcar team,” McIntyre explains. “We need more crews, more equipment and people in every position from laborer to management.
“Over the past two months, we have been awarded more work than we could have ever imagined and so our first and foremost goal is to maintain who we are. We don’t want to grow too large too fast – we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of our morals and guiding principles of quality, reliability and values centered around the customers and our people.
We are building up new crews and training people one at a time until they are ready both in terms of training, safety, and self-sufficient to operate without mid or upper management on site.
“The future lies with a focus on our team first.”