The success story of McKissack & McKissack
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McKissack & McKissack is a major construction firm that’s changing things on many levels. The company is behind huge construction projects that have improved access to health care, and it’s transforming the construction industry, thanks to its commitment to diversity.
The firm is also changing how we view family businesses. It’s the nation’s oldest African American-owned business and the oldest female-run construction company, thanks to the leadership of the McKissack family.
A family story
Brothers Moses McKissack III and Calvin Lunsford McKissack founded the firm at the turn of the century after earning architectural degrees through correspondence courses. They began by building houses in Tennessee and moved on to larger projects such as churches and university buildings. A major turning point was a 1942 contract for construction of the Tuskegee Army Airfield.
McKissack & McKissack became a prominent women-owned business when Leatrice Buchanan McKissack become CEO in the 1970s after her husband suffered a stroke. She built on the value that turned the firm into a success and secured several major contracts on university campuses. Under her leadership, the firm built additions to the Tennessee State University campus and the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
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A prominent women-owned business
Cheryl McKissack Daniel is a household name in the construction industry. She took over the family business in the late 1990s and became CEO and president. She studied civil engineering and worked on NASA and defense infrastructure projects before becoming the head of the nation’s oldest African American and female-run construction company.
She brought McKissack & McKissack into the 21 century by embracing diversification. The firm currently st has more than 170 employees with specialties in a wide range of areas such as architecture, design, site evaluation, compliance or resilience and recovery. It also has the capabilities to oversee every step of the projects it works on.
McKissack & McKissack has developed projects in infrastructure, aviation, government buildings, retail, waste-water management and many other areas. Recent projects include modernizing public transit for New York City’s MTA Capital Program and construction of a $7 billion terminal at the JFK Airport.
How McKissack & McKissack makes a difference
Cheryl McKissack Daniel is more than a company chief. She sits on several boards that support minority and women-owned businesses, and minorities and women in public offices such as Women in Transportation. She’s also on various university boards and advisory boards for urban development, including the OneNYC Advisory Board.
The values of the firm is one of the major reasons for its unsurpassed success. The McKissack family has always believed in developing projects that create value for clients and communities. The current CEO always looks for strong long-term partnerships, and earns contracts by focusing on how the firm can create value by bringing something unique to the table.
The firm’s hiring practices foster diversity. For several projects, it hired local workers, including women and minorities, and provided training to help workers find employment in the construction field after completion of the project.
McKissack & McKissack is an inspiring story for minority and women entrepreneurs. Two generations of women have made a name for themselves in a traditionally male-dominated field, thanks to their strong values while bringing communities together with groundbreaking construction projects. We’re excited to see what their next big project will be!