In 1945, M.H. (Mike) McCartney a native of Etowah County founded a construction company in Gadsden, which still flourishes today.
The company has expanded far beyond “Mr. Mike’s” grandest expectations, and has become a major factor in the road building industry of northeast Alabama.
The management of McCartney Construction has passed to his son, and is now moving into the third generation – into able hands of grandchildren.
After graduating from high school, Mike went to work for Charles O. Duncan Construction of Gadsden. He was able to earn enough money to enroll at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) in 1924.
He left Auburn after only one year, but developed a love for the University that lasted his entire lifetime.
Yearning to get back into construction, he joined the Southern Paving Company of Leesburg, Florida. For the next 10 years, he followed big road building projects throughout the Southeastern states.
In 1935, he moved to Chattanooga to join Wesco Paving, under the leadership of the legendary, Manuel Russ. Mr. Russ put Mike in charge of a portable asphalt plant and paving crew, and Mike and his family moved from project to project throughout the Southern states.
His crew specialized in airfield construction, which was in full bloom during World War II.
At the end of the War, in 1945, Mike moved his family to Gadsden and founded McCartney Construction Company. Even though most of his background had been in asphalt, Mike specialized in concrete work in the early days of McCartney Construction.
Countless feet of sidewalk, curb and gutter, and culverts were poured in the Gadsden and Attalla area, with Mike on the ground and in the trench.
Later, he was able to put his asphalt experience back into play as he and two partners acquired Calhoun Asphalt Company. The company produced and sold hot mix asphalt for years to various customers in the area.
As Calhoun Asphalt grew, Mr. McCartney bought out his two partners and became the sole owner. The company was supplying more and more material for large State projects during the post-war road-building era, and in 1956 he joined the Alabama Road Builders Association.
In 1959, he bought his first brand-new asphalt plant and set it up near the steel mill in Alabama City. He was a charter member of the Alabama Asphalt Pavement Association, and served as President of the association in 1967.
In the early Sixties, the company was growing and Mike convinced his son, M.B. McCartney, to join him.
During the decade of the 60’s, McCartney Construction and Calhoun Asphalt participated heavily in the Interstate program. And they were especially involved in the paving of I-59 as it passed from Birmingham to Chattanooga.
During this era, the Neely Henry Dam was also being built, and many roads had to be raised and relocated. McCartney played a major role in this significant road construction project.
Mr. Mike (as he was fondly referred to by his peers in the industry) and his son soon began bidding State highway projects as the prime contractor. One of their major projects was the construction of the rest areas on I-59, located at the St. Clair County line.
Mike McCartney earned a wonderful reputation throughout the road-building business as a man who could be trusted to do what he said.
It can be truly said of him that, “his word was his bond”. He was active in various civic organizations, and was a member of the Auburn Engineering Council, serving as a Board Member.
Mr. Mike passed away in 1984. If he were here today, he would be most proud of his company as it progressed successfully into its seventh decade.
He would be amazed at the current size of the company he founded “on a shoestring” back in 1945.
He would cherish the fact that it is still a “family-owned” company moving into the third generation of management and ownership