McKinney Drilling Co.

McKinney Drilling Co. is a specialty subcontractor that has specialized in deep foundations with drilled shaft construction for 78 years. The company attributes much of its success to its dedicated employees. Founder Jack McKinney was known to have said, “Anybody can buy equipment; it is your people that make you a successful company.”  

Established in 1938, McKinney Drilling’s founders were innovators of drilled shaft equipment and processes, which set the stage for the company to become a leading drilled shaft contractor in North America. The company maintains one of the largest fleets of drilling equipment in the world. “Whether you require drilled shafts, auger cast piles, driven piles or low clearance work, you can trust that McKinney Drilling Co. has the skill and experience to deliver on time and on budget,” the company says.

Now owned by Keller Foundations, the largest ground engineering company in the world, McKinney Drilling is able to provide virtually any type of foundation anywhere in the United States. “We are a nationwide corporation with years of experience and a powerful parent company with a global presence, but we provide personal service to our customers reminiscent of our humble, family owned beginnings,” President Bill Maher says.

With 15 offices nationwide, the Hanover, Md.-based subcontractor is easily accessible to fulfill the needs of its clients – small to medium-large contractors and national construction management firms, owners and prime contractors. “We offer personal service,” Maher adds. “We have offices all over the U.S. full of estimators, project managers, assistant managers and district managers that have close relationships with the customer. We ensure that every need is met from the design and development stage through any needs post-construction.”

Almost all of McKinney Drilling’s work is repeat customers and new clients through word-of-mouth. McKinney Drilling’s customers consider its competent crews, solid support staff, knowledgeable leaders and attention to their needs the reasons it delivers high-quality work. The company considers its up-to-date equipment, ability to provide information quickly to the field, no rework and good communication skills to be differentiators for it in the industry.  

“One of the things that makes McKinney so unique is our ability to provide value-engineering when brought onto a project early,” Maher says. “If given the opportunity to work with developers or owners from the project’s design and development stage, we are able to provide money and/or time-saving alternatives for foundations.”

People First

“Though we are now owned by Keller Foundations, we have maintained the family oriented, close-knit, humble atmosphere typically only found in family owned businesses,” says Debbie Finch, director of business development. “Over 400 employees strong, our average employee tenure is over 25 years with recent retirees achieving 45 and 48 years of service. Our longest-working employee just celebrated 51 years and has no plans of leaving the job he loves.”

The company recruits and retains the highest-quality talent in the industry, Maher says. “In construction, you are only as good as your employees,” he adds.  McKinney has maintained its family culture because everyone – individual crews in the field up through the highest levels of management – is considered part of the family. Every person in the company is a valued member and everyone takes care of each other like they would their own family, Finch explains. “Bill Maher and Vice President Neal Howard are very hands-on leaders,” she adds. “Both gentlemen genuinely care for every person on their team and make it a point to personally lead each office that falls under their territory with dignity, respect and valuable guidance.” 

McKinney also differentiates itself among the competition because of its strong, hands-on leadership. “While other construction companies focus on the high and mighty dollar and fight to compete, McKinney focuses on developing their people and identifying and training the next generation of leaders,” Finch notes. 

Every year, Maher gifts each employee with a motivational book and writes a personal message. It is a small gesture, Finch notes, but a great example of the family culture and atmosphere. On an employee’s 25th year work anniversary, Maher and Howard present that employee with gold and diamond rings to thank them for their service.  

As a young professional, Finch says she is lucky to be surrounded by employees who have 35 to 50 years of experience in the industry. “I have mentors in every position that I can call on to learn new aspects of what we do and I trust in their knowledge of the field and the services we provide,” she adds. “Anyone can go through a corporate training program to learn the ins and outs of their business, but there is real value in being able to walk down the hall or pick up the phone and call on someone that knows firsthand what they are talking about.” 

Relationships are important at McKinney Drilling, which is evident in its family culture, and it extends that mindset to its clients. The company maintains long-term relationships with its clients by doing what it says it will do. It also stays in communication, provides attention to detail, has a keen focus on its customers’ needs, offers responsive crews and leaders and makes proactive decisions rather than being reactive. 

“We provide quality services at a fair price and strive to be the best drillers in the country, if not the world,” Maher says. “We treat people like we want to be treated. In a company that has been around for 78 years, we know everyone and treat everyone with respect and dignity and are proud of the work we do. We truly care about our customers and go out of our way to not only meet their needs, but to exceed their expectations in everything that we do.” 

Working Safe

Safety has always been an important part of how McKinney Drilling goes about its work. To promote safety among its employees and others impacted by the company’s work, McKinney has adopted the Keller Safety Framework. The Keller Safety Framework is a system that links together different aspects of its safety management, including safety goal, principles, policy and industry standards. “The construction industry in which all our businesses operate poses significant safety challenges, but we do not accept that people will inevitably be injured while working for us or with us,” Maher says. “Our ultimate goal is to have zero injuries through the effective management of safety in all our operations.”

The three fundamental safety principles at McKinney Drilling are that all accidents are preventable, there should be no repeat occurrences and minimum standards should be established on every job. The company believes all injuries and occupational illnesses are preventable and everyone is responsible for preventing and correcting unsafe behavior or work conditions. Reportable accidents and high-potential near-misses will be investigated to determine what happened and why. 

Finally, McKinney Drilling adopts a common set of minimum standards throughout the group. Management at all levels has the responsibility of implementing and maintaining safety standards. “The safety principles define our safety culture, behaviors and performance standards, and in so doing assist us in our progress towards eliminating injuries in our workplace,” Maher says. 

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