Students and faculty are now moved in and using the latest technology for the next generation of great dentists.
Check out this story that was recently featured on KMTV, the CBS affiliate in Omaha, NE.
You are going to hear a lot from us in the weeks and months ahead about the Creighton School of Dentistry project we recently completed.
Students and faculty are now moved in and using the latest technology for the next generation of great dentists.
Check out this story that was recently featured on KMTV, the CBS affiliate in Omaha, NE.
Watch KMTV Report
The office building we are constructing for OCI Services is featured on WOWT, the NBC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska.
The feature on the local news channel shows excellent drone footage of the projects early progress. You will notice the footings are in and we are getting ready to start erecting steel.
Watch the video below to see the entire story.
Nicole Schippel just celebrated her two year anniversary at MCL Construction. In that short time, the Michigan native has established herself as a vital part of the MCL Preconstruction Team.
Nikki's passion for construction and attention to detail is infectious to the rest of the MCL team, the owners we build for, and the design teams we build with on a regular basis.
March 4-10 is Women in Construction Week. Right now, women make up just 9% of the construction workforce according to the National Association of Women in Construction and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, women working in construction have increased by almost 140,000 since 2012. The opportunities are endless.
Last January at the MCL Construction annual meeting, Nikki presented to the entire company about her passion for the craft and what makes construction such an exciting field in which to work.
How did you decide to work in construction?
Oh boy, I have a lot to say here. I have known since my senior year of high school that I wanted to be involved in some capacity with the stabilization, redevelopment, and strengthening of neighborhoods and their communities and resource conservation. I can trace my entire career thus far back to watching a documentary on the rise and decline of Detroit in Ms. Rubenstein’s AP Environmental Science class. During the documentary, I took great interest in learning about the various de facto and de jure policies that had led my region’s namesake into such a spiral. However, what also caught my attention at the time was the feedback from professionals as to how a city implements economic development and neighborhood market revitalization strategies to move toward a successful future. Noting the words “urban planning” under the names of those being interviewed, I declared my undergraduate major at Michigan State University in Urban and Regional Planning during my academic orientation and never looked back.
In the time between declaring my undergraduate major and present day, I fulfilled positions focused on a range of causes I care about related to the field of urban and regional planning, including local food system development, commercial and neighborhood revitalization, transportation/energy infrastructure advocacy, and the repurposing of abandoned, vacant, and foreclosed properties. But while I was dedicated to every role I was fortunate to carry out, I found I was most fascinated by and passionate about my work rehabilitating vacant properties.
While I was working toward my Bachelor of Science in urban planning, I hadn’t realized that when it comes to some of the real estate projects urban planners want to see come to fruition, their involvement usually ends at informing the zoning code or including ideas in a master plan for someone else to implement. Even if municipalities and/or neighborhood districts set strict façade requirements, urban planners are still not typically involved in the architectural/engineering design process nor do they work in conjunction with the owners who finance the development, whose interest in meeting the requirements of their proforma or use for the building may lead to sacrificing architectural quality and building construction longevity, that will ultimately affect the neighborhoods where these dwellings exist. Additionally, those in construction that don’t have a background in urban planning or an interest in the reason for and impact of that profession’s work are usually not thinking of their building projects holistically with regard to where and how they fit within a neighborhood and region.
My decision to make a move from urban planning to the construction industry took place while employed at my first job after undergrad, a quasi-governmental organization that handles repurposing vacant, foreclosed properties in Detroit. During my tenure there, I was fortunate to have my job description grow to encompass many areas, including monitoring the acquisition of vacant properties; tracking preconstruction activities; fulfilling the role of a project engineer during construction; and assisting with the sale of homes. While working there, I became concerned about my initial lack of knowledge about the construction process and what drives that industry. In particular, I was concerned over my lack of understanding with regard to how much the rehabilitation projects we wanted to see happen in existing neighborhoods cost and what it takes to pull off a seamless, successful project. I also began to wonder how much value I could bring to considering the feasibility of ideas originating from neighborhood planning charrettes if I could speak to the dollars required to make these plans a reality.
Feeling as though urban planners could use an ally in the neighboring profession of construction, I pursued a Master’s in construction management so I would gain the classroom credentials that private construction firms look for to complement my professional development through practice. Ultimately, I wanted to assist with making the building renovation and rehabilitation projects that play a role in sustainable land use planning a reality, and although indirectly, help communities address vacant, abandoned property and the consequences it brings. This is also why I went into estimating. In this role, I currently seek to continuously learn about building and site design and how various scope is constructed in the field so I can better generate accurate conceptual estimates detailing the cost of the work. The reconciliation of a project’s budget with the estimated cost to complete the work (which are two very different things) is the point in which projects either continue along in the design/construction process or die. A great preconstruction team complete with the architect/engineer, construction professionals, and an owner can generate design and constructability ideas that save a project.
Who has been your biggest influence in construction?
It would be an understatement to say I have been fortunate when it comes having great mentors, spanning the different professions I have touched. With that being said, my biggest influences in the construction industry are two individuals who I spent a lot of time working under when I started estimating, and who fortunately for me took my training very seriously – Chad Nelson and Diane Major. They are adept at asking and addressing thought-provoking questions when very little information is shown to ensure their estimates include a scope that would otherwise be overlooked if one doesn’t take the time to be thorough. In addition to sharing their approach and letting me attempt to soak up their knowledge, they showed me what it looks like and what it means to be on a supportive estimating team. They are also two people that put their heart into everything they do. I will always be indebted to them for taking me on as a student and having my back.
What projects interest you the most?
There is something to love about every project, but because of my interest in preserving historic buildings, maintaining the fabric of neighborhoods, and resource conservation, renovations tend to be my favorite jobs. I love being a member of teams that keep existing buildings in use and bring lost gems back to life.
What would you tell young women today who are considering or may not have considered working in construction?
The construction industry touches every industry that needs a built space to carry out their work, every dwelling where people live or recreate, and on a grander scale, affects the landscape – urban or otherwise – where people carry out their lives. It may not feel like it during every moment once you get into the rhythm of going to work every day, but working in the construction industry will give you an opportunity to positively impact the people and places you care about. And it needs all types of skillsets, whether you prefer working with your hands, working with design, managing contracts and schedules, working with numbers – the sky is the limit. And last but certainly not least, the industry and the landscapes and people it impacts benefit from having diversity – in every sense of the word – on the teams that carry out each project.
When Bob Carlisle was 18, he made a decision that would have haunted most people for life; he quit college after a single semester. Neither Carlisle’s heart nor his head was in school. Instead, the lifelong Omaha boy wanted to go back to work at the Omaha Country Club – a place that had been a second home to him since the age of 11, when he learned to caddy at his father’s suggestion. For many people, Carlisle’s choice would have stifled his career potential, but for Carlisle and his eventual foray into the construction world, it was what you would call “perfect timing.”
As his peers hit the books and the higher-educated watering holes, Carlisle began honing his managerial skills as an assistant manager at OCC, overseeing high school and college kids in the dining room and in the bar. He also spent a fair number of hours slinging drinks and picking the brains of some of Omaha’s biggest and most successful businessmen, including Peter Kiewit, an Omaha General Contractor who was renowned for building the firm that bears his name into a worldwide company.
In fact, quitting college may have been one of the best things Carlisle ever did in his life. It was at the country club that Carlisle met the man who would later give him his first construction job and it was at the country club that Carlisle learned he had a knack and a calling to be a manager.
“It’s ironic how timing is everything. I had a college math professor who always said, ‘If I could predict the timing of when things are going to happen, I’d rule the world,’" Carlisle recently recalled.
“I have thought of that many times over the years. The truth is, it couldn’t have happened at a better time (quitting college). It was perfect timing.”
Today, Carlisle and the company that he founded with Jim Meyers in 1987 is finishing its year-long 30th anniversary celebration. MCL Construction has grown from its initial days as a storefront startup into one of Omaha’s premier construction firms that routinely lands some of the biggest projects in the city.
Over the last year, the company has hosted a summer dance party, along with monthly stories on its website chronicling MCL’s history and the people behind its rise. Carlisle and his story officially marks the end of the anniversary series and the year that was 2017. But, anyone who thinks that either Carlisle or MCL plans to sit on its laurels, think again. Carlisle is already working on the company’s blueprint for the next 30 years – take that 2018.
And, let’s just clear this up right here and now; Carlisle may have tapped a successor for his company – Tony Fucinaro – but that doesn’t mean he won’t be around for the next anniversary. “I’m not going away anytime soon,” Carlisle laughs, noting that his father still works as a dentist at the age of 85.
So, before Carlisle gets too deep into 2018 and too deep into ensuring that his company lasts long into the future, let’s take one last chance to look back at one of MCL’s founders and the man who has been at the helm from the start.
Carlisle is an Omaha boy through and through. He was raised in central Omaha by two staunch Catholics who liked to have the priest come over for Sunday breakfast. His mother was a second generation Sicilian, while his father’s family had strong roots in Nebraska. (His grandfather was a former State Patrol trooper from Falls City.)
“My parents are very faith-driven people. It’s a huge part of their lives,” said Carlisle.
Carlisle was the oldest of six children. “It wasn’t a loud household, but there was a lot of conversation. There was a lot of interaction when it came to pizza, pasta, and bread. We were always talking about cooking” he smiled.
As the oldest, Carlisle was expected to be the Big Brother who helped with homework and with bedtime. “I would describe Bob as a leader. He made sure we all stayed on task,” said Mary Carlisle-Novacek, one of Carlisle’s two sisters.
“Bob sets goals for himself. He always has. I believe his company has come to fruition because he has always expected nothing but the best from himself and his company,” she added.
Like all of his siblings, Carlisle went to parochial school, attending St. Pius as an elementary student. He loved sports and played as many games as he could as a kid. He remembers spending hours in a gym on a weekend, shooting as many baskets as he and his teammates could, with the goal of reaching 1,000 tosses.
“Sports taught me a lot about how to manage a business. You can’t just roll out of bed and expect to succeed. You have to do a lot of preparation and practice,” Carlisle said.
Like his father before him, Carlisle went to Creighton Prep for high school. It was there he met his lifelong friend, Mike McGlade, who now works as a senior associate dean for administration at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“He was a driven guy, even from the early years. He was always the guy who had to have a plan and who followed through,” said McGlade. “On our intramural teams, he was very competitive. He always played hard. He was driven and he wanted to win.”
Many of Carlisle’s school friends remain his compadres today, and he has worked to maintain those connections. It’s not an overstatement to say that Creighton Prep and Omaha Country Club will always be a big part of Carlisle’s life. Friends from both the club and the school are still in his life today.
“He’s an Omaha guy whose strength is his friendships. Omaha is a "big" small town and Carlisle has connections everywhere. He’s just a tree with many branches,” said Paul Beller, an MCL vice president.
“Because of his connections, he has a pulse of what’s going on in this town. He does see ahead. He’s not just looking a year from now. He’s looking 20 years from now,” Beller added.
After high school, Carlisle followed his friends into college but it didn’t last long. After a semester at Creighton University, Carlisle decided to take a job as assistant manager at the country club – a job managing several hundred “egos.”
“My heart wasn’t set on college. I wasn’t into it. My heart was with the people at the Country Club,” Carlisle said. “I loved taking care of people, managing people.”
He doesn’t regret leaving college for a minute. Carlisle met a lot of influential and successful people at the club, pouring drinks and listening to their stories. He learned what makes a successful businessman tick, and he learned that financial success doesn’t translate into happiness. It is one of the reasons today that Carlisle makes sure that his life revolves around more than work.
“He is passionate about many things, not just business. He loves concerts. He loves sports. He’s a well-rounded guy,” Beller said.
Carlisle considers his years at OCC as some of the most productive of his life. He learned how to work with a variety of people, and he learned that most people, given the opportunity, simply want to do their best.
“I made some great friends there. I learned a lot about getting along with people. I learned there are people from all walks of life and that they put their pants on the same way we do, one leg at a time,” Carlisle recalled.
It wasn’t long, however, that Carlisle began to make a plan for life outside of OCC. After two years as the assistant manager, he decided to go back to school for marketing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
While going to school, he landed a “grunt” job at Hicks Construction. The owner of the company, Curt Hicks, was a good golfer and a regular at OCC and he made sure to give Carlisle the hours and the work he needed to survive.
Carlisle graduated in three years and he landed a marketing job with Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. The only problem was that Carlisle didn’t want to leave Omaha and, truth be told, Hicks didn’t want Carlisle to leave his company. He offered Carlisle a marketing position with Hicks Construction, saying he would never make as much money as he could in construction.
It was while working for Hicks Construction that he met Jim Meyers, his future business partner. The two men bonded despite their age differences and they developed a strong working relationship, with Carlisle working to convince prospective clients to narrow the bidding process to a few pre-selected companies before opening it up to bid.
“So, instead of bidding against 15 guys, we were bidding against four,” said Carlisle.
Carlisle and Meyers had no problems working with Hicks, but they began to realize that they were bringing in most of the work, while Hicks’ son was being groomed as the successor. To put it simply, they didn’t think they were being fairly compensated for everything that they were doing for the company and they decided the time had come to work for themselves.
“Nobody has ever been successful or made something work by being too conservative,” said Carlisle.
The two left and on their way out, they convinced MCL’s top superintendents and office manager to come with them and to start a new enterprise. Carlisle and Meyers had been planning their departure for a while, and the two had several jobs lined up before they left and set up shop in a small storefront office.
“They were up and running within a few days of leaving because they had the entire crew,” said Keith Basham, an Omaha architect who has worked with the company for years.
That was 30 years ago this year and here are two astonishing facts about MCL: the company never had to borrow money and it has never had to lay off a large number of people due to an economic downturn. There have been some worrisome nights but Carlisle has always worked to make sure his workers had a jobsite to go to in the morning.
“I never doubted MCL would survive. What kept me up at night was making sure people had things to do. What kept me up at night was finding the next job.” And, they found the jobs.
They began to do all the remodeling work for First National Bank – MCL still has the contract today – and they landed a big gig at Immanuel Hospital.
“We were always lean and mean. If our company needed 20 people in the office, we had 10,” Carlisle said.
He still loves his job. In fact, Carlisle still does project management work as well as sales and marketing work. “He’s out there grinding it every day, making that next business connection,” Beller said.
He’s managed to keep more than a few employees around for the long haul. People like Nancy Benson have worked with Carlisle for decades and are – so we’ve heard – have had trouble leaving the place. Charles Sachs even came out of retirement several years ago to work for Carlisle.
“He’s very honest. No B.S. I’ve worked with people who tell you one thing and do something else. Bob’s word is good,” said Sachs, who recently retired as an MCL superintendent.
Carlisle is not leaving MCL, but he is already thinking about the future. The man with a plan in high school – he said he always knew he was going to own his own business – still has a plan. He wants to ensure that MCL is around for decades – if not centuries – to come. That’s why he has chosen a successor in Tony Fucinaro, whom Carlisle is grooming to be the company’s next CEO.
“He’s looking out for the strength of the company,” Beller explained. “It’s more than just about Bob Carlisle; it’s about the people he’s hired and employed. He wants this business to be successful when he is gone.”
But, listen up Tony and MCL, Bob Carlisle is not anywhere close to retirement. He still has a few sales pitches left in him, and the passion to land that next job.
“I love what I do. I love going to work every day,” Carlisle said. “I love working with people. Seeing my people succeed and enjoying what they do. That makes me happy.”
Yup, don’t expect Carlisle to leave anytime soon. MCL needs someone to put its 50th anniversary together.
Can we say, “See You in 2037, MCL?”
30-Year Reflection Series
Each project is personal to us. Our teams take great pride in getting to know the end user of every space we construct and how that area is going to be used long after we are finished building.
Just over a year ago, MCL Construction completed work at the Lauritzen Outpatient Center and Fritch Surgery Center at Nebraska Medicine. The 186,000 square foot building has many different uses and users. Early in design and throughout construction, we were aware of the importance of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Biomechanical and Advanced Surgical Technologies Laboratory. The work being done by Dr. Hani Haider and his team was recently featured in the Live Well Nebraska section of the Omaha World-Herald.
Photos By:Architectural Photography Inc.
The construction of this space required our team to work closely with Dr. Haider and Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. The lab was relocating to the Lauritzen Outpatient Center and Fritch Surgery center, so extensive coordination and attention to detail were needed to assure the proper delivery and installation of equipment. As you can see by the pictures, there is a lot of it. However, this equipment produces a lot of vibration which can have adverse effects on other departments in the hospital like the eye surgeries taking place on the floors below. To solve this problem, we worked with RDG Planning and Design to keep vibration and noise produced at the lab isolated to that space allowing the rest of the hospital to function normally with no interruptions.
To us, projects are personal and this approach speaks to the level of service we provide and knowledge of the space throughout the lifespan of your space.
Charles Sachs can do almost anything on a construction site, from hammering out a frame to scheduling subcontractors with deadline finesse. The only thing this old-school superintendent appears to have had trouble with in his full-bodied career was retirement.
Sachs is parking his steel-toed boots for the final time this month at MCL Construction. However, it isn’t the first time this 76-year-old has put down his hard hat.
In 2000, Sachs made his first attempt at retirement at the youthful age of 58. He lasted a mere two years before he returned to the field with MCL, starting a new career at a new company when most men his age where turning their attention to improving their golf handicap.
“I thought I wanted to retire. A lot of people my age had retired and they told me how great it was,” Sachs recently recalled. “But, in my second year, my wife told me, ‘you need to go back to work.’ ”
So, Sachs called his old friend, Gary Leapley and Don Gausden, both of whom were working at MCL and both of whom knew him from his years at Kiewit.
“There is more to life than traveling and fishing,” Sachs explained.
Sachs is officially re-retiring this month after 58 years in construction. His retirement party Thursday comes as MCL Construction enters the final stretch of a one-year celebration, marking 30 years in business.
It is with the help of people like Sachs – old-school artisans committed to their trade – that MCL Construction has become one of the region’s most prominent and most respected construction firms in the Omaha area, with a reputation for providing personal, quality care.
Like MCL Construction, Sachs is not a flashy guy. He is not the kind of guy who seeks to dominate a room, but he is the type of guy who you would trust with your multimillion dollar project.
“If you wanted something done, Charles was the guy who would get it done,” said Leapley, one of MCL’s co-owners. “He’s very tough, very hard-nosed, but he’s fair to everyone.”
“He never asks for more than what his workers could get done, but he expected a lot and he met the deadline,” Leapley added.
Sachs earned his work ethic the old-fashioned way on a small farm near Fremont. He was the oldest of five kids who was expected to milk 15 dairy cows by hand with his brothers before and after school. He started driving tractor before he drove a car, at what age he doesn’t remember, but he was young. He might have stayed on the farm if he didn’t have a relative in the house-building business.
Shortly after high school, Sachs picked up a hammer and went to work for his uncle as a carpenter. Three years later, he joined the union.
“I liked construction work. Back then, when you built a house, you built it from the ground up. Not like today, when people come in and specialize in something and then move on to another project.”
A few years later, Sachs landed a job at Kiewit Construction. It was here that he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a foreman on smaller jobs, before he eventually became a superintendent.
Gausden said Sachs earned a reputation as a straight shooter, who expected a clean work site, and who was a master at keeping a project on schedule.
“He is very old school. He came up through the trades as a carpenter before becoming a superintendent,” said Gausden, who is now with Davis Erection Co. “He can build anything with his hands. It’s unbelievable.”
Gausden said Sachs might have been a tough manager, but he was still beloved by his workers.
His popularity was on display in the mid-1980s when Sachs’ house burned down to the retaining walls in Elkhorn, while he was on a job with Gausden. Immediately, Sachs began to rebuild, but he didn’t have to do it alone. His friends in the trade came to his side. In fact, too many wanted to help.
“When he started to put it back together and rebuild, so many people wanted to help that he had to turn them away,” Gausden recalled.
“I think he had that house rebuilt in six weeks. He had so much help, so many people respected and admired him, that they wanted to do whatever they could.”
Over the years, Sachs has had his hand in many of Omaha’s biggest construction projects. He helped build the First National Bank building on the north side of Dodge, and he has worked on both Immanuel and Midlands Hospitals.
He also worked on a warehouse in the coal fields of Wyoming and helped to build a jail in the Chicago area.
“I like building things. I like seeing buildings come up out of the ground, all the way to the finish,” said Sachs.
He also worked on the Methodist Women’s Hospital.
“That was a nice job, a very nice job,” Sachs recalled. “All the subs we had got along real good and the coordination flowed good too.”
His claim to fame – say his friends – was his ability to maintain a strict schedule. Owners loved him because when he said something would be done, it was done on time and it was done right, Gausden said.
“It’s almost unheard of in this business to gain time on a schedule, but Charles could do it. His main saying to people was, ‘Don’t go home until you get it done.’
“He knew in the beginning you have to go like hell so that you can go easy at the end,” Gausten said.
Of course, Sachs didn’t sacrifice either quality or safety to get the job done. He may have been a taskmaster, but the only time he allows himself to puff up with a little pride during a one-hour interview is when he talks about how he never lost a worker to a serious injury.
His first priority was to make sure that every person who clocked into his job site in the morning, went home at night to their families, with their lives and limbs intact.
“I never lost a guy and I never had anyone cut themselves with a saw,” said Sachs.
Gausden said it was simple: Sachs cared about his workers.
“If you worked hard for Charles, he’d take care of you. But if you didn’t, he’d go right over the top of you,” Gausden recalled with a chuckle.
Sachs worked for Kiewit for several decades before coming to MCL where he put in another 15 years on the job site.
After all that time, Sachs says he is going to give retirement another go. He wants to spend more time with his childhood sweetheart, Corrine Sue. The two have been married for 58 years and have four children together.
“I knew her when she was in 8th grade,” Sachs smiled. “We started dating in 10th grade.”
Sachs doesn’t know exactly what he is going to do in retirement, but it’s highly doubtful he will spend his days in a rocking chair.
His friends and co-workers say Sachs isn’t the sedentary type.
“He’ll find something to do, I guarantee it,” Gausden said.
30-Year Reflection Series
Every year, MCL Construction and its employees embark on a 48-hour marathon sprint to erect a dilapidated Bayou mansion, filled with cobwebs and carts for the dead.
It’s a volunteer mission that unites the company’s carpenters and engineers in a frenzy of work, culminating in one giant Halloween bash/fundraiser.
Some companies may bond over cake and coffee in a conference room, but MCL’s employees cultivate esprit de corps over graveyards and swamp-themed bars that form the haunted mansion-backdrop used for the company’s “Scare Away Cancer” fundraiser.
“Everybody does their corporate outings, where you get together and sing Kum Ba Yah. But, we get together once a year to throw one &#%!@?! great party. This is our bonding experience,” said Travis Justice, MCL’s marketing director, as he showed off a video hologram of skeletons.
MCL Construction is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a series of stories that highlight the company’s commitment to both its future and its community.
Scare Away Cancer is definitely about the company’s commitment to its community.
"To watch a 16-year old find out she was getting a car was emotional for everyone in the room," said Ebert. "The Robak family has been through so much, at Scare Away Cancer they made 340 new friends."
The costume ball is MCL’s biggest fundraiser/night of the year. It is a mammoth project that MCL volunteers work on throughout the year, starting two months after the last ball is completed. There is nothing stale about this party, as organizers work to make it bigger and better every single year.
The party has its roots in managerial training.
Seven years ago, Tyler Dunklau, an MCL project manager, took part in a leadership training program with the Associated General Contractors. As part of the program, Dunklau had to come up with a community project.
Dunklau sought help and guidance from Tony Fucinaro, a senior vice president with MCL who could give Martha Stewart a run for her money in the party planning department.
Let’s just say when it comes to “Scare Away Cancer,” Fucinaro earns his nickname as the “Party Diva.”
“We had all kinds of hair-brained ideas that first year - tubing down a river, a bonfire on a farm,” recalled Fucinaro. “They involved a lot of red-neck games.”
The two men eventually settled upon a Halloween-themed party to raise money for cancer patients, in part, because an MCL employee had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. They also decided to hold the party at Anthony’s Steakhouse, which is owned by Fucinaro’s family.
“We’re adults and we don’t get many opportunities to dress up and be kids again,” said Fucinaro.
About 300 people came to the first party, but many of them were family and friends recruited to fill the tables. Today, the party has been officially sold out for three years in a row, and tickets are now only offered to those who attended in the past.
As for the money, it too has grown exponentially over the past seven years. In the first year, $30,000 was raised. That grew to $60,000 in the second year until it finally hit $159,000 in 2016.
This year, close to $180,000 was raised – a record.
“We had no idea what we were doing that first year but, afterwards, we knew we had to do it again,” said Paula Ebert, MCL’s office manager.
A key to the party’s success has been the loyalty of its key donors, Ebert and several others said. Eight companies – many of them connected to the construction trade – have loyally supported the fundraiser from the start.
“We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of these people and these companies,” said Ebert.
The eight major sponsors: J.R. Barger & Sons, Electric Company of Omaha, Prairie Mechanical, T. Hansen Construction, Allied Construction Services, Omaha Lancers, McGill Asbestos and Peitzmeier Demolition.
Party planning is a yearlong process that starts in January, when a core group of about seven volunteers begin to meet once a month to go over what worked and what didn’t work in the last party.
By June, they’re meeting once a week, working to implement new ideas and scenery. By the time the party rolls around, 30 to 40 MCL volunteers will gather for 12-hour days to assemble the decorations and scenery over a two-day period.
This includes putting together an entire barn-like frame known as the carriage house, where guests enter the haunted mansion.
“The carpenters try to create a new scene every year,” said Fucinaro.
It is safe to say that Fucinaro is the driving creative force behind the party, who is always pushing for more decorations and more scenery to accompany the Bayou Mansion theme.
They don’t call him the “Party Diva” for nothing.
This year, he and his carpenter crew added a fireplace into the mix. Two years ago, they erected a huge tent on the side of Anthony’s restaurant, where the graveyard is now located.
Fucinaro isn’t happy with the status quo. Every year, Fucinaro comes up with something new: a glow-in-the-dark tunnel, ghostly holograms that fly through the headstones and buzzards on trees.
“You get a picture in your head and you try to make it real,” said Fucinaro. “We’re really trying to put people in a different place.”
He’s already thinking about next year, mulling over an idea of a book case with a revolving door. “My ultimate goal is to bring fire into this event” Fucinaro said.
“Now you see why most people run away when they see me. They don’t know what I’m going to have them do next.” Fucinaro added.
The goal of the party has always been about raising cash for cancer patients and/or cancer programs.
In the first couple of years, MCL turned to Methodist Hospital Foundation to help distribute the money to patients and/or their families in need.
Today, they distribute money with the help of several health-care organizations, including Children’s Hospital, Nebraska Medicine and Catholic Health Initiatives.
Often, these organizations will recommend a family in need and the “Scare Away Cancer” board will cut a check for $5,000 to $10,000.
“We can turn a check around in 24 hours. I guarantee you there are few nonprofits who can turn a check around that quickly,” said Justice.
In addition, MCL Construction chooses one pediatric cancer patient each year to invite to the party. This year, they chose Rachel Robak, who is battling Hodgkins Lymphoma and whom was shocked to be awarded a convertible on Saturday.
Finally, the dollars raised at Scare Away Cancer also goes to the Inner Beauty Salon at Methodist Hospital. The salon helps fit people undergoing chemotherapy with wigs, while also providing skin care and prosthetics for cancer patients.
Last year, 86 people were provided help at the Inner Beauty Salon thanks to a $12,000 donation from the fundraiser. “We will probably do that every year because we can help so many people,” said Justice.
After seven years, MCL Construction and its volunteer crew have no plans to slow down. They will soon be working on finding new ways to amuse their guests.
“I don’t know how, but we have to push ourselves. We always have to find new ways to shock ourselves,” said Fucinaro.
30-Year Reflection Series
The story of Tony Fucinaro and his career at MCL Construction starts with a love of family and ends with a pushy uncle who knew what was best for his nephew.
It also begins in the winter of 2003. That was the year a young, 20-something Fucinaro with jet-black hair and a big Italian family was preparing to graduate from Iowa State with a degree in Construction Engineering.
The Omaha native had his future all mapped out. Fucinaro is the son of Anthony Fucinaro, Jr., a famous Omaha restauranteur who was an owner and founder of Anthony’s Restaurant. Fucinaro loved his family’s red sauce and the late-night mayhem of the kitchen, but his heart was in concrete and steel.
Fucinaro had always wanted to build things since he was a boy. Big things with a big company. It’s why he went to Iowa State and it’s why he landed an internship at construction giant Kiewit Construction during his junior year in college. “I always dreamed of working for Kiewit because they were the big guys and did all the cool stuff,” Fucinaro said.
Yup, Fucinaro had it all planned out, but his uncle had other ideas.
His uncle, Greg Boulay, knew Bob Carlisle and knew that his nephew would flourish in a smaller company, with a family-like atmosphere. He had been talking to Carlisle about giving his nephew an interview. At the same time, Greg was trying to convince his nephew to give MCL Construction a chance.
Carlisle and Fucinaro finally found time to meet over Christmas break in 2003 at Chili’s Bar & Grill near Oakview Mall.
It was a bromance from the start, let’s call it CarFu if you will.
The two former Creighton Prep boys were sold on each other from the outset, with Carlisle offering Fucinaro a job and Fucinaro beginning to question his big corporate dreams.
Eventually, Fucinaro realized he would be happier working with a smaller company, after showing up one day at a Kiewit job site and realizing that he would always be a small cog in a big company.
“I never worked for anybody but my family,” Fucinaro said. “And, MCL was more like I was used to. I was used to working for a family.”
For his part, Carlisle said he instantly knew that Fucinaro would go the distance. “I knew right away that he was going to be the guy. I knew then that this guy is very intelligent,” said Carlisle.
Today, 14 years later, Fucinaro is the heir apparent at MCL Construction. He was tabbed by Carlisle four years ago to buy into the company, with the idea that he would one day be its next chief executive.
When that will be is anyone’s guess. Carlisle doesn’t give any appearance of slowing down as MCL Construction celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The company that Carlisle and Jim Meyers started in 1987 has grown into one of Omaha’s most recognizable and trusted construction companies, with both Carlisle and Fucinaro committed to continuing that growth over the next 30 years.
“He and I are both cut from the same cloth,” Carlisle said. “We’re both Sicilian, we both have hard-headed parents, and we’re both very, very competitive.”
As for when Fucinaro will assume the reins, Carlisle said there is no timetable. Carlisle plans to continue to work at the company for the foreseeable future or until he doesn’t want to work anymore. At that time, he will have The Conversation with Fucinaro. In the meantime, he’s giving Fucinaro the chance to learn what it means to be an executive on the job.
“There’s going to come a time when it’s time to slow down, and I’m going to say, ‘Here it is Tony. It’s yours. Run with it,’” Carlisle said.
“I’ve already given him a very long rope to start making changes,” Carlisle added.
Fucinaro is fine with the no-time-frame part of Carlisle’s succession plan. He is in no hurry to assume the top job. He figures he still has a lot to learn. That has been Fucinaro’s modus operandi since the day he started with the company. He has always tried to soak up every facet of the company and to learn and incorporate new technologies into the business.
Fucinaro’s first job at MCL Construction was working under Jim Fleissner at Lakeside Hospital. He started with a new coat and a new phone – a huge phone – that had been given to him by Carlisle as recruitment presents.
The phone, which Fucinaro estimated weighed 20 pounds, was as tough as an iron worker. “I dropped it off the roof at Lakeside. It was buried in snow all winter. In the spring, we found it, and it still worked.” (Don’t tell Paula!)
Fucinaro was a field engineer who did anything that Fleissner asked, from sweeping floors to installing backing. “We were in a small construction trailer for 60 hours a week. Jim became my construction dad,” said Fucinaro.
A few years later, Carlisle gave Fucinaro his chance to shine or stumble, when he put him in charge of a remodeling job at Children’s Hospital.
“It was a pretty scary feeling,” Fucinaro recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh shoot. I hope I don’t mess this up.”
Obviously, he didn’t mess up, because Carlisle kept giving him more and more responsibility.
“Bob always let me do what I wanted to do. I’d come to him with an idea, and he would say, ‘OK, let’s see what you can do.’”
As for the future, Fucinaro is keeping his plans for the company to himself. He is currently involved in putting together a long-term strategic plan for MCL, but he is not eager to let the competition in on his plans.
“We have a very strategic plan of where we want to go in the future,” said Fucinaro. One thing he will say is that he and Carlisle are committed to incorporating the latest technology into the company’s future. “We want to build smart. We want to build more efficiently,” said Fucinaro. He is also committed to investing in the company’s workforce.
“We want to make sure we’re able to invest in our guys. We want them to go as far as they can go in their careers,” Fucinaro said. “I don’t want anyone to say, ‘I wasted my time at MCL."
It’s clear Fucinaro has his sights set firmly on the future and has no regrets about giving up on Kiewit. “None. Not a bit. I’m glad I got out when I did. It’s not a knock against them (Kiewit) but all those deliberations I made those many years ago about whether to work for MCL or not, and my gut feeling about Bob, it all turned out alright.”
You can say that again, CarFu.
30-Year Reflection Series:
SLOWDOWN, Omaha, NE – Bob Carlisle and his wife, Ashley, hit the dance floor early, paving the way for Nancy and Tim Benson to show off their own smooth two-step moves.
The official party for MCL Construction’s 30th anniversary was kicking into high gear last Thursday as the Carlisles and Bensons took to the floor, heeding the siren call of a party band known as “4 On The Floor.”
It was around this time that Paul Beller – the company’s very own ‘Tamborine Man’ - made his move.
Beller climbed on stage and shook his bells as the band plowed through a medley of hits, including the classic “Billie Jean.”
He may not have had Michael Jackson’s sense of timing, but what Beller lacked in choreography, this company vice president made up for it in his unabashed joy and enthusiasm of the music. Let’s just say Elaine Benes of “Seinfeld” fame would have been proud. (You can see the video at the end of this story.)
It was a time to reflect on the past, while staying focused on the future.
“It’s been a fun 30 years. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but more ups than downs,” said Bob Carlisle, one of the company’s original owners and a man whom everyone agrees was instrumental in the company’s success.
Carlisle spoke for a few minutes before he hit the dance floor, showering his appreciation on all the employees who have and still work for his company.
It is the men and women on the frontlines who have helped to make MCL the success it is today, said Carlisle. MCL Construction is one company that doesn’t cycle through employees. “We have the greatest group of employees. We have 50 employees out of 156 people who have been with us for more than 10 years,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle then called the company’s past and its future to the stage in the form of Jim Meyers and Tony Fucinaro.
Meyers is the retired estimator who convinced Carlisle to join him as a co-owner in a new construction venture. At the time, the two men worked for Hicks Construction and figured they could make more money on their own.
Fucinaro is the heir apparent to Carlisle, although Carlisle says he isn’t leaving “anytime soon.”
With Meyers by his side, Carlisle called him the best numbers guy in the business. “You will never ever ever EVER – in our industry – meet a better estimator.”
As for Fucinaro, Carlisle predicted the senior vice president was going to help the company reach new heights.
“This is the guy who is going to take us to the next level,’ said Carlisle. “All my employees, get on board, because it’s going to be a heck of a ride.”
Carlisle wasn’t the only one who had high hopes and praise for the company. Several people in the audience said they were amazed at MCL’s rapid growth.
The company’s first job when it started in 1987 was a $500 gig to build an enclosure over an air conditioner. Flash forward to today, and MCL has built numerous multi-million dollar projects, including Methodist Women’s Hospital.
Mike McGlade, an old friend of Carlisle, said he always knew MCL Construction would be successful, but even McGlade seemed a little surprised at the company’s rapid rise to become one of Omaha’s most recognizable and trusted construction companies. “It’s been quite a run for them,” said McGlade.
Greg Boulay, a former accountant who worked with the company in its early days, said Meyers and Carlisle made the perfect team. “They complimented each other very well” said Boulay. “It was a great combination of an older guy with ‘been there, done that’ experience and a younger guy with endless energy and optimism.”
“What they’ve been able to do is pretty unprecedented in this industry,” Boulay added.
The amazing part of MCL Construction’s success, one partygoer said, is that they’ve managed to succeed without going full-on “corporate.”
“We work with a lot of construction companies,” said Dave Jesse, an insurance broker with Harry Koch Co., “And, I’ve said this a lot (about MCL). They’re a big little company.”
“They do a lot of work, a lot of big jobs, but they’re still a small family company. It doesn’t have that corporate feel,” said Jesse.
Jesse is right. If you want proof, look no further than Beller.
I ask you this: “Is there another company in Omaha who has a vice president/Tamborine Man on staff, ready to shake his booty and get the party started?”
Nope, I thought not.
MCL Construction is Omaha’s best "little big" construction company.
In 1987, a new construction company with high-rise dreams landed its first gig in Omaha - building an enclosure over an air conditioner at St. Gerald’s Church. It wasn’t a big project, but it was arguably the “coolest” MCL Construction has ever done.
MCL Construction is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has landed numerous multimillion dollar projects over the decades, including the nine-figure Methodist Women’s Hospital and a massive religious retreat called the Cloisters on the Platte.
However, the company has never strayed from its cool, albeit humble, beginnings. Sure, the company loves the big-crane projects, but MCL Construction is just as fond of remodeling lunchrooms and replacing doors. Yes, we’re talking tiny one-man projects, like “Help, MCL! Our-pipes-have-broken-and-we-need-them-fixed-before-the-doors-open-tomorrow projects.”
“There is no job too small. There is no job too big and there is no job we’re afraid of,” says Paul Beller, a project manager for MCL Construction and a blunt talker.
MCL Construction is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, with a series of articles about its past, its present, and its future, and the people who helped to build the company one remodel job at a time. Beller is the man who oversees the company’s smaller projects. These include everything from fixing a broken window for a couple of hundred dollars to building a new data center for $6 million.
“We’re probably the only construction company in Omaha with the ability to do this kind of small project work and still be able to do a (multimillion-dollar) dental school,” he said.
Over the years, Beller has learned that every project has its rewards. And, he says, smaller projects often pave the way to bigger projects after MCL Construction has earned a company’s trust.
Businesses that rely upon MCL to do their year-in and year-out remodels and construction work grow to trust the company. They develop a relationship where they come to understand MCL’s commitment to customer service and to doing a job affordably and efficiently. When the time comes that a company has a bigger project on the drawing board, MCL is often in line to land the business.
“Little things lead to the big things,” said Beller.
For the clients, MCL’s relationship-building work through doing all jobs – big or small – means they don’t have to waste time and energy to bid out every project because they know that MCL will do the work to the highest standards. They have the years of experience of working with MCL to make this call.
“We know the company, and the company knows us. They’ve done work in every building,” Malik said. “They understand our expectations and their expectations are just as high.”
Josh Dinsmore is on the front line when it comes to MCL and the company’s day-to-day engagement with companies for the smaller, emergency projects. Dinsmore, who started in construction as a carpenter, is often the guy whom property managers call for help. He is – and this is not an overstatement – the face of MCL for many companies such as Union Pacific and First National.
“You develop a relationship with these people and these companies,” said Dinsmore. “You know who their wives are and where their kids are going to school.”
Dinsmore is the guy who will get the telephone call in the wee hours of the night when a pipe has frozen and burst open, and a company needs it cleaned and repaired before the start of the next business day.
“Someone may call because a car drove through the front of their glass, and you’ll get the call at 2 a.m.,” said Dinsmore.
Dinsmore and Beller may never have the thrill of toiling away for three years at a mega-project, but that’s fine by both men. Because they also are rarely bored. They never know what they’ll be asked to do when they pick up the phone, but they know they don’t have to commit years and years to a project.
“I don’t know what’s coming from one day to the next,” said Dinsmore.
Beller said he also finds the smaller project to be more rewarding because he doesn’t have to wait for years to see a result. Progress can be measured in hours and days, rather than months upon months.
“I like to see progress, and you can see progress if it takes only 35 days,” said Beller.
And, these smaller projects can be done under some tight time restrictions. MCL was once asked to build a small data center and the job needed to be done in 90 days. Beller and company delivered.
“Everybody thought it couldn’t be done,” Beller smiled. “That was exciting to me.”
Of course, Beller was also thrilled it was only a 90-day gig, and he could soon hit the road knowing that a conference room remodel was in his future.
Part 1-Jim Meyers
Part 2-First In The Field
Part 3-Nancy Benson
Part 4-Building Relationships
Part 5-Gary Leapley
Part 6-Building For The Future
MCL Construction uses many voices from within and outside the company to give informed advice, opinions, and techniques about construction methods, innovation, and technology.