Blending traditional values with state-of-the-art technology, McKnight Construction has become a full-service construction business with a reputation for high quality craftsmanship and long-lasting relationships
Since its incorporation in 1961, McKnight Construction has been providing superior quality commercial construction throughout the Southeast United States. A full-service construction company, the firm was founded by Mason McKnight Sr in 1929 and has been family-owned and operated ever since. Today, third-generation family member and company President Will McKnight is at the helm. Having seen revenues grow significantly since taking up the role, Will is now welcoming fourth-generation family members into leadership positions at McKnight – a move he hopes will drive the company towards achieving its full potential.
“With each generation, the company has grown and diversified, innovating, changing and modernizing, yet remaining in line with our traditions and family values,” Will says. “What sets us apart is our willingness to combine old school values with modern innovations. As a family company, we value our team members and their families as an extension of our own. That type of support is evident in the longevity of the careers at McKnight, which all benefits the quality of work we produce and the enjoyable process of partnering with us. We create an integrity and efficiency not possible with any other company. It’s the reason that our clients come back to us over and over again.”
Specializing in large commercial projects – including all types of institutional buildings for local, state, and federal governments, as well as various contracts for the US Army Corp of Engineers – McKnight’s complete package of construction services takes projects from design to completion. Thanks to the company’s long history, McKnight’s estimators, project managers, and field teams are widely experienced in everything from occupied school campuses to historical renovations, private business outfits to high security federal facilities. This experience, paired with the company’s family ethos, has resulted in a workforce with a wide and varied skillset, committed to completing every project safely, efficiently, on time, and with integrity.
“Our family values spread through our entire company culture, and it affects everything we do,” Vice President and Director of Business Development Jane Marie Kinsey declares. “The family nature of the business has been particularly important since the outbreak of Covid-19. In one way or another, the pandemic has resonated in every area of each person’s life, and as a company, we feel responsible for our people. That responsibility looked unique for each team member based on their circumstances, but the familiarity we feel with each person helped us address each concern individually. Working mothers educating their children at home were given support to change their office schedule to accommodate this stressful and exhausting additional workload. Meetings were moved to video conferences, and site meetings were moved outdoors. Masks and PPE were distributed to all sites, along with hand washing stations and signage reminding our staff 34about social distancing. Lastly, we established a company newsletter to help distribute information, company policy, mental health resources, and the many updates that have been available during the pandemic.”
Despite the challenges presented by Coronavirus, McKnight and its team continue to tackle some of the most exciting commercial projects in Georgia and South Carolina. Among the company’s latest work is the construction of Fairforest Middle School, a brand-new facility in Spartanburg, SC. Alongside modern design features like outdoor eating areas and open common spaces, the school includes an observatory and planetarium. Ceilings and mechanical rooms are exposed to allow students to see the inner workings, and the terrazzo is glow-in-the-dark and depicts the solar system. Throughout September and October 2020, the firm has made commercial bids for six more major projects.
“We’re proud of every project we complete,” Director of Marketing and Procurement Blakely Downs asserts. “Each one serves the community in different ways, and we are honored to be a part of those communities. As well as Fairforest Middle School, we recently completed renovations of varying floors in a historic skyscraper in Downtown Augusta, GA. While all of the offices feature sweeping views and share the landmark property’s character, each was outfitted to fulfil its unique needs, whether it was a high security SCIF for classified military information, or shared common areas to facilitate team building.
“In September, we finished South Carolina’s Charleston Center for Advanced Studies, which not only includes beautiful design and craftsmanship, but will be used to train the workforce we so desperately need in our industry, as well as others. We feel privileged to contribute to the education of the next generation, and to do so for our trade in particular makes it extra special.”
As the fourth-generation of McKnight’s begin to shape the company’s future, technology is becoming more influential in the way the business operates, benefitting the construction firm at every stage of its process. From the early stages of design and estimation, outreach software called iSqFt enables McKnight to communicate with a variety of the most competitively priced and highly rated potential subcontractors, no matter the network or scope. Additionally, as bids get more complicated, the software allows McKnight to seamlessly communicate updates, addendums, and RFIs with all of its prospective partners.
In the design and construction phases of a project, when schedule and budget are arguably the biggest concerns for owners, Primavera software ensures McKnight’s schedule is maintained, as well as effectively communicated to all partners. Regarding budget, Sage 300 keeps all contracts, finances, holdings, payroll and inventory organized and managed to guarantee that the company’s focus remains on its clients.
Communication is often cited as one of the most vital and challenging aspects of any construction project, but McKnight has technology to assist with that too. As clarifications, changes, answers, or updates occur, circulating that information becomes increasingly important and PlanGrid software allows the firm to upload and share project plans, as well as add notes, amendments, and even photos.
“Innovations such as the photo function in PlanGrid have proved invaluable for us, especially in the punch list phase because once an item is complete, it can be checked off with a corresponding photo,” reports Field Project Manager Davis Heigle. “A sense of balance is important too though, and while the fourth-generation has introduced such useful technology, we still appreciate what has kept McKnight Construction successful since 1929, and that is our teams and our quality of work. Technology is only as good as the people who use it, and we’ve got the best people in the business.”
“Thanks to the hard work of our employees, we’ve reached a few milestones this year of which we’re particularly proud. Our safety record continues to stand as a testament to our standards and protocol, and through efficient checks and balances, we’ve created a work environment where our people feel safe. We’ve kept our EMR rating below 1.0 for well over five years now, and not long ago, we received the prestigious Lighthouse Beam Safety Award from BB&T Insurance.
“Our teams are our family, and we’re exceptionally proud of how long we have all worked together. One team member will celebrate being with McKnight Construction for 50 years next September and another team member has reached 45 years. We also have an employee who is the third-generation of his family to work for us. It all goes towards the creation of a special type of comradery and teamwork that I have never seen anywhere else.”
A construction firm with a difference, McKnight is working to change the world around it for the better – both through its construction projects and its dedication to the communities in which it operates. Fully embracing its corporate and social responsibility, McKnight recently won a LEED Silver Project at Moody Airforce Base and, thanks to an in-house LEED specialist, proudly upholds LEED standards in all its work. Additionally, the new technologies in use at McKnight have supported its efforts to become a paperless organization.
An active presence in its local community of Augusta, Georgia, McKnight continues to find ways to help its hometown thrive and has recently worked in some of the city’s Opportunity Zones, helping owners take advantage of the reduced capital gains taxes available. The work is indicative of how McKnight perceives the future – an opportunity to develop the lives of the people it comes into contact with on a daily basis, both inside and outside the business.
“Our three to five-year plan predominantly focuses on our team members,” Jane reveals. “Our industry is typically a tough one, with hard deadlines and pressure, and we want to work on congratulating our workforce, as well as providing career development opportunities to ensure they get the kind of training and support that will help them to advance their careers. In that same vein, we want to focus on our future workforce too, supporting the youth of our communities and encouraging them to pursue training in specialties that have such huge opportunities. At McKnight, we not only want to fill a need in our industry, but we also want to support young people in finding a clear path to success.”
Product and Services: Full-service construction firm