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Nashua firm builds a regional reputation: T.J. McCartney fills niche for high-end, large-scale drywall, interior finishing.

When driving in the jam-packed traffic of downtown Boston, Mary McCartney sees evidence of her company's work in some of the city's highest skyscrapers and most notable landmarks.

"It's nice to drive through the city and see all the buildings we've done," says McCartney, president of T.J. McCartney Inc., a Nashua-based contractor that for more than 30 years has filled a high-end niche market in New England drywall and interior finishing.

Thomas Joseph McCartney--better known as T.J.--founded the company in 1976 in Hollis, which at the time specialized in small-scale drywall contracting. When he decided to sell in the mid-1990s, his daughter Mary, who had been handling the firm's marketing for a couple of years and had learned to conduct estimates, decided to take over.

She took time off to complete a graduate degree in finance and slowly bought the company from her father. Since taking over in 1995, she has expanded its scope, turning it into a contractor that fills the drywall, light-gauge metal framing and rough carpentry needs for large-scale, high-end building projects.

"It's not just about putting walls up anymore," says McCartney. "Some of the work We do gets really technical."

Just 30 years old and pregnant with her first child when she took over the company, McCartney says it was a "stressful" time. "It was a lot to take on, but [my father] was very good at hiring people, and be always taught me to surround myself with people that have strengths where you have weaknesses," she says.


Being a female-owned company in an industry that is typically very male-dominated is one of the company's unique features, says Tim Whitaker, Citizens Bank's relationship manager for T.J. McCartney Inc. And while McCartney says she is seeing more and more women break into the industry, she says being a female owner of a drywall contractor has been beneficial in one large way.


"The one thing being a woman that I bring to the table is I don't have the ego that some of my counterparts might have," she says. "I'm not just out to win. I can kind of see things a little clearer."

For her, this means not working with an undesirable client or accepting a job where the money isn't guaranteed--even if the job might advance the company's portfolio.

That's not to say the company's portfolio is anything to scoff at. Currently, the firm is working on an addition at Massachusetts General Hospital, and in the past has worked on the kind of notable landmarks that might appear in a game of Boston Monopoly: Tufts, Harvard, the Museum of Fine Arts, MIT and 111 Huntington Ave., a skyscraper in the same complex as the Prudential Center.

Thirteen employees, including estimators, project managers, and support staff work from the company's 3 Capitol St. office in Nashua, but hundreds more work in the field installing, taping and laboring. Currently, the company employs about 120 union workers, but depending on the scope of its projects, it may have up to 350 employees at a time.

Since the company's inception, using union labor has always been standard practice.

"[My father] signed with the union because he just always believed in it," says McCartney. "He opted for that way back then, and it's worked out very well for us."

T.J. McCartney sets itself apart from other drywall contractors because "they do a great job of managing the business," says Whitaker.

"We've really focused on our clients," says McCartney. "We have a small group of clients that we do work for and they have a good reputation."

These clients include national general contractors like Turner Construction Company Inc. and John Moriarty & Associates Inc.

"They've really aligned themselves with good partners and that has allowed them over the years to deliver consistent results in an industry that is typically very up-and-down," says Whitaker.

To McCartney, what sets T.J. McCartney Inc. apart is its employees, many of whom have worked for the company for decades.

"My top people--my vice president, senior project manager, and estimator--have been around forever, and they're known to be the cream of the crop in their industry. They're good people, they have a lot of integrity, they're honest, they're just really great and they're really what make the company?

As far as future projects, McCartney is just looking to keep the company on track as they deal with the ripple effects of the recession. Because there is a one- to two-year lag in commercial construction, the firm is just now starting to feel the effects of the economic downturn that began in 2008.

"I'm right now in a quandary of how this is all going to play out for us because it's gotten very competitive. We're set up to do large projects, and there really aren't that many out there right now, and the ones that are out there, people are doing crazy things to get, which goes back to the ego thing--which I don't plan to do.

"It's not about the volume, it's about being profitable."


"T.J. McCartney's business is built upon strong foundations and relationships, and Citizens Bank's business relationship with them is no exception," says Tim Whitaker, senior vice president of commercial lending for Citizens Bank. "We are proud that for the past decade T.J. McCartney has demonstrated a high degree of confidence in our customer and community commitment, and has valued the bank as a consistent financial partner. Providing the team at T.J. McCartney with the financial tools and working capital they need to explore new opportunities is what good banking, and good citizenship is all about."


To hear more about ways that Citizens can assist your business, contact Tim Whitaker, senior vice president, commercial lending at Citizens Bank, 603-594-7585 or Timothy.

Citizens Bank's In Good Company is presented in partnership with NHBR. The series spotlights growing New Hampshire businesses with unique stories to tell.
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Title Annotation:Citizens Bank[R]: IN good COMPANY
Author:Callahan, Kathleen
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:May 21, 2010
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