Although there is some debate about whether Mike Mackey and Tony Giachinta have worked together for 25 or 27 years, the point is they’ve been friends and colleagues for the majority of their professional lives. Throughout the various stages of their careers, they’ve learned the most important thing to co-leading the Washington, DC office and Mid-Atlantic region is trust.
They also both agree that the best part of their roles is mentoring and watching young professionals develop into up-and-coming leaders. Learn more about Mike, Tony and Clune DC and look out for our upcoming posts on our final two offices – Chicago and Dallas!
What was the biggest lesson learned from starting up a new office for Clune?
Tony: For me, ten years ago when we opened the office, I had already spent 20 years in DC. I knew the region had a lot of local firms that had been around for a long time. But even still we misjudged the perception of Clune as an “outsider” for the first 18-24 months. We realized we needed to get past the hurdle of being known as the ‘Clune Chicago’ general contractor. We focused on penetrating the market and gaining market share. It took a lot of persistence and intentional recruiting.
Mike: All that being said, Tony and I being local did give us a big leg up. We had a lot of relationships, and even if our contacts couldn’t give us big work they could give us an opportunity. It was also very valuable to have relationships with subcontractors who were willing to go after work with us. We learned you should never underestimate how difficult a new market is going to be and that it’s critical to hire local people in operations. It’s tough to get the traction but we’re there and it’s exciting. A lot of people built our DC presence, and it’s rewarding to watch this office grow.
What is your favorite memory at Clune?
Tony: When I look back at opening up an office and struggling for market acceptance, some incredible memories include times we rose to the occasion to land our first big jobs. It’s not all about rankings, but when a few years ago we wouldn’t have make a top 25 interior contractors list and now we’re number 7 – there’s pride in that growth. We’re 10 years old in Washington, DC, but we compete with firms that are 40-to-80 years old. For me that’s a proud moment. We’re accepted by the local market, and we’re considered a top contractor. That’s a tribute to everyone’s hard work.
Mike: That’s a tough one. I don’t think you can put a pin on your favorite moment, but I know I’ve always been most proud when I see our employees named officers of the company. That’s hugely important. Some of these employees came to us with almost no experience, but we saw the potential in them. It makes me proud as leadership to see these employees making that step.
Tony: And it’s that personal growth and that maturity that has gotten us to where we are today. It’s a parallel path between professional growth and our office growth, and we’re lucky to have such driven people. It’s also exciting to watch everyone’s personal growth. When we get to be a small part of personal successes, watch people have families, etc. It makes us proud.
One of Clune’s core values is giving back to the community, what way does the DC office give back that means the most to you?
Tony: The financial giving is one thing, which is of course great, but I think you get more out of it when a group does something together. One example was a project with Boulder Crest Foundation, an organization that supports Veterans, First Responders and their families. A group of us all went out there on a weekend, and with help from a subcontractor, we built a fishing gazebo over a pond. We recently had an in-office food drive for a local food pantry, and we have a group that runs a 10k fundraiser together. Doing something meaningful is a great way to bring people together.
Mike: All of our senior leaders have a charity cause, something they care about. Giving back is a very important thing and we make sure our office is doing so in a way that is meaningful for each team. As Tony said, doing these things together just increases our overall sense of community.
What’s one thing that people wouldn’t know about you?
Mike: I don’t know, I’m pretty open, it’s tough to imagine what someone wouldn’t know about me. One thing people outside of the DC office might not know is that I started in the construction industry as a carpenter and became a Superintendent before I was in this leadership role.
Tony: I love classic rock. The best concert I’ve ever been to was the Rolling Stones in Washington, DC, but Billy Joel and Elton John are a close second.
What would an ideal weekend look like for both of you?
Tony: For me, anything outdoors. It can seem like we’re always in the office or on job sites, so I’m always looking for a chance to get outside. I enjoy getting out on a jet-ski or boat in the summer and my wife and I like to go for hikes.
Mike: I’m definitely an outdoors person as well and I’m a big golfer. In the colder months when the snow is flying, I’m typically in my woodshop where I build furniture as a hobby.
If you could put a Clune office anywhere, regardless of the market, where would it be?
Mike: Savannah, Georgia. It’s on the coast, and it’s scenic and beautiful. The people are very friendly, and it’s certainly a lot warmer than some of our other office locations.
Tony: It’s hard for me to take the business perspective out. I struggle because I love the mountains but I also like the water. I would say Austin, Texas, and not just because my son is there. It’s a great place because you have access to the lakes and mountains. I love the beach, but at the end of the day I like the lakes and mountains more.
What do you see for the future of the Mid-Atlantic region?
Tony: A part of next steps is to stabilize our growth. We started off with corporate interiors and small projects and this all led to bigger opportunities, such as a lot of the SCIF work we do today. We’re obviously now three years plus in the Mission Critical field and excited to see that grow. It’s important not to forget where you came from, and make sure people know that you still do smaller jobs and provide great service. There’s also sector development – thinking about what’s the next area to go into and continue to build our expertise.
Mike: It’s definitely stabilization and diversification. One of our first jobs was a data center. But then we didn’t get another opportunity for six years. We have the opportunity to branch out and work on healthcare projects and tap into all the research and development work done in this area of the country. There’s life science work we’re excited about and of course expanding in the data center market.
Tony: We also want to continue the recruitment of the best and brightest. We’ve had great growth of our people and we want to bring in the next leaders to grow in our teams. We aren’t settling with our size, we’re excited to grow.
What traits do you look for as you add to the Clune DC team?
Tony: Passion, drive and enthusiasm for the business. You can’t teach that. The person has to have it. A lot of people come in and get burnt out if they don’t have a passion or drive for what they’re doing and for the industry. It’s not all about a college degree or pedigree. I just think you have to find good people who want to be in the construction business.
Mike: There’s no replacement for drive.