By CN Staff
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Caddell Construction is celebrating 40 years in business, commemorating when John Caddell filed the company’s Articles of Incorporation on January 27, 1983.
Caddell marked the occasion with a small “birthday party” for employees at the corporate headquarters this week and a more formal celebration took place at the companywide Christmas party in December, 2022. A year-long celebration will include looking back at “hall of fame” projects that helped ensure success, ongoing attention to corporate culture and a special “4 for 40” giving initiative where the company will present four local charities with $40,000 each to “construct what matters” for the local community in Montgomery.
Caddell Construction started in John and Joyce Caddell’s home following an unplanned and heartbreaking parting of ways with the company he’d helped build, Blount International, Ltd., where he had served as president and CEO for years.
Building a construction company into a major international competitor is a singular achievement accomplished by very few people in the world. John Caddell did it twice. In just a few short months, he and his wife, Joyce, hired a talented pool of staff, chased new work and won their first big contract. By 1985, every inch of the Caddell’s home was bursting at the seams with activity and organized chaos. Their growing staff worked out of bedrooms, the dining room and every other room. Their yard was full of temporary trailers with hard-working men and women pouring blood, sweat and tears into each endeavor.
The fledgling company had grown as big as the hairstyles that marked the decade. The Small Business Administration declared Caddell a “large business” in 1984, as the team continued to win project after project. And after careful deliberation, the decision was made to build a “real” office at Lagoon Park in northern Montgomery, Alabama to house the worldwide headquarters for Caddell Construction.
Chairman & CEO Eddie Stewart fondly recalls his days as a young estimator working in the Caddell home. “We had phone cords crisscrossed all over the house and blueprints laid out all over the bedrooms and on the dining room table. The energy and excitement for what we were trying to accomplish was palpable. We all felt it,” he said.
If “accomplishing” the building of an international business based out of Montgomery, Ala., was the goal, they certainly achieved it. By 1994, Caddell Construction acquired the remaining construction operations of Blount, and volume of new work exceeded $100 million. Just five years later, Caddell would earn its first $100 million contract. Throughout the 1990s, steady growth was fueled by success and hard work.
In 1998, the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were simultaneously bombed by terrorists. More than 200 people died, and more than 5,000 injured. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) immediately began to assess vulnerabilities at their current diplomatic compounds and rapidly developed a plan to design and construct new, safe, secure facilities all over the world.
An aggressive building program began, and Caddell was in position to strike while the iron was hot. Very few contractors can meet the strict requirements to even bid on secure work necessary for diplomatic facility projects. But Caddell’s previous DOS successes in Hong Kong and Istanbul were recent and relevant. On this their 40th anniversary, the Embassy portfolio sits at 39 projects valued at $7.4 billion. Just last year, Caddell won its largest contracts so far. On September 29th, the company was awarded the New U.S. Embassy project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with a contract value of $673,853,330. The very next day, came another record breaker: the New U.S Embassy project in Juba, South Sudan, with a contract value of $590,468,330.
In 2018, a multi-year transition from family-owned Caddell Construction, Inc. to employee-owned Caddell Construction, LLC was completed. John Caddell wanted the company he built to belong to the employees who helped him build it. Two years later, the company had again outgrown its space and moved the corporate headquarters from Lagoon Park to downtown Montgomery.
Over 40 years, the company has earned a reputation for taking on complex construction challenges in some of the most remote places on earth, including building a power and desalination plant on Ascension Island and a secure Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in the middle of a warzone. More recently, they’ve developed niche expertise in constructing for automation and are considered industry leaders in that market.
In 2017, Caddell expanded its presence into the commercial market, adding to traditional pursuits of Federal contracting and international diplomatic construction. To support the growth, the company has opened three additional corporate offices since then, including Bentonville, Ark., Woodstock, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla. According to President/COO Mac Caddell, these diversification efforts have been very successful. “New work awarded for 2022 exceeded $2.6 billion. That’s without a doubt a new record for Caddell! In fact, it more than doubled our previous record for new work won in a single year,” he said. “Best of all, each of our three business units won at least four new projects, a true testament to the success of our diversification efforts.”
Not many companies can match the depth and diversity of Caddell’s portfolio. “The work we’ve done over 40 years is mind-boggling,” said Eddie Stewart. “When I think about the sacrifices John and Joyce made to get this company up and going…and the continued sacrifice all along the way, I just can’t process that level of passion, talent and commitment. It is truly inspiring.”
Also of note is “The Caddell Way” of constructing what matters. According to Mac Caddell, the tenets outlined in the company’s culture statement are a reflection of the DNA of the company, first embodied by his grandfather and now a living legacy to the way he did business. They are both descriptive of how the business is run and prescriptive for how each employee should carry out his or her individual role in the ongoing success story. “It’s more than a set of words on a page. ‘The Caddell Way’ culture is paramount to our success and at the forefront of all we do,” he said.
Displayed prominently at every jobsite and corporate office, brought up in nearly every meeting, and lived out in daily life all over the world, “The Caddell Way” inspires employees and recruits alike. It reads: “I am accountable for my actions, respectful and compassionate to others, unmatched in my work ethic, and a positive ambassador for Caddell. I am an important member of the Caddell team, committed to working toward Caddell’s mission by focusing on collective success, and embracing a culture of continuous improvement.”