- Mike McKelvy, the former outspoken chief executive at Boston-based top 20 general contractor Gilbane Building Co., assumed leadership of Houston-based energy contractor McDermott International as its new president and CEO, just three weeks after announcing a short-lived retirement.
- The move puts McKelvy at the helm of a publicly traded construction giant that found itself stumbling prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2020 to shield it from 50,000 to 100,000 creditors, before emerging with $4.6 billion less in debt and a new $2.4 billion credit facility. Long-time CEO David Dickson resigned, without explanation, a year later.
- In a statement from McDermott, McKelvy seemed energized by the challenges of his new role. "I am eager and enthusiastic to join this already-robust leadership team and continue their progress to strengthen the portfolio and forge a new path for the industry," McKelvy said. "McDermott's business model and commercial strategy carve out a unique position to further capitalize on the changing industry dynamics and facilitate the energy transition."
McKelvy takes the reins at the restructured McDermott, which had revenues of $8.4 billion in 2019 before being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2020. It reported combined revenues of $6.3 billion in 2020 from its successor and predecessor operations after its reorganization, according to the firm’s annual report. McKelvy's hire comes as the company continues to regain its balance in the shrinking energy sector.
For example, the petroleum construction market plummeted from more than $59 billion in combined company revenues in 2013 to just $23 billion in 2020, according to Engineering News-Record, a drop of 59%. McDermott’s shares currently remain in penny-stock territory. They gained 15% in value over the last five days to hit 69 cents in over-the-counter trading.
McKelvy, who led Gilbane since 2014, oversaw revenues of $6.5 billion in 2020 — the highest total in the firm’s 150-year history. He contributed to projected revenue in excess of $6 billion for 2021, and Gilbane entered 2022 with a record backlog of projects, the firm said in a release announcing McKelvy’s departure Jan. 7.
Beyond his business acumen, McKelvy has maintained a high profile for industry-wide initiatives. Under his leadership, Gilbane chaired National Construction Safety Week, as well as the inaugural Construction Inclusion Week, in 2021.
The latter came together when Gilbane chairman Tom Gilbane and New York-based Turner Construction CEO Peter Davoren discussed the social upheaval that had erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, and a number of hate acts, including the display of nooses, that emerged on construction sites that year.
In the kickoff for Construction Inclusion Week, which is aimed at combating those acts and fostering more diversity and inclusion in the industry, McKelvy told Construction Dive that he had fired workers who included racist material and their association with Gilbane on their social media accounts.
"We weren't going out and searching people's Facebook pages," McKelvy said. "But somebody who knows our company's culture would see a post, and that they worked for Gilbane, and they would reach out to us to say, 'I don't think this is representative of who you are as a company.'"
McKelvy succeeds interim CEO Lee McIntire at McDermott, who took over from Dickson and will continue to serve on the firm’s board of directors.
This story has been updated to include McDermott's 2020 revenue.