MMC Contractors is a 100% employee-owned nationwide mechanical contractor specializing in large, complex mechanical systems for healthcare, energy, commercial and industrial markets, and government and mission-critical operations.
Founder, Claude Sanders, lost his job in 1932 at Laitner Brothers Plumbing in Kansas City and decided to start a plumbing company of his own. He called it Midwest Plumbing and Heating Company and worked out of his home providing residential plumbing services. Even though the Great Depression was in full swing, Claude had a family to provide for so he found a way to make it work.
By the mid-1930s, Claude’s brothers, Perry and Lee, who also lost their jobs as a plumber and a pipefitter, joined Claude’s business, and Midwest Plumbing and Heating began operating as a partnership. The business quickly grew from plumbing service calls to plumbing single-family homes for John Ernest (Ernie) Dunn, founder of JE Dunn Construction Company.
Ernie’s advice to Sanders… “Hire the best, treat employees and business partners the way you want to be treated, and share any benefits with the company and community.” That resonated well with Sanders.
MMC Contractors’ first multi-family residential project was a major turning point for the company, transitioning them from a residential construction company to a full-service commercial operation. In 1960, Midwest Plumbing and Heating officially became incorporated as Midwest Mechanical Contractors.
During the ’60s, Claude and his son Elmer began grooming Elmer’s son, Tom Sanders, for the business. In the early ’70s, while Midwest Mechanical Contractors was successfully building projects for national accounts, Tom recognized a unique opportunity to enter the general contracting business.
In 1971, Midwest Mechanical Contractors established MW Builders, Inc. as a general contracting branch of the company and landed one of their first major contracts… Motel 6. Initially hired to install only the plumbing, they strategically positioned themselves to become the general contractor and ultimately built more than 70 Motel 6 properties across the country!
While building a relationship with Motel 6, they also forged a great partnership with Warrensburg State Teacher’s College in Warrensburg, Missouri (known today as University of Central Missouri.) MW Builders Inc. was the sole mechanical contractor at the campus for nearly 20 years.
In the ’80s, MW Builders built the two tallest buildings in Kansas City – One Kansas City Place completed in 1988 stands 651 feet tall, and Town Pavilion, completed in 1986, is 591 feet tall.
By the ’90s, the Sanders family recognized the business had become focused in two different areas: mechanical construction and general construction so to create separation and a cleaner structure, a holding company, MMC Corp, was created to provide oversight of the two divisions.
The company sold 30 percent of the company to its employees in 1999 and in 2002, MMC Corp and all its subsidiaries officially became 100 percent employee-owned.
By the time Tom turned the reins over to his employees, he had grown it from a local $3 million company to a national $350 million organization with locations in Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Nebraska.
Bill McDermott was hired as CEO of MMC Corp and its subsidiaries in 2005 and continued to embrace Claude’s leadership philosophy through Tom, his longtime mentor. His guidance and leadership grew MMC Corp into a $450 million organization.
McDermott retired on December 31, 2013, and now offers advice and direction to other growing construction companies. He serves on the Board of Directors for Berkel & Company Contractors, Koss Construction Company and Swope Ridge Gardens, Garney Construction, and Rosendin Electric.
Tim Chadwick, MMC Corp’s then Chief Operating Officer, became MMC Corp’s new CEO in January 2014 and has been making an impact ever since. He’s been listed twice in Ingram’s Magazine as one of the most powerful business leaders in Kansas City and is an active advocate for ESOP organizations.
In 2016, MMC Contractors’ lease on their Martin City building was coming to an end. They faced a decision to either expand the existing facility or move somewhere else in order to accommodate growth. Keith Andrews, Sanders’ grandson and past president of MMC Contractors, said the decision to stay in Martin City was a no-brainer.
“We love our location in Martin City because it’s a nice, safe community with quick access to the entire metro area,” said Andrews. “When you look back at our company over time, we’ve survived every recession and obstacle we’ve faced. Martin City is our home and we want to continue to grow and expand here.”
That expansion added 33,500 square feet of space to their existing 42,000 square foot building and gave them 42 new offices, an expanded fitness center, new employee locker rooms, more warehouse space, training rooms, and new conference and meeting areas. They also added 78 additional parking spaces.
Rothwell Construction was the general contractor and Davidson Architecture and Engineering provided the design. MMC Contractors self-performed the plumbing and HVAC piping work. The project won a Cornerstone Award in 2017 from the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO, recognizing it as one of ten projects that helped strengthen Kansas City, Missouri’s economy during the year.
In July 2017, MMC Contractors hired Chris Hutchings as president of the Kansas City office. Hutchings hails from TCM Corp, a mechanical contractor based in Portland Oregon specializing in data centers, hospitals, laboratories, high rise hotels, semiconductor fabrication facilities, and industrial projects. His vast experience in mechanical contracting and engineering made him a perfect fit to lead the Kansas City office.
Hutchings serves on The Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City (MCAKC) Board of Directors and has become an active member of the Kansas City community.
MMC Contractors has been working in some of the nation’s most challenging markets – healthcare, energy, pharmaceutical, industrial, and commercial, and they’ve consistently been ranked as one of the “Top 25” specialty contractors in the United States.
They partnered with JE Dunn, Gould Evans, and many other local subcontractors, on Phase 1, 2, and The Link at Cerner’s new Innovations Campus in south Kansas City, and have been awarded contracts to continue work on Phase 3 and 4 of the project.
“After all these years, everyone is still committed to continuing my grandfather’s entrepreneurial legacy,” said Keith Andrews. “I wish he could’ve seen that we took care of what he started and what the company has grown into. I know he would be proud.”
We’re all proud of what MMC Contractors has accomplished over the past 86 years and are excited to watch their continued growth. Having so many employee owners in Martin City is an asset for us and we’re thrilled to have them call Martin City home!