Mckissack & Mckissack is kicking ass in New York. The company marks the oldest female black owned construction company in the United States. For more than 100 years, the company has been a leader in planning, design, and construction of more than 6,000 projects, proudly upholding the standards of excellence established by its forefathers.
The company provides a wide range of services to a variety of government agencies, municipalities, private institutions, industries, designers and developers, and attributes its longevity and success to the talented, service-oriented professionals that comprise the McKissack organization.
The companies latest endeavors include revamping New York cities airport. The company was hired to build new terminals at JFK and Laguardia Airports. According to Black Owned Business, being a woman in the male-dominated construction industry could be challenging for some. But for Cheryl McKissack Daniel, who is the president and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, the oldest Black-owned and female-run construction company in the US, it always feels like home.
The company was founded in 1905 by Cheryl McKissack Daniel’s grandfather Moses McKissack. Her grandfather was a former slave who learned the trade of making bricks. Since then, they built different buildings, homes, hospitals, including the Tuskegee Air Force Base where Black pilots trained to desegregate World War II.
Her father, William DeBerry McKissack, took over the business in 1968 and that was when she started knowing about how the business goes.
“We would go to work with him every Saturday starting at ten years old, walking construction sites, tracing documents, you know, learning about building systems early in life. It was all ingrained in us,” McKissack Daniel told CBS News.
Cheryl’s father suffered from a stroke in 1982, leaving her other Leatrice B. McKissack, to managing and growing the business even more despite having no training in architecture. Some of the remarkable projects under her helm is the $50 million complex at Howard University and a building at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
In 2000, McKissack Daniel, a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holder in Civil Engineering from Howard University, took over the business. With her leadership, their construction and design firm has been making a mark on some of the major landmarks in the nation.
The owner of the company states it’s success is owed to affirmative action. She said, “People do business with people who look like them. All the work that we’ve done outside of New York, it didn’t matter in New York.”
She said she always makes it a point to prioritize hiring minorities for her company. 61% of her employees are minorities and 34% are women. She also developed a job training workforce program to those who they couldn’t hire anymore.
Moreover, McKissack Daniel hopes that her story would be able to inspire other women of color “that the construction industry can build wealth” and that it can look like them.