Harold MacQuinn Inc.
- Written by: E.C. Gregg
- Produced by: Sean Davis
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Paul MacQuinn says he was stunned when, in 2004, his company received an order from the White House.
President George W. Bush’s second inauguration ceremony was approaching. His wife, Laura, wanted to pave the ceremony with a type of pink stone that could only be found in Harold MacQuinn Inc.’s inventory.
“My estimator came up to me and said ‘did you see that on the news? What he was walking on?’ and I said ‘yeah, that’s the stone we sold them,’” says Paul MacQuinn, the company’s president.
Based in Ellsworth, Maine, Harold MacQuinn is an earthwork construction company that specializes in screened and processed materials like sand, loam and crushed stone.
MacQuinn says the pink stone, quarried from Hancock, Maine, was first manufactured in the 1970s, when his father, Ronald MacQuinn, was president. Even though it didn’t sell much in the 1980s and 1990s, Paul MacQuinn says the company kept it because it knew someday, someone might want to use it again.
“With bigger companies you have a ‘bean counter’ sitting at a desk saying you can’t have that there cause it’s costing us money and taking up room. But with a smaller company like ourselves we can pick and choose how we want to do things,” says MacQuinn.
MacQuinn says having a large inventory gives customers options, which is why it has over 15 different stone samples in stock at all times.
In addition to processing stone, Harold MacQuinn does general site work like excavation and water line and sewer installation.
Its aggregate business produces coarse particulate material such as sand, gravel and crushed stone. MacQuinn says his company uses these materials to “make just about anything that anybody wants,” including retaining walls and gravel walkways.
Building a national park
In fact, Harold MacQuinn has been building and maintaining the crushed stone roads, called carriage roads, for Acadia National Park since the 1940s.
MacQuinn says if this is done incorrectly, without the right stone mixture, the fine particles sink to the bottom and the stones rise to the top to create an uneven, bumpy road. His company designed the special mixture used in the national park.
In 1977, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded the company first place for splitting Eagle Lake Bridge, one of the park’s many historic stone bridges, in half and moving it to another part of the park.
“I still have some of the ball bearings that [my grandfather] used to move it,” says MacQuinn.
In 2014, Harold MacQuinn built an additional five miles of carriage road around Day Mountain, a minor peak in the middle of the park.
MacQuinn says one of the reasons his company keeps winning bids is because his team is so familiar with the area. In fact, because there’s such low turnover, the crews that maintained carriage roads over 20 years ago are the same ones that worked at Day Mountain.
Childhood in construction
MacQuinn is in the third generation to run Harold MacQuinn. His grandfather, Harold MacQuinn, started the company in 1933. After he retired in the mid-1970s, his son, Ronald MacQuinn, became the company’s president.
Paul MacQuinn says he was riding on the company’s equipment when he was just 10 years old. By 14, he was running it.
MacQuinn says the family business “sort of rubbed off” on him.
“I was always going on jobs with my father…the talk was always around what was taking place and what was coming up and I was able to sit in those conversations,” he says.
In high school, he worked as a laborer with the rest of the crew. Then, as a senior at Husson University in Bangor, Maine, MacQuinn worked under an estimator on paving projects. It was then that he began learning about the financial side of the business.
“I slowly got woven into the office, which is where you really figure out how [the company] really works…but I still had plenty of time to be on jobs and run equipment and crews,” he says.
After graduating with a degree in business management, MacQuinn continued to work as an estimator until he assumed the role of president in 2009.
Having grown up in the area, MacQuinn is very familiar with the stone and aggregate material of northeast Maine. Over the past 83 years, the company has completed projects for residential, commercial and industrial clients.
Although MacQuinn says he never felt pressured to join the family business, he does feel a certain pride carrying on the family legacy. But for him, as president, the most important part of his job is making sure his employees are healthy, happy and financially secure.
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