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tom mcdonough

From Faribault basement to $80M a year business, Met-Con thrives

The fact that he started Met-Con in his basement 40 years ago seemed hard to fathom as owner Tom McDonough walked up the stairs past the fountain in the lobby of his pristine Faribault office building to the second floor.

For McDonough, whose construction company was named the 2017 Heritage Days Grand Business, the ascendance from his home’s basement to the garage out back to the industrial park and, finally, into his current construction complex, is all due to his employees.

“You can go buy any equipment and do all of that, but if you don’t have the people to run it and do it efficiently, you don’t have anything,” he said on Wednesday morning of his 350 employees. “I wake up every morning and am blessed to have employees so dedicated.”

When looking for an exemplary Grand Business, the Heritage Days Board looks to celebrate milestone anniversaries. With Met-Con celebrating 40 years this July, Heritage Days Board member Kelly Huff felt it was the perfect fit.

“They were started by a Faribault native,” she said. “And have grown into a full-service construction firm that has helped shape the landscape of towns in Minnesota and Iowa with the buildings they have built. That is something Faribault should be very proud of.”

Huff noted it was a unanimous decision to choose the business that has grown so large, but kept Faribault as its home.  Met-Con’s building houses a number of other businesses within it. The company has even more properties and businesses outside of the Faribault property, too.

As McDonough sat in the sleek, modern conference room on the second floor of the office building he waited 30 years to build, he thought of those who helped make it happen.

“I’ve been very well blessed as you can see,” he said. “That’s why we are where we are. It’s the people.”

Since he started the business, McDonough has focused on the people, saying that when he found a good employee his goal was to have them retire at Met-Con.

Troy Zabinski, vice president of development at Met-Con and an employee for 20 years, moved to Faribault 20 years ago so he could live and work in the same community. As the company grew, his career grew with it.

His love for Met-Con comes from what he called a “family-oriented” approach.

“If [Met-Con’s employees] can have a steady job and make a good living to support their families and have the support of the company to be with their families when they need to, why would you want to work somewhere else?”

A Faribault company

Long before he walked into his office building in north Faribault a decade ago, McDonough was a student at Bethlehem Academy. During school, he worked at Lockwood Auto and at various gas stations.

When he graduated, he began working construction, running a loader in a gravel pit during the warm months.

“I got married, had some kids and needed to do something in the winter,” he recalled.

He entered the construction business and worked for 15 years before starting Met-Con in his basement in 1978. In 1981 he moved to the industrial park and in 2007 he built his businesses’ current home.

Met-Con now owns 12 other companies. The Faribault division was the first, but McDonough Leasing followed shortly after in 1979. Since, Met-Con has expanded to Mankato and added HVAC, roofing, sheet metal, masonry, grading and excavating, lumber and hardware, self-storage and manufacturing and assembly companies to its repertoire.

Thanks to these acquisitions and expansions, Met-Con is now a vertically integrated construction and real estate company, meaning they own companies that provide the various stages of the construction process.

Its work is on display all around the area. It constructed Faribault Harley Davidson, the Faribault Walgreen’s, South Central College, a residence hall at Minnesota State University, Mankato and even the locker room for the Minnesota Vikings.

Not just in Minnesota, Met-Con has done work in Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Oregon and throughout the Midwest, or as Zabinski put it, “Wherever our client asks us to go.”

Starting with just 12 employees and $300,000 worth of work from the basement days, Met-Con now performs over $80 million of work annually.

“Tom was born and raised in Faribault and that’s where he started the company,” said Zabinski. “The community has been good to him and gave him room to grow.”

McDonough was quick to shift the credit back to Zabinski, however, saying, “he’s the one that helped create that opportunity for us to grow. Without him, I can honestly say we probably wouldn’t have the growth that we’ve had.”

Citing his “talent, knowledge and ability,” as well as his “good relationship with employees,” McDonough was happy to hand over the day to day responsibilities of the company to Zabinski and to his son, Steve McDonough.

“I’m here every day, but don’t ask me what I do,” joked Tom McDonough of his reduced role in the company he built. Still, he keeps his ear to the street, listening to chatter about potential building projects and forwarding those ideas along to Zabinski for follow-ups.

Heritage Days

When you ask most anybody what Heritage Days means for Faribault they will say, “It’s about getting together.” McDonough’s response was no different, but he touted the reunion-like atmosphere of the city festival as its most alluring part.

“Sometimes the only time you see people is at a funeral or a wedding,” he said. “But Heritage Days brings that same effect. You go down there and you see people or meet new people.”

“You see all kinds of people that you know that you may see driving down the street, but that you don’t always have conversations with,” he explained.

As for what he is most excited for, McDonough mentioned that he enjoys having hot dogs at the festival and taking in the city that he grew up loving.

“Our home is here,” he said. “We get a lot of support from the community and we appreciate that.”

Gunnar Olson covers city government, public safety and business for the Faribault Daily News. Reach him at (507) 333-3128, at golson@faribault.com, or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.

 


Heritage Days Parade Committee honoring local milestone businesses/organizations

The Heritage Days Parade Committee would like to invite you to join us in celebrating our rich and diverse community by participating in the parade. Again this year we will be celebrating the heritage of Faribault by honoring local milestone businesses/organizations. If you are celebrating 20 years or more (for ex. 25, 30, 35 etc) we will waive the participation fee for this year’s parade. Please contact Noelle Miller at 507.323.5178 or noellemiller@charter.net if your business is celebrating.

 


This year Met-Con will be honored as our Milestone Business for its contributions to our community for over 45 years.

Thank you Tom and Sandy McDonough for your support.

Henry Doyle

Father Henry Lovelle Doyle has been selected as Grand Marshal of Heritage Days

When Father Henry Doyle’s name came up for discussion among the Heritage Days board members for this year’s Grand Marshal, the discussion was brief.

“He was just an obvious choice,” said Heritage Days board member Kelly Huff. “We just couldn’t believe he hadn’t been it before.”

In a unanimous vote, the board chose the former Shattuck-St. Mary’s Chaplin and current alumni affairs and outreach coordinator to speak at the opening ceremonies on Wednesday and ride as a distinguished guest in the parade on Saturday.

 “When his name was brought up, there was nobody who didn’t feel he was deserving,” Board Chair Travis McColley said. “We were just questioning why we hadn’t done it in previous years.”

Since his arrival to Faribault in 1989, Doyle has made a significant impact on the community, both on Shattuck-St. Mary’s campus and in town.

Off campus, Doyle frequently volunteers for Meals on Wheels, the CROP Walk, the Faribault Area Food Shelf, the United Way, Infants Remembered in Silence, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Merlin Players, the Ministerial Association and the Faribault Area Chaplains for Emergency Services.

His volunteering efforts in Faribault stem from an undying love for the place that he has called home for 28 years.

“We live in Faribault. This community, this place called Faribault, it has become my home,” he said in an interview with the Daily News.

His passion for the people he meets manifests itself in a remarkable effort he undergoes to send birthday wishes to each person who has touched his life.

While he uses Facebook to wish people a happy birthday, he estimates that he sends 5,000 birthday cards each year.

“I just like keeping up with people,” he said of this remarkable feat. “Our lives are based on relationships. It’s just letting them know I’m thinking of them on their special day.”

On average, Doyle sends more than 13 birthday cards each day throughout the year.

“It’s a reminder to them that I’m thinking of them and praying for them,” he said. “It’s a way of connecting with people. I can’t call them all and if I did, I would never get anything done.”

In addition to the staggering amount of birthday cards he sends, Doyle also pens over 2,000 Christmas cards each year and sends about 50 more to people who celebrate other religious holidays.

Wedding anniversaries are no different, as Doyle sends out cards to many couples whose weddings he officiates each year as well. In fact, on Saturday, before he takes to the convertible to ride in the parade, Doyle has two weddings he is scheduled to officiate earlier in the day.

Embracing Faribault

Doyle’s passion for Faribault is evident in his exhausting efforts to send well wishes via mail. The list of 5,000 names keeps growing and started with his efforts to reach out beyond the Shattuck-St. Mary’s campus and into the community.

“In my first years at Shattuck, I would go down to Nelson’s, now Fareway, and shop, buy something, just to see people off the campus,” he said of how that list grew. “I would do whatever I could to connect with the town in which I live.”

 Doyle said he is proud of the community outreach Shattuck-St. Mary’s encourages and he continues to be a prominent figure in events across the city.

When out and about in Faribault, he has noticed one major challenge the city faces, namely, embracing the city’s diverse cultures.

“There’s a place for all of us here in this community, not just for the settlers who’ve been here for hundreds of years,” he said. “I think that’s still a challenge for us as a community. Not just acceptance, but embracing.”

Doyle acknowledged that there is work to be done in this aspect of the city he loves so much, but he also said that Faribault’s strength lies in how it has addressed the challenge of diversity.

“There are so many people out there who are addressing it,” Doyle explained. “There are many people who are getting out of their comfort zone and working very, very hard to make this place a healthy, vibrant community.”

He pointed to law enforcement, the Chamber of Commerce and the religious community as some of the leaders fighting against Doyle’s fear of a “polarized community.”

“There are dedicated men and women making sure this is a community where people feel safe, feel welcome,” he said. “They are working really hard on that.”

His observations about the community motivate his volunteer work as he tries to touch as many lives as possible.

For Huff, Doyle’s loyalty to this place he adopted makes him the ideal Heritage Days Parade Grand Marshal.

“He’s not from Faribault originally, but he has embraced living here and being a part of our community,” she said. “He is one of us.”

Gunnar Olson covers city government, public safety and business for the Faribault Daily News. Reach him at (507) 333-3128, at golson@faribault.com, or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.

 


Heritage Days Parade Committee honoring local milestone businesses/organizations

The Heritage Days Parade Committee would like to invite you to join us in celebrating our rich and diverse community by participating in the parade. Again this year we will be celebrating the heritage of Faribault by honoring local milestone businesses/organizations. If you are celebrating 20 years or more (for ex. 25, 30, 35 etc) we will waive the participation fee for this year’s parade. Please contact Noelle Miller at 507.323.5178 or noellemiller@charter.net if your business is celebrating.


 

Special Thanks to Our Pillar Sponsors

The State Bank of Faribault // City of Faribault // Clearsite Creative // Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism