The Lakewood office of MACNAK Construction provides a glimpse into owner Terence “TD” King’s tenure as a pilot and flight instructor with the U.S. Navy, as well as the incredible team of employees with which he has been able to stock his business.
On the veteran’s back wall is a framed picture of a VF-32 F-14B Tomcat aircraft flying over Iraq, the photograph bordered by signatures of his squadron mates. Below that is another framed image, this one of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier. He knows the U.S. aircraft carrier well, as he took off and landed his fighter jets on the Truman during numerous missions between 2001-2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
King, 41, learned plenty during his military flying days, which included lecturing fighter squadrons from Japan to the East Coast as the Navy’s threat missile Subject Matter Expert and flying as an Adversary Instructor pilot in support of SFARP, Airwing, TOPGUN and FRS fighter classes from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
One of the most important lessons he learned, however, had less to do with combat and more to do with Federal Government contracting.
As the F-5 Program Manager, King learned a lot about federal contracting and procurement from some of the largest contractors in the game: Lockheed Martin, Grumman, etc. All serviced contracts in support of the F-5 fleet. Working on the military side of the fence, he learned how things are done and why. He came to understand the way federal contracting worked from the top down. That information helped him predict, unlike any other company, the changes to come. That understanding of how federal contracting worked helped him build a business plan that takes advantage of the processes and changes that are expected to come over the next decade or two. He understood that the inefficiencies of the federal system were driving inevitable paths that would have massive influence on future contract vehicles. His business plan pursued these changes, preparing a resume that would allow MACNAK Construction to not only compete, but to win resoundingly.
It’s this philosophy that has helped King grow MACNAK Construction exponentially under his ownership – something that has earned the Lakewood-based company plenty of recognition. MACNAK was named the No. 8 contract on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of the Top 100 Fastest growing privately held companies in the Northwest for 2014 as well as being named to “Inc 5000” list of fastest growing privately held companies as No. 1,199 with a 3-year growth of 366 percent. Over the past four years, MACNAK has been recognized with several business awards, including the University of Washington “Rising Star Award” and the PSBJ’s Top 25 MBE’s. It has been featured in several articles, including in the Vetrepreneur Magazine and US Builders Review.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” King says about the MACNAK explosion, “Just being part of such great success, seeing your business plan come to fruition.”
“At first, I anticipated having a lot of time at this point,” he adds. “Instead what’s happened is your issues and challenges just change. As you grow, you have different issues and challenges. It’s not any less daunting. They do change. It’s exciting.”
A Need Identified
MACNAK’S rapid growth is something few could have predicted when King became a managing partner in 2007. The native of Ephrata graduated from Central Washington majoring in biology with a chemistry minor. He had always planned to go to medical school until a friend was accepted into the Navy’s Flight School with a pilot slot.
“That sounded so much more exciting then what I was planning to do, I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of flying a military fighter jet” he said. The next week King took for the 8-hour military entrance exam and was quickly accepted into both the Navy and the Air Force’s flight school. He chose the Navy and, in less than two weeks, he was in Pensacola, Fla., wearing a uniform and attending ground school.
King finished at the top of his class throughout Primary, Intermediate, Advanced and then Advanced jets to gain a pilot slot and set of gold wings flying the F-14 Tomcat. Over the next few years, he flew in Operation Iraqi Freedom and later became a Top Gun air wing instructor in Fallon, Nev. He had also become a program manager for the federal government, which meant he had to work with contractors. It was this experience in which he identified the foundation of his future business.
ere’s what King identified: The government would hire contractors for a construction project, and that contractor would later issue a change order because the designer wasn’t on the same page. They would go back and forth, and by the end, the project’s price tag had skyrocketed.
“They were notorious for that,” King says.
That observation stuck with him when he got out of the military in 2007 and joined forces with childhood friend Caleb MacNamara. Together, they formed MACNAK Construction LLC. (MACNAK was originally a sole proprietorship, and the name is a combination of the last names of the company’s original founding partners)
The first two years were difficult, and MACNAK didn’t really make money. King admits that he and his partner didn’t share the same strategy. While King wanted to pursue contracts across the nation with every federal vendor, including the DOD, GSA, BOR, etc ., his partner had trouble leaving remote Central Washington and U.S. Forest Service jobs. King moved to the Puget Sound to pursue large contracts and the deep pockets of the Department of Defense. King’s military experience had convinced him that he could be successful with a different approach to contracting.
That new approach: Design and build. For those not in the construction world, design and build involves the customer hiring one contractor who works with its own set of trusted and credible designers and builders. King says the beauty is that the customer – in his case, the federal government – doesn’t have to hire a designer and contractor separately, reducing the threat of, at least in his word, “the dishonest contractor.”
At that point, King scripted a five-year business plan. He began planting the seeds of his business by getting various federal government contracts. It started off with smaller projects – parking lots, small buildings, etc. He targeted projects in different states simultaneously, essentially building a resume that no other contractor had.
Business began to grow. Fast. So did the size of the project. Word spread about the MACNAK approach. The jobs kept coming in, and the company found itself hiring more staff – both permanently and seasonally – to keep up with the demand.
In 2010, King moved his family and company headquarters to the South Sound. Two years later, he bought out his partner to become MACNAK’S sole owner and share holder. He continued the torrid pace of design and build contracts. From 2007 to 2013, MACNAK worked on 400 contracts, the majority of which were with the federal government.
Its smallest project to date: An outdoor set of dips and pull-up equipment at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane for $12,000.
Its largest project to date: In December, it will begin a 3-year, $33 million dormitory complex at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev.
Growth, Today and Tomorrow
King remembers the early days when he and his partner couldn’t even pay themselves.
Today, King pays himself, along with 29 other salaried employees and 20 seasonal ones.
“We’ve doubled almost every year,” he says while sitting in his office off 112th Street South. “When we moved here in 2010, this space was empty. We rented a 4,600-square-foot office, and I never dreamed we would use the second floor. Today, we are literally busting at the seams. We’ve constructed walls and put two or three people in one office just to compliment all the new desks. “
“For our company Christmas party,” he adds, “we used to rent a room in a small venue, throw up a couple tables and chairs and order catering service. This year, we are reserving all of the rooms at the Cave B Winery in George and the Inn, where we will hold our party with over 50 people in attendance. The Cave B Winery Estates are especially intimate, because it was the first commercial construction project Macnak ever executed. We did the framing and some minor concrete, but those large arches, so prominent in the winery’s headquarters building, were built by Macnak crews.”
MACNAK has executed contracts throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Utah, South Dakota, New Mexico, Missouri, Kentucky and Staten Island, NY. While MACNAK Construction is a minority owned company, the majority of their contracts are competitively won on contracts on which any contractor doing less than $36 million in annual revenue could bid. These contracts are known as “Total Small Business” set aside contracts, and a minority owned contractor gets absolutely no special consideration when bidding these. In other words, MACNAK has truly established itself as a competitive and competent company with which to contend. Part of Macnak’s business plan is to pursue U.S. Embassy work outside of the United States.
But no matter how fast MACNAK grows or how big it gets, King says that he’ll always remember where it all started: Lakewood. In fact, the company considered moving to another community, but the City’s Economic Development Department helped it find a location – 2 acres off Bridgeport Was Southwest near Joint Base Lewis-McChord – for two future, larger office buildings.
“Lakewood is awesome,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed being in Lakewood, and the City of Lakewood, in particular, really bent over backwards to help us to stay in Lakewood.”
“We identified that we had a partner … that’s been a great partnership.”