Few companies survive economic downturns, generational changes and industry fluctuations. For more than a century, M&D Mechanical Contractors has not just survived, but thrived.
Founded in 1910 and originally known as Mason & Duilion Co., M&D Mechanical was founded by two friends, Leon E. Dulion and James Edward Mason. In its early years, the company experienced much success, working on many high-rise buildings in downtown Birmingham in the 1920s. When the Great Depression hit and the stock market crashed, so did M&D. But even bankruptcy couldn’t hinder the integrity and motivation of the company’s founders. “When you file for bankruptcy it wipes out your debts, but Mr. Dulion told the plumbing supply company that if they would just stay with him, he would pay back every penny he owed them, even though he didn’t have to,” said Nicholas D. Vance, Dulion’s grandson and former CEO of M&D. “Once they were back in business, he eventually paid off what he owed. That’s just the kind of man he was.”
Major business changes soon came again for M&D Mechanical. In 1983, after decades of being headquartered in Birmingham, company leaders moved the company to Decatur. “The timing of that move was great because of the economic boom that soon occurred in north Alabama,” said M&D Mechanical CEO Alan Schollian. “We were, and still are, blessed with a great industrial client base along the Tennessee River.”
Today, M&D Mechanical is one of the largest mechanical contractors in the state of Alabama, working with major clients such as NASA, Redstone Arsenal, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the Huntsville Hospital System. In addition to the company’s reputation for safety and quality, much of the credit for M&D Mechanical’s success is due to the longstanding vision of company leaders. “We have had some leaders with visions about what they wanted this company to be, and they were willing to work hard to put the right resources in play to get the company to that place,” Schollian said. “Along with that, we are deliberate in making good decisions about project acquisitions and not taking any project for the sake of booking work. We know what we are good at doing, and we try to stay with that. And we try to get better every day.”
To get better every day, company leaders put a serious focus on its people. To help employees constantly improve, M&D Mechanical participates in apprenticeship training through the North Alabama Craft Training Foundation, a program it has been involved with since 2002. “We have the best people, and they are a huge part of why we continue to be successful,” Schollian said. “We believe that a construction career is just that. It’s not just a job, it’s a career, and we try to provide benefits that help families grow and develop and people can go home and feel good about.”
Maintaining that focus and integrity is what will continue M&D Mechanical’s success in the future. “From the very beginnings with my grandfather and Mr. Mason to Alan [Schollian] today, the word is integrity,” said Vance. “The company is proud of that reputation and has always held it very dear. You don’t last 105 years without it.”