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75 Years of

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🎉 Happy 75th Birthday to Us!

In 2022, as MCI transitioned into an ESOP, our corporate structure changed from "inc" to "llc." But we pondered: What about the "i"?

Unveiling the Essence of "i"

We turned to our incredible team, asking each member, "What does 'i' mean to you?" The result: a resounding consensus on three pillars that define our spirit.

  1. Innovation: The driving force behind our creativity, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

  2. Integrity: The bedrock of our character, guiding every decision and action with unwavering honesty and accountability.

  3. Integration: The seamless collaboration that binds us together as a cohesive force, fostering synergy across departments and projects.

Toasting to the Eras of "i"

Today, we proudly present the evolution of "i" throughout our journey. Join us in raising a toast to 75 years of pushing limits, upholding values, and working seamlessly together.





Journey Through our 75 Years of History


In 1946, Ralph L. Burt Sr. took a daring step and left his job at Buensod-Stacy, a textile air conditioning company in Charlotte. He joined forces with Besser Company, a small sheet metal fabrication business run by owner Charlie Besser. Besser Company was situated under the bridge near Hawthorne Road, back when US74 had just two lanes!

At Besser Company, they excelled in installing residential gas furnaces. However, Ralph saw an incredible opportunity in the booming air conditioning market and wanted to expand their horizons. As the air conditioning segment soared, differences in vision emerged between Mr. Besser and Mr. Burt regarding the company's direction.

In 1948, Ralph Burt decided to follow his dreams and ventured out on his own. He founded Mechanical Contractors Inc. (MCI) and focused on expanding the air conditioning side of the business. With a dedicated team of 7 employees, MCI set up shop at Independence Blvd in Charlotte, NC.

1940 - 1970

During the transformative years of 1940 to 1970, Mechanical Contractors Inc. (MCI) cemented its place in the local engineering community. Founder Mr. Ralph Burt's commitment to excellence and innovation led him to become a Professional Engineer (P.E.) in 1953, solidifying the company's reputation as a trusted player in the field.

MCI's strong ties to the engineering community were further strengthened by becoming a supporting member of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and PENC (Professional Engineers of North Carolina). These local connections became instrumental in keeping "Mechanical" at the forefront of the industry, serving the Piedmont Carolinas with dedication and skill.

In the company of esteemed contractors like Southern Comfort, PC Godfrey, and Ross & Whitmer, Mechanical Contractors earned respect and admiration for their work. The ownership team, though small, brought a diverse range of special skills, laying the foundation for the management style that would endure for years to come.

Embracing progress and efficiency, MCI made a significant investment in state-of-the-art fabrication equipment for in-house production, a project expertly overseen by one of the owners, Tom Stephenson (Vice President 1965-2014). This move not only enhanced their capabilities but also showcased their commitment to delivering top-notch solutions.

As a Westinghouse Air Conditioning distributor in the Carolinas, MCI fearlessly competed with established dealer networks for Trane and Carrier. Their versatile business approach encompassed all three sectors: mechanical design, installation, and HVAC service. Schools, textiles, and manufacturing emerged as their primary markets in the dynamic 60s and 70s.

1970 - 1990

As the world shifted gears in the 1970s through the 1990s, Mechanical Contractors Inc. embarked on a remarkable journey of growth and adaptation. The advancement in the communications industry opened new doors for MCI, sparking a partnership with Southern Bell. Their task: adding essential air conditioning into switching equipment rooms across North and South Carolina.

This collaboration marked the beginning of a lasting involvement in the telecommunications industry. With Southern Bell's transformation into Bell South and later AT&T, MCI's dedication remained unwavering. From then on, not a single moment has passed without an active telecommunications project gracing MCI's sales list.

Amid this growth, a profound realization took root within Mechanical. While pricing and markets might ebb and flow, the foundation of superior workmanship and unwavering customer relationships could weather any storm. This revelation marked a pivotal moment, leading to the birth of a mission statement that continues to guide MCI's journey: "Quality in Design, Installation, and Service."

1990 - 2006

The 90s were a turning point in the remarkable journey of Mechanical Contractors Inc. (MCI). With the arrival of new talents, fresh ideas, and the Charlotte area's booming growth, success was on the horizon. As employees who had dedicated over 40 years of service began to retire in the 90s, it marked the beginning of a new era for MCI, one filled with exciting possibilities and new horizons.

Suburban office buildings like SouthPark, Coliseum Center, North Lake, and Ballantyne started to shape Charlotte's skyline. MCI recognized the potential and adopted a unique design-build approach. This strategy propelled them from $3 million in revenue and 50 employees to $30 million and a workforce of 150. Not to mention, their Charlotte headquarters expanded from 12,000 sq ft to an impressive 20,000 sq ft, a symbol of their growing influence.

In 1988, MCI strategically opened a second location in Raleigh, NC, following the construction of Northern Telecom's corporate headquarters. This expansion further solidified their position in the telecommunications industry and the region.

Through all these changes, the legacy of founder Ralph Burt lived on. After his passing in 1998, his son, Lea Burt, stepped up as President, continuing his father's traditions as both a contractor and an engineer.

MCI's journey during this period showcases the power of adaptability and innovation in the face of change. They chose a path of controlled, steady growth, ensuring their continued success amidst industry shifts.

2006 - 2008

In the mid-2000s, Mechanical Contractors Inc. (MCI) was on the rise, driven by the demands of our growing clientele. This period marked a significant step in our journey, but it wasn't without its trials.

With our expanding operations, the need for more space became evident. We embarked on a search for the perfect location and found it in the vibrant University area. This decision meant leaving behind the Independence site, but it was a necessary move to accommodate our growth.

Our new building featured:

Main Building:

Level 1 office space: 8,613 sq. ft.

Level 2 office space: 3,437 sq. ft.

Warehouse and Fabrication area:

A whopping 37,862 sq. ft.

Total space:

Approximately 50,000 sq. ft.

Property Size: A vast 3.5 acres, allowing for potential growth and development.

However, right amid this expansion, a major recession struck. Economic downturns can challenge any company, but MCI had a unique advantage - our strong relationships with communications and development firms. These partnerships played a pivotal role in helping us weather the storm during these uncertain times.

In the face of adversity, MCI's commitment to innovation shone. We embraced the concept of cross-utilization of trades, encouraging our talented workforce to develop skills outside of their usual niches. This approach not only boosted individual growth but also enhanced our overall adaptability and resilience.

2008 - 2014

Embarking on a transformative journey from 2008 to 2014, Mechanical Contractors Inc. (MCI) emerged stronger and more innovative than ever. As economic recovery swept in, MCI not only bounced back to pre-recession sales levels but set its sights on expansion. This period marked the inception of the BAS controls group, introducing cutting-edge solutions in building control systems. Bill Champion was promoted to Vice President of Construction, and Geoff Cutler joined the team as Vice President of Integrated Building Services.

Simultaneously, MCI strategically acquired Morrison & Associates, a prominent engineering consulting firm in Charlotte, NC. This move wasn't just about growth; it was about broadening our expertise. Morrison seamlessly integrated design services for plumbing and fire protection into our existing air conditioning business.

This diversification in competencies prompted a customer-driven change. In 2014, MCI underwent a significant rebranding, unveiling a new logo. This design blended the historical significance of the original "yellow football" with the sleek simplicity of the acronym "MCI." It wasn't just a visual transformation; it symbolized our evolution and adaptability.

In the dynamic landscape of change, MCI's leadership didn't just adapt; they defined the very essence of who we are. The year 2014 marked a pivotal moment as we took a reflective pause to officiate the core values that have always been the bedrock of our company.

These principles — Passionate, Accountable, Caring, Trustworthy, and Skilled — became more than just words. They transformed into a compass, guiding every decision, action, and interaction within MCI. It wasn't about creating a set of rules; it was about defining the soul of our organization.

Passionate about our work

Accountable for our actions

Caring for our community

Trustworthy in our relationships

Skilled in our craft

These PACTS steer us through challenges and successes alike. They are the unwavering foundation upon which MCI stands.

2014 - 2016

Under the visionary leadership of our second-generation owners, MCI experienced a transformative internal transfer. New ideas and boundless energy fueled our journey, propelling MCI's growth and fostering a family of 250 dedicated team members.

In 2017, MCI embarked on a groundbreaking chapter by acquiring Gamut Systems & Solutions! This strategic move expanded our control installations and monitoring prowess from coast to coast. Explore the incredible capabilities of Gamut at (!


The year 2018 marked another milestone as Delta joined forces with MCI, becoming a valued controls partner alongside Tridium. This collaboration enriched our technological landscape, reinforcing our commitment to cutting-edge solutions and innovation.

2020 - Present

Amidst a series of significant changes, MCI embarked on a transformative journey from 2020 to 2022. The appointment of Bill Champion as President marked a new chapter, as Lea Burt gracefully transitioned from the presidency to devote his expertise to creating STAT (Structured Training & Advancement of Trades), an internal educational initiative. This groundbreaking program aimed to empower every role within MCI, nurturing a legacy of learning and growth. The bedrock of MCI remained its enduring core values, which continued to guide the company's unwavering commitment to delivering quality in air conditioning design, installation, and service.

The continuation of 2020 saw Bill Champion assume the presidency amidst unexpected trials. The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced unparalleled challenges. Under Bill's adept and optimistic leadership, MCI emerged as an essential employer, pioneering innovative strategies to facilitate a secure return to work for office-based staff. Responding swiftly to evolving research, MCI's engineering, service and control teams collaborated to apply techniques to purify and safeguard airflow within commercial environments for our customers facilities. In the face of supply chain disruptions, the company's steadfast dedication to its clients enabled seamless collaboration. Noteworthy achievements during this period encompassed the completion of remarkable projects such as The Thread, Gallo Winery, Charlotte Pipe & Foundry in South Carolina, along with substantial expansions in North Hills and Park Point within the Triangle region.

Looking forward to 2021, Bill Champion, in tandem with Vice President Geoff Cutler, embarked on a visionary endeavor to ensure MCI's enduring sustainability and the best interests of its workforce. This quest culminated in a monumental decision: the transition of MCI from a privately held entity to a privately-owned Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) in January of 2022. The ESOP initiative offered a distinctive opportunity for MCI employees, aligning their aspirations with the company's growth and prosperity. This transformative step underscored MCI's resolute commitment to its employees and encapsulated the company's aspiration to cultivate an enduring legacy.

December 16th, 2023

On December 16th, MCI is not just a company; we're a family, and we're coming together with our loved ones to celebrate 75 years of rich history, innovation, and growth. This special event is a testament to the bonds we've built, the challenges we've overcome, and the milestones we've achieved together. As we gather to reflect on our journey, we'll also look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. It's a day to honor our legacy, express gratitude for our dedicated team, and embrace the spirit of unity that has defined MCI for three-quarters of a century.


Here's to MCI, our extended family, and the many more milestones to come!

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