San Antonio’s MJ Boyle Closes Shop, Rides Off Into Sunset
Feature Photo (above): The Charline McComb Empire Theatre. Courtesy: M.J. Boyle General Contractor.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — Employees at M.J. Boyle General Contractor Inc. were informed over the summer that the company would not be accepting any new projects, a precursor to the winding down of one of the city’s blue chip companies.
For more than 30 years, Mike Boyle, president, ran a firm renowned for its quality work and professionalism. Boyle decided, however, that 2018 would be his last year in the business.
Mike Boyle, president, M.J. Boyle General Contractor Inc.
A soft-spoken and unassuming man, Boyle opted not to be interviewed for this article. He told VBX he would prefer to just walk away, “without any fuss.”
The company will not pass into history without recognition. M.J. Boyle earned many industry awards during the 1990s for its work, including an Associated General Contractors award in 1999 for Outstanding Project for the restoration of the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, and the 1995 Outstanding Project award for the San Antonio City Council Chamber renovation.
“As a company, we were real proud of our renovation projects,” said David Goetz, Boyle’s former vice president and chief estimator. We renovated several buildings down on Houston Street in the early 2000s. We did several courthouses, including the Karnes County Courthouse which we completed last year.”
Other renovations of iconic San Antonio landmarks during Goetz’s 19 years with the company include the Spanish Governor’s Palace and several structures in La Villita–the original 18th century village that would become San Antonio.
M.J. Boyle handled all types of projects, but he was especially proud of his skill in taking on historical landmarks.
David Goetz, former VP/Chief Estimator at M.J. Boyle.
“Mike always said he and I could see through walls and come up with what was needed to reconstruct an old building,” Goetz said.
Goetz left the company in August when it became apparent there would be no new jobs coming in. Boyle told him it was time to slow down and was hoping to spend more time with his grandchildren, but that he wasn’t planning on an idle retirement.
“He’s got some other ventures he’s going into, and hopefully it won’t be as stressful as contracting,” Goetz said.
“He was fair, honest, he stayed on the cutting edge of the technology and left no stones unturned. He was a real professional in the industry and will be missed,” Goetz said.
Whitfield “Whit” Brackett, a former project manager at M.J. Boyle, started his own company, Concho Bexar Construction LLC, after more than three years working for Mike Boyle. Brackett owes his successful transition from project manager to head of his own firm in part to Boyle’s mentorship.
Brackett studied construction management before getting a master’s degree in architecture. He was an intern at Fisher Heck Architects, drafting plans for the historic Voelcker farmhouse at Phil Hardberger Park. It was another M.J. Boyle project and Brackett had been wanting to go back to the construction side. That led to a conversation with Jody Mokry, then Boyle’s senior project manager.
Whitefield Brackett, former project manager at M.J. Boyle.
“He said they were hiring and they would love to have me.”
Brackett started the Voelcker farmhouse project with Fisher Heck, but ended it as an assistant project manager for Boyle. He soon learned to appreciate Boyle’s management style.
“Mike had this open-door policy. One of the best things about working for Mike was he made everybody feel like their opinion was important,” Brackett said. The Friday staff meetings focused on how the business was run and how the team members thought things should be done.
Boyle was never shy, either, about adopting state-of-the-art technology.
“He wasn’t afraid to reach out to what’s next,” Brackett said. While Brackett was project manager, the company used PlanGrid construction software, and then made the switch to Procore.
About a year before word came that the company was closing, Brackett said he got the bug to start his own company.
“I went into Mike and told him I was going to do it. He actually offered me my office,” Brackett said.
While Brackett was gathering the financing to strike out on his own, he was spared the overhead of operating his own office. The roof over his head, internet service, printing and other business costs were covered courtesy of Boyle.
It all came to a cordial end the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
“That was when the people that bought his furniture came to pick it up,” Brackett said.
Boyle had a small staff of about 15 people. Most, if not all of them, landed jobs elsewhere in the industry. Project managers Mokry and Kevin Towry, for instance, landed positions at Guido Brothers Construction Company. Boyle’s long-time accounting manager, Sheila Olsen, is now with F.A. Nunnelly Company, and assistant estimator Michael Adames with the Metropolitan Contracting Co. LLC.
Other Notable M.J. Boyle Projects:
Chapel of the Incarnate Word Restoration
Casa Navarro State Historical Site
Mount Sacred Heart Renovation
St. Margaret Mary Restoration
Sea World Sesame Bay of Play
Port San Antonio Headquarters
New Braunfels City and Convention Center
Kendall County Courthouse Restoration
Chapel of the Incarnate Word, a historic building restoration by M.J. Boyle. Courtesy: M.J. Boyle.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.