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Family-run Preston Co. excavators growing with the times

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An MCI Group company on the job in Preston County. An MCI Group company on the job in Preston County.
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For a West Virginia-based earth-moving company that has long experience in the extractive industries, the Marcellus Shale is a growth opportunity.

MCI Group of Kingwood is a family of family-owned businesses that cover a broad range of related areas, said Ryan Boyle, a fourth-generation co-owner and a director of the group.

Subsidiary Mountaineer Contractors is primarily a heavy highway construction company, Boyle explained. Preston Contractors offers support to the coal mining industry, as does Everson Resources, with an additional specialty in strip mining. Kittanning Contractors works mainly in oil and gas.

The companies' main markets are in West Virginia but they've ranged into Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Kentucky and would work in Virginia if asked.

The Boyle family has been in coal, then in excavation for nearly 70 years.

The family business started in 1946 when Ryan Boyle's great grandfather Edward Boyle started Sandy Creek Fuel Co., a single coal mine in Monongalia County. His son Jack later reorganized and diversified the company over time into other activities, including the earth-moving and paving that has been the core of the business in more recent years.

The various sister companies work like divisions of the same company and give clients access to a broad range of services, said Tim Morgan, president of Mind Merge Design currently working as marketing manager for MCI.

"So if company X, for instance, owns a coal mine but also owns landfills, they can pull from any of those particular companies to meet all their needs," Morgan said.

The company has grown in recent years at a steady — and carefully managed, Boyle emphasized — 5 to 10 percent each year, with an expanding foothold in oil and gas.

Natural gas producer Antero Resources Appalachian Corp. has used MCI Group's services.

"Preston Contractors has been a great company to work with," said Antero Construction Operations Consultant Aaron Kunzler.  "They always come in under our construction deadlines and their quality of work and efficiency is excellent."  

MCI Group's work is distinguished in part by its long history.

"One of the things we've seen in oil and gas is, when a new market comes around, a lot of companies spring up," Morgan said — but they have no depth of experience.

"MCI as a whole, through its suite of companies, brings the gray hairs of experience and years of know-how that you cannot get in these newer firms," he said. "But because they're large" — at more than 300 employees, this isn't a small family business — "they've also got the strong backs of people they continue to bring in and train up."

It's similarly distinguished by its knowledge of the West Virginia terrain.

"There's no way a company from Oklahoma or Texas can do a job as quickly or with as much know-how as we can," Boyle said.

And the family-run sensibility comes through.

"So they take good care of their employees, with a great safety record, and their customers — there's that sense of pride that you don't get with a brand new business or one that's been bought and sold," Morgan said.

Diversification has given MCI a platform for stability and growth and, at the same time, increased its value to clients.

"Our main goal is to be able to serve any company or individual we work for, to do anything they need," Boyle said. "A one-stop shop."