Mark Nicholson, Inc. - Building the Foundations of San Benito County
Posted by Reiner Maschmeyer on Mar 18, 2015
Larry, Mark and Kurt Nicholson in 1990
Kurt Nicholson, manager and owner of Mark Nicholson, Inc., carries on traditional values he learned alongside Mark and Larry Nicholson, his predecessors in this third generation family construction business. Headquartered in Hollister, the company was started by Kurt’s grandfather, Mark Nicholson, and managed in turn by Kurt’s father, Larry Nicholson. Kurt says, “I work for Mark Nicholson, Inc.,” and clearly his grandfather‘s spirit is alive and well in the standards and principles of the company he founded.
Kurt enjoys sharing stories about his grandfather, who was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1909 and moved to southern California as a young man. While living in Glendale during the years of the Great Depression, Mark found work going door to door, offering to do whatever construction work might be needed. In the 1940’s, he moved to the Monterey Bay area, and during World War II worked for the Henry J. Kaiser Company. He was involved in defense related construction projects throughout the region. Barracks and military bases were being built and Mark’s construction expertise was in high demand. After the war, he continued working in construction and eventually formed Mark Nicholson Construction, which handled a variety of projects but specialized in installation of pre-engineered steel buildings. The business continued to grow and over time branched out into site development.
Mark's son Larry studied civil engineering at UC Berkeley and San Jose State, came to work alongside his dad, and eventually took over day to day management. Larry joined the family business during years of tremendous regional growth, and Kurt notes that anyone who drives through Hollister passes countless building foundations installed by Mark Nicholson, Inc. and built with materials from Graniterock.
Kurt grew up learning the business from his grandfather, and at one time all three generations worked side by side. Kurt fondly recalls the time they spent together. “Losing my grandfather in 1992 was difficult,” says Kurt. “We were very close and saw each other every day. I would talk with him about work and how to do things. I think about him and try to run the business in the way he would have expected.”
“We like to work close to San Benito County," says Kurt, who was born and raised in the county and graduated from Hollister High School, where he met his wife Kim, and where their daughter Keahna now attends school. Kurt spent two years at nearby Gavilan College before joining the family business. Today this general building contractor concentrates on underground utilities and building construction, paving and grading primarily within a 50 mile radius of Hollister.
Kurt describes how his business is based on a time-honored belief in people, and in the importance of delivering quality products to customers. “I like doing business with a handshake and treating customers fairly. I really enjoy spending some time with our projects’ end users, helping them think through the work before construction begins, about how best to situate their structure, helping them envision how the sun will hit the building in the morning or afternoon, making sure the grading is done right. We take pride in what we do and want to know that we have done the right thing. We put in the extra time and attention to make it perfect for our customers.”
Regarding the economy of the past few years, Kurt reflects, “This has been the toughest time since our company was started, and just being able to survive is an indicator of any company’s success. What has helped Mark Nicholson, Inc. through the recent recession is our key people." These are people like office manager Wilma Bridge, who has been with the company for almost fifty years, and her daughter Kari, who manages payroll and assists with estimating. "We have a small, experienced crew of people who have been with us forever and know how to do things right,” says Kurt. Clearly a family oriented business, everyone on Kurt's crew has been with him for ten to twenty-five years. He adds, “Work has begun to slowly pick up close to home, but we are also looking to Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.”“Our partnership with Graniterock has been important to us over the years. Our relationship with
Graniterock’s Construction Division allows us to take on bigger jobs than we would be able to otherwise. I tell our customers right up front that we’ll be bringing in Graniterock crews to do our paving. These are crews that may have just come off paving at SFO or Highway 101 the night before, and they bring impressive credentials to the job.” Graniterock, in turn, values its relationship with Mark Nicholson, Inc., a long-time Friend of the Family.
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