Multi-faceted firm says Dot community ‘mirrors our values’
One of Dorchester’s largest private employers is a Port Norfolk-based company that was founded in 1969 by two men, Bill “Sully” Sullivan and John “Mac” McLaughlin, who gave it their names: Sullivan & McLaughlin, better known by their current business handle, “SullyMac.”
After more than 50 years, the owners of the electrical construction and maintenance firm are rebranding their tagline from “The Power of Performance” to “Get there better. Together.”
The firm is now owned by a second generation of McLaughlins. Led by president John McLaughlin and his brother-in-law, executive vice-president John Rudicus, it has grown into one of the region’s premier contracting firms.
Rudicus said this year’s rebranding came with “very interesting timing. With the pandemic that nobody expected, we are getting through it better together. We’ve been so fortunate to have generations of families and people working for and with us. We felt like we had gotten to a point in the history of the organization when we had just had so much collaboration going on. This tagline felt better.”
Added McLaughlin: “In addition to conversations that we were having around rebranding, we were doing a lot of collaboration within the construction community to uphold a vision of not just finishing a job but continuing to build relationships for the long term.”
During the pandemic, much of SullyMac’s work has been helping the state’s hospitals with quick buildouts and renovations. “We did a buildout and renovation of 10 rooms for COVID-19 patients at Mass General Hospital over the course of 48 hours,” said Rudicus.
McLaughlin said that this type of “design assist” work is a relatively new development for SullyMac. Design assist, he explained, is when electrical contractors collaborate with project architects and engineers to complete documents or drawings in real time, often while construction is under way.
“It’s a highly collaborative dynamic for building some world-class facilities,” said McLaughlin. “We’ve done this on a lot of different jobs— more often than not while building some of the most sophisticated hospitals in the country.”
SullyMac has been engaged in emergency COVID-19-related work at several Boston hospitals and universities, but the pandemic has definitely disrupted some company operations with most construction sites in the city and state offline. As work eventually begins to open up, the team at SullyMac is hopeful they will be able to hire back the majority of employees they had to furlough.
“We’ve seen huge disruptions that have forced us to lay off probably more than 50 percent of our workforce as job sites were closed,” said Rudicus. “Slowly but surely we’ve started to rehire folks as job sites have been deemed essential or start to staff back up. As soon as it’s healthy and safe to go back to work, we’re going to welcome them back with open arms.”
Community leaders say that SullyMac is a company they can always count on for support.
Carla Tankle, a longtime resident of Port Norfolk, said SullyMac is “the epitome of what community and business partnership should look like and what it should be about.”
Over the years, the company has partnered with the city in support of various city-held events like Christmas tree lightings, hanging wreaths on telephone poles, providing meals at Thanksgiving, and providing electrical support and maintenance at various sites.
“The new tagline really amplifies what they are all about,” said Tankle. “They’re always willing to give back to the neighborhood, no matter what the ask is, or how big or small it is.”
The company also supports the Port Norfolk Civic Association’s annual Tenean Beach Day as well as the association’s scholarship fund and provides maintenance for the Pork Norfolk Association Triangle. The company also donated funds to close the gap for the Trooper Mark Charbonnier and Sgt. Richard Dever Memorial at Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester.
Rosemary Powers, president of Cristo Rey Boston High School on Savin Hill Avenue, said SullyMac has been a long-term supporter of and participant in the Catholic work-study program.
“Sully Mac has been one of our corporate work-study partners since 2014. Before the pandemic, we had four students working in their offices,” said Powers. “Our financial model depends on this program. Every student goes out to work one day a week and the company they work at pays the school $9,000 per year for those services. So that helps us by paying about half of a student’s yearly tuition.”
Added Powers: “We want to give a shout-out to Mary Sheehan, the executive administrator at SullyMac. She’s been a fabulous cheerleader and supporter to our kids.”
Bob Scannell, president and CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, called SullyMac a “longtime friend. They are a major sponsor of our annual Women’s Leadership awards in the spring and our Grand Drawing event in the fall,” he said. “Scannell. “Whenever we call them, they’re always responsive.
“They have a luxury box at Fenway with 15 seats, and they call us often and offer those seats for our kids,” Scannell said. “The whole team is made up of very nice people and they’re very complimentary to the work we do.”
The BGCD continues to support families with grab-and-go meals, virtual services, and resources during the pandemic— something that Scannell says is contingent on support from donors like SullyMac.
“As we speak, we’re giving out meals, and we’re very fortunate that we have a lot of people supporting us so we can do this kind of work,” said Scannell. “We couldn’t do it without SullyMac and others. They’ll look at us and say, ‘What do you need?’”
Lou Antonellis, business manager at IBEW Local 103, said that SullyMac employs more Local 103 electricians, technicians and apprentice members than any other contractor.
“We’re really proud of the relationship that we have with SullyMac, and we wouldn’t be as successful as we are without them,” said Antonellis. “They’ve never lost touch with where they come from and they have always stepped up to the plate when it comes to giving back in Dorchester.”
Added Rudicus: “We’ve been part of the Boston and Dorchester community for decades, employing so many residents that have worked hard to make us collectively successful. We’re a generational business and with the third generation coming, our roots are important to us.”
While many of their competitors have opted to move outside of the city to save on rents, McLaughlin has no plans to leave Dorchester.
“Port Norfolk has been a fantastic community for us and so has all of Dorchester,” he said, “Most of our competitors have moved out of Boston. We prefer not to. We have a great collaboration with businesses and residents here. This community mirrors our values.”