At age 14, when he wasn’t solving math equations or taking history quizzes, Anthony Manigault was somewhere painting, plastering, and constructing buildings alongside his father. His plan in life at that time had already been set out for him.
Manigault Construction, or its trade name, MC,Inc. was started 28 years after Manigault’s 14-year-old hands had first touched a paintbrush. His hope when starting his own corporation was to continue the legacy his father had instilled him through his own company years before.
“My background in construction was basically always what my father was because he was a carpenter and a builder and so I had those ground roots and I never stopped doing that,” Manigault said.
After graduating from high school, Manigault went to engineering school and advanced in the field of tower engineering. Going back to his ‘roots’, as he said, Manigault decided to leave engineering and return to what he knew-construction work.
“I was working at the U.S. Department of Labor before I had my own company being a stationary mechanic,” he said. “There I basically plastered, did dry wall, ceramic tile, and laid cement foundations. I took care of all the concrete structure and masonry structure of the building.”
This list of duties on average might take up to two weeks to complete per job. The work did not stop there, however.
“We took over from GSA (General Service Administration) and we handled the maintenance of the whole U.S. Department of Labor. We were the electricians, we had plumbers working with us and we had engineering helpers working with us; maintaining the air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating equipment there,” he said. “My part was to handle the structure of the building.”
Dougretta Jameson, an employee at the US Department of Labor laughed at the mention of Manigault, remembering his witty personality and hardworking demeanor.
“Whenever I saw him he just always looked like he was on his way to doing something important or like he was tired, but he could always find it in him to smile or make a polite gesture,” Jameson said. “He was the guy you would always call if you had some kind of issue in the building because he always knew what to do to fix it.”
Manigault carried this known personality with him to start his own business, MC, Inc., a Maryland-based business that does commercial work. The task of starting a small company along with being a minority, led to hardships that the master constructor could not simply smile through, however.
“It’s hard to sustain business for yourself because there are roadblocks. Minority Certification plans help you to get around those roadblocks, but the hard part is just getting the certification to get that done, which is a lot of paperwork and time,” he said. “To me, the work is not that difficult, it is more the certification to be able to start your business and actually do the work.”
MC, Inc. still has to compete with larger construction businesses.
“You compete against much larger businesses that have been established for a while and they have an advantage over you because they have the financial base to perform larger jobs so you have to take on smaller projects because you’re not as established as the larger companies,” he said.
Now 45 and a company owner, Manigault has had to put down his paintbrush for the first time since he was 14 to take on a managerial role.
“As the owner, physically you’re the overseer. I go to the different offices and look and see what type of work it is that my company would be interested in doing, get plans, and then put a bid in to do those particular jobs,” Manigault said. “So now I watch over the guys doing the work.”
Manigault’s father is now an 89-year-old retiree and the young worker only hopes to pass on the legacy of his father’s craft to his own two sons.
“I have a younger son that’s doing electrical unit; he basically wants to be an electrician. So I told him that I wanted him to help me in my business once he got his certification and his licensing as an electrician,” Manigualt said.
But his 21-year old son seems to be going his own way. “He wants to do what he wants to do. He wants to accomplish his own goals first then he will probably come and help me out afterwards,” Manigault said.
Whether or not his son takes over, Manigault has high dreams for his company and his craft.
“I want to keep doing commercial work and government contracts. I want to do a lot of business for the Maryland-based government and the federal government,” Manigault said. “Overall, I enjoy now being my own business owner of my own company, because I am setting up my own future. It’s my business and it’s something that I can watch grow and participate in.”