You Can Go Home Again, Contractor Martha Moore Learns

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Apr. 28, 2014 12:00 am  

Martha Moore: “Carissa turned a year old when I was in drug rehab, and I gave her a mother for her birthday.” (Photo by Jason Burt)

Motherhood, Moore thinks, is the most important job. The birth of her daughter, Carissa, clarified her priorities. In 1990, Moore made a hard call, to Ed McCormick, “one of those big, giant rednecks” who all her life had warned her of the consequences she’d suffer if she ever strayed from the right path.

“The day that I picked up the phone and said, ‘Dad, I’m in trouble’ — he should have had a cape on, the way he came to my rescue.

“I got off of that airplane and I had [only] the dress that I was wearing and my baby, and my dad said, ‘Give the baby to your mother and get in your brother’s car and I will see you when you get home.’ And my brother took me to rehab. I stayed at Gateway House in Fort Smith, Ark.”

Moore had the most powerful of incentives to get her life together. “Carissa turned a year old when I was in drug rehab, and I gave her a mother for her birthday. And that’s a true story.”

The Family Business

Kicking addiction is hard, but finding a job after rehab is often harder, and Moore had to work to support her daughter. She tried everywhere in the area but struck out, so she approached her father.

“He said, ‘No. Asphalt is no place for a woman. This is not the kind of work that you [should] do.’ It was not well received by anybody. So I told him I didn’t have any choice. I’d have to go to work at the bar if he didn’t give me a job. And I went to work on his asphalt crew on the road with him the next day.”

She began as a roller operator, but if asphalt needed to be shoveled or raked, she did that too.

In 1992, Moore became office manager of McCormick. In the late 1990s, her eldest brother decided to leave the company. She became secretary-treasurer but still owned no stock. By 2000, she’d bought some stock in the company, and when her father retired soon after, she bought out his shares.

Moore and her younger brother were partners for about four years, but in 2004, he was ready to leave and Moore bought him out, becoming sole owner of McCormick.

Once she’d gained ownership, Moore, now titled company president, learned of the business advantages of certifying as a disadvantaged business enterprise, or DBE, helping McCormick win government contracts. In addition, McCormick was certified as a woman-owned enterprise, and because Moore’s mother was born in New Mexico to Mexican immigrants, the company was certified as a minority-owned enterprise.

Moore makes no bones about it: These steps were key to growing her business. But, she said, they are far from the sole reason her company has prospered.



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