2012 Arkansas Construction Hall of Fame: Randy McNulty

2012 Arkansas Construction Hall of Fame: Randy McNulty
Randy McNulty

Perhaps construction was in Randy McNulty’s DNA.

In 1891 McNulty’s great-grandfather, Anthony McNulty, moved from Coffeyville, Kan., to Pine Bluff with 25 pairs of mules to brick pave the first streets in Pine Bluff. McNulty’s grandfather, Tom, was a highway contractor tragically killed on one of his own projects at the age of 36. His father, Stanley McNulty, worked for his uncle Jake McNulty’s road construction firm during the Great Depression.

Randy McNulty decided early that highway construction would be his profession. After working on his father’s rice farm for 25 cents an hour, fighting water moccasins and pulling weeds, he worked at his uncle’s construction company, earning the minimum wage of $1 an hour, plus overtime.

After tasting the “big money,” the decision was easy. The higher wages and opportunity to travel the state and work outdoors meshed with his love for hunting and fishing. Born in Pine Bluff, McNulty spent his life there, except for his years at Columbia Military Academy and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. In 1946, McNulty and his older brother were stricken with polio but luckily survived with few lasting effects.

McNulty obtained his degree in civil engineering and returned to work for his uncle, Gordon McNulty, at Bituminous, Inc., and purchased the company in 1970. Randy McNulty served as company president and board chairman of Bituminous, Inc., a general highway construction company that maintained a capability in all aspects of highway construction except structures. Needing to expand ownership, he formed a new company, Southern Pavers, Inc., in 1980, and remained as chairman of the board until selling the company to Manhattan Construction Group of Tulsa in 2008.

Southern Pavers, Inc. was a general highway contractor but slowly began to specialize in bridges, and in particular, rehabilitation and stage construction of structures over and on the interstate highways. His company completed many of the bridges between Little Rock and Benton in connection with the rebuilding of Interstate 30.

While maintaining an office in Pine Bluff, McNulty built roads, bridges and airports throughout Arkansas.

He built his company with professional and experienced people and emphasized that the cheapest and quickest way to complete a job was to do the work correctly the first time.

Southern Pavers sought and built some of the most complicated projects designed by the highway department and was awarded numerous bonuses for early completion.

Southern Pavers’ many projects include: widening Maumelle Boulevard and building bridges over the railroad in Maumelle; Central Avenue and Higdon Ferry Road improvements in Hot Springs; most of the bridges on the Hot Springs bypass; Highway 5 over I-30 (the only structure over the Interstate in Arkansas without a median support pier), and at least 25 other bridges on or over I-30.

McNulty is serving his 20th year on the Contractors Licensing Board and 15th as a construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

He serves as a consultant to Manhattan Road and Bridge Company which is joint-venturing on the renovation of the interchange of I-630 and I-430 in west Little Rock. It is the single largest construction contract ever awarded by the Arkansas Highway Commission.

He has been president of The Arkansas Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America and president of the Arkansas Asphalt Paving Association.

He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Arkansas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America and Foundation Award by the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

In 1989, McNulty was elected to the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineering.

In 1985, Governor Bill Clinton appointed McNulty to the State Constitutional Boards and Commissions Management Audit and Review Study Commission that performed an extensive management review of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Department of Corrections, Department of Higher Education, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

McNulty served on the advisory boards of First United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, Southeast Arkansas College and the Construction Management Department at UALR.

Recently, McNulty established an endowment for a lectureship in cardiology at UAMS.

Randy McNulty married his wife, Robin, in 1964. They have two daughters, Luanne and Tracy, and two grandchildren, Chase and Chloe.