Ferguson & McCann was founded in southwest Philadelphia, Pa., in 1933, by James Ferguson and John McCann.
Delaware County’s oldest mechanical and environmental contractor turns 80 this year. Founded in southwest Philadelphia, Pa., in 1933, by James Ferguson and John McCann, grandfather of the company’s current owners, the company is now located nearby in Aston and resides successfully in the hands of the third generation of the McCann family.
The pair of entrepreneurs who started the company were plumbers by trade, although Linda McCann, office manager and granddaughter of founder John, said they weren’t exclusively plumbers for an extended period of time and the business never really focused on plumbing. Instead, it centered around the fuel industry.
“They saw a need for gas station service and repairs, so they changed their business approach to focus on this target market,” she said.
As a full-service certified petroleum contractor, Ferguson & McCann provides fuel pump installation and service; compliance testing; above-ground and underground tank installations, upgrades, removal and disposal; concrete and asphalt paving; and environmental testing that includes soil sampling and remediation.
The company frequently works with gasoline retailers, local utility companies, transportation companies, mom-and-pop stations and other local businesses. It also works with local realtors and homeowners when underground home heating oil tanks need to be installed or removed. “All the jobs are different,” John McCann said, “and they’re all challenging.”
All in the Family
James Ferguson retired years ago, but, out of respect, his name was kept. These days, the company is run by four members of the McCann family. In addition to John and Linda, brother Mike serves as president and mother Mary works in the office.
Because the oldest member of the fourth generation is only 15, it’s difficult to predict how many of them will become involved in the family business. But if they’re anything like their parents, it won’t be a surprise to see the fourth generation pick up the reins.
“We were raised in the business,” said Linda. “It was ’kitchen table talk’ when we were growing up. It’s who we are.”
Who they are is a family dedicated to service.
“We’re approachable as well as knowledgeable,” John said. “You can find us seven days a week. One of us is on the job site most of the time in case there are issues to be resolved. We’re there from the start — from the first phone call to the finish. It’s our reputation at stake.”
A clean image is part of the company’s reputation. Its employees are in uniform. “It’s a big thing with us,” John said, “and it’s the best advertisement we could get.”
Pride in Equipment
It’s all part of the pride instilled in them by their father, Neil McCann, Linda said. The company takes pride in its equipment, as well. The fleet of trucks, backhoes, dozers, excavators and other equipment is always clean. “We have wash bays, so we wash the trucks every day.”
The company’s name is on the truck, so keeping its trucks clean enough for the company name to be seen is important. As Linda said, “Our name is our legacy. It’s something we will always be proud of.”
Because the company has an extensive inventory of equipment and a staff of 25 full-time employees — some of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years — they don’t sub out work. “We do everything ourselves,” John said. “We’re not just the general contractor.”
Working in a radius that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, Ferguson & McCann combines old-fashioned service with innovative technology. As John said, equipment, rules, regulations and permitting requirements are constantly changing, which requires ongoing education with annual refreshers to obtain the necessary certifications.
“The technology is more advanced,” he said. “Laptops are needed in the trucks now.”
The gas industry itself also is changing, with alternative fuels such as CNG and diesel introducing slow changes. Ferguson & McCann has already built some natural gas facilities as well as electric recharging stations for commercial use.
There will continue to be more changes in the technology and direction of the industry, but some things haven’t changed, like the company logo or the way Ferguson & McCann does business.
“Eighty years is a long time,” John said. “The reason we’ve been in business 80 years is because the generations before us set great examples and gave us the guidelines necessary for success.”
The family’s success, he said, also is due to a willingness to conduct business right. “We’re not always looking at the bottom line. There’s more to it than that.”
There’s integrity and treating customers and employees with respect. “Our employees are part of the family,” Linda said. “We treat them like family.”
The key to their longevity is family, they believe. After all, Linda noted, the company has “survived three generations” so far. “Three generations in business is almost unheard of. We are confident that there will be many more generations wearing the Ferguson & McCann logo.”