There’s a low buzzing in the sky. A plane is heard before it’s seen: a hum that the lover of flying turns to hear. Then, a shape appears and the eyes focus. What’s the shape? What are the markings? What kind of engine? All pilots know this instinctive search, because flying stirs their blood. Mark MacDonald, president of Ocean Gate General Contractors, Inc., has the love of piloting in his DNA. His dad is a pilot; his brother flies for a living. MacDonald was inspired early on by Eddie Rickenbacker’s words: “Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.”
MacDonald has done just this. In a sour economy and vulnerable geographical area, he has grown his construction business by focusing on the future and instituting green practices. In addition, his personal background in aviation (MacDonald himself was at one time a pilot) allows his company to bring a familiarity to projects that other construction firms can only try to mimic.
Ocean Gate General Contractors, Inc. is a second-generation construction firm based in Stuart, Florida and was founded in 1972. From the beginning, the company practiced a “Client First” approach that clients quickly understood was unique; customers — and their ideas — became part of Ocean Gate’s construction process. Clients are listened to, and their timetables followed. They’re an intimate part of every phase of a construction project, from site preparation to ribbon-cutting. Under MacDonald’s leadership, the company has amassed an enviable portfolio in the following construction sectors: aviation, public, industrial, medical, education, hospitality, corporate and remodels/renovations.
Early on, MacDonald became engaged by green practices, and the cost-savings associated with forward-looking environmental practices. In these, Ocean Gate has set a standard that future construction projects in South Florida will mirror. Ocean Gate recycles steel, wood and concrete on job site locations. They use earth-friendly building products. Critical to South Florida, Ocean Gate uses water-saving plumbing fixtures and provides alternative power options, such as solar power. Workers in an Ocean Gate constructed building notice cleaner air and daylight space. Employees of Ocean Gate are LEED-certified by the United States Green Building Council, and bring knowledge of the newest — and farthest-reaching — environmental technology to their tasks.
But it is in aviation construction that Ocean Gate, and its president who is at home in the skies, shine best. “The airplane,” wrote De Saint-Exupery, “has unveiled for us the true face of the earth.” MacDonald has a feel for those words in a way that other construction executives do not. His projects rise up above a pilot’s familiar upper field. Innovatively, MacDonald integrates foundation slab, footings and the metal building into one organic design whole. The result is a stronger, more resilient facility.
Ocean Gate’s expertise spans every phase of aviation facility construction, including design and development; permitting; and terminal, hangar and fuel farm construction. Unlike ordinary commercial contractors, Ocean Gate has the in-house expertise to install every type of hangar door system on the market. The client saves money. But even in cost-savings, MacDonald’s mind is always at work for the customer’s benefit. For example, he recently modified 56 hangar doors at the Stuart Jet Center, transforming ordinary fixtures to hydroswing doors that provide increased hurricane protection. The client saves money too, due to Ocean Gate’s unbeatable knowledge of the preengineered building industry. Ocean Gate constructs solid, durable structures that are cost-efficient and easily expanded.
Past clients who became quickly familiar with MacDonald’s high standard of work include: Sheriff and Life Star Hangars in Stuart; Stuart Jet Center; Boca Raton Airport; Marathon Flight Services in Kissimmee; and Rotortech Services at Palm Beach International Airport.
All these clients are aware that Ocean Gate thinks like its clients, and puts their needs — and safety — first. Ocean Gate’s thorough understanding of the NAFP 409 Fire Protection Act, and its relation to blaze suppression requirements, ensures a facility’s security, and lends more costsaving efficiency to an owner.
The future looms ahead of greenknowledgeable, experienced and ambitious Ocean Gate General Contractors and its youthful president. MacDonald scans the sky overhead some mornings and hears what sounds at first to be a nearing aircraft. But it is not; it is his own soaring success.