September-October 2017 | THE FAMILY BUSINESS




The McCarthys ensure their legacy by promoting the success of each while remaining a cohesive, supportive family

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: GRANT L. GURSKY

If you hear the name McCarthy on the Lower Eastern Shore, chances are you immediately think of McCarthy & Son Contracting, the local building company that has been a Best of the Eastern Shore winner each year of the competition’s five-year history — a distinction that only a handful of entities can claim. But while the company’s founder, Kevin McCarthy, has worked tirelessly to establish his namesake company’s exemplary reputation for excellence and customer satisfaction, scratching the surface of his family reveals that its members have each followed in the footsteps its patriarch. In fact, every member of this dynamic, entrepreneurial family is hard at work, making their own indelible mark on the community. It is not only a story of success on multiple levels but one of loyalty and mutual support that leaves each feeling there isn’t a whole lot they can’t accomplish.

Kevin gained his industry-leading expertise literally from the ground up — doing masonry work at age 14. Following an extensive and arduous apprenticeship, he was ready to hang his own shingle in 1980, when McCarthy & Son Contracting was born. He turned to homebuilding in the late 1980s and really hit his stride, rapidly rising to the top of his field. With skills and reputation well in hand, he relocated to the Eastern Shore in 2002 with his wife, Mia, and young family. As the clan set down roots, Kevin expanded McCarthy & Son Contracting to include home improvement, from complete-gut renos on multimillion dollar homes to upgrading a single bathroom or adding a porch, patio or pavilion. Always the master mason, Kevin still does more than his share of fireplace, firepits and custom hardscaping work for grateful clients across the Eastern Shore. Just as impressive, nearly 100 percent of Kevin’s workforce are full-time, year-round employees, with an average tenure of 15 years, many longer.

“I think part of being a responsible business owner not only involves service to the community but also a commitment to establishing and maintaining a workforce that can feed their families and build futures as a result of the collaborative work you all do together, Kevin said. “That’s how you build communities that stick together and prevail through every kind of situation and challenge.”

This philosophy — along with talent and lots of hard work — has helped Kevin and McCarthy & Son Contracting adapt to and succeed in every economic climate. Along the way, he learned that he possessed an innate talent for design, such that these days a large part of his new business is as a design consultant, which has saved his many clients countless thousands in extra fees. “I find I really enjoy the creative side of the business,” Kevin said. “It’s not new to me anymore, but it feels new with each new job I get.”

Mia McCarthy, meanwhile, was raised in Howard County, “across,” as she whimsically put it, “the other side of the railroad tracks” from where Kevin was raised. She had met Kevin in 1987, and they were married two years later. A natural union, Mia was as naturally predisposed to entrepreneurship as her new husband was, so it came as no surprise when she launched Simply the Best maid service out of Ellicott City. As with Kevin’s sole proprietorship, Mia’s business thrived, winding up with more than 300 clients and 15 employees. She earned her real estate license in 2004, two years after relocating to the Shore, and in 2011 joined what is considered by many locals to be the premier residential real estate company in Worcester County, The Mark Fritschle Group, Condominium Realty, LTD. Since then, Mia’s career has thrived, along with that of her employer — which was not only named Best Real Estate Company in Worcester by Eastern Shore voters but also saw more than twice the sales volume in 2016 of the No. 2 office of its kind. When asked why she’s done so well in real estate sales, Mia looks to her background as the owner-operator of a small business. “I think I’ve done well in real estate because running a business had taught me how to solve problems and overcome obstacles,” Mia said. “I’ve applied that to my real estate career, such that I’m now known to be a problem solver, which is a quality both sellers and buyers appreciate.”

They say that often, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and this would certainly seem to apply to Kevin and Mia’s daughter Kelsey. The 26-year-old Stephen Decatur and Wor-Wic graduate (with a business-management degree) was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug back when she was 15, as the sole proprietor of her own — what else? — cleaning service (just like her mom), which, say Mia and Kevin laughingly, they don’t like to broadcast too loudly because they’re not entirely sure it was legal at the time. What the proud parents do tout, and rightly so, is that while other adolescents her age were spending summers reveling in the sun of their world-famous beach community, Kelsey was sweating indoors, often by herself, earning money and building a career. In fact, young Kelsey worked every summer until she was 20 and went on to earn her real estate sales license.

Sure, Kelsey’s career path in the early days tracked her mother’s, but Kelsey also has her dad’s creativity, which was crystal clear once Kelsey picked up a camera, back in freshman year of high school. A love affair with the shutter immediately ensued, and today, Kelsey is the owner of McCarthy Imagerie, a photography company that specializes in everything from engagements, weddings and family portraits to real-estate, product and editorial photography.

Wife and mother of three, Mia and Kevin’s daughter Jamie Walsh, 34, is just as dynamic as her sister. Like Kelsey, Mia trained Jamie to be independent and self-sufficient from early on, resulting in Walsh All-Clean, which Jamie launched in 2011. Despite having her own family of four to look after, the perpetually upbeat Jamie manages Walsh All-Clean so efficiently, there is a new-client waiting list for her company’s services that spans both Worcester and Wicomico Counties. Life is good these days for Jamie and her husband, Chris, who runs his family’s second-generation company, Walsh Home Improvement, which handles all aspects of home improvement, from A to Z.

Though all seven of Kevin and Mia’s beloved grandsons display the classic McCarthy precociousness, so far it is 11-year-old Gunner who has stepped forward as the third generation of McCarthy entrepreneur. He has already taken an active interest in his granddad’s contracting business and is learning the trade on-site, hands-on, with Kevin as his mentor. 

You, too, can get in on the McCarthy family vibe. Each summer, Kevin and Mia retreat to the compact mobility of their RV and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) their beautiful 3,100 sq. ft. home in Berlin’s coveted South Point to vacationers throughout peak season. Built by Kevin himself, the 5-BR, 3.5-bath masterpiece on two levels sleeps 14 and sits on a half-acre plot just 1.5 miles from Assateague. Contact Mia at 443-497-0182 or email her at for more information.

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