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January 31, 2011

Water-loving McGarry heads up association

  • The Manson Construction vice president says he wants to bolster the association's reputation and get the word out about the benefits of membership.
    Journal Construction Editor


    Water has played a big role in Pat McGarry's life — he grew up near Lake Washington, his job with Manson Construction depends heavily on water-based construction and he spends a lot of his free time boating.

    McGarry is the incoming president of the AGC of Washington.

    “I loved the water since I was a kid,” McGarry said about growing up in Seattle's Madison Park neighborhood. “We used to swim across Lake Washington when I was a kid.”

    One of McGarry's earliest exposures to construction was through a father of one of his childhood friends who lived in the neighborhood. The father was a vice president at Manson Construction, the same title that McGarry holds today at the company.

    After serving a one-year stint in the Air Force, McGarry in 1968 got a job working in Manson's yard as a general laborer. It was the friend's father that encouraged McGarry to work at Manson. Later, McGarry would work aboard the company's tugboats and crane barges and, in 1984, became equipment manager.

    In 1991, he was promoted to vice president and Northwest area manager, with responsibility for all of Manson's Northwest, Alaska and international work.

    McGarry said someone else at Manson will handle his duties as Northwest area manager while he serves the AGC this year, but he will continue as vice president.

    At the AGC, his goal is to bolster the association's reputation and educate members about the benefits of belonging. McGarry has served on the AGC board, its property committee, and its carpenter and operators negotiating committee.

    McGarry said he hopes his involvement with the association this year will help him better understand some of the political processes it deals with.

    Among his highest concerns is today's construction climate.

    “When are we going to see a significant improvement in the construction climate?” he said. “How do we get more construction work going?”

    Work at Manson has taken McGarry across the country, into Alaska and as far as Russia. One of his top projects was building a dock for the city of Valdez, Alaska, in the early 1980s as a joint venture with Morrison Knudsen. He said the original dock had failed so they had to go with a design for the replacement that included difficult engineering and construction work. In the end, the project turned out nicely, he said.

    Another project that McGarry is fond of is a sewer job Manson built last year for the city of Mercer Island. He said that project was challenging because the sewer line had to be placed 20 feet from the docks of expensive waterfront homes during the summer fish window.

    “We were very concerned about disrupting the property owners,” he said.

    When he's not working at Manson, you might find McGarry behind the wheel of his 40-foot catamaran “Dragonfly.” He said the boat holds most of the local sailing records.

    McGarry bought Dragonfly in Thailand, where it was being used for a Brazilian cigarette commercial. Dragons were painted on both sides of the boat for the commercial. McGarry was going to remove the dragons, but the boat starting getting a reputation after winning a race with them and they have been there since.

    A hobby McGarry partakes in with his wife, Carol, is raising Irish setter show dogs. Their dog, Clooney, won best in show last Thanksgiving at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia.

    And, true to his water roots, McGarry serves on the board of the Seattle Marine Business Coalition and on committees for the King County South Park Bridge Project and Royal Victoria Yacht Club.


    Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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