C & M Contractors, Inc. – Doniphan

C & M Contractors, Inc., a woman-owned general contracting business, had never worked in conditions like these.

Among all of the other devastation, the May 2011 tornado that flattened a large part of Joplin also destroyed the city’s high school and athletic fields.

new ballfield at night

C&M constructed ball fields for the South Middle School in Joplin after the tornado of 2010.

School officials announced the Northpark Mall would provide temporary classrooms in September, and the athletic department announced that football, basketball, baseball and other sports programs would continue.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District, which specializes in rebuilding schools, needed a contractor to build new fields as quickly as possible.

C & M had only been in the PTAC program for five months, but the firm’s excellent track record ensured they received the nearly $1 million job. Several business counselors, notably Willis Mushrush, business and procurement specialist with University of Missouri Extension at West Plains in Howell County, had been helping C & M with government contracting since 2010.

“We were a little concerned about having to work so quickly,” says Melinda Vaughn, president, who co-founded the company in 1995 with Charlie Bass and his wife. “To pull engineers in and do a design-build in such a short time frame was definitely a challenge.”

But Vaughn and Bass were up to the challenge and arrived in Joplin the day after receiving the contract to survey the sites and assemble subcontractors and engineers.

Only nine days later, the C & M team completed the design and negotiations for the new baseball, soccer, softball and football fields. The fields were sodded by Sept. 1 — an amazing 45 days ahead of schedule. The grading was complete, the grass growing, the bleachers in place and the lights shining when the student-athletes took the field in the fall.

Says Bass, “The damage to Joplin was indescribable and losing so many people in a town that size was a tragedy. Being picked to help rebuild the fields was a real honor, and we did everything we could to finish this job on time and within the budget.”

In just two years, C & M has secured projects in three different states worth more than $10 million working for agencies such as the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fort Leonard Wood and Little Rock Air Force Base. And, because C & M made such a good impression on the Corps’ New York District, the firm may help rebuild portions of the east coast struck by Hurricane Sandy.

“Having MO PTAC as a partner has been a definite plus,” Vaughn says. “When you’re in government work, it is not as straightforward as commercial work, so you need every lead you can get.”

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