Our Industrial Metal Solutions division provides custom design, fabrication and installation for the heavy metals market. With over 79 years of experience in fabrication and installation, we offer a strong foundation of experience and commitment to complete customer service. In addition to design + build and installation, we do shut down and emergency work for some of the world’s largest corporations as well as smaller local manufacturers.
Our third generation family business gives us a unique perspective within our industries. Our company was started during the heart of World War II and continued to grow as we helped rebuild our country’s infrastructure afterward. Our leaders have learned first-hand that businesses must change to fit the needs of the markets but there is no substitute for building relationships and earning a good reputation. Over the years we have become the people you call when you have a problem and need a solution that will last. We believe in a better way of building and offer our customers the confidence in knowing that we will be here for them now and years to come to help them out.
Take a look at what some of our customers have to say about our work in our Customer Testimonials section or see how we’ve kept our company at the forefront of our industries over the past 79 years by reading our company history below.
It has been said that to be successful, one must be hard like water – strong enough to hold a massive vessel afloat but flexible enough to flow through an ever-changing mountain stream. John W. McDougall Co., Inc. has spent the last seventy six years ebbing and flowing with the needs and trends of the market, reacting to endlessly expanding national and international economies, and growing into a leader in its industries, all the while maintaining a rich tradition in quality, loyalty and excellence.
Founded in 1938 by John McDougall, Sr., John W. McDougall Company began its journey on a bit of a risk. Even though the country was still in the depression years, John and his associates believed there was money to be made in the very new business air conditioning, just the mention of which carried a certain magic. He set up an office at 2210 Elliston Place in Nashville and became a distributor of air conditioning equipment for Ohio-based Chrysler Airtemp. Knowing the air conditioning business was seasonal John decided to compliment it with the sale of heating equipment and became a distributor for the Hall Neal Furnace Company and Holcomb & Hoke stoker manufacturers, both in Indianapolis. Amid strenuous financial times and tough competition, the only way to survive was for the company to fabricate and erect its own sheet metal ductwork. John set up a fabrication shop behind their offices and that’s exactly what they did.
While the first year proved to be successful, John realized that the new industries his company represented were still very new and high risk. He diversified by setting up a manufacturer’s agency division for building products representing such companies as Aetna Steel products for metal doors and frames, Crittal-Federal for metal windows, Decatur Iron & Steel Co., for ornamental iron and New Castle Products for wood partitions. In two years’ time the company had 24 manufacturer’s agency accounts.
By 1940 serious talk of war was in the air and military bases began springing up across the south and Midwest. Through careful negotiations and solid relationships with contractors who he’d been working with for the previous couple of years, John landed the heating and sheet metal work for Camp Roberson in Little Rock, AR, Camp Crowder in Neosha, MO, Camp Phillips in Salina, KS and Fort Campbell in Clarksville, TN. Also awarded were contracts for Wolf Creek Ordnance Plant in Gibson County, TN and the Wabash River Ordnance Plant in southern Indiana.
McDougall expanded during the war years, moving to a larger shop location on 41st Avenue to facilitate the growing sheet metal and ductwork jobs being performed by the company. The expansion came just in time as McDougall’s largest undertaking to date was just around the corner. In 1944 John negotiated a contract to fabricate 1,000 tons of ductwork on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge Atomic Energy Plant. It was such a large job they had to subcontract a large portion of the work. In his contract settlement for the Oak Ridge job, John acquired several train carloads of galvanized sheet metal. The metal was a scarce commodity at the time and having it enabled John to negotiate a contract with DuPont to fabricate and erect a large amount of ductwork at their new Chattanooga plant, becoming the company’s first job for a private firm after the war.
In 1945, the individual proprietorship of John W. McDougall Company, with John as president and Mrs. McDougall as secretary, changed to a family partnership with Mrs. McDougall as a partner. On August 1, 1945, the partnership was sold to two corporations, John W. McDougall Co., Inc. and the McDougall Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturing company built ship furniture and various metal products and was in business for about three years after which the company was dissolved when that type of work ended.
The 1950s ushered in a revolution in commercial air conditioning engineering, with the replacement of forced air through ductwork from the bottom to the top with cooled and heated water delivered in pipes to coils which were located on each floor. While ductwork subcontract work was still available on large jobs, this change put the contracting in the hands of plumbing and mechanical contractors on commercial projects. Due to this massive competition, McDougall began gradually phasing out of the air conditioning industry but continued to thrive in both the manufacturer’s agency division with over 40 accounts and the sheet metal division with a shift in focus from light gauge duct to heavy gauge industrial steel.
John McDougall, Sr.’s two sons, John and Wylie, began working for the company full time in 1961. Continually diversifying, the company had ventured into air condition service, chain link fences and automatic door equipment installation and service. By the mid ‘60s these departments were marginal and McDougall began another phase out that lasted five years. During this time, their philosophy in the building products division began to shift from one of an agency mentality to one of engineering and installing more of their products. One field of work that this subcontract concept lent itself to was window replacement. In 1966 the company was selected by the Rutherford County School System in Tennessee to solve their window replacement problem on two of their schools. McDougall decided to fabricate all the aluminum trim from brake metal rather than buy the extruded trim. They engineered, fabricated, sold the window products and installed the entire jobs with their own forces. These two small jobs made McDougall the major window replacement contractor in their area and led to hundreds of similar jobs over the years.
A Nashville-based hospital management company called Hospital Corporation of America (or HCA) was formed in 1968 and was part of the reason the McDougalls entered into the hospital and laboratory casework business. McDougall became a dealer for Hamilton, a metal casework manufacturer in Wisconsin and TMI, a wood casework manufacturer in North Dakota. Since its inception, HCA built hundreds of hospitals across the country, approving McDougall as one of their casework contractors for furnishing and installation of products such as cabinets, wardrobes, narcotic lockers, lab equipment and nurses stations. The nurses stations needed custom casework which prompted McDougall to start their own millwork shop for such customizations.
The late ‘60s and early ‘70s brought a transition in the company with John, Sr. turning over the reins to his two sons. Around this same time a new composite architectural façade panel called Alucobond, which had been doing well in the European market for several years, was being introduced to the North American market and McDougall was chosen by the manufacturer to be one of only a few exclusive dealers, fabricators and installers of the product in the US market. This spawned the creation of McDougall’s Architectural Façade Solutions division, which remains our other division to this day.
Now in its 79th year, John W. McDougall Co., Inc. is a leading fabricator and installer run by 3rd generation McDougall (Wylie’s son), Chief Executive Officer Alec McDougall, who took over the company in 2001. We have since relocated to 3731 Amy Lynn Drive, a much larger and state of the art facility.
But don't take our word for it - take a look at some of our projects over the years to see for yourself the quality of work and capacity of services that we offer in our industrial projects section. Or to take a copy with you, download our Industrial Metal Solutions Brochure.