Take a stroll past the legislative and executive branch buildings that make up Maryland’s state government in downtown Annapolis, and chances are, they were built or renovated by Coakley & Williams, one of the largest and most respected general contractors in the Mid-Atlantic region. CWC projects there include the new construction of the Miller Senate Office Building, the Thomas Hunter Lowe House of Delegates, the Calvert Street Parking Garage, the renovation of the James Senate Office Building, and the renovation of the Maryland State House.
That CWC had a hand in all these projects shouldn’t come as a surprise. The open shop company dates back to 1925, when it first started out as a plastering business called Coakley Brothers, created by brothers Cornelius Andrew Coakley and John Coakley. What may come as a surprise is that CWC didn’t start out open shop. Back at its start, 85 percent of construction workers belonged to unions. Coakley Brothers’ initial projects were completed by union labor.
In 1952, after careful deliberation and review, Neil Coakley, Cornelius’ son, decided that using union labor was not in the company’s best interest. He refused to sign the latest revised union contract, making him a pioneer in his time. He incorporated the C.A. Coakley name and went open shop. (Neil had purchased the business from his mother after Cornelius died in 1947. John had moved back to Ireland and sold his half of the business to Cornelius in 1933).
In another bold move in 1954, Neil became the first member west of Baltimore to join the Baltimore Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He believed in ABC’s mission so much, he became the initial organizer of ABC’s Washington Metropolitan Chapter, which was officially chartered in 1959. Later that year, Neil and Fred Williams, a local builder in the metro Washington area, formed a partnership, merging their companies together. They formed Coakley & Williams, Inc. General Contractors in 1963, becoming a major player in the region, building schools, churches, libraries, shopping centers, warehouses, and office buildings for private and public owners.
Now managed by Terrance Coakley and Patrick Caulfield, CWC’s diverse expertise includes preconstruction and construction services for base buildings, interiors and renovations. In the past few years alone, CWC has received 16 project award for their outstanding work. Recent projects include The Bullis School’s Gerald L. Boarman Discovery Center; The Culinary Arts Program at Prince George’s Community College; and PEPCO’s $100 million DC Waterfront Substation.
All the while, CWC continues to support the open shop way, with its executives serving on the board of ABC Metro Washington Chapter. The company also believes in giving back to the community through its participation in various organizations, including Bike to the Beach to benefit Autism research, JDRF’s Real Estate Games to benefit Type 1 Diabetes and Hearts & Homes for Youth, an organization that offers long-term, community-based residential support for at-risk kids. Putting its construction skills to use, CWC recently helped renovate one of the home’s kitchens and helped landscape the Kemp Mill Boy’s Group Home in Silver Spring, Maryland.