Mark Cain builds on grandfather's legacy with SmootDC expansion

Mark Cain, president and CEO of SmootDC, is expanding the business to Boston and Columbus.

Mark Cain, a longtime leader in the Columbus-area construction field, is preparing to conquer new markets.

Last week, he announced the expansion of Smoot Construction Company of Washington DC, also known as SmootDC, to New England and the Midwest.

The business will operate as S. Cain Development and Construction in Columbus, and under a yet-to-be determined name in Boston.

SmootDC and its new subsidiaries are separate from the Columbus-based Smoot Construction, an approximately 75-year-old Black-owned company, which also has an office in Indianapolis. Cain was previously co-president of the Midwest offices, but now is focusing on his role as president and CEO of SmootDC.

“You have to go where there are opportunities, and the Boston market has recommitted to an approach that includes diverse contractors,” said Cain, 54, who is Black and resides in Westerville and Washington, D.C.

“And it's a market that doesn't have a lot of underlying capacity. And so, they're looking outside of their typical market to see if players are willing to come up and participate.”

SmootDC has a joint venture partnership with the Boston-based Consigli Construction Company. Both businesses worked together on the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Upcoming jobs include a project on Harvard University’s Allston campus, as well as work on student housing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Cain said he is still evaluating work in Columbus.

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SmootDC senior preconstruction manager Jacquelyn Sykes-Washington said she is happy the company is continuing to grow.

“All of my opportunities with Smoot have been exciting, just because we've been involved in so many high-profile projects in the D.C. market,” said Sykes-Washington, 53, of Silver Spring, Maryland.

She also is looking forward to being involved in inclusivity efforts in the New England market.

“I expect that Boston probably has a greater need to demonstrate that than D.C. does,” she said. “D.C. is very accustomed to diversity and inclusion, but it's nice to see that impetus in other locations as well. So, we're greatly encouraged to be a part of that.”

The S. Cain Development and Construction name honors Cain’s grandfather, Sherman Smoot, who founded Smoot Construction and expanded operations to Washington, D.C., in 1968 as a small masonry subcontractor.

Originally based in Charleston, West Virginia, Smoot would search for work up and down the Eastern seaboard.

“(He) was asked by a company to bid a job in Columbia, Maryland,” Cain said. “It was the General Electric Appliance Park. They bid that job high, and they won and they completed it successfully and never left. It has always been a rich market for the family in terms of opportunities and the availability of labor.”

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The present-day corporate structure of SmootDC was put in place in the mid-1980s. Later, under Cain’s leadership, the business completed work on several major facilities, including Nationals Park, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and the U.S. Capitol Dome.

Cain said SmootDC has a staff of about 42.

And he said he is excited to continue the legacy his grandfather started in the nation’s capital.

“I've always been very proud of that,” he added. “The heritage is hugely important to me.”

Dispatch researcher Julie Fulton contributed to this report.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Mark Cain expands Smoot Construction Company of Washington DC