After career spanning over 40 years, contractor retires

January 8, 2019

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Decades after coming home from Vietnam, a West Virginia native and WVU graduate used his experiences from childhood and service overseas to write a novel.

He spent many of his days working at May Brothers, a contracting company started in 1917, and he stayed with it throughout much of his life.

“I think he was 16 when he started working here,” Gary Hibbs, an employee and friend of Heiskell, said. “I’ve been here 38 years; Mark has been here just a little bit longer than I have, he started young.”

After working with Mark for such a long time, Hibbs is saddened by his friend’s recent retirement, as his leadership to the company has been a constant for decades.

“He knew everything about this place,” Hibbs said. “It’s going to be rough, he knows a whole lot more than anyone else here. If you needed something done or fixed, he knew how to do it. I’m going to miss him for a while, he was almost like a brother to me.”

It was Mark’s grandfather, Okey May, who was one of the founders of the company with his brother. May’s daughter, Mildred Heiskell, also got involved in the company, and still drops in at the company, almost daily, to assist in the transition of ownership, which took place over the past year.

Mike Staud and Ronnie Nichols purchased the May Brothers company in 2017 and said the work of Mark and Mildred has made the company a pillar of the community, and their influence will most likely be felt well into the future.

“This company has been run by the May Brothers and the Heiskell family for 100 years,” Staud said. “May Brothers is a brand name in Fairmont — people recognize the name partially because of the family that owned it, but also because of its longevity.”

According to Staud, the transitional phase in which the company changed hands was made easier through the help of Mark and Mildred, and Mark’s continued work has been hugely valuable, with Staud even learning to mix concrete through his teaching.

“Mark was very instrumental in making a smooth transition for Ronnie and I to take over,” Staud said. “When Mark would go out on a job, not only was he there delivering the concrete, a lot of times he would jump in and help with the labor, in pouring the concrete — which is not his job, just in his nature.”

“What I would say about Mark is that he has integrity,” said Melissa Lenhart, an administrator for Staud and Nichols. “What I really appreciate about him is although his family sold the company last August, he stuck around and made sure the company was actually able to flourish, and that’s when he felt safe enough to retire. I really appreciate him for that.”

Others had worked with Mark for a number of years and commented on his willingness to help while in the field on a job. His assistance in the field will be sorely missed by those who benefitted from it.

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