GAITHERSBURG, MD. — From a young age on Carey Dove knew that she would work for her dad’s business — M & M Welding and Fabricators, which specializes in boilers, power piping, burner conversions, HVAC retrofits, and welding in the Baltimore/Washington and Northern Virginia region. Her dad always told her that she would learn the business from the ground up, which is exactly what she did.

M & M Welding and Fabricators was founded in 1972 by Russell “Muggs” Mullican, Dove’s father. With her business management degree in hand, Dove assumed control of the company in 1990, although her initial love of the business can be traced to the many summers she spent as a day laborer on the M&M payroll.

“During high school, when we had spring break and summer break I would work in the field,” said Dove. “When I got out of high school I knew I was going into business, so I went to college to study general business and management, and psychology.

“I loved working in the field,” added Dove. “There’s no better way to learn the business and no better way to get acquainted with the competent, loyal team that we’ve always been fortunate to have at M & M Welding and Fabricators. I’d probably still be on the M&M frontlines if my father hadn’t pulled me into the office in alarm after spying my developing arm muscles!"

Working in the field allowed Dove to experience firsthand what the employees deal with on a daily basis and how they interact with customers. She also worked in the office.

“I learned every aspect of the business, from accounting to bookkeeping to payroll to insurance and everything else in between” said Dove. “I was very fortunate that my dad had enough foresight to know that having a successful succession plan was what it was going to take.”

“Her dad would be as proud as we are,” said Richard “Sonny” Oden, a retired 40-year veteran of M&M Welding, “of Mugg’s ‘little girl,’ Carey Dove, as she celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the mechanical contracting firm her father founded in 1972.”

“From a little girl on, I always knew I was going into the business, and I wouldn’t change a thing about that,” said Dove. “I learned from my dad how to surround yourself with loyal and talented folks. I knew I had to do this to make the company successful. He installed the confidence in me that I needed to run the business after he passed away.”

Employees make it

Dove said that her dad opened a business based on the realization that he could start a business doing for himself and others what he was doing for his current employer and provide a better way of life for himself and employees. That was 1972.

“He was blazing the trail for us so to speak,” said Dove. “He had many licenses: master plumber, gas fitter, electrician; he was a jack of all trades.”

Dove’s father was a boilermaker by trade and took engineering classes at University of Maryland, taking many night courses.

“The philosophy my dad had about the company was that your men make you, and without your men you are nothing,” said Dove. “I believe we have the most loyal and dedicated workforce out there and we treat the guys like family and realize that they are the ones making M&M Welding and Fabricators successful. They are the ones making the customer happy. They take pride and ownership in all the jobs they do. We provide a 24-hour emergency service and our employees take pride in this.”

“We have a saying here,” said Dove, “When the job is too tough for the competition it’s just right for us.”

Failure has never been an option at M&M Welding.

“My dad always said that there are two ‘can’ts’ —if you can’t do it you can’t stay,” said Dove. “Failure is and never was an option. We get compliments all the time about our employees: what hard workers they are and that they are fast and courteous and helpful. That’s just the killer combination that keeps customers satisfied. A lot of the customers we have we have retained for 40 years.”

Many of the original men who began their careers with Muggs have stayed on and played a major role in the success of the company. Dove credits her success to her management team and staff, who through great customer relationships, extended work hours and short weekends have helped her continue to grow and prosper.

“Many families have benefited from M&M Welding and Fabricators, and M&M Welding and Fabricators has benefited by employing those people,” said Dove. “It’s nice to know that there are still family-owned businesses out there making it and you still have loyal folks that come to work every day.”

Changing tides

M&M Welding has been fortunate to ride the changing tides of an up and down economy and come out on top, and faced with the challenges of changing technology that can make or break medium-sized businesses. For example, Dove has jumped in with both feet with the debut of a new website, interactive elements and her own QR code — all these meet the needs of the digital age.

“I am confident that keeping up with how my customers conduct business can only help us to better serve them,” said Dove.

Dove added, “After 40 years in business you naturally evolve to meet your current and perspective customers’ needs. When my dad started M&M Welding and Fabricators it was solely a service company providing 24-hour emergency service for boilers and chillers and underground utilities for steam and condensate lines. Then over time once M&M Welding and Fabricators grew to a point where it had financial strength where we could obtain bonding, then we started competitively bidding government municipalities and various school projects. All company projects are commercial. M&M Welding and Fabricators has even worked on a project for the Pentagon and the Capital.  

“The one thing that makes me the happiest is we kept my dad’s dream alive by having M&M Welding and Fabricators be a leader in the industry and having the best employees around with the ability to do whatever it takes to get the job done and make the customer happy,” said Dove. “It’s that ‘whatever it takes, can do attitude.’ ”

Dove has recently won the prestigious Milton F. Clogg Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award and sits on the Maryland State Boiler Board and ASME Section IV Heating Boilers Committee and is a past president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Metropolitan Washington.