Civil engineering firm K.E. McCartney & Associates celebrates 40 years of service

CLEAR FORK VALLEY — March, 2018 marked 40 years of service for the civil engineering firm K.E. McCartney & Associates (KEM).

The cornerstone of KEM’s foundation was set in April, 1951 when company founder Kenneth E. McCartney entered the Army during the Korean War. While in Korea, McCartney learned the value of clear communication, how to find innovative solutions in a timely manner, and that quality infrastructure is paramount to success. He completed his tour in 1953 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.

In 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, setting in motion an economic golden age for the civil engineering industry. Jobs were abundant for young engineers, and McCartney joined Porter, Urquhart, McCreary and O’Brien working on a leg of Interstate Route 71 through Richland and Ashland Counties. The 15-mile corridor McCartney worked on proved to be very challenging due to significant grade changes; one area required a 100-foot cut through rock.

After the interstate highway system was complete, McCartney joined the Mansfield firm Shaffer/Parrett, where he met Barney Parrett. The two went on to become very close friends and eventually opened Parrett/McCartney. In 1968, a group of gifted engineers joined in partnership to form Richland Engineering Limited, with McCartney as Managing Partner.

It’s often said that destiny’s in charge and we’re just along for the ride, a compelling thought, given that in 1978 McCartney took his experience and expertise, along with a considerable amount of grit, and established KEM.

From the beginning, McCartney set out to build a different kind of engineering firm, one that cares about the communities it works for and considers the impact to our environment when planning improvements. He instilled these values in the company until his passing April 2, 1994. Since that time, the KEM family, including McCartney’s children, dedicated staff, and now several grandchildren, has carried the company torch, all the while holding true to the lessons McCartney learned so many years ago on the battlefields of Korea: provide clear communication, find innovative solutions, and work efficiently.

Today KEM has nearly 50 employees with equipment ranging from 3D Laser Scanners to Robotic Total Stations and trucks equipped with cameras that televise underground pipes. Many think McCartney would be astonished at the technological advancements in our industry and proud that KEM is on the cutting-edge of that technology.

Ken McCartney McCartney


Staff report



Reach Louise Swartzwalder at