Tampa Bay’s seawall master

Back in the late 1990s, I worked as a writer for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, covering the business of sports, commercial real estate and the local advertising and marketing business. It was a good place to work and I enjoyed my time there. I don’t really remember doing this story, but I do dimly remember that I used to drive by this place of business on my way to and from work.

By ARTHUR FREDERICK
Staff Writer

Bill McNamara wasn’t thinking much about docks and seawalls when he was installing chain link fences around schools and prisons in Philadelphia. But when he moved to the Bay Area in the early 1970s, he found there wasn’t much of a market for chain link fences here.

“There was no money in it, no volume, and it was too competitive,” McNamara recalled of his Florida chain link fence prospects. “It got old.”

He needed something else to do, but he didn’t know what. To fill in the time, he started doing some work for a Clearwater-based company that installed boat lifts.

“I just started putting in boat lifts,” said McNamara, whose McNamara & Son is now the biggest dock builder in the Bay Area. “We made one connection after another, and things started to grow for us, just like things were starting to grow for Tampa. I had to hire help, and soon we were doing everything. Before long, we were all the way at the top. We are bigger than anyone as far as residential stuff is concerned.”

“We” is really McNamara, his 36-year-old son Kevin, and a group of employees and subcontractors that right now stands at around 15 people. The 60-year-old McNamara usually stays close to the company’s offices on West Hillsborough Avenue. The younger McNamara can usually be found on one of the company’s barges, placing seawall material or overseeing dock construction.

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