Editorial: 02.04.2020

A Summer Job Lays the Foundation for Michael Pranger’s Castle Career

mike pranger with construction equipment

When Michael Pranger began working in the construction yard at McCarthy Building Companies in summer 1996, his chief goal was to earn a few bucks between college semesters. Instead, the experience launched his construction career and led him to Castle Contracting.

Pranger had originally planned to return to the University of Missouri when his summer gig ended, but he decided to continue working in the yard during the day while attending evening classes. “As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I wanted to stay affiliated with McCarthy,” says Pranger, who currently serves as Castle vice president of operations.

It wasn’t long before he left the yard environment and began working on a range of construction projects. His first field assignment involved managing a process to organize and disseminate assembly equipment components for an industrial expansion at the Bodine Aluminum automotive plant in Troy, Missouri.

When that project wrapped up, Pranger transitioned to an estimating role, but quickly realized he would benefit from some additional project experience. “I was helping to estimate concrete, but I'd never physically done any of it,” he says. “So I figured the best way to learn about it was to get involved with the hands-on work.”

That learning process took place on the Saint Louis University School of Nursing building. “I met a bunch of fantastic people who truly cared about their work and took the time to teach me,” he says.

After that experience, he took on a full-time estimating position before returning to the field to work on projects at Washington University in St. Louis, the St. Louis City Justice Center and MetroLink.

In 2004, Pranger joined Castle as project manager, expanding the nine-year-old civil contractor’s capabilities and expertise. “It was one of the more challenging decisions that I've ever made,” he recalls. “It was tough to leave the folks who had helped me build my career, but it was an opportunity to be on the ground floor of something that had a lot of growth potential.”

As Castle continued to expand, Pranger began managing some of its largest projects, including the Taubman Prestige Outlets development in Chesterfield and the IKEA retail store in the city of St. Louis.

Following McCarthy’s acquisition of Castle in 2015, he was appointed director of operations. The new alliance between the companies formalized a relationship that had been developing through successful project collaborations that included the joint venture overseeing the redevelopment of Gateway Arch Park’s North and South grounds.

In 2018, Pranger assumed his current position as vice president of operations. In this role, he oversees business operations and provides direction to other Castle business leaders responsible for accounting, estimating, business development, market team operations and field operations.

“I'm still quite a bit involved in pursuits and estimate reviews,” he says. “I try to be a resource to our teams and do whatever I can to help get projects over the finish line.”

He’s also committed to nurturing Castle’s unique work culture. “We have a great culture of collaboration and pride in what we do,” he says. “It’s a very creative group of people, and we’re all rowing in the same direction, with a one-win, all-win mentality.”

As Castle celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020, Pranger is energized by the opportunities to continue building the company’s expertise, client base and geographic reach.

“With the growth opportunities in our markets, the people we have onboard and the stable foundation Castle has built over the last 25 years, I'm pretty excited about our future.”


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