13080 Highway 80 | El Cajon, CA 92021

Company History

C.W. “Bill” McGrath

Bill McGrath, one of the pioneers in the San Diego construction and real estate industry over the last 60 years, passed away peacefully in his home on September 1, 2005. He was 85 years old.

Bill was born in Oakland California to Dora and Tom McGrath, and was one of eight children. He joined the Navy in 1941 and was stationed in San Diego, serving for 4 years.

Bill started his business career at the age of 14, purchasing his first truck for topsoil deliveries. Unable to drive, he employed his brother, John as a driver and continued to grow his material sales business for 70 years. Despite these humble beginnings, Bill progressively expanded his business over the next several decades to become one of the largest general engineering contractors in the county. His projects included grading and improvements for many major residential and commercial developments throughout San Diego County as well as numerous freeway and road projects including portions of Mission Gorge, Interstate 8 and Interstate 78 in Vista. Among his most notable achievements was construction of a section of Highway 120 known as Tioga Pass that begins at Lee Vining and continues to the entrance of Yosemite National Park.

One of Bill’s passions was acquiring heavy earthmoving equipment much like someone might collect antique cars. He was always reluctant to sell anything regardless of age or obsolescence and took pride in his “spread” which numbered over 700 pieces at one time. His inventory of equipment and trucks were well known throughout San Diego with the familiar Shamrock logo stenciled on the cab.
Bill’s other passion was buying and holding real estate in which he enjoyed great success. His largest acquisition in Kearney Mesa, which he purchased with his wife, Carlee in 1946, was subsequently developed by the family over a period of years into a mixed-use business park culminating with the completion of the McGrath Center in 2001.

Bill was known throughout the community for his sometimes feisty nature and shrewd negotiating skills. As a former prize fighter during his Navy years and beyond, he was known as a tough competitor who didn’t back down and would never quit, and those skills served him well in his career. But those who knew him well understood that beneath that tough exterior was a warm and caring man who was always there for his friends and family. His substantial contributions through the McGrath Foundation including the recently opened Toby Wells YMCA and the soon-to-be constructed McGrath Family YMCA in Rancho San Diego will provide a legacy of the McGrath families generosity for generations to come.

C.W. McGrath, Inc. has been a major player in the Southern California construction industry for the better part of a century and the experience of it’s seasoned personnel consists of nearly 200 years worth of knowledge. The following is a list of projects that C.W. McGrath participated in over the past 50 years.


Year Project Type of Work Owner Contractor
1963 Highway 78 Vista Freeway 4-Lane Freeway Construction State of California
1964 Highway 80 Lake Jennings ext. 4-Lane Freeway Construction State of California
1965 Tioga Pass Highway Construction State of California
1966 San Diego Subdivisions Grading Subdivision Banner Construction
1968 Chula Vista Fill Tidelands Fill S.D. Unified Port
1969 Hewlett-Packard Site Site Development Hewlett-Packard
1969 San Diego Street Development Street Construction City of San Diego
1971 Kern County Freeway Freeway Construction State of California
1972 Escondido Development Grading, Storm Drain & Paving City of San Diego
1974 Access Roads Road Construction General Services Admin.
1975 San Diego Development Grading & Drainage Piedmont Construction
1976 Gillespie Field Taxiway Airport Construction County of San Diego
1977 Cula Vista Develpoment Grading & Storm Drain Dale Building Company
1978 San Diego Storm Drain Grainding & Storm Drain Sunburst Homes
1979 San Diego Subdivision Street Construction City of San Diego
1979 Chula Vista Storm Drain Excavation & Storm Drain Gersten Corporation
1980 San Diego Development Excavation Daley Corporation
1983 Oceanside Subdivision Excavation, Undercut & Storm Sunburst Homes
1984 Valley Center Development Concrete, Berm & Water County of San Diego
1985 Ranch Bernardo Development Clear & Excavation UDC Development
1986 Vista Subdivision Develop Subdivision Patrick Construction
1988 Otay Reservior Site Grading Otay Water District
1989 Heritage Hills Country Club Grade Subdivision & Golf Course Heritage Founders, Ltd.
1990 Four Seasons Aviara Grading & Excavation C. Ponkow Builders
1992 Vista Way Widening Road Construction City of Oceanside
1993 West Main Street - El Cajon Street Imporvements City of El Cajon
1994 Cuyamaca Outdoor PE Storm Drain Nielson Construction
1997 Emerald Ridge East - Carlsbad Clear & Grade Subdivision Monarch Communities
1998 Rhodes Subdivision - S.D. Demo, Clear & Grub, Grading Barrat American
1999 Sunroad II Corporate Center Excavation & Grading Swinerton & Walberg
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© 2009 C. W. McGrath Construction Inc.
Site Creation: Flawless Designs Inc.