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Jugglers

Primary business: Industrial-painting service

Secondary businesses: Seller of prefabricated houses; industrial-pipe-cleaning service; and mechanical-maintenance service

Juggling MO: Having a network of partners; delegating responsibility

At age 35, Michael McMahon, one of whose titles is president of Coating Systems Inc., set two ambitious goals for himself: to make the Inc. 500 list and start two new companies before he reached 40. Both milestones he effectively achieved before his 40th birthday, on September 5, 1997.

McMahon is also CEO and chairman of Coating Systems (#482), a $5.3-million industrial-painting company based in Savannah, Ga. What's more, he co-owns and is chairman of three other construction-related ventures, including two he started this year: Georgia Economy Homes, a seller of prefabricated houses; and EnviroVac Inc., an industrial-pipe-cleaning service. The fourth is Patriot Contractors Inc., a recently acquired mechanical-maintenance business. To oversee all four companies is demanding, of course, and McMahon says he routinely puts in 80-hour weeks.

And he gets more than a little help from his friends. McMahon has three seasoned businessmen--Richard Barrow, Kevin Jackson, and Ron Van Den Huevel--as partners. They all serve as shoguns in his mini-empire--and all own equal shares of the companies and assist in various capacities. Barrow, for example, is president of Patriot Contractors, and Jackson is president of EnviroVac.

And McMahon delegates. Although none of his companies generates more than $7 million in revenues, he and his partners have named operational vice-presidents for each. This frees McMahon to concentrate on strategic thinking.