Paul M. O’Neal, Jr.

June 21, 1942 – October 21, 2023

Paul O’Neal grew up in Hartsville, SC.   By his account, “I worked part-time or full-time from high school through college and didn’t stop working until I retired from O’Neal.”  Hard work mattered a great deal, but Paul’s willingness to take a chance was the catalyst for what was to come.

After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in civil engineering, he embarked on a career that included two engineering organizations over the first ten years of his career.  The second of those companies was a start-up that grew from five people to 100 people in a relatively short period of time.

One day, he came home from work and told his wife Judy, “If they can do it, I can do it.”  So, on August 8, 1975, Paul and Judy began a structural engineering firm with Paul handling design work and Judy providing administrative support.

The company grew.  Design/build delivery was a major part of its growth.  After starting as a structural design firm, O’Neal soon added electrical, mechanical, and architectural.  In 1987, O’Neal began working for one of the largest industrial producers in South Carolina with locations throughout the Southeastern US.  That client remains a major source of work 38 years later. 

By the 1990s, O’Neal was a full-service design organization and had made a major move into process design.  The company had added offices in Atlanta, Charleston, and Raleigh, all with O’Neal core clients that provided ongoing work. 

 Two key events occurred in the late 90s.  O’Neal began its life in an office that backed up to the Greenville Zoo, followed by a location on South Pleasantburg Drive.  As growth accelerated in the 90s, a new site was found at the intersection of Century Drive and Falcon Crest. Paul was extremely proud of both the new building and the project execution that resulted in a nine-month design/construction. 

 The final step in Paul’s vision was the addition of a construction arm in 1997.  O’Neal won its first $100 million EPC job in 2005 as Paul was preparing to retire.

The following memories shared by O’Neal team members capture the essence of the company.

“We were challenged every day to deliver great designs and Paul worked alongside us and gave us the resources to be successful. He was a good mentor and utilized a red marker in an extravagant manner to help drive home his point. At the same time, he was a visionary.  He knew where he wanted the company to go and how he was going to get there. I was and still am blessed to have worked for Paul and O’Neal for 43 years.”

Kenny Satterfield
O’Neal Team Member
1978 – 2021

“It wasn’t just that I had a really good job, and I did, but it was like I had become part of a special team. A team of top-notch professionals who, on any given project, knew how to come together and produce quality work, on time and within the given budget. And it didn’t seem to matter how many long hours or weekends it may have taken; we always had a hell of a good time doing it. We were, and still are, very good friends. Not just work friends but the kind that genuinely cared for your wellbeing and that of your family, as you did for theirs. Friends who were generous to a fault and none was more so than Paul O’Neal.”

Bubba Ramseur
O’Neal Team Member
1986 – 2020

“I am thankful Paul and Judy took that leap of faith in 1975 to start this wonderful company.  I often think – did either Paul or Judy have any idea O’Neal would grow to what it has become today?  I may not know the true answer, but in my heart, I think of course they did – with their leadership – it couldn’t have grown any other way!”

Vicki Horomanski
O’Neal Team Member
1995 – Present

“I came to O’Neal in 1994 after working several years at Lockwood Greene.  I remember Paul walking around the office periodically and speaking to everyone, just asking us how we were doing.  I could tell he knew everyone’s name, including mine.  As a young engineer that made me feel welcomed and appreciated at O’Neal.  Later, Paul hand wrote a note that I still have thanking me for the work I did on a project.  Again, as a young engineer, it meant a lot to me that the President of our company would take the time to hand write a note to me.”

Randy Hall
O’Neal Team Member
1994 – Present

“I came from a bigger company than O’Neal.  The President never knew my name, even after twelve years.  O’Neal was the “big company” for me because Paul knew my name the first day I walked in the door.”

Phillip Honea
O’Neal Team Member
2002 – Present

“I remember my first day at O’Neal so many years ago and how welcome Paul and Judy made me feel.  I want to thank them for the opportunity they gave me straight out of school almost 30 years ago.  It has been the basis for my entire adult life.  O’Neal is the place that I call home.  Though the faces have changed, the overall family atmosphere at O’Neal has not changed.  I attribute that to the strong foundation Paul and Judy started.”

Robert Matthews
O’Neal Team Member
1995 – Present

“In February 2005 on my first day at O’Neal breakfast was being served in celebration of 35 years.  As we stood in line, we were asked to bow our heads and Kenny Satterfield said the Blessing.  After the Blessing, Mr. O’Neal came along the line and shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for making O’Neal successful.

Looking back on that day I realize this is such an incredible place to work because Mr. O’Neal created an environment that all of us feel valued and we as a company have always given thanks to God.”

Becky Rollins
O’Neal Team Member
2005 – Present

“Around three months into my new job a family crisis developed. It was getting worse as time passed. I needed to be back in SC with my wife and daughter.

I decided to ask for a temporary transfer to O’Neal’s Greenville, SC office. Late one afternoon, after working up the courage, I approached the leader of the Raleigh office and explained what was happening. I asked if there was any way that I could work temporarily out of the Greenville office. (This was way before remote working was as easy and common as it is today.) He said he would call down to Greenville and speak with the HR manager.

The next morning, he called me into his office. I was nervous because I thought he might say something like this:

“Mike, we’re really sorry about your situation. Unfortunately, the job is here in Raleigh. If you want to continue working for O’Neal, it needs to be here.”

Instead, this is what he said to me, as closely as I can remember it:

“Mike, everything is taken care of. I talked to the Greenville office this morning. Go straight to your car, drive home, and take care of your family.  On Monday morning report to work in Greenville. Don’t worry about any of your stuff here. We’ll pack it up and have it shipped down to Greenville. You can work in Greenville as long as it takes to get your situation resolved, and then continue with your move here to the Raleigh office. Or, if you like, you can just work in Greenville permanently. Do whatever is best for your family. The decision is entirely up to you.”

That is the kind of company that Paul and Judy created. A company that I have been proud to work for, for 26 years.”

Mike Hallasy
O’Neal Team Member
1997 – Present

“I feel so blessed to be a part of the O’Neal Team. I remember my first Christmas party after I began working at O’Neal, I was nervous about attending because I didn’t know a lot of people. You and Judy met me at the door as I was coming in and made me feel so welcome and comfortable. I knew then I wanted to be a part of O’Neal for a long time…and here I am 26 years later”

Kathy Hovis
O’Neal Team Member
1997 – Present

“I have worked at O’Neal for 43 years and have seen a lot of changes. The one constant that remains today is that Paul laid the foundation for a people-focused business. Paul and Judy were truly the “head and heart” of O’Neal, and it has been an honor to know them as co-workers and friends.”

David Lindley
O’Neal Team Member
1981 – Present

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