John R. McAdams

Founder and Chairman

John McAdams is the visionary leader who founded McAdams in 1979. He has grown the company to be one of the largest and most respected design, engineering and planning companies in the Southeast. In addition to building the company and involvement in the firm’s largest projects in the early years, John has served on the Board of Directors of Harrington Bank, served as Board Member and Chairman of Triangle Land Conservancy and Carol Woods Retirement Community and currently serves on the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission. John chairs the company’s Board of Directors and works on corporate strategy initiatives, including acquisitions, the ownership transition program, shareholder communications and represents McAdams at the national conference level.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

"When I was a Boy Scout, age 12, and on a four day, 50-mile hike in December along the Cape Fear River in NC; I became separated, lost, freezing and terrified just as night was falling on the second day. When I finally found my way through the dark-and-damp woods to my troop, I was shaken and told our scoutmaster I wanted to quit the hike and have my parents drive out and pick me up. My wise scoutmaster responded: “Johnny, I think that’s a decision you don’t make right now. Let’s make that decision in the morning.” The next morning, we got up, cooked some pancakes, grabbed our packs and resumed the hike. From that experience, I internalized two strong messages: 1. Don’t make decisions when you are distressed, and 2. The fulfillment of achieving a goal is worth persevering, however difficult it may seem at times along the way."

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