Sunday, November 27, 2022

Acts of Service: Kyle McCarty Builds Community Trust Through Craftsmanship

Kyle McCarty is a creator with an entrepreneurial spirit. He’s always had a knack for fixing things. When he was younger, his father once told him “It’s not what the tool is designed to do, it’s about what you can make it do.” From the time he was a boy in Houston, Kyle’s father laid the groundwork for what would later be his service to the Coronado community. Well known around town for his handyman business, Kyle tackles basic home repairs, fixer uppers and the “honey do’s” – and does it well. He’s gained quite the positive reputation and no job proves to be too big, or to small, for the Coronado craftsman.

Kyle’s acts of service began long before he started his business in Coronado. In 2002 at the age of 20, Kyle joined the Navy after a brief stint attending the University of Houston. Kyle served for 12 ½ years with distinction and has clocked over 2,000 flight hours in the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter as a crew chief and rescue swimmer. He was consistently chosen to brief, and fly, foreign dignitaries and high-ranking officials including the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Secretary of the Navy. In short, Kyle was an exceptional sailor.

In 2012, Kyle met Lt. Cdr. Landon Jones when he was assigned to the USS Nimitz, which was set to deploy in October. The trip was postponed but the two left with a smaller group the following January with the USNS Ranier. Jones was the Officer in Charge (OIC) of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 and Kyle was the Lead Petty Officer (LPO) of the air crewmen.

“What I knew of Landon when I first met him was that he was young, had a nice looking family and a really nice car,” Kyle recalls with a laugh.

Kyle explains that his was a rare job where enlisted and officers worked hand in hand and once inside the aircraft, were more like equals.

“Everyone’s opinion matters. There’s a mutual respect among everyone,” he says.

Kyle remembers Landon as one of his favorite people he’s ever worked with. Landon Jones was a fair leader, a good man and had enormous respect for his crew.

Kyle and Landon struck up a friendship that was more like a brotherhood during their time together.

“You spend a lot of time together when you’re flying in helicopters,” Kyle says. “It’s impossible not to have a personal relationship.”

In September 2012, while conducting operations in the Red Sea, the helicopter carrying Kyle, Jones and three other crewmembers including Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathon Gibson, was involved in an incident onboard the USS William P. Lawrence shortly after landing, killing the two pilots. Kyle was also injured, and had lost two friends that were like brothers to him that day.

Despite his injuries, Kyle wasn’t released from the ship until November. After the mishap, he struggled with depression and lost weight.

“I wasn’t awarded any special treatment,” he recalls.

When he returned home in November 2013, he was placed on limited duty. Once home his circumstances added to the stress on his family, and he and his wife separated and later divorced. The injuries he sustained from the mishap meant that he wouldn’t be able to fly again and so his time in the military was drawing to a close. He knew he would need to find something else to do.

“Getting out the military was never the plan,” he says.

Shortly after he returned home, Kyle met with Theresa Jones and Chrissy Gibson, the wives of the two pilots lost and explained the details of what had occurred that day. It was his first time meeting them both and he made a pledge to himself and to them to be there for them, for whatever they needed.

About a week later, Theresa called him.

“Were you serious about that?” she asked him.

“She put me to work,” said Kyle, recalling the list of “honey-dos” he completed to help Theresa.

Once home, Kyle planned to get right back into the workforce. While he was working on putting his life back together, he recalls living on the good graces of others. He stayed with friends and slept on couches while looking for another place to live, and started looking for a job in sales. When those efforts didn’t pan out, Kyle fell back into something he’d always loved.

Several months after he returned home, a member of the Coronado Moms Facebook group posted that she was looking for someone to help with some simple home repairs. Theresa then recommended Kyle for the job. A friend of Theresa’s suggested that Kyle start a handyman business – there was no one else like him in town and the island could use it. Kyle was reluctant at first. He wasn’t sure how lucrative it would be. But he accepted the job, which was fixing a garbage disposal, but wouldn’t accept payment. “Consider it a favor to a friend,” he said, and asked that she refer him to others and perhaps hire him again in the future.

Word spread on what Kyle jokingly calls the “Coronado Momfia” and he began receiving more and more requests for jobs. So he went to City Hall and got a business license, started a Facebook page and his business was born.

Kyle has fixed leaky faucets, repaired fences, installed light fixtures and even assembled IKEA furniture. He’s genuinely concerned with customer satisfaction and prides himself on his professionalism and quality of work.

“When you care about what you do and put pride in your work, people with notice,” he says.

Kyle’s business has received a warm welcome in Coronado. The community has come to know and trust him. And for him, it’s been a natural fit. The skills his father taught him as a young boy were fine tuned during his time as a contractor’s apprentice prior to joining the Navy.

Kyle typically takes two jobs per day and books a week in advance. This enables him to ensure that he’s able to make every appointment and give every client the attention they need for the project he’s working on. But even Kyle needs a day of rest – the only days he doesn’t work are Sundays.

What Kyle enjoys the most are the people. He loves the work but forging the personal relationships along the way is what fulfills him.

“Not one person has ever treated me like the ‘help’,” he says. “They’ve always treated me like a houseguest.”

Kyle credits the strong, tight-knit nature of the local community for the success of his business and for helping him get back on his feet even before his business started. When he was rebuilding his life after the mishap, Kyle received donations of household goods, bedding, rugs, dishes, help finding an apartment and more.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without this community,” he explains. “These people helped me after my life was destroyed. This is my service back to them.”

Recently, Kyle extended his services free of charge to Gold Star families to help them in the first six months of their loss. Why?

“Because it’s the right thing to do.”

Kyle isn’t just a craftsman. He’s also a wordsmith. In December 2013, he wrote a children’s book that captured his emotions after the crash and losing his friends. The book is geared towards helping children who have lost a military parent cope with their loss. The booked, entitled “Why Did Daddy Have to Go” tells the story from a child’s perspective of what happens from the first day of deployment to a couple of months after the loss. The book is not yet published, but Kyle plans for the eventual sale of the book to benefit the Jones and Gibson children. His goal is for every Gold Star child to receive a copy.

So what’s next? In the short term, Kyle plans to get his home inspection and locksmith certifications. He has a long-term business venture – but he’s not telling. He does however, dream of helping other wounded warriors like himself get back on their feet.

Kyle officially retired from the Navy in April 2015. Despite the circumstances, he attributes his strengths to his time spent in the military.

“I am the person I am because of it.”

And still, Kyle is serving the community that has given so much to him, one happy customer at a time.

Kyle McCarty Handyman Services
(713) 724-0946
[email protected]

Mary Douglas

Staff Writer

Have a story you want to share? Contact us.