2009 newspaper interview with Ocie J. Yarborough
Development Inc. owner and President Ocie Jackson Yarborough’s life
probably would have taken a different turn if he hadn’t bought a red and
white 1956 Chevrolet.
had one of those high-pressure sales people,” he said. “This guy came
up with a way that I could own the car. My father co-signed it and I had
to pay $120 a month. From that I learned you have to go real hard in
life to get something and don’t let someone talk you into something.”
importantly, that car he purchased for $5,200 in 1955 in Florence,
S.C., is the reason Yarborough came to McKeesport, where he one day
would own a multimillion dollar company.
Development is currently working on the renovation of Baldwin High
School and Deer Lakes High School and building Vista Grande on Mt.
Washington. His company has built Riverview Nursing Home in McKeesport,
McClure Elementary School in White Oak, Mifflin Elementary School in
Lincoln Place, Gateway High School in Monroeville, University High
School in Morgantown, W. Va., South Fayette High School, and the stadium
and bleachers at West Mifflin Area High School, among other projects.
successful businessman seems like a reach for a boy who grew up on a
tobacco farm in Scranton, S.C., with no electricity and a sixth-grade
“I felt that I had to work real hard in life because of my education and my background,” Yarborough said.
actually had to repeat sixth grade because he missed so much school
taking care of the farm after his father Ocie Yarborough injured his
at age 15, then worked on various jobs with his grandfather, J.W.
Williams, who was a contractor in Fayetteville, N.C. He later worked as a
carpenter at Baptist Hospital in Columbia, S.C.
friends convinced 17-year old Yarborough to come to McKeesport so they
could work construction jobs. He soon also found a job making much more
than he was in South Carolina when former business partner Perry Lee
Spyres offered him a job making $2.50 an hour as opposed to $1.67.
Yarborough met Spyres because the friends he traveled to McKeesport with
were working for him and he asked Yarborough to hang doors for him in
was a good carpenter, but he couldn’t do finish work,” Yarborough said.
“ I was a good cabinet maker, could hang doors and all that kind of
stuff. He made me an offer. He said if I would stay and take care of the
finish work, we’d split everything halfway.”
After working together for about a year, Yarborough said Spyres left the area after going through a divorce in 1959.
said after Spyres left, the company did a lot of work in Jefferson
Hills and Moon Township and worked consistently with Ryan Homes.
company worked out of Yarborough’s house along Portsmouth Drive, which
he bought in 1960 after living in various municipalities. Yarborough
then constructed a building at 1700 Washington Blvd., where the business
worked under the name Ocie J. Yarborough Carpenter Contractor until
1969, when the company name became Yarborough Construction. In 1975, the
company became incorporated as Yarborough Development.
opened an ice cream shop, OC Treat-N Eat, in the same building as
Yarborough Development in 1995. He then sold it in 2000. Yarborough also
became part owner of Youghiogheny Country Club in 2007.
reason I got into construction is I remember way back thinking there
had to be a better way to make a living than farming,” he said. “I got
into construction. You made some money, but I really loved it and
enjoyed what I was doing.”
Yarborough still visits job sites and often gets projects started in addition to his administrative duties.
He and his wife Sherry live in Port Vue with their two sons.
people in Port Vue know of Jack and the Yarborough family and the
positive impact that Yarborough Development has had on the community,”
family friend Laura Thompson said. “I think very few people are aware of
Jack’s humble beginnings. His is a truly fascinating story full of life
lessons from which we can all learn.”
still owns the plantation property he grew up on and visits his
hometown of Scranton a couple times a year when he vacations in Myrtle
1700 Washington Blvd
McKeesport, PA 15133
Phone: (412) 673-7620
Fax: (412) 673-7318
Port Vue business owner rose from humble beginnings.
Article written by Stacy Lee, Daily News staff writer.