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New High CEO focused on growth, ‘supercharging’ talent development

High Companies is already the largest private company in Lancaster County and one of the biggest in Central Pennsylvania.

But CEO Mike Shirk, who succeeded Nevin Cooley on Jan. 1, is thinking bigger.

“We’re not going to be in maintenance mode,” said Shirk, a Manheim Township native and former vice president of architectural specialties worldwide at Armstrong World Industries.

The 39-year-old said the company, which was founded in 1931, is going to be “supercharging” its talent development efforts this year. High plans to add 50 to 100 positions this year, he said, with much of that growth on the industries side to support the company’s manufacturing volume growth in steel and precast concrete services.

“Speed is an advantage,” said Shirk, adding that he’s also still “getting up to speed” in the role after coming on as CEO-elect in early November. “The faster we can put the right people on the highest potential opportunities, the more we can get done.”



For most of his career, Shirk said, his focus has been on creating unique strategies and driving them to create value for customers and accelerate long-term company growth.

His prior sales and general management roles exposed him to multiple industries and he’s worked in about two dozen countries. He believes that gives him an advantage at a diversified company like High, which has a physical presence in eight states and sells into even more.

“This is a very professional and well-run company,” he said. “Goal No. 1 is don’t mess that up.”

S. Dale High, chairman of High Industries Inc. and High Real Estate Group LLC, said he has a great deal of confidence in the company’s future.

“We wanted someone who would value our existing teams and leadership that’s in place and develop those teams to an optimal level,” High said. “Fitting the culture is important, and the company’s philosophies and values. We felt Mike brought that and, as a bonus, we got someone who cared deeply about Lancaster County. His roots are here.”

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