Raising the Roof
Stephanie Bolton on running Patriot Roofing Company
Out of some losses come new journeys. When STEPHANIE BOLTON’s brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly in 2019, she and her family committed to keeping his business alive.
“Us, the family, the business,” she says, “none of us were ready for him to go.”
Bolton joined the Patriot Roofing Company in 2012, after her brother-in-law asked her and her husband to join the business. She had been industry-adjacent before her debut. After 15 years, she traded her role as a construction lawyer in the courtroom for the contractor office.
In some ways, becoming the owner of Patriot Roofing Company was “survival,” Bolton explains.
“It was making sure the people I loved and cared about the most had jobs,” she says. “I counted it up one time, and there are 80 families who depend on me showing up to work.”
“I’ve always worked in a male-dominated industry. I was the only female construction lawyer at my international firm,” Bolton adds.
Bolton has enjoyed the transition, from working in a law firm and then in roofing, and from being in the business office to becoming the face of the company. Nowadays, she finds herself in many meetings – with sales professionals, their operations manager, clients, and more. Though she’s still using many of the same skills from her lawyer days, such as working on contracts, liens, and collections.
“Before I didn’t have much of an opportunity to know the Wilmington businesses and become a member of the community,” she says. “One of the things I’ve liked about roofing specifically is how welcoming it has been . . . I’m not just the lady in the office. I’m happy to get on the roof when I need to.”
In this role, she also spends more time with her family. Her husband, mother, and step brother-in-law all work for Patriot Roofing Company.
“During these kind of weird times (COVID-19), it’s a blessing and a curse,” she says. “I worry so much.”
Like many companies, Patriot Roofing Company has transitioned to mostly working at home for now. Until recently, only one employee was permitted in their office at a time. They’ve been using Zoom for meetings and DocuSign so clients can sign contracts from home.
“(Business) has definitely been slower than last year, but we’ll survive,” Bolton says. “Our clients are mostly homeowners, so they likely have some financial stability. We haven’t had to lay anyone off.”
Patriot Roofing Company offers both residential and commercial contract work on anything exterior that connects to a building or home – not just roofing of all kinds, but also siding, gutters, windows, and doors. They work from Raleigh to the coast and down the state line.
Last month, they became a HUB (Historically Underutilized Business)-certified business so they can pursue more government contracts.
And, if a law degree were not already enough, more classes are in Bolton’s future. Cape Fear Community College started offering preservation construction classes.
“I’m excited to take those classes myself,” she says, “and to connect with people I’m going to hire and to become involved in trade training.”
She also hopes more women like her will choose to join the industry.
“I don’t just run the company,” she says. “I actually know roofing . . . I’m glad to be able to kill that stereotype.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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