This Bull City Builder is Bridging the Gap in a Male-Dominated Industry

This Bull City Builder is Bridging the Gap in a Male-Dominated Industry

Founder and president of three construction companies, Shelley McPhatter found her fit in an industry that presents her with a constant stream of new work and the opportunity to keep her staff engaged and clients satisfied

Photographed on American Underground @ Main Roof Patio.
Photographed on American Underground @Main Roof Patio.

Shelley has worked to build Durham up for almost 13 years – literally. With a career in commercial construction that spans 20 years in the Triangle area, her favorite work was always in Durham, which is why she founded Bull City-based BridgePoint Construction Services in 2007; it has since expanded to include BridgePoint General Contracting and BridgePoint Civil. She lives with her fiancé, David White, 11-year-old son Andrew, and 14-year-old twin daughters, Morgan and Sydney.

In a male-dominated industry, Shelley stands out. Her BridgePoint Construction Services company runs the gamut of building offerings, from new construction to renovations. The LEED-certification guru often acts as an adviser as much as a project manager. Her team’s repertoire includes American Underground and Bronto Software. Here, a quick chat with the design-minded industrialist:

How did you get into construction?

I have an ocean engineering degree from Florida Institute of Technology, but watching buildings under construction always interested me. I moved [to the Triangle] in 1996 … and fell into the construction industry. I’ve been in commercial construction my entire career. I spend my days bringing in new work, making sure our clients are happy, visiting project sites, working with property owners and developers and architects – it’s the perfect fit for me.

You’ve helped build some incredible Durham locales. What’s your favorite?

That’s difficult; there are so many. I think my office: I have large windows overlooking Peabody Street. I see all of the activity around Lilly’s Pizza, Parker & Otis and Morgan Imports. The energy outside helps to keep me going inside. I like my office so much that I hosted a pop-up party for a friend’s 40th birthday. We set the scene like a nightclub, had a DJ, had catering, and Danny Rowse, [a bartender] from Bar Virgile, poured specialty drinks. It was a true Durham-style event!

Do you have any guiding principles?

I was fortunate to work with some really great senior project managers early in my career. I always paid attention to what worked and didn’t work in their management styles and tried to learn from both. Now, I have a staff of 10 people with General Contracting and Construction Services, and another six people with BridgePoint Civil. They’re a great team, and I couldn’t do it without them. When you run a small business, the people you work with are like your second family; keeping my people busy and our clients happy is what keeps me going. That excitement, that sense of “feeding the machine,” gets me out of bed.