Program Report – Shelley McPhatter – BridgePoint Construction

The Durham Circle of Business

Today’s program was about another enterprising person who left a very secure position in private industry to assume the risks of going into business for oneself. Shelley McPhatter has created a highly successful consulting and construction business in the Triangle. Todd Taylor introduced Shelley whom he got to know through her work for Duke Corporate Education.  Todd pointed out that she had a degree in Ocean Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology. Naturally, he had to point out that building things on land was “piece of cake” compared to building on the ocean.

Shelley has been in the construction business for twenty one years. Early years were spent working out of trailers supervising subcontractors for large construction firms.  She spent eight years as a project manager at Skanska, one of the world’s leading construction and development companies. She called herself a “company girl.”  She was on the “A-Team” with a secure job. She had three young children. Why would she ever leave a job like that?

Nonetheless, she struck out on her own in 2007, founding BridgePoint Construction Services working out of her home. At the time, her twin daughters had just finished day school. She felt rich.The time felt right. But once she got out on her own, “it got scary.”

Her first project was serving as Owner’s Agent on the GreenBridge project in Chapel Hill, a mixed development of commercial and residential space. At the time it was hailed as the “greenest” project in North Carolina. BridgePoint Construction Services works as a consultant with developers, architects, construction firms and others to manage successful and sustainable projects.

Shelley lives in Wake Forest. There are too many family connections to leave, but she loves Durham.  In 2008 she started looking for office space in Durham. She loved the downtown.  She loved the energy. She loved the architecture. And she wanted her business to be part of the community. How often have we heard start-ups and entrepreneurs say the same thing?  South Duke Street has become home for her Durham offices.

In 2013 Shelley founded BridgePoint General Contracting. Projects have included an expansion of American Underground and improvements to the lobby area of Bronto Software.  She has twenty-two clients that are based in Durham.

In 2016 Shelley co-founded BridgePoint Civil, located in Goldsboro, that provides earthwork and site utility service for the Triangle and eastern North Carolina.

Shelley modestly failed to mention that Triangle Business Journal ranked BridgePoint General Contracting as twelfth on the Fast 50 List  of the fastest growing companies in the Triangle in 2016.She attributes BridgePoint’s success to “our people” who treat all professional relationships as partnerships. Personally, she has discovered that “her time is better spent working on the business rather than in the business.”

When asked how, as a woman, she fits into the traditionally male-dominated construction industry, Shelley admitted that coming up through the field there was a lot of cursing and jokes. “I’m good at that!” she retorted.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg

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