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

CART Buckets Challenge

CART Total is now at $4,224.23 for our Rotary Year.
Our Challenge Goal for the end of this Rotary year is $5,000.
On May 9, CART awarded 6 research grants for a total of $700,000.
It is apparent we are participating in something very big!

On May 8, we collected $167 (about $1.40 per member).
If we donate at least $167 at each of our remaining 5 meetings 
in May and June, we will reach our goal of $5,000 by the End of the Year.

Our Challenge Days were great:  Aug 5 = $661;    March 6 = $1,142.
So. let’s make a big splash this Monday with coins and paper money!

Rotary Minute: John Cross

In his own words, this is the Rotary Minute of John Cross

Good Afternoon!  For those who do not know me, my name is John Cross and for those that do know me, you know this is going to kill me that I’m going to likely go over 1 minute.

I currently work at PNC Bank here in Durham on their commercial banking team, and have worked there for the past 13 years now, as it was and is my first job since graduating from college.  Outside of work, I have 2 daughters, 1 and a half and 3 and a half, so my free time is usually spent singing the Frozen soundtrack or chasing a blur of pink and purple around our neighborhood, as my wife and I live in Apex.

When I was on the Club’s website and saw the link to sign up to give the invocation / rotary minute, I thought “nah, I just did one, let somebody else get up here and practice their public speaking.”  Then I saw it again, and again, and well….. that was 3 years ago when I joined the club, time flies.

I spent my first minute talking about why I joined Rotary, and I’ll use this as more of a follow up to explain what I am doing with Rotary and what it means to my everyday life.  Unlike many others here, I am a first generation Rotarian in my family.  We did some research, and I cannot find any evidence of my family members being involved in rotary, be it parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.  There were other service clubs they participated in, but think it’s neat to carve out a new path at times and exited to start this chapter.

Between work and the kids, I’ll typically find myself trying to wrap my hands around a different tornado each day.  These lead to varying degrees of stress and challenges over the course of a week, and certainly something different each time.

In my 3+ years as a member, I’ve come to realize that these Monday meetings are almost my reset to baseline.  When I step back and think of things that may be “problems” in my day, you come to realize how miniscule they are compared to other global challenges.

Whether it’s international issues such as Polio and clean water projects, or local efforts such as our 100+ acts of service last year which gave too many to list, our time here is special.  Rotary brings us all together and allows us to share our gifts, be it time, knowledge, or loose change and serve to solve problems and serve for others.

That is why I’m proud to start this tradition for my family, and to share with friends and family the good we do here locally in this club, but also as a much larger organization.

Thank you, and I appreciate you giving me some of your time today.

Program Report: Jennings Brody – Parker and Otis

I was taking notes for this write-up when Jennings Brody, the force behind Parker and Otis at Brightleaf and Chet Miller and Tiny on Parrish Street Downtown, abruptly ended her remarks at 1:00 o’clock. But anyone who was worrying that they might have to go back to work a half hour early, had nothing to worry about.

That was not a problem. The audience of Rotarians was filled with many of the legion of fans of Ms. Brody and her retail savvy, and they were full of questions.

One of those fans was new Police Chief and newer Rotarian C.J. Davis who had discovered Parker and Otis before her family had joined her from Atlanta. She implied this helped her convince them that Durham was a good place and she liked it.

Chief Davis also made it clear that her guys were not responsible for enforcing the parking limits on Parrish Street. This was in response to Ms. Brody’s criticism of the new one hour limits for her new stores on Parrish St. Her point was that such a short limit was counterproductive to creating a vibrant retail environment Downtown. She pointed out that they always encourage their customers to visit other stores in the area and have lunch in many of the new cool places.  A three-hour limit would be her recommendation.

Ms. Brody received many compliments on the selection things in all three stores and was asked how she selected them. Her answer was that she personally selected everything and went on buying trips to nine to eleven trade shows a year.  Just coincidently, Steed Rollins was next to me at my table and our reaction was similar and we looked at each other with big grins. Steed and I once were partners with two other guys in a company that was trying to sell our lines of figurines at these shows.  We weren’t terribly successful, but these shows, if you have never been to one of them, are quite an experience. Ask Steed about the shows and were we stayed in New York, Atlanta and Dallas. Anyhow, we have an appreciation for Ms. Brody’s ability to create the environment she does in her stores with the thousands and thousands of options that she has at these shows.

Ms. Brody also deftly and candidly fielded questions about the business side of starting a retail store. One break that came with its own risks was that she could take over the Fowlers space that had closed after its third owner had given up and was already up-fitted for what she wanted to do. She also praised Self-Help for not only taking a risk in and near Downtown but also for requiring a detailed business plan.  She talked about the proceeds from the Self-Help loan and another $200,000 on credit cards that brought a gasp or two from the audience.

The initial inventory in a new store is a big lump to swallow, of course, and she pointed out how helpful it was to have landlords like Past President Arthur Rogers, who introduced her, that give a break at the beginning of a lease.

On how she got in the retail business, she talked about first selling shoes then as a rep for a candy company and then three years working for Sara Foster running the Fosters in Chapel Hill.

Since I’m a notoriously bad note taker, I usually go to the web to try to fill in the gaps. What I found was an interview of Ms. Brody on the Durham Magazine’s podcast, where she tells a lot of the same story. That can be found at

If you’re new to town or have never been to Parker and Otis, their website gives you a good idea of what you’ve been missing. It can be found at

One thing I did find hard to believe was Ms. Brody’s claim that Parker and Otis went through 71 gallons of Duke’s Mayonnaise every week making their signature pimento cheese.  Come on, really?

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Rotary Minute – Rachel Galanter

Rachel Galanter, Executive Director of the Exchange Family Center, spoke on a life changing and crazy decision she and Durham County Department of Social Services made 19 years ago.  She learned things through this experience that research has shown make a difference in helping families, but the lived experience was a powerful teacher that helps her in the work she does. Here is part of her first hand account:

First is that it isn’t enough to share information—you need to really engage in communication.  I attempted to make sure that my foster daughter would be comfortable in my home by sharing information that I thought was essential for her making a decision.  However, the DSS social worker and I didn’t probe her understanding or evoke from her any response.  She would have said yes to “we’ll be going to live on the moon.”  Her face when she realized that my being Jewish meant I didn’t believe in Jesus showed how all the things I had shared when right over her head that day.

There are things we know are protective factors:  resilience, a network of support, social and emotional competency, and parenting skills.  I saw in our relationship each of those in action.  She had experienced trauma, left school in the 6th grade, traveled on her own to this country, and still reached out to get enrolled in school.

Her ability to regroup and keep trying was part of why she was able to eventually graduate high school, get awarded a Neighborhood Hero scholarship, and be a successful adult.  She would not have been able to achieve all of that without the network of support.  This includes friends and family helping with her when I had surgery, El Centro Hispano’s youth program (which gave her a peer group and her first job), school sports teams that gave her a place to shine, a supportive employer, and so on. 

Ultimately, building up her capacity to solve conflicts and handle her feelings was what helped her to be able to focus more on academics and eventually have a job.  She learned to communicate better—simple things like letting people know when to expect her and if plans changed.  These weren’t skills that she had in her family of origin.  When we went to visit, I learned first-hand that a commitment from her parents to give us a ride home from an event was not intended to be taken as guaranteed.

Finally, my ability to provide developmentally appropriate support—letting her have some autonomy as a teenager, but willing to dive in and be her advocate and tutor and to set limits was important.   To really spend the time and talk about the 8th grade reading test she had to pass to graduate and figure out what is getting in her way.

Because her parents didn’t relinquish legal rights I wasn’t able to formerly adopt Diana, but she and I have claimed each other.  She lives in Durham with her husband and 4 children and I am their Nana.

Exchange Family Center is having a fund raiser on Sunday at Wheels Fun Park on Hoover Road on Sunday April 30. More information about it is on the organization’s website .



New Member – Caleb Baker

Kay Gresham of the Membership Committee inducted Caleb Baker. Caleb was sponsored by George Deaton. Caleb has succeeded George as the Development Director of Development for the United Methodist Retirement Homes. Please introduce yourselves and welcome Caleb to the Rotary community.