Always up for a challenge, Meghan Medford made her foray into a male-dominated field in the wake of the Great Recession. Oh, and she's afraid of heights.
Meghan Medford works in an industry dominated by men, but that didn’t deter her from owning and operating her own roofing company.
She opened Medford Roofing in 2010 and obtained the company’s commercial license in 2011, enabling the small firm to bid on commercial projects in the tri-state area.
“It was a challenge just to be a female in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “I had to prove myself so I had to study up on the products. I took classes and learned how to heat-weld. I was also afraid of heights. The first roof I walked on I was scared out of my mind.”
But she got over that fear, and began to focus on finding work for the company. Medford Roofing depends heavily on referrals and repeat customers.
Medford was in medical sales while her husband, William, worked in roofing. She had a desire to run her own company, and she saw in the market a need for a customer service-based approach.
Her previous career included selling electronic medical records to doctors who weren’t always eager to convert their systems. Before that she sold pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
“I have a mindset for sales,” she said. “I network and do strategic planning. It’s in my blood. I just took that approach and started knocking on doors. It grew from there, especially in the commercial industry."
So Meghan Medford took the contractor’s exam, and it snowballed from there. She began knocking on the doors of insurance agents looking for roofing jobs. Her company first did residential reroofs and eventually commercial jobs.
The first commercial project came a couple of months after the company opened with the housing authority in Trenton, Tenn. A reference from that work led to others.
Today, Medford Roofing specializes in commercial flat roofs. Recent projects include Graceland’s expansion and Crosstown Concourse. The company also does a lot of work for Shelby County Schools.
Brett Grinder, Vice President of Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc., has used Medford Roofing for a number of projects that include Crosstown Concourse, Children’s Museum of Memphis, Visible Music College and Graceland West.
“Meghan is always very conscientious and customer service-oriented,” he said. “The quality of Medford’s roofing installations are top notch, and they stand behind their work. … We consider them one of our top subcontractor partners.”
Since Medford Roofing opened it has gained $10 million in revenue and grown to 20 employees. But it wasn’t always easy. In fact, Medford laughs now but she admits the company didn’t have a vital tool to complete work in the early days.
“We didn’t even have a ladder,” she said. “I had to call my dad every time to borrow one.”
Medford Roofing’s office is located at 3687 Summer Ave. in a small building bought to serve as an office along with adjoining land for storage.
“It was a fixer-upper for sure,” Medford said. “We bought it and slowly got it ready. I was pregnant with a lead paint mask on doing work.”
The employees don’t spend much time in the office. Medford wants to keep enough work so that the crews remain busy. For the first couple of years Medford Roofing used subcontractors. But then the company got a roofing job for a new International Paper Tower IV building, and they were able to begin hiring laborers and roofers to work full time.
The company started in the post-recession wake when times weren’t great for the construction industry. Medford said that challenge has made the rise to success even sweeter.
“We thought we knew more when we started the company,” Medford said. “We’re still learning every day. It’s been a struggle. The best part is knowing we have 20 employees and they’re all family.”
Her natural sales mentality has elevated the company from residential roofer to a sought-after commercial roofer. Medford has also received her fair share of recognition, including being named to the Memphis Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015. The company earned the MBJ’s Pacesetter Award that year, and was a finalist for its annual Small Business of the Year award.
Medford has gone through the Small Business Association Emerging Leaders program and participated in the Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine’s Economic Gardening program. She said those types of programs helped her realize she’s not alone in Memphis’ entrepreneur landscape.