It’s not every day you meet two women who are the owners of roofing companies, but twin sisters Barbara Carranza and Michele Romero have been in the roofing business since the early 2000s and have grown their businesses to be the go-to resource for homeowners in the Philadelphia suburbs.
On the surface, their story of success stems from two individuals who have a strong work ethic and share a common interest in developing a solid business for their families, but when you peel the onion back a bit further, you will see that their story is about persistence, belief in themselves, and an extraordinary support system for one another.
In the early 2000s, twin sisters Barbara and Michele were married to brothers who both did sub-contracting work. Barbara was the first to take the leap into owning her own business at this time.
“My husband and I started our business in 2003 when he decided that it was time to go out on his own,” said Barbara. “I continued to work for the first year to support us as we grew it. He went out on estimates while I handled the business side of things and it just took off from there.”
They eventually grew large enough to hire more staff, Barbara’s sister Michele being one of them, who was hired to do secretarial work.
The more the sisters learned about the roofing business, the more Michele felt the urge to go out on her own as well. She and her husband also took a leap of faith, starting their own subcontracting business as well before the two went their separate ways soon after the business got off the ground.
It was at this point that Michele felt strongly about keeping the business to build it even though many people told her that she would never make it on her own.
“I didn’t let that hold me down,” said Michele. “I believed in myself and I just kept saying that I know I can do this. It doesn’t matter that I’m a woman.”
She bought a truck and hired a foreman and people to work for her. Even though they were strictly subcontracting at the time, she wanted more. As fate would have it, Michele fell in love with her foreman and convinced him to open a roofing business with her. She oversaw all of the business logistics while he oversaw all of the roofing logistics.
The company went through some ups and downs in its first few years.
Michele attributes the current success of Romero Roofing and Siding to the support of her sister and brother-in-law as well as her persistence and continued effort to get training for herself and her husband.
Today, Barbara and Michele are members of the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) organization and serve as mentors to many women who own their own businesses in the field. Barbara found the organization after searching for camaraderie among women who were in her industry.
“I tell these girls all the time, ‘when you fall just get up,’ said Michele. “It may seem like there’s nowhere to go but there is. You have to keep trying. You have to try until you know beyond a reasonable doubt that you cannot try anymore and when you hit that point, come back and revisit it because maybe it wasn’t your season at that moment but it might be in the next season. You just have to try.”
Barbara agrees that it’s not always easy, especially being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“I think that a lot of time, females in this industry are not taken as seriously as our male counterparts,” Barbara said. “They may not think that you have the knowledge that the same man would have and so you are looked a little down on. Even employees have made me feel like I may not know as much because I’m a female, so those have been challenges but I think that over the years I’ve shown who I am as a business owner and my strengths and so I’ve been able to overcome that.”
Having recently celebrated their 18th year in business, Barbara Carranza had this to say when asked about advice for women who may want to own or currently own their own business, “Be fair, honest, and professional and always believe in yourself as a female business owner and professional.”
Michele added, “You have to educate yourself because if you don’t, no one is going to knock on your door and educate you. If you want to be successful, you have to learn everything that you can and you will find success.”
In addition to their bond as sisters, Barbara and Michele share in their success as female business owners who continue to grow in their businesses and support one another.