The Eleven Percent: Meet Becca Haggard, Roofing Contractor
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A reader told us about a fantastic roofer who's "changing the entire landscape" in Kentucky. Learn how @AGirlOnTheRoof got into the trades.
This FH series introduces readers to a few of the women who make up 11 percent of the construction workforce in the U.S., spotlighting stories of their careers in the field. Know someone we should feature? Email us here.
Becca Haggard grew up a tomboy, regularly climbing out of her bedroom window to enjoy the view from the roof. As she watched her dad work on creative household projects like building decks and treehouses, she found it fascinating.
“I saw how certain tools would do certain things, and it just made sense,” she says. “I think that’s just how my brain is wired.”
Now Haggard owns her own roofing company, A Girl On A Roof, which serves northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. We asked her for her thoughts on working in the roofing industry.
Q: How did you get into roofing?
A: I majored in history in college, then afterward did sales, first as a banker, then selling diamonds and later clothing. Then I worked for a gentleman who took me under his wing and taught me fine carpentry. The main thing we did was hang kitchen cabinets, which I love. It’s my favorite project. I just finished hanging my own kitchen.
When I was seven months pregnant and tearing out plaster in the middle of January, hauling wheelbarrows of it down to a dumpster, I decided I was a little too pregnant for that. So I went back into sales, this time at a hardware store.
Eventually I ended up selling roofs for the company where my older brother was working. I also learned the physical side of the job, starting with installing emergency tarps after storms and small repairs.
I eventually decided to start my own company, to expand and challenge myself as well as create a platform of opportunity for young ladies to see and believe that they, too, can do anything they put their mind to. So in early 2022 I started my own company.
Q: Now you’re in competition with your brother. What’s that like?
A: Yes, my brother started his own company in the area as well. It’s super fun, and we are very good friends. We talk every day and send each other pictures.
He taught me a lot, and he and I are very like-minded, so we don’t feel like we are in competition, as there is plenty of work. We actually consider ourselves more of a support system for each other as we grow in our careers.
Q: What’s good about being a woman in your field?
A: People sometimes trust me more because I’m female, and probably also because I show up with a smile on my face and I’m on time, which helps break stigmas in the industry.
I’ve noticed that typically the man in the household handles a lot of the home projects, like the roof. But when I’m meeting with a married couple, it gives the wife a sense of empowerment and involvement. Instead of letting him handle it, she ends up heading the project.
Q: An example, please?
A: There was an elderly German lady who barely spoke English and who really didn’t have two pennies to rub together. Her roof was an insurance claim, and so I went out of my way to walk her through both what I was doing and the insurance process.
She didn’t have email, and only a landline. Since I couldn’t text her, I made weekly trips to visit. At the end of the project she was so thankful that she was in tears and sent me on my way with a bag full of vegetables and some banana bread. I just love that I could help somebody who otherwise felt helpless.
Q: Now that your company is busy, are you still working in the field?
A: Unfortunately, a lot of the time I’m busy running the behind-the-scenes and don’t always get to get dirty. But I try to carve out at least one day a week where I do nothing but work on a roof.
It might be two or three different houses with small projects, but I’ll do those myself because I just have to. It’s the way I’m wired. I want to be using my tools. I don’t like to get stuck behind the computer all day.
Q: Any advice for women looking to get into the trades?
A: Try a little bit of everything to see how your brain works and what works for you specifically. My brain doesn’t like figuring out electric, with all of the switches, so that’s not for me. But I’ll talk roofs with you all day because it fascinates me.
Also, never think that you know it all, because that’s when you stop learning. Every day I’m trying to learn more, whether it’s a YouTube video or connecting on a professional level. Find someone who knows more than you do and ask. Usually they’ll love to show you.
Q: What kinds of changes would you like to see in roofing?
A: I’m starting to see more women get into the trades, like female insurance adjusters, roofers, estimators, and a lot of project managers, which is great. I just want to see more girls on a roof.
Also, I would love to have a couple more employees like me in my company, who can supervise, work on roofs and do estimates and sales calls.
I think that’s setting my goals very high because it’s hard to find like-mindedness in this field, but I think it will probably come from someone right out of high school or trade school. I’m looking for someone who I can bring under my wing, and say, “Here’s how you do it.”
Q: What are your pro-specific tools?
A: My gloves are very important to me, partly because I still want to have soft hands and manicured nails, but also because my hands are my tools and I like to protect them. I like these because they’re thin and easy to move my hands in.
The next most important tool is my flat bar, which is a roofing crowbar. It’s useful for many things, including helping me carefully pull up nails to replace shingles. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to create more damage.
Then there’s a roofer’s hatchet, or shingles hatchet, which has a hammer on one side and a blade on the other. Other than that, I always bring my drill and my driver so I can fix a downspout or put things back together. I use Milwaukee because I love their tools. They have a good warranty and make an outstanding product.
Lastly, I always have my caulk gun in my truck for fixing everything from gutters to shingles.
Becca Haggard Bio
Rebecca “Becca” Haggard grew up in Florence, Kentucky and earned a B.A. in history from Asbury University, where she also competed on the volleyball team. Building on her background in carpentry and entrepreneurship, in 2022 she started her roofing business, A Girl On A Roof, in Northern Kentucky.
Her motto is “be seen, be kind, be real,” values she strives to instill in her three kids and the girls and women she mentors in roof and general home repair. When not working top of a house, you can often find her painting, drawing, singing, working out and playing bass and guitar.
Writer Karuna Eberl Bio
Karuna Eberl is a regular contributor to FamilyHandyman.com. She spent the last 25 years as a freelance journalist and filmmaker, telling stories of people, nature, travel, science and history. Eberl has won numerous awards for her writing, her Florida Keys Travel Guide and her documentary The Guerrero Project.