Contractor Profile: Bruce Bartholomew
For more than 20 years, Phoenix Roofing Inc. has thrived by tackling the most difficult projects in the Pittsburgh area. In fact, the tougher the project, the more Bruce Bartholomew likes it. “Most of our jobs are challenging,” said Bartholomew, who owns the union company along with his wife, Nancy. “Challenge is part of our daily routine here.”
The company specializes in commercial work. Phoenix does about 40 percent of its work in the new construction arena and 60 percent of its work is re-roofing. “We do pretty much every low-slope membrane, built-up roofs, and mod bit roofing, as well as standing seam roofs and sheet metal,” Bartholomew said.
He got his first taste of roofing working summer jobs alongside his brother Brian. “My mom remarried when I was 16, and she married a roofing contractor,” he said. “That’s how we got our start, Brian and I, working during the summers.”
Bartholomew graduated from American University with a business degree, and after years of experience working for a large roofing contractor he saw an opportunity to launch his own business. A failing roofing company had recently closed its doors, and Bartholomew picked up some of the pieces. “We ended up starting Phoenix,” he said. “The name comes from Greek mythology — rising from the ashes.”
He chalks the company’s success up to lots of hard work and a great base of employees. “Through the company we used to work with, we had great relationships with customers, and we had some great people,” he said. “I took the cream of the crop with me, and some of those people are still working with me years later.”
In 1999 they opened a separate entity, Bruin Roofing, a non-union shop run by his brother, Brian Bartholomew. The one-two punch of Phoenix and Bruin has its advantages. “First and foremost, our double-breasted arrangement gives us a very broad depth of resources,” said Bartholomew. “We also have a very diversified skill set in types of systems and experience handling complex projects.”
According to Bartholomew, the key to commercial roofing is to be reliable and dependable — not just once, but time and time again, throughout the bid and budget process to project completion and beyond. “The people who buy roofing consistently — general contractors, developers — we excel at meeting their needs.”
Phoenix has handled high-profile projects including Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They also roofed Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, FBI Building, Magee Women’s Hospital, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Elkton Prison, and four buildings in the new Children’s Hospital complex.
Bruin’s projects include the Try Street Terminal Building, Seagate Technologies Inc., One Adams Place, Coventry Health Care, and the Consol Energy headquarters, whose unique roof is shaped like the company’s logo and incorporates curved metal roofs.
“We have very good footprint in town,” Bartholomew said. “We’re used to tackling complex projects. We’re good at planning, staging, and transporting tools and equipment. We take on projects others are afraid of.”
Their portfolio of completed projects is a source of pride to everyone at the company. “I just enjoy seeing the impact we have on the city,” Bartholomew said. “Recently we went to Mt. Washington, a big bluff that overlooks the city, and we had lunch and counted the roofs. It made me proud.”