Francis McPartlon, 24, owner of Santa Fe Stucco & Roofing, poses for a portrait at a job site in Santa Fe on Friday, January 19, 2017. The young man took over small roofing company from his dad and has turned it into $6 million operation -- one of biggest roofing companies in state. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Longtime Santa Fe roofing and general contractor Kevin McPartlon was confident when he handed the reins of his company to his son, Francis, that the young man, barely in his 20s, could successfully carry on the family business. But even so, he was in for a big surprise.

“I knew he would be good, I just didn’t know he was going to be great at it,” McPartlon said.

Since 2012 when Francis McPartlon, 24, became general manager of Santa Fe Stucco & Roofing Co., he has taken the profitable but modest business built by his mother, Anna, and father from a $300,000 operation that had maybe 25 clients a year and five employees to one of the largest roofing companies in the state with about 45 employees, 400 clients and yearly revenues of $6 million.

“It has been a challenge to grow this fast,” said Francis McPartlon, who bought the company from his parents in 2014. “Much faster than anybody could have predicted.”

McPartlon, as did his father 30 years earlier, said he recognized a gap in the state’s roofing industry — a competency and trust gap brought on by unreliable fly-by-night contractors who cast a pall of unprofessionalism and shoddy workmanship over the industry. “There has been a huge stigma among roofers,” McPartlon said.

Recalling his early days in Santa Fe, Kevin McPartlon said: “I was told that if I was honest and showed up on time and did what I said, I would be a success.”

Francis McPartlon said he has built on his father’s reliability and quality work to expand the company, but he and has father often had differences during the transition from father to son.

“My dad and I saw every situation differently,” Francis McPartlon said. “He liked to keep things small with modest risks. … For me, my vision for the company is to try to grow it to be the biggest roofing company in the entire Southwest.

“I changed the way almost everything was done. It was almost like building a company from scratch. … We’ve had our great successes and small failures, just like any company should,” the younger McPartlon said. “It’s taken me about five years to really know how to run this company.”

The senior McPartlon said he eventually saw the advantages in his son’s approach and long-term vision and acquiesced to such moves as increasing target advertising, going after more and bigger clients, especially expanding to the commercial market, as well as Francis’ use of the internet and social networks, and reinvesting almost every cent back into the company.

“It was a good fit between him and the industry,” Kevin McPartlon said. “I was very surprised and proud of him, and at how easy it came to him and how people related to him.”

He said his son has become adept at being able to sometimes tell clients things they might not want to hear — for example, that more work is required than expected, and thus costs will be higher than originally anticipated.

Francis McPartlon, vice president of the New Mexico Roofing Contractors Association, said he is the youngest vice president of any such state association in the country.

But being young has not always worked to his advantage in expanding the company.

“My age is a huge obstacle for me,” McPartlon said. “People realize that I’m young, and gaining people’s trust and overcoming the age factor has been a difficult thing.” He said he has only one employee who is younger than he is and that two employees are 40 years older.

He said that the age factor has affected the way he operates the company. “I approach my management skills in a much more positive than negative way, giving a lot of reinforcement rather than criticism, asserting myself as an authoritative figure but always taking [employees’] opinions seriously.”

Age also has been a factor in securing clients. “Certain clients do have some reluctance with my age,” he said. “But one of the benefits is that they feel like I am going to stick around for a long time. They know we are in this for the long run.”

But, he added, “I remember when I was younger, I had to work on my phone voice because I wanted people to think I was older than I was.”

Among other challenges the younger McPartlon says he has faced is the lack of opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Santa Fe, although the future seems brighter.

“Santa Fe has been a difficult place for a young person because there is just not a ton going on. But I think it is starting to change.”

He cited increased efforts by movers and shakers such as Mayor Javier Gonzales, City Council members Renee Villarreal and Michael Harris and author George R.R. Martin to create new opportunities, as well as the examples set by other young entrepreneurs such as Meow Wolf’s Vince Kadlubek and John Warmath, founder of Bolt, the rider pickup service whose drivers use Tesla electric cars.

Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing is not connected with a company owned by Kevin McPartlon’s brother, Brian McPartlon Roofing.

Kevin McPartlon said his son has “always loved people. When he was 4 or 5 years old he would go up to somebody, pull on their pantleg and introduce himself.’

“He has grown a lot and he puts his face out there in the community.”

During the transition of the business from father to son, “I always had his back,” Kevin McPartlon said. “And in a way I still do.”

Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing Co.

Address: 3221 Richards Lane

Phone: 505-690-6215

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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