At age 25, Katie Borcz is in charge of the family owned Bridgeport Building Supply in Diamond Springs.
Like her older brothers, Brian and Brent Mullens, and sister Robyn Borcz, Katie has worked in the business since childhood. “When I was 10 I started coming with my dad in the summers. I would sweep floors and dust shelves. Some of our long-time customers remember me from when I had to stand on a stool to mark tags.”
All four children worked at the Bridgeport Building Supply during high school, but Katie was the one who grew to love the business and wanted to carry on her father’s dream for it. When Katie graduated from Union Mine High School in 2004 she went to Folsom Lake College El Dorado Center in Placerville. She transferred to Sacramento State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in December 2011. Her concentration was on international business with a minor in marketing.
Katie is already putting her academic education to work. She said the exposure to international business has helped her understand the world of shipping that her vendors have to deal with. “Even though our vendors may be in Redding or San Jose or somewhere else in California, they have some of the same issues,” she said.
When her father, Jim Mullens, died a year ago, Katie’s mother, Donna Mullens, 58, came back into the business and guided it through the transition from father to daughter. Jim started the company in April 1980 and Donna was involved with it for the first 10 years. In 1990 she joined the El Dorado County Office of Education working in child development, then went to work for El Dorado County’s Human Resources Department. “When Jim died, the whole family came together and we kept it going,” said Donna.
Katie said she feels fortunate to have worked with both her father and mother in the business and to be able to combine her daily work experience with her academic learning. Now that Katie has taken over running the business, “Mom comes in after work or on weekends to sign checks,” said Katie.
Both Donna and Katie are proud of the history of Bridgeport Building Supply. It was built on the site of a former sawmill. Jim thought a building supply business would be a suitable replacement. He loved covered bridges and named his company after the one on the South Fork of the Yuba River that is now in the South Yuba River State Park. It was built in 1862. A plaque describes it as the “longest single-span wooden covered bridge in the United States.”
A picture of the bridge serves as the company’s logo.
With its location at 961 Pleasant Valley Road, just east of the Diamond Springs business core, Bridgeport serves South County contractors, ranchers, wineries, businesses and do-it-yourselfers. Katie works with vendors to get the best prices.
“Our prices are very competitive. We tailor our inventory with the times, so if we don’t have a product here,we can get quick delivery,” said Katie. “Some of the contractors are no longer around, and the ones who remain are no longer working on large projects. They are doing renovations, additions and decks. We do our best to work with them and keep them in business.”
Bridgeport offers free bids, and Katie is the one who works them up. “I like figuring out customers’ problems,” she said. She often responds to online bid requests.
Katie said her dad was comfortable doing business the way he always had, by hand. Katie is moving the company into the digital age. She has created a website for the company and a Facebook page. She plans to put vendors’ training videos on the website to help customers. Her next project is to set up digital inventory.
Jim reached out to the community, especially to the Eagle Scouts, Diamond Springs Fire Station and Mother Lode Lions. Donna is a member of the Rotary Club of Placerville. Katie has been assisting the Rotary Club with its website and will be speaking to its members on how to use Facebook.
Even though women in the building supply industry are still a novelty, and younger women more so, Katie is confident. “I enjoy working here. I’m good at it. I enjoy working with the customers. We have a lot of great customers and a friendly staff. I spend a lot of time listening. I don’t know if I will ever know everything, but if I don’t know the answer I will find out,” she said.
Katie is happy to carry on her father’s dream and continue his practice that “Customers come first.”
For more information visit bridgeportbuildingsupply.com, or call 530-622-5234.