Greta Bajrami is not afraid of taking on a challenge.
As if starting her professional career as “an immigrant, a minority, a woman and a young adult” was not enough, she chose a male-dominated profession — construction — in which it’s difficult to break through and last. And she succeeded.
That led to the Hopkinton resident being named an Ernst & Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year for 2023.
“That award was probably the highlight of my career thus far, because it’s one of the hardest awards to get,” said Bajrami, noting she shared the stage with leaders from some high-profile companies. “The reason I got welcomed on that stage, it was a very rigorous process, they wanted to know how your entrepreneurship worked and how you saw entrepreneurship and what you did to advocate for recruiting talent and doing something different.”
Born in Albania, Bajrami immigrated to America with her parents in 2000. They settled in Worcester, which has a big Albanian immigrant community.
Bajrami eventually went to Worcester State College, where her career ambition took hold. As part of an entrepreneurship class, she developed a plan that she could apply to “any industry that I saw an opportunity.”
Having worked one summer in construction, Bajrami “saw there was so much I had been learning as a student in the college classroom that was missing in the day-to-day hustle of construction and construction workers.”
“So I embarked on the journey to open my own construction company, which at that time seemed like a really big dream — to be 21 and wanting to open your own company,” she said. “But through resilience and determination, I found my footing.”
At first, Bajrami struggled to find and retain quality employees, and it was equally challenging to find homeowners willing to trust her with their money.
“I hired three people, I had one van of equipment, and I started going around to every [general contractor], architect, engineer and asked them if they would give me something to work on,” she recalled. “At first, nobody wanted to give us anything, so we were mainly doing repair work. But being on job sites every single day and being on rooftops every single day really strengthened me and gave me the skills that I needed not only to excel but survive in this industry. Because it is a very cutthroat industry, it is very fast-paced, there’s a lot of pressure and anxiety that builds up, because we’re working on people’s most valuable things, which is their homes.”
She stuck to her strategy of focusing on quality and allowing word to spread.
“I always believed in craftsmanship,” she said. “I believed if we started backwards through the hands on the roof, we would find a way to have it all come together. I think a lot of entrepreneurs start from sales and marketing. My philosophy was to start from the hands, from the people, and really build everything around the identity of what we were doing out there.”
Without much money to spend on marketing, she took to social media for free publicity, writing blogs and posting photos and videos to build a brand as well as educate homeowners.
Her big break came in the winter of 2014-15, when a massive storm caused problems for homeowners across the region.
“When I finally found my footing was when the 2014-2015 ice dams happened — that big, historical storm,” she said. “At that time, people just wanted a roofer; no one really cared how many years you’d been in business. So, I think business is a little bit of luck, and it’s about holding out and holding on as much as you can and believing that your moment will come. That’s when my moment came. That storm was definitely the fire to the fuel, and after that we never stopped.
“Fast-forward 12 years [after starting], and we have four offices of Golden Group Roofing and Solar, and we have grown to over 40 employees. Being such a big company, and being that we financially bootstrapped this without any investors or outside capital caught the attention of a lot of [people]. I’ve been getting local and national awards for quite some time now. I’ve appeared on many podcasts, and everybody wants to know how I was able to build such a successful company.”
Library hosts Read-In Oct. 5 at Town Common
The Hopkinton Public Library is sponsoring a Read-In at the Town Common on Thursday, Oct. 5, from 5-7 p.m.
The event serves as an opportunity for the community to come together to support the right to read, explained Danielle Cook, adult services librarian.
“Our Read-In is part of Let Freedom Read, a state-wide initiative celebrating our communities’ First Amendment rights to find all sorts of books at their local libraries, and takes place during Banned Books Week,” Cook shared. “Book bans, threats to funding, and other efforts to censor library materials have increased steeply in the last year, and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable among us, as well as violating the First Amendment rights of all individuals to borrow and read whatever they like from the library.
“We believe that everyone who walks into the library deserves to find a book on the shelves that is interesting or helpful to them,” Cook continued. “Unfortunately, in recent years there has been a steep increase in Massachusetts and across the United States in book challenges, which seek to reduce the variety of books on our shelves, often by targeted removal of books.”
Cook encourages residents to attend the Read-In with a blanket or chair and a book — or attendees can borrow a book from one of the librarians, who will have selections on-site.
Paluri siblings produce for charity
Arjun and Nysha Paluri came up with a crafty way to support two local organizations. The siblings — Arjun is a freshman at Hopkinton High School while Nysha is in fifth grade — produced their own Hopkinton-themed merchandise, hand-decorating T-shirts, keychains, tote bags and more with the high school’s ‘H’ logo and selling them at the PolyArts festival at the Town Common on Sept. 9.
The duo created the items over the summer and sold more than 200 of them at PolyArts. With the money they raised, the Paluri kids made donations to Project Just Because and the Michael Lisnow Respite Center.
Helpful kids meet cats at Baypath
A group of youngsters from Juniper Trail, in the Legacy Farms North neighborhood, held a bake sale on the occasion of Indian Independence Day, which was Aug. 15. The children raised $800, which they donated to Baypath Humane Society in Hopkinton.
The children took the donation to Baypath on Sept. 12 and got a chance to meet some of the cats at the facility.
Locals set for Jimmy Fund Walk
A total of 19 Hopkinton residents are registered for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk on Oct. 1. Among the locals are Kathryn Curry, Yvonne Riley, Mark Day, David Shapiro, Myra Tamba, Paul Decker, Gary Trachtman, Jaime Vivian, Abhi Das and Alicia Boulanger.
The annual event raises funds to support all forms of adult and pediatric care and cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Jimmy Fund Walk has raised more than $167 million for Dana-Farber in its 34-year history, including a record-breaking total of more than $8.8 million in 2022.