Patricia Hill understands the importance of hard work and dedication. As the CEO of Bay State Computers, she puts those principles into action each day. Starting as a mainframe company, Bay State Computers is now a graduated 8(a) government contracting company that provides technology solutions to federal and commercial entities.
Though the company was founded in 1988, it was not until four years later when the founders turned its leadership over to Patricia’s husband, Robert Hill Jr., that the company began to thrive.
“When Robert and I acquired Bay State Computers in 1992, there were no contracts or incoming revenue. It was only a shell of a company. We started from ground zero,” Hill recalls.
Working from the basement of their home, Patricia and Robert Hill grew the company from the ground up. Patricia handled the administration and operations behind the scene, while Robert ventured out to build relationships and bring in Bay State’s first few contracts.
“We both continued consulting work to keep the stream of the household income flowing. I’ll never forget the first contract award. We were literally working 24 hours a day. While Robert was in the front creating business opportunities, I did the back-end operational side: setting up the accounting system, developing the human resource processes, as well as developing the operational infrastructure.
Robert’s connections and natural charisma allowed Bay State Computers to create and grow its client base, leading to the company’s immediate success. Within a year of transitioning to his leadership, Robert received 8(a) Certification and brought in approximately $2-4 million in revenue.
“This has always been a faith walk,” Hill explains, “In the beginning, we leased a warehouse in addition to taking on significant costs of running a business prior to even being awarded a contract. Both of us had given up our full time jobs, before the company had any revenue. All this was compounded with raising a toddler and an infant.
Some eighteen years later, the company is now bringing in approximately $14 million. Hill and her husband built their company on the foundation of fostering a healthy work/life balance for themselves and their employees.
“We were very much a holistic type of company, maintaining a balance between professional and personal growth. We realized the importance of maintaining a balance and as such had a very high retention rate. Employees invested their talents back into the company.“
Growing up in Warrenton, Virginia, Hill, the oldest of five children, recalls her earliest years as being full of family, fun, and good times.
“I had a great mom and dad. We lived with my dad’s parents until I was of the age of 5. My dad bought a “fixer-up” home. The home lacked an indoor bathroom. It was not until several years later that we could afford to install one.”
Hill’s father worked hard to make ends meet, working a full-time job and then performing side jobs to bring in additional income for the family.
“My dad was very hands-on. In addition to his full time jobs, he found time to run a lawn maintenance business. He was a hard worker. He was driven for success. Integrity and excellence were important to him. He was a perfectionist and put a lot of value in his work.”
Then Hill’s father was laid off from his full-time job. “Losing his job was devastating for my dad… He had put so much of himself into working, and then to get laid was very tough. He had four young mouths to feed. His pain was very evident to our family.
My mom continuously encouraged him by telling him God had a plan for him and this was a beginning and not an end. Through my mother’s witnessing and evidence of her faith, he accepted Christ and began his own faith walk. Soon after he was offered a position with C&P that offered better compensation and more promising benefits.”
Hill’s father was not the only person who worked hard for the family. In addition to taking care of the household and children, her mother also took on the side job of cleaning homes. Hill would sometimes accompany her mother while cleaning houses and would assist with the work.
“My mom had regular clients, who also employed me. One client would pay me to help serve at their house parties and dinners. Other clients would pay me to babysit for their children.”
After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in accounting, Hill first worked for The Red Cross, and then accepted a job with a small government contracting company.
“It was at that company, I learned how to manage a small business. Although, my primary position was accounting, I had many opportunities to learn about other parts of the organization, including contracts, human resources, security, operations, and proposal writing. Because it was a small company, I was able to see the ‘big picture’. After several promotions, I reported directly to the senior-level executive, which gave me an opportunity to have influence on certain corporate decisions. ”
It was during this time that Hill met and began dating Robert, who was her company’s banking professional.
“I dated Robert for two years before we were married. He was a great guy, one of a kind; he had a heart for giving, even when we first met. Every time we met, he would bring me trinkets that had some personal meaning. He was genuine, and he really cared about people,” Hill continues, “Robert grew up in a family that didn’t have very much financially, similar to my own. He received a grant to attend St Albans High School. There he received a basketball scholarship to attend Colgate University. He made great connections and friendships at both of these schools that lasted into adulthood. Robert was the kind of guy that could go into any environment and people were immediately drawn to him.”
Hill and her husband married in 1987 and over the next eighteen years created a tight-knit family together with their two sons.
In 2005, after a day of family fun, food and basketball, tragedy struck Hill and her family. Robert had a heart attack and lost his life.
“Robert was coaching our younger son. I remember at the basketball game, the boys were down by one point. One of the players got the ball and shot it. It went around and around the net but then it fell out. It was a very intense game. A short time later he was gone.”
Faith is very important to Hill and her family, and she attributes her ability to weather the loss of both her father and her husband in a short period of time to it.
“I was able to get through my loss because of my faith. It was only through God’s grace and strength that I had the courage to move forward. I lost my dad two years before I lost Robert. My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died a year after the diagnosis. Then right after that, I lost Robert. These were two very significant men in my life.
The support of family and friends were also instrumental in getting through such a difficult time.
“The loss was so great that I felt if I stopped, I might not have ever started up again. The choice was to keep going.”
The loss of Robert was not only felt in Hill’s personal life, but also in her professional life.
“It was very hard after Robert’s death. He and I fed off of each other. There is a big gap since he has been gone. He is no longer here to bounce ideas off of. Robert was my mentor, both personally and professionally. He would encourage me to step to the next level.”
Despite the loss of her love and partner, Hill has certainly succeeded in stepping up to the plate. The company has grown from $10 million in revenue to its now average annual revenue of $20 million.
Hill has also continued the ‘family first’ creed that the company had established and nurtured. This furthered her leadership style and belief in mentoring and coaching young people.
“I believe in coaching and mentorship. My goal is to provide opportunities for employees that capitalize on an employee’s strength and potential; then an employee/employer partnership is created. There is an energetic charge to see employees working within their talents.”
Hill gives back through her company as well. The corporation supports and gives back to the community including organizations such as St. Jude, Barack Obama Elementary School, The We Believe Foundation, and our military vets.
Hill’s message to graduates is to never stop dreaming, keep your eye on the prize, and stay the course.
Hill and her husband created an organization that balances work and home. The company focuses on results rather than clock punching. Despite the loss of her husband and partner, Hill has continued to thrive as a mother and CEO, taking what could have stopped many and turning that into a powerful lesson in determination and dedication.