2018’s Five Fierce Females of Lake Highlands

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Hannah Hargrove-Roberts thought she had the rest of her life planned. She’d leave her gig at Auto Zone in East Texas and return to Lake Highlands. She’d marry her longtime boyfriend and hopefully have two children while she transitioned into managing her family’s salvage shop, Orr-Reed Wrecking. Instead, the day after her father, John Hargrove, was murdered in a bar brawl, Hargrove-Roberts took over the business. She was 23. Despite customers’ skepticism, Hargrove-Roberts has spent the past six years managing and revamping Orr-Reed Wrecking. She also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Bethany Lutheran Church’s Child Development Center board and Richardson ISD’s Ignite camp. 

She grew up in the family business: 

At 3 my parents bought this place. Just like my son, I was here every day. As a little kid, this is what I was going to do. I was going to run the junkyard, and I was going to save things. My dad was the number-A boss, and I was the number-B boss, and everybody must know that. Growing up in Lake Highlands, you’re surrounded by a lot of doctors’ kids, lawyers’ kids, executives’ kids. My father was the junk man. When I got older, I became ashamed of that. As I grew out of puberty, I realized what my father did was way cooler.

Growing up in Lake Highlands, you’re surrounded by a lot of doctors’ kids, lawyers’ kids, executives’ kids. My father was the junk man.

She hires people who need second chances:

As a sometimes-recovering alcoholic, my father was very passionate about giving people second, third or one-hundredth chances. I feel the same way. I don’t have the capacity to hire the amount of people he did, but when I do need extra work, the first places I call are the halfway homes. You get burned a lot — heartbreaking stories where you’re just trying to help somebody and addiction takes over. But it’s worth it for the one in 20 you’re able to successfully help.

Misconceptions about the industry:

What I do is not great money. Instead of having a crew of two guys and a machine, I have a crew of six guys. We salvage whatever we can that’s relevant. We don’t make any money from a demolition because all the money we’re being paid goes toward restoring what we save. A big misconception is we’ll pay to pick people’s houses apart. If I had to do that, I would have to sell what we salvage for so expensive. That’s no business model. One thing breaks you even, and the other is how you make your money. 

How she handles sexism and ageism:

Auto Zone was really helpful. I was in East Texas doing a very male-dominated job. I had men legitimately come and ask me, “Why aren’t you at home making your man a sandwich?” I had a woman call me a hussy once because I was working in a male-dominated field. When you’re told those things for three years, it becomes very easy just to let it slide off.  At this point, if they want to act like they know more, I will kindly prove they don’t. Honestly, it’s more amusing that way. 

Her favorite neighborhood spots:

My three big ones are Rooster Hardware, because small business women have got to support other small business women; Top Drawer Antiques, because they have the coolest stuff and, again, women support other women; and my church, Bethany Lutheran.