Lagois people, the magic makers
Want to look behind the curtain at Lagois Design Build Renovate and see who works here?
Spoiler alert: it will make you want to work here, too.
Here are some of the people who create the magic that makes Lagois clients so happy.
Brenda Salmon is listed as Office Manager, but don’t let that fool you. Those two words are shorthand for so many tasks you kind of wonder if she’s really three people disguised as one.
She’s the first person you’ll see when you walk into the office. If you call, she’s the first voice you’ll hear. It’s a lovely, warm and friendly voice, as she is.
What does Brenda do? The question begs the answer “everything”, but here’s a shortlist.
- Creates the Lagois newsletter and sends it out to about 500 people every month.
- Looks after and creates marketing materials such as brochures and flyers.
- Works with printers and the Lagois webmaster.
- Answers all phone calls.
- Responds to all inquiries.
- Gently screens potential clients.
- Helps homeowners find an alternative company if needed or requested.
- Looks after insurance and licensing.
- Onboards new employees; manages their files and documents.
- Oversees company Health and Safety (maintaining safety boxes and documentation on site and in the office).
- Looks after new client files and types up contracts.
- Books appointments and then follows them up.
- Helps the president keep his documentation up to date; keeps an eye on his calendar.
- Manages and creates awards submissions.
- Assists the photographer at clients’ homes when a renovation is completed.
- Completely runs the entire Lagois office.
When Brenda joined the company five years ago, she was trained to understand diverse people and personalities. Part of the training was learning the art of asking questions of potential clients to truly understand their needs.
She adds being a naturally good listener helped, and so did having great mentors like (Founder) Herb Lagois and (President) Jacob Kirst.
She echoes what other staff members say when she describes the Lagois team as fabulous.
“I enjoy the people and the team so much,” she says. “I couldn’t have stepped into a better job.”
Sometimes things, like life, don’t go exactly according to plan.
And that’s when you want a Site Supervisor like Tom Felts on your side. He’s an industry veteran who has been with Lagois for 23 years.
Tom began his career in drafting and design and over the years his work has evolved into all aspects of construction.
He organizes all the sub-trades, materials, and deliveries. He makes sure the site is safe. When he’s not on site, he’s making sure homeowners are happy, that they understand everything they want to know about their project at any stage. Sometimes he visits two sites a day, and there can be a fair bit of travel between them.
He’s the main problem-solver, a creative, out-of-the-box thinker. He decides how the team will work around structural issues or if they will add new and better details. He’s always looking ahead: will doing something this way or that have a better result?
Tom is a planner. He says the more planned a project is, the less chaotic it’s likely to be. But still, things change. He often has to make decisions quickly on the fly.
He is always available to homeowners with plenty of communication, usually by email; there are also weekly meetings so homeowners can ask questions or express concerns. He does regular walkarounds of their site with them to make sure what’s being produced is what they expect.
“That’s the most fulfilling part of the job,” he says, “creating happy fans of Lagois, enjoying the construction experience with them; and when we’re finished, sharing in their happiness.”
He loves working with the team.
“It’s like family,” he says. “We’re close knit. Everyone’s always willing to pitch in when we need an extra hand.”
He has great respect and empathy for Lagois clients, too.
“It’s their home. They’re the ones living in it, in the results of our work,” he explains. “So we do our best to make it as good an experience as we can.”
Did you say hardwood for your main floor? Which hardwood? How’s it getting installed? Who’s installing it?
That’s where Sophie Villeneuve, Project Development Manager, comes in. It’s not just every day that you get to make a difference in someone’s life, but Sophie has for 17 years at Lagois. You might say she’s the person who fills in the pieces of the puzzle and makes it all come together.
Sophie gets involved in a project once the design and budget goal have been finalized.
On an ordinary day, she might get emails from Lagois clients asking for advice about products. She might then share or send samples they could consider.
Or she might make showroom visits to find the best materials and products or cabinet layouts. She invites tradespeople to look at jobs. Then she looks at the scope of their work, crunches the numbers, and comes up with a price.
You can sometimes find her onsite with a client looking at landscape ideas that will perfectly finish their project. She researches ideas and possibilities, selects and prices products. She also writes contracts, confirms specifications, and orders materials.
It’s the diversity of it all that keeps her energized.
“I’m not just doing one thing, the same thing over and over again,” she says. “There’s always something different, always something going on.”
She gets curve balls, oh yes.
As an example, there might be, say, a light that’s been installed too low.
“Let’s see,” she will ask. “What can we do about that?” And then she gets the right people to solve it.
She enjoys all these elements of her job, but the best is the function and connectedness of the Lagois team and support system.
“No matter what, we approach every project as a team.” she says. “The team is what has kept me here for all these years.”
She loves the fact that her work is real, with real people.
A Lagois project is “not a cookie-cutter production home that somebody’s going to flip,” she says. “It’s impacting people’s daily lives.”
Herb Lagois, the company’s founder, says everyone at Lagois strives for the same thing. He doesn’t say “perfection”, but in a nutshell it’s what he means. However, he adds the team understands that along the way there are likely to be stumbles. He calls them “learning opportunities” and they help everyone to grow.
Each person at Lagois has his or her core responsibilities. They pitch in to help other team members when needed, but their own work always takes priority. There are specific metrics for achieving their tasks: one is to achieve accuracy (within 2%) for time and money.
Feedback and constructive criticism at Lagois is a “two-way” street, Herb explains, and this often happens during staff quadrant reviews. Everyone is encouraged and helped to further their education, too, so they’re always on top, the best in their fields.
Brenda talks about this when she recalls how Lagois provided her with a course to understand people’s personalities, quirks, anxieties, and communication styles, and how it guided her in her day-to-day dealings with clients. She says it even had an impact within her own family and personal life.
“That training really helped me grow,” she says.
Tom feels the same way.
“When I first started, I did a lot of on-the-job learning,” he says. “And there are still new techniques and experiences. That’s what I like about this job. There’s always something to learn, something new. The education never stops.”