Families Working for Families
A family home is one of life’s biggest investments and nobody knows that better than award-winning builder Lacey Construction, a company that puts client experience, team members and quality workmanship first in every project.
A full-service contractor, Lacey Construction provides stunning custom residential and commercial work in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, with more than 22 years of experience in building, renovations and commercial repairs.
At the heart of the company are founder Erik Lacey, his wife, Business Manager Lesa, and a dedicated team, all of whom make it their mission to provide exceptional design, construction, and customer service from beginning to completion of projects of all sizes.
“My husband started the company about five years after graduating high school, and he essentially bootstrapped it,” says Lesa Lacey. “I’ve been with him for 18 years, and we’ve grown from $100,000 a year in revenue and two employees when I met him, to 50 employees and about $10 million in annual revenue now.
Even during periods of exponential growth, Lacey Construction’s dedication to managing and maintaining its company culture has been essential. It’s a culture that encompasses a range of diversity and inclusion, and in particular, the encouraging, mentoring, and hiring of women in trades.
“It’s a huge focus for me,” says Lesa. “I think it’s really important for us as industry members not just to complain about trade shortages, but get actively involved and work toward providing solutions. If we raise the level of participation to nine percent of women in field staff, we could essentially remove the trade shortage we’re experiencing.”
To that end, Lacey Construction is proud that approximately 19 percent of its field staff are women, stemming from the company’s relationship with its long-term Construction Manager, Claire Seymour.
“Working with Claire and seeing how awesome she was with the clients and our trades, we wanted to have more women join our team,” says Lesa. “I started attending women-in-trades events, essentially hoping to coach someone, and I just got drawn into it.”
Being part of the Industry of Training Authority (ITA) the company has collaborated with them on the best practices for hiring women in trades, and Lesa has volunteered at the Skills BC Canada Women in Trades Event for several years.
“Now I’m proud to be sending out our own tradeswomen in my place to schools and different speaking events,” she says. “It’s interesting to continually try to bring the conversation back to residential trades being an excellent choice for women.”
Lesa attributes the company’s success in attracting women to the creation of a safe work environment for women not just physically but emotionally, and opening lines of communication that allow their tradeswomen to reach out to anyone in the organization for support.
“We’re also working to strengthen that experience right now with a more formalized orientation, onboarding, and mentorship program. I think a mentorship – having a mentor you can talk to – is one of the most successful aspects for retaining women in trades,” adds Lesa.
Reaching out to women at a younger age is also vital in drawing them into the field. At the last provincial skills BC competition, the company addressed Grade Six students from two local elementary schools and bookended that with information from a trades college teacher and an ITA representative. In high school, says Lesa, it’s also important to educate girls about higher education possibilities.
“Knowing about that career path and working against some preconceived notions that university is the be-all and end-all is important,” she says. “When I talk to women in high school, I take care to frame trades as also a great opportunity to own your own business. If you’re a plumber you can go out on your own. It gives you that flexibility to be your own boss.”
Lesa says that while there’s still a stigma about the trades, she sees the tide changing. “I think the stigma is more so with parents, but it’s shifting and it’s moving in a really positive way,” she says.
That shift, says Lesa, is a direct result of the women and their allies, like Women in Trades and Technology, who have blazed the way with hard work. She adds that it’s good to acknowledge that there are safe and positive roles for women in construction everywhere at this time.
“There’s a big push toward this with events and bringing more STEM into younger grades,” she says. “Homebuilding is getting more and more technical. It’s not a fallback choice – it’s something to be proud of. It will be awesome to drive past these homes 20 years from now and see that you were a part of this time in a tangible way for this family.”
That theme of family and its importance weaves its way through many aspects of Lacey Construction’s mandates and is one that the company works to uphold with every client and team member.
“We always bring it back to the fact that we’re families working for families, whether it’s a $500 repair or a $5 million commercial project,” she says, adding that five of their past employees are previous clients or family members of previous clients. “At the heart of it, we are a family business. Erik and I work together every day, so every interview involves our dogs and our team. We hire much more on attitudes than experience.”
Maintaining that close family atmosphere means not only working but playing together, with Christmas, golf, and skiing meet-ups common among team members.
The entire company is also committed to volunteering and giving back in any way possible. Just a few of their projects include Isthmus Canada – Because Hunger Doesn’t Take Weekends Off, support for SARA for Women Society’s Fronya Thrift Store, and collecting and dropping off donations in response to the 2017 and 2021 BC wildfires.
The company also supports numerous causes such as Agassiz Fire Department, BC Children’s Hospital, Canadian Cancer Society, and Sasquatch Inn Jim Maclean Golf Tournament for Heart & Stroke Foundation.
“We’re focused on giving back where we work,” says Lesa. “We host the First Nations housing forum every fall, focus on Indigenous housing managers and giving back, information sharing, and participating with our community through Canadian homebuilders. Thankfully, with Erik and I working the way we do I can be a bit more removed from the day-to-day and be more active in the industry.”
Plans for Lacey Construction include expanding its reach geographically and possibly tackling some jobs in North Van and South Surrey.
“We’re looking for steady growth and moving into an office building in Mission when we can find space,” says Lesa. “Maintaining our role in the industry is important to us, being involved in some of the major consultations and moving our team into those roles as well.”
Mentorship, adds Lesa, is a top priority for the company as it strives to focus on helping others whenever possible.
“We want to see every team member succeed personally and professionally – whether that’s with us or not,” Lesa says. “We look to foster team members who have moved on and potentially start their own businesses.”
Lacey Construction typically continues to work with former employees, hiring them as contractors and supporting and fostering their work as well. While the company doesn’t want to lose them, it’s “really exciting” to see them build their own crews and “do their own thing.”
“We learn so much from everyone who joins our team,” she says. “Every employee is an opportunity to hear that feedback and move forward with continual improvement. We’re always looking for where we can get better, and the end goal is creating a very positive experience for our clients with high-quality product.”
One of those incredible – and award-winning – projects is the Sandpiper Resort in Harrison Mills where the team recently completed seven new cabins.
“Erik started working with the Pretty family, who own that property and developed the resort, very early in his career,” says Lesa. “It’s now in the hands of Keltic Canada, and we’re excited to be working with them on the next phase of the Sandpiper Resort.”
Recognized provincially as a Georgie and CHBA National Award Winner, the project was completed in less than eight months, no easy feat considering that everything from ground preparation, clearing, and underground service installation to full design-and-build construction services were done outside of peak operating season to fit into the course’s busy season.
“It’s just really exciting because it’s a full-circle thing for us,” says Lesa. “They’re some of Erik’s earliest business mentors. We’re renovating structures he had a hand in building originally. It’s really exciting to be the second generation of that.”
That pride in workmanship and being part of an experience is an ongoing commitment for a company that regards success as “not just based on dollars and cents,” but a matter of how they added to that client’s experience, and where can they improve.
“We really celebrate team milestones and empower our team to make experiences for their clients special, such as a new baby or other family occasion,” says Lesa. “We didn’t go into it thinking this is what we want to get out of it. It’s coming from the heart, and what does come out of it is special. We’re thankful to have clients we call friends. It’s pretty cool to have this community around us.”
Although the company has received numerous prestigious awards over the years – including 2020/2021 Best Residential Builder two years in a row; Custom Home Builder in the Fraser Valley from CHBA; two Georgie awards, two national awards, and numerous local awards – all of them pale in comparison with celebrating those things together as a team, says Lesa. “I honestly think our biggest accomplishments are the company culture we’ve been able to create, and the amazing team we’ve been able to have join and work with us.”
The team’s desire to bring a high level of focus to every job, no matter the size, the location or budget, continues to drive the company.
“A huge part for me is recognizing that a lot of our clients are making the largest single investment they’ll ever make in their life,” she says. “We really try to honour that – and review our processes and what we do day-to-day to see if it honours that commitment. What sets us apart is that we’re not trying to be set apart – this is us, we’re doing best practices and it’s coming from the heart.”