Lavergne Construction

With the economy in the doldrums, many contractors across the United States and Canada have been forced to close their doors, or at the very least, reduce their staffs to cut down overhead. The idea of a general building contracting company growing during these difficult times is practically unheard of, but this is precisely the case for Lavergne Construction.

The company started as Lahey Construction in 1964, became Powell Construction in 1977 and finally incorporated as Lavergne Construction Ltd. in 1988, when Brent Lavergne took presidency.  The Peace River, Alberta-based contractor has grown continuously and consistently since then.

“When we bought the company, there was already a small selection of government clientele, and we chose to carry on in hopes of creating stronger ties.” Lavergne says. “From there, we expanded to work for ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric, the town of Peace River, the Municipal District of Northern Sunrise County, Alberta Treasury Branches, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the insurance industry.”

“It comes down to relationships and looking after your clients.” Lavergne explains. “When the building boom came, we expanded carefully. We concentrated on providing our regular customers with prompt, professional service, which in the end proved to be a wise decision. As the economy spiraled downward, we continued growing with the loyal customer base we had established, and when rumors surfaced of locals and even large-scale companies closing their doors or laying off their long-term staff, we continued to expand.”

Current Projects

Currently, Lavergne Construction is working on a modular staff housing project for the RCMP in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, and four RCMP cell retrofits in Slave Lake, Bashaw, Three Hills and Sundre, Alberta. 

In Fort Providence, the contractor is responsible for building steel-driven pile foundations and wooden crawl spaces for three modular homes to compensate for the existing, sunken foundations. Each of the three units are approximately 1,700 square feet and feature wooden siding, asphalt shingles and pressure-treated decks. Construction began in June 2010 and is slated to be completed by the end of August 2010. 

This is a time-sensitive project, as Lavergne Construction has only two months to lay three new foundations, reposition the homes, attach new siding and shingles, and perform drywall and painting renovations inside each unit. 

“It’s a project you have to complete in the summertime because of the digging for the foundations and the harsh winter climate in that location.” Lavergne says. “The logistics of the project are the most challenging. This is 550 miles north of our home base in an area with no cell phone coverage in a hamlet of less than 400 year-round residents. We have to ship all of our materials, equipment and staff over seven hours away from their homes and families. As for the actual building of it, it’s something we continually do over and over again.”

The RCMP cell retrofit project in Alberta consists of 14 cell retrofits in four separate RCMP detachments across Alberta that are being constructed simultaneously. “It’s an intensive amount of work,” Lavergne admits. “These are concrete block buildings with epoxy flooring, epoxy paint and concrete cell bunks. We have to strip the existing cells; build new masonry walls inside the cells; install masonry concrete cell beds; install epoxy flooring on the floors, up the side of the beds and over top the beds; and epoxy paint the walls and ceilings of the cells.

 “We’ve done hundreds of these cells over the years, but what makes this such an intense job is that we have to keep some cells operating at all times,” he says. “They do not close the detachment down while we’re doing our work. We have to rip down and rebuild some cells while still ensuring at least one is functional.” Lavergne began construction in March 2010 and will complete the project mid-July 2010.

Lavergne Construction recently completed the Cadotte Lake Cultural Centre in Cadotte Lake, Alberta, a native reserve in northern Alberta. The project broke ground in October 2009 and consists of a 6,200-square-foot masonry and stucco structure with a gymnasium, kitchen and classrooms. In addition to this building serving as a community center for members of the First Nations, it also will serve as a central meeting point for the community in the event of a disaster. “It’s been a very smooth project from start to finish,” Lavergne says. “We’ve hired some local people to provide materials and to help construct the building, which was a success.”

Steady Growth

Solid relationships with its customers and subcontractors have enabled Lavergne Construc­tion to grow. “We now have our own eavestroughing equipment, our own welders on staff, certified water and fire remediation technicians and our own flood service vehicles and equipment for insurance claims,” Lavergne says. “These are all new additions to our company within the last few years. We’ve worked with these new pieces of equipment steadily and are very pleased to announce that they have proven to be both economically and professionally successful.”

 There are two subsidiaries that help Lavergne Construction address the needs of a diverse customer base. Brent’s Auto Glass in Grimshaw, Alberta, serves the residential and commercial markets with vehicle windows, storefronts and metal doors. Total Flooring & Finishes in Peace River supplies commercial and residential flooring, paint and wallpaper products.

 In addition to expanding its services, Lavergne Construction also has expanded geographically throughout the past 22 years. Today, the company covers Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. “We enjoy our jaunts to British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan occasionally,” Lavergne notes. “However, we do not endeavor to travel further than those locations at this time.”

He believes in growing conservatively, not ambitiously. “I feel our growth has been steady,” he states. “We’ve had continuous growth over the past 22 years, including this year. We strive to keep providing the same professional, prompt service through our growth, which is the reason for our conservative growth. 

“Another important element in our success is our staff,” Lavergne continues. “I am very proud of my employees, and we as a group believe that the workplace is more than just a paycheck, it’s a way of life. Besides offering competitive wages, healthcare packages and group-registered retirement savings plans, Lavergne Construction’s employees are highly rewarded, especially during the holiday season. [We offer a] Christmas bonus determined by job performance, and for the past eight years, employees and their spouses have been invited to partake in an all-inclusive group winter getaway. They’ve enjoyed jaunts to Las Vegas, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. This all really comes down to the wonderful staff that we have.”

With a strong sense of the industry and a solid footprint in the past, Lavergne Construc­tion is poised to celebrate further success in Peace River and beyond. 

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