Hashtags and social networking seminars. You’d think the people behind these efforts are social media geniuses. They are! But they’re also pavers. Meet Mike, a supervisor with Lakeridge Contracting. He & his team are changing the paving business. Here’s what that means for clients & competition. Hint – they work WITH them. That’s teamwork.
How it all began
Mike’s a busy man. On any given day, you’ll find him on Twitter, sharing a ton of pictures, chatting with industry professionals and promoting the beautiful portfolio Lakeridge has developed.
But Lakeridge Contracting has been around since 1999, long before social media was born.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 14,” says Mike of his 25+ years working in the business. “I needed a summer job and my buddy’s uncle owned a contracting and garden center. I shoveled dirt in the bags. It was awesome. It was a fun job.”
Mike’s educational background is in sales and marketing, but his passion for paving overtook his desire to get an office job.
“I just kept doing this and I’m still doing it,” he says.
Does he ever have a bad day? Sometimes.
“Some days are better than others. Like when it’s snowing and hailing on you, you maybe think I’ve made some bad choices,” he jokes. “I enjoy the job. I enjoy meeting people and working outside.”
When it comes to pavers in the industry, Mike has nothing but good things to say. After all, it’s hard work.
“Guys that work in the business – everyone is undervalued. I try very hard in my world to show people how hard these guys are working and how skilled they are. I spend a hoard of time telling people how good they are. They produce really good quality stuff and they care a lot about it.”
The Client Experience
While a majority of the company’s projects are commercial – they build parks and work at different colleges – they do have a residential division.
“It attracts 90 per cent of the attention, but only does 20 per cent of the work,” he says, adding the business comes from homeowners since they’re often engaged and connecting with Lakeridge on social media.
When a client contacts Lakeridge about building a patio or walkway, a member of the team will visit the client’s home for a design consultation. They bring along Nancy Green of Green Art Landscape Design.
“She comes to every project with us,” says Mike.
Nancy works with the client to help them decide what would look nice for their space, while Mike’s team visualizes the project from a construction standpoint. Afterward, the team works to create a design for the homeowner.
Mike stresses the importance of having a a scaled drawing of the project no matter how big or small it is. This way, homeowners can look out onto their property and know exactly what they’re going to get – and where – once the project is completed.
Picking out the right materials
Choosing pavers for a walkway or patio project is an important aspect of the design process. After all, you’ll be staring at your material of choice for years to come. That’s why Mike wants his clients to see what options are available to them before making a decision.
“I encourage people to take the time out of their day to meet me or Nancy at the supplier and we go over it,” he says.
There is such a wide variety of products on the market, including different finishes and textures. It’s important to find the right paver for the project since some materials work well for patios, but not for walkways.
Lakeridge has positive relationships with these four manufacturers:
- Best Way Stone
“They’re warrantied for life, salt-resistant, and a good quality brand,” he says. “If you incur a problem with a manufacturing product – and there are problems no matter what – it’s not how you incur [the problem], but how you deal with them.”
Mike will send his clients to these manufacturers because they’re trusted in the industry and have helped him in the past.
So, what’s in style this season?
“Looking at a back patio, what’s coming into style is large-scale, smooth pavers and a more modern design,” says Mike. “We try to steer our clients toward whatever is the most current fashionable item.”
From a stylistic perspective, Mike says the current trend is moving toward using bigger pavers that are smoother in style. Slate textured pavers are currently being used in front walkways, while smaller pavers are used depending on the size of the project. Manufacturers that have been in the business for a long time will also be able to supply a versatile colour selection.
The key to building a patio or walkway that will always be in style is by choosing what’s current, for homeowners will get the longest life out of it.
“If you see a fluorescent red paver driveway, that was really cool in 1985, but that’s something I need to change,” he says. “You want this project 10 years from now to be on the cusp of what designers are using today, so 10 years from now, it doesn’t look drastically dated.”
Price-wise, Mike says the average price for a paver is $3 to $5 per square foot – and that’s just to purchase the product.
Want to see the Lakeridge difference? Take a look at this video. It’ll show you exactly where your money is going:
It’s worth the price tag
Mike recalls a job Lakeridge recently completed. It was a walkway with 4 steps and about 200 square foot pathway. Sounds like a small job, but these kinds of projects can cost upwards of $7,000. He says some people are shocked when they see the price, but stresses that while it’s an expensive process, it’s built to last.
“Most people putting in a pool and landscaping in their backyard or doing a front walkway are not looking at redoing that project every 2 to 3 years,” he says. “Certainly not our clients.”
The expensive undertaking results in a quality job that will last a long time, meaning you won’t have to spend additional money redoing the project the following season.
Plus, the right contractor will get the job done and it should exceed your expectations.
Take a look at this outdoor oasis project. A 3D design was created to give the homeowners a very real idea of what the end result would look like:
Pavers, Unite! Lakeridge supports fellow pavers
When Mike isn’t flexing his construction muscles to build walkways or patios, he’s active in the paving community. Not only does he do public speaking engagements, but he and his colleagues host social media seminars and train paving contractors how to use it for their business.
“That’s what we do in the winter when we’re not building stuff,” he says.
This past winter, they hosted 4 presentations, which included the following:
- Discussion about social media networks;
- Actively participating on social media for business;
- Making a Harlem Shake video with attendees;
- Created a silent movie.
We know you want to see the Harlem Shake video. Here it is:
And the #Hardscape team is more than cool with it, including Dean Maahs, the founder of Lakeridge Contracting.
“Don’t worry about Dean. He sent me a video of him swimming in the Bahamas,” says Mike. “He’s cool with it.”
What does Mike want paving contractors like himself to learn about business and social media?
- How quick and easy it is to be online.
- Make really fast videos to get attention and promote your business.
What about advice for homeowners?
While Mike and the team – dubbed the #LakeridgeBrigade – work to educate pavers on growing their business through social media, he has some advice for homeowners who want to have a paving job completed.
- The difference between a really great contractor and a not so great one could be a huge difference, or none at all. Research the companies you’re considering. It’ll help you make an informed decision on who to hire.
- Get three quotes. “I tell all our clients that. I want people to have three opinions because they need to know what we’re doing is right. If they only have my quote, it’s hard to judge it.
- Not so great contractors will be ready and waiting for your call, but a really good contractor won’t be able to do the job at your house right away. They’ll be booked and available in September or October. “For a good contractor, wait on their timeline to get the right person.” Otherwise, you might find yourself settling for a contractor that’s not your first choice, but doing so because you know they’re available.
Are you feeling inspired? If you’re ready to give your home an outdoor makeover, why not look at our database of paving contractors? Scroll through company profiles and customer reviews to help you find the right person for your renovation.