The LaForce Mission was not written down until recently, but it has always been practiced. It is a visual reminder of the culture Joe LaForce initiated over 60 years ago. He built LaForce as a family-run business, and the mission statement and corresponding core values reinforce this. They serve as our compass, and keep us aligned on a reliable path as we grow our business.
The word “expert” carries a heavy expectation, but we feel confident living up to this high standard. Our contractors and architects rely on us to have the correct industry knowledge to apply to their projects. Our expertise is evidenced in our wealth of long-term customers and the continued growth of our knowledge-heavy divisions. Each team is specialized and every individual is heavily trained, mentored, and supported in their forte. Our employees can quickly provide answers, context, and assistance.
This ties into another key word: “relationships.” We treat people fairly and understand that good business means collaboration and mutual respect. Relationships strengthen a company and keep it viable for the long-term.
“Professionalism… integrity… continuous growth.” The remaining key terms from our mission statement are further emphasized in our core values. Take a look at each of LaForce’s core values, which expand upon our mission.
VALUE 1: Uncompromising standards and integrity that guide us to do the right thing the first time.
“Do the right thing.” This simple statement carries a load of meaning and has countless applications. LaForce strives to make honorable business choices that positively serve the customer, the business, and the community. At the end of the day, we want to be known for completing projects at a high standard of quality and timeliness. For example, we recently supplied a customer with a product but discovered an error after it was delivered. Our staff immediately fixed the mistake and made sure the customer did not experience unneeded inconvenience. We always stand behind our reputation.
This example of integrity is also a critical core value that underpins the heart of a good business. Owning up to mistakes, playing by the rules, following through on promises, not cutting corners – these are all results of integrity. We also believe in treating people fairly, which is evidenced in open communication among management and subordinates. For example, we recently formalized a practice where managers spend time discussing culture and standards with new employees. Topics include: the importance of always telling the truth, even when it hurts; mistakes are going to happen, don’t try to hide them, and it’s OK to say “I don’t know” since there is always more to learn. We also encourage employees to think for themselves, show initiative, and make judgment calls.
LaForce works to continually raise its own bar, which ties into the next value proposition.
VALUE 2: Continuous improvement because we’re driven to be the best.
A key hallmark of Joe LaForce’s personality was his philosophy of “it can always be better!” He encouraged people to challenge the status quo, and this value is baked into the culture of LaForce. We now follow LEAN Continuous Improvement Principles, which is a set of methods for identifying opportunities to streamline work and reduce waste. We will add a staff member in 2016 who will focus exclusively on applying these principles. Examples of continuous improvement are found throughout the organization, such as department vision events, security integration and access control updates, and new IT programs.
With continuous change and self-improvement comes the chance to demonstrate the next core value: Professionalism.
VALUE 3: Professionalism that shows even in the most difficult circumstances.
Construction is a fast-paced, complicated industry. Doors, frames, and security integration make up a tiny part of a large contract’s final result, but are very detailed. At LaForce, we pursue professionalism and quick problem-solving in sticky situations. Issues are, at times, inevitable, but our professionalism shines through when we deal calmly and fairly with customers. For example, this year we expanded our pre-installation, and pre-finishing services, to streamline processes and reduce issues for our customers on the job sites. Our constant availability is evidenced in our next key truth.
VALUE 4: Strong work ethic which is at the core of our company’s success.
Even if it means early mornings and late nights, LaForce is dedicated to get the job done. The sales team in particular is very responsive to around-the-clock needs, and is not afraid to put in extra effort. We want every job completed quickly and accurately, whether it’s a multi-million dollar venture or a single opening project. The LaForce family valued and rewarded hard work, which is a hallmark of our company’s reputation.
“Work hard, play hard,” is a tongue-in-cheek expression that can apply to LaForce as a company. To balance out the occasional tough days and intense workload, we host multiple company parties and outings on an annual basis, striving for a healthy balance. This is also manifested in our strong employee wellness program.
VALUE 5: Employee development and wellness. We sincerely care about their well being as they are the backbone of our business.
LaForce supports employees with a variety of development opportunities. We spend time hiring and training people so they feel ownership in the company and take pride in its success. Over the years, we have seen many individuals advance within the company to take on leadership positions. The average tenure of a LaForce worker is 9 years, proving that if people are treated right, they will stay loyal to a good organization.
Our focus on employee well-being is not simply lip service; it is a monetary investment that we have made in our employees’ long-term well-being. Employees can take advantage of wellness activities to earn money back on their health insurance, plus many events are held every month to promote and support healthy eating and an active lifestyle. We also invest time and money into our employees so they can give back:
VALUE 6: COMMUNITY responsibility so that others can have the same opportunities we have had.
Until recently, “community responsibility” applied mostly to donating money to good causes. Joe LaForce and the family’s foundation set this example. But in recent years, we have put more emphasis on volunteering in the community. We give employees six paid hours a year to volunteer, and opportunities are vetted and promoted by an internal committee. As the company grows, so does our community footprint. It’s important that we keep a focus on what it means to give back, and support our employees in their charitable passions. By recognizing the importance of community involvement, we will also further the next core value.
VALUE 7: Protecting our legacy and reputation so that we never forget our roots and what we stand for.
A business sinks or swims on its reputation, and LaForce would not have survived for the past 61 years without constantly building upon our legacy and good name.
We stand behind every project we complete, and take responsibility for mistakes. Recently, a decade-old installation job came back on our radar. The customer called to have a door replaced, and when we inspected the opening, we discovered that we had made an error 10 years ago. We replaced the product at no charge, double-checking that all codes were correctly followed, and undoubtedly reinforced our reputation in the process.
We do our utmost to be an organization that is built to last for many generations. Part of that, of course, is sustaining a viable enterprise through:
8: Profitability, as without it we cannot carry out our mission,
Profitability is a by-product of good business. If we are following all of the above tenets and standards, this will take care of itself. This allows us to grow and expand, and further develop and support individuals’ careers.
Our mission statement and core values are both idealistic and realistic. It’s important to occasionally reflect on what defines us as a company. Striving for excellence and doing the right thing – this works both in business and in life.
At the end of the day, that’s all we can ask. A business is only as good as the promises it keeps.