Lajeunesse Construction Inc.
Taking a walk down Main Street in Barre, Vt., one would most likely come across the work of Lajeunesse Construction Inc. (Lajeunesse). The family-owned and -operated commercial and residential contractor has been serving central Vermont since 1962.
“My father and I have been working on Main Street for over 50 years,” shares Michael Lajeunesse, president and second-generation owner of Lajeunesse. “Many years ago, we decided to stay in Barre and support the local industry.”
Michael’s father, Roland, started the business in 1962. Michael joined the family business as soon as he finished college and has been in the general contracting industry for over 38 years.
In 1987 the full-service general contractor moved to its present 10,000-square-foot location in East Barre, Vt. With 1,600 square feet of office space and work areas, a 2,200-square-foot millwork shop, a 600-square-foot welding and light maintenance space and 16 employees, Lajeunesse is well-equipped for a range of services.
“We’re quite diversified,” adds Michael. “Although we started in the residential market, we now have entered the commercial market, and started renovating existing granite facilities, as well.”
Since 1989 the company has been an American Buildings pre-engineered steel-structure dealer, providing numerous facilities for the manufacturing and industrial in St. Johnsbury, Quechee, Johnson and central Vermont.
Today, Lajeunesse serves the Barre area. “We’ll pursue any job that comes up from Lebanon, New Hampshire to Burlington, Vt.,” adds Michael. “We’re smaller than some of the other companies, but we’re still competitive and we’ve built good, repeat customers over the years.”
A Team Effort
Michael attributes Lajeunesse’s successful project management to a team approach. Over the years, Lajeunesse has maintained a professional approach with valued engineering to create an excellent finished product at an affordable price.
Michael adds Lajeunesse’s ability to work well in conjunction with architects and engineers has also contributed to the company’s reputation. “We work well with all trades; as a general contractor you really have to do that,” he explains. “We sit down with everyone and come up with the plans needed to get the job done. Our knowledge and experience to define the scope of work for the architects and engineers reduces the amount of work in their plans and specifications. That saves us time and our customers’ money.”
Developing Downtown & Building Barre
Main Street in Barre showcases Lajeunesse’s accomplishments, as the company has completed nearly 60 projects over the years. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of jobs going on around here, some small, some large,” shares Michael. “But everything on Main Street doesn’t happen by itself; it’s through hard work and dedicated service.”
According to Michael, most of the downtown projects are part of the city’s Main Street reconstruction. “Now that the economy is picking back up, retailers are reinvesting and more businesses are coming to town,” he says. “We’re currently renovating the 48,000-square-foot historic building at the Blanchard Block from excavation and demolition all the way to the final finish work. We also just finished renovating the Wobby Jewelry store downtown.”
The company is also wrapping up the Aldrich Block Building in the city, consisting of three stories. “The Barre mayor bought the building about six years ago, and it now consists of a restaurant on the first floor, office space on the second, and apartment units on the third,” he explains. “We’re installing the elevator and getting ready to complete this project.”
Lajeunesse is also working on several projects for the Barre City Hall, upgrading entryways and completing interior finishes and upgrading handicap accessibility. “People say, ‘Wow, you’re renovating half of Barre,'” says Michael with pride. “But, it’s really true. There’s another major contractor who is constructing the downtown Barre City Place, but we’re taking care of a large portion of the other work, which we’ve been doing for over 50 years.”
Michael admits the key to successful projects is addressing problems day after day through effective communication. “From the office staff, subcontractors and the foreman; it’s a team effort to keep things going,” he notes. “Some weeks can be harder than others, but the key is to address problems and move on.”
As Lajeunesse enters year No. 52 in business, Michael says it’s time for the third generation to learn the ropes. “My 26-year-old son, Eric, is coming on board,” he reveals. “Along with having his business degree, he’s finishing his construction management degree.” With the third-generation of family ownership in queue, Lajeunesse Construction Inc. continues to support the local industry through seasoned general contracting.
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