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LCL Excavation: New-Brunswick Construction Company Story (2010-2020)

Chapter 3: Evolution and Discovering Values and Core Focus (2010-2020)

The decade from 2010 to 2020 was a transformative period for LCL Excavation. It was marked by significant challenges, strategic decisions, and a renewed focus on the company’s core strengths. This chapter explores the pivotal moments that shaped LCL Excavation during these years, including the retirement of a co-founder, the embrace of new technologies, and the resilience demonstrated in the face of hardships. Through it all, the Leaders of LCL Excavation's commitment to building a remarkable company remained steadfast. As we delve into this chapter, we’ll highlight key projects, strategic moves, and the enduring dedication of the team that drove LCL Excavation forward. Join us as we recount the journey of evolution and resilience that defined LCL Excavation from 2010 to 2020.

LCL Excavation

Charles Levesque's Retirement (2011)

In 2011, Charles Levesque decided to retire from LCL Excavation. His departure marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for the company. Charles had been a cornerstone of LCL since its inception, and his retirement was a significant moment for the company and his family. The legacy he left behind was one of hard work, dedication, and a commitment to quality that the company continued to uphold. Charles was known to joke around and have fun. We found the picture from 1994, Charles was renovating his home with longtime employee Ghislain Drapeau

3 men from 1994 renovating a house.  1 man playing the guitar with a broom
Charles Levesque (left), Ghislain Drapeau (Right)

Embracing Technology: GPS Survey Equipment and Machine Control Dozer (2012)

JP had always been a tech-savvy person, a civil engineer fascinated by technology. Unlike most people, he was known for being an early adopter of new technologies and had a deep understanding of them.

Before the advent of GPS machine control, survey layout was a labor-intensive and precision-demanding process.

Survey stakes on a gravel road
Survey stakes from a project in 2009 in Beresford

What is GPS Machine Control?

GPS machine control is a revolutionary technology that integrates GPS receivers and sensors on machines such as bulldozers, excavators, and graders, operators can see real-time data on their equipment’s position and elevation.

A machined controlled buldozer grading crushed stone road base
GPS machined controlled bulldozer ion Bourque Road inDieppe (2021)

In 2012, JP Levesque convinced Luc to invest in GPS survey equipment and a machine control dozer. This strategic decision was crucial for LCL Excavation, as it demonstrated their dedication to leveraging new technologies for improved efficiency and precision. Since adopting GPS machine control in 2012, LCL Excavation has seen a significant transformation in its operations. The technology has drastically improved efficiency, accuracy, and overall project outcomes. Here’s how:

At LCL Excavation, investing in new technologies like GPS machine control aligns with our purpose of "Build Great Teams." By equipping our team with the best tools and technologies, we not only enhance our project outcomes but also foster a culture of results and continuous improvement.

A surveyor utilizing GPS in Shediac (2022)
A surveyor utilizing GPS in Shediac (2022)

Vision for a C&D Site that Became a Quarry (2011-2014)

In 2011, Luc noticed an increasing number of buildings and homes being demolished in Restigouche County and realized there were no nearby construction and demolition dump sites. Seizing the opportunity, he purchased a plot of land off Mountain Brook Road in Charlo, intending to develop it into a C&D site. However, while preparing the land for this purpose, we discovered that it was rich in high-quality bedrock, perfectly suitable for asphalt production. This unexpected find transformed our initial plans, turning the site into a valuable quarry that significantly influenced the vision of the company.

Luc, JP, and Andre acted quickly. In 2013 they purchased a crushing spread and in 2014, they opened the quarry. Also in 2014, they acquired an asphalt plant along with a fleet of asphalt installation equipment from Restigouche Construction in Grand Falls. This strategic move positioned LCL to serve the local market better and reinforced their commitment to building a stronger, more capable team.

Navigating Growth and Challenges:The Paving and Expansion Era (2015-2017)

With a vision to create a remarkable company, brothers Andre and JP sought to expand their team. They enlisted longtime friend Sebastien Landry to oversee the newly established asphalt division, leveraging his expertise in asphalt testing. Sebastien's first task was to build and set up an asphalt testing lab. Sebastien did what it took, when it counted to get the lab up and running in time for major DOT paving projects.

A smiling construction leader around yellow equipment in Shediac NB
Sebastien Landry in Shediac (2022)
An asphalt technician testing asphalt in a lab
Jean-Michel Levesque Testing Asphalt (2021)

JP and Andre knew they had to build a Great Team. To further strengthen their team, they recruited engineering student Mathieu Pelletier, known for being a results-oriented hard worker. Mathieu initially served as a labourer on a pipe crew, demonstrating dedication and hard work on various projects, including one in Bathurst under the guidance of seasoned LCL employee Ghislain Drapeau.

Mathieu Pelletier construction professional smiling in an office in Charlo NB
Mathieu Pelletier in Charlo (2021)
A construction crew in Champdoré NB in 2023
Mathieu Pelletier in St-Antoine NB (2023)

In 2015-2016, LCL Excavation operated with two civil construction crews, an asphalt installation team, a coal handling crew, and a crushing team. Throughout the year, LCL Excavation undertook various excavation projects in Restigouche County. They also ventured into the asphalt market, taking on DOT projects, commercial parking lots, city street paving, and residential paving. Although entering the asphalt market presented challenges, LCL took pride in their accomplishments and the dedication of their team.

LCL Paving Logo
LCL Paving Logo

During this period, LCL Excavation tackled a wide range of projects, including bridge demolitions, dump capping, new bridge construction, paving, and municipal infrastructure projects. While these diverse projects showcased the company's capabilities, they also highlighted a lack of a clear core focus. Company leaders found it difficult to determine which projects were successful and which were burdensome.

The company struggled to gain traction without a defined core focus or established core values. Financially, LCL performed adequately, but the lack of direction and cohesion made it challenging to achieve sustained success. This period was marked by a mix of accomplishments and obstacles, as the company continued to search for its true identity and purpose.

In 2017, federal funding for infrastructure was at an all-time high, providing numerous opportunities for growth. LCL Excavation continued to take on various excavation and paving projects in Northern NB. With ambitions to grow and expand, the company was comprised of four civil construction crews, an asphalt team, a coal handling team, and a crushing team. By 2017, LCL had expanded its workforce to up to 125 employees.

One of the significant achievements of the year was securing their largest municipal infrastructure project in Beresford: the Foulem Subdivision. Mathieu Pelletier, a recent graduate from the Université de Moncton, joined the company as a full-time employee and dedicated his first season to working on this project.

Despite securing many paving projects, the asphalt team was understaffed. The lack of established core values made it difficult to attract and retain the right people. The paving season was a roller coaster ride: many secured projects without having the right people (culture fit).

The rapid growth of the excavation crews also posed challenges. Many projects were secured, and new hires were made without considering core values. It was a struggle to get some of the projects completed, municipal infrastructure projects were usually easier. Company leaders recognized a lack of focus and purpose. They found themselves struggling to complete projects efficiently, realizing the need for change to address these issues.

Despite the difficulties encountered in 2017, the dedication and hard work of our employees living our core values that were not yet discovered shone through. While the company leaders faced significant challenges, our team members were the backbone, ensuring projects were completed and clients were satisfied. Their commitment to results and tireless effort were instrumental in keeping LCL Excavation moving forward.

Our crews, whether on civil construction sites, asphalt projects, coal handling operations, or at the crushing plant, displayed resilience and professionalism. They worked long hours, often under challenging conditions, to ensure deadlines were met and quality was maintained.

Even in the face of staffing shortages and the absence of clearly defined core values, our employees demonstrated what it means to be part of the LCL team. Their ability to adapt, learn on the job, and push through adversity was remarkable.

2017 was one of the most difficult years for JP Levesque. The company was unfocused, scrambling, and not performing well. Despite having 125 employees, LCL was getting less work done. JP and Andre realized that building a great company takes time and focus. He understood that simply adding more employees was not the answer.

Scaling Back and Discovering our Core Focus and Values (2018-2020)

In 2018, the Leadership Team at LCL Excavation, comprising JP, Andre, Sebastien, and Mathieu, made a strategic decision to scale back operations for the greater good of the company. As part of this decision, LCL sold its asphalt installation equipment to the local asphalt competitor, Pavage JR Lagacé Paving. However, LCL retained ownership of the asphalt plant and continued to produce asphalt.

With these changes, and the strategic decision not to fill many vacant positions, the company's structure now included three civil construction crews, an asphalt production team, a coal handling team, and a crushing team. Following the boom experienced in 2017, work had slowed down, presenting a challenge for LCL. The team found themselves in a situation where they needed to secure enough sales to sustain the company's operations.

During 2018, LCL engaged in various types of excavation work, but was more focused on underground water and sewer projects. We started re-discovering our roots in our core focus but it was not yet clear it was the answer. The boom of 2017 was starting to slow down and forced LCL to secure projects outside of our typical service area. We had municipal infrastructure projects in Miramichi going all the way to St-Quentin. We also had some local Campbellton area site work projects and DTI culverts. While the projects related to municipal infrastructure projects would typically go smoother than other types, we still did not have our core focus established. Despite the challenges, the company remained committed to adapting to the changing landscape and navigating through the slowdown in work.

Watermain project in Miramichi (2018)
Watermain project in Miramichi (2018)

from DTI Mill Creek Culvert Replacement in Rexton NB (2018)
from DTI Mill Creek Culvert Replacement in Rexton NB (2018)

DTI Mill Creek Project Culvert Replacement Rexton NB (2018)
DTI Mill Creek Project Culvert Replacement Rexton NB (2018)

Water and Sewer Project in St-Quentin
Water and Sewer Project in St-Quentin

In 2019, the company remained determined to build a great company. We continued to experiment with various projects in different areas, aiming to keep our good employees engaged. To achieve this, we secured an armor stone production project during the winter of 2019 in the Charlo Quarry. Unfortunately, without prior experience or expertise in producing armor stone in that new quarry, the project became a significant burden. Both leaders and employees worked tirelessly to fulfill our commitments but ultimately saw no success. We entered the 2019 season with a tired and demoralized Leadership Team.

Despite these setbacks, to secure work for our crews. In the spring of 2019, LCL Excavation secured a landfill capping project. However, once again, we lacked the necessary focus and expertise to execute it efficiently. These projects proved to be challenging and painful for the leadership team. With unfavourable sales projections for Northern NB, the booming conditions of 2017 seemed far behind us. Recognizing the need for a strategic shift, the leaders sought opportunities in water and sewer projects, particularly in Northern NB, but prospects seemed dim.

While discussing strategy one day, the company leaders extensively evaluated their approach. Committed to securing more pipe jobs but facing a lack of available projects, they realized they had a self-limiting belief of needing to stay within a specific geographical area. Recognizing the need to expand their service area, they decided to start bidding for work in Fredericton. Within weeks, LCL Excavation from Charlo had secured a project on Hillcourt Drive in Fredericton. The project was a success, impressing the City of Fredericton with the crew’s performance.

Securing more pipe jobs in 2019 helped us crystallize our core focus. In 2020, recognizing the need to reassess and refocus, the company streamlined its operations to include two civil crews, an asphalt production crew, a coal handling crew, and a crushing crew. The leaders shifted their focus towards water and sewer projects and culvert replacements, honing in on their core expertise. This marked a significant transition as the company expanded its reach beyond Northern NB to encompass projects throughout the entire province.

King George HWY pipe and intersection upgrades in Miramichi (2020)
King George HWY pipe and intersection upgrades in Miramichi (2020)

Fredericton Carmen Ave (2020)
Fredericton Carmen Ave (2020)

To enhance teamwork and performance, the company leaders implemented a business system. This system proved instrumental in clarifying a compelling vision for the company and solidifying its core values. With this system in place, the leaders began living their values more consciously and moved closer to defining the company's purpose and core focus.

The Leadership Team during a meeting (Charlo 2021)
The Leadership Team during a meeting (Charlo 2021)

In 2020, the company leaders discovered our core values by identifying the traits common among our best employees. These three core values have been consistent since the foundation of Renovesque in 1990. With years of business experience, it was time to communicate these values clearly to our employees and prospective hires. The core values discovered in 2020, which remain today, are:

These core values guide our employees on how to excel and help potential employees understand what we look for in our team members. Amidst these developments, the onset of the pandemic presented numerous challenges for the company. Despite these obstacles, by the end of 2020, the company leaders had successfully clarified our core focus: municipal infrastructure projects.

Float Truck in Riverview (2021)
Float Truck in Riverview (2021)

As we move forward, we are proud of our achievements and the lessons learned. The trials of this decade have shaped us, reinforcing the importance of having clear core values and a focused mission.

With our dedicated team and a clear vision, we are well-positioned to continue building great teams and achieving remarkable results in the years to come.

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