Imagine having to expand your shop three times in five years — for many companies it’s a fantasy beyond their wildest dreams — but not for Synergy Kitchens, Closets & Baths in Gibsons and Lisa and Shawn Lalande, the principals behind this remarkable business.
The company specializes in manufacturing kitchens, bathrooms and closets with amazingly well constructed wood cabinets and California style closet organizers. And while no job is too small for Synergy, they manufactured and installed all of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets at Watermark, the beautiful complex on the waterfront in Sechelt.
Right from the beginning Lisa, an entrepreneurial fireball, has used her administrative and sales skills to keep the company on a solid footing. Shawn the equipment, materials and installation mastermind of the duo brought the building expertise to the operation.
“It was originally meant to be a one-man, two-man shop. It was never our intention to grow to the size we did,” Lisa said.
At first the company was an outlet for Shawn to use his skills while being his own boss. He’d been in business for himself since his early 20s.
“Early on I learned I liked to work for myself,” Shawn said.
The couple started out in Toronto. They came to B.C. about 10 years ago. At that time Lisa was operating another business. Soon after they started Synergy the new company was taking all her available spare time. She was doing the sales calls and purchasing and ended up working seven days a week.
“After four months I looked at Shawn and said, ‘what is the goal here?” Lisa remembered.
And although the fledging company did almost $300,000 worth of business in the first year and climbed steadily after that Lisa’s conservative side kept her working at her other jobs for two more years.
So just how did this company become such a star in the kitchen, bathroom and closet trade on the Coast?
Lisa credits Shawn’s know-how, the close ties Synergy has with its suppliers and the adaptability of the company.
“We don’t do cookie-cutter here. We can do whatever the client wants.” Lisa said. The shop has all computerized equipment that quickens the process and eliminates human error.
Synergy has earned a good reputation with contractors on the Coast. One in particular is special to the Lalandes.
“The best relationship that we started with and have maintained has been with (local contractor) Clark Hamilton Enterprises. He gave us our first start — their spec homes, their client new and reno homes. We still to this day do all of their work,” Lisa said.
Since day one Synergy has employed Don LeTual. Fresh from high school the shy young man Lisa jokingly calls ‘Junior’ has steadily learned the trade and has grown into a confident worker.
“I believe that young people are the lifeblood of our business as well as our community. They don’t bring any preconceived notions on how something should be done so they can be trained to do it properly. They’re a sponge and they want to learn. The ultimate goal eventually is ‘hey you’ve worked here for the last 20 years do you want to take the company over?’ To buy a business over here would be difficult but this way it’s doable,” Lisa said.
“We don’t do cookie-cutter here. We can do whatever the client wants.”
In addition to Don, Synergy has a regular contractor, Adrian Siegers who does the installations and other jobs. And there have been times when the company has hired up to seven employees.
Last summer Synergy did a big job in Kelowna. The client was so pleased with the results that they are doing more work for him. This and other projects have the Lalandes welcoming the chance to branch out.
Listening to the pair it’s not hard to tell why they’re so successful. It all comes down to our clients. “No job is too small and every job, every client is important.” Shawn said.