How this construction company improved its productivity to achieve controlled growth

The bigger a company gets, the more complex it becomes to manage. That's why it's important to implement rigorous processes to maintain productivity while growing. That's the approach taken by the co-founders of T.J.L. Construction Inc.

6-minute read

Jessy Labbe and Tommy Labbe from Construction TJL

Tommy Labbé (left) and Jessy Labbé (right), co-owners of Construction T.J.L.

Having time to seek out more ambitious contracts: that's the dream of Jessy and Tommy Labbé, co-founders of T.J.L. Construction Inc. Although both work very hard on their business launched in 2011, it's been challenging to achieve in recent years.

"My brother and I used to manage everything," explains Tommy. "We doubled our sales every year. But the company was growing and becoming more complex to manage. The problem was that if we were on the job sites, the office was less efficient, and if we were in the office, the job sites were less efficient. We were always taking on more responsibilities, but we were maxed out."

Knowing that they couldn't be everywhere at once, the two entrepreneurs started hiring. “We found ourselves with a big team, but we were poorly structured," Jessy recalls. "Our profit margin had halved. Something had to change. We had to ensure business could continue, even if we weren't always there."

The two entrepreneurs, who now employ more than 200 people and have sales in the tens of millions of dollars, are not trained managers. They left their native Beauce region to install drywall in Montreal when they were 17 and 19 years old.

Five years later, they founded their company, taking pleasure in constantly pushing the limits to make it grow, eventually realizing they needed help to improve their productivity.

This is when they turned to BDC Advisory Services for help.

My brother and I used to manage everything. We doubled our sales every year. But the company was growing and becoming more complex to manage.

Meeting their needs through recruitment  

T.J.L. Construction's first task was to evaluate its workforce. "We had to look at each employee's skills and their vision of the tasks they had to perform," says Jessy. "Then we had to describe our vision of things and how we wanted them to evolve."

Tommy and Jessy soon realized that the skills needed to take their business in the direction they wanted were not aligned with what the existing team had to offer. They had to act fast. "In the first six months of our reorganization, we changed 75% of our office staff," says Jessy.

They then invested a great deal of effort in recruitment—with the help of headhunters—and in staff coaching.

men from Construction TJL in team meeting

Investing in digitization

Having assembled the right team for T.J.L. Construction's needs, the business had to make the digital shift to improve its productivity. "We used to do everything on paper," says Tommy. "We wanted estimates to be completed online and for our data to be accessible from the job site to the office and vice versa."

To achieve its objectives, the company needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. "But before we could do that, we had to complete a number of steps, such as making job descriptions and mapping the company's processes from initial customer contact right through to site delivery. We also needed to be able to rely on a stable, well-trained team. It took us longer than we thought it would."

The two entrepreneurs are now preparing to implement the ERP system. But already, information is flowing better within the company. "We are getting our key employees involved in running the business," says Jessy. "They receive the  15 days after the end of our month, so they know what's going well and not so well on the sites. We hold meetings to discuss this so they can adjust accordingly."

Once the ERP system is up and running, the company wants data to be available on a weekly basis.

"Our staff really got on board with the project to set up an ERP system," says Tommy. "All the administration now runs in a linear fashion, which helps us operate better on the job sites. Most importantly, I see that the sense of belonging has returned to the company."

Soon, our company will be running with the stability and productivity we need to invest fully in what we want for the future. We're dreaming big for T.J.L. Construction.

Achieving a return on investment

The reorganization of T.J.L. Construction began in 2022. The owners had to invest in advisory services, recruitment services, and in software and implementation. "You have to be prepared to invest," says Tommy. "But when you believe in it and really put your mind to it, you soon see results."

By 2023, T.J.L. Construction had regained the profit margin it had in 2020, when Tommy and Jessy were running the business alone. "We did it," says Jessy.

There's still work to be done, such as implementing the ERP system and creating a human resources department. "But, you have to be careful, because with all the changes, we had to coach a lot of people and explain our vision of the company to them," explains Jessy. "We're out of breath. Digitization also still demands a lot of our time. However, it's encouraging, because we know all our efforts will save us time and money later on."

The two brothers believe they will finally have the time to keep growing their business. "We have several projects in mind, and we want to keep growing," says Jessy. "Soon, our company will be running with the stability and productivity we need to invest fully in what we want for the future. We're dreaming big for T.J.L. Construction."

Your privacy

BDC uses cookies to improve your experience on its website and for advertising purposes, to offer you products or services that are relevant to you. By clicking ῝I understand῎ or by continuing to browse this site, you consent to their use.

To find out more, consult our Policy on confidentiality.