It may seem trite to say that a construction company was built on a strong foundation — but that’s precisely the case with Lauring Construction Co.
The Worcester company, now operated by its third and fourth family generations, has a background spanning more than 90 years.
The keys to its success, family executives say, is its hands-on approach, sole focus on local projects and a good life-work balance.
“We get along well, we work together well, we’re a real team,” said Mark Lauring, who serves as vice president.
The company, which employs 23 and focuses on large- and small-scale commercial, educational, institutional and religious projects, is now managed by its third generation, a trio of brothers including Mark, president John Lauring, and treasurer-clerk James Lauring.
They all have sons involved in various capacities, too: Tim Lauring (Mark’s son) and Dan Lauring (James’ son), are project managers, while Michael Lauring (John’s son) runs site crews, and Chris Lauring (James’ son) performs office and field work.
The emphasis on family has been key from the beginning. Grandfather Anthony Lauring started out as a stone mason in 1922, eventually launching his own company. In the 1940s, his son Raymond joined him; the two worked together as general contractors until 1948, the year they formed Lauring Construction.
At the time, they took advantage of the post-war housing market. By the mid-1950s, they began diversifying into commercial projects.
The third generation started coming on in the 1970s, when the company shifted solely to commercial, offering general contracting, design building and construction management services.
“We grew up through high school and college, summers and weekends, working for the company,” John said.
Raymond — now 88 and still active, even involved with a softball team — ceded the business to his three sons when he retired in 1984.
Through the years, family members have worked at all levels of the process, and hold degrees in law, engineering, business management and administration, marketing and finance.
“They’re the ultimate family business,” said Joe Favulli of Worcester-based Favulli Electric, Inc., a longtime Lauring subcontractor. “They work together very well, and you can tell they respect each other.”
Lauring’s projects over the years have included a $3.9-million addition to the Campus Ministry Center at Assumption College; a $13.24-million office space renovation for Commerce Insurance Co.; and an $8-million construction of two residence halls at Nichols College in Dudley.
John said they also recently finished work on a student center at Nichols. Other recent and current clients include MAPFRE Insurance in Webster, Our Lady of the Angels School in Worcester, Notre Dame Academy in Worcester, and Anna Maria College in Paxton.
A dedication to local projects is one factor that sets the company apart, the brothers say.
“We’re Worcester County people and we do all our work here,” Mark said. “That’s unusual because most contractors travel all over the place, and we don’t.”
Similarly, all three brothers are very hands-on, and maintain direct contact with customers.
“They’re dealing with the owner of the company, so it’s a ‘buck stops here’ type of situation,” said James.
“We self-perform a lot of work on the construction site,” John added. “We’re there controlling it.”
And although the brothers acknowledged that times have been challenging with the various ups and downs in the economy, the company has made careful investments over the years in high-end laser technology and machinery to decrease manpower and costs and increase efficiency and ultimately help withstand the inevitable dips in business.
Now, Lauring reports averages annual sales of $10 million, and has been profitable nearly every year since its incorporation 66 years ago.
Tomorrow and technology
Looking ahead, members of the fourth generation are identifying technology challenges they will face when they take over.
“Everything’s going into the cloud, everything’s digital,” said Mark’s son, Tim. “Basically everything we do is less and less paper and more and more computer.”
That shift is beneficial for both efficiencies and products, he said, “challenging, but exciting.”
With the three brothers ranging in age from 58 to 62 and having “a few good years left in us,” as John noted, there are no immediate plans to retire. But, he said, they expect the transition to the fourth generation within five to 10 years, and are slowly moving their sons into more supervisory roles.
“They’re smart kids, they’re well-educated, they have a strong work ethic,” Mark said of his son and nephews.
John agreed, saying, “We’re well-positioned with the next generation to move on and keep the business going.”