Design

Family-friendly vibe in company’s stunning, renovated Rockland barn

As owners of Lamarche Electric, a new electrical business and parents of four young children, Shawn Lamarche and Elyse Beaulieu look to foster a family-friendly vibe in their stunning Rockland office. This is part of our series on Work_Life Balance

Lamarche Electric's new home in a renovated barn in Rockland. Photo: Dwayne Brown
Lamarche Electric’s new home in a renovated barn in Rockland. Photo: Dwayne Brown

“We’re very big on family,” says Elyse Beaulieu from her desk in the loft of a renovated barn in Rockland. “We want a relationship with our employees. We want to be able to know that our employees come to work and are happy to come to work.” Like many companies, Lamarche seeks to bridge the work-life divide by hosting events and creating a family-friendly atmosphere — and they’ve created a beautiful space in which to do it.

Beaulieu’s desk abuts that of her work and life partner, Shawn Lamarche. From their perch, they can see the hive of activity on the second floor: in the middle, desktop computers reveal complex project details; on one side, teams cluster around an island, examining large-format project plans. It’s busy but comfortable — staff walk around in their sock feet and mingle in common spaces. Large windows, glass partitions, grey flooring, exposed beams, and warm touches make the space both welcoming and efficient.

Photo: Dwayne Brown
Photo: Dwayne Brown

The recent renovation, which saw most beams of the 50-year-old barn replaced and the entire barn gutted, allows Lamarche and Beaulieu to see all the way down to the first-floor lobby, where a fabulous glass-walled staircase greets all who enter.

As an electrical company that specializes in large commercial projects, Lamarche Electric doesn’t see much walk-in business. So why pour money into a sculptural staircase?

“It’s for everyone,” says Beaulieu. “[Shawn and I] are always working. When we go home, we’re talking about business. We’re proud of what we’re doing, and we want to be even more proud when we come into our office. We’ve been working so hard — but look at what we have!”

Photo: Dwayne Brown
Photo: Dwayne Brown

Lamarche started the business in 2013 after spending years as an electrician who put in a lot of extra hours without compensation. It wasn’t easy, especially given their growing family (the couple now have four children under eight). But once the loans were paid back, it was time to look to the future.

Shawn Lamarche nd Elyse Beaulieu and their four children standing outside their new offices. Photo: Dwayne Brown
Shawn Lamarche and Elyse Beaulieu and their four children standing outside their new offices. Photo: Dwayne Brown

“We wanted to invest so that we’re happy, we’re excited to come in and show off our office,” explains Beaulieu.
The company moved into the Rockland barn in early spring after outgrowing their previous office off Montreal Road, where they had to share computers and use folding tables to examine plans. In their new space, filing cabinets have replaced plastic folders. Oversized plans can be left on top of the island work-station, ready for inspection the next day, or can be stowed underneath. And there’s a sparkling new kitchen, which is always a hub of activity come lunchtime.
Behind the barn, outbuildings house spools of wire and construction equipment (and maybe, one day, a Zamboni for the ice rink they dream of building on the property). And their vision doesn’t end at the property line. The couple live in Rockland, just a few minutes away, but are looking at a property next door to the office so that dad can be there for bus drop-off — maybe by the time they are all in school, muses Beaulieu.

Photo: Dwayne Brown
Photo: Dwayne Brown

For this couple, integrating work and life is the only thing that makes sense. Vacations, for example, come by way of an annual business trip; no kids, but plenty of industry schmoozing. On Fridays, they use his Father’s Day gift — a charcoal grill — for company barbecues. Out back, the property dips down to the Ottawa River, its shallow shores revealing green rushes, perfect for kids to catch frogs in the summer.

“I think if we try to make events and traditions in the workplace, our employees will feel like they are important,” says Beaulieu.