Labor of Love: The LaFleur Team Celebrates Their Dedication to Our Company and Clients
Written by Kyle McCarthy
Chip LaFleur — President
Creating LaFleur and orchestrating its growth over the last several years has truly been a labor of love for the entire LaFleur team, but most especially for me.
After working in the industry for over a decade and slowly becoming more and more frustrated with how certain organizations operated, I knew I wanted to start something different. I wanted to develop a company where I could recruit top talent and then provide those individuals with a level of autonomy that allowed them to do their best work. And I wanted to create a work environment that is simultaneously relaxed and extraordinarily productive.
I firmly believe that when you find skilled, intelligent, and compassionate people, you should help them continue their professional growth in a way that comes naturally to them. As they continue to learn and expand their skill set, their work continues to improve, which results in clients who are thrilled with their expanding business and employees who understand and celebrate their value to the company.
So far, this is precisely the kind of company we have been able to build. I trust my staff (all of whom have become great personal friends of mine) to be professional and put forth their best effort, and by believing in them to meet those expectations without excessive micromanagement, they all accomplish tremendous things each and every day. And based on our client retention and growth over the last four years, I think our customers are pretty happy as well.
Happy Labor Day, Everyone!
Falon Peters — General Manager
As the General Manager at LaFleur, I do most of the applicant screening when we’re looking to expand our team. This means I get to have a lot of the “this is who we are” culture conversations with people outside of our organization. I also get to answer the question “What do you love most about working at LaFleur?” on a pretty regular basis. My answer is simple: the people.
The LaFleur team is small and mighty. Every single person in our organization makes a significant impact on the success of our culture and our business. Everyone brings a unique skill set and perspective to the work we do, and my most favorite thing is that, while we are all different people with different views and approaches, we all respect and trust the heck out of one another. There isn’t a single person on our team who I wouldn’t trust to complete a project or a task with 100% effort and energy.
We work hard, but we also understand that life isn’t just about “the work.” It’s about the relationships we build inside and outside of this office and the positive impact we have on each other and the community around us.
I could drone on and on, so I will just say I am so proud to be part of this team and this organization. We’re doing something special with a fantastic bunch of humans. For all of that, I am so very thankful.
David VandeWaa — Content Director
While we don’t typically fly extra flags on Labor Day, it’s an intrinsically patriotic holiday. As the United States Department of Labor puts it, the holiday is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
I come from a family of immigrants — who doesn’t? Not too far back, one Henry J. Van der Waa fled the Netherlands with his younger sister due to religious persecution, joined the 33rd Iowa Infantry to fight in the American Civil War, and helped establish Orange City, Iowa. (There was also a late-night toboggan raid to reclaim the county records at some point.) My grandfather, a farmer, hitchhiked to Michigan, got drafted into WWII, and (eventually) ended up becoming a doctor. On the other side of the family, my grandfather spent years tanning leather and then an entire career working at Spartan stores. Intermixed throughout our family history, there are quite a few other farmers and [insert job]/farmers.
And here I am, a good-for-nothing “creative.”
The number of generations in my family that have been “Americans” is in the single digits — less than 5 on both sides, in fact. While I certainly consider the job I currently do to be “work,” let’s be honest. It’s not qualitatively or quantitatively contributing to the American way of life in any significant way. I’ve done my fair share of manual labor: I bailed hay (once), I worked various construction jobs when the opportunity arose, and I spent over a decade power-washing during the summers to fund my college and graduate education (and then supplement my teaching income).
But you’re not eating something I helped to grow. You’re not driving a car I helped assemble. You’re not enjoying the convenience of modern plumbing, electricity, and other essential infrastructure that I dug the trenches for.
The vast majority of us enjoy climate-controlled office environments, advanced technology, and an untold number of modern conveniences everywhere we go because workers all around us put in long hours and backbreaking labor to keep the wheels of our society turning. So while we’re enjoying a day off this year for Labor Day, let’s take a look around at all the work we don’t have to do and offer up a silent thank you for all the things that make America great and that relied on the labor of others — past and present, citizen or noncitizen.
Leigh Ebrom — Content Developer
In my personal time, I’m on the Board of Directors for a local Montessori school. In a Montessori classroom, there’s a strong emphasis on purposeful work, respecting others, persistence, and a recognition of our interconnectedness. It’s incredible to work at a place that shares these same values.
Everyone at LaFleur takes our work seriously. I’m amazed by our team’s creativity, commitment to our clients, and drive to improve continuously. These values are matched by a remarkable generosity of spirit. Whether we’re working on a client’s marketing strategy, volunteering in our community, or sharing a potluck meal, we go all in.
This year, I’m particularly excited about our growing commitment to community service. We’re working on some exciting projects that will improve our community and hopefully inspire our peers to follow suit. I’m honored to work at LaFleur, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.
Pat Kose — Account Manager
I used to hear the cliché “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” and assume it only applied to travel bloggers and professional golfers. I can’t say that every day at LaFleur is a day at the links, but I do love my job, and I can provide a higher level of service to our clients because of that.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is the team we have here. If you do the math (which I don’t recommend), you spend a major chunk of your life working, so it’s highly beneficial to find a group of co-workers you enjoy spending time with. From Monday morning to when the clock strikes “Beer-Thirty” on Friday, time with the team here is always well spent.
The second reason I love my job is that I’ve been given a great amount of autonomy. If I think I’ve found a better way to do something, I can do it. If I find a passion project I want to develop, I can pursue it. If I want to make a fairly goofy video to post on social media, I can make it. Everybody here is a competent professional, and we are treated as such. Hiring qualified people and then trusting them to do their job might not seem like a crazy concept, but I’ve learned it is actually pretty rare.
Jason Brower — Social Media Specialist
Labor Day marks the end of summer and the realization that winter is coming, but it is also an excellent time to reflect on your “labor” and what you love most about your daily work.
I recently celebrated six months at LaFleur, and there are many reasons that I have enjoyed my time here and look forward to the months ahead.
First, the people are fantastic — both the team we have at LaFleur and the clients we work with. It has been fun to see the passion each team member puts into their work and how it directly impacts our clients and the success of their business. I came in not knowing what to expect (as is the case whenever you start at a new company), but everyone was very welcoming, and I felt part of the team from the day I walked in the door.
Second, I appreciate the overall culture here at LaFleur. Many different aspects drive the culture — including flexible schedules, professional environment, and community involvement.
Being part of an organization that has such a passion for the community has been a big part of what I enjoy about the LaFleur culture. Each month, a different person on the team gets to choose an organization they are passionate about, and we dedicate half a day of work to help that organization. It has been cool to see the diverse interests of the team and being able to make a difference in the Grand Rapids community.
Sowmya Padigi — Paid Digital Advertising Specialist
Work for me is a great outlet to experience and interact with the world outside of my home. Work is an essential part of my life that reinforces the faith I have in myself and gives me a sense of achievement. And as an immigrant, the right to work is especially precious, and I pray the current administration does not destroy it.
As I think of my work life and what I could do to be more productive and creative, the one thing that comes to my mind is to break away from working in a silo. I work from home most of the time, so it can be easy to retreat into my comfort zone and just get the job done. So my mantra for the upcoming year will be to “learn and collaborate.”
I want to spend more time educating myself about the tools and strategies that will make me more efficient and also collaborate with other PPC managers in the industry to learn more about their approaches to challenges at work and innovative technologies and platforms.
Sarah LaFleur — Community Relations Manager
As I think about my work life, there are quite a few things about my job and this company that make me happy and appreciative.
I’m proud of how invested we are in our clients’ futures. Their success is our success, and we always go above and beyond to make sure they see trackable results from the work we do on their behalf. I also love that we offer exclusivity to our clients, which is something that has always bothered me about other agencies.
I’m most proud of our volunteer initiative. It may not be client-facing, but it has a significant impact on our employees’ happiness, which directly affects the work we do for our clients. It helps connect every individual on our team and build unity and togetherness.
Being able to give back and having the LaFleur employees join together to do so really invests us in the community. Over the next year, I look forward to building this initiative, challenging other business owners to do the same, and seeing just how many community contributions we can make as a team.
Nick Wright — Front-End Developer and Designer
The sense of community is powerful here, and we’re all so motivated to produce our best work. Whenever working with other team members on a project or to align project goals, it comes very naturally. I really love being able to support others on the team with design or technical problems.
We also take time every month to participate in a community event, which is fantastic. It’s always a great atmosphere outside of the office working together with fellow team members.
As my career evolves, I’m trying to align what I’m passionate about with what I do on a daily basis. Somedays, I can only sprinkle a little of that in, while other days, I’ll have a project that I’m able to get deeply invested in. I’m proud to work somewhere that acknowledges my value, celebrates my creativity, and helps me achieve my goals.
RELATED: 10 Minutes With Designer Nick Wright
Becky Zobl — Project and Account Manager
I’ve had it both ways. I’ve worked with a team that felt like family, and I’ve held jobs where I basically kept my head down and collected a paycheck. It’s a constant balancing act of personal values and passions with professional skills and goals. It’s rare to find it all in one place, but luckily, I have.
The team here at LaFleur is a unique group. Each person on our team possesses different strengths and skills. We ask each other for help; we carve our own paths independently; and we genuinely like being together. This creates a nice overlap between our personal and professional lives. When someone needs help moving, we show up to help. When someone has a passion project, we all get involved. When someone has something to celebrate, we cheer together.
I feel supported by my team but also challenged to always improve and learn. I love being part of LaFleur, and I genuinely enjoy the work I am doing here. And that makes me a better employee and a happier person.
Steven Thomas Kent — Managing Editor
I’d rather not treat Labor Day as an occasion to celebrate my achievements or even those of others around me. I live in the United States, after all, where we celebrate individual accomplishments more than perhaps any other culture on the planet — so I think they already receive a fair and healthy share of the limelight (and I’m also fortunate enough to work at an organization where we recognize each other’s work just about every day).
I prefer to take the occasion of Labor Day for its original intended purpose and reflect on the sacrifices made by people in the organized labor movement throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Those sacrifices yielded incredible transformations in quality of life for workers everywhere, and we still reap the benefits every single day we show up to work.
That said, I’m proud to work at an organization that exemplifies the best qualities of the labor movement in so many ways — from allowing us flexible schedules and providing a stimulating work environment to encouraging us to explore our curiosities and expand our skill set whenever we’re able. LaFleur is a company that walks the walk, so to speak, when it comes to treating our team like human beings with full lives and distinct personalities, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to contribute here.
RELATED: Read More About Steven Thomas Kent
Jane Newton — Marketing Strategist
Thinking of Labor Day as a catalyst for all the meaningful work in my life makes me feel extremely grateful for all the work I do in every area of my life. For example, the work I put into my primary relationship; the blood, sweat, and tears I put into fixing up and maintaining our home; volunteering with Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue; and my day job here at LaFleur.
I love my job. It not only gives me challenging and engaging work, but also allows me to pursue things that are important to me — like being active in my community, raising a future assistance dog, and caring for my grandmother. In addition, I get to work with a group of very talented, competent, and fun people who respect each other and the work we each produce.
This fulfillment in my professional life spills over into my personal life. My work gives me a profound perspective on and appreciation for how much work it takes to keep an organization — and its many moving parts — functioning and the importance of communicating clearly and effectively. This perspective and appreciation add depth to my relationships and all the other work I do that provides meaning to my life.
RELATED: Read More About Jane Newton
Kyle McCarthy — Managing Editor
In addition to my hilarious, thoughtful, and dedicated colleagues at LaFleur, I’m exceptionally proud of the work we do on behalf of our clients — and the fact that we do so in a professional, responsible, and ethical manner while also having a lot of fun along the way. We’re a principled bunch, and we execute every initiative with the client’s best interests in mind.
Many marketing agencies are in the business of overpromising and underdelivering. They sell their clients on guarantees they cannot keep and then spend the remainder of their contract duration making excuses for why they didn’t do what they said they were going to do. I know because I’ve worked at places like this and was miserable.
At LaFleur, however, we engage in transparent relationships with our clients, and our honesty and candor have resulted in numerous loyal, long-term clients who trust us to utilize their marketing budget in the most effective way possible. If this means expanding strategies, we expand strategies. If it means cutting services, we cut services. And if it means we might not be the best fit for a particular client, we present our findings, explain our position, and wish them well moving forward.
In a word, LaFleur is honest with clients and team members at all times. And that’s really refreshing for a marketing agency.
Have a Safe and Fun Labor Day!
We hope you and your friends and family have a great Labor Day Weekend that is safe, fun, and relaxing. Once you get back to the office, we would love to speak with you about your current marketing initiatives and long-term goals for your business.