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We are back with another Bissett on-site feature, but this time we hit the east coast to visit Jonathan Lloy, president of Lloyoll Prefabs. Lloyoll designs and builds prefab homes that are beautiful, modern, and harmonious with the landscape. From the beginning, Lloyoll has produced energy-efficient and sustainable homes featuring exposed Timber Frames, functional carvings and other features that celebrate their love of craft. Prefab and Modular Home construction practices reduce the carbon footprint and waste products generated during the traditional home build process. Lloyoll brings fine craft to the forefront of its architecture while harnessing the efficiencies of its modern modular home prefab shop.
Bissett has been working with Jonathan and the Lloyoll team since they started the company, about 8 years ago. Jonathan met with Bissett to give a tour of his pre fab facility in Brooklyn, NS, where we got chatting about Lloy’s love of craftsmanship and sustainability. His passion for his work and for quality craftsmanship and eco-friendly design is evident through his building process and from the final result of the homes themselves.
Jonathon Lloy: Getting into the trade for me was pretty organic. I grew up on a farm. Right after high school, I left and went out West. I worked in the trades all across North America, so it was always my go-to way to make a little money. After a few years of work and travel I studied business back in Atlantic Canada. I was taking break from studying when I committed to the trade after finding a job that was more craft focused. I was working for a company that built log homes and then I went on to build timber frames. These experiences taught me to appreciate the craft. That would have been in my early 20s, but I had been building things since I was 12 years old. Starting with the family house my parents still live in. So it was kind of a natural place to be led.
Jane Carsky: Talking about the craft, its clear from your work that it is a huge focus for you and your business. Has that always been the case?
Jonathon Lloy:Yeah, we really focus on it. We want to simplify homes for people. But we don’t want them to feel like they have to sacrifice great details, high quality finishes, or uniqueness, in order to achieve it. That’s why we preserve the craftsmanship. It’s always going to be a challenge to scale the business and preserve that. But, we’re up for it.
Jane Carsky: Can you tell me more about the sustainability aspect of your builds? Was that something that you saw demand from in the market with the current times, or did you always have that in your vision?
Jonathon Lloy: This tendency is also very organic. I give my mom a lot of credit for that. I grew up on a farm where we raised all of our own food. There was livestock, vegetables, and you learned to not waste anything. My mom was good enough to be very verbal about why we’re doing this or that. This was long before recycling was cool, or anyone even talked about it really. There were no recycling programs in Nova Scotia. These experiences were really influential in how I look at things. I look at all concepts and details in terms of waste, including time. I was taught not to waste from an early age, this set me on the path of using the lens of sustainability when planning or developing.
Jane Carsky: Do your customers mention that’s a large reason why they like your builds?
Jonathon Lloy: It’s funny, because there was a time when we used sustainability as a marketing tool but we don’t really anymore. I am confident that our customers appreciate the inherent sustainability in our product, something that goes beyond words. I think that they wouldn’t be coming to us if they didn’t care about it.
A lot of our houses are off grid, and each is home is off-grid capable with a few minor tweaks. Sometimes people really care and they’ll ask for a few extra steps, like the blower door test, which is something we’ve done. We’re always happy to oblige.
True sustainability speaks for itself. There is more of an investment up front but it’s going to last. Not having to fix it in 10 years or replace it in 50. That’s huge. Even some carbon heavy resources are valuable from a sustainable perspective because of how long they last. Concrete is one of the most carbon heavy building products that we have. But it also continues to strengthen for the first 35 or 40 years after its poured.
Jane Carsky: Do you think that most of your customers are highly educated on their projects in the homes then?
Jonathon Lloy:Yeah, I think so. They recognize and they see the value in the brand names that pop up for the different components in the house. We’re very careful to select partners that we can rely on and have symmetries with our product. I would say that about every component and every supplier that we work with. One way or another, they’re on brand with that whether it’s structural or a finishing product.
Jane Carsky: Would you say that’s the same with Bissett?
Jonathon Lloy: Yeah. I mean, we ship our homes down the highway at 120 km/h. Most homes are never tested as vigorously as our homes are. 120 km/h is a rigorous test for a home, at that point we are testing the fasteners and seals. We rely on both innovations and quality. The structural fasteners that weren’t even available to us 15 years ago. Nails are designed by the code to perform a shear value, whereas these innovative structural screws will take all that vibration and keep everything tight and secure. I’ve escorted each delivery, and every time we hoist our homes they are perfectly flat on the bottom. When I go inside and test the home after delivery doors, cabinets, and windows open smoothly. The alignment of all those are so critical to the finished product. I carry a little screwdriver kit around, but I rarely open it with the purpose of adjust them. That all goes back to the structure and how well it holds together. Through these innovations we can offer far more glass in our buildings
Jane Carsky: Talking about the projects and completing them, can you tell me what project you’re most proud of that you’ve worked on?
Jonathon Lloy: We’ve have completed large and unique projects . Some I’ve been proud of for the speed of which we executed with a very small crew. As a really large collaboration, we built a really cool resort down here in Summerville. It’s beautiful, and we’re super proud of it. All of these experiences have exposed us to unique and interesting ideas, some that work and some that don’t. What we’ve developed now encapsulates the best ideas, components and details that we have been exposed to or have been inspired to develop. All of it has led us to here. I’m really proud of our prototype and each building that we’ve produced since and these concepts resonate with me the most. We’ve really thought this through and have made sure that we preserve these details and the quality of craft.
Jane Carsky: What would the biggest challenge you’ve faced be?
Jonathon Lloy: Well you can ask it on a different day and the answer changes [laughs]. I think my biggest challenges have been organizing and optimizing people and our team. I don’t say that in a negative way at all. I like challenges, but I have the most to learn in that respect, I realize, to run a business. The logistics of a building are quite simple compared to what it takes to get the right people on the team. Often appropriate training is more specific to them. Like the type of encouragement they need or the lifestyle they need to stay here and keep working here to help us build. I am grateful for our team members pointing this out to me. If it wasn’t for these influences I don’t think we would have gotten to where we are. Right now, we’ve got a really solid team, and with trades people that’s hard. A lot of people go to the trades because of how independent they are to begin with.
Jane Carsky: Have you thought about the potential of bringing more technology into your business?
Jonathon Lloy: There are areas where we could grow with technology. We really need to focus on it because growing a business solely on human resources will have limits. But if we strayed completely from what crafters and tradespeople can do, then our product will be less distinct.
Jane Carsky: Back to Bissett, can you tell me more about how you like the product and your thoughts on our partnership over the last several years?
Jonathon Lloy: Well we’ve been working with Paul [Connor] since the beginning really. Seven or eight years ago? Honestly before then Fasteners were just something that we went to the hardware store to get as we needed them. Or they were shipped out with our framing package. When I first met Paul, we didn’t really know what it was like to be a manufacturer. Our background was custom building, and that’s when Paul introduced us to some ideas. He was like, ” Hey, you don’t need to buy a pallet of nails. You just need to be on a schedule with us, so we know when you need nails”. Why hold on to $4000 worth of nails when you can buy X amount a month and he will drop them off. Customer service is a trade we are seeing less and less of these days and that element of service that goes along with supply. We rely on Suppliers like Bissett to introduce us to new products. During the pandemic, suppliers really owned the market for the most part. Service at a certain point almost disappeared. You really realized which companies actually cared about service and which ones just cared about getting your money. So yeah those are some of the main reasons. The quality of your product is as good as best on the market, but your standout service component has been a big part of it for sure. Having the knowledge and service from your team about the products that are available.
Jane Carsky: Totally. For Bissett, the quality of our products and relationships are our core values as a company. My last question would be what advice you would give to someone else getting into the industry?
Jonathon Lloy: Be willing to learn from your peers and colleagues. That is really critical if you want to succeed in the trades. Also, acknowledge to yourself if you prefer to work alone – a lot of trades people do. If you prefer to work alone, accept the limits of what you’ll accomplish and strive for perfection, tis will lead to satisfaction.
Most critical, there’s no detail that’s not worth your attention. Like the old saying, “any job worth doing is worth doing right”. If you can apply that all the time consistently no matter what kind of mood you’re in, then you will succeed and sleep well at night. If you’re not appreciated for this quality, you’re in the wrong spot and you need to go somewhere else where your values are more aligned.
Thank you so much to Jonathan for taking the time to meet with us. To learn more about Lloyoll Homes you can visit their website https://www.lloyoll.com/ or check out their Instagram @lloyollprefabs !
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