Uncategorized Archives - Lakewood Construction

Building Beyond Dorms

How Hope College and Lakewood Construction are Transforming Student Living in Higher Education

2024 MiAPPA Case Study Presentation arrow


Hope College and Lakewood Construction are redefining student living for higher education through innovative and purpose-built residential cottages. With significantly lower up-front required capital investment, lower maintenance costs, higher efficiency, and more flexibility when placing students, this “neighborhood model” of student housing is an effective alternative to traditional housing. To realize the greatest benefit to the institution, however, a strong partnership must exist between the institution and a good design-build firm. When the architect, builder, and institution are all working together as one, the project goes faster, smoother, and the results are more successful.

This case study on building new student cottages demonstrates the transformational design and construction approach taken by Hope College and Lakewood Construction to maximize bed count, utilize space, and optimize maintenance efficiency while ensuring aesthetic community fit and long-term financial growth.

Why A Change Was Needed

Intimately woven into the City of Holland, Hope College sits in both the city center and surrounding neighborhoods. With rising student populations, changes in student preferences, and a desire to be good neighbors in the community, Hope College realized a change was needed.

An Innovative Housing Model

The neighborhood model is a non-traditional student housing program that utilizes duplex-style cottages that are able to grow alongside the student, as well as create flexibility and cost efficiency for the institution. Compared to the traditional dorm housing, the neighborhood model creates a more mature and community based living style, as well as allowing institutions to save on cost per bed ($125k- $150/Bed vs $75k/Bed), lower turnover time (4-6 hour turnover) and significantly reduced maintenance.

The neighborhood model also allows for the institution to better provide accommodations and meet needs when placing students by providing versatility. Investing in a new dorm or residence hall can be a lengthy and highly capital-intensive process, but by implementing a neighborhood housing approach, institutions can reduce costs and drive greater efficiencies. Since the facilities are built as duplexes, the neighborhood model doubles as a diversified long-term investment for the institution—where the cottages can be rented, leased, or offloaded as a saleable asset as needed to adjust to changes in student demand and economic factors.

The Approach: Why Choose Design-Build

Working with the same team from start to finish—from concepts to drawings to construction provides the highest level of synergy and coordination to help guide institutions in strategically master planning campus housing and facilities. As a united team, Hope College and the design-build team at Lakewood Construction carefully mapped out the future facility plans for the institution, evaluated geography and city factors, and analyzed people movement to determine the optimal locations for each future facility to maximize space and minimize cost. When the architect is already an integrated part of the build team, master planning becomes an easy and highly effective process.

Taking a design-build approach also provides the fastest speed to market. When you can begin ordering materials while the drawings are still being finalized and when the architects, estimators, engineers, and constructors literally work side-by-side, you end up with drawings optimized for construction and construction optimized for speed and efficiency. As an example of this: Hope College’s board met in September to approve the designs of the new model, but did not approve the finances for the project until January—for housing needed that fall! An accelerated speed-to-market saves money and offers the greatest flexibility for changing student needs.

The Approach: Space and Cost Optimization

Multiple designs were created of 6, 8, and 12 bed layout options in order to analyze efficiencies and identify the optimal layout configuration for cost efficiency and ROI. Throughout the design process, the existing geography and layout of the neighborhoods was an important consideration in order to ensure site optimization, as well as aesthetic design flexibility of exterior of the houses. The new cottages were also designed with student needs and preferences at their center.

After covid, many students desired single occupancy housing options. The college wanted to provide a housing option that allowed for this privacy, but without isolation. Because of the layout flexibility Lakewood designed, Hope was easily able to accommodate the desire for privacy, while still having areas for engagement and connection throughout the cottage.

Lakewood was also able to analyze student’s needs in the designs, amenities, and aesthetics of the cottages. Alongside Hope College’s team, we worked to strategically select key student desirables such as modern design styles, newer materials, single occupancy rooms, privacy options, and more. This allowed for the institution to then reduce high maintenance amenities (i.e. dishwashers) to save cost and time without losing appeal and attraction to students.

Construction and Procurement Considerations

While the cottages were built as residential structures, Lakewood incorporated commercial codes and factors into the designs of the buildings. From fire alarms to centralized emergency notifications to range hoods and ADA compliance, integrated commercial features keeps the homes consistent with the institutions housing programs and are attractive to students with additional needs. Factors like these are why using a commercial design-build partner who understands zoning, code, and compliance, rather than a traditional residential builder, is essential when tailoring “residential” structures to higher education settings.

To save time and money, frost protected slab on grade was used for the primary foundation. This not only provides the same quality as a traditional three-pour process, but also provides first-level ADA access.

Building from a commercial perspective allowed the cottages to be built through a maintenance optimization lens. By strategically selecting key student desirables, such as modern design styles, newer materials, and single occupancy rooms, an institution can reduce higher life-cycle cost amenities that require more maintenance (such as dishwashers, using solid floors, etc.) without losing student appeal. Additionally, by providing exterior utility access, maintenance can be conducted easily and without requiring access to the student’s space.


Final Lessons Learned:

  1. Strong pre-construction is critical
    It is essential in building higher education housing, to have a strong pre-construction approach. Since higher education builds are often unique projects with a strict timeline and budget, it is essential to careful plan at the very start in order to ensure a seamless and efficient build process. Working with a commercial design-build company can benefit your next build in every way. Working all under the same roof allows for issues to be identified early, a faster speed to delivery, minimized disruptions and change orders, and more- all creating a smoother build and reducing time and costs. A commercial design-build company can also help your institution ensure key commercial standards  are met, as well as ADA access. We were able to bring unique designs to the construction process such as optimized designs for maintenance, privacy flexibility, and exterior aesthetics. All in all, a design-build process will be able to give you the best, cost efficient build, while optimizing design and increasing speed-to-market.
  2. Develop Layouts that provide versatility and accessibility
  3. Optimize designs for maintenance and efficiencies
  4. Build to residential code, but include key commercial standards

Hope College and Lakewood Construction recently had the opportunity to present this case study to other higher education facility and campus leaders at the 2024 MiAPPA Conference. Click on the link below to see the presentation content:

2024 MiAPPA Case Study Presentation

If you are a higher education institution interested in how you can implement the neighborhood model, or would like to learn more about this unique and highly effective process, we’d love to connect!

Creating a Stronger Community Together

Guest Post: Jodi Owczarski, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce

Volunteering is an essential aspect of building stronger communities, and leaders have a significant role to play in this regard. Back in 1988, the Chamber launched the first cohort of its Leadership program. This program was designed to build an informed, committed, and diverse network of community trustees. Since that time, more than 900 of our community members have gone through the program and are prepared to serve in critical leadership roles. However, that’s not been enough. The challenge often comes in creating an ongoing awareness and connection between the needs that exist and the individuals that are willing to serve. In fact, it was this very challenge that was identified as a critical issue to be addressed by the Lakeshore Leadership Council in the fall of 2022.

As a result, the West Coast Chamber, in partnership with the Lakeshore Leadership Council, has launched a new program called West Coast Connect. This online platform is designed to remove barriers and provide visibility to both opportunities to serve and leaders who are willing to volunteer. The online directory will highlight opportunities to serve nonprofit organizations through roles on a board of directors or in high level/skilled committees. It will also include opportunities to serve in important roles at local municipalities, such as a school boards, township boards and committees, city council, county commission, as well as state
and federal legislative seats.

By participating in the program, all leaders in our community will be able to create a profile that highlights their areas of interest as well as the unique skillset that they would bring. Organizations would have the opportunity to review the leadership directory to help find individuals to fill their open needs.

The platform will also have an educational component to provide the resources needed to serve effectively. The impact of this program on the community is expected to be significant. By providing a platform for leaders to volunteer, the program will help to bridge the gap between the business community and the needs of the community at large.

West Coast Connect has the potential to create a ripple effect of positive change for years to come. When leaders volunteer and inspire others to do the same, it creates a culture of giving back and makes a lasting impact on the community. As more individuals and organizations get involved, the program can continue to grow and have an even greater impact on the area. Our community is stronger when we work together, and West Coast Connect is an excellent way to do just that!

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

By: Jim Smith

Collaboration is a buzzword that is frequently used in the construction industry, but unfortunately, it is not always a reality. In a commercial construction project, competing priorities, self-protective behaviors, and a lack of trust can lead to a lack of collaboration. The result is a stressful process that lacks trust, clarity, and safety, ultimately leading to a project that comes in late and over budget. It is essential to cultivate an environment where trust-based agreements, clear project goals, collaboration, innovation, and safety are prioritized to ensure a successful project.

At Lakewood Construction it our job to be an advocate for our clients and ensure that your project is embracing collaboration from start to finish. Here are five things we do to cultivate a culture of collaboration throughout your construction project:

  1. Seek value over low bid: When we are building a team for your construction project, it is crucial to think about what your top priorities are in each partner and ultimately your project team. Think about it similarly to hiring someone new – do you want a candidate who will accept the lowest pay, or are you looking for specific characteristics to ensure that person will be a successful fit for the role and your company? It can be easy to get caught up in solely looking for the low bid, but price can be the number one indicator of value. Some companies that charge slightly more, may be bidding that way because they genuinely do more and will go above and beyond for your project. We thoroughly investigate the reputation of potential partners and see if their values align with yours. Building a team of companies that have a proven track record of success and effective collaboration on projects is essential for a successful project.
  2. Invest in collaboration from the beginning: The start of your project sets the tone for the entire construction process. It is essential to fight the urge to silo the different components of the project and instead build one holistic project team. We bring all the players together to the table as one team when we have your project team assembled. We use this initial kickoff meeting with your project team to ensure collaboration within your project from the very beginning.
  3. Clearly define project goals from the start: One of the most important factors in setting the tone early on is ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal. We begin with you; clearly communicateing to the project team what you are looking for from the project, and specifically what success looks like for you. By defining your goals, the tone is set for the entire project team to begin thinking like you, the owner, and to make decisions that support your project goals.
  4. Encourage open communication: Encouraging open communication is a vital aspect of cultivating a culture of collaboration. Open communication fosters trust and honesty among team members, which can lead to innovative solutions to problems. We work diligently to provide opportunities for team members to communicate their ideas and concerns openly, even when it is something that isn’t easy to hear. When project team members feel they can speak up if they have a question or concern about something, we can collaborate to overcome that challenge instead of finding out too late and over budget.
  5. Foster a culture of innovation: A culture of innovation is essential for a collaborative project. Innovative solutions to problems can lead to cost savings, improved project efficiency, and better overall results. Encouraging team members to think outside the box and try new things can lead to unexpected solutions and a more successful project.

Cultivating a culture of collaboration takes hard work and intentionality, but it is well worth it in the end. At Lakewood, by focusing on seeking value over low bid, investing in collaboration with key contributors at the beginning of the project, clearly defining project goals from the start, encouraging open communication, and fostering a culture of innovation are we have created a proven recipe of success for cultivating a culture of collaboration. These factors lead to building a dream team full of companies that have a proven track record of success and effective collaboration on projects, ultimately leading to a successful project that meets all your project goals.

The best part? You can leave all of this to us so that you can focus on running your business with the peace of mind that your project is going to be a collaborative success.

If you are thinking about a construction project, reach out to us at 616.392.6923 or hello@lakewoodinc.com and we would love the opportunity learn more about your company’s goals!

Weathering Economic Storms

Guest Post: Amanda Murray, Lakeshore Advantage

Have you had to make a quick change of plans recently for your business, your family, or those once-upon-a-time simple holiday visits? Whether it be travel, housing, tech or other, we have all experienced this truth: a host of sectors have weathered massive swings in recent years. The economy makes no guarantees.

But one thing is for certain: Michigan has a rich tradition of ingenuity and innovation, as evidenced by the hundreds of businesses with deep roots right here in these sandy soils. West Michigan’s Lakeshore is home to top furniture and related-product manufacturers, automotive industry leaders, smart manufacturing implementers and manufacturers, as well as food, and computer and electronics product manufacturers. And manufacturers aren’t the only ones growing our regional economy.

As the economy adjusts following a year declared the ‘polycrisis’, not all news in the world of economics is bad news. Research conducted by my team at Lakeshore Advantage in 2022 to understand the opportunities and obstacles to growth faced by businesses in the region indicated that leaders were optimistic about the year ahead. That’s likely due to the volume and diversity of manufacturing industries in the region which haven’t seen the same declines in market-demand as some other sectors. In fact, manufacturing was characterized as an “economic bright spot” in this recent episode of The McKinsey Podcast. Nonetheless, your business—manufacturing or not—may be facing new challenges this year.

Whether your greatest threats to growth are talent, supply chain, or infrastructure-related issues, you shouldn’t face them alone—the issues are complex, and their solutions are nuanced, often calling for collaboration between business, community, and government. As the region’s economic development organization, Lakeshore Advantage is an expert resource for employers and entrepreneurs who call, or are considering calling, the Lakeshore ‘home’. We are here to anticipate the future needs, and voice the current concerns, of your business so that it may continue to thrive in West Michigan’s Lakeshore region.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to grow in West Michigan, reach out to me and my team.

Lakeshore Advantage has two main lines of service: First, for employers in any industry who grow our region’s economy by exporting goods or services outside the region, our team will step alongside yours to tackle challenges so that your business can grow. Second, we foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem and programming so that those who see opportunities for innovative solutions to a problem, and an opportunity in the market for a new product, can become the economy-growing employers of tomorrow.

Tackling Challenges Together

Lakeshore Advantage offers traditional economic development services including site location and business expansion assistance. However, our solutions are as unique as your business. We will work with you, as an employer who grows our region’s economy, to overcome barriers to growth no matter what those barriers look like. Our core focus areas in 2023 include:

  • Creating and deploying talent development, retention, and attraction tools
  • Making smart manufacturing implementation more attainable
  • Preparing major industrial sites for development to allow for employer growth
  • Making post-secondary education more accessible

We do all of this in collaboration with local, regional, and state-level partner organizations, governments, industry thought leaders, and educational institutions.

We can work with you to provide or connect you with additional resources or support including the following:

·        Community tools to create or support inclusive policies and practices

·        Export assistance

·        Government contracting

·        Legal assistance

·        Market research & qualified sales leads

·        Workforce training

·        Social networking

·        Product research and development

·        Sale of a business

·        Supply chain diversification and/or localization

·        Sustainability/energy efficiency

·        Technology assistance

·        Virtual business development/E-commerce

Seeding the Lakeshore’s Employers of Tomorrow

Lakeshore Advantage launched our business incubator and startup hub, The SURGE Center, in February of 2022 after six years of prior SURGE programming to support area-entrepreneurs. Born out of an up-tick in entrepreneurial activity following the Great Recession in 2008, Lakeshore Advantage began offering services for product and technology startups.

We partnered with the Michigan Small Business Development Center to help those who had gotten into entrepreneurship validate their business ideas and create business plans.

Programming and services cover the full life of a startup, from concept through commercialization. Today, SURGE offers a host of resources including:

  • Bespoke stage-to-stage guidance
  • SURGE Academy with access to virtual programs and in-person coaching
  • Coworking space exclusively designed for the startup community
  • A mentor network with a dedicated group of experienced and willing-to-help founders
  • SURGE meetups, workshops, and events facilitated specifically for the advancement of West Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

The SURGE Center is where it’s at! It is here that we are building a vibrant startup community and an ecosystem of support that includes mentorship, networking events, and an opportunity for entrepreneurs to work side-by-side. The space is electric with market-frontier energy. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m there I swear I can feel the force of innovation propelling our region into the future. Whether that feeling is unique to me or not, I highly recommend a SURGE show-and-tell where you can see and hear about the products of tomorrow. If you’re curious and want to learn more, connect with Amanda Chocko, director of entrepreneurship, or visit the SURGE website and follow along on LinkedIn for upcoming events.

While none of us can know for sure what the future holds, I am can say with all certainty that my team is ready and well-equipped to tackle the challenges and seize on the opportunities of tomorrow, with you.

5 Things We Do to be Good Stewards of Your Resources

A commercial construction project is likely one of the largest investments you will make as a business owner. We understand that which is why we have the plans in place to ensure we steward your resources in the best possible way to achieve your goals.

When you decide to place your trust and resources in the hands of Lakewood Construction, we do not take it lightly. The five things we do to be good stewards of your resources are time-tested and trusted disciplines that we have learned over the last 50 years.



Your goals are our top priority, and we’re not just saying that, we mean it.

In construction projects, goals are discussed at the start, a plan is put in place and then the shovel goes into the ground. If your goals are not being intentionally kept top of mind then as the heat picks up in the construction process, they can get lost in the shuffle and put on the back burner. The project can shift from being client goal oriented to just trying to reach the finish line. At Lakewood, we’re not in the business of providing that type of building experience.

The Lakewood difference is when the heat picks up in the construction process, your goals remain our top priority. We like to think of your goals as our home base. They are what we come back to, and ground ourselves in, when decisions need to be made. That way no matter what decision we are making, big or small, it is being made in support of your goals. It takes an extreme amount of intentionality, and in the end, it makes all the difference. After all, success is not just about reaching the finish line on a project, it is seeing your project goals become a reality. 


We believe in telling you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. While we know these conversations can sometimes feel frustrating in the moment, we know that they are necessary for keeping you on the path to success.

While we try to plan for anything and everything, each project brings with it its own set of unknowns. There are many external factors that can impact projects, and when those things do happen, you can rest assured that we are going to communicate that with you and come prepared with alternative solutions.

While there are likely going to be bumps in the road, there is always a solution. The key is communicating early and often so we can create the best approach and prevent a mole hill from becoming a mountain.


We truly are stronger together than we are apart. Cliché?  Yes. True? Also, yes!

The relationships we have built over the last 50+ years have been built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect, which leads to a project team that is constantly looking out for you and for each other. This also leads to a project team that holds themselves accountable to continue those well established relationships.

Lakewood is known as a builder of teams. That team includes you, our partners, trade contractors, local municipalities, and the many other hands that it takes to make a construction project go.

After all, a rising tide lifts all boats. We bring these professionals to the table to ensure no detail gets overlooked, we don’t run into hard stops or surprises down the road, and we can create the best plan for YOU.


This may seem like an obvious one, but our best-in-class workforce and industry experience allows us to invest your resources in a way that gives you the best bang for your buck. A project is only as good as the people behind it. We come together and combine our individual experience, talents, and expertise into one tight-knit and collaborative team so that we can work through the best possible options that others may not think of.

Time and time again, our team has come together to push the norm, find better ways, be more efficient, and be the best to work with and for, all while keeping your goals at the center.


We understand that the future can be unpredictable, but we don’t want your construction projects to be. Through master planning, we are able to ensure that your project meets your needs now and for years to come. The key to a successful project is not only ending with success but starting with it.

We work closely with you and our local partners to survey your land (whether your project is an addition, new build, or just looking), and ensure that we know everything that is going to be necessary to make your project successful. Our architecture team will then use these plans to ensure that they design in a way that allows for not only your current project, but future additions down the road if desired.

We believe that by doing this, we are able to set you up for success down the road and minimize any surprises should you choose to build again.


Some of these things may seem like no-brainers, but we have found that they are things that can get overlooked and lost in the shuffle. It takes intentionality every day to ensure we continue to excel in these five areas.

The decision to select a commercial construction partner isn’t one that should be taken lightly. You want to rest assured that you are placing your trust in a partner who is going to have your best interest in mind when investing your resources. Beyond that, you want a partner that fits with your team and company. As much as we would love to be that partner for you, we want you to feel confident in your choice. If you are starting to think about construction project and want to learn how that may look for your company with us as a partner, please reach out to us at 616.392.6923 or hello@lakewoodinc.com. We would love the opportunity to learn more about your goals!

Preparing for a Looming Recession

BY: Todd Miller

In my lifetime, I have lived through eight recessions, six of which I can clearly remember and the memories and lessons that came along with them. In my working career I have had the privilege of navigating companies through the financial challenges of four recessions. As we watch the rate of inflation continuing to rise, indications are showing that I will be able to add another recession to the list shortly.

In each recession, there have been commonalities among the companies that have fared better than most. Rather than reacting to an economic climate change, these companies are proactive in their approach to financial security during the good times. They are the ones who consistently and intentionally focus time and effort towards building their balance sheet, protecting working capital, and focusing on delivering value to customers.

In order to be better prepared for the future, I believe it is important to learn from the past. What we do with this learned information as a company will dictate how well we weather an economic downturn.

At Lakewood, we are focused on being as proactive as possible in our approach. Through intentional work during these good times, we are prepared so if we do find ourselves in the middle of a recession, we are able to build a bridge over the low times and make it to the other side even stronger. Our proactive efforts help ensure that we can support our company, employees, clients, and partners through whatever is to come.

These are a few of the things we have intentionally focused on and continue to do to prepare:

  • Diligently maintain a strong balance sheet.
  • Protect our working capital.
  • Secure a strong backlog of projects in which we can provide the best value to the client.
  • Maintain a workforce of the industry’s best professionals.
  • Provide lasting value by being the best to work with and for.

You may be asking, what does this mean for you?

What this means for our clients.

With the measures that we have in place now, we will continue to pay our suppliers on time, regardless of an economic downturn. This means you can rest assured that your project will not have any pauses due to any claims of unpaid expenses. On-time payment also builds a strong foundation for our relationships with our trade contractors, ensuring we can continue to work with the best in the area.

What this means for our trade contractors and partners.

We know the importance of being paid on time. Through upfront planning during the good times, we set ourselves up for success for projects taking place during an economic recession. This means you can continue to expect your payments to be on time and in full. We could not do what we do without all of our trade contractors and partners, so we want to ensure that we are continuing to build that relationship and create success for all parties involved.


While I remain hopeful that we can avoid a recession that causes companies, and thus individuals, to undergo financial hardship, I take some comfort in knowing Lakewood has prepared for such a potential downturn.

As a company who has been blessed with a strong financial standing, we feel it is our duty to be active in our community for those less fortunate. Even now, many around us find themselves experiencing hardships. I am grateful to live in such a generous community where many of you lead by example by responding to the call to provide support for our local charities, particularly during this time of year.

If you are looking for ways you can further support those in our community, here are a few great resources you can reach out to:

If you are interested in learning about what a construction project might look like for your company amid a recession, I would be more than happy to talk through that with you. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at tmiller@lakewoodinc.com or by phone at 616.546.8081.

5 Things We Do To Ensure Your Project is Completed On Time

How does that saying go again? Time is…money! As an owner, you know that time truly is money and when you are thinking about beginning a construction project, you want to make certain that your project is going to be completed on time. In a world where everything around us seems to be delayed or experiencing shortages, this can become an even greater worry.

At Lakewood, we know time is a valuable resource that should be respected. That is why we have trusted and tested processes in place to ensure that when we give you a project completion date, we are able to uphold that date. It is no small feat to make sure that a project is completed on time in the current market conditions, so let’s talk through the 5 things that we have put in place to demonstrate that we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk as well.

1. Design-Build Integration

We provide a turnkey construction process through offering quality in-house design|build services. Whether you are using our architectural services, or you have already found your architectural partner, the architecture and construction components of your project will be combined as one well-oiled and collaborative team. Design|build adds an inherent efficiency and effectiveness to the process and greatly diminishes the chances of something being overlooked or getting lost in translation. When the two teams are combined as a single point of accountability, it keeps schedules and budgets on track and produces higher-quality results in less time.

2. Prioritize Early Planning

The most crucial part of every project is the pre-construction phase. In this phase, we invest time to understand everything from your operational wants, needs and goals, all the way to your current frustrations and your future growth goals. Throughout this phase we also analyze any risks or challenges that may come up in your project. By being pro-active we are able to mitigate those risks and avoid delays and costly changes later on in the project.

3. Innovation

The truth about construction is that there are going to be unknown challenges that come up during a project, it is the nature of the industry. We work to anticipate the challenges before they happen and then innovate and manage through them when they do arise. We own the mindset of viewing these potential challenges as opportunities to innovate and create an excellent experience for our clients.

When supply chain shortages plagued the industry amidst a pandemic, our team worked diligently to get ahead of the shortages. We did not want to be faced with a project that couldn’t progress because we were waiting on a shipment. To combat that we contacted suppliers directly to find alternate products of the same quality and design to ensure our projects remained on schedule. If the delays were unavoidable, we worked closely with our own team and trade contractors to see where there were opportunities to accelerate or re-sequence the projects schedule. These pivots made up for any potential lost time, so we were still able to meet the desired end date. We innovated and put in the extra work to exceed clients’ expectations, even amidst challenges.

4. Strong Relationships

At Lakewood, we value strong relationships and work hard to create and maintain them with those we work with. These relationships are critical resources that ensure the success and timeliness of your project.

Our trade contractors are an essential part of any job, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. We continuously look to them as trusted partners in the industry and value their strong knowledge of their given trade. It is through these relationships that we can collaborate and problem-solve together to create the best solutions for our clients.

5. Prioritize Communication

Communication is key! Every commercial construction project has a long list of moving parts; lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements between those parts. We eliminate potential misunderstandings by providing transparent communication on a weekly basis, ensuring everyone is on the same page from start to finish.


We are open and honest with our communication to clients, which means we may not always tell you the things you want to hear, but you can trust that we will always tell you what you need to hear.

Through intentionally integrating the above five things into our culture and day-to-day, we successfully collaborate to create an extremely accurate schedule and timeline for your build. For us, respecting your time is shown by delivering on what we say we are going to and continuing to build that foundation of trust with our clients. We want to ensure we are always walking the walk and exceeding your expectations at every turn.

If you are starting to think about a new build or capital project and want to discuss your options further, please give us a call at 616.392.6923, we would love the opportunity to work together!

3 Reasons to Communicate Your Brand Through Built Space

Megan Murray, Megan Murray Interiors 

In today’s fast paced and crowded business world, your company’s brand can be the differentiating factor between you and your competition. Brand can communicate everything about your company from trust to culture and more. Now, the question as a business owner is how do you take your company’s brand and translate that through your space…and why does it matter?

Let’s dive into a few of the reasons why intentionally conveying your company’s brand through your built space can be instrumental in business success.

1. Attract New Talent

The last two years or so have impacted our economy in more ways than one. Yes, I am talking about our “post-COVID world”. More specifically, the hiring crisis that is plaguing our workforce, also known as the “Great Resignation”. Your company now needs to focus on not only selling your brand to potential clients, but also potential employees, as they are coming at a premium.

As an employer you should utilize any and every selling point you can to help with recruitment and retention, one of those being your space. Even if your business is still incorporating working from home into the work week, it is somewhat rare that an employee would never come to the office, even if just a few times a month or throughout the year. The space in which those in-person interactions take place matters, especially when striving to attract top talent to your company.

Potential employees can tell what they need to know about your company’s culture, how you value your employees, employee benefits, and if your company is the right fit for them just by touring the office. For example, what kind of amenities are available in the space? Is there a coffee bar available to employees? What type of workstations do you provide? Are there dedicated workstations or is the footprint geared towards free address? These types of features will communicate to a potential candidate whether employees will have autonomy when picking where to work or meet with others when at the office. Everything that the eye can see sends a message about your company’s brand.

2. Show What Your Company Stands For

Utilizing brand through imagery and color in a built environment is a great way to show clients, not just tell them, what your company stands for. Think about it like walking the walk not just talking talk. Is your brand fun, serious, professional, to be trusted, welcoming, and so on – whatever it is you want a client to know about your company can likely be seen or felt in a space.

You may use a bright palette of colors that helps the space feel bright and energetic. Maybe there are several sizes of conference spaces that are not only enclosed, but maybe open, with various furniture applications because you want to convey that your company is collaborative and adaptable. These elements will communicate to a customer that you have a collaborative and up-and-coming workforce that is attracting new and talented employees to your team.

If your company is looking for a more traditional and serious atmosphere, then wood, darker colors, and more enclosed spaces to meet can help create that for you. If you are a professional services company that wants to convey trust, strength, and longevity, these elements could be just what you need. Just like with a home speaks to the people who live there, the color palette, or finishing materials you select will say a lot about your company.

3. Make Everyone Feel Welcome

If you are a company that will have clients visiting your spaces, you want to make sure everyone feels welcome in the space. No matter what your brand is, or what style your space may be, feeling welcome in a space is important. If a space has some of the elements mentioned in points one and two, you are well on your way to achieving that welcoming feeling.

Don’t just stop there though, think about the other details, details that make a space feel lived in. Think about a space that has plants throughout, artwork on the walls, books on shelves, pillows on sofas, task lighting, inviting conversation levels, and so on. Doesn’t that feel more like a space you would want to visit and stay a while? Now, think about spaces you have visited or seen online that felt empty, sterile, or even unfinished. Why did those spaces feel that way? It is likely that feeling was due to the absence of intentional details.

This level of design is often an afterthought, but these details can go a long way in making your space convey a welcoming feeling to those who work in or visit the space.


There are countless ways to show potential clients and employees what you want your brand to communicate, and the built space is a great way to do that. These spaces are some of the biggest investments that a company will make, so why not make that investment work for you and impact everyone who comes through your doors.

3 Things You Need to Know About Upcoming Construction

Every year, the commercial construction industry looks a little bit different. From trends to forecasts to things completely disappearing, each year changes – and it is our job to stay on top of those changes. That is why most recently Lakewood Construction President, Nick Nykerk, attended the ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) annual conference and our Vice President, Kyle Engbers, attended the annual CECO conference.

Each year – contractors meet to learn about the exact things listed above at various conferences and events. We want to share the most important things with you that our team learned so that you can be informed and decide the best decision for you and your business.


Here are the top 3 takeaways that you need to know.

1. Jump in Raw Material prices

If you are part of the building process, have been involved in a building project over the last two years, or have walked through your local lumberyard, you have seen the steady increase in steel and the uncertainty of wood prices. While the initial prediction was that steel would peak in 2021 and flatten out in 2022, the conflict in Ukraine and the strong building forecast in the United States has provided yet another curve ball for steel prices.

The Commodities Research Unit (CRU) has created an index that they utilize to track steel prices. In March of 2022, the CRU steel index had its largest single week jump of the last two years. The combination of an increase in steel prices, trucking shortages across the country, and high oil prices, brings another wild road ahead when it comes to raw material.

Lakewood’s Thoughts: If building now allows for business growth, do it. With no forecast of steel prices flattening and an extremely low inventory on the market, you may find yourself stuck on space if you wait for correction. While the lead times are manageable, upfront planning and early orders are key to getting ahead of price increases and staying on schedule.


2. Industrial Space is Low

We know how many of you are currently feeling this pain point. Your company is growing, and you need to expand, but where can you do that? Because of the supply chain issues over the last two years, work is coming back to the United States in an effort to fill in those gaps. This means industrial companies are continuing to grow and space is continuing to dwindle.

Lakewood’s Thoughts: The Quarter 1 update from Advantage Real Estate showed an extremely low current inventory of buildings on the market in the Grand Rapids area and projections show that trend continuing. Because of this, we have seen a large increase over the past two years in expansions of existing facilities. Clients are building additional warehousing so that they have the ability to order material in advance and store on-site.


3. Labor Shortage to Continue

While we have seen this coming for a few years, reports this year confirmed that roughly 50% of the trades work force is planning to retire in the next 10-15 years. This is going to cause an obvious impact on the construction industry as a whole.

Lakewood’s Thoughts: We are very excited for the recently opened West Michigan Construction Institute (WMCI). We know they will do great things for this pain point in the construction industry and bring in a great new talent pool of workers to all of our trades. Learn more about the West Michigan Construction Institute here.

We would love the opportunity to help you navigate this wild market and lay out solutions that work best for you and your business. Early conversations and planning lead to the best results – ready to get started?

5 Steps to Selecting the Right Architect For YOU

Every team member in a construction project is essential to a great outcome, but your Architect is where it all begins. They are the key to making sure your space feels the way you want it to and functions the way you need it to. No matter the size of your project, your Architect has a big impact on your project success.

Your success is our success, so we put together our top 5 steps to selecting the right Architect for you.

Step 1: Consider your project needs and wants.

Maybe you know exactly what you need and maybe you only have a rough outline. Either way, thinking through some of the basics will help you have a better understanding of what you are looking for in both a new space and in an Architect. This will also help the Architect have an understanding of where you are starting.

Some questions to consider:

What are your budget requirements? Are you looking for additional programming? Do you need more space? Are you focusing on employee retention/attraction? Have you gotten any feedback from employees? When do you need your project completed by?

Step 2: Determine if they will bring value.

Hiring an Architect goes far beyond whether or not they can design a space. You want to hire an Architect that will design a beautiful space and bring value to that space. Sometimes this may mean that they challenge you on what you think you want or need – but that is exactly what you want.

Some questions to consider:

What are your project priorities when designing a space? When is a time you have avoided risk due to your ideas and planning? What are some examples of you bringing value to a project?

Step 3: Ask the right questions.

Whether you are meeting with one firm or three firms, knowing the right questions to ask will give you insight into working with them. It will also give you the chance to get to know them a little bit and establish a baseline trust. You want to be able to trust your Architect…and you want other people that trust your Architect.

Some questions to consider:

Do you have a good relationship with local contractors (bonus points for references)? What are your company values? What is your favorite project you have designed and why? How did you handle a situation where you knew what a client was asking for was not the best path?

Step 4: Reach out to past clients.

The best way to know what you can expect from working with an Architect? Pick up the phone and give their past clients a call. If you can, cold call. Be open and ask for honest feedback on their experience. They have first-hand knowledge about a very important decision for your project so listen well and ask questions.

Step 5: Is there Chemistry?

While this one may sound unusual (we aren’t saying you have to be best friends), you want to have good chemistry with your Architect. You are going to have many conversations with that person over the course of your project and you want to make sure that they are willing to get to know you and answer your questions as well.


Whether you are thinking about a project in 5 months or 5 years, finding the right Architect is essential to your project’s success. It’s never too early to start looking. Our Architecture team would love the opportunity to answer any questions or talk through any future plans. Reach out today to start a conversation!