Just a Minute with with James Lagina, President, owner and servant to employees, Lagina Plumbing Inc.

Company address: 3618 West Pierce St., Milwaukee, WI 53215
Company Web site:
Commercial and industrial plumbing
Number of employees:
Education: Milwaukee Tech High School, post-graduate plumbing; five-year apprenticeship; journeyman plumber; practical office and field for 32 years and counting.
Wife, Janice (wise partner and accounting manager); daughter, Julia; son, Joseph.

What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?

“Follow thru on our plans from our strategic planning sessions, executed plan diligently and with measures, developed an expanded project management staff, increased overall internal training, continued our focus on worksite safety (four years straight no lost time injuries) and helped our employees make decisions as if it was their own small business and money they were spending.”

What’s new at your company?

“New expansion of our prefabrication shop. ‘Leaned’ out our warehouse materials. Hired additional management staff to serve our customers’ needs and plenty of new ideas to prepare to implement in 2009. I know our people are thinking!”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“Yes, we will add an operations manger to improve not only what our field staff receives but how we can work closer with our valued vendors and subcontractors through the logistics jungle. We will also be adding plumbing staff and supervisors as the year progresses.  Added new updated AutoCAD and 3Dsoftware to our engineering capabilities, thereby improving the final product we provide our customers. We will make sure our field personnel have the best tools to maximize their skills.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“To be the most productive we can be in this marketplace with the technology and people skills we have in place. Remind our employees to be thankful daily for the work we have been given from our customers, both large and small. Without out them, we will go nowhere fast.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Along with the green building initiatives that allow us to assist owners in water conservation and reuse, new materials and designs in our plumbing systems and the opportunity to sort out how to be better-faster-cheaper without compromising quality, safety and integrity as business people.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“Creative-resourceful-dedicated. We have found that creative thinking in all facets of the business has helped our overall service approach. Employees are trained to be a resource to our clients, and all have a dedication to provide our best.  Working with the field labor staff to create a greater understanding of what ‘business’ really does do to function day to day making payroll, benefits and in the end profit.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“Folks in business, ministry and other arenas that stand up for what they believe in is right and true and pursue it with all their heart and strength. People like Harry Troy, a long-time plumbing contractor who taught me the value of hard work against all obstacles, and Gary Mueller, another previous contractor leader that taught many of us to think outside the ‘plumbing box,’ even before thinking like that wasn’t cool yet.”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“Be thankful daily. Hard work will pay off and be humble, yet lead where others may not want to. Lack of training has never stopped men like Abraham Lincoln from becoming president or that Allen Kulwicki was told that he couldn’t win the NASCAR championship. What are you waiting for?”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“Being involved in a project downtown Milwaukee (411 Building) many years ago. The developer was from California, and we had a cocktail napkin sketch of the base plumbing design for us to build from. No expense was spared from those guys! Great folks, just simple execution.”

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