Part 4: On the Move: What to Expect from LWS in the Future
For the founders of Landlord Web Solutions Jason Leonard, David Koski, and Michael Mottola, celebrating LWS's 8th anniversary involved reflecting not only on the evolution of the company, but also on the industry that they have dedicated themselves to collectively for over 35 years. This reflection prompted the team at LWS to develop the following series, which offers a deeper look at LWS's growth alongside an industry that has dramatically changed throughout the last decade.
Over the next 8 weeks, LWS invites you to join in on this reflection as we look back at 8 years of history in the rental housing industry.
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Like many startups, LWS's founders are no strangers to the challenge of coordinating a group of professionals working from different locations. In the early days of LWS, the founders shared minuscule offices with a host of satellite locations, including some home offices, from which collaborators developed products.
"Working from home in the beginning saved money but wasn't great for collaboration," says Leonard. "LWS has always been driven by teamwork and staff inspiring one another."
As the company grew, it needed more than ever to consolidate in a common space. The team passed through four offices over their first six years to accommodate their changing needs and bring their industry-driven ideas to fruition.
At 28 employees serving an estimated 750,000 rental units for more than 300 companies in the U.S. and Canada, the team once again found themselves outgrowing their current office located in Thorold, Ontario's quaint downtown core.
"Our new office will have all the bells and whistles expected of a booming tech company," says Koski. "Think cool work spaces with the latest technology, a lounge, large kitchen, huge outdoor patio, foosball and ping-pong. It's going to be one of the most exciting work environments in the Niagara region."
The space, which is more than three times larger than LWS's current office, is designed to foster creativity and collaboration. Employees will be invited to make use of the brand-coloured seating booth, or to populate the lounge chairs and mutual desks placed throughout the building. The interior is designed to encourage employees to meet with each other face to face more often throughout their days, sparking conversations and sharing insight that is less available in a more traditional office space.
The office itself is part of a historic property in one of the busiest areas of St. Catharines. Neighbouring a popular boutique hotel and convention center means that LWS will be able to hold some of its most popular industry events, including intimate user sessions and larger conferences, right in its own backyard.
LWS is in the process of picking out wall decor and other finishing touches that will help fill out the 4,200 square foot office. Otherwise, moving in to the new space with about half the number of employees that it's built for signifies LWS's determination to grow their talented roster.
"Everything that went into building this new office centered around solidifying our place as the leading technology innovators in the Niagara region," says Leonard. "We hope that others in the area will follow suit."
"The new space gives us the opportunity to act," adds Koski. With the room to grow the company more rapidly than ever before, LWS envisions themselves seizing the opportunity to improve their existing products and services, while also innovating exciting new ones.
To accomplish this, LWS plans to do what they do best: interact with their clients, learn what they need, and determine how LWS can deliver.
Leigh-Ann Frommann, LWS's graphic designer and digital media marketing manager, has been making site visits to class A and B properties in both Canada and the U.S. to see first-hand how these communities are set up and marketed.
"We make a point of doing ongoing market research to better understand the needs and struggles of leasing and PM teams in different markets, all so we can provide solutions to help streamline their marketing efforts," says Frommann.
Frommann's vision for the future of LWS's marketing efforts lies in realizing and addressing the diversity of needs and budgets from different property management companies.
"It's all about learning how different companies work in different environments, and with different budgets," says Frommann. "Then it's a matter of determining how to do a lot with whatever you may have."
LWS is also looking to do a lot with what they have. Hinting at future enhancements to their current platform, better industry integrations, and improved UX for their websites, LWS continues to cultivate an internal community that is committed to hearing and meeting the demands and expectations of the industry.
"If we provide an amazing experience for our clients and our staff," says Leonard, "we really can't go wrong."
Whatever comes next for LWS, Leonard, Koski and Mottola aim to keep things in perspective. They believe in building a great work environment, being responsive to customers, and always being ready for change.
"There is a long-term vision of what we want to grow up to be," says Leonard. "We want the best talent. We want satisfied clients." Looking around the now empty space which will become his new office, Leonard seems certain that the team has fashioned the right environment to make this happen.