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The Next Generation of Lignum Interiors


The definition of “Lignum” can be summarized as a hard, durable wood containing resin that can be used to treat anything from coughs to arthritis. This combination of dependability and physical benefit makes it a well-suited namesake for Lignum Interiors, a construction management and general contracting firm that puts people first.
For 35 years, Lignum Interiors has specialized in the construction of corporate and commercial interior spaces in Calgary. When Peter Gatzsch started the company in 1984, he built it on a foundation of quality product and service, and while the industry and economic climate have changed since then, Lignum’s dedication to clients has never wavered. Today, the baton has passed to the second generation, and son Bruce Gatzsch is proud to implement the high standards of his father while leading the company through the evolution of the modern marketplace.
“We provide a helping hand with our clients’ real estate and construction needs. We holistically view spaces as more than square footage and cubicles. We create workspaces where the skeleton crews of Calgary can be supercharged to carry us forward to a more prosperous future,” says Bruce Gatzsch, VP of Lignum Interiors. “We give clients the most realistic information so they can make the best possible decision. It’s a bit of the Cinderella factor – getting that shoe to fit properly but not forcing it.”

A proper fit is critical, especially in these challenging economic times. Clients are more discerning than ever before and want a space that perfectly meets their needs at an affordable price. On top of that, they count on Lignum to deliver top value that’s on time, on budget and on par with its high standards. The company remains steadfast in its commitment to exceeding expectations in all areas, from the product delivered to service during the project and throughout the life cycle of the space. The firm has a stellar network of trusted trade partners and suppliers of everything from carpet to glazing, allowing the team to meet increasingly short deadlines without sacrificing quality. Lignum prides itself on providing the extra touches that ensure clients are excited about experiencing their new environment.

“We’ve had clients who, in nine days, have gone from being nearly on the street to renovated and moved in. And then we exceed their expectations by moving them in a day early. You couldn’t do that five years ago,” he says.

The industry is rapidly changing and Lignum is embracing the new way of doing business along with the new trends emerging from it. Gatzsch is excited about the trend toward humanizing spaces in order to not only attract elite talent, but to keep staff happy and healthy at work. To achieve this, Lignum looks closely at a client’s needs and how they operate to determine what will work best for the individuals who will use the space. The team addresses what employees need physically, cognitively and emotionally. For example, an open concept is great for businesses with employees who often break off into teams and require close proximity to allow the energy and ideas to flow back and forth; it is less suited to employees focusing on individual tasks who often resort to noise-cancelling headphones to block out distractions. Yesterday’s trends don’t always work in today’s workplace, and Lignum incorporates new philosophies along with cutting-edge technology in its projects to avoid that disconnect.

These design elements can address issues around lighting, air and noise that are adversely affecting productivity. The firm ensures spaces have good lighting to keep employees energized and alert, quality acoustics that absorb noise and echo to enhance focus, and clean air systems to prevent sickness, especially given concerns about pollution as well as smoke and ash from forest fires. It also looks at the needs of individual employees and departments so it can design access to amenities in the space efficiently. All of these elements contribute to productive workspaces that are geared toward maximizing employee potential and satisfaction.

“The most expensive thing on the floor are your people; you spend $3-4 per square foot on utilities, $30-40 on rent, but you spend $300-400 a square foot on your people. If you get 10 per cent more out of your people, your real estate is free. Is it really that hard to be 10 per cent more effective?” he says.

Lignum helps employers implement strategies to take care of staff, and this investment pays off. Companies see fewer sick days and higher employee engagement in these environments, which is a win for both sides.

And Calgary’s business community could certainly use a win. With the recession dragging on, there is an atmosphere of doom and gloom in many sectors, but Bruce Gatzsch refuses to give in to it. Instead, he remains resolutely positive of Calgary’s future and the future of commercial construction. After all, Lignum has recently worked on spaces for companies that are innovating, growing and thriving and he’s confident this will continue as companies begin to invest in the city again. Calgary may be a resource town but it and Lignum have diversified and support new endeavours to help the city rebound.

“We have a very fertile ground in Calgary for businesses. We have low real estate costs, a hard-working population, excellent accommodations, the most sunny days in Canada, and a beautiful place to work. I think slowly but surely a lot of companies in Canada and North America, the next-generation companies, will move to Calgary,” he says.

Bruce Gatzsch is so confident in Calgary’s economic tenacity and innovative potential that he made an investment of his own to grow in this tough marketplace. Lignum Interiors bought a building on 11 Avenue SW, renovated it to fit the company to a T, and moved in a few months ago. After 35 years in business, employees could celebrate the milestone with a fresh start in a re-energized, tailored space as Lignum moves forward. Accommodating a staff of 20 skilled employees, the firm’s new space and size allows Lignum to keep overhead low while continually improving the product and value for clients. Adopting a conscious management style Lignum has cultivated a culture of “can do,” empowering its people to manage and build its many projects.

“The young, fresh location reflects the next generation of Lignum. We still retain the key ingredients of knowledge, expertise and deep caring among our technical managers. Back to our roots, we are growing the next generation of builders, training, teaching and instilling in them the importance of our purpose – to help our clients build amazing spaces to supercharge their businesses,” Gatzsch says.

From the top down, Lignum Interiors is excited to be part of the new Calgary and the growth that is on the horizon. Bruce Gatzsch and his team approach their business with passion, a deep knowledge base and a desire to not just adapt to the environment but to evolve it. And as the recession lifts, this next-generation Lignum Interiors is poised to take the industry by storm.