A century and four generations later, J. Lyne Roberts & Sons Inc. sticks to its commitment to quality.
THE J. LYNE ROBERTS & SONS INC. (JLR) story starts with a young man in the early 1900s and a high school teacher who knew talent when he saw it.
J. Lyne Roberts Sr.’s high school shop teacher was so pleased with his student’s handiwork that the teacher hired the young man to build his own home. By 1912, the budding builder had established his own company, with an aim to look to quality and integrity as the guideposts, his great-grandson and current company Vice President Scott Roberts says.
The company now provides 30 jobs and has expanded to include design/build projects, including custom homes, as well as other single-family homes, remodeling jobs of all sizes, excavation and a commercial portfolio that encompasses about half of the company’s current workload.
Still, it’s the people who matter most, Roberts says.
“I think that the core of this business is definitely family – not just the Roberts family but employees’ families as well,” he says. “We believe every employee should have the time they need to go to soccer games and dance recitals. That’s their biggest priority, and ours.”
Roberts grew up around job sites, taking on concrete finish work and framing as a young man. He considered, briefly, other careers – but he felt the pull to return to the family legacy and earned a construction management degree.
“I just love being able to drive by a project after the fact, saying, ‘We built that,” or, ‘We helped with that,’” he says. “We also definitely want to provide a company where employees who like to work here can for generations, like we have.”
Through the years – following the motto that “there is no substitute for quality” – the company has grown to serve a number of different sectors, including commercial projects as well as city parks and playgrounds and public works undertakings. The company serves clients in about a 100-mile radius of Provo, Utah, which includes booming cities like Salt Lake City and Park City – though JLR also has worked as far away as Wyoming to meet clients’ needs.
While some builders highlight over-the-top home build requests – and JLR can accommodate those, too – the company also has fulfilled some tall orders for commercial and recreational clients, including a recent beach resort built inside a shopping mall.
The shops remained open to visitors through the 60,000-square-foot project’s build process, which entailed creating an indoor surf wave, an indoor croquet course, a 3-story ropes course and a bowling alley.
“We were trying to get everything done in an accelerated schedule – about seven months,” Roberts says. “We had a bowling alley with wood floors, so we had to watch moisture and temperature, and the surf wave throws lots of water in the air. We were getting windows in and testing that wave in the middle of January. It was fun.”
The company also takes on other challenging – but smile-inducing – projects, as well.
“We do city parks and playgrounds,” Roberts says. “We’ve done skate parks and splash pads for different cities.”
As far as project count, the company still performs more home builds and remodeling jobs than other work – though the size of the commercial projects tips the balance of manpower toward commercial.
“Instead of vertical growth, we try for lateral,” he says. “We try to stay diversified in our industry but not stray from what we know, which is construction, by sticking to our core as we try to expand our market base.”
The company has been adding in-house capabilities, too, on top of its in-house excavation, finish carpentry, framing and dry-walling. This year, Roberts says, the aim is to add concrete services to the list of trade work that can be brought back in house, as well as expanded landscaping capabilities.
Homes and Remodeling
Of course, over the past century, homeowner needs and wants have changed dramatically – and that’s a continued trend as more green and smart technologies become available, Roberts says.
“People want it done faster than what’s ever been done before,” he says. “They want better quality construction. They want energy efficiency and the latest and greatest in technology. The customer is fairly well educated.”
Roberts says the company has been building smart home elements into projects when customers request them and when budgets make it feasible.
“We try to use the best as far as mechanical and wiring systems that are out there to keep the home as up-to-date as possible so heating systems are optimized,” he says. “We use variable speed furnaces and air conditioners to help them get the most out of it. What’s important here is good insulation and products that will last.”
The company can perform design/build, turnkey projects, or work with drawings the buyer already has procured. That goes for homes or for remodeling jobs, which are growing in scope, Roberts says.
“Instead of a bathroom or kitchen, they are starting to do whole main floor or a gut and redo the whole house,” he says. “There are a lot of people who want to be in the area but the house they’re buying is outdated.”
Homeowners are going for improved aesthetics, but also the benefits of modern building techniques, he says.
“They want an upgraded look, a new look and feel, and then want some of what’s available today – better insulation, better systems to run smart home technologies so they have all the updates available,” Roberts says.
No matter the project, JLR treats each one as an opportunity to live up to the standards set generations ago.
“We try to just work hard and treat people kindly and with respect,” he says. “Honesty goes a long way. That’s what we’re about.”