The first warehouse of 3500 square feet was rented in Port Kells. The focus on clothing soon became the main business and the company continued to grow in sales and staff. Soon the company expanded into a 6500 sq. foot warehouse, bought their first embroidery machine and developed an in-house screen-printing department, then expanded again into a 10,000 square foot warehouse. After over- flowing that warehouse, and with a sales force that was building sales across Canada, the company expanded again in 2008 and constructed their own facility. In 2013, Rick Lali (GM and Production Manager), Ahmad Malik (CFO), and Elias Boutros (Sales) joined partnership/ownership group. The CULTURE & Challenges: The culture at Lago Apparel is familyfocused, value based and genuinely philanthropic. Currently, the company employs 35 during the slow season and about 45 as production ramps up. Employee reten- tion is distinctive with 30% of the staff employed for over 10 years and 35% for 5-10 years. 60% of the staff are women. “Overall, it’s a very healthy work environment. The ownership group is very support- ive, and there’s always room to grow. The company is always willing to take risks,adapt and change, which keeps things exciting and current. And then the fact that we get to travel across our beautiful country is huge It’s good to work for a company that has the same morals that we do and encourag- es giving back,” said McTaggart. The company value statement was written with par- ticipation and input from 90% of the staff. “We took everybody’s input and pared it down to five core values, including teamwork, compas - sion, honesty, integrity and respect.” said Lali.

The industry has changed over the years, bringing new challenges and competition. “Our number one issue in this industry is keeping up with technology and the requirement of having a website that fully meets our needs. This has definitely been one of the bigger challenges because we do so much custom apparel,” said Lali. Competition with big box stores is an additional challenge. “Our company is known for low minimums with a great price point and good quality, but it’s still hard to match some of the big box stores price points,” said McTaggart “Being able to customize product is an advantage in this regard.” A third challenge for this value-based company is finding ethically sourced goods. “One thing that the company has struggled with over the 30 years is ensuring our quality of garments being produced in an ethical way, at a good price place overseas. We’ve had to be very hands on with the manufacturing aspect,” said Lali.

“Overall, it’s a very healthy work environment. The ownership group is very supportive, and there’s always room to grow.”





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