Home builder Len McLean also does his part to build the community
Len McLean is a builder in more ways than one.
He’s not only the owner and general manager of McLean Construction – a company that builds houses, works on hotels, and does renovations in the South Okanagan. He’s also a strong believer in building the community.
McLean, 50, originally from Horseshoe Bay on the coast, first came to Osoyoos in 2008, where he worked on finishing the Watermark Beach Resort.
His decision with his wife Kirsten to put down roots in Osoyoos came “by accident.”
“We really fell in love with it at first sight,” he said. “Even though we still had a house in North Vancouver, when we were coming to Osoyoos, we referred to it as ‘coming home,’ and that told us right away that this is where we belong. The community, the people, everything about it we absolutely love.”
McLean started his company in 2010, initially doing commercial jobs and then getting into high-end custom homes.
“We’re very diverse,” he said. “We do small repair jobs to big renovations, new homes, commercial tenant improvements and everything in between.”
Besides Osoyoos, he’s also done other jobs throughout the South Okanagan, including building houses in Oliver’s Canyon Desert next to the golf course a few years ago.
Currently he has five luxury houses at various stages of completion at Reflection Point, overlooking Osoyoos Lake just north of the town.
He has around nine regular employees, ranging from labourers to red seal carpenters, and he also works with numerous subcontractors.
For a few years almost a decade ago, he teamed up with Herb Wycherley, who came out of retirement so they could combine forces on several projects, but most of the time he’s worked on his own.
McLean got his start in the business working for his father, who did construction work in Vancouver, including a lot of work on Expo ’86. He has formal training, including getting his gold seal in project management through the Canadian Construction Association, and regularly taking professional development courses. But most of his skills were learned on the job.
“I learned the most growing up around the industry,” McLean said. “As a kid, I truthfully learned the most cleaning up behind other trades.”
His father would assign him to work with plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers, excavation, or whatever needed doing.
“I learned a little about each trade,” he adds. “Reading plans just came naturally to me. As a kid, I just looked at architectural plans and I knew what everything meant.”
Although McLean has tackled jobs of all sizes, what’s even more important to him is the relationship with his customers.
“I look at all my projects as being special mostly because I’m doing it for people that I end up caring about by the time the project is done because we spend so much time together,” said McLean. “A lot of the time you’re building something for a family and it’s very important to me to make sure that everything is exactly as they want it.”
The same attitude of building relationships is partly what motivates McLean to “give back” to the community.
“I think it’s important because the community gives to me by hiring me to do projects for them,” he said. “It’s not just because they give to me, but to make the community better for everybody, for our kids, for the seniors and everybody in between.”
Over the years, McLean has been involved with different groups and committees, such as past service as a board member of Destination Osoyoos. His company organized a charity golf tournament that ran for five years and raised more than $50,000 for local charities, including the food bank and the schools.
He's also donated construction for such projects as the Osoyoos Splash Park, working closely with the town.
McLean believes that other local businesses also give generously to the community.
“I don’t believe that there have been any businesses that have said ‘no’ when minor hockey has asked for donations for tournaments,” he said. “It is amazing how generous our local businesses are… To me it just makes us want to give back even more when we see other businesses doing it. It makes you realize it’s the right thing to do.”
His wife Kirsten also gives her time generously and he acknowledges that she did about 80 percent of the work in organizing the charity golf tournament.
“Kirsten does a little bit of everything for the community,” he said. “She’s another one who doesn’t really know the word ‘no.’”
She works at the elementary school and also does photography of children’s events.
“She loves giving back to the community, especially when it’s kids,” he said.
McLean pauses to reflect more on the importance of businesses helping to build communities.
“We just love this community and the people so much that we don’t even look at it as giving back,” he clarifies. “We look at it as doing our part.”
Story and photos by Richard McGuire