LAGUNA BEACH, CA — Laguna Beach builder and designer Julie Laughton told Patch that coordinating and overseeing her projects could be compared to conducting an opera, with every working hand being vital to the overall success of the project.
It’s Women in Construction Week, and Laughton’s story of ambition, passion and success is a perfect way to commemorate what this week means to Orange County.
Laughton has created over 500 spaces for clients from New York to the southern California coast, including in Orange County. Her works have landed her spreads in magazines, and high acclaim. Best of all? Her client list continues to grow as does her chance to keep beautifying the world.
She’s the force behind all of her projects, a few of them being the remodeling of an original Wallace Neff home in Pasadena, as well as a remodeling of the historical Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica and Friar’s Club in New York City.
It’s not easy work, but part of what makes the process seamless for Laughton is the fact that she’s built for the role she plays in her field — she’s well-read, having studied construction, engineering and architecture — and she has a natural talent for the role of management, which is a huge part of the job, Laughton told Patch.
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“I’m a natural born leader,” Laughton said. “Learning management is kind of natural because it’s really about looking someone in the eye and respecting them. It’s about saying good morning, it’s about treating people like humans. There’s a secret to management: It’s in the example you set when you’re in front of them.”
By “them,” Laughton was referring to her team of loyal workers, all of who have been with her for years.
“I have the most loyal workers on the planet,” Laughton said. “They don’t leave, they either die or move out of the country. I have zero turnover.”
Laughton treats all of her workers and clients with respect in a world where contractor horror stories are not uncommon. She’s heard of contractors running off with project money, or showing up to their work site intoxicated. Those stories couldn’t be more different from her own.
While being a woman in a male-dominated field presents unique challenges, Laughton confronts such challenges head-on. She is not afraid to stand her ground, and deals in mutual respect when it comes to her clients and workers.
“I’m confident and strong, and I expect the same respect I give people. There are some people with some pretty horrible reputations in construction, and I’m not one of those.” Laughton said. “It’s nice, because it’s a small community.”