BUSINESS BEAT: Designer brothers reinvent themselves

Personal injury, recession, combine to force the hand of longtime design partners

Bill Lunt

Through the glass panes on the front door, a visitor watches Bill Lunt zip across his floor, one knee on a four-wheeled scooter, to answer the doorbell.

He gets around relatively well for a guy who fell off a roof 20 months ago and is still faced with serious mobility issues. Those physical challenges make it tricky for Lunt, a professional home and renovation designer along with twin brother, David, to do the work he’s been become accustomed to for the better part of the last 30 years.

The brothers grew up working for their dad in the family business, Ted Lunt Designs. Five years ago, when Ted’s dementia reached an advanced stage, his sons took over the company and renamed it Mesa Design Group.

Timing is everything, they say, but it doesn’t always go in one’s favour. Bill’s accident came during a recession that was having and continues to have an effect on the home construction and renovation industry.

Bill has had to make life changes to accommodate his lack of mobility – he and his family were forced to move into a single-level home. Those lifestyle changes have coincided with a shift in the way the brothers do business.

With David bearing the brunt of the load initially, to the point where he was “a heart attack waiting to happen,” the partners decided to “reinvent ourselves,” Bill says.

One of the first things they did was to pare back expenses. The Mesa office, once located in a $3,500 per month space, is officially in David’s north Langford home.

With recessionary forces squeezing the market and competition fierce, they recently took another major risk as a way to retain a piece of the pie: they cut their prices to 1992 levels.

Aware that some designers offer a low-ball cost to get a job, then add on charges for every little change along the way, Mesa moved to a fixed-price, per-square-foot charge for new construction design and quoted prices on specific reno jobs.

“Communication (early and often) is key when you’re dealing with people. An informed client is an easier client to deal with,” David says.

“Our goal is (still) to give them the best bang for their buck within the guideline of their design,” adds Bill.

The brothers still relish their role as a “facilitator between the homeowner and the jurisdiction,” being able to understand municipal zoning regulations and restrictions that affect what the client can do.

“Our dad’s attitude was that it’s not always about just drawing pretty pictures on paper for someone,” Bill says. “He saw himself as playing more of a designer-consultant role.”

Things can go sideways on a construction project, no matter what the size. But the brothers are proud of the fact that they are available to help their clients until the job is done, despite the fact they aren’t swinging the hammers or pouring concrete.

“The way we look at our clients, we work for them and with them. We’ve never bailed on people,” David says.

Mesa Design Group, 250-382-2893 or mesadesigngroup.ca.

Esquimalt depot expands services

The Westshore Bottle Depot, which moved onto Ellery Street in Esquimalt last April, began accepting small appliances in the summer, and items such as sewing machines, exercise machines and power tools and even electronic toys at no cost.

A full list of products accepted is available at islandreturnit.com under the small appliances menu. The depot is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 4 p;m. Sunday at 935 Ellery St. Call 250-381-1482 for more information.

Wright makes return to Marine Group

Randy Wright, son of Oak Bay Marine Group founder Bob Wright, has been installed by the latter as chief executive for the tourism-based company. Bob Wright said he has no plans to retire completely at nearly 82, but wanted to bring in his son to run the business on a daily basis to allow him to take a day off now and again.

Randy Wright, who previously worked 22 years working for the Marine Group, spent the past 12 years as executive vice-president of marketing and sales for Harbour Air.

Child-care centre opens in Uptown

Kids & Company, a Toronto-based, corporate-sponsored child care company, opens in Uptown tomorrow (Oct. 3), making it the first shopping centre in Greater Victoria with a dedicated child-care facility.

The company teams with employers looking to enhance their support of working parents, as well as providing short-term help for parents who need to plough through the shopping to-do list without the kids around. Parents can even keep an eye on their children by uploading the company’s Daycare Watch app to their cellphone.

An open house happens Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3500 Uptown Blvd. Visit kidsandcompany.ca for more information.

Odds and ends in the business world

Travel agent Normand Schafer of Far and Away Adventures (250-385-3001) is now a certified Tahiti Specialist, having visited the collection of tiny South Pacific islands and completed a training program run by the country’s national tourist office … Baan Thai restaurant has launched a new website (BaanThaiVictoria.ca) and instituted the Baan Thai fan club, where customers can find special discounts and other offers … Olive the Senses, specializing in fresh extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar is open in the Hudson Building, 1701 Douglas St. A product list is available at olivethesenses.com.

To submit your business news, email editor@vicnews.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bears spotted near Saanich lake spooked by police, wandered off

Bear, cub not seen over weekend but police ask residents to be on alert

Victoria’s 75,000 veggie plants ready to find a home

New gardeners line-up for Get Growing Victoria

Vote for your favourite Peninsula businesses

Voting extended for annual Readers’ Choice Awards

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

Island Health signs working agreement to turn former Comox hospital into a ‘dementia village’

Island Health has signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to… Continue reading

Most Read