Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Andre and Erika Lacroix of EZ Breathe
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Willingness to share success — Being successful does not happen without the support of the team around you. Everyone deserves to share in the success of the company. We offer bonuses to our team members in the form of cash, gifts, and even travel rewards. When the company is successful so are the team members who made the success possible. We know investing in our team is a recipe for a winning culture and for continued success.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andre and Erika Lacroix.
Andre and Erika Lacroix are the owners and creators of the EZ Breathe Ventilation System, a whole-house, maintenance-free solution expertly designed to protect your home and family, eradicating excess moisture, mold, toxins, allergens and other harmful substances to create a cleaner, healthier living environment for up to 7,000 sq. ft. The EZ Breathe system is unique in that it offers a complete air exchange, drawing in clean, fresh air and expelling stagnant, dirty and damp air, doing the work comparable to seven dehumidifiers with just one quiet, energy-efficient unit.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
We were asked to help out the family business and “see where this new product goes?” — Little did we know that our new EZ Breathe product would help change and define how homeowners look at their home’s foundations (basements/crawlspaces/slabs) as the biggest source of Indoor Air Pollution to their living environment!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
We were college sweethearts that parted ways while remaining good friends after college. The Universe had us crossing each other’s paths — randomly — over the following 10 years. We finally “figured it out” and were married on May, 17, 2003. Our eldest boy, Andre was born on February 17, 2005. Our middle boy, Anthony was born on April 17, 2007. Our youngest boy, Alex was born on June 17, 2010 — None of these dates were planned except for our wedding date due to availability of venue. What makes this all the more interesting is that Andre’s birthday is on the 16th of his month and my birthday is on the 18th of my month, our wedding anniversary and all of our children’s birthday dates fall on the 17th — — too coincidental to be a simple coincidence!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Without a doubt it’s our commitment to our customers, both internal customers and those we serve outside the office walls. Our company culture is one based on serving others. Our service vision “Friends Helping Friends” is not just a slogan to make us feel good, it is the foundation of all our decision making.
One of my favorites is the story of the Baby’s R Us Gift Card. We allocate a monthly budget for all of our employees to “WOW” our customers with an Above & Beyond gesture. Supporting our staff in gathering enough information from our customers in order to create a memorable WOW seemed like a big mountain to climb early on in our endeavor to accomplish this. Years ago, one of our staff members came to me with a WOW submission for approval for a couple who had purchased one of our EZ Breathe Ventilation Systems yet had very specific dates that the installation could be scheduled due to the upcoming birth of their first grandchild. She wanted to send them a congratulatory gift on becoming first time grandparents in the form of a Baby’s R Us gift card. She hit the nail on the head of actively looking for ways to WOW and go Above and Beyond for our customers. It’s still one of my favorites WOW examples.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have a completely re-engineered EZ Breathe Garage Ventilation System coming in Q2 and looking at Q3 for the launch of our new Smart EZ Breathe Ventilation System that will come with real time monitoring via our own EZ Breathe App. This new smart EZ Breathe will allow for more transparency real-time information for our users. Complete with temperature and humidity notifications to offer greater mobility and most importantly piece of mind for homeowners.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Training, training, training! Hire people for the skill set to match the job responsibility, train them on their service aptitude. Whatever your company’s mission and vision should be front and center as the leading factor in any decision. All employees trained to have a clear understanding of the expectations, particularly on creating a positive customer experience inside and out. Creating a energetic, winning culture is a recipe for success. One other thing, empower people to be creative and innovative, to try new things and the freedom to fail. Having a team that is willing to take a chance without fear of failure leads to tremendous opportunities and growth. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to believe in you for you to believe in yourself.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Leadership means you serve the best interest of others before your own, you set the tone, the example for others to follow. You can never expect others to do what you, as a leader, are unwilling to do. The COVID lockdown was an opportunity for us, the leaders to show our team that we would overcome and do whatever necessary to keep serving our employees and customers. My husband (our on staff indoor air quality expert who travels the country to speak on IAQ, Indoor Air Quality concerns and offers on-location training to our hundreds of dealers) took over the warehouse and shipping responsibilities without hesitation. When no one else was allowed physically in our building, he came in 3x times a week throughout the shutdown to keep our units moving to our customers. We also commit to our employees that they will never miss life’s most important moments — first day of kindergarten drop off — band recitals — 8th grade graduation — that important doctor visit — etc. We are often the ones filling in for our team members when they attend one of these important moments and the rest of the team sees that. We are simply setting the example of what we expect. Supporting one another, friends helping friends.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Obviously, my father for trusting us to take on this project years ago and providing the encouragement and support over the last two decades. Our team members have been invaluable contributing to our success by learning from our customers and taking their feedback to heart. We have also been fortunate to have had many mentors along the way to include John DiJulius, author of many books on the customer experience. Studying this methodology, we became hooked and dove in feet first. We read all of his books then I went on to graduate from the CXEA, Customer Experience Executive Academy in 2017. Recognizing that the customer experience is the competitive edge of the future, human beings crave connection. Genuinely caring for people and the experience you provide them cannot be duplicated in our quick to automate and digitize world. Humans thrive on connection. John and his teachings have been instrumental in creating our winning culture. Can you share a story about that? Recognizing that we can never expect our employees to provide a world class customer experience if they have never experienced it for themselves. All employees bring their own customer experiences with them when they come to work. Our internal culture will reflect through the experience our employees provide. This awareness created a shift company-wide.
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Commitment to being better tomorrow than today — Be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, always evolving and growing.
2. Ability to learn and grow from failure — Learning and reflecting on how to do it better next time without getting caught up in the excuses of why it didn’t work and deflecting blame elsewhere. So much time can get wasted on blaming, rather than internalizing the learns from failing and using those learns as steppingstone for growth. As a couple this is especially true — giving one another the benefit of the doubt is one of our biggest learns to maintaining a healthy relationship.
3. Communication — Clear communication is critical. There can be a big difference between what you say and what the other person hears. I have my own stories of this, most recently we asked a new team member to stuff and ready envelopes for a big mailing to our dealers. I came to learn that this team member was unaware that we were waiting for one last piece to add to the envelope before it was to be sealed and sent. So, he proceeded to stuff and seal ¾ of the envelops before the mistake was noticed. Communication regarding the details of the task were clearly NOT clear. Learns abounded for both the team member doing the stuffing and also the supervisor overseeing the project.
But the most entertaining story I have regarding communication comes from my mentor John, he tells of a story where he had two of his son’s when they were little, like a toddler and a baby at Disney World resort. His wife had a well-deserved appointment at the spa which left him alone with the two very little boys and all that comes with them; the sunblock, the swim diapers, the hats, the diaper bag, the floaties, etc. He finally gets them both in the pool which seemed like it took hours to prepare for, the toddler says, “I have to pee”. So, Dad tells him to “just pee in the pool”. The thought of undoing all that they had just done to get everyone out and to the bathroom seemed overwhelming at the time. As Dad is playing with the baby, he hears some commotion only to look up and see his toddler standing on the edge of the pool, swimsuit around his ankles, PEEING IN THE POOL! He was doing exactly what his daddy told him to do, resembling nothing like what his daddy meant him to do. I love this story and use it often when training on clear communication.
4. Leave it at the Office — Knowing how to unplug and go back to Family Life is a tough one to master. We had to make a pact early on when work seemed to dominate all aspects of our life 24 hours/7 days a week that when we get home, we are home and not at work, family must come first. We are much better at it today after 20 years of practice, but certainly not perfect, but we are better at catching each other going down the rabbit hole of work when we are at home. Sometimes it’s inevitable, but that is becoming less and less! Carving out Family Time — Couple Time (YAY for Date Nights!) — and Work Time in more defined buckets has been extremely beneficial for all of us.
5. Willingness to share success — Being successful does not happen without the support of the team around you. Everyone deserves to share in the success of the company. We offer bonuses to our team members in the form of cash, gifts, and even travel rewards. When the company is successful so are the team members who made the success possible. We know investing in our team is a recipe for a winning culture and for continued success.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“98% of the time it has nothing to do with you” tied with “No one can make you do anything; you are responsible for every decision you make.” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? My father has repeatedly told me these things throughout my life and I find myself now sharing these with our children.
1. “98% of the time it has nothing to do with you” has been super helpful in not owning other people’s baggage. This has really allowed me to stay out of the drama that bombards most of us on the daily. Once you realize this is not mine to hold, or to fix or to worry about, it sets you free in a way. I see far too many people sticking their noses where it doesn’t belong or carrying a burden that is not theirs to carry and weighing them down. It’s also a great way to protect yourself from taking everything so personally — most of the time it has nothing to do with you. Acknowledging this and offering up grace and understanding instead of having the perception of a personal assault, or something being done TO ME is a game changer. Road rage is a prime example. I’ve never understood why someone else’s behavior on the highway has anything to do with you? I know that this is not a popular perspective as I am reminded of this often while driving with others who get personally offended by the behavior of others on the road…I always offer up another plausible (and much healthier) possibility that they may be racing to the hospital for the birth of their baby, or they got a call from the school that their child is ill, or they are late for a special occasion they don’t want to miss. I’m pretty certain they are not driving that way to upset ME — I’m really not that special after all, why bother with all the negativity?
2. “No one can make you do anything, you are responsible for every decision you make.” This is a big one. I am forever grateful to my father for again instilling this in me from a very young age when I wanted to blame everything on my little brother Nicky. Of course he was annoying like all little brothers are and would know exactly how to “push my buttons”. So I got used to the “Nicky made me…” excuse. Well, my dad was having none of that. He always reminded me when I was so quick to deflect blame that it was me and only me who makes my decisions. He encouraged me to never give up my power to anyone for any reason. I am the only one responsible for the decisions I make period. He went on to explain to my young self that if I were to have just witnessed my beloved dog get run over by a car and die, is there anything anyone could do or say to “make me” happy? Or if I had just won millions in the lottery is there anything anyone could do or say that would “make me” sad? Not sure I understood exactly what he was trying to teach me, but as the years went on and I collected more and more life experiences, spoke with a few therapists along the way too. I was reminded of his teaching when I had a therapist ask me to imagine my situation if I did not have “any buttons for anyone to push”. Wow! That was a turning point in my life for sure, I totally got it what my dad was was trying to teach me all those years ago. It is my choice and my choice alone on how I get to respond. “Harness your power Erika” my dad would say, “do not give it up to others freely, no one makes you do/say anything. It’s your choice, you allow others to influence you. Be very selective to those you share your power” This has been very helpful in the leadership roles I’ve been blessed to serve in my life. Personal responsibility is key for all leaders.
How can our readers follow your work online?
Visit us at ezbreathe.com or follow us on social media @ez_breathe_ventilation
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.