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A good front

image Ed and Robyn LeGris in front of some stone and cast stonework they did in their home.

HOUSTON - Ever hear the expression that someone is putting on a good front? The meaning is: the person may look happy or sincere on the outside, but not so much on the inside. Usually, that expression denotes some type of hypocrisy.

 

 

 

 

    But in the case of Ed and Robyn LeGris, when they put on a good front, that’s good.  As owners of First Choice Plastering, the couple has been at it for years, know their stuff, and will make any structure look great.
    Robyn’s father started the company back in the ‘50s, calling it Do All Plastering. Ed worked for him for about 10 years and ended up marrying Robyn. Robyn’s mother wasn’t too keen about her daughter getting hooked up with another blue-collar construction worker, but in the end she accepted and loved Ed all the same.
    Her father wasn’t doing too well physically toward the end, and was secretly grooming Ed and Robyn to take over Do All Plastering once he was not there. He passed away in 1994, and the pair did take it over, changing the name to First Choice Plastering.
    “When he passed, [taking over the business] was a pretty seamless transition,” Robyn said. Since the plastering circuit was a tight-knit group, they all knew everyone, and the LeGrises maintain many of these life-long relationships to this day. Robyn’s father trained many of those who went out to start their own companies.
    “Plaster and lath are almost an art,” Robyn said, “and you have a very small community that are artisans that know how to work with the old style.”
    Ed has a carpentry and general construction background, working for just about everybody in the ‘70s. Then he went to work for Robyn’s dad.
    “We work for a small handful of really good contractors that pay us well,” Ed says of First Choice’s current jobs. One of those clients is the Golden Arches. Ed said he’s done work on close to 300 McDonald’s restaurants in the past 20 years. That’s a lot of Big Macs.
    First Choice does about 80 percent commercial work and 20 percent residential. One thing Ed loves is his award-winning work on historical structures, such as many buildings in Galveston’s historical district, and the Victoria Courthouse (the first federal courthouse in Texas).
    “We really do enjoy the restoration work,” Ed said. He also likes doing duplicate historical work. That’s when he’ll match some design done on an older building and incorporate it into a new building.
    Ed tries to stay in about a 100-mile radius. His motto is: “I’ll go 100 miles for a good time.”
    Robyn’s sister helps out with some of the bookkeeping work. Robyn works from their home office and assists clients with technical questions they may have, the paperwork, and will assist Ed on site.
    “My commute is from my bedroom to my office,” she said. While that may have its perks, Robyn isn’t afraid to razz Ed about his perks and say to him, “At least you got out of the house. I’ve been sitting in here for a week!”
    Because plaster is so durable, the repair work they usually do in the hurricane-prone area is when boats and debris impact structures. The wind and rain rarely do damage, but rain is a factor in the plaster business.
    “One day of work and two days of rain can back us up three days,” Ed said.
    For the future, the pair doesn’t see their computer-savvy kids taking over First Choice Plastering, but will likely sell the business it to someone else.  That’s okay with them, as they know that running one’s own construction company is very hard work.
    For now, the power couple is doing their best to put on a good front for their clients. With all sincerity, Ed says he “couldn’t ask for a better partner. I love her.”  Robyn said it was love at first sight for her when they first met.
    A good front from a good couple.
    First Choice Plastering operates out of Pearland. -dsz


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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net