As it turned out, the president of LMA Group, Inc. returned to his roots—but on his own terms.
Born and raised in New York City, Lee Manners comes from a construction family. As a student, he spent summers in his father’s steel fabrication shop, building railings and stairs, and producing shop drawings. Then—fascinated with modernism—he veered toward the visual side of things, and earned simultaneous degrees in architecture and interior design.
Lee’s first job was for a commercial interior design firm in New York City. He rose quickly, becoming a project manager for the transformation of the NYC headquarters of a British bank from traditional to sleek and modern.
“Fresh out of school, I was lucky to have client interaction at the highest level—for an ultra high-end project,” he says, reminiscing about the custom leather-wrapped door pulls: something that would foretell his fascination with beautiful details.
In 1975, he left the firm to co-found Stockman and Manners. Specializing in restaurant design, the partners put their signature on prominent projects, including the U.S. Steakhouse in the Time and Life building, the first renovation of the Brasserie in the Seagram’s Building, and the simple but modern concessions at the Statue of Liberty. They were also hired to create concepts for forward-thinking projects, including a restaurant overlooking the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art (it turned out to be far ahead of its time). They designed everything—down to the uniforms.
When it came time to expand, Lee went on his own. He founded Lee Manners and Associates. The new firm had three focal points: 1) corporate interiors for major clients such as ARCO, 2) product and graphic design, and 3) building conversions in Soho and other fast-growing New York City neighborhoods. Lee and his team designed a Soho loft building from the ground-up. And that is where things took a turn.
That was three decades ago. New York City real estate has since risen, fallen, and risen again. LMA has become a firm specializing in townhouse and apartment renovations, combinations, and other high-end residential construction services in Manhattan. Architects appreciate Lee’s thorough grasp of design, concepts, drawings, and constructability. Clients appreciate the firm’s respect for deadlines and visual beauty. Lee simply takes pride in his work—and in being a contractor of extreme integrity.
“I have a deep appreciation for the longevity of good work—and of a good relationship,” he says.
While Vice-President Melissa (maiden name Manners) has officially worked with LMA Group for a decade, summers and school breaks spent working alongside her father mean she’s grown alongside the company. Prior to joining LMA, she earned a B.S. (Business Administration) at Skidmore College, and a French cooking certificate from the French Culinary Institute, later pursuing marketing and events planning—first at the prestigious BR Guest Restaurants, then at the French Culinary Institute. She coordinated media events, charity functions, parties, and classes. By the time Melissa joined LMA, she was able to apply the skills honed in the hospitality business—event planning, attention to detail, customer orientation—to project management.
Since joining LMA, Melissa’s responsibilities and challenges have seen her role develop. She has a deep respect and understanding of the processes and people behind every task. Having started with project management work and estimating, she is now the person our clients turn to for new projects, advice and reassurance. Maintaining the confidence and trust a family-owned company can offer is essential to LMA’s philosophy, and Melissa’s relationships with clients and collaborators alike is intrinsically linked to that. She happily makes herself available when needed and thrives on the variety of responsibilities that dictate her day-to-day schedule.
When the team is busy with projects, Melissa can be found in the office, working alongside them. On other days she commits her time to visiting clients, networking at events and, most-importantly, making sure that LMA is delivering at 100% from the moment a project comes to life to the point it is complete and everyone is happy with the final result. That’s why our clients so often return to work with us again. As the company continues to thrive, Melissa’s work in business development sees her proudly expanding our network of contacts, building on the foundations laid by her father.
Most recently Melissa has joined the Manhattan AIA as co-chair of the Marketing & Communications Committee.
Senior Site Manager
There are those who are deskbound and those whose vision for the physical world keep them on the move. Clayton Bogle falls into the latter category.
Clayton began his career as a carpenter. Motivated to envision and build beautiful interiors, he studied commercial and residential construction and renovation at George Brown College in Toronto, his hometown.
This led to both contracting work with Interstate Drywall Corporation, and a position at the exhibit house Tangram International (in New Jersey and New York, respectively). Clayton’s work with Tangram diversified his portfolio into tradeshow construction, and took him all over the United States. Clayton also installed exhibits for some of New York’s most renowned museums, including the MoMA, The Natural History Museum and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
In 2004, Clayton joined LMA Group as Site Manager; now Senior Site Manager. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the firm’s individual construction projects—including sub-trades, efficiency, safety and resolving various challenges that arise during the construction process. The constant evolution of each project are what intrigue him most about his work.
Jerry Pawlyk’s cabinets embody the curiosity, focus and masterful skill of a bygone generation. More than 25 years ago, Jerry’s grandfather, also a cabinetmaker, introduced him to the art of cabinetry. In high school, Jerry participated in a work-study program that gave him experience with a variety of cabinet makers in New York and New Jersey—including Frank Pollaro, a master. The program solidified his basic knowledge of the craft and introduced him to building and veneer techniques.
Jerry then joined the Union Millwrights and Joiners of America. Becoming a Union journeyman, he moved to Southern California where D Group Inc. hired him to build and install cabinetry in ultra high-end homes. The installation process gave Jerry a finer perspective on cabinetry, allowing him to plan with greater accuracy and strategy—preempting any issues with space and design.
After returning to New Jersey in 2008, Jerry joined Eppley Building & Design as a lead cabinetmaker and installer. The move led to his current position: Shop Manager for LMA Group, where he oversees LMA’s cabinet building and installation process, and runs the day-to-day operations: ordering materials, working with site managers, coordinating our millwork. The position fully utilizes Jerry’s diverse experience, craftsmanship, and love of the challenge.
With a background in civil and architectural engineering, Avon’s inimitable eye for details and comprehensive understanding of the design and construction process is what makes him an exemplary project manager. It takes an analytical mind to ensure that everything runs smoothly and is produced to the highest quality. Having previously worked as an engineer, this is where Avon excels.
Drawn to LMA’s passion and unbeatable quality standards, Avon’s history with his own family business means his principles sit seamlessly alongside our own. Before starting his own career, he spent summer vacations working for his father’s general contracting firm, where he began to build his invaluable knowledge of architectural and engineering processes.
As a project manager, Avon’s everyday responsibilities cover an impressive range of tasks, all essential to guaranteeing that our clients receive the best service possible and that projects are completed on time and on budget. His combination of engineering knowledge and commitment to detail sees Avon managing project schedules, budgets, changeovers, contracts, invoicing, client requisitions, sub-contractor requisitions, ordering, tracking and more. For Avon, and for LMA, it’s about getting it right, the first time.