In Memoriam: Paul Lachance

Paul Edward Lachance 1949 - 2016

Paul Edward Lachance
1949 - 2016

Paul Lachance Remembrance: As gathered from the Portland Press Herald, friends and colleagues Pete Soucy, Jason LaChance, Nancy Barba.

“GORHAM - Paul Edward Lachance, 66, died unexpectedly on Feb. 9, 2016 at his home. Paul was born on Dec. 15, 1949 in Lewiston. The son of the late Armand Leo and Pauline (Perkins) Lachance, Paul graduated from Gorham High School, Class of 1968, and from Boston University with a degree in Business Administration.

 In 1974 Paul married Anne Woodbrey, with whom he shared many travel adventures, backyard lobster bakes, and early mornings looking over their beautiful woods and gardens. He was president of Morin Brick Company in Danville, and was well known throughout New England for his knowledge of brick, construction and architecture. He was a member of the Brick Association of America and The Portland Society of Architecture. He had passion for all things fishing, and the Maine lakes and woods. He was an avid reader, vegetable gardener, golfer, skier, and cribbage player, and loved a good road trip. Those who knew him will remember his love of storytelling, quick-witted sense of humor, kindness and generosity.”– Portland Press Herald

Regretfully, I need to pass along that Paul passed away back in February of a massive heart attack. Paul was 66 and had begun scaling back his hours as he moved toward full retirement.
— Jason Lachance
Paul LaChance brought a unique background to the brick industry and through that, to the architectural community in Maine and beyond.

Born into the 4th generation of a Maine brick making family, he studied marketing in college and followed that path initially into the lumber industry. But in 1979 the tug of family, fired clay genes and a design sensibility brought him back into the fold at Morin Brick.

Paul was immediately tapped to address the architectural community as Morin’s brick sales representative. He loved the role and realized early on that serving the brick masonry needs of architects first was the most professional and therefore effective type of salesmanship possible. Paul was effective for architects and his company because he realized that the designers & specifiers do not buy his materials or others. They influence others to do the buying. Therefore, no architect ever, to my knowledge, had to sit through a sales pitch from Paul Lachance when all that the professional needed or wanted was help. And within the brick industry itself, over time Paul gained national recognition as an expert - a real one, recognized as such by his peers rather than press releases.

Based on personal conversation with Paul over many years, I do not believe that during his entire career very many if any Maine public or private brick school buildings, hospital buildings, college or university buildings or courthouses made it to the Plans & Specifications phase without one or more design professionals quietly asking him his opinion as to the appropriateness of the brick they had specified.

I am not sure he ever made the following statement to an architect but to those of us he counseled in the brick industry, his mantra was “The brick you offer a designer’s client must add value to the project faster than it adds cost.” That simple statement was at the core of Paul Lachance’s view of his role in business, his obligation to the architects who relied on his advice and to his personal integrity.

Paul respected the design community and was happiest when his work was in service of helping a practitioner solve problems that others could not or would not.
— Pete Soucy
Paul was such a wonderful soul. I always enjoyed talking to him, his advice and kindness. When I was a young intern in Winton Scott’s office Paul stopped by and recognized that I had never had the Brick 101 talk. He reached into his case and handed me a brick scale. It was a paper ruler with coursing and bonding: Vertically - three courses and two joints: 1 foot; Horizontally - three bricks and two joints: 2 feet. I used this all through my early drafting days – Winton’s office, Moore, Weinrich & Woodward on countless projects until it became second nature.

For the first Reed & Barba Architect’s project, St. Luke’s Cathedral Parish Hall, Paul met me on site with boxes of brick samples, guiding me to a beautiful extruded brick from Pennsylvania, a perfect color match for the 1895 waterstruck brick. He gave me a small briefcase of mortar samples. Half-inch wide and 2 inches long these multicolor samples followed me to job sites around the state. When I was searching for a buff color brick on the Parson’s Memorial Library in Alfred, Paul showed up with a large sample panel of 2” x 2” x ½” brick samples. These were not from Morin Brick, but other companies who could match the need.

Most recently, for the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Paul knew I needed to find burnt headers to color match the original brickwork. The Danville waterstruck brick was an easy choice, having used it many times before. He knew that I wasn’t interested in an extruded brick, but one that had been traditionally fired too close to the flame. Paul understood the beauty of materiality and the history of Morin Brick was something he helped create and honored their traditions. There is one brickyard in Vermont where we could source this, Paul offered. But they had just gone out of business. Next I knew Paul was showing up at the job site with several pallets of burnt end brick, gifting it to the project.

Kind, generous and helpful, Paul rarely came to call on our office without something to leave, one time even a handful of pussywillows from his early Spring time at the edge of the river.

The last time we spoke he told me how he was moving towards retirement, enjoying spending time with his family, fishing in Nebraska and playing with grandchildren: “Aren’t these the things that mattered most?”
— Nancy Barba, AIA, LEED AP

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Jeannette Schram