Building A Team. Fulfilling A Vision.
Justin Greenleaf has always had an eye for design. “It might sound cliché, but like most who pursue architecture, that goal stemmed from my talent in drawing, sketching, modeling, and working with my hands. I would spend hours and hours as a child working on Lego projects and turning them into finished models. My dad always taught me to do things correctly and never cut corners, so I would keep working until every last Lego piece was in its correct place.” Regarding his mother Greenleaf adds, “She taught me to pave my own road and do whatever it takes to get the job done. I’m proud to say that through their words and examples, both have guided me to the point at which I am today.”
Greenleaf’s solo venture in architecture began in 2015 and after only one month, he called on former college classmate, Michelle Lawson, knowing she would be the perfect business partner. “I met Michelle on my first day at LSU and knew she was serious about success. We studied together throughout the five-year curriculum of LSU Architecture School and on the long road to licensure. Many graduates don’t complete licensure. They pursue other aspects of the profession. We shared a common goal then and continue to achieve great things together now.” As the business has grown, their partnership has only strengthened. Each brings dedication and drive to the table along with different but complementary strengths that are the cornerstone of the business.
Growth and notable success came quickly to the team resulting in the company that stands today, Greenleaf Lawson Architects. “Several factors motivated me to take on this challenge,” says the driven founder, “And I am thankful every day that I did. We proudly design, manage and see concepts through completion. It’s gratifying to see businesses thrive once they occupy the spaces we design. Most importantly, we enjoy doing it. We’ve built a team of creative, energetic professionals that value the same principles Michelle and I do. A fulfilling and productive office culture is paramount to us and repeatedly winning the honor of ‘Best Places to Work’ have been some of my proudest moments.”
Greenleaf continues to push the envelope by expanding services and using his creativity to not only design for clients but to also constantly propel his team. “My ideas are often jokingly referred to as crazy, but with Michelle and the team’s talent for executing them, we continue delivering services ahead of the curve.” Greenleaf says they have grown the company based on hard work and morals and is inspired to build a workplace that motivates his top-notch associates.
A Northshore native, Greenleaf returned to Mandeville with his wife, Kaitlyn, after college. Daily he focuses on the development of St. Tammany knowing his two children, Madison and Jackson, will be able to enjoy the small-town feel that the Northshore provides. “It has a little of everything – close to the city, close to hunting and fishing, a close-knit community, and it’s a great place to raise my children. Although I grew up on the Northshore when it was far less developed, I am still pro-development. It just has to be done the right way. I have an obligation to design thoughtfully for smart growth in the future.” Greenleaf also values community involvement with organizations such as Leadership St. Tammany, from which he graduated in 2017 and where he now serves on the Leadership Board of Trustees. He was an honoree at Northshore’s Finest 2017 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation event, currently holds the AIA New Orleans Board Louisiana State Delegate position and is also honored to serve as co-chair of this year’s Northshore Heartwalk promoting the American Heart Association’s mission of improved cardiovascular health for all.
Because Greenleaf is the youthful engine of progress and company visionary, it was shockingly ironic that he received the rare cancer diagnosis of ocular melanoma at just 30 years old. Although for the past three years he has battled cancer, he strives not to let it interfere with his family or business. “I couldn’t have gotten through the past few years without my family, friends and office team. Kaitlyn and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and she is by my side through everything. She’s my rock, and I couldn’t have hoped for anyone better on this journey.” Greenleaf continues to successfully practice as an architect in the firm’s Downtown Covington office and optimistically looks toward the future. Although one eye’s sight was affected, he is now more observant than ever and maintains a clear vision for the company and his impact on St. Tammany Parish. “Each moment with my family is more precious than ever, and my business focus has never wavered. My perseverance has served me, my company and my family. I believe the best environment for growth is outside of your comfort zone, and that taking chances and working hard result in success. I want my kids and my team to believe this, and I strive to prove it by my example every day.”
Justin Greenleaf is founder, co-owner, and a principal architect at Greenleaf Lawson Architects, APAC. Their offices are located at 404 E. Gibson Street, Suite 1 in Covington. For more information, call 985-778-2080
or visit greenleaflawson.com.