Mike Stafford was born to be in a construction-related field. He spent Decatur, Illinois’ humid summers and harsh winters framing houses with his father.
“My dad wanted to bring me out to the job sites when I was younger to get hands-on labor experience,” Stafford said.
“That certainly helped me get laser focused at ASU. I made sure I was paying attention in class. You spend enough summer and winters working outside and doing manual labor and you definitely learn lessons, like my father was trying to teach me. He does it to this day.”
Now he’s working as the chief financial officer of LGE Design Build, which designs and constructs buildings. The Phoenix company’s portfolio encompasses more than 1,200 completed projects.
“Our goal is to design and build the most beautiful buildings around,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in the aesthetics, the quality and the construction of the buildings — on the design side of the fence, too.”
The North Phoenix resident manages all the financial operations across LGE’s architecture and construction entities.
He joined LGE as a controller in 2017 and, shortly thereafter, tightened the monthly close process to under a week and overhauling payroll, company benefits and numerous accounting systems.
Stafford has been with LGE for a little over four years. He started at a subsidiary under Pinnacle West, APS Energy Services. The company was bought by global firm Ameresco Inc. and he continued with it.
“Spending the amount of time that I spent working for a publicly traded company, there are a lot of things you can’t do,” Stafford said.
“In the private realm, there is a lot more freedom to interact with the community. There is a lot of flexibility of how you structure things. Since joining, I think the ownership team is very open to restructuring and focusing on culture.”
Stafford said he’s in a service-based business as a construction general contractor. The company is “all about the people.”
“We really pride ourselves in trying to create unique job opportunities and taking care of the people who work for us. Our headcount has grown quite significantly.
“We’ve jumped into other states. We’re predominantly commercial, but we’ve opened a custom homes division here in the Valley. I really enjoy getting to do something different every day. This job gives a lot of flexibility.”
LGE has also added an architecture and interior design firm, as well as a development company that owns and operates the buildings it builds.
“After spending time in a large publicly traded corporation, Mike decided his talents were better served in the private business space,” said President and CEO David E. Sellers
“Mike firmly believes in people over profit — a rare philosophy for a successful finance professional.”
Stafford grew up in central Illinois, in Decatur, a small farm town where the major employers are Caterpillar and Archer Daniels Midland Company.
“They employ the lion’s share of the people in the city,” he said. “It was fun and very humbling, the grind of the small town and industry life.”
He moved to Arizona at age 18 to escape the cold weather and to attend ASU. He said he’s had plenty of opportunities to return but declined. His wife and three kids have since put down roots in the North Valley.
Stafford and his family enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking and camping. He coaches basketball and participates in Spartan and Ironman races.