Baton Rouge Business Report's 2020 Annual Report

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SERVPRO of East Baton Rouge / Ascension Parish


C H A M P I O N G R A P H I C C O M M U N I C A T I O N S Serving Baton Rouge • New Orleans • and Surrounding Areas

NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS They say tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Here in South Louisiana we know this all too well. Now, more than ever, we need to pull together as a business community and lend a helping hand when possible.

Champion would like to help jump-start your re-opening by offering a no strings attached

FREE NOW OPEN SIGN or BANNER to the first 100 businesses that submit a request. some restrictions apply

Email your request for a FREE NOW OPEN SIGN or BANNER to 10848 Airline Hwy. • Baton Rouge • 225-291-9090

Publisher: Rolfe H. McCollister Jr. EDITORIAL Editorial director: Penny Font Executive editor: JR Ball Corporate media editor: Lisa Tramontana Content strategist: Allyson Guay Editor: Stephanie Riegel Assistant editor: Allan Schilling Online news editor: Deanna B. Narveson Digital content editor: Mark Clements Contributing writers: Sam Barnes, Erin Z. Bass, Emily Kern Hebert, Rebekah Maricelli, Olivia McClure, Maggie Heyn Richardson, Meredith Whitten, Ansley Zehnder Photographers: Don Kadair, Tim Mueller


ADVERTISING Sales director: Kerrie Richmond Senior account executives: Judith LaDousa, Marielle Land-Howard, Angie LaPorte, Kelly Lewis Account executives: Mary Katherine Bernard, Mandi Bryant, Taylor Fountain Advertising coordinator: Brittany Nieto ON THE COVER: Downtown Branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library

CONTENTS The Baton Rouge civic and business community is fortunate to have so many outstanding organizations, and we are proud to celebrate these “profiles of success” in our Annual Report. We hope you enjoy learning about this year’s participants—their history, their company cultures, their innovative ideas, and the impact they have on our community and on the future of Baton Rouge. (Information in these profiles was provided by the advertisers.)

FROM THE SPONSORS .................................................. 8

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank..................................... 51 Butler Snow LLP....................................................................52


TWRU CPAs and Financial Advisors...............................53

Austin Fire Systems ............................................................. 10

Window World.......................................................................54

Brecheen Pipe and Steel Co............................................. 12

West Baton Rouge Schools...............................................55

Capital Area United Way..................................................... 14

Mele Printing...........................................................................56

NAPA Auto Parts - APS, LLC............................................ 18

SERVPRO............................................................................... 57 Manners of the Heart............................................................58


Greenup Industries...............................................................59


Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.............................60

RES Contractors ..................................................................22

The Retreat.............................................................................. 61 .....................................................................24

LDFwealth Financial Group................................................62

Port of Greater Baton Rouge ............................................26


CSC Customs........................................................................28

First Louisiana Insurance.....................................................64

Pinnacle Construction..........................................................30

East Baton Rouge Parish Magnet Schools ...................65

East Baton Rouge Parish Library .....................................32

Mo Hair Express....................................................................66

Southern University and A&M College............................35

BREC Baton Rouge Zoo.....................................................67

Gulf Coast Office Products ..............................................44

Lundin Roofing Co. LLC......................................................68

Henry Hays Consulting........................................................45

Associated Grocers, Inc......................................................69

Greater Baton Rouge Industy Alliance............................46

Collegiate Advisory Placement Service.......................... 70

Louisiana Public Facilities Authority................................. 47

Spectrum Employee Services............................................ 71

Capital Area Transit System...............................................48

LSU Online & Continuing Education................................72

DEMCO ..................................................................................49

Carpet World..........................................................................73

Alford Safe & Lock................................................................50 For an alphabetical index of stories, turn to page 6.



CUSTOM PUBLISHING Sales director: Erin Palmintier-Pou MARKETING Chief marketing officer: Elizabeth McCollister Hebert Marketing & events assistant: Taylor Floyd Events: Abby Hamilton Community liaison: Jeanne McCollister McNeil ADMINISTRATION Business manager: Lauren Ritchey Digital manager: James Hume Business associate: Kirsten Milano Business associate: Tiffany Durocher Office coordinator: Tara Lane Receptionist: Cathy Varnado Brown PRODUCTION/DESIGN Production director: Melanie Samaha Art director: Hoa Vu Graphic designers: Melinda Gonzalez, Gracie Fletcher Miller, Emily Witt AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Audience development director: Katelyn Oglesby Audience development coordinator: Ivana Oubre A publication of Louisiana Business Inc. Chairman: Rolfe H. McCollister Jr. President & CEO: Julio A. Melara Executive assistant: Gabrielle Hall Circulation/Reprints 225-928-1700 email: Subscriptions/Customer Service 225-421-8181 email: Volume 38 - Number 13

©Copyright 2020 by Louisiana Business Incorporated. All rights reserved by LBI. The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report (USPS 721-890 ISSN 0747-4652) is published monthly by Louisiana Business Inc. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Business address: 9029 Jefferson Hwy., Ste. 300, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Telephone (225) 928-1700. Periodicals postage is paid at Baton Rouge, La. Subscription rate is $59.00 for 12 issues, with 4 additional issues published annually in April, June, September and December. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, 9029 Jefferson Hwy. Ste. 300, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report cannot be responsible for the return of unsolicited material—manuscripts or photographs, with or without the inclusion of a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Information in this publication is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. No information expressed here constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities.

• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329

Medicine is just


in Dr. Craig Greene’s

LIFE OF PURPOSE DR. GREENE IS an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement, sports medicine, knee and shoulder arthroscopy, and orthopedic trauma. Based at the Baton Rouge Orthopaedic Clinic, he is part of a network of 34 board certified orthopedic surgeons who represent nine specialties and cover the Greater Baton Rouge area. The group is partnered with Surgical Specialty Center. “Our practice is focused on personalized excellence,” he says. “Through teamwork and specialization, we want patients to know that we care and are capable of helping with their specific needs. Our aim and mission is to provide technically excellent work in a caring and compassionate way.” Dr. Greene earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and his medical degree from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. He completed rotations at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, and at Harborview Trauma Center in Seattle, Washington. He also earned an MBA from Yale University in 2016. Medicine is just one of his passions. Aside from his thriving practice, he has performed dozens of surgeries on medical mission trips from South America to Africa, and his Dr. Greene Foundation ( provides disaster aid throughout the world. In 2017, he was elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission, an office he will hold through 2024. His civic efforts led him to join the military, and he is now a Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He and his wife Kristen work hard to set a positive example for their five children, focusing on faith and family. Dr. Greene is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Association for Physician Leadership, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma Association, Louisiana Orthopaedic Association, International Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and Arthroscopy Association of North America. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha at Texas A&M University, and in 2000, was recognized as outstanding medical student in orthopaedic surgery and received the Moses Maimonides Award for Ethics in Medicine.

8080 Bluebonnet Blvd., Suite 1000

225.924.2424 | ANNUAL REPORT 2020





Alford Safe & Lock.....................................................................50

LDFwealth Financial Group.....................................................62

Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge...................................60

Louisiana Public Facilities Authority...................................... 47

Associated Grocers, Inc...........................................................69

LSU Online & Continuing Education..................................... 72

Austin Fire Systems................................................................... 10

Lundin Roofing Co. LLC...........................................................68

BREC Baton Rouge Zoo.......................................................... 67

Manners of the Heart................................................................. 58

Brecheen Pipe and Steel Co.................................................. 12

Mele Printing................................................................................56

Butler Snow LLP......................................................................... 52

Mo Hair Express.........................................................................66

Capital Area Transit System....................................................48

NAPA Auto Parts - APS, LLC................................................. 18

Capital Area United Way.......................................................... 14

Pinnacle Construction...............................................................30

Carpet World............................................................................... 73

Port of Greater Baton Rouge.................................................. 26

Collegiate Advisory Placement Service............................... 70

RES Contractors, LLC..............................................................22

CSC Customs............................................................................. 28 24


SERVPRO.................................................................................... 57

East Baton Rouge Parish Library...........................................32

Southern University and A&M College.................................35

East Baton Rouge Parish Magnet Schools.........................65

Spectrum Employee Services................................................. 71

First Louisiana Insurance..........................................................64

The Retreat................................................................................... 61

Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance................................46

Transformyx.................................................................................. 20

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank........................................... 51

TWRU CPAs and Financial Advisors....................................53

Greenup Industries.................................................................... 59

Unlock’d .......................................................................................63

Gulf Coast Office Products.....................................................44

West Baton Rouge Parish School System..........................55

Henry Hays Consulting.............................................................45

Window World............................................................................54





We believe it takes both. Great tech tools to make your financial life simpler and great people to help you make the best financial moves. Whether it’s saving for retirement, buying a home or starting that new business, we’re here for you. You don’t have to choose between people or technology when you choose Red River Bank. Choose both. 225-923-0232

Alexandria • Baton Rouge • Lake Charles • Northshore • Shreveport | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



Proud to be part of a championship team IT IS GREAT to be a part of a championship team— not only as a proud partner of LSU Athletics, but a championship team in our industry. To witness this year’s events unfold has been truly amazing and will be a year that we will always cherish. I am proud to be a part of our championship team at Gulf Coast. We have over 100 Louisiana team members and most are veterans in their position which makes it easier for the rest of us to do our jobs. The commitment to customer service and providing the latest technology in office equipment is our goal. We are moving information and documents around the

globe faster than ever and we are committed to keeping pace with the demand. We are in our 43rd year in business representing the same products since 1977, so our experience in supporting these products is vast. We look forward to continuing the championship mentality and we are only a phone call away from helping the businesses in Louisiana be as efficient and productive as possible.

Trey Beall

President Gulf Coast Office Products

We are stronger when we work together FOR THE PAST 95 YEARS, Capital Area United Way has answered the call to serve the 10-parish area, and today is no different. Whether it is through hurricanes, the 2016 flood or Covid-19, United Way is here for the community. Our 2-1-1 statewide network is always available as a resource for the community in times of crisis and everyday life. As the landscape of giving changes and the needs of the people evolve, United Way will as well. This cannot be done without you, the community, because strong



partnerships from the community are a key to our success. Through nonprofit partners, convening with other funders and fundraising through companies, it is evident that we are stronger when we come together. Thank you for your continued support over the last 95 years, and we look forward to continuing to serve you.

George Bell

President & CEO Capital Area United Way


Helping local businesses grow and compete globally THE NATIONALLY ACCLAIMED East Baton Rouge Parish Library continues to increase services for the business community, delivering up-to-date training and tech initiatives so the employment and research needs of local businesses are met at a level that helps them grow and compete globally. Our award-winning Main Library and 13 branches provide the programs and resources for all ages that add to the quality of life for business professionals and their families. Our Small Business Service includes free programs,

resources and tools to help your business grow and offers free one-on-one consultations. Contact business librarians at They can guide you in the use of robust tools such as Reference USA, Mergent Intellect, and Gale Business: Plan Builder. Check us out at or

Spencer Watts

Library Director East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Called to help in times of crisis AT SERVPRO OF East Baton Rouge/Ascension Parish, we understand the responsibility that comes with the rewarding position of being called to help in a time of crisis. Whether it’s as simple as a busted pipe or as devastating as the monumental flooding of 2016, our qualified and trained staff take pride in responding quickly to make it “like it never even happened.” Over the course of our first 23 years, we have prided ourselves on providing premier customer

service, timely response, and superior workmanship. While this has been the foundation for success, our overall growth can be attributed to the culture that has been created within our company, and the professional guidance from our knowledgeable team of managers.

Darren Burychka President and Owner SERVPRO | ANNUAL REPORT 2020






S 2 1 YE A R




[ AUSTIN FIRE SYSTEMS ] Building strong relationships through custom solutions and superior service WHEN AUSTIN FIRE SYSTEMS was founded in 1999, the fledgling company consisted of Russell Ritchie, his truck and a few fire extinguishers. Today, as the company just celebrated its 20th anniversary, Austin Fire Systems has grown into a complete source for fireprotection and life-safety solutions for any type of equipment or system used to protect life and property. The company offers turnkey solutions for engineering, construction, maintenance and safety to meet all of their customers’ requirements. Austin Fire Systems is the only local licensed engineering company and licensed general contractor in its category. The company works in industrial and


commercial facilities, including some of the largest, most complex facilities in the Gulf South. “We provide clients with critical fire protection and hazard management solutions to reduce risk, protect life and property, and maintain a safe, high-quality work environment,” says Russell Ritchie, PE, president and owner. Paramount to Austin Fire System’s success over the past two decades is the highly trained, highly skilled and tenured staff. Employee retention is a key priority for the company. “The people are what make the company,” says Lindell Broussard, vice president of operations. “We do a great

job of recruiting and retaining employees. We take care of our people. We give back, promote personal growth and offer great benefits. Our team culture drives employee satisfaction.” “Our employees are our biggest asset,” Russell says. “Austin Fire Systems has an excellent reputation because of the highly skilled and knowledgeable staff, top to bottom. Customer service is directly related to how well you treat employees. Take care of your employees and the customer will be taken care of as well.” Employees undergo constant training to keep their skills, certifications and knowledge of the latest products, codes and standards up to date. Many employees


are active in industry and professional associations, such as the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA), Advisory Board for LA State Fire Marshal’s Office, Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), and Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA), to name a few. “From account managers to field technicians, every employee is wellversed in what we do,” says Christy Ritchie, director of technology and marketing. “The extensive knowledge base of our employees allows us to provide a more strategic solution for our client’s needs. This in turn creates customer value and builds a strong relationship between the two.”


2000 Austin Fire Equipment opens its first location on Post Office Road in Prairieville with five employees.

1999 Russell Ritchie starts his company Austin Fire Equipment with only one employee.



2007 Purchases 10 acres on Eads Road in Prairieville and moves into current corporate headquarters with 48,000 square feet of warehouse, fabrication and office space.




The company builds solid relationships with top manufacturers in the market, meaning Austin Fire Systems offers customers quality and cutting-edge solutions tailored to meet their specific needs. “Our customers demand value and we provide custom solutions to meet their needs,” Russell says. In the past two years, Austin Fire Systems has experienced remarkable growth. In addition to a 10-acre campus at its headquarters in Prairieville, the company has added locations in Lafayette, Shreveport, and Baytown, Texas. Both the Prairieville and Baytown locations have fabrication shops totalling more than 56,000 square feet which enables them to provide custom parts at a moment’s notice. Additionally, these shops provide

all fabrication for Austin Fire’s engineered design packages. “By controlling the material and the labor on all jobs, we meet our customers schedules,” Russell says. Another significant enhancement at Austin Fire Systems is the newly created Austin Safety Services division led by Dave Reed, vice president of safety sales and services with more than 35 years experience. This division provides the highest level of service for customers’ life-safety equipment needs, which includes compliance to governmental guidelines, i.e., ANSI and OSHA and the manufacturers’ requirements. Using the industry’s most trusted life-safety and compliance reporting systems to meet regulatory standards for all industrial facilities, Austin Safety Services ensures

the customer’s safety systems are maintained in proper working order. “The team is experienced and dedicated to each other and the customers we serve through honesty and integrity to always do the job right,” says Reed. “We added Austin Safety Services to better serve our customers and provide a more complete solution,” Russell says. “Our customers now can choose one source for all their fire, safety and emergency systems.” With the new division, Austin Fire Systems heightens the customers’ ability to maximize efficiency, save money and reduce risk. This leads to more productive facilities and safer workplaces and communities. This truly is the Austin Advantage. The company’s laser focus on safety has consistently been recognized by the industry and customers they serve. Austin Fire Systems has received the first-place award for Contractor Safety Excellence in the category of Technical Support Contractors at the GBRIA awards every year since 2017. “We take pride in what we do because it saves lives and property. Our safety culture and safety record solidify who we are and what we believe in,” Russell says. “Our goal is to send every employee home to their families each night without injury.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Fire protection systems, including engineering, construction, maintenance, safety TOP EXECUTIVES: Russell Ritchie, PE, President; Lindell Broussard, VP of Operations Louisiana.; Tony Pyle, VP of Operations Texas; Christy Ritchie, Director of Technology/Marketing YEAR FOUNDED: 1999 • PHONE: 225.677.9850 • WEBSITE:


2015 Company name changes to Austin Fire Systems, opens second location in Lafayette, and adds 7000 square feet of warehouse space in Prairieville.


2017 Purchases a building in Rayne, La., moves its second location to a permanent site, and adds 10,000 square feet of office space in Prairieville.

When I formed Austin Fire Systems 20 years ago, my goal was to build a company that could deliver a total fire and safety solution to our customers. The best asset we have is the employees. Surrounding yourself with the smartest, brightest people you can find is one of the most important keys to success. The ability to build and retain a great staff is why we are so successful at keeping our customers satisfied. I am so thankful to my entire staff, especially my director of technology and marketing—my wife Christy—for helping me achieve my goals. At Austin, we have a familyoriented culture that drives our organization to achieve the highest level of safety. Our employees are compelled to work safely together as a team to solve any problem. Out on the jobs or in the office, we always have each other’s back. Our safety record is a direct reflection on how having a familyoriented culture drives success. I would like to thank all of our employees, customers, spouses and family members who have helped us grow Austin Fire over the last 20 years. From a single service truck to over 80 vehicles in our fleet today, we are here and ready to serve our customers.



2018 Adds locations in Shreveport, La. and Baytown, Texas as the company grows more than 50 percent annually since 2013. | ANNUAL REPORT 2020







S 4 0 YE A R 1980-2020



Woman-owned business supports community, builds strong relationships WHEN DON BRECHEEN founded Brecheen Pipe and Steel in 1980, he laid the foundation for the small family-owned business to grow into one of the most dominant steel distributors in the Gulf Coast region. The Port Allenbased company provides carbon, galvanized steel, stainless, aluminum and alloy steel to the petrochemical, marine, fabricator, refinery, pulp and paper, sugar, and construction industries. In the 40 years since it opened, Brecheen Pipe and Steel has remained in the Brecheen family, and since 1995 it has been managed by Danielle Brecheen, Don’s daughter, who grew up learning the industry from her parents. Before retiring, Danielle’s sister and husband also worked for the company.

Brecheen Pipe and Steel’s products, used by some of the largest plants in the Gulf, include a full range of flat, plate, tubing, pipe, grating, bar and structural items. The company also offers plate flame cutting services, plasma and oxyfuel services, cutting slip and spectacle blinds, gussets, parts, and some decorative items as well. Just some of the ways these steel products are used include building structures in plants, oil field storage tanks, bridges, elevators and railway cars. Brecheen attributes the company’s growth and profitability to a number of strategies that underpin the products the company buys and sells, the employees who provide services, the relationships they build with their cli-


ents, and the role the company plays in the local community. “We work in a very competitive market,” she says. “We’ve done a remarkable job of getting contractual agreements with large companies as well as securing day-to-day maintenance business. We compete every day with companies that have multiple branches throughout the U.S. The company prides itself on delivering high-quality products. Brecheen has built long-standing, trusting relationships with many U.S. steel mills, each of which has an excellent product record. “Our steel is high-quality and mechanically strong,” she says. “There is no better steel in the world than what is made in our country. That’s why I


spend more on better-quality steel and let that work its way into my supply chain rather than bringing cheaper substandard products into the market.” All of Brecheen’s products are 100 percent traceable, as well. Indeed, increasing concerns of accountability have led to advanced technology that enables tracking of various heat numbers and countries of origin via mill test reports. Brecheen strives to make this process seamless. Brecheen Pipe and Steel strives to be a just-in-time vendor and keeps products stocked in inventory so they can respond to a client’s needs quickly. Because clients’ work is not limited to 8-to-5 hours, neither is Brecheen’s— and the company offers after-hours,


1988 Brecheen Pipe and Steel was awarded one of its many big contracts—Dow Chemical—which is still in place.

1980 Don Brecheen founded Brecheen Pipe and Steel, and was a primary supplier to the marine industry.



2000 The company saw exponential growth due to hard work and determination.



FROM THE PRESIDENT Here at BP&S, many things have helped our company grow for more than 40 years—dedication, overcoming many obstacles through the years, staying true to our beliefs and making sure our customer service is always on point. My parents were always positive role models and taught me to work hard, be honest and do right by our customers.

You are only as good as your people. Everyone here is a great employee. We are all on the same page and pull in the same direction. They truly are the best people you could ask for. DANIELLE BRECHEEN, OWNER

emergency, weekend and holiday service. Brecheen’s 27 employees are dedicated to providing personal, efficient customer service to each client, no matter how big or small. This includes meeting in person or talking via phone with clients, rather than relying solely on more distant, impersonal means of communication. “You are only as good as your people,” Brecheen says. “Everyone here is a great employee. We are all on the same page and pull in the same direction. They truly are the best people you could ask for.” As one of the only woman-owned steel companies in Louisiana, Brecheen

Our employees play an integral part in our success as well. They are the best tool that our business can utilize to get the job done. All of our employees have contributed to our success and growth.

Pipe and Steel is in the process of becoming a nationally certified woman-owned business. Further, as a long-established, local and family-owned business, Brecheen Pipe and Steel is deeply invested in supporting community service. For example, the company supports local youth softball leagues. “It’s important to invest in the community around us,” Brecheen says. “You have to give back and supporting youth is a long-term investment. If you can keep them on a good path, you’ll have good people around you in the community as well as good employees of the future.” Brecheen, who has worked in the

steel industry for 35 years, says she enjoys the work. “Iron is in my blood. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 and my parents were wonderful role models,” she says. “It doesn’t feel like work—I truly enjoy everything about it.” As such, she says Brecheen Pipe and Steel will continue to be a leading steel distributor in the region well into the future. “We offer extremely competitive pricing. The products we put out into the market are second to none and our customer service is exceptional,” she says. “We’re a family-owned, womanrun business. We’ve been extremely successful and will continue to be.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Steel distributor and service center TOP EXECUTIVE: Danielle Brecheen, Owner and General Manager YEAR FOUNDED: 1980 • PHONE: 225.749.3553 • WEBSITE:


2008 Brecheen Pipe and Steel overcame and withstood the global steel scrap shortage that lasted several years.


2015 The company acquired contracts with Exxon, Marathon, BASF, and Syngenta when a competitor exited the Baton Rouge market.

We are very proud to be part of the Industrial supply chain in the Louisiana manufacturing market. We have faced many challenges through the years with floods, steel shortages, steel tariffs, etc., but with planning investments and inventory, human resources and equipment, we are prepared for what the future may hold. With that being said, our world is experiencing something unprecedented right now. We will stay positive and know that this too shall pass, and life as we knew it will be restored. We are a strong company with dedicated and loyal employees and customers. We will overcome the adversity. Thank you so much to our customers who over the years have made Brecheen Pipe & Steel a legacy of success—40 years strong.



2020 Danielle Brecheen is now president of one of the most successfully “woman owned” pipe and steel companies in the region. | ANNUAL REPORT 2020






S 9 5 YE A R




[ CAPITAL AREA UNITED WAY ] Improving life through partnerships, programs and community conversations FOR MORE THAN 95 years, Capital Area United Way has impacted thousands of lives through local nonprofits, programs and volunteers to make a tangible impact in the 10-parish area. In just the past 30 years, CAUW has invested more than $230 million and each year helps more than 250,000 residents. CAUW’s impact has included increasing school readiness and attendance for area children, defraying the costs of housing, improving physical activity and access to nutrition, and helping to prevent evictions and homelessness. In 2016, CAUW transitioned to


1925 Seeing local unmet needs, the Baton Rouge Federation of Community Works establishes the “Baton Rouge Community Chest” campaign.



impact model funding which is an organizational effort that targets programs, initiatives and partnerships that impact the community’s greatest needs. “We have a commitment to staying relevant to our community,” says George Bell, CAUW president and CEO. “Transitioning to an impact model was a major shift that has enabled us to more strategically work on issues that the community tells us they want to address.” CAUW regularly engages in community conversations sparking in-depth discussions with hundreds of citizens about local issues in an effort to find viable

solutions for its 10-parish area. From these community conversations, priority areas emerge that guide investments. Current priority areas fall under the buckets of education, income stability, health and basic needs. “Everything we do is tied to the community priorities that bubble up from those community conversations,” says Katie Pritchett, senior vice president, Impact and Operations. “The needs of our communities have shifted over 95 years, so the organizations working to meet those needs have shifted as well. The impact model and priority areas mean new organizations or new innovative programs

1960 1976 Several parishes merge and adopt the name “Capital Area United Way” to serve the now 10-parish area.

have been able to apply for United Way funding.” The population CAUW’s work supports is driven by the ALICE—Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—population. This includes the growing number of working residents who earn more than the federal poverty level, but less than the cost of living. ALICE households struggle to meet basic needs and live paycheck to paycheck. In the 10-parish area, 45 percent of residents are ALICE. Recognizing that no single organization can solve every problem, CAUW has stepped into a more strategic role, working with community partners and investing in

2000 1985 The Tocqueville Society formed with the first members— Huey J. and Angelina Wilson and Milton J. Womack.




programs and services that support ALICE households. “While we’ll always be recognized as a fundraiser, we’re now seen as a convener and collaborator as well,” Pritchett says. “We’re all trying to achieve the same results, so the more CAUW can leverage our reputational capital to bring a crosssection of nonprofits to the table, the more we’ll see bigger and bolder solutions.” According to Michelle Hardy of Turner Industries, the Resource Development chair-elect for CAUW’s board of directors, this strategic role amplifies CAUW’s impact in the community. “Capital Area United Way serves as a catalyst for bringing others together,” she says. “They help nonprofits build their capacity and provide resources nonprofits might not otherwise have access to.” For example, CAUW recently sent 19 local nonprofit leaders to Next Wave training sessions to learn skills needed to run a successful nonprofit organization. Given the region’s diversity, approaches to developing solutions differ across the 10-parish area. But a

common thread among all grantees is a commitment to results-driven solutions. All grantees measure the same indicators to demonstrate impact among the communities they serve. United Way is also committed to identifying strategic initiatives aimed at supporting the ALICE population. One example is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax preparation by certified volunteers for people earning less than $56,000 annually. “With programs like VITA, individuals and families can utilize a free service that they otherwise would have to pay for,” Bell says. “This means these families are able to receive 100 percent of their tax refund which can assist with greater financial stability for their households.” The United Way 211/CAUW resource line is another example of CAUW leveraging community resources for impact. A free, confidential information referral line, 211, is available via phone, text or online chat 24/7, and connects people with local resources. “211 provides an access point for people who might not know where to go or who to

ask for help, such as how to get Meals on Wheels for their aging parents,” Pritchett says. Continued access to needed resources is critical to build capacity that ultimately will have greater impact in the community. CAUW is engaging with new platforms for giving and is enhancing its fundraising and revenue-generation abilities. This includes tapping into volunteers from the business community to assist with resource development. “When you get industry and business professionals together to help, that’s what Baton Rouge is all about,” Hardy says. “Once people understand the impact and ALICE, the giving becomes easy.” “People look to us as a convener and a mobilizer, but recent events have underscored the importance of United Way in our community,” says Bell. “We can take our knowledge and resources to address areas with the greatest need, but none of our work is possible without donors, volunteers and corporate support. Our ability to be a resource is limited only by your willingness to be a source. Please join us.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Nonprofit organization that leverages partnerships to advance the common good through education, income stability, healthy living and basic needs TOP EXECUTIVES: George Bell, President and CEO; Katie Pritchett, Senior Vice President, Impact and Operations; Amey Shortess Crousillac, Vice President, Resource Development; Robert Schneckenburger, Hancock Whitney Bank, Board Chair; Aaron Stanford, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Board Chair Elect; Michelle Hardy, Turner Industries Group, LLC, Resource Development Chair Elect YEAR FOUNDED: 1925 • PHONE: 225.383.2643 • WEBSITE:



2009 Capital Area United Way announces its four focus areas: income, health, education and basic needs.


Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Three simple ways we can all make an impact in our local community. As board chair of Capital Area United Way, I am very proud of the progress United Way has made in the community, but we cannot do it alone. By giving to Capital Area United Way, you are forming a relationship from start to finish. You can be sure that your dollars are being spent on the most pressing needs. As an advocate you can share with your colleagues about the important work being done in the community and how you can be a convener in the community. Lastly, you can volunteer. The funding process is completely volunteer driven. You, as a community member and volunteer, have a say where your donation goes. I am asking for your help to move this community forward by donating at donate.

ROBERT SCHNECKENBURGER Board Chair Hancock Whitney


2016 United Way 211/CAUW resource line plays a prominent role in response to the August 2016 Floods. | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



As a developer, Business Report keeps me clued in on changes and shifts happening in the capital region that can affect the real estate realm. This information is invaluable when analyzing potential projects.


Prescott Bailey


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S 4 9 YE A R 1971-2020


[ NAPA AUTO PARTS - APS, LLC ] Local stores rise to the challenge of a changing landscape RESILIENCY AND ADAPTABILITY are the cornerstones of any business hoping to thrive in an ever-changing landscape. That’s why the locally-owned chain of NAPA Auto Parts stores has done so well. They readily recognize and respond to the shifting needs of the marketplace. For years, not much change was necessary. I.B. Thames Jr. founded his NAPA business in 1971 with a single store in Lutcher, then added two stores in Alexandria and Reserve. Later, sons Timmy and Tracy ran the business, laying a foundation for future growth. In the early 2000s, however, it became


obvious that the company needed to evolve in order to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive environment. Isra Thames IV, I.B.’s grandson, began guiding the company through a period of expansions in services, facilities and employees across southeast Louisiana and Baton Rouge. Now approaching its 50-year anniversary, the Thames Group is 14 stores and 100 employees strong, and poised to continue its growth trajectory through a mix of retail and commercial contracts. Thames, now president, expects to add five additional stores in the next five years.

He also plans to enhance Internet-based services and focus more on the retail side of the business by increasing hours of operation and renovating storefronts. Still, the local NAPA chain’s “bread and butter” is its contract clients. The local stores have a fleet of some 50 vehicles delivering automotive supplies to state and local governments and a variety of commercial clients, from the small “mom and pops” to national chains. Its commercial delivery fleet runs from New Orleans to Alexandria, and they ship parts anywhere in the U.S. “We’ve successfully maintained several


contracts with major companies, largely due to our negotiated, competitive pricing and customer service,” Thames says. “We also offer a quality product, exceptional customer service and a local presence.” Of course, a company’s employees provide the foundation for good customer service, so local NAPA workers are regularly trained at the Baton Rouge Automotive Technical College. “Each employee goes through 50 hours of training every year,” Thames says. That work ethic has earned the admiration of Kevin Herron, president of U.S. Automotive Parts Group in Atlanta,

1990 1978 Expansion begins in Louisiana with a store in Reserve, La. in 1978 and another in Alexandria in 1980.

1971 I.B. Thames Jr. opens the first NAPA store in Lutcher, La.



1994 Business is booming and I.B. Thames Jr. retires. Timmy and Tracy Thames begin managing the company.



FROM THE PRESIDENT Over the past 50 years we have shared one common goal throughout our company: Take care of the customer. From a retail customer shopping for a single item to our largest commercial fleets, we have strived to provide everyone with exceptional customer service. Taking care of the customer has been instrumental in our success, and as the auto parts business continues to change, we will remain focused on ensuring our customers come first.

The independent NAPA store owner is the lifeblood of our organization. These small business owners and the entrepreneurial spirit they exhibit generate a distinct advantage when competing in the marketplace.

and Thames’ corporate partner. “The independent NAPA store owner is the lifeblood of our organization,” Herron says. “These small business owners and the entrepreneurial spirit they exhibit generate a distinct advantage when competing in the marketplace.” Herron says the need for the local auto parts stores isn’t going anywhere, as key indicators for the automotive aftermarket— particularly in the Baton Rouge area— remain strong. “Having longstanding partners such as the Thames Group ensures we will be able to capitalize on these favorable conditions,” he adds.


AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Automotive parts and supplies TOP EXECUTIVES: Isra Thames, President; Timmy Thames, Managing Partner; Tracy Thames, Managing Partner YEAR FOUNDED: 1971 • WEBSITE: • EMAIL:


On behalf of our company, I would like to thank each of our dedicated employees for their continued service and hard work. Without your long hours and dedication, we would be unable to cement our title as the largest NAPA dealer in the southeast. Thank you for giving back to the local community through your commitment to youth sports, church involvement and various volunteer activities. To our customers, friends, and neighbors—thank you for shopping local and allowing NAPA to be your trusted source of auto parts and industrial supplies. It has truly been an honor to work with you and be a part of the communities we serve.



2020 2019 By 2019, there are 14 locations.

2006 The growing company now has four stores. 2010 The company expands to the Greater Baton Rouge area. | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ TRANSFORMYX ] Adapting to change, preparing for cybersecurity challenges



Just a few years ago you didn’t hear much about cybersecurity. Today, every mom and pop in Baton Rouge is getting ransom-wared. NED FASULLO, COMMERCIAL SALES MANAGER

enterprise work and increases its focus on the small to mid-sized market. And while the company’s customer base is currently concentrated in the Gulf South, they’re

ADAPTING TO CHANGE and preparing for cybersecurity challenges Like many of its customers, Transformyx is in the middle of a transformational change. But that’s nothing new. Since its founding in 1987, the company has exhibited an innate ability to adapt its business model and roll with the changes. In fact, there are few IT firms in Louisiana that can operate in such a continuously evolving landscape. Ned Fasullo, commercial sales manager, says that’s why the company has been around for more than 30 years. “We’re able to pivot and adapt to whatever is happening in the market,” Fasullo says. “For example, just a few years ago you didn’t hear much about cybersecurity. Today, every mom and pop in Baton Rouge is getting ransom-wared.” In 2017, Transformyx took a sizeable step into the world of cybersecurity by acquiring an IT security services firm based in Baton Rouge and hiring Bill Leech, a 30-year cybersecurity veteran with the U.S. Navy. Leach brought with him a team of cybersecurity analysts, and Transformyx plans to double the staff of its cybersecurity division over the next year and a half. The company also plans a move into the federal space, even as it grows its other

discussing a possible move into north Louisiana to meet increasing demand there. To accommodate such rapid growth, Transformyx recently restructured its

management team by appointing Jim DuBos as the new CEO, Craig Silvey as CFO and Matthew Mannino as vice president of operations. “If we are successful, it will have a significant multiplier effect on the business in both revenue and employee count,” DuBos says. So far, it seems to be working. The company’s 2019 revenue hit $32 million, with an ambitious goal of $40 million in 2020. The company is also moving into larger office space in New Orleans, investing in new storage infrastructure and generator capacity for its data center in Baton Rouge, and adding to its network operations center to accommodate customer growth. “Our leaders are very much in tune with the crystal ball,” Fasullo says. “We are good at seeing what’s coming down the road in the next 24 months, so when our customers have a need, we’re ready with validated solutions.” In response to these changes, Transformyx has unveiled a new value statement—“We work every day with integrity, respect and persistence”—and a new purpose statement—“We provide solutions for successful secure business outcomes.” According to DuBos, both statements reflect the company’s desire and ability to meet the ever-evolving needs of its customers.


AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Digital business transformation, including software, websites, cybersecurity, IT services, and operations of a Tier 3 data center serving thousands of SMB and Enterprise customers in the Gulf South region. TOP EXECUTIVES: Jim DuBos, CEO; Craig Silvey, CFO; Matthew Mannino, VP of Operations YEAR FOUNDED: 1987 • PHONE: 225.761.0088 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ RES CONTRACTORS ] Building relationships key to company’s reputation and success IN THE FAST-MOVING and growing petrochemical industry, production plants often must rely on contractors to keep their facilities and equipment up to date and must be able to handle ever-increasing demand. It’s not uncommon for those contractors to parachute in for the job and be gone almost as quickly as they arrived. RES Contractors takes a different approach. “When we gain a client, we want that client for life,” says CEO Joel Landry. That way of thinking has paid dividends for the company. For example, RES was brought in for a $20,000 job at a major company years ago. RES nurtured the relationship by paying special attention to the client’s concerns and now RES is working on multimillion-dollar projects for the client in several states. Landry points to the company’s reputation for performing quality work as the reason behind success stories like that. And as south Louisiana’s industrial corridor expands, he sees plenty more opportunities for RES to grow. Not only is RES’ portfolio of projects getting bigger, so is its physical footprint.



Not only is RES’ portfolio of projects getting bigger, so is its physical footprint. The company recently opened offices in Baton Rouge and Vacherie to supplement its main operations in Plattenville. It’s also seeing an increase in jobs at the fabrication shop in Napoleonville. The company recently opened offices in Baton Rouge and Vacherie to supplement its main operations in Plattenville. It’s also seeing an increase in jobs at their fabrication shop in Napoleonville. “As we’re getting bigger, we’re getting better,” Landry says. Unlike many contractors, which tend to specialize in one area, RES bills itself as a one-stop-shop able to provide clients

with personnel trained to handle electrical, mechanical, civil and outsourced engineering tasks as well as many other services. The company was founded in 2002 as an electrical contractor. One of RES’ first major clients was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which opened the door for RES to get involved in several projects along the Mississippi River in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shifting its model to

a general contractor, RES helped rebuild pump stations, levees, floodwalls and locks—establishing the company as a capable and trusted name in its field. RES expanded its capacity in 2012 when it opened its 50,000 (plus) squarefoot fabrication facility and started taking on more clients in the petrochemical sector. Many of the skills employees had picked up while working on government projects transferred, such as knowing they would be expected to meet stringent safety requirements and deliver quality work. “Not just anybody can go do what we’re doing now,” says Don “DJ” Torres, chief operations officer. RES prides itself on having a strong “safety culture,” says Fred Henderson, vice president of business development. That resonates with industrial clients who also appreciate RES’ one-stop-shop model. “That makes a whole lot less traffic for the client,” Henderson says. “Safety-wise, it helps them because there are fewer people to manage. It’s nice to have one point of contact. They like that umbrella that can capture all these different disciplines. And we care about feedback, especially about safety.”


Above all, RES values transparency, Landry says—which helps his team reach safety and performance goals. “They’re all intertwined,” he says. It’s important to think of clients as partners, Henderson says. Without them— and without satisfying their needs—RES would not be where it is today. “We don’t take clients for granted,” he says. Constant communication and frequent reviews of how projects are going are central to what Henderson calls “the RES way” of doing things. That makes it easier to catch errors early. And RES employees

have a knack for finding a way around just about any obstacle thrown in their path on the job, Henderson says. While some companies spend a lot of resources on sales and marketing, RES focuses on performance. “We have quality. We have training. We have performance reviews,” Henderson says. “Everything is about execution. Everything is about getting the client what they need.” “That’s why we have such great client retention. I always say we have 300 salesmen,” Landry adds, referring to the

company’s over 300 team members. With many industrial facilities along the Mississippi River in expansion mode, RES recently opened an office in Vacherie in St. James Parish. It’s located in a 150-year-old former general store. Landry says renovating it was a way to preserve a piece of local history and give back to the community. The new office also will provide a more convenient location for meetings with clients in the River Parishes. That makes things easier on RES employees working in the area, too, Landry says.

The company’s success ultimately goes back to those employees and their dedication to working with clients to deliver a high-quality finished product. RES is working with Louisiana universities and trade schools to promote the growing number of opportunities in engineering and industrial careers. It also prizes investing in its current employees through training and mentoring. “We’re doing the most we can do to retain top talent and gain top talent moving forward,” Landry says. “Our company is our employees.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Promoter, contributor and provider of skilled personnel for industrial construction services, including mechanical, pipe and structural steel fabrication and installation, civil, deep foundations, electrical and instrumentation TOP EXECUTIVES: Joel Landry, CEO; Mike Waguespack, CFO; Don “DJ” Torres, COO; Alisha Templet, Controller; Fred Henderson, VP of Business Development YEAR FOUNDED: 2002 • PHONE: 985.252.3400 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ ROOFCLAIM.COM ] A trusted network committed to helping homeowners rebuild

HIGH STANDARDS “We hope to reduce unnecessary processing timesand payroll costs for the insurance companies while providing a seamless experience for homeowners and maintaining high ethical standards,” says CEO Brian Wedding. “’s culture can best be described as fast-paced, goal-oriented, and hardworking individuals who come together to create a top tier team.” As a technology services company, helps diagnose damage to roofing systems, whether it results from age, storms, hail, hurricanes, etc. The company partners with qualified contractors across the nation and ensures quality by providing a million dollar



guarantee to its customers for added peace of mind. Currently, is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and has more than 200 employees in numerous offices throughout the state of Florida, as well as in Evansville, Indiana, Dallas, Texas, and just recently—Baton Rouge. “We decided to open a branch in Baton

Network. This network allows us to partner with qualified roofing professionals to provide exceptional services to the region.” COMING SOON prides itself on its technology-driven service. Just over the horizon is a newly developed app that will allow homeowners to log in to their’s culture can be best described as fast-paced, goal-oriented, and hardworking individuals who come together to create a top tier team.

AS ITS NAME implies, is a company focused on roof installation, but it also guides homeowners through the insurance claims process. uses leading technology to diagnose damage to roofing systems, streamline the insurance claims process, and connect homeowners to qualified contractors for a no-hassle roof replacement experience. Its Preferred Contractor Network allows it to partner with qualified contractors across the nation.

BRIAN WEDDING, CEO Rouge because of its proximity to the Gulf and Houston, which makes it a valuable location,” says Wedding. “Baton Rouge is also home to Louisiana State University, which will help us recruit qualified employees. “One of our top priorities for 2020 is building out our Contractor

account to review documents, case notes, and check the status of their claim. The app will also allow them to submit warranty repair requests if the need ever arises. There is no official release date yet, but expects it to be available by summer or fall of 2020.

A PROFESSIONAL NETWORK is a member of several professional associations, including the National Roofing Contractors Association and the National Association of Home Builders. In 2018, Wedding expanded his portfolio by acquiring One Source Roofing Inc, a commercial roofing company that provides roof management, inspection, maintenance, and consulting services for government entities and institutions in central Florida. A DRIVING FORCE In January, Motorsports Business Management (MBM Motorsports) and announced a multi-race partnership supporting up-and-coming NASCAR driver Timmy Hill. In a press release, Wedding commented on the news. “This sponsorship allows us to support Timmy … and immerse our organization in the world of NASCAR motor sports,” he said. “NASCAR has a large and loyal fan base, so when I was presented with this opportunity it was a simple decision. I look forward to watching the #66 car compete in the 2020 season.”


NASCAR driver Timmy Hill

WHAT WE DO ROOFING CONTRACTORS Roofing services are delivered by highly rated and carefully screened local contractors. Preferred Roofing Contractors are able to replace any type of roofing material, including shingle, metal and tile. INSURANCE COMPANIES Years of experience in the roofing industry has allowed to build relationships with insurance companies and optimize the claims process while paving the technology space for future claims processing. REALTOR PARTNERS expedites the process of roof replacements, allowing homes on the market to be sold faster. The company also facilitates bridge loans to ensure homeowners are not paying out of pocket. SCREENING SELECTION PROCESS Every contractor in the company’s network has been carefully screened and only those who meet strict criteria are invited to join

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: A network of screened and qualified builders and claim professionals TOP EXECUTIVE: Brian Wedding, CEO WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



A major construction project is underway to increase container storage capacity at the Port. When completed, up to 2,500 empty containers can be available to local industry for shipping products for export.

[ PORT OF GREATER BATON ROUGE ] Port remains a competitive player in the world marketplace LOOKING TOWARD A year of unprecedented growth and expansion, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge remains the capital city’s gateway to the Mississippi River and beyond. In 2019, business at the Port increased substantially due to exports from tenants like Drax Biomass, Genesis Energy, Center Point Terminals, Louis Dreyfus Commodities and SEACOR AMH. Container shipments via barge from Baton Rouge to the Port of New Orleans also continue to grow, driving a $4.5 million expansion of the Port’s container facility, along with the acquisition of two newly manufactured pieces of specialized container-handling equipment. Maintaining this momentum, 2020 will bring the finalization of a $10 million upgrade to deep draft docks, approximately $40 million in new rail tracks and the completion of the design of an additional berth on the Mississippi River. CONTAINER ON BARGE SERVICES The numbers for this service, which returned to the Port in 2016, show impressive growth. In 2017, SEACOR AMH handled 8,018 containers at the Port’s Inland River Marine Terminal (IRMT). In 2018, that number increased to 13,685 and continued to rise in 2019 to 14,000 containers. “A major project is now under way to expand storage capacity at the IRMT container yards for empty containers, so they can be readily available to local



industry wanting to move product down to the Port of New Orleans for export,” says Port Executive Director Jay Hardman. This expansion is estimated to cost approximately $4.5 million and will include 3.5 acres of additional concrete paving to expand the Port’s container storage capacity. Hardman estimates that 2,500 containers could be stored at the Port’s Northline Road facility once the expansion is complete. A large part of container-on-barge growth is due to increased acceptance among regional shippers who are now moving their products via containers on the Mississippi River as opposed to using truck or rail. “Every container that goes down to New Orleans for export is one less 18-wheel truck on our roads and bridges,” adds Hardman. RAIL EXPANSION In June of 2019, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, joined by the Port and Louis Dreyfus Commodities (LDC) officials, committed capital outlay funds to complete a $20 million rail project that will enhance the transfer of corn, grain, soybeans and other commodities from Louisiana farmers to export vessels at the Port. This funding commitment completes a second critical project bringing four rail tracks deeper into Port property to serve the LDC facility, which is one of the largest grain elevators on the Mississippi River. With approximately 80 employees, the LDC facility at the Port ships agricultural

commodities overseas at a volume of about five to six million metric tons per year. The new $20 million rail project will speed delivery, shipment and volume of the commodities, especially at times of high and low stages on the Mississippi River. Having the option to deliver commodities via unit trains will also benefit agricultural producers and other Port users. “This project is the culmination of a lot of hard work and strong financial investment from our tenants and private sector stakeholders,” says Hardman. “The funding commitment by Gov. Edwards and our legislature will enable us to complete a much-needed project that will serve the Port and its tenants for years to come. Once completed, it will enable the Port to remain a competitive player in the exportation of grains and oilseeds into the world marketplace.” In other rail-related news, initial work on a $22 million railcar chambering yard on Port property south of the Intracoastal Waterway has begun. This public/private project is made possible through the combined efforts of the state, Port Commission and Port stakeholders. Once complete, the chambering yard will expedite rail delivery of wood pellets to Drax Biomass, with the potential of expanding rail service to the LDC grain elevator, enhancing rail operations throughout the Port and ultimately, making the Port more attractive for prospective new tenants. Helping to revitalize the state’s timber industry,

Drax Biomass will pledge proceeds from expanded shipments as a match for state and Port funding of the chambering yard. Anticipated demand for the chambering yard has already increased since the project’s inception due to the growth of wood pellet shipments to Drax Biomass, which has expanded from one operating pellet mill to three mills over the past year. DEEP DRAFT BERTHING FACILITIES Ship calls at the Port’s deep draft docks on the Mississippi have increased dramatically over the past several years due to activities by Port tenants Drax Biomass, LDC, Genesis Energy and Contanda Terminals. As a result, last year Port leadership submitted an application to the Louisiana Department of Transportation Port Construction and Development Priority Program for the expansion of its northern berth on the Mississippi River in the amount of approximately $15 million. This expansion will allow for the handling of a fourth deep draft vessel at the Port’s dock at its northernmost point and is currently moving into the design stage. “The Port’s commitment to diverse modes of import and export is further connecting Louisiana to industries around the world,” says Hardman. “We are appreciative of the support we receive from local and state government, as well as all Port stakeholders, and we look forward to a busy year ahead.”


A funding commitment from Governor Edwards in 2019 will extend four rail tracks deeper into Port property to the grain elevators of Louis Dreyfus. The rail project will speed delivery, shipment and volume of commodities, especially at times of high and low stages on the Mississippi River.

Initial work on a $22 million railcar chambering yard on Port property south of the Intracoastal Waterway has begun. This public/private project is made possible through the combined efforts of the state, Port Commission and Port stakeholders.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Maritime services TOP EXECUTIVES: Jay Hardman, Executive Director YEAR FOUNDED: 1954 • PHONE: 225.342.1660 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ CSC CUSTOMS ] Professional, reliable, and passionate about their work CHRIS WAGLEY HAS loved trucks all his life, so it’s no surprise that he was drawn to the automotive industry. Partly by chance and partly by luck, he ended up with a successful company that seems to never stop growing. In his early 20s, Wagley worked as an accessories manager at a local dealership and loved his job, but resources were limited and the staff couldn’t always handle the workload in a timely manner. So he opened up his own shop, CSC Customs, to help with the workload and even hired a manager. After two years, however, he left the dealership and concentrated on his own small company. With two partners, the business grew quickly and in 2015, a big box store, Four Wheel Parts, came calling—more than once—and eventually bought him out. “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Wagley says. He continued doing customized work, but due to a non-compete agreement with Four Wheel Parts, he was limited to just a few services. After the agreement expired, Wagley was free to do what he wanted.



“We had been operating out of a 3,000-square-foot building for eight years and the dealership business was booming,” Wagley says. “We were busting at the seams in every department.” So last November, he moved his operation to a 31,000-square-foot building about a mile away from his original shop on Airline Highway. His company

now caters to car dealerships and individuals with services provided by a staff of 16 employees, all certified in various skills. “It was a smart move,” he says. “The new facility provides us with more office space, a better showroom, space for more equipment and the ability to work on about 10 vehicles at the same time.

Customers are often looking for ways to “upfit” their vehicles, which can include window tinting, bed liners, leather upholstery, custom tires, “lift kits,” and more. Wagley is proud of the custom services he offers, but he’s even more proud of the company culture he and his staff have created. “Our salespeople are knowledgeable and friendly, and they will always lead you in the right direction,” he says. “They don’t work on commission because I want my customers to always feel comfortable with their purchase and confident that they got a fair and honest deal. I don’t want my staff to be motivated by money, but rather by making our customers happy and building up our reputation.” The shop environment is pleasant, too. It’s spacious and clean with coffee and snacks available to customers, a large waiting room, and a panoramic view of technicians at work no matter where you look. Wagley credits his success to the great team he has assembled. “Every one of our employees take great pride in the work they do,” he says.


Our salespeople are knowledgeable and friendly, and they will always lead you in the right direction … I want my customers to always feel comfortable with their purchase and confident that they got a fair and honest deal. CHRIS WAGLEY, OWNER

And Wagley says his wife Shannon is integral to the company’s success, overseeing the accounting and finance operations, including payroll, billing, taxes and more. “She’s the real boss,” he says. Wagley understands that having the support of the community is vital to anyone’s business, and he believes in giving back. He and his staff have

conducted food drives for the needy, helped survivors of the Flood of 2016, and even traveled to Texas to help with flood relief. For more information on CSC and its services, stop by the shop at 11855 Airline Hwy., or call 225.298.4921. CSC Customs is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Automotive customization, including window tinting, leather upholstery, lift kits, tires, rims and more TOP EXECUTIVE: Chris Wagley, Owner YEAR FOUNDED: 2009 • PHONE:225.298.4921 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



Valhalla neighborhood entry

[ PINNACLE EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION ] Pinnacle partners shake up the exterior construction scene IT WAS AN unlikely way to start a partnership, but after frequent encounters at Home Depot and friendly conversations about their respective businesses, Ryan Martino and Shane Dantin decided to combine their resources and skill sets to create a truly unique construction company. The two have been transforming outdoor spaces around Louisiana ever since. “We said, ‘Let’s partner up on a job and see how it goes,’ and it worked out pretty well,” Dantin says. “We immediately started growing.” In the last four years, the company’s staff and number of clients, both residential and commercial, has exploded. Their dynamic partnership and eye for quality has helped Pinnacle Exterior Construction excel in a variety of ventures, including pools, pergolas, pavilions, patios, neighborhood entrances, fences, even bulkheads and retaining walls.

Their specialties, however, are pools and outdoor spaces—projects that show off their incredible knack for design, structure and technique. Martino and Dantin can dream up interior and exterior spaces that make the everyday extraordinary, striving to achieve the highest quality of workmanship along the way. “We can be a small part of a large job or handle a large job comprised of many small parts,” Martino says. “Our passion is to create. While we understand, as a business, that revenue is important, it’s even more important to provide efficient, high-quality work. That’s the predecessor to growth.” Pinnacle is unique in the market because it self-performs much of the work with its own crews, all working toward a common goal—from concrete work to pool construction, from carpentry to electrical—whatever is

Pinnacle is unique in the market because it self-performs much of the work with its own crews, all working toward a common goal—from concrete work to pool construction, from carpentry to electrical—whatever is needed. 30


From left: Shane Dantin and Ryan Martino




needed. This system allows them to closely manage their projects and keep them on track. It’s a “one-stop-shop” approach that appeals to customers. “If you have just one piece of the project, you don’t have a sense of the entire scope or overall purpose, and inevitably, you’ll have conflicts and contractors working out of sequence,” Dantin says. “At Pinnacle, we handle it all, and the project flows more smoothly

and sequentially. It’s a lot easier being able to stick to a schedule when you’re doing 95 percent of the work.” In the end, the process can also be less expensive, as Pinnacle is fairly aggressive in its pricing—mainly because they do it all themselves. They can also make design changes “on the fly” in order to keep the job moving. Looking ahead, Pinnacle is actively hiring project managers from area

universities, and recently attended LSU’s Construction Interviewing Day to interview construction management graduates. One of their recent hires is skilled in both landscape design and architecture. “He actually understands the construction side of things, which is a perfect fit for us,” Martino says. “It fills a need, as we have a growing number of structures to design and build, particularly outdoor kitchen spaces.”

While many contractors have seasonal highs and lows, that’s not the case for Pinnacle. It’s a testament to the company’s business model. “We stay very busy all year,” Dantin says. “Part of that is because of our diverse capabilities and growing volume of commercial work. Mostly, I feel it’s because we deliver a great product at a fair price.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Custom builder of residential and commercial outdoor spaces TOP EXECUTIVES: Shane Dantin and Ryan Martino, Co-owners YEAR FOUNDED: 2014 • PHONE: 225.757.6138 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH LIBRARY ] Buoyed by new downtown branch, EBRP Library stays relevant in a changing world THE EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH LIBRARY is nothing if not resilient. Its evolving business model has enabled it to stay relevant in the face of an increasingly digitized, on-line society. Mary Stein, assistant library director, says the opening of the new downtown River Center Branch this Spring accentuates that point. “The new branch is wonderful,” she says. “The building is in a prime location in downtown Baton Rouge, so there’s not a bad view anywhere in that building. It feels fresh, it feels welcoming. It’s a marvelous space that allows us to do the things that we do best, which is bring people together and provide access to resources.” In the process, the library is increasing its focus on certain niche-specific offerings. Andrew Tadman, the library’s reference services coordinator, is always on the lookout for new options to share with the business community. “Over the past two years, we’ve developed the Small Business Service, which creates a concierge experience for small business owners who need access to our amazing resources,” Tadman says. It provides the business community with unparalleled access to a variety of tools and resources that

can help either a startup or existing company. While there, new business owners can check out the small business infoguide for a quick guide to its resources, or head to the Gale Small Business Builder to work on a business plan, perform preliminary market research, set up financial records and track their growth. Or they can access

the Gale Small Business Resource Center for information on everything from taxes to handling human resources issues and performing market research. Technology is central to the process. The library has invested significantly in upgrading its Wi-Fi at all branches (it had 1.8 million Wi-Fi logins in 2019). Of course, there’s also an abundance of

small and large meeting rooms. “People use our collaborative spaces for videoconferencing, meetings, etc.,” Stein adds. In a nutshell, the library provides access to a variety of free tools that can’t easily be found elsewhere. Stein says. “This is a great community investment—we can help you save time and money.” Most notably, the new River Center Branch Library will offer a new “makerspace” and sound media lab. In the multi-purpose makerspace, participants will be able to create first-time 3D prototypes, among a host of other things, and classes will cover topics ranging from small engine repair to robotics to jewelry design. The sound media lab is multi-purpose as well, and can be used to create a music score, record a podcast etc. “We’ve been teaching things like that to teenagers for years, and adults are getting in on the action, too,” Stein says. She says all of these changes mesh nicely with the library’s overarching goal—to encourage learning and create a better quality of life. “We want our citizens to feel that there’s always something new to discover and explore, and the library is a perfect place to safely dip your toe into lots of different things.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Public library, which provides free, daily access to business resources, online databases, Wi-Fi and much more TOP EXECUTIVES: Spencer Watts, Director; Kristen Edson, Deputy Library Director; Patricia Husband, Assistant Director; Mary Stein, Assistant Director YEAR FOUNDED: 1939 • PHONE: 225.231.3750 • WEBSITE: 32


• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees. Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Louisiana Business, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700 • Fax 225-926-1329





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Celebrating 140 Years





S R A E Y 140




Hope, opportunity and a thirst for knowledge A five-campus network that is the country’s only historically black college system. Nationally recognized academic programs that have launched the careers of odds-defying students. A renowned marching band known worldwide for its musical talents and unique style. An alumni network comprised of men and women proud to call this institution their alma mater. Powerful traditions that run deep, and a timeline that spans 140 years.


1880 An early Southern University cottage overlooks the Mississippi River.

SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY’S MOVING story isn’t just one of an evolving academic institution. Its history is America’s history. When Southern first opened in New Orleans in 1880, the world looked a lot different. The Thirteenth Amendment, which ended slavery, had passed just 15 years earlier, followed by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, guaranteeing African Americans the right to citizenship. Freed people across the country had gone to work, were holding public office and were seeking the opportunity for the formal education they had so long been denied. Schools serving all ages of black students cropped up in large numbers, including institutions of higher education.

Fisk University opened its doors in 1866 in Nashville, and Howard University launched in Washington, DC in 1867. These institutions would lay the groundwork for a new network of colleges that created opportunities for African Americans. We know them today as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs. As it did elsewhere in the South, a burning desire for educational advancement was being felt by African Americans in Louisiana. Black politicians P.B.S. Pinchback, Theophile T. Allain and Henry Demas petitioned the Louisiana State Constitutional Convention in the late 1870s about the importance of establishing an institution of higher learning for “per-


1881 Mary A. Craig DeLong was Southern University’s first student. Slavery had ended just 16 years earlier.

sons of color,” says Charles Vincent, PhD, Southern University Professor of History and the author of A Centennial History of Southern University and A&M College. “At that time, there was a massive movement of black people to improve themselves with formal education,” Vincent says. “They were so passionate about it, because they knew that as slaves they would have been whipped for even opening a book. There was a wide belief in public education in the African American community at that time.” Pinchback and his colleagues fostered the establishment of Southern University’s first charter and its opening in New Orleans. Southern’s first


1885 A group of women students in the interior design and art studio.



FROM THE PRESIDENTCHANCELLOR We have much to celebrate at Southern University as we observe the 140th anniversary of the founding of what is now the only historically black university system in the country—when Southern first opened its doors in New Orleans in 1880.

(Opposite page, far left) Young men at work in the mechanical department, which was initiated in 1893. (Left) Located near Magazine Street, this was one of the university’s early buildings in New Orleans. (Above) Educator and author Booker T. Washington and other dignitaries visited the Southern University campus in 1915.

campus on Calliope Street was a disciplined environment, says Vincent, that included chapel services and religious activities and a curriculum focused on pre-college “manual training.” But the seeds of a strong student community were beginning to take root. Southern’s campus, which later moved to uptown New Orleans, evolved to include higher level vocational industrial education and some traditional liberal arts, including a “Literary” department and a music program. Curriculum aimed at younger students was dropped as the institution sharpened its focus as a college.

The move to Scotlandville In 1890, an important change took place nationally when the second Morrill Act passed in the U.S. Congress. It gave black institutions the opportunity to become land grant colleges—the same opportunity then-white colleges had been assigned in 1862. Land grant colleges were given access to land so that students could hone their agricultural, science and engineering skills. That, along with interest in situating

Southern in a location accessible to students outside of New Orleans, prompted the move. It took some time to find the right spot, says Vincent. “A committee looked at 27 locations, Vincent says. “But in Scotlandville, they found a budding black community and the Mississippi River. And Standard Oil had just moved in. The area known then as Scotland Heights had begun to boom.” The new campus was situated on nearly 900 acres on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, where it still sits today. Southern, then renamed Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, flourished in Scotlandville. Joseph Samuel “J.S.” Clark, Southern’s first president on its new campus, would become one of its most influential leaders. Clark’s tenure as Southern’s president spanned 1913 to 1938, a period of growth and promise.

Southern takes off Clark would help expand Southern’s enrollment from 47 students when the Baton Rouge campus opened, to 500

when he retired. He fortified Southern’s agricultural programs, and led the expansion of its four-year degree programs. Under Clark’s direction, the university added a College of Arts and Sciences and a College of Education. Early on, Clark built relationships with other black educational leaders, including Booker T. Washington, who had founded Tuskegee Institute, and George Washington Carver, one of the college’s high profile agricultural scientists. Washington visited Southern in 1915, and Carver was a frequent lecturer throughout the1920s at Southern’s annual farmers’ conferences, where agricultural innovations in farming were presented to black farmers in the state. In 1916, Southern saw its first football team take the field, growing to become a powerhouse among its peers within three years. Students participated in a wide variety of activities on the growing campus, including athletics, a school newspaper, religious activities and student clubs. Clark was not only a beloved figure on campus but a frequent lecturer around the region and country on the importance of education for African Americans.

We pay tribute to those legends who stood up and fostered the establishment of Southern University despite facing many odds. And we acknowledge and pay homage to the pioneering leaders through the years who shaped and molded us into this storied institution of higher learning. From its early beginning in New Orleans, and later relocation to Scott’s Bluff in Baton Rouge in 1914, Southern University has broadly surpassed the dreams of its early founders. In this special publication, you will see some highlights of our history—our tremendous evolution and our growth in enrollment, academic programs, campuses, research, facilities, athletics, faculty and student achievements, alumni engagement, and philanthropy. You’re invited to the party. Stay tuned as we commemorate our rich history and tradition of 140 Years of Excellence and Impact. Happy 140 SU!

RAY L. BELTON, PH.D. President-Chancellor Southern University System

Photos courtesy of ©Archives, Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, John B. Cade Library, Southern University and A&M College.


1903 Men and women students studied agriculture at Southern. These students are taking a dairy class at the Southern University farm.


1918 SU President Dr. Joseph Samuel Clark (right) poses with the Southern University baseball team.


1922 The interior of the President’s office in the Administration Building. Dr. Joseph Samuel Clark, president, is at his desk in the back corner.






S R A E Y 140 1880-2020

In 1960, a group of Southern University students participated in a historic sit-in at the Kress lunch counter in downtown Baton Rouge. Several students were eventually expelled for their involvement, but received honorary degrees from the university in 2004.

THE NEXT 50 YEARS: 1930 TO 1980

War, civil rights, activism and social change OVER ITS NEXT 50 years, Southern would continue to adapt and grow amid tumultuous global events and social changes. The effects of the Second World War, the Civil Rights Movement and other pivotal happenings would be felt acutely on Southern’s campus. The Jaguar Nation, however, continued to press forward, fulfilling its mission of providing an equitable education for people of color. In 1938, President J.S. Clark retired, and his son, Felton Grandison “F.G.” Clark, was appointed president. F.G. Clark earned a Ph.D. in education from Columbia University and spent the first part of his career working at Howard University, and later, as Southern’s “Dean of the College and Director of

Instruction.” Felton Clark would serve as Southern’s longest running president and would set a course for growth and excellence still evident today. As dean, Felton Clark made recruiting top-notch faculty a priority. Among his hires was head football coach Arnett William “Ace” Mumford, who coached Southern’s football team from 1931 to 1961. Mumford remains one of the winningest coaches in college football.

War, segregation and legal battles Soon after Felton Clark took over as president, the U.S. entered World War II. Many Southern students were


called to duty, and industrial shops on campus were used to support the war effort. At the same time, President Clark continued to expand academic programs, athletics and enrichment activities. He also introduced a sweeping building program that included a new library, dormitories and a school for the blind and deaf. In 1947, a watershed event led to the establishment of the Southern University Law Center. A student named Charles J. Hatfield wanted to become a lawyer, but was denied entry to Louisiana State University on the basis of race. Hatfield’s friend and mentor, A.P. Tureaud, along with attorneys Louis Berry and Thurgood Marshall, filed suit in district court, leading to

1940 1931 Southern’s male quartet toured Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina during the summer, entertaining audiences with their heartfelt songs.

1939 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stands in front of the Martin L. Harvey Chapel at Southern. Behind her is Dr. Felton G. Clark.

the authorization of a law school on Southern’s campus. The Southern University Law Center opened that same year. Throughout the 1950s, life on Southern’s campus continued to flourish. Athletic teams developed a national reputation for success, and students were held to high academic standards. Campus traditions like the Founders’ Day celebration and the Miss Southern beauty pageant created a strong sense of community. A $10 million building program took place between 1954 and 1956. By 1957, Southern students represented all 64 Louisiana parishes. Meanwhile, calls for racial equality and the end of segregation were stirring across the country. A bus boy-


1948 Two students from the “Teachers in Service” program work in the Negro branch of the Louisiana State Library.



As the country experienced social change and civil unrest during the 1960s, Southern students were inspired to get involved—from marches to sit-ins to boycotts—at the local and national level.

cott had taken place in Baton Rouge in 1953. The next year, the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. And in Montgomery in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white rider, triggering a major boycott of that city’s bus system.

The winds of social change Southern students also felt the winds of social change, and were inspired to get involved. After students in Greensboro, North Carolina organized a lunch counter sit-in in February 1960, seven Southern students organized a similar sit-in on March 28 at the Kress lunch counter in downtown Baton

Rouge. The next day, students organized two more sit-ins, and on March 30, about 2,000 of them marched from the campus to the State Capitol and back again to protest segregation. Clark faced one of the most difficult decisions of his presidency. While he personally opposed segregation, he had to answer to Louisiana’s then governing board of higher education, which influenced Southern’s finances. Clark called for the expulsion of 16 of the students, who were also prohibited from attending other universities in the state.

Expansion and national recognition In 1962, American sculptor Frank Hayden joined the Southern faculty.


1956 Southern’s “Marching 100” would evolve to become one of the most talented and renowned college marching bands in the world.

Hayden taught sculpture and drawing for 27 years until his untimely death, and is known worldwide for abstracted, stylized sculptural forms, many of which are on display on the Southern campus and throughout Baton Rouge. In 1964, the University celebrated its 50th anniversary at its Scott’s Bluff location. Southern’s enrollment at the time had swelled to 5,000. There were 300 faculty members and 100 buildings on the main campus, along with a 372-acre research farm north of the university. Also in 1964, Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) opened, returning the school’s presence to the Crescent City. And in 1967, Southern University opened a campus in Shreveport. Felton Clark retired in 1968 and died in


1963 The first graduating class from Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO).

1970. He is buried, along with his father, on a picturesque spot on campus overlooking the Mississippi River. G. Leon Netterville took over as Southern’s president, and served until 1974. Tragedy struck Southern in 1972 when students, frustrated over an imbalance in public funding for black and white colleges, staged a series of protests on campus. Governor Edwin W. Edwards sent 300 law enforcement officers and an armored personnel carrier to quell the disturbance. Tear gas was used to break up the crowd, but one officer fired a round of live ammunition into the crowd. Student Leonard Brown died on the spot and Denver Smith succumbed to his wounds later at a local hospital.

1980 1975 The F.G. Clark Activity Center, also known as the ‘MiniDome,’ opened in 1975 on the Baton Rouge campus. The construction of this multi-purpose facility marked an era of construction of modern stateof-the-art facilities throughout the SU System.






S R A E Y 140 1880-2020

THE LAST 40 YEARS: 1980 TO 2020

Expansion, distinction and a look to the future OVER THE LAST 40 years, Southern University has continued to expand both academic programs and applied research to prepare graduates for the global workforce. In cyber security, aerospace technology, law, engineering, healthcare, forensic science and many other fields, Southern graduates are bringing a thoughtful worldview and an enduring commitment to achievement to their personal and professional lives. Under the leadership of PresidentChancellor Ray L. Belton, a bright future lies ahead for the Southern University System. The flagship campus in Baton Rouge has a current enrollment of more than 7,000, a 10 percent increase since 2016. At both Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO)

and Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA), new academic programs that dovetail with workplace demand give graduates the skills to compete for 21st century jobs. Southern’s Law Center remains a highly relevant option for diverse men and women eager to earn a degree in law. The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center has become a state

leader in the study of medicinal plants and other farming innovations.

Excelling in the classroom From the study to jazz and public policy, to the study of engineering and computer science, the pursuit of excellence is palpable in the halls of Southern University. Its College of

The flagship campus in Baton Rouge has an enrollment of more than 7,000. Counting the Shreveport and New Orleans campuses brings the total to 12,000.


1990 1980s The top-ranked Southern University School of Nursing was granted initial approval by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing in 1985 and admitted the first baccalaureate level students to upper division courses in the fall of 1986.

Nursing and Allied Health, launched in 1986, is a standout unit that has earned national acclaim. The college, which offers four degrees, has been named Nursing School of the Year four times by the Louisiana Nursing Foundation. It is the only college in Louisiana to offer a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP), the highest level degree achievable in the nurse practitioner field. Southern trains more African-American nurse practitioners than any other academic institution in the country, and its graduates pass national boards at an average rate of 95 percent, higher than the national average. In 1988, mathematician Delores Margaret Richard Spikes was named Southern’s first female president. She

2000 1990 Between 1970 and 1990, the university routinely enrolled more than 10,000 students and was the largest HBCU in the country. Today’s enrollment is over 12,000 across all campuses with students from 46 states and 40 countries.

2000 South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela gave the commencement address at Southern University in 2000.


was also the first female chancellor of any Louisiana land grant university. Southern’s Honors College, which creates opportunities for increased rigor and global learning, is named in Spikes’ honor.

…and on the field One of Southern’s best known modern traditions is its longstanding football rivalry with Grambling State University, which was formalized as an annual face-off named the Bayou Classic in 1974. First played in New Orleans at Tulane University, the game was later moved to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where it is held every Thanksgiving weekend. The event attracts an estimated 200,000 attendees and delivers a $50 million economic impact to the Crescent City. The Battle of the Bands is one of the Bayou Classic’s most celebrated components. Southern’s Human Jukebox and the Grambling State Tiger Marching Band compete in a nationally televised halftime show demonstrating musical prowess, precision and athleticism. The Human Jukebox, and its accompanying Fabulous Dancing Dolls, have performed in numerous high-profile events, including several Super Bowl halftime shows, the Rose Parade (twice), the inaugural parade of President Bill Clinton and in a music


2010 Southern University’s Army and Navy ROTC programs are nationally recognized.


Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Southern University hold an important place in American and black history. Generations of African American students have earned an education, realized dreams, and built a future here. video with recording artist Lizzo. Items belonging to longtime band director Isaac Greggs are on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and reflect Southern’s historic commitment to the study of music.

Returning with distinction In 2004, Southern issued an apology to the 16 men and women who were expelled after staging lunch counter sit-ins in Baton Rouge protesting segregation in 1960. They returned to the University for spring commencement that year, where they were given honorary degrees.

SUNO fights back After Hurricane Katrina led to massive flooding in New Orleans in 2005, Southern University New Orleans saw a sharp drop in enrollment. This, along with state budget cuts, created significant challenges for SUNO. But after troubled times, the campus is blazing a promising trail forward. FEMA funds helped erect a series of new structures, including the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Building, the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work, the Natural Sciences Building and the forthcoming College of Education and Human Development. SUNO is the only university in the state to offer a graduate degree in museum studies and an undergraduate degree in forensic science.

2015 2015 The SU System, during its 2015 Founders’ Day celebration, dedicated a building in honor of former longtime Alumni Director Donald Carlyle Wade. The Donald C. Wade House served as the on-campus residence of former presidents of Southern University Baton Rouge.

Embracing the future In 2018, the Valdry Center for Philanthropy opened at Southern’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The Valdry Center is one of just a few academically based research centers for philanthropic studies and nonprofit management in the country and the only one in Louisiana. Its mission is to expand the understanding of how nonprofits can move the needle on social issues more responsibly and effectively. Southern’s Law Center has continued to thrive, now claiming 2,700 alumni nationwide. It is one of the most racially diverse law schools in the United States, and is one of few across the country to offer a part-time option. It stands out for its law clinic, which functions as a living laboratory, and for offering training in Native American tribal law. Many high-profile regional elected officials got their start with a law degree from Southern. In 2019, Southern became the only HBCU in the country to cultivate and research medical marijuana. Its Institute for Medicinal Plants, part of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, is actively researching how cannabis can ease the impacts of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as chronic pain..

2020 2020 Along with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, Southern unveiled its hemp-derived CBD product line Alafia.


MISSION The Southern University System Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation established to secure financial support for each of the five campuses of the Southern University System. The Foundation is a voluntary institute of business and professional leaders, proudly incorporated to provide broader educational advantages to our students, encourage research among our faculty, and advance the University's role in helping to build an increasingly functional Louisiana.


1968 In 1944, Rockefeller Foundation officials visited Southern University to tour the campus and to discuss General Education Board fellowships. Pictured left to right: Dr. Felton G. Clark, president of Southern University; Dr. H. M. Miller, Rockefeller Foundation; Dr. R. R. Ewerz, Director of Higher Education of Louisiana; Dr. Robert Calkins, Former Head of Business Education, Columbia, and at Rockefeller Foundation; and Mr. J. E. Williams, Supervisor of Negro Education in Louisiana. Clark and local business leaders established the Southern University System Foundation in 1968.



The Valdry Center for Philanthropy was established on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus as the first center of philanthropy at a Historically Black College and University in 2019.

For more information on the Southern University System Foundation and its programming, please visit our website at Please scan the barcode below to GIVE TODAY!





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From left, Sean Nelson, Trey Beall, Steve Gammon

[ GULF COAST OFFICE PRODUCTS ] Success based on local involvement and team approach TREY BEALL DOESN’T step over dollars to pick up nickels. As president of Gulf Coast Office Products, he’s not a micromanager, and he lets his workers do what they do best. As a result, his company has one of the best records around for employee longevity – many of them have been at GCOP for more than 10 years. That longevity is reflected in its customer base, too. A home-grown, Louisiana company at heart, Gulf Coast has been the official partner and provider for the New Orleans Saints, the Pelicans and LSU for years. “Our clients want leaders that get involved in the community, as well as their institution,” Beall says. “We actually have an employee in the press box at LSU football games. We’re very invested.” Gulf Coast Office Products has become an indispensable resource, as they’ve diversified far beyond copiers since their creation back in 1977. These days, they’re more integrated into a client’s workflow, enabling them to print, copy, email and manage documents from the cloud. They can be fully connected to any network, with pre-trained technicians on staff offering


local expert service. A winner never stands still, so Gulf Coast continues to add to its mix as their customers evolve and grow. In fact, the company has grown by 350 percent in just the last six years. While the main artery of the business continues to be traditional black and white and color copiers that print, scan and fax, the company is much more than

that. They offer software and other services to enable them to store documents in the cloud for document retrieval. They also supply equipment such as interactive whiteboards. These 75-inch whiteboards enable a customer to write notes, pull up videos or conduct virtual tours through the Internet. Beall has been with the company since graduating from LSU in 1990,

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Copiers, printers, scanners, multifunction devices, software TOP EXECUTIVE: Trey Beall, President YEAR FOUNDED: 1977 • PHONE: 225.756.2644 • WEBSITE: 44


and says Gulf Coast’s success boils down to loyalty and local involvement. “We take care of our workers,” he says. “If an employee has been with the company more than five years, they’re given special recognition. And when an employee survey revealed they wanted management to be more approachable, we instituted an open-door policy.” Beall also holds regular meetings with the warehouse manager, service manager, IT manager, operations manager and accounting to root out issues that might hurt productivity. Their customers are the beneficiaries, as they’re usually doing business with a familiar face. “We have a lot of boots on the ground,” he adds, “so we can normally be in a customer’s office in a couple of hours to fix any problem. If you can’t scan, print and copy, you can’t run a law firm or an urgent care center. It’s detrimental to your business.” Gulf Coast’s success is also evident in its physical growth. Its Baton Rouge facilities have grown from 1,500 to 15,000 square feet in just the last 15 years, and the company has significantly expanded its IT department.


[ HENRY HAYS CONSULTING/MPOWER HEALTH ] Health care market ripe for disruption, and Henry Hays is ready HENRY HAYS, A self-described disruptor at Henry Hays Consulting/MPower Health, says there was a seminal moment in March of 2019 when the bell tolled on traditional health care. That’s when technological trailblazers Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway forged a nonprofit health care venture with the stated purpose of tackling rising health care costs and improving the overall health care system. No doubt the company’s innovative application of technology will have a disruptive ripple effect on the entire industry. Hays is always on the lookout for disruptive innovation, whereby technology displaces and “disrupts” an established market. Hays says the health care market has all the symptoms—market complacency, customer frustration and tension points. “There are red flags everywhere,” he says. “Health care has been very reactive, not proactive, and it’s easy to understand the customer frustration. Things have been done the same way for decades.” Hays’ career began in the pharmaceutical industry in the late 1990s, where he served several companies in multiple sales and account manage-

ment roles. But it was the challenge of building unique, high-performing sales teams that quickly became his passion. Today, Hays helps clients understand where there is a need for disruption and how it can best be achieved. His firm builds plans to match those needs, then creates a roadmap to achieve market disruption and ultimate success. Hays says health care is rapidly evolving to a value-based industry, and that doctors should tap into emerging technologies and newer business models to stay out in front. “Swarm Artificial Intelligence” will play a critical role in this evolution. Swarm is the world’s first

AI platform that amplifies the intelligence of networked business teams, enabling significantly more accurate forecasts, predictions, decisions and insights. He says the potential of smart watches is a prime example. “In the near future, they’ll be so sophisticated in terms of what they’re measuring on your body. That information will be sent back to your physician’s office and they’ll be able to proactively determine a course of treatment. Multiple layers of machine learning and advancing AI will power this.” Hays’ sales leadership experience has equipped him with the knowl-

edge, wisdom and insight for building extraordinary teams through servant and value-oriented leadership. As such, he guides companies through the process of preparing for and recognizing when their markets are about to be disrupted. Most of his clients are in the health care “ecosystem”—for example, vendors, hospitals, patients, doctors, small doctor groups and larger doctor groups. In that realm, Hays’ firm can potentially run the entire business side of an operation, from accounting to hiring to payroll to contract negotiation. All of these functions will be disrupted. No doubt his services are needed now more than ever, as each day brings new technologies matched with new challenges. The most dangerous business strategy is standing still. For example, when the government mandated that hospitals switch to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), it created a huge storehouse of unstructured data. “Our goal is to get that into a more structured state where you can make that data work for you and create better interactions between patient and physician,” he says.

AT A GLANCE MPOWER HEALTH: PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Provides innovative solutions, improves quality and drives better results by partnering with physicians and organizations TOP EXECUTIVES: Scott LaRoque, Founder and CEO; Chris Vaerwyck, CHRO; Alla LaRoque, COO: Nancy Vasto, CCO YEAR FOUNDED: 2009 • PHONE: 225.252.3624 • WEBSITE: HENRY HAYS CONSULTING: PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Consulting authority on disruptive innovation • TOP EXECUTIVE: Henry Hays, Founder/Speaker YEAR FOUNDED: 2016 • PHONE: 225.252.3624 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ GREATER BATON ROUGE INDUSTRY ALLIANCE ] Collaboration leads to win-win solutions FOR 50 YEARS, the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance has helped drive workforce development, safety performance and economic competitiveness across the region. Established in 1970 as a response to industrial managers’ need for a competitive, skilled workforce and safe operations, GBRIA now represents more than 70 petrochemical and other industrial manufacturers. GBRIA’s accomplishments from the past five decades are visible in workplaces, classrooms and local communities throughout south Louisiana. South Louisiana boasts a highly skilled, world-class craft workforce, due in large part to GBRIA’s leadership and efforts to ensure workers have relevant skills and credentials and to develop a continuing pipeline of skilled workers to support the region’s economic growth. Through GBRIA, industry members worked with state government to increase funding for Louisiana community and technical colleges and develop vital training and curricula for craft workers. GBRIA led efforts to include industry-based certifications as part of the state’s high school curriculum and provided guidance in estab-

lishing Louisiana’s innovative Jump Start program, which enables high school students to take courses such as pipefitting and welding and earn industry credentials. Illustrating the organization’s collaborative approach to workforce development, GBRIA helped establish and funds operation of the Associated Builders and Contractors Craft Training Center, where each year more than 1,000 people earn certificates as boilermakers, pipefitters, electricians, welders and more. “GBRIA has been instrumental in bringing together industry, contractors, government, unions, educators and local communities to grow the craft workforce,” says Connie Fabre, GBRIA president and CEO. GBRIA also has played a pioneering role in improving safety standards. Working with Alliance Safety Council, GBRIA introduced safety and training programs that safeguard workers while reducing costs and increasing efficiency. With support from GBRIA, industrial employers share best practices and work with contractors to continuously focus on safety improvements. As a result, the safety record

at Baton Rouge plants is significantly better than the national average. GBRIA has been central in addressing issues that affect quality of life in local communities, as well. Collaborating with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Center for Planning Excellence, GBRIA helped form the Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions (CRISIS) to tackle the region’s transportation challenges. These efforts led to a $1.7 billion appropriation for area infrastructure. Major projects, such as the I-10 widening in Ascension Parish and a new exit at Washington Street, have been prioritized and are under construction. With GBRIA’s leadership, the connection between industry and the community has grown stronger. Many plants have operated in Baton Rouge for more than 50 years and GBRIA has raised awareness of the value industry brings to the region, such as through job opportunities, economic impact and community investment. Industry supports many community initiatives from United Way to teacher education. “In GBRIA’s first strategic plan in 2005, recognizing the community as a

more active stakeholder was a priority,” Fabre says. “Industry now works much more in partnership with our local communities.” Looking to the future, GBRIA sponsored the Tec Next conference in 2019, bringing together industry and technology leaders to develop partnerships and highlight how technology continues to transform the industry, such as using augmented reality in training, automated hydroblasting to reduce injuries and drones to conduct inspections. Digital technologies will transform industry to improve safety performance, reliability and profitability. Such revolutionary change will affect how workers do their jobs and the types of jobs available. It also will affect economic development across the region, with south Louisiana primed to become “Silicon Bayou,” Fabre says. “Tec Next may become a big partnership between industry and other organizations, such as BRAC, technical and community colleges, and government agencies,” she says. “It’s what GBRIA is about: collaborating to move everyone forward for win-win solutions.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Trade association whose mission is adding value to the community by driving solutions to common issues with an emphasis on workforce development and safety performance. • TOP EXECUTIVE: Connie Fabre, President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1970 • PHONE: 225.769.0596 • WEBSITE: 46



Standing from left: Kentra Davis, Rachel Simmons, Emily C. S. Spears, Amy Tuminello, Geralyn King, Joni M. Leggio. Seated from left: Stacye L. Bradford, James W. Parks II (President and CEO), Tricia A. Dubroc (Vice President of Student Loans & Administration). Not shown: Martin Walke, CEcD (Vice President of Economic and Program Development).

[ LOUISIANA PUBLIC FACILITIES AUTHORITY ] LPFA supports student housing expansion at LSU AFTER A DAY of attending lectures and labs or cheering on a championship sports team, an increasing number of LSU students head home to newly built, contemporary apartment-style housing without ever leaving campus. As part of its master plan to expand and update student housing, LSU is developing nearly 2,000 new bedrooms of on-campus student housing and redeveloping approximately 2,850 existing beds, along with construction of a satellite recreation center, an 808space parking deck and 40,000 square feet of retail space that caters to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors. The project also has created a significant new gateway to the university’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The development is the result of an innovative public-private partnership between LSU and the Provident Group-Flagship Properties, a Baton Rouge-based company serving as lead developer, to design, build, finance and operate new on-campus student residences. Using a private partner enabled LSU to proceed with the project more efficiently and to achieve significant cost savings. Integral to the project’s success is support from the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority (LPFA), which has provided nearly $400 million in bonds to finance construction across three phases of development for student

housing and associated facilities. Established in 1974, the LPFA serves as a statewide conduit issuer of bonds for nonprofit organizations and businesses prohibited by tax laws from directly selling tax-exempt bonds to finance their projects. Celebrating its 45th year anniversary, the LPFA has issued more than $27 billion in bonds and has created more than 327,000 jobs for Louisiana. In summer 2019, LSU began construction on the final of three phases of the student housing plan. Known as the Greenhouse District, this phase includes construction of two five-story buildings that will add 881 new bedrooms in total, as well as demolition of the 52-year-old Kirby Smith Hall dorm and existing greenhouses. The LPFA provided $80.6 million in bonds for phase three. The first phase included the

mixed-use Nicholson Gateway development, a 28-acre site across the street from Tiger Stadium that opened in 2018 and created 763 new bedrooms, providing housing for more than 1,500 students. Among the retailers in the mixed-use development are Rouses, restaurants and a dry-cleaner. Phase two of the master plan included construction of the 405-bed Cedar Hall, which will replace Kirby Smith. “The LPFA is delighted to partner with LSU, a longstanding client, on this innovative financing in order to update its student housing units and enhance the student learning experience,” says Martin Walke, CEcD, LPFA’s vice president of economic and program development. LPFA helps college-bound students in other ways, as well. Through its education division, the Louisiana

Education Loan Authority (Lela), LPFA provides students and their parents with valuable college planning. Lela representatives guide high school students and their parents through the complex process of applying for grants, scholarships and financial aid. In 2019, Lela provided information to more than 35,000 students. More than 400,000 students have received assistance since Lela’s creation in 1984. Further, Lela’s student loan refinancing program, RefiHELP, provides relief for students and parents who are locked into paying federal or private student loans at high interest rates or making monthly payments on multiple loans. Lela’s RefiHELP offers refinancing with no origination fees, zero capitalized interest, flexible repayment options and new fixed rates as low as 3.5 percent. By providing the means for qualifying projects and entities to receive tax-exempt financing and achieve interest cost savings, the LPFA supports economic and community development across the state. As a self-supporting authority that operates solely on self-generated revenues, the LPFA has never requested or received any tax or other appropriation from the state of Louisiana for its operations. The LPFA’s operating expenses are covered through revenues generated by fees on bonds it has issued.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Conduit issuer of tax-exempt and taxable bonds TOP EXECUTIVES: Guy Campbell III, Chairman; James W. Parks II, President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1974 • PHONE: 225.923.0020 or 800.228.4755 • WEBSITE: or | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ CAPITAL AREA TRANSIT SYSTEM ] Transportation industry going through a revolution THE CAPITAL AREA TRANSIT SYSTEM has grown from a small bus company with a few local routes to a key player in providing transportation solutions for the growing Baton Rouge community. This expanding role is evident in CATS’ recent efforts to ease traffic congestion, support regional economic development and facilitate transitoriented development. In 2019, CATS, through the cityparish and along with Build Baton Rouge, received a $15 million discretionary federal grant to establish a nine-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor from Plank Road in north Baton Rouge through downtown to LSU. Funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, with additional funding for the $42 million plan from other sources, the Plank-Nicholson project will provide a high-capacity line featuring enhanced transit stations with real-time information. “This will be a first-class BRT route, with electric buses, level boarding, signal-light prioritizing, ride- and bike-share capabilities, and other amenities,” says CEO Bill Deville. The project—the first BRT scheme in Louisiana—will improve mobility between neighborhoods, employment centers and major destinations. The project also will lead to development along the route. “BRT can spark investment and revitalize communities through transitoriented development,” Deville says. “It will improve mobility and connectivity

while encouraging development, such as supermarkets, retailers and health services.” Improvements to CATS’ facilities and fleet will help address congestion and transit wait times while contributing to more sustainable travel. CATS recently introduced three zero-emission electric buses, with three more to be delivered in 2020. “As a result of a study on alternative fuel options commissioned by the board, we’re converting to electric buses,” says CATS board president Mark Bellue. “This will reduce both our fuel costs and our environmental footprint, benefiting passengers as well as our community as a whole.” Electric buses will be phased in until CATS has a complete fleet.

The agency also operates Touchdown Express, providing service to LSU and Southern University home football games from locations across Baton Rouge, eliminating thousands of cars from the city’s roads on game days. By introducing four transit hubs, the agency has improved travel times. Eighty percent of bus routes have a headway— the time between buses at stops along a route—of less than 30 minutes during peak times, a significant improvement from 10 percent a few years ago. The four hubs, including those on Airline Highway and at Cortana, will facilitate transit-oriented development, thus encouraging economic development. The transit centers will have first mile/last mile connectivity and access to ride- and bike-share options.

The transit agency is also introducing a microtransit pilot project for fixed-route service in north Baton Rouge. The service uses smaller vehicles to pick up passengers who request trips through an app, enabling CATS to reach people who don’t have transit service. CATS also supports the community by partnering with Top Box Foods through the mayor’s Healthy BR initiative to provide food to residents living in areas with limited access to healthy food resources. Additionally, CATS staff volunteered their time to provide shuttle service for the annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon hosted by St. Vincent de Paul. As CATS enhances its services and facilities and considers the relocation and expansion of its headquarters, the agency is increasing partnerships with community organizations. For example, CATS is working with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s bikeshare program, BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park projects, and the Baton Rouge Housing Authority’s HUD Grant/ Ardenwood Village project. CATS also is exploring connectivity with outlying parishes, which could enhance regional workforce development. Ultimately, CATS is planning for a seamless transportation experience. “With technology and other improvements, transportation is going through a revolution,” Deville says. “With investment and collaboration, we’re planning for the future of Baton Rouge.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Regional transit authority for Baton Rouge, providing fixed route and paratransit service TOP EXECUTIVES: William J. “Bill” Deville, CEO; Dwana Williams, COO; and Pearlina Thomas, CAO YEAR FOUNDED: 1970 • PHONE: 225.389.8920 • WEBSITE: 48



[ DEMCO ] Strategic plan focuses on co-op members AFTER EIGHT DECADES of providing power to the Baton Rouge area, leaders of the Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) have spent the past year looking ahead to the organization’s future. With a new fiveyear strategic plan in place, DEMCO is focusing on reliably serving a growing—and changing—member base while keeping rates down and continuing to give back to the community. DEMCO is a member-owned, notfor-profit cooperative that provides electricity to 112,000 meters in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and West Feliciana parishes. About half a million people depend on DEMCO for power. Communities throughout the DEMCO service area have seen booms in development in recent years. Not only are there more residential members, but DEMCO also is serving more of the businesses and industrial facilities that are popping up as these communities make the shift from rural to suburban. “That type of commercial and industrial member tremendously assists with the cost and efficiency of the overall system,” says Randy Pierce, CEO and general manager. Bringing more members into the fold helps spread out the cost of providing power and keeps members’ monthly bills as low as possible. But it also presents new challenges and opportunities for improvement.

“Our metrics are good but we always want to improve, and we know that’s a critical part of what we do,” Pierce says. “We’ve got to be reliable.” In 2019, the co-op upped its staffing by about 10%, putting more boots on the ground to maintain equipment and rights-of-way. “We needed to do that to ensure that our reliability remains where it is or improves,” Pierce says. DEMCO also is looking to take advantage of recent changes in the

utility industry to strike new agreements for buying wholesale power, which represents about 75% of DEMCO’s costs. The remaining 25% comes from expenses associated with delivering electricity to homes and businesses. In the past, Pierce says, co-ops have tended to have wholesale power contracts with a single entity. Now, it’s possible to buy electricity from multiple plants and assemble a portfolio of the best, most affordable options. “That’s

a huge part of our strategy because we feel like it can make a significant impact on the members,” Pierce says. “That’s where reliability and rates converge.” “We believe this strategy will stabilize and even lower rates from where we are today,” he adds. “And that’s significant because in Louisiana, our residential members already have the lowest rates in America, and that’s something we should really be proud of.” As DEMCO grows and evolves, Pierce says, it’s important to continue to value principles that have been at the heart of the co-op since its founding in 1938. Being communityminded is key because DEMCO employees live and work alongside the members they serve, he says. He encourages employees to make sure every interaction with the public is a positive one. Employees are involved in a range of volunteer activities, and the co-op sponsors scholarships and essay contests for students. That community spirit stems from the not-for-profit co-op model, Pierce says. Unlike utility companies owned by investors or municipalities, DEMCO is overseen by a 13-member board and is owned by the people who pay for and use its electricity. “Everything you achieve in terms of margins either goes back into the system—for things like reliability and better service—or into the communities we serve,” Pierce says.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Member-owned cooperative providing electricity in a seven-parish area TOP EXECUTIVE: Randy Pierce, CEO and General Manager YEAR FOUNDED: 1938 • PHONE: 844.MYDEMCO (844.693.3626) • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ ALFORD SAFE AND LOCK ] Customers count on quality workmanship, skilled staff IN 1946, AFTER returning home from serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Edgar Alford and his brother Floyd took a road trip from their home in Fort Worth, Texas to Panama City, Fla., to visit their brother Lloyd, Floyd’s twin, who owned a locksmith shop. Eager to open their own business, Edgar and Floyd considered several cities they passed through on their roundtrip excursion, including Shreveport, Birmingham and Pensacola. When they stopped in Baton Rouge, however, they knew they’d found the perfect place to settle down and start their locksmith company. Attracted by the city’s status as the state capital, the existence of refineries and the presence of two universities, Edgar and Floyd opened the doors to Alford Safe and Lock later that year. Seventy-four years later, the fullservice locksmith company continues to provide quality workmanship and expertise for residential, commercial and industrial customers across Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes. “Anything to do with keys, locks or safes … we do it,” says president and owner Gary Alford, who took over the business from Edgar, his father, in 1977. Alford’s Safe and Lock provides a range of services, including key replacement, master key creation, traditional and electronic lock installation and repair, emergency lockout assistance, safe installation and opening, digital safe programming,

and code breaking. The company also sells products, from new locks for homes to industrial-strength safes for businesses. Popular services include rekeying, installing deadbolts and improving home security for customers who have just purchased a home, as well as installing key-card or FOB-based electronic access systems for businesses. As the first and oldest locksmith company in Baton Rouge, Alford’s has handled jobs of all sizes. Alford’s licensed technicians rekeyed 800 locks at the National Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, one of the company’s largest jobs, which took a month to complete. The company also

secured the governor’s mansion after an attempted break-in. And Alford’s technicians performed security work at Riverbend Nuclear Power Plant while wearing hazmat suits. “It can be a challenge to work on a lock in that suit,” Alford notes. The secret to the family business’s long-running success stems from skilled, professional staff who consistently put the customer first. “You can call us with a problem that morning and we’ll get you fixed up that day,” Alford says. “Our nine employees have 170 years of combined experience. They’re dedicated to taking care of each customer by providing good service and doing a thorough job.”

While Alford’s unparalleled customer service has remained constant, technological advancements have brought changes to their products and how technicians install and service them. “Technology has improved residential and commercial safes immensely, such as providing better fire protection,” Alford says. “Locks also are more secure because of better quality materials and technology has improved the physical lock itself.” Indeed, installing and repairing electronic locks, access-control systems, and panic exitdoor devices account for a growing part of the industry. Alford’s uses only high-quality products, such as locks made of allweather-resistant metal, not plastic. This focus on quality extends to equipment used, as well. “Our key machines are so accurate that only about one out of 10,000 keys doesn’t fit perfectly,” Alford says. “We have quality, original key blanks, which make a very accurate key.” Alford’s guarantees all of their work. Alford says the company will continue to hold true to the business Edgar and Floyd established 74 years ago. “We’re going to stay a familyowned business with employees who we think of as family,” he says. “We’ll advance as the technology continues to evolve, and we’ll continue to provide top-notch products and quality service to every customer.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Full-service locksmith and security provider for commercial, industrial and residential customers TOP EXECUTIVE: Gary Alford, President and Owner YEAR FOUNDED: 1946 • PHONE: 225.387.5386 • WEBSITE: 50



[ GREATER BATON ROUGE FOOD BANK ] In difficult times, Food Bank has always risen to the challenge FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS to distributing approximately 13.5 million pounds of food last year, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has faced many trials over its 35 years. As it approaches its 35th anniversary, President and CEO Mike Manning says the Food Bank is committed to meeting the next wave of challenges and continuing to feed the hungry in its 11-parish service area, including the current COVID-19 situation. In 1984, after the economy was hit hard by the oil bust, the churches in downtown Baton Rouge came together to provide relief for hungry families. Volunteers began distributing food from the parking lot of Victoria Baptist Church. That outreach, from the trunks of cars, evolved into the massive operation that is the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank today. The Food Bank was officially incorporated as a nonprofit in 1985. As it continued to grow, operations moved into a small house, then to a warehouse, then to an even bigger warehouse and finally, to its current home at Fraenkel Center, a 172,000-square-foot facility that was previously Fraenkel Furniture.

“Right now, we have the highest percentage of seniors who are food insecure in the United States,” Manning says. “Seniors are outliving their retirement and are having to make tough choices regarding the cost of heat or AC, and the cost of medicine or food.” Working with approximately 100 partner agencies, including many faith-based organizations, homeless outreach groups and other nonprofits, the Food Bank distributes food to the parishes of Ascension, Assumption,

East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena and St. James. Food is also distributed through the Senior Grocery program operated directly out of the Food Bank’s warehouse and the BackPack program in schools to ensure children have food over the weekends and holidays. Local agencies help identify people in their communities who are in need and make sure food gets to the appropriate people, Manning says. One of the

challenges facing the Food Bank is that much of the leadership within those faith-based agencies is aging out, and the Food Bank is having to take on more direct distribution of food. “The agency infrastructure is not there for them to be able to do it anymore,” Manning says. “It’s going to be a challenge.” Another challenge will be raising more money, Manning says. The agency currently accepts donations of food, funds or time. It hosts a golf tournament and an Empty Bowls fundraiser, where community members can buy handcrafted ceramic bowls created by local artists. Regarding COVID-19, the Food Bank has responded to challenges before, Manning says, noting that in 2016, the Food Bank’s warehouse took on several feet of water. Within four days of the flood water receding, the agency was able to get back to 70 percent of capacity. It was back into its warehouse within four weeks. “It’s a tribute to the fine people we have here that we were able to continue to feed people,” he says

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: To feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes TOP EXECUTIVE: Michael G. Manning, President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1985 • PHONE: 225.359.9940 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ BUTLER SNOW ] BR office now 5th largest in national firm THE LAW FIRM of Butler Snow has added 17 attorneys to its Baton Rouge office, strengthening many of the firm’s existing practice areas and adding depth and breadth for clients throughout the region. The attorneys from Kantrow Spaht Weaver & Blitzer joined Butler Snow on January 1, bringing the total number of attorneys locally to 24 and more than 385 attorneys across the firm. The addition of the attorneys makes Butler Snow’s Baton Rouge office the fifth largest in the firm behind Ridgeland, MS, Nashville, TN, Memphis, TN and Birmingham, AL. “These new attorneys, working in Butler Snow’s collaborative environment, will now be able to tap into a significantly larger network of Butler Snow attorneys and practices,” says Christopher R. Maddux, chair of Butler Snow. Butler Snow has extensive experience in more than 50 practice areas, including commercial litigation, finance, real estate and restructuring, business services, tort, transportation and specialized litigation, health law, data security and privacy, intellectual property

The attorneys bring new experiences and expertise to the firm … we practice not as singular offices, but across offices to best meet the legal and business needs of our clients.

CHRISTOPHER R. MADDUX, CHAIR and technology, labor and employment, public finance, tax incentives and credit markets, commercial finance and gaming. “The attorneys bring new experiences and expertise to the firm,” Maddux says. “Our firm practices as a one-firm approach in that we practice not as singular offices but across offices to best

meet the legal and business needs of our clients.” Maddux says that Butler Snow’s central mission has always been to provide superior client service. That, paired with the firm’s innovative approach to the practice of law, including a unique culture of teamwork and a commitment to the communities in which the firm

operates, sets it apart from other firms. “We saw many of those same characteristics and philosophies in the Christopher R. attorneys at Kantrow Maddux Spaht Weaver & Blitzer, which naturally led us to be interested in them and ultimately led to the expansion of our presence in Baton Rouge,” Maddux says. He adds that the firm’s collaborative culture ensures that the best attorney is working on a particular matter, regardless of who may have brought a client to the firm or who is handling other matters for the client. Butler Snow has been growing rapidly over the last few years, with Baton Rouge being the latest expansion across the south. In 2019 alone, the firm hired more than 60 attorneys nationwide, bringing the total attorney count to more than 385. “While we have seen tremendous growth,” Maddux says, “that growth has not taken place just for the sake of adding to the firm’s head count. Instead, the growth has occurred in an effort to better serve clients by providing them additional expertise and knowledge.” Butler Snow’s Baton Rouge office is located at 445 North Blvd., Suite 300.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Full-service law firm with more than 385 attorneys collaborating across a network of 27 offices TOP EXECUTIVES: Christopher R. Maddux, Chair YEAR FOUNDED: 1954 • PHONE: 225.325.8700 • WEBSITE: 52



[ TWRU CPAS & FINANCIAL ADVISORS ] ‘Family first’ philosophy drives firm’s success WHILE MANY BUSINESSES are pondering how to keep up with employees’ desires for a better work-life balance, TWRU CPAs & Financial Advisors has had a family-first mentality since its start in 1948, which has resulted in more fulfilled employees producing a better product. The firm that was started by Edgar Thomas has grown over the last 70 years to its place among the top five accounting firms in the area. With its main office in Baton Rouge, at 527 East Airport Avenue, TWRU now has more than 30 employees, including 16 CPAs. The company also recently expanded into Livingston Parish with a Walker office at 13371 Burgess Avenue. TWRU offers both business and personal consulting services. For business owners, it can provide accounting services, audits/reviews, business financial planning, business tax services,

business valuation, forensic accounting and succession planning. On the personal side, TWRU is able to assist individuals with estate planning, individual financial planning, personal income tax services, retirement planning, wealth management and expertise in the area of elder care services. “The mentality of this place is family comes first. It’s always been that way,” says TWRU Partner Linda Gibson. “If our employees are happy working here, the product will be better.” In 1965, with the hiring of local busi-

nessman Stewart Wilson, TWRU began a period of major growth. The advances in technology that followed allowed TWRU to create flex time, allowed employees to work from home and put the firm ahead of the times by creating a better work-life balance for staff. These advances directly affected two of the three current female partners who were able to start families and still maintain their position within the company, Gibson says. Today, with flex time, some employees start their day at 5 a.m., while

others begin work at 9 a.m. One employee, who previously worked in the Baton Rouge office, now works from her home in Houston. During tax season, TWRU employees are encouraged to work no more than 55 hours a week, except during the last week before Tax Day. Additionally, the firm encourages its employees to volunteer in the community and serve on nonprofit boards, Gibson says, noting that this results in more balanced and well-rounded workers. During the aftermath of the flood of 2016, TWRU employees cooked and delivered hot meals to families who were affected by the disaster. “We’ve been around a long time,” Gibson says. “We’ve kept up with the times. We’re forward thinkers. We’re compassionate. We want our employees to be happy, and we want our clients to be happy. We want to be your trusted partner.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Accounting firm offering traditional compliance and financial reporting services, as well as financial, estate and retirement planning and investment advisory services • TOP EXECUTIVES: Sara Downing, Managing Partner; Kerry Uffman, Partner; Linda Gibson, Partner; Cherie Odom, Partner YEAR FOUNDED: 1948 • PHONE: 225.926.1050 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



From left: Macon Roland, corporate production manager; Jacob Roland, director of customer service and internal marketing; Jerell Thomas, president; and Jim Roland, chief executive officer.

[ WINDOW WORLD ] New president says leading by example is secret to success procedures for his company. This system enabled Roland to grow the business to a scale unique in the remodeling industry, which traditionally consists of mostly “mom and pop” type owners and operators. Roland’s sons, Jacob and Macon, will work with Thomas day-to-day out of the Baton Rouge office, with Jacob serving as director of customer service and internal marketing, and Macon as corporate production manager. In his new role as president, Thomas also embraces the role of

mentor for Jacob and Macon, with plans to eventually pass on the nation’s No. 1 remodeling company to the next generation. While in sales, from 2005 to 2016, Thomas sold 94,096 Window World windows, which made him the nation’s sales leader among more than 200 franchises across the country. He says his secret to success is leading by example. “Early on, I learned from Jim the importance of being accountable for results as well as for your actions,” he explains. “It’s a theme that defines our company, from our estimators to our

I want to be out there in the community giving back. I want to bring more transparency to the market…and a fair and honest way of doing business. JERELL THOMAS, PRESIDENT

NEWLY NAMED PRESIDENT Jerell Thomas took the helm of America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company in January of 2020. Window World franchise owner Jim Roland has turned over the reins as his company evolves, but will remain as CEO of his four Gulf Coast operations—Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Tampa. Thomas and Roland have a working relationship that goes back 16 years, when Thomas started with the company in the sales department of the New Orleans office. Roland became a mentor to him, and the two have been preparing for this transition for many years. “There’s a lot of work ahead with this transition, but I have complete confidence that Jerell is up to the challenge,” Roland says. “After so much success in sales for us, no one understands the importance of customer service and customer satisfaction better than he does.” Thomas, a Baton Rouge native, closely observed Roland as he developed unique processes and

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Energy-efficient replacement windows TOP EXECUTIVES: Jerell Thomas, President; Jim Roland, CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1980 • PHONE: 225.706.2100 • WEBSITE: 54


installers to our executive team. The end result is customer satisfaction, and when that’s your goal, sales success will follow.” Since 2006, post-Hurricane Katrina, the Baton Rouge/New Orleans franchise has been the nation’s leader in the remodeling industry, with Roland’s Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston operations consistently landing among the top five Window World franchises in the U.S. “We sell windows, but at the end of the day, it’s about customer service,” he says. “My number one priority as president is keeping each customer as a lifelong customer.” While Thomas is also tasked with keeping Window World profitable, he says he wants the company to be known for more than just sales volume. “We saw firsthand after Katrina how people were affected, and we want to really be out there in the community giving back. I also want to bring more transparency to the market and a fair and honest way of doing business. I want to show our customers that we are more than just a window company.”


[ WEST BATON ROUGE SCHOOLS ] An evolving education landscape anchored by strong leaders SUPERINTENDENT WES WATTS stops short of saying mission accomplished—as much work remains to be done—but there’s little doubt the West Baton Rouge Parish School System has made significant advances in a short period of time. Only a few years after rolling out its five-year strategic 2020 Vision, many of its goals have been achieved. Central to the vision was a $5,000 per year teacher pay raise and a $2,500 per year pay raise for support staff, along with a $90 million bond issue to renovate and build new schools. To date, capital improvements have included a new $40 million Brusly High School and $20 million Caneview K-8 School (combining Chamberlin Elementary and Devall Middle schools), along with the $10.5 million renovation, moderniza-

tion and expansion of Port Allen High School.) It’s all meant to reinforce the school system’s stated goals for “strong leadership teams at each school, high-quality instruction, improved academic environments through positive cultures and better facilities.” WBR’s 2020 Vision focuses on five areas—recruiting and retaining personnel, academics, buildings, budget and transportation. But it’s about more than money, and is instead a commitment to raising the education bar. Many of the parish’s schools have raised their academic standing, STEM programs are thriving, and some students have landed scholarships to Harvard and Stanford. Additionally, parish teachers and administrators are frequently recog-

nized at the local and national levels. Port Allen Middle School Principal Jessica Major received a Milken Educator Award and teacher Kim Eckert at Brusly High School was named Louisiana’s Teacher of the Year. There are other initiatives aimed at raising the bar. WBR Schools’ “Educators Rising” initiative, for example, promotes education as a career to WBR high school students. In just the first year of the program, five students were awarded academic scholarships to area colleges of education. Ultimately, the school system seeks to foster a culture of education excellence anchored by a strong leadership team. “We not only set the bar high, we push our students to achieve that bar and support them along the way,” Watts says. “We’re not just going to sit back

and watch you flounder. We want to help every student achieve more than they think they can.” As such, he plans to use current and future pay raises as a means to attract and retain the best teachers. “We’ve already become one of the top three, regionally, in teacher pay,” Watts says. Before, the parish ranked a dismal 44th in the state. None of it would have been possible without the support of the area community. Watts says that reflects a growing local awareness about the importance of a strong education system. Area businesses have been equally supportive. Dow Chemical made a sizeable investment in a STEM Academy, enabling parish schools to offer engineering and robotics classes even at the elementary school level.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: K-12 public education TOP EXECUTIVES: Wes Watts, Superintendent; Jason Manola, Board President; Dr. Atley Walker, Board Vice President PHONE: 225.343.8309 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



Mallery Mele

[ MELE PRINTING ] Covington printer brings experience and unique company culture to capital city DRIVING ALONG INTERSTATE 10, Mallery Mele for years quietly coveted another print shop’s location just off the major thoroughfare. Fueled by a desire to expand his Covington-based Mele Printing to Baton Rouge, he approached the company and was ultimately able to craft a deal to merge with Printing Tech of Baton Rouge. While Mele Printing had serviced the capital area for decades from its north shore headquarters, the merger provides the company with the local presence Mele had long envisioned. Today, Mele Printing has six full-time sales representatives dedicated to the Baton Rouge area. The company’s expansion allows them to compete for additional business in the area and to grow its local operation. “Print is not dead,” says Mele. “We believe we’re in the people business. Printing just happens to be our form of communication.” In the ever-changing print industry, Mele says listening to customers remains imperative. He attributes Mele Printing’s continued growth to its attention to customers’ needs and its willingness to invest in those areas. “The ability to bring a customer’s creative concept to fruition is very rewarding,” he says. “To witness the customer’s excitement after we meet a crazy deadline is always very gratifying.” Mele modestly mentions last year’s $21 million in gross sales—the company’s best—and he proudly boasts about his company’s employees and

From left: Mallery Mele and Steve Jacobs

the 3,000 people who have participated in its unique hybrid of facility tours and baking lessons. Mele, who co-founded the company with his father, is probably the only printer in the country who teaches baking at his production facility. Each year during Mardi Gras season, he invites customers and prospects to tour his facilities and participate in king cake baking lessons in the company’s on-site bakery. Throughout the year, Mele hosts shop tours that culminate with a visit to the bakery for the company’s legendary fresh-baked cookies. “We develop great relationships with our customers, which begins with happy employees,” he says. Despite its growth since its inception

in 1985, Mele Printing has remained true to the core values its founders espoused—total commitment to employees and company culture. “Mallery makes a point of walking the floor every morning,” says Steve Jacobs, marketing director at Mele Printing, whose official duties also include sales, wellness and fun activities. “He pours himself a cup of coffee and greets all employees by name, which sets the tone for the day.” To keep employees engaged or “all in” as Mele describes, the company hosts regular events like crawfish boils, incentive-based wellness competitions and the Mele Olympics to name just a few. Because the fast-paced printing business often requires long hours

and aggressive deadlines, employees enjoy the company’s “work hard, play hard” attitude, as evidenced by its low employee turnover. “We’re probably the only printing company with someone in charge of fun,” Mele says. “We’ve been very intentional about making this a great place to come to work and to have fun. Who we are is non-negotiable.” From its humble beginnings as a quick print shop with three employees, Mele Printing has grown to 100 employees operating out of a state-of-the-art print production facility that spans half of a city block—with plans for future expansion—as well as Printing Tech’s facility in Baton Rouge. Each day, Mele Printing services companies of all sizes covering a 150mile radius from Lake Charles to Mobile and from Hattiesburg to Jackson. Future growth plans may include additional facilities in southwest Louisiana. A full-service commercial printer, Mele Printing offers graphic design, digital and offset printing, direct mail services, wide format printing and statement and transactional printing. From its warehouse facilities, Mele provides distribution and fulfillment through which it ships print products, as well as customers’ products, all over the country. Print is powerful and Mele Printing’s continued growth in an industry once thought to be dying is evidence of that very fact.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Full-service commercial printer offering graphic design, digital and offset print production, direct mail, wide format printing and fulfillment TOP EXECUTIVE: Mallery Mele; Owner, President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1985 • PHONE: 985.893.9522 • WEBSITE: 56



[ SERVPRO OF EAST BATON ROUGE/ASCENSION PARISH ] SERVPRO’s experienced technicians respond to all types of disasters FROM BUSTED PIPES, overflowing sinks and grease fires to catastrophic floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and freezes, SERVPRO of East Baton Rouge/Ascension Parish is ready to respond to any size disaster. SERVPRO provides restoration, cleaning and reconstruction for fire, water, mold and storm damage for residential, commercial and industrial clients. It is also experienced in the insurance claims process and can offer assistance to the homeowner to help minimize stress and anxiety that can come from having to deal with a loss. With highly trained technicians and advanced technology, SERVPRO responds to any size disaster 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Most of the company’s work is in East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes and surrounding areas. Technicians also travel for storm work and the company is looking to expand into nearby markets. SERVPRO has performed clean-up and restoration for local hospitals, restaurants, universities and large commercial facilities, where every minute the customer is unable to operate due to fire or water damage can mean a loss of productivity and revenue. SERVPRO also works with residential customers who often have been

displaced due to the damage caused by a fire and/or water emergency. “Our primary concern is for the homeowner or business owner,” says President and Owner Darren Burychka. “We respond with a sense of urgency to minimize the extent of the damage, and begin mitigating the loss with state-of-the-art meters and equipment so we can begin the repairs as soon as possible. This is all done in an effort to minimize the interruption to their home or business and get them back to normal.” Burychka began working at SERVPRO in 1997, when his parents started the company, and he became part owner 10 years ago. In January 2020, he acquired sole ownership of the company.

“SERVPRO started as a family-owned business and it has been passed down to the second generation,” Burychka says. “I’m proud to take it forward and continue to expand. We are proud of the team we’ve built and are extremely excited for what the future holds.” Recently, Burychka has expanded the SERVPRO footprint in the commercial sector. This includes purchasing a 5000 CFM Desiccant/175 KW generator, a large-capacity dehumidifier used for drying out large commercial buildings. The Desiccant is trailer-mounted, reducing response time to disasters; a fast response lessens the damage, minimizes further damage and reduces cost. “Owning the Desiccant allows us to respond to larger losses in a reduced amount of time,” Burychka says.

We respond with a sense of urgency to minimize the extent of the damage, and begin mitigating the loss with state-of-the-art meters for testing and drying equipment.


“In the past, we would have to rent a large-capacity dehumidifier when needed, which can sometimes be difficult to find during major events such as floods and hurricanes. Having our own large-scale equipment removes that step, so we can service our customers’ needs right away.” SERVPRO also has grown its construction division, enhancing the company’s ability to provide a complete service experience for customers. “We handle everything in-house, which means our customers don’t have to search for a contractor to rebuild their home or business after the mitigation has been completed,” Burychka says. SERVPRO holds general contractor licensing with LSLBC in mold, residential and commercial construction. SERVPRO is also certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), which sets standards for the industry, and the company’s staff holds IICRC certifications for water, fire and mold. “We have a well-structured team with the experience and certifications needed to service a customer’s needs quickly and efficiently, with an attention to detail,” Burychka says. “SERVPRO has an inviting and positive culture. We take pride in our brand.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Disaster restoration, cleaning and reconstruction services TOP EXECUTIVE: Darren Burychka, President and Owner YEAR FOUNDED: 1997 • PHONE: 225.753.3434 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ MANNERS OF THE HEART ] Unique message is unlocking hearts and opening minds AMID AN INCREASINGLY fractured culture, growing concerns about mental health, escalating violence, and a struggling education system, Manners of the Heart has a simple, yet profound, two-word call to action: Choose respect. Founded in 2002 by Executive Director Jill Garner, the Baton Rougebased non-profit is on a mission to restore respect and civility in society by equipping schools, encouraging families and engaging communities in respect-based Heart Education. “It is through the process of esteeming others, we gain respect for each other and ourselves. The development of self-respect doesn’t come from a focus on self, but from a focus on others,” Garner says. Manners of the Heart works with schools, families, government and businesses to instill respect, civility and kindness by applying the organization’s philosophy through educational curriculum, staff training, workshops, and effective programs and activities. The user-friendly Heart Education curriculum designed for elementary schools can be incorporated into a classroom teacher’s daily lesson plans. Concepts such as cooperation, patience and responsibility are introduced throughout the 23-week curriculum. “We’re helping to prepare kids for life beyond the classroom,” Garner says.

“How they choose to view the world will determine their future.” Lessons are reinforced at home, with parents receiving a letter detailing what students have learned and offering tips for integration. Research on the academic impact of Manners of the Heart in schools found heart education led to a 30 percent decrease in disciplinary referrals and a 15 point increase in school performance scores. The curriculum is being used in Louisiana and several other states, as well as Japan and Uganda. Manners of the Heart also works with families through parenting workshops, community efforts and books, such as Raising Respectful Children in

a Disrespectful World, which Garner wrote to offer practical and positive steps for raising respectful, engaged and grateful children. For business professionals, Manners of the Heart offers The Business of Manners® program, which includes customized training and employee development targeting core values such as integrity and caring. A participant in a recent training noted, “This is changing my life, not just my job.” The principles taught through The Business of Manners® series enhance the culture of the workplace, improve communication, and lead to increased customer and employee satisfaction. The organization also established

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Restoring respect and civility, one heart at a time TOP EXECUTIVE: Jill Garner, Founder and Executive Director YEAR FOUNDED: 2002 • PHONE: 225.383.3235 • WEBSITE: 58


BRRespect, a social movement designed to bring about a transformation in the community through small changes, including daily good deeds and the inspiring “Pledge of Respect.” In the past 18 months, Manners of the Heart has experienced accelerated growth, including hiring additional ambassadors to help promote the organization’s mission. Garner attributes this growth to a large-scale recognition that “something is fundamentally wrong in our society” which has pushed social and emotional learning to the forefront. “Everyone agrees there is a tension in the air that is destructive. There is so much disrespect—we no longer can agree to disagree,” she says. “The content of the heart formulates the attitude that determines the action,” Garner continues. “All the money and technology in the world can’t resolve our problems. You must first unlock the heart to open the mind.” “We may look different on the outside, but we all have the same heart needs on the inside. It is only through the education of the heart we will begin to solve our society’s deepest troubles.” Manners of the Heart’s vision has always been to reach every child in America. Garner says, “We must recognize that decisions made today will determine whether our children and grandchildren will enjoy their future or be forced to endure it.”


[ GREENUP INDUSTRIES ] A trusted provider of solutions in the oil and gas industry GREENUP INDUSTRIES’ SUCCESS story began in 2012 when Shell Oil approached owner Rodney Greenup with a proposition. Greenup, a mechanical engineering graduate of University of New Orleans, had moved away from engineering work after seeing the need for an industrial maintenance provider. “Within the industrial environment, they all have the same problem,” Greenup says. “They must manage numerous ancillary contracts for services that have nothing to do with the processing of oil—grass cutting, water meter repairs, masonry repairs, pressure washing of buildings, etc.” For Shell, that amounted to more than 3,000 hard-to-manage vendors. As such, the owner proactively asked Greenup to oversee its vendors for 11 sites as a general contractor, and the rest is history. Today, Greenup Industries is one of a handful of minority-owned businesses in the oil and gas industry. A maintenance services contractor on the industrial maintenance side, Greenup Industries tackles a variety of projects in multiple markets. Aspiring to be a trusted solutions provider and

partner in the industrial services business, Greenup has completed 15,000 invoice items of work since its beginnings about eight years ago. Technology has played a central role in the company’s success. Greenup Industries has developed its own in-house program to manage its voluminous number of vendors, and

can sort and locate them by the site requirements of each client. When the oil and gas sector was hit by a market downturn five years ago, Greenup began diversifying into the municipal and federal markets. It was a successful move. Last year, the company landed a water meter project in St. John the Baptist Parish to install

17,000 municipal water meters for the parish’s automatic metering initiative (AMI). Later, it was awarded a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to muck clay out of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, also in St John the Baptist Parish. Greenup Industries prides itself on being a lean operation, and only supports a small staff of expertly qualified project managers in four offices across Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. “They are uniquely qualified to supervise the projects they are assigned, whether it be in the plans, specs or the contract,” Greenup says. “I manage an executive team and I’ll let the executive team manage the supervisors and managers.” Of course, the hundreds of Greenup vendors are doing the actual work, so are thoroughly vetted and qualified, with many of them working with the company since it started. Looking ahead, Greenup intends to further bolster the company’s Gulf Coast presence, with preliminary plans to expand into Florida’s municipal and federal markets.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Construction and facility maintenance, engineering, and procurement services. • TOP EXECUTIVES: Mallory Josol Corbin, Human Resources Director; Steve Keen, Construction Division Supervisor; Naiika Bass, Health and Safety Director/Industrial Division Supervisor YEAR FOUNDED: 2012 • PHONE: 225.283.4843 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



[ ARTS COUNCIL OF GREATER BATON ROUGE ] Bold and inspirational, Arts Council’s impact has wide reach THE VISION OF the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is to inspire the creative spirit, promote cultural diversity and spotlight the unique history of the region served, encouraging individual and community involvement in the arts. “If this statement feels bold, expansive and a bit aspirational in scope, then it has successfully conveyed some of the basic concepts that drive everything we do,” says Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. “From creating arts-focused local events, designating cultural districts in our 11-parish service region or being prepared to assist artists nationally in times of disaster, we live our vision every day.” While the Arts Council’s designated service area includes Ascension, East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes, their impact has a much wider reach. The Arts Council is one of three organizations selected nationally to develop an emergency planning and response program for artists, that includes ensuring artists have access to the resources necessary to exercise their craft when

facing natural disasters or emergencies. “Following the 2016 flood, many devastated artists fled Louisiana,” Chatelain says. “You need to protect impacted artists, so they remain in place to preserve our cultural identity.” In other national initiatives, the Arts Council is part of a cohort of the National Guild for Community Arts Education for populations age 55 and older that includes workforce development for those interested in learning skills to pursue new adventures in the

National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a high school visual art competition sponsored by the Congressional Institute, where winning art from each congressional district is displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. The Arts Council is also charged with designating cultural districts within its service area as part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts Program, which works to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity. Baton Rouge has five designated cultural districts: Bocage, Downtown, Mid City, Perkins Road and Old South Baton Architectural rendering of the new Cary Saurage Rouge. Community Arts Center, scheduled to open December Locally, the Arts Council is 2020. Architect: Ritter Maher and Associates. the official arts agency for the city of Baton Rouge, deploying city funds to host art events and arts. The organization is also working administer grants. Other area programwith California Lawyers for the Arts to ming includes seminars, webinars, develop a program to lower recidivism a weekly radio show, podcasts and rates through implementing the arts in workshops. correctional facilities. “We want Baton Rouge to be a In Louisiana, the Arts Council serves sought-after destination to live,” as the regional arts council tasked with Chatelain says. “With national reach, administering state funding for the arts we’re constantly putting Baton Rouge in its service area, in addition to hoston people’s minds as a great place to ing an annual statewide arts summit. live and work.” It is the statewide facilitator for Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program in schools funded by the

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT OR SERVICE: Official arts agency for the city-parish of East Baton Rouge, providing professional development for creative professionals and educators, performance series, artist residencies, and more • TOP EXECUTIVE: Renee Chatelain, President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1973 • PHONE: 225.344.8558 • WEBSITE: 60




[ THE RETREAT ] Therapeutic relaxation essential for physical and mental well-being

WITH OUR HECTIC, fast-paced and officebased lifestyles, making time for ourselves is not a luxury … it’s essential. The Retreat offers a comfortable environment and a broad range of services to help guests relax and take care of themselves, which is vital for both physical and mental well-being. In the past, spa treatments like massage were considered a luxury only for those who could afford to be pampered. However, contemporary spa users recognize the benefits the treatments contribute to well-being. “Everyone needs a massage,” says Nancy Trahan, owner of The Retreat. “About 90 percent of the people who come through our door have some kind of problem, such as back or neck pain. Massage can help address that. It really should be part of regular self-maintenance.” The Retreat, which Trahan opened in 2010, offers various types of massage, such as Swedish, deep-tissue, sports, cupping and prenatal massage. Other services include a range of facials, makeup, manicures and pedicures, teeth whitening, eyelash and brow services,and body treatments like Coconut Crush Body Polish and Ginger Detox

Body Masque. All services are delivered by licensed and skilled providers. A focus on wellness and increased education about the ingredients we use on our face and body has shifted attitudes about spa treatments. This is evident in the growth of The Retreat’s aesthetics services, which experienced a 26 percent increase in 2019, the business’ largest ever year-over-year gain in that category. The Retreat’s combination facial services, which mix oxygenation with dermaplaning or chemical peels and microdermabrasion, have visible effects after just one treatment. Such results can lead to changes in long- and short-term health and well-being habits. “When guests see a significant difference in their skin with one treatment, they are motivated to take better care of their skin,” Trahan says. Further, The Retreat’s treatments don’t require down

time, when clients wait for the impact of more aggressive treatments to wear off. The Retreat also provides an opportunity for shared experiences, and many bookings are made by couples or groups. The companion massage is the spa’s most popular service and allows couples, friends, family members and colleagues to spend valuable time as they relax. “The services we offer are therapeutic, but they also can be social and recreational,” Trahan says. “It’s a fresh alternative to shopping, happy hour or going to the movies.” The Retreat, which is open seven days a week, recently renovated an additional 800 square feet of space. This enables the spa to offer up to four companion massages at any given time. A second waiting room, more changing rooms, lockers and bathrooms with a large shower also have

been added. While the design provides ample space for those who want a quiet spa experience, the renovations have provided additional space for spa groups to socialize and enjoy complimentary mimosas, wine and beer. Clients range from people who book on special occasions to those who come to the spa weekly. The services are popular with both men and women and are increasingly popular gifts. “We see businesses reward employees and thank clients with a gift of our services,” Trahan says. “Nothing says ‘we care’ like a gift focused on wellness rather than giving a watch for a business anniversary.” The Retreat’s competitive value and attention to detail set it apart from franchised spas and fits with Trahan’s belief in the services’ health and well-being benefits. “At the end of the day, people want quality service at a reasonable price,” Trahan says. “The extras like plush robes, saunas and beverages cost money, but I don’t want to price them out. Bottom-line profitability is not the main driver for me. This is my legacy– it’s personal.”




[ LDFWEALTH FINANCIAL GROUP ] LDFwealth brings experience and service to a personal level LDFWEALTH FINANCIAL GROUP, formerly Lee, Dougherty and Ferrara Investment Management, was founded nearly 17 years ago with the goal of providing clients customized wealth guidance through personal relationships, exceptional service, and an intent to provide holistic financial planning. In that vein, the firm offers something that many financial advisors may not, unparalleled experience … both in years and education. With more than 20 years’ experience per advisor, the firm includes three Certified Financial Planner Practitioners™ and a Chartered Financial Consultant ChFC®. That’s no small feat, as the requirements to earn those designations go well beyond the minimum for an individual to become a licensed financial advisor. LDFwealth has been affiliated with the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer, LPL Financial (as reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2019, based on total revenue). The company underwent a recent name change and re-branding to incorporate its growth and provide for future growth. Also, to recognize two new partners, longtime advisors David Heltz, ChFC® and

Michael Patterson, CFP®. “We have taken the time, effort and energy to pursue professional designations that are not required, but we believe make a difference to our practice in our industry and to our clients,” says Perry Dougherty, CFP®. “We think that’s beneficial because it puts us in a fiduciary role with our client and gives us a broader and deeper knowledge base.” “It is widely known that trust is paramount in the advisor/client relationship, but there is much more to consider as well,” says Lester Lee, CFP®. “While this fact is obvious to most, it is also incumbent on an individual investor to seek an advisor that not only has achieved the highest professional stan-

dards, but also one that has weathered the test of time, particularly in light of the recent world events which have caused uncertainty and extreme volatility in the current market environment.” Experience matters in this business, a belief portrayed in LDFwealth’s slogan–Relationships Matter, Experience Counts. The LDFwealth team consists of experienced professionals with a straightforward approach, offering clients professional guidance in seeking to grow, protect, utilize, and transfer wealth, whether for immediate or longterm needs. “You won’t find a cookie-cutter or ‘one size fits all’ investment approach here,” says Ricky Ferrara. “We founded

this firm because we wanted to make available a more thorough investment menu and servicing model for our clients. We strive to become an important and lasting part of our clients’ lives, and we’ve been successful at doing so for many years and for hundreds of families.” LDFwealth specializes in assisting business owners, professionals, pre-retirees and retirees, and engages in a variety of financial planning services, including investment management strategies, retirement income planning, estate planning and risk management. “We tend not to measure our success by a single metric such as growth in number of employees,” Lee says. “Instead, we think it’s more about the quality of the relationship with our clients, and the quality of the advice we’re providing. From that perspective, our clients tell us we’re doing a good job, and many have been with us for decades. This, we believe, is the best way to measure long term success.” Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Investment strategies for wealth and retirement, fee-based asset management through LPL Financial, retirement income and estate planning services • TOP EXECUTIVES: Lester Lee, Perry Dougherty and Ricky Ferrara, Founding Partners YEAR FOUNDED: 2003* (Initially founded as Lee, Dougherty & Ferrara Investment Management) • PHONE: 225.757.1177 • WEBSITE: 62



[ UNLOCK’D ] New online realtor business helps homeowners save money WORKING IN THE real estate business in the past few years, Barret Blondeau saw a shift in how people approached selling their homes. Not only were they looking for ways to keep costs down, but they also were willing to take on more responsibilities in the selling process to accomplish that goal. “I noticed that consumers were more versed on the market,” Blondeau says. “They just have a deeper understanding and knew what their neighbor’s house sold for last week.” That trend gave Blondeau the idea for Unlock’d, an online platform that allows people to take much of the home-selling process into their own hands. They can list their homes, communicate with potential buyers, take care of legal documents and more for a flat fee of $399. Unlock’d also places information on popular real estate sites to increase exposure for listings. Blondeau began developing Unlock’d in 2018, and the site launched in early 2020. It eliminates some of the inefficiencies he noticed while working at local real estate agencies and later at his own brokerage. For example, sellers know their homes better than anyone. Instead of paying a real estate agent for the time they’d spend on tasks such as filling out the number of bathrooms and other listing details, Unlock’d customers can take on these tasks themselves saving

them money. Blondeau’s platform also affords a greater degree of privacy than existing for-sale-by-owner sites, he says. Instead of publicly listing sellers’ phone numbers, Unlock’d uses software that connects buyers and sellers while protecting contact information. This also enables people interested in homes to get quick, accurate answers to their questions and weed out sales calls. If a deal is struck, Unlock’d makes it easy to execute the necessary legal documents, Blondeau says. However, if you need extra support, à la carte real-

tor assistance from Blondeau and his team is available. “If there’s something you need help with, you can hire an agent for that exact service,” Blondeau says. “They’re paid only for delivering that service instead of the traditional 5 to 6 percent.” That’s good for consumers as well as agents. Someone working for a traditional agency may invest up to 80 hours of their time trying to sell a home only to have the deal fall through, Blondeau says. “That really stinks. That’s a lot of time and money invested on my part as an

agent, and I don’t get paid,” he says. With Unlock’d, agents are paid upon completing whatever services clients have requested. Blondeau says although Unlock’d makes it easy for anyone to sell a home, it can also be an ideal solution for those who have already sold in the past, real estate investors, and others who are familiar with the process and don’t need many of the services they’d have to pay for if they hired a broker. The transparency offered by Unlock’d is unique in the real estate market, Blondeau says, and he’s hopeful that it will help his business grow. The premise of Unlock’d is getting attention; he won first place in a pitch competition hosted by the IDEAinstitute in New Orleans in September and has been invited to participate in similar upcoming events at PitchBR and IDEApitch, which provides cash prizes to participants with winning innovative business ideas. “There is nothing out there right now that’s allowing buyers to obtain cost transparency and cost control, and Unlock’d will provide that for buyers,” Blondeau says. “Consumers know more of what’s going on, and they’re wanting to take on more to save more money. Unlock’d provides sellers a way to sell their house for a low fixed cost. This is driving technology into the for-sale-byowner space.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT OR SERVICE: Peer-to-peer real estate platform TOP EXECUTIVES: Barret Blondeau and Knox Nunn YEAR FOUNDED: 2018 • PHONE: 1.800.578.6508 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



From left: Carol James, Cherri Kieschnick, Callie Marx, Jack Harless, Kase Gonzales and Paula Dugas

[ FIRST LOUISIANA INSURANCE ] Large enough to cover every need, small enough to provide personal touch AT FIRST LOUISIANA INSURANCE, insurance is not just about policies and premiums—it’s also about people. Founded by Jack Harless in 1980, the Baton Rouge-based company provides commercial and personal insurance services to individuals and businesses in the Gulf Coast region. Clients range from individuals and families, to small local businesses, to major companies with multiple locations. First Louisiana offers personal coverages such as auto, home, boat, RV, long-term care, life insurance and personal umbrella policies. Commercial coverages include general liability, workers compensation, property, automobile and umbrella policies as well as employee group benefits such as health, life, disability and long-term care. Since November 2000, First Louisiana Insurance has been part of Associated Agency Services, a group of independent insurance agencies in Louisiana. Co-founded by Harless, Associated Agency Services combines the strength of First Louisiana with other premier agencies across the state to provide enhanced services for clients. Collectively, these companies have written more than $200 million in premiums. For First Louisiana Insurance clients, this translates into more competitive pricing. “Our clients benefit as we represent the major insurance companies doing business in Louisiana along with the

preferential pricing we obtain because of our size,” says Harless. “They trust that the price we give them is competitive in the marketplace.” Pooling premiums with other independent insurance agencies, First Louisiana Insurance can provide services comparable to much larger companies. First Louisiana also provides customized service reflecting its status as an independent, family-owned business. As such, First Louisiana clients get the best of both worlds. “We are large enough to take care of your needs, but small enough to give you personal service,” Harless says. In the agency’s 40-year history, ded-

ication to individualized customer service has remained constant. “We return all phone calls the same day. Our clients have our direct numbers as well as our cell numbers,” Harless says. “If a client needs to file a claim or requests a certificate of insurance, we take care of it that day. Our goal is to be proactive so that the client doesn’t have to wait. We’re always available, day or night.” The First Louisiana Insurance staff— most of whom are certified insurance counselors—remains current on regulations, policies and products offering clients complete confidence in their knowledge and dedication. Harless

says the ability to devote such attention to smaller and medium sized clients sets First Louisiana Insurance apart in an industry that has experienced consolidations and closures. “You don’t see a family-owned insurance agency like ours much anymore. Most are now owned by banks,” he says. “Larger, bank-owned companies write a lot of premium volume, but smaller accounts are generally not their focus. They are geared more towards mega commercial clients. We’re able to give our smaller and medium-sized clients the same detailed service our large commercial accounts have become accustomed to receiving. Our commercial department, realizing that a large company’s individual needs can shift regularly, is committed to swift action when a client calls.” In an industry where there’s no such thing as a typical client, being able to deliver competitive marketplace options with specialized, personal service has earned First Louisiana loyal clients across Baton Rouge, surrounding parishes and other states across the country. “We very seldom lose a client,” Harless says. “Our clients know we’re going to take care of them, respond quickly to their needs and always have their best interests in mind. We’re always on their side. People don’t stay solely because of price—the service they get matters.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Commercial and personal insurance services TOP EXECUTIVES: Jack Harless, CIC, President; Kase Gonzales, CIC, General Manager; Callie Marx, Office Manager/Commercial Account Manager YEAR FOUNDED: 1980 • PHONE: 225.923.1131 • WEBSITE: 64




[ EAST BATON ROUGE MAGNET SCHOOLS ] Challenging, innovative courses and real-world experiences

THE CREATIVE SCIENCES and Arts Magnet at Belaire High provides a rigorous academic curriculum with innovative areas of study driven by the booming science and arts industry in Baton Rouge while elementary students at Park Forest engage in learning the basic functions of robots, including construction, maintenance and how to code programmable behaviors. These programs illustrate the diverse and challenging curriculum experienced by students enrolled in East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s magnet schools. Nearly 10,000 students are enrolled in the system’s 28 magnet programs. Of these, 11 schools are completely dedicated magnet schools, while 14 magnet programs are located within a standard school’s campus. There are nine elementary magnet programs, 11 for middle school students and eight at the high school level, each offering innovative and thematic programs. Attendance zones do not apply for magnet schools, so students can attend any magnet school across the district. Free transportation is provided to any of the schools for students living in the district. In addition to meeting an individual program’s eligibility requirements, parents or guardians must complete an online application in which they indicate which program they want their child to

attend. Then seats in the various programs are selected through a lottery. “Most parents choose the popular, dedicated programs, so these programs are often over-subscribed,” says Ni’Shawn Stovall, EBR’s magnet recruiter. “They are also usually rated as an A or B school.” However, a letter grade represents an entire school, which can be misleading for the 14 magnet programs that exist within a broader school. For these, the letter grade specific to the magnet program typically is higher. As a result, open seats exist in some of the most innovative, accelerated and challenging magnet schools. For the 2020-21 academic year, EBR Magnet Schools received 7,690 applications. However, Stovall notes that applications are not spread evenly across all 25 schools. Instead, 12 of the schools are considered undersubscribed, receiving fewer applications than available

seats in the programs. For example, Forest Heights Academy of Excellence is a dedicated visual and performing arts and academic magnet school, serving kindergarten through fifth grade. In this nationally recognized program, students receive rigorous, personalized instruction, including at least five hours per week of arts taught by certified professional teaching artists in stateof-the-art studio classrooms. Dance, theatre, visual art, choral music, and instrumental music classes integrate core curriculum concepts using a variety of learning styles. At Scotlandville Magnet High’s Center of Excellence for Government Affairs, students interested in pre-law, the legal system, criminal investigation and forensics have an opportunity to experience partnerships with local law enforcement, attorneys, judges, legis-

lators and other members of government-related professions. In addition to taking specialized courses, students participate in mock trials in Scotlandville’s courtroom, the only modern courtroom in the school system, complete with a judge’s bench, jury box and deliberation room. The East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s partnership with Baton Rouge Community College and IBM, helps students enrolled in the Early College High School magnet program at Tara High to acquire professional and technical skills, experience and credentials necessary for “new collar” careers. As early as 10th grade, students are concurrently enrolled in college and traditional high school courses and can graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in computer science: software development. Graduates are eligible for priority interviewing with IBM for an application development programmer specialist position. Ultimately, Stovall says, EBR’s magnet schools provide a range of programs to suit students’ interests. “Students in magnet programs benefit from a tuition-free education,” she says. “They engage in an innovative curriculum and are exposed to real-life and real-world experiences in the areas in which they are interested.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Magnet school programs for elementary, middle and high school students in East Baton Rouge Parish TOP EXECUTIVES: Adam Smith, Associate Superintendent; Theresa Porter, Director of Magnet Programs; Ni’Shawn Stovall, Magnet Recruiter PHONE: 225.922.5443 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020




Joan Louis

[ MO HAIR SALON ] Celebrating a legacy of lifelong learning and innovative trendsetting IN THE THREE decades that Joan Louis has styled hundreds of Baton Rouge area customers with the latest hair trends, she has also trained a number of stylists who are now salon owners themselves. But rather than seeing these new salons as threatening competitors, Louis operates Mo Hair Salon on Burbank Drive with a unique business philosophy. “I’m not afraid to help my stylists become salon owners,” she says. “Education is key to our team’s success, so if someone has worked with me, I know they’re a strong stylist and can be a strong salon owner.” A lifelong learner who always knew she wanted to do hair, Louis chose early in her career to become a Paul Mitchell educator. As a result, Mo Hair is known for consistency and staying ahead of trends. “Fitting myself into an established, on-trend brand like Paul Mitchell that provides education allows me bring what I learn to my salon,” explains Louis. “That way, whether my stylists trained at Aveda or D’Jay’s, I can teach them what I’ve learned. This lets Mo Hair offer our customers a true professional salon experience.”

At the multicultural salon, that true salon experience begins with what may seem minor to the untrained eye, but is something that Louis knows is essential to beautiful hair. “By using the correct shampoo and conditioner for a person’s hair type, we’re putting them on the correct shampoo journey,” says Louis. “This first step is essential to keeping the cli-

ent’s hair healthy, whether it’s dry, has been colored, or is keratin-treated.” Mo Hair Salon offers a variety of products and services for men and women, including hair extensions, relaxers, dreadlocks, twists, keratin treatments, perms, curls, eyelashes and waxing. The Paul Mitchell retailer prides itself on staying ahead of trend by keeping what Louis calls a “beauty

watch” on what the industry demands. “Right now natural hair is very in, so that’s a lot of what we’re doing. It’s exciting to see so many experiments with colors and styles,” says Louis. “Once upon a time, it was just black and brown and blonde. I love seeing people shake things up with fun colors, unisex haircuts and shaved sides.” While Louis and her team regularly attend hair shows for constant advanced education, they also enjoy the challenge of learning new styles at clients’ requests. “When we see a new trend coming or get a preview of one, we like to huddle together and practice to make it work,” she says. “A lot of times, we rely on pictures and our younger stylists to learn what’s new so we can figure out how to achieve that look.” And what is this veteran salon owner’s goal today? “I’m happy I’ve lived long enough to create the legacy that is Mo Hair—of making clients happy and helping others in their careers,” Louis says. “My dream is that my contribution to the hair industry inspires a younger person to make the choice to become a trailblazer.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Specializing in repairing and smoothing hair and installing long-lasting hair extensions on all hair types TOP EXECUTIVE: Joan Louis, Owner YEAR FOUNDED: 1980 • PHONE: 225.769.2292 • WEBSITE: 66




Residents named the Zoo’s newest giraffe Burreaux

[ BREC’S BATON ROUGE ZOO ] Zoo celebrates 50 years with exciting makeover AS BREC’S BATON ROUGE ZOO marks its 50th anniversary this spring, plans are taking shape to re-invent this No. 1 year-round family attraction in our capital city so that it will be enjoyed for generations to come. Phase I of a multiphase master plan includes transforming the Zoo’s entrance, by moving it from Thomas Road and creating a brand-new entryway that ties into Greenwood Community Park. Plans call for a splash pad and plenty of space available for camps, safari nights, Scouting events and birthday party rentals. A new giraffe feeding station will be constructed, along with an innovative pygmy hippo exhibit that will feature underwater views of this rare animal. The Zoo’s master plan has been approved by the BREC Commission, and with construction slated to begin this fall, patrons should begin to see dirt being turned and some existing Zoo areas closed for construction very soon, says Phil Frost, director of BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by late summer or fall of 2022. BREC is covering the full cost of

Rendering of the African Savanna exhibit

this initial phase. “We are talking about a multiphase reinvention, not just a new coat of paint,” says Frost. “We are demolishing dated exhibits and structures, creating a new entrance through Greenwood Park with a new entry building and orientation plaza. There will be a multitude of educational

classrooms at the Zoo which opens us up to serve more of our community. It’s an exceptional, pivotal opportunity.” Along with the exciting renovations, the Baton Rouge Zoo has had a buzz of activity surrounding the birth of its newest male reticulated giraffe in late December. The giraffe was named Burreaux, following an

online contest where the public was able to vote for their favorite name after making a donation to Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo. As of March, the Baton Rouge Zoo is also now a sensory inclusive facility, meaning the Zoo is fully trained and equipped to provide an accommodating and positive experience for any guest with a sensory need that visits the Zoo. It is the first facility in the Baton Rouge area to be officially certified as a sensory inclusive facility. Besides being a place for entertainment, the Baton Rouge Zoo is also an important education and research hub. There are approximately 700 animals within the Zoo representing a variety of species from all continents, Frost says. The Zoo participates in the American Species Survival Plan, which is a global effort to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild. “Many individuals may not realize the major role our very own Zoo plays in that program, helping to restore various species from possible extinction,” Frost says.

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: The area’s #1 year-round family attraction TOP EXECUTIVES: Phil Frost, Zoo Director; Jim Fleshman, Deputy Director YEAR FOUNDED: 1970 • PHONE: 225.775.3877 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



From left: Ward and Ed Lundin

[ LUNDIN ROOFING CO. ] High standards, skilled employees, commitment to safety BATON ROUGE-BASED LUNDIN Roofing Co. has been a fixture in the Louisiana roofing industry since its founding 35 years ago by Ed Lundin, constructing industrial and commercial roofing systems that run the gamut from single-ply to metal to modified bitumen to conventional “built-up.” The company’s hands-on knowledge and partnerships with leading manufacturers provide the tools it needs to meet owner demands for energy-saving roofing systems that can withstand the extreme weather conditions of the Gulf Coast. Perhaps the company’s most defining attribute is its mix of clientele. The company divides its time equally between industrial and commercial work. That’s an unusual business model in the roofing market, and sets a high bar for finding uniquely qualified skilled laborers. It also presents a host of challenges that many other roofers are ill-equipped to handle. At petrochemical plants from Louisiana to Texas, Lundin installs roofs on control buildings, administration buildings and other structures. “Working in the industrial space is not for everyone,” says Ward Lundin, who

became president following his father’s retirement. “All of our employees must pass background checks, and they all have to be qualified, safety oriented, and of course drug-free.” Fortunately, those same skill sets easily transfer to the commercial market as well. “These are higher quality workers who know what they’re doing,”

Lundin says. “There’s no playing around; the work just gets done.” Lundin is also one of the only roofers in the area that doesn’t subcontract its labor. That gives the contractor direct control over its projects and greater assurance that it will meet its own self-imposed quality standards. It also works to retain employees for the long-

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Commercial and industrial roofing contractor TOP EXECUTIVES: Ward Lundin, president YEAR FOUNDED: 1985 • PHONE: 225-343-7663 • WEBSITE: 68


term by promoting from within and providing a path for upward advancement. It has undoubtedly been a successful business model. Lundin is coming off its best year ever, and expects continued growth through 2020. “What makes us unique,” Lundin adds, “is that we’re not too big to do the small stuff and we’re sophisticated enough to handle much larger projects.” He credits much of the company’s success to quality work and an efficient “no nonsense” approach to every project. “We’re not going with the cheapest thing to try to get the work,” Lundin adds. “And when we’re on the job, we work efficiently and without drama. We’re there to get the job done.” Owners are also afforded the luxury of having a single point of contact that is intimately knowledgeable about project details. To stay ahead of client needs and demands, Lundin ardently follows trends in the industry. He also takes an active role in the community, and currently serves as president of the American Subcontractors Association’s Baton Rouge chapter.


Manard M. Lagasse Jr.

[ ASSOCIATED GROCERS ] Helping independent retailers remain competitive and grow in a changing market IN MAY 1950, 17 independent grocers in Baton Rouge joined together to pool their purchasing power. By collectively purchasing directly from food manufacturers, they were able to decrease their costs as well as the costs to consumers. In doing so, Associated Grocers was established. In the 70 years since, Associated Grocers has grown considerably, with a current membership of more than 200 retailers across Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Today, Associated Grocers provides its members with a full-service retail operations support and solution center, which includes procurement, retail services and support, information services, marketing, advertising, store development, retail systems, retail accounting, and creative and print services. With more than 650 full-time employees and annual sales of more than $675 million, Associated Grocers is a key player in Louisiana’s economy. Although Associated Grocers has experienced significant growth and has greatly expanded its services in the seven decades since it was created, the company’s foundation remains the same: helping independent grocers grow their businesses and remain competitive in a vibrant, constantly changing environment. “All of our attention goes to helping our retailers. Our mission is to provide them with the tools, products and services they need to succeed, so they can focus on their customers,” says Associated Grocers President and CEO Manard Lagasse, Jr. “We have really good,

Associated Grocers … helps guide its members through changing business environments, constantly evolving technology and unforeseen challenges, such as natural disasters that affect grocers and their customers. dynamic retailers that have the ability to get things done. We’re lucky to have them.” Although Associated Grocers provides its retailers with solid, stable support, the company also helps guide its members through changing business environments, constantly evolving technology and unforeseen challenges, such as natural disasters that affect grocers and their customers. As such, Associated Grocers stays abreast of industry trends, best practices and changing social issues that have an

impact on consumer food choices. “We’re not just a central distribution center,” Lagasse says. “We support our retailers across all of their needs.” For example, he says, Associated Grocers has taken the lead on digital technologies, as well as digital marketing. “The market has rapidly changed and retailers have to be able to move and adjust and adapt to those changes—such as having a digital presence—because changes in technology are not going to stop,” he says. “We have the experience and the

expertise to help them develop new marketing and advertising strategies.” Associated Grocers’ digital marketing team provides guidance, recommended partnerships, and strategy for retailers using a number of platforms such as websites, e-commerce, digital coupons and social media. Although Associated Grocers provides consistent support across its membership, the company’s services are designed to be tailored to the communities and different cultures in which the independent retailers work. This flexibility has been key to Associated Grocers’ long-term success, says Lagasse, who joined Associated Grocers in 2007 and has managed several different departments within the company. As Associated Grocers looks to the future, the company is focused on helping its retailers— many of whom have been with Associated Grocers for several decades – differentiate themselves in the market, stay competitive and grow for vitality. At the same time, Associated Grocers is looking to welcome new independent retail grocers to its membership. The company will continue to invest in its relationship with retailers, as well as in its loyal, diverse workforce. “Our success is based on our employees and the relationships we’ve built with independent retailers,” Lagasse says. “Associated Grocers is fully committed to their success. I’m excited for the future of our company.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Retail operations support and solutions for independent retail grocers TOP EXECUTIVE: Manard M. Lagasse, Jr., President and CEO YEAR FOUNDED: 1950 • PHONE: 225.444.1000 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020



Nancy Cadwallader

[ COLLEGIATE ADVISORY PLACEMENT SERVICE ] Personality, preferences and goals— matchmaker finds best fit for students FROM PRESCHOOL TO college, finding the right school for a student can be a daunting task. Nancy Cadwallader, a Baton Rouge-based Certified Educational Planner, has the expertise, experience and ethical approach to help students find the perfect match. As president and owner of Collegiate Advisory Placement Service, Cadwallader assists students and their parents and guardians as they navigate complex admissions processes, entry requirements, testing and applications from elementary through postgraduate education. Founded by Cadwallader and her mother in 1984, Collegiate Advisory Placement Service draws from decades of experience and vast resources to offer a personalized approach to matching students with the right school, whether they want to study engineering, medicine, art or cooking. Collegiate Advisory Placement Service helps clients who come from the Gulf South region research and apply to schools across the U.S and globally. “I am essentially matchmaking for students and schools,” Cadwallader says. She notes that the decision regarding which school to attend is about more than rankings, requirements and funding. Selecting a school also is about finding the right fit for a student, given their goals, preferences and personality. Keeping up to date on the lat-

est trends in education is essential for making an informed match. Cadwallader regularly attends regional and national conferences hosted by university admissions departments, educational organizations, and testing organizations, among others. She also personally visits colleges and universities across the country. “You can’t know what type of students are on the campus and what a school is like without actually visiting,” she says. “College admissions is in a state of flux. You have to stay current to advise someone. You can’t do this out of a book.” Cadwallader says the ideal time for college-bound clients to contact her is

during the spring of a student’s sophomore year. This allows time to make changes in a student’s high-school curriculum and activities based on requirements at their target colleges. For example, while the state of Louisiana requires two years of high school foreign language, some universities require three or four years. Knowing this early enough will allow the student to ensure they have the needed credits. The company’s diverse range of services includes placement for those with learning challenges in addition to those troubled or struggling teens. Collegiate Advisory Placement Service also provides corporate relo-

cation services for families who are moving into a new area and need to find a new school for their children. Cadwallader assists with interpreting changes in educational systems for students who move internationally or from a different system. “I know educational systems from England to Zambia,” Cadwallader says. As the only Certified Educational Planner who lives full time in Louisiana, Cadwallader offers unrivaled expertise and resources. She also emphasizes Collegiate Advisory Placement Service’s ethical approach. The company follows the ethical code of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and does not accept compensation from educational or therapeutic institutions for student placement, ensuring that all placements are independent, based on experience and expertise, and solely for the benefit of the client. After 30 years, Cadwallader has lost count of how many students she has placed over the years. She is certain, however, of her continued passion for helping students and their families make such an important decision. “I enjoy getting to know the students and the camaraderie of working with them and their families,” she says. “I’ve got the expertise and the knowledge and I’m certified, but just as importantly, I do this from a personal love for helping. I just really enjoy it.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Educational placement services for elementary through postgraduate students TOP EXECUTIVE: Nancy Cadwallader, CEP, Owner YEAR FOUNDED: 1984 • PHONE: 225.931.7518 • WEBSITE: 70



From left: John Davis and Chadwick Cole

[ SPECTRUM EMPLOYEE SERVICES ] Multiple reinventions keep Spectrum ahead of the curve SPECTRUM EMPLOYEE SERVICES is in a league of its own, combining an integrated approach to human resource management with a strong technological foundation. Owner John Davis originally founded the company in 1999 as an employee leasing service in the health care industry, but changes in state law two years later forced the company to find a new paradigm. Over the years, the company has expanded in both size and scope to meet a growing demand for Administrative Service Organizations (ASOs). Today, the Baton Rouge-based Spectrum provides comprehensive solutions that streamline existing human resource processes and allow owners to concentrate on what they do best. “Our clients need someone to help them onboard their employees, understand HR rules, and everything else that goes along with managing a workforce,” Davis says. Spectrum is in a continuous state of evolution as it keeps pace with technological advances in the HR industry. Most recently, they partnered with Kronos, a 37-year-old multibillion-dollar workforce management software company that services clients in more than 100 countries. Kronos’ web-based tech-

Our clients need someone to help them onboard their employees, understand HR rules, and everything else that goes along with managing a workforce. JOHN DAVIS, OWNER

nology delivers an unmatched combination of complexity, while maintaining a familiar and inviting user interface. “Companies today, big or small, need

a digital component to manage their human resource needs,” Davis says. “That includes everything from reports to data access to data integration and

beyond.” It has become a true differentiator, as Spectrum now offers nationally recognized HCM software along with the benefits of a locally based firm. “We have local competitors that are doing what we’re doing but don’t have our technology, and national competitors who don’t have that local connection,” he says. The company offers an à la carte menu of services that gives companies the flexibility to pick and choose based upon their needs. “If someone wants us to help with their benefits, we can do their benefits,” Davis says. “If they just want payroll, we can do payroll or we could do the whole package.” Spectrum has diversified its portfolio across a broad spectrum of Gulf Coast industries and grown its average client size from about 17 employees in 2014 to nearly 60 in 2019. That’s in response to a growing demand for their services. “Employers now understand that even though employees are the greatest cost for their businesses, they’re the biggest assets as well,” Davis says. “We have the best technology and expertise to help customize a solution that works best for their employees so they can better manage those assets.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Workforce management services TOP EXECUTIVES: D. John Davis Jr., President; Chadwick Leo Cole, VP/Director of Business Development; Dennis Rodgers, VP/Director of Employee Benefits YEAR FOUNDED: 1999 • PHONE: 225.755.8822 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020




Dr. Sasha Thackaberry stands in the LSU quad.

[ LSU ONLINE & CONTINUING EDUCATION ] Upskilling and re-skilling helps employees and companies alike THE TEAM AT LSU Online & Continuing Education is not only familiar with change … they thrive on it. From providing continuing education programs for more than 95 years to launching fully online degree programs in the last decade, the organization is adept at helping a wide range of non-traditional students improve their lives with flexible and convenient learning opportunities to meet their needs. In the past two years, LSU Online has been busy: increasing enrollment by 64 percent and doubling the number of programs offered, resulting in more than 40 jobs back to the LSU campus by building a fiscally sustainable infrastructure to support students, faculty and enrollment growth. According to Vice President Dr. Sasha Thackaberry, LSU Online’s philosophy of being agile has been key to quickly scaling the demands of both higher education and the workforce. “For us, being agile is more than a project management function—though we also do that,” says Thackaberry. “We’ve spent some time creating and investing in a solid yet flexible infrastructure so we can fill in the gaps in skill sets being seen in the workforce.” By working with professional and trade organizations and monitoring employment data and analytics from a variety of industries, LSU Online deter-

LSU Online & Continuing Education team focuses on providing world-class customer support to better serve its students.

mines which programs are needed, then works with LSU world-renowned faculty members to create relevant, high-value learning experiences across online, on-site and on-campus options. “Our ultimate goal is to improve the professional and financial lives of students and employers who work with us,” says Thackaberry. “One way we do that is by making high-quality justin-time training or degree programs available in the format professionals need, often allowing employees to conveniently learn wherever they are. Additionally, employers that provide tuition reimbursement or professional development benefits have seen up to +140% ROI for the company.” In continuing to meet the needs of

employers, LSU Online has also created the role of a Chief Partnership Officer, Charlotte Bencaz, to ensure the direct connection between LSU efforts and employer needs for upskilling and re-skilling. Additionally, Lisa Verma, Senior Director of Professional Development, and her team have a rich history of providing online, on-campus, and on-site options for a variety of regional employers. “We’ve been able to work with employers and associations to identify what professional credentials or military training may translate into college credit, which could shorten the time it takes students to earn a degree and saves money for either the employer or the student,” says Bencaz. Currently,

LSU Online offers college credit for military training and certifications through Amazon/AWS, PMP, CFA, CPA, SHRM, Certified Professional Constructors, and more. “When we create pathways like this for learners to apply credentials to, we are helping them upskill or re-skill to improve their financial situation,” says Thackaberry. “But in doing so, we’re also helping companies adjust to the changing trends in their industry, which provides a tremendous return on the investment they’re making in employees’ professional development. It’s truly a win-win because employers can achieve longer-term organizational goals while seeing their employees meet current career goals and improve their financial health.” In addition to developing thorough, robust strategies and offering a wide variety of courses, the LSU Online team is dedicated to providing every student with world-class customer service. “We want our adult learners to focus on developing new skills, not on having to figure out details of registering for classes or searching for the correct office to contact to pay tuition,” says Thackaberry. “Every LSU Online student is paired with a dedicated Learner Concierge to support them throughout their program. Our secret sauce is how we support our students.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Redefining higher education by providing accessible and affordable learning options in high-demand, workforce-relevant fields TOP EXECUTIVES: Dr. Sasha Thackaberry, Vice President; Charlotte Bencaz, Chief Partnership Officer and Director of Marketing; Lisa Verma, Senior Director, Professional Development, Pre-College, and OLLI • ADDRESS: 2148 Pleasant Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 • PHONE: 833.280.5634 • WEBSITE: 72



Family members of the Slidell and Baton Rouge Carpet World team

[ CARPET WORLD ] Family-owned business provides variety of commercial and residential flooring WHEN ESTUARDO ORANTES’ grandfather began selling flooring in 1942, he was determined to provide the highest quality flooring and the most professional installation for area businesses and homes. Although many things have changed since then, Carpet World’s founding principles of honesty and family-style customer service have not. Sixty-seven years later, Orantes continues to honor his grandfather’s values and work ethic at the Baton Rouge location of Carpet World by offering free, onsite consultations and estimates for commercial and residential customers alike, while staying abreast of upcoming flooring trends to ensure his team thoroughly understands the ins and outs of all flooring products and services. “Many customers don’t realize that we will come to their company or their home and help with the flooring process from beginning to end,” said Orantes. “From recommending which product will work best for certain areas, to advising on which designs and colors will fit in the space, to making sure the installation is done quickly and professionally, Carpet World has the people and skills to provide an ideal flooring experience.” Carpet World customers range from the River Bend Entergy nuclear plant in St. Francisville to various schools, hospitals and homeowners, and they are testaments to the company’s commitment to professionalism and customer

Orantes’ grandfather, Ralph Duncan

The big differentiator between us and our competitors is that when a business owner or homeowner comes to Carpet World for new floors, they’re coming to a place that’s been doing this for 67 years. ESTUARDO ORANTES, OWNER

service. Whether installing flooring at an area retirement home or tiling the entranceway of a residence, the Carpet World team strives to offer top quality products and delivery of services. Dealing with flooring every day, Orantes understands the importance of a job well done—and how deeply that affects the customer. “Purchasing and installing floors— whether tile, hardwood or carpet—is a huge investment, so it’s important to us that everything from selection to installation goes well,” he says. “If a customer goes with a flooring product that isn’t a good fit for the area they are covering, they could lose a lot of money down the road. We want to make sure businesses and homes have the right floor type and look, but it’s equally important to us that the floor is installed professionally and efficiently.” And though building styles and decorating trends are ever-changing, Carpet World remains steadfast in keeping up with those trends while still providing quality products and work. “Things change from year to year and region to region, and we are well versed in those shifts as well as what’s popular in the area,” said the LSU graduate. “The big differentiator between us and our competitors is that when a business owner or homeowner comes to Carpet World for new floors, they’re coming to a place that’s been doing this for 67 years. My first job was Carpet World, and we’re still here.”

AT A GLANCE PRIMARY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Since 1962, three locations of Carpet World in south Louisiana have provided all types of high-quality flooring to businesses and residents TOP EXECUTIVE: Estuardo Orantes, Owner, Baton Rouge location ADDRESS: 8350 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806 • PHONE: 225.341.1269 • WEBSITE: | ANNUAL REPORT 2020


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*Sourced: Immersion Active, June 2017 2017 Readership Survey

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