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business in north louisiana


A mission to engage leaders with open dialogue Chamber helps bring together local businesses to interact directly with local government entities. PAGE 13

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IS i-69 in doubt?



Building click by click

Shreveport Jeweler Steve Brown of Once Upon a Diamond builds business base by using online sales. PROFILE, 8


Oil and Gas seeing uptick in Bossier Parish

Inside this edition

BIZ. MAGAZINE August 1-31, 2018 6346 Venecia Drive Bossier City, LA 71111 (318) 747-7900

The oil and gas industry is making a comeback in Bossier Parish. The northern half of the parish is seeing an increase in oil production while the southern half is seeing it with natural gas. STORY, 8

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u PEOPLE IN THIS ISSUE ABC Barnette, Stephanie.14 Brown, Steve............ 8 Carnie, Brian............ 6 Coburn, Walker......14 Craig, Russell........... 8

Hardin, John C. IV.14 Hardin, Michelle.....14 Hardin, Sally...........14

GHI George, John........... 2 Ghali, GE................14 Gordon, Stewart...... 5 Hall, Lance.............14 Hardin, John C.......14 Hardin, John C. III.. 14

PQRS Price, Jeff................14 Rogers, Denny.......15

MNO Maggio, Chris.......... 2

WXYZ Walker, Lo..............12

u COMPANIES IN THIS ISSUE ABC BRF.............................2 GHI Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce.............. 14 Heard McElroy Vestal. ................................. 14 JKL Kean Miller.................6

Landers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram.15 Louisiana Health Care Connections..............5 MNO NSU............................2 Once Upon a Diamond....................8 Origin Bank............. 14

u BEST PLACES TO WORK ABC CHRISTUS.................3 Citizens National Bank ....................................4

for the Blind................8 MNO Margaritaville.......... 10 Origin Bank............. 12

GHI HoneyBaked Ham....6

PQRS SBCTB.................... 13 SWEPCTO.............. 14

JKL Kalmbach Smith Meadows...................7 Louisiana Association

TUV Vintage Realty........ 15

u THE BIZ. TEAM Editor & Publisher Sean Green sean@ Chief Financial Officer Kelly May Account Representatives Randy Brown Chris Sepeda Vice President of Production Dennis Philebar

Production Coordinator Joshua Specht Special Contributors Dr. Les Guice, Lisa Johnson, Amy Kinnaird, Louisiana New Product Development Team Dr. Tim Magner, Rocky Rockett, David Specht, Liz Swaine

u MISSION STATEMENT As the premier business publication in northwest Louisiana, BIZ. Magazine’s goal is to serve and connect the business community of northwest Louisiana through telling their stories and inspiring them to turn ideas into action.

Copyright © 2018 by Specht Newspapers Inc. All rights reserved. Information in this publication is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed.


NSU joins BRF’s Angel Fund


he Northwestern State University Foundation is one of six in the region to partner with the New Louisiana Angel Fund 2 (NLAF 2), a $3 million angel investment fund made up of about 60 accredited angel investors or entities, to expose business students to such areas as entrepreneurship, investment in private entities, technology transfer and innovative startup activity. The partnership, extended to institutions with business schools, was orchestrated through BRF (Building Our Region’s Future), an economic development organization that promotes entrepreneurship, healthcare, research and education, that is the managing member of NLAF 2. “This partnership will be an exceptional experience for our business students, particularly those pursuing NSU’s new concentration in entrepreneurship,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “In addition to providing an advantageous forum for networking, the partnership also aligns perfectly with NSU’s initiatives in regional economic development.” In addition to NSU, four-year institutions invited by BRF to participate in educational opportunities for faculty members and students are LSU Shreveport Foundation, Centenary College, Louisiana Tech University Foundation, University of Louisiana at Monroe Foundation and Grambling State University Foundation. BRF provided a total of $75,000 for the participating foundations or universities to become members of the fund. NLAF 2’s investors make informed investment decisions to fund startups in North Louisiana after a rigorous due diligence process, in which the universities’ business students will be invited to participate. “With this NLAF 2 partnership we hope to open the world of investing and entrepreneurship to promising students in North Louisiana, who we believe will become active entrepreneurs or supporters of the startup community in North Louisiana,” said John F. George Jr., M.D., President and CEO of BRF. More than 40 of the Angel Capital Association’s (ACA) 260 member groups have a similar connection to a partner university. “Ultimately our goal is to provide an invaluable opportunity for our local colleges of business to become more knowledgeable, involved and supportive of the entrepreneur ecosystem that NLAF and others are building and promoting in this region,” George said. NLAF 2 is the second fund launched by BRF. NLAF 1 launched in 2015 at $2.6 million, has funded 13 north Louisiana-based high-growth startups.

AUGUST 1, 2018





by sean green


Celebrating those who do the work

As a leader, owner, CEO, president, boss or whatever term you like for defining “the guy in charge,” sometimes we take our employees for granted. We get so focused on the end goal that we forget that the people who make our business possible have to commute, troubleshoot, play nice with others, handle customers/clients, meet expectations, consistently perform at a high level, and have a personal life with its own demands and challenges. After a while, doing a good job just becomes the norm. And we kind of…forget…That it IS a good job. But those leaders and companies who take the time to coach, reward, and celebrate their employees are why we do our annual Best Places to Work awards. We want to recognize the businesses that do it right and do right by their people.

We always praise companies for their performance or achievements, but what gets lost is how those people — the same ones who are performing day-to-day or making those achievements possible — get treated on the way there. We wanted to celebrate local and national companies who are here in our community, that have strong leadership who then empower, reward, and support their employees. Creating employee engagement and loyalty can be almost impossible, but there are businesses here filled with people who truly appreciate the company for which they work, who have coworkers who rally around them in times of need, managers who publicly praise their performance, take pride in what they are doing for clients and customers, and give back to their community. And in

this edition, you’ll learn about these companies and hear from employees about why they love where they work. This year we hosted a survey on our website that asked nominees to breakdown their workforce, policies, and perks — everything from the make up of their employees, benefits, health initiatives, volunteerism, and team building — to make 10 selections across various industries. This is our third year of BIZ. Magazine’s Best Places to Work and for 2018 we’re excited to recognize CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier, HoneyBaked Ham, Kalmbach Smith Meadows, Louisiana Association for the Blind, Origin Bank, Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, SWEPCO, Vintage Realty Company, and for the second year, Citizens National Bank. And our only

three-time winner, Margaritaville Resort and Casino. The nominations and awarding process is an evolution. We know there is always room for improvement (and we’re open to suggestions). But as the number one business publication in northwest Louisiana, we want to celebrate our business community and the great things they’re doing in it. And I’m honored to shine the light on them. This edition is not for the sake of advertising. We do this edition because we want to reward the companies that foster a great culture and keep the economic engine in NWLA running. And that’s why I encourage you to read on — because I want NWLA to be filled with amazing places to work. SEAN GREEN, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR | BIZ. MAGAZINE

AUGUST 1, 2018



by amy kinnaird


u ABOUT AMY Amy Kinnaird is one of Louisiana’s most respected C-Level business strategists and a popular professional speaker. She specializes in helping leaders and staff become more productive, resulting in a more lucrative workplace. You can reach Amy via email at:

A mulligan for your career

As my business turns 10, I’ve been thinking about the changes and doovers I’ve gone through. It used to be – like in my Dad’s era - you worked for the same company all of your career, got the gold watch, and retired. It was considered almost a failure to change companies. Now it’s really a “free agent” business environment. It’s no big deal to change jobs every year or two, and in fact, employees and employers almost expect that to happen. We’re constantly looking for the next big thing, or in some cases, a second chance. Popular personal development coach and author, Brendon Burchard, wrote about starting over and suggests that new starts require us to bring joy into the new adven-

ture instead of waiting for joy to appear. The joy helps in success. That has been true in my case. My first big adventure was moving from Louisiana to Illinois the summer before high school. I realized it was my opportunity to go from nerdy wallflower to someone who stood out a little more. It was my second chance and I brought the joy. Of course, that Southern accent was the initial stand out factor, but I did become someone that I probably wouldn’t have become if I’d never moved. What are your start overs? Maybe your first corporate job or starting your own business. Maybe you’re contemplating a side hustle, changing careers or learning something new. Or it could be just the daily new

opportunity we’re presented with every morning. Each time you start over, fear steps in. Try reframing “I’m afraid” to “I’m excited.” My friend Karen does this every time she prepares to speak to a group (and she’s been a professional speaker for over 20 years.) Reframing plus a good dose of gratitude for the opportunities presented go a long way towards bringing the joy and enjoying the ride. A start over could be forced upon you for various reasons or initiated by you. Either way, the possibilities are endless for what you do next and how you choose to approach your second chance. Choose joy, gratitude and excitement and get on your way to a new success.


Medicaid fee schedule and access to care in Louisiana

According to national data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), about 70 percent of office-based physicians accept new Medicaid GORDON patients. Louisiana, at just under 57 percent, is one of only five states that fall significantly below that national average. Recent research has found a direct correlation between higher Medicaid fees and higher rates of Medicaid participation among physicians, making Louisiana’s Medicaid fee schedule, and its impact on access to care, issues of critical importance. Each state establishes its own Medicaid provider payment rates, or fee schedule. Here in Louisiana, the Medicaid fee schedule is 67 percent of Medicare, meaning a physician providing services to a Medicare patient is reimbursed 33 percent more than when he or she provides the same services to a Medicaid patient. As a point of comparison, the Medicaid fee schedule is significantly higher in neighboring Mississippi.

To date, no study has been conducted in Louisiana to determine the full impact of the Medicaid fee schedule on access to care, but extensive research has been done at the national level. In 2017, Princeton University examined variations in Medicaid reimbursement rates after the Affordable Care Act mandated that states raise Medicaid payments to match Medicare rates for primary care visits in 2013 and 2014.The study found that increasing Medicaid payments to primary care physicians resulted in improved access to care, better self-reported health and fewer school days missed among Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition to higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, HIV, drug mortality, and cancer diagnoses and deaths than most other states, Louisiana also suffers from disparities in access to care, with significant percentages of the population reporting a lack of a personal doctor. These poor health ratings were largely attributed to the state’s high numbers of residents without health insurance. However, with the expansion of Medicaid in 2016, the state made significant strides in overcoming

its high uninsured rate. By the end of the first year, more than 430,000 Louisiana residents had enrolled, giving Louisiana one of the best reductions in uninsured rates in the nation, and generating $199 million in savings for the state. To achieve these successes, the Louisiana Department of Health simplified Medicaid eligibility and enrollment processes, earning recognition as a national leader for streamlining renewal processes for children receiving Medicaid and CHIP benefits. This approach resulted in increases of adult residents who have received mental health and substance abuse treatment. In addition, the numbers of new Medicaid enrollees who have received cancer screenings, women’s health services, and comprehensive diabetes care have grown exponentially. As a result of its innovations in Medicaid coverage, Louisiana is moving the needle on the healthcare issues that have plagued it for generations. Increasing the professional services fee schedule to a rate at least more comparable to Medicare will strengthen the state’s investment in Medicaid recipients while supporting the combined





u ABOUT LANPDT LA New Product Development Team, a tenacious and innovative group of engineers, product developers, and marketers, have partnered with the business sector and other individuals, to identify, develop, build and promote their product ideas. Therefore, the founders of LA NPDT, Konstantin Dolgan, and Onega Ulanova; realized that there was a disconnect between creative ideas and the marketplace, causing groundbreaking inventions to fail in making their way to the market. Noticing this issue; they set out to change the way people view their product development process, how they introduce ideas to the world. One company at a time, LA New Product Development has worked tirelessly, changing the way small businesses and individual inventors bring their products to the market.



What does it take to develop a new product?

It starts with setting a vision for the product, which requires you to research, research and research your market, your customer and the problem they have that you’re trying to solve. You have to assimilate huge amounts of information – feedback from the end-users, quantitative data from your web research, research reports, market trends, and statistics – you need to know everything about your market and your customer. This can be achieved by using every single resource at your disposal. Scraping through websites of related products and industries. Reference any books that are useful as well. Although these two options are key to gathering the needed material, they pale in comparison to the number one source of important information, people themselves. One cannot discount the importance of reaching out to top individuals in your industry to gain the needed understanding of the environment in which you are desperately trying to enter. Only these people will be able to tell you about the key trends and actions currently going on in the market. Then mix all that information with a healthy dose of creativity to define a vision for your product. Once you have a vision, and in

case if needed protected IP, you have to spread the word. Get dogmatic, evangelical even, about your product and how it will change the game. And if you can’t get passionate about it – you’re going in the wrong direction or you didn’t come up with a very good product idea and vision. You must be the product’s number one endorser. Let’s face it if you don’t believe it nobody else has a reason to either. Your success and that of your product relies on every team member you will be working with to bring that product idea to the fruition – from sales to developing – understanding that vision and being at least a little bit passionate about it as well. Hoping that you already know who will be doing what. Then you switch gears again and start building an actionable plan to reach that vision. A product development plan, a roadmap of incremental improvements and iterative development that take you step by faltering step closer to that final vision. This is when all that hard work preaching the good word pays off – and your team throws themselves into coming up with better designs, better functionality and better solutions to the existing or future customers problem. Now we get really detail oriented, as you work day in, day out with

the development team as a product owner – defining and iterating the product as you go, solving problems as they pop up and closely managing scope so you can get the product out on time. Constantly getting feedback from the end users to ensure you create a product that truly serves their needs. The product is finally out there and suddenly you’re spending your days poring over data again – looking at how customers use the product, going out and talking to them about the product and generally eating, sleeping and breathing the product. Did you solve the right problem? Do your users get the product? Will they pay for the product? And then you do it all over again. And these days it’s not a waterfall process – you’re not doing this step by step, you’re doing this for a dozen products or features at any one time, switching from strategy to tactics in the blink of an eye. Sure it’s a tough job but it’s just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on – certainly the most fun you’re going to get paid to do eventually. You get to define the very essence of a product, design solutions to your customers’ problem.


IRS Continues to Ramp Up Efforts to Collect ACA Penalties from Non-Compliant Louisiana Employers For those who think the chance of being assessed penalties for non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act are slim to none, think again. The IRS’ efforts to CARNIE enforce the ACA’s employer mandate are alive and kicking. Since late November 2017, the IRS has been sending out proposed penalty notices to companies they believe were not compliant. For now, the IRS is only assessing proposed penalties for the 2015 calendar year. The notices are rolling out slowly, and the IRS has only mailed out a fraction of the total number of no-

tices expected for 2015. Moreover, the IRS has indicated they have enough information to start sending out similar notices for 2016. Because of unfamiliarity with these notices, we are seeing a trend where companies fail to deal with the notice in a timely manner. They don’t realize they generally only have 30 days from the date the notice was mailed to respond. In addition, the notices may not even be addressed to the right person at the company. Or the person receiving it may set it aside with the intention of figuring out how to deal with later. This could be very costly for your company. • In every instance where Kean Miller has seen one of these notices, the estimated penalties have

been grossly overestimated. The reasons for this are varied. The company may have filled out the informational forms incorrectly, which happens often because there is a lot of room for confusion and error in the IRS forms (e.g., incorrect or omitted indicator codes on the 1095 forms), or the employees themselves may have mistakenly provided incorrect information when applying for subsidized health care on the ACA marketplace website. • If your company receives one of these letters from the IRS and doesn’t dispute the penalty amount before the deadline you will have waived your rights to contest the amount. There are no second chances. Same can be said if you don’t timely exercise your appeal

rights once you receive the IRS response to your protest. • If the company does not respond or appeal, the next thing they can expect from the IRS is a demand for payment letter. The time to dispute the amount will be over, and the IRS will start collection proceedings for non-payment. In short, the penalty notice letters are real, there is a deadline, and the IRS is (as always) serious. Non-compliance with the ACA is a legal matter that demands prompt attention to ensure protection of your company’s rights. BRIAN CARNIE IS A PARTNER IN THE SHREVEPORT OFFICE OF KEAN MILLER AND PRACTICES IN THE LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT GROUP

AUGUST 1, 2018





Oil & gas production on the rise in Bossier The oil and gas industry is making a comeback in Bossier Parish.


STEVE BROWN: Once Upon a Diamond

The northern half of the parish is seeing an increase in oil production while the southern half is seeing it with natural gas. Russell Craig, Commanding Officer of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit, said now is the time to be in business in Bossier. “It was slow when everyone went to Pennsylvania, but it’s really blowing up,” he said. “They’re coming from all over to get a piece of the pie.” Craig said there’s a company based out of Dallas that has sites “wide open” right now in the parish. “We’ve moved rigs the last three weekends,” he said. “They have really ramped up on their drilling to the point that there’s a new crane company that’s going to start operating over here.” Motorists may notice an increase in commercial vehicles on the roadways from one end of the parish to the other as a result of the increased production. “I’m amazed at the amount of commercial vehicle traffic through our parish in just the past 10 years,” Craig said. “It’s twice what it was when I started working here. We’re worldwide right here in Bossier. It’s phenomenal.” Trucks are hauling sand pulled from the Red River at a site on Ballard Road and hauling it as far as Red River Parish and Sabine Parish for hydraulic fracturing. It’s a good thing for Bossier Parish, Craig said, because there was a time when that sand had to be shipped in from other places around the country. However, it’s being done just north of Benton and at another location near Cash Point in Bossier City. “They are moving trucks through here non-stop,” Craig said. In the northern part of the parish, Craig said they are looking at about 20 new sweet crude wells coming in. But it’s not just oil and gas seeing an increase in local production. There has been a pickup in timber and construction as well. Craig said there’s a 1,000 acre property that’s being cut now that will result in at least 3,000 truckloads moving through the parish. There’s some concern as to what effect the additional commercial traffic will have on parish roads, but his department is committed to making sure the companies are doing their job correctly and safely. The Bossier Parish Police Jury Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit was created in 2009. Its primary duty is to regulate commercial motor vehicle traffic on the parish roadway system. - Amanda Simmons, Bossier Press-Tribune

Brick by brick, each laid upon another, cast until it can support itself: that’s how to construct a solid foundation. Similarly, it’s how to build a successful business. Most start small, accrue a customer base, open a storefront, expand, and so forth. However for Steve Brown of Once Upon a Diamond, rather than brick by brick, it’s click by click. Opening online on eBay in 2000, Mr. Brown opted for the non-traditional route of building his business. Understanding the volatile online marketplace, Mr. Brown sold primarily on the web via eBay, Etsy and other digital marketplace sites. Employing the Once Upon a Diamond name in 2005, Mr. Brown opened an online store to supplement eBay sales, and to much success. Because the process of buying diamonds online is not only highly stressful but exceptionally personal as well, eBay’s customer feedback system has allowed Brown’s business to attain a reputable and trustworthy presence in a field where the consumer satisfaction is paramount. “We have a 100 percent feedback score and five stars in all categories, which makes the process a little simpler for an individual who’s going to purchase a sight unseen piece of jewelry,” Mr. Brown said. Prior consumer satisfaction is especially vital in online transactions when diamond prices may rise well into the $10,000 range or more. Mr. Brown attributes his success

to the thorough background they give each customer on potential purchases. “We upload eight to twelve pictures of each item and give an in depth description of the ring and how high it sits up on the finger. We want to make it as personal as we possibly can without trying the ring on itself.” Once Upon a Diamond employs three people: Mr. Brown and his two sons, Nicholas and Jordan. Both of Mr. Brown’s sons assisted in designing and erecting their brick and mortar store which opened its doors in 2008. With a family atmosphere and an insistence on consumer comfortability, Once Upon a Diamond has thrived. While this iteration of Mr. Brown’s diamond store is relatively fresh, the roots of their trade run deep. Once Upon a Diamond is actually a fourth generation estate and antique diamond store that initially opened its doors in 1912 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Passed down from his father, Mr. Brown’s now ten year old store on Pierremont Ave. has continued the legacy established by his predecessors. Despite opening a store, Once Upon a Diamond has kept a steady grasp of their online presence, still exporting 35% of their products. Their online success led to an invitation in May from eBay- the very site with which Brown built his business- to fly to Washington D.C. as part of their eBay Seller Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Mr. Brown was recognized as one of the corporations top sellers, and

as a reward was able to advocate on behalf of small business owners across the US. Brown and other small business owners entered Capitol Hill as the Internet Sales Tax debate raged on. While a sales tax would undoubtedly hurt small businesses like Once Upon a Diamond, Brown understands why it may be necessary. “It was interesting. Should or shouldn’t the tax be levied on an equal playing field?” While Brown holds with eBay that a sales tax would be harmful to small businesses everywhere, having his own physical store where sales taxes are required does present an interesting conundrum. “The majority of internet sellers aren’t Amazon or Wayfair, they are small businesses. There has to be a give and take somewhere, you can’t lump everyone into the same basket,” Brown said. According to the United States Small Business Association, there are 4.1 million small business spread across the country that would be harmed by a potential online sales tax. Hefty accounting fees and an uptick in regulation would put hundreds of thousands of small businesses in a precarious situation, and would potentially put 15 million jobs at risk. However, in June the Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota vs. Wayfair case that indeed as Mr. Brown predicted, there must be a give and take. The decision states that the online sales tax “applies only to sellers who engage in a significant quantity of business in the State, and respondents are large, national companies that undoubtedly maintain an extensive virtual presence.” The decision will unquestionably face scrutiny as states attempt to interpret which businesses are or are not disposed to the tax, but this decision is a step in the right direction and ultimately a win for small businesses. Until the fight hits Louisiana, Mr. Brown and Once Upon a Diamond will continue doing what they’ve done since the turn of the century in rural Iowa: sell a satisfactory product that customers can, with the utmost confidence, feel comfortable purchasing. By Griffin Neal, Special to BIZ. Magazine

AUGUST 1, 2018




AUGUST 1, 2018





Is I-69 in doubt? BY SEAN GREEN


s the future I-69 that could run through Bossier and Caddo Parishes now in doubt of bypassing the area altogether? Bossier City Mayor Lorenz “Lo” Walker said it’s a possibility. Walker is the VP for Louisiana, and previous president, for the I-69 Coalition. He said that if the route does skip Louisiana, it would be down to some upgrades made across the border in the state’s neighbor. The project was divided up into what are known as SIU (segments of independent utility) that can be built by states individually to link up with the overall project. The current segments that run through Louisiana, specifically in Bossier and Caddo Parishes, are SIU-14, from the Arkansas state line to Haughton, SIU-15, from Haughton to Stonewall, and SIU 16, from Stonewall to Tenaha, Texas. These segments are the priority corridor outlined by the I-69 coalition. But Texas is ignoring SIU 16 and instead is upgrading I-59, which could prove to be an alternative

Former coalition president expresses concern about future of path through Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana

that could be then designated as the route for I-69. “My concern is no work is being done on SIU 16 from Stonewall to Tenaha, Texas,” said Walker. “Texas is doing great work but they’re not getting the environmental study done on that section.” Walker noted that although the last segment starts at Stonewall and runs to the state line, it is Texas’ responWALKER sibility. “They have a committee, but they’re not paying attention to that one segment that connects them with the Arkansas and Louisiana segment,” Walker said. He is also concerned of a developing pattern where commercial traffic is bypassing the approved corridor. Memphis, Tenn., is a major transportation center for freight with traffic coming out of there along I-30 straight into U.S. Hwy. 59 in Texas. “If that pattern keeps going then it is established and they’ll bypass southeast Arkansas and Louisi-

ana,” Walker explained. “Credit to Texas, they’re putting their money where their mouth is by upgrading to interstate standards.” “There are signs up in Texarkana that say ‘I-69’ right now,” Walker said. Moreover, Walker said he fears that the cost of a new bridge over the Mississippi River could cause the route to change. “The cost of that bridge is $1.2 billion and I can see in the future where, politically, because of the expense, that bridge won’t be built. And then the Arkansas links would be bypassed and it would mess up the Louisiana links,” he explained. So what can be done to try and ensure Louisiana isn’t frozen out? Walker said the best option would be to build a segment. Specifically, one that would be of use until it can be tied into the project atlarge. He recommended SIU-15 that would run from Haughton to the Port of Caddo-Bossier, saying, “If we could come up with the construction money, we could build SIU-15 from Haughton through the Port, and that segment would be another bridge over the Red River, which would also provide us

a tie-in to I-49.” Mayor Walker sent a letter to Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson on June 14 requesting a Record of Decision on SIU-16. Walker also noted the state has completed records of decision for SIU-14 and -15. However, he noted that the area is fortunate to be included on the corridor. He noted that the state only has to fund 20 percent of the cost, and while vital to the area, the portion is only 95 miles. “It’s a lot less expensive because we have such a small portion and it still keeps us tied in,” Walker said. With the much discussed infrastructure bill of President Donald Trump’s administration, Walker notes it could help make the project a reality. But he said ominously that the money is a waste if that last segment isn’t given attention. “No doubt it could benefit the whole program. But if we don’t get our records of decision and environmental studies done, there’s no construction. If we get that done, then we can get some of the money our president is talking about.”

AUGUST 1, 2018




AUG. 1 & 2

Greater shreveport chamber of commerce

A mission to engage leaders with open dialogue

Over the past several months the Greater Shreveport Chamber has been involved in helping to bring together local businesses to interact directly with our local MAGNER government entities. The recent discussions surrounding the Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Industrial Tax Exemption program and our local airports have each provided a reminder of the importance of local engagement and constructive dialog. In a representative democracy, we elect individuals to serve the public by operating our government institutions. In our community, our mayors, school boards, judges, sheriffs, commissions and police juries all play a part in helping to organize, operate and oversee the systems that keep us safe, provide our infrastructure and enable the engine of commerce to operate under the rule of law. In addition, some of these entities appoint individuals to boards, committees, task forces and commissions to both insulate these important entities from the vagaries of politics and to enable direct citizen engagement in governmental operations.

But these elected and appointed officials should not be expected to undertake these service roles without our engagement and constructive input. As often as not, there are different perspectives and sometimes even competing interests that require factual information and a balanced approach to achieve an equitable resolution. By participating in not just the electoral process, but in the policy development process, citizens can do their part by sharing information and providing context for the impact of regulation, policy or zoning changes. The manner in which this input is provided is also important. When our system of government was established, the prevailing form of mass communication was the printing press. Today we have not only these hard copy outlets, but radio, TV, the Internet and Social Media. Each of these provides both opportunities and challenges for the public and our elected and appointed officials. Social media in particular has become a potent source for both positive direct communication as well as a platform for ‘mis’ and ‘dis’ information. Understanding how widespread a position is on Facebook or Twitter, for example, can be difficult to ascertain not just for the public, but for elected officials. Especially when only one side of an issue is mobilized on a particu-

lar platform, the relative merits of each position can be obscured. At the Chamber, part of our mission is to help serve as an interface between our citizenry and our elected officials. By creating opportunities to bring our community together to engage our leaders, such as our recent Town Hall meetings, testimony before some of our elected and appointed bodies, as well as our work collaboratively with other organizations, we believe we help our system of government function more effectively. As we head into this election season, we will once again be interviewing candidates for office and posting the videos online so that the public can hear directly from the candidates and make an informed choice. Our hope is that each citizen will take the time to become informed about our local government, get involved in issues of importance, and be fully prepared vote in our upcoming elections this fall. DR. TIM MAGNER, PRESIDENT | GREATER SHREVEPORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

bossier chamber of commerce

Keeping our promise to advocate for you Advocating on behalf of more than 900 members and 60,000 employees, the Bossier Chamber is your voice for business in Bossier Parish and beyond. The Bossier Chamber serves the interests of our JOHNSON business community by promoting a dialogue between Chamber members and our local, state and federal elected officials. For 2018, our advocacy priorities have been clear: advance our region through legislation and initiatives at the state level, continue to advocate for our region at the national level as it relates to Barksdale Air Force Base, workforce and taxes, and work with our local officials to enhance our community’s economy and quality of life. After a tumultuous Louisiana legislative session, we are bringing together some key players in our state government for our annual Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit on August 22 at the CenturyLink Center. We work hard to make this event one that is relevant to YOUR questions and

business needs. Thanks to the support of our sponsors CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health, Mike McSwain Architect and Rose-Neath, we are bringing these officials in for our State of the State address: l Mark Cooper, Chief of Staff, Gov. John Bel Edwards office l Don Pierson, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development l Kimberly Robinson, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Revenue This event is truly a partnership in our region, as we know that advocacy and legislative issues affect our entire region together. We are glad to have created this forum as a regional partnership with our area business partners – Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce, as well as GBEDF (Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation) and NLEP (North Louisiana Economic Partnership). It is essential, now more than ever, that our Northwest Louisiana delegation work together to ensure the needs of our communities are met. We must invest in those areas we need to strengthen to ensure our local businesses and economy thrive now and into the future.

ELECTION TIME: Continuing our advocacy efforts for our members, as the November election approaches, you will find information about the local, state and national races in our Government Relations enewsletters. For our local elections, we will be interviewing candidates for school board and police jury who have opposition. Those interviews will be conducted via video and posted for you to make informed decisions in those races. Also, we plan to host meet and greet sessions with candidates in the coming months as well. Your participation is essential to ensure our region is represented well and to guarantee the best resolutions are made for the Bossier/Caddo parish region as well as our state. We encourage you to be involved in all aspects of our legislative and election process and look to us, the Bossier Chamber, to keep you informed of the top issues for our region. LISA JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO | BOSSIER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Starting a Home Business in the Legal Industry 7 p.m. 2303 Milam St., Shreveport

Aug. 8

Blessing, Dedication, Ribbon Cutting and Open House: CHRISTUS Primary Care Shreveport 4:30 p.m. 9091 Ellerbe Rd., Ste. 200, Shreveport

Aug. 14

EAP’s Fourth Anniversary Celebration 10 a.m. Intertech 2031 Kings Hwy., Shreveport

Aug. 16

Biz Art Opening Reception Janet Maines 5-7 p.m. Hayter Reynolds 9045 Ellerbe Road, Ste. 103, Shreveport

Aug. 22

NWLA Legislative Summit 11:30 a.m. CenturyLink Center 2000 CenturyLink Center Dr., Bossier City

Aug. 23

Upstate Rising Conference 8:30 a.m. BPCC Gymnasium 6220 E. Texas St., Bossier City

Aug. 28

ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification Training 9 a.m. Homewood Suites by Hilton 5485 Financial Plaza, Shreveport YPI Social 5:30-7:30 p.m. El Mono 2400 E. 70th St., Shreveport Commanders Leadership Reception 7 p.m. $30 Boomtown Casino & Hotel 300 Riverside Dr., Bossier City Purchase tickets at www.

Aug. 30

ITIL Foundation Certification $1,699 9 a.m. 333 Texas St., Ste. 1300 Tickets via






J. Walker Coburn, CPA, a native of Shreveport, will serve the second year of a current two-year term as a Member at-Large of the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants (LCPA). He is a partner in Heard, McElroy & Vestal where his practice focuses on audit and assurance services of financial institutions, closely held businesses and other industries.


Milestone reached for Port of Caddo-Bossier’s newest customer Chief Operating Officer Lance Hall to the role of bank president for Origin Bank. Hall has served for 18 years in various roles including Louisiana State President, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Operating Officer, managing the bank’s operations, information technology, strategic planning and brand teams.

In early July, a barge carrying steel coils for Vulcraft – Texas, a division of Nucor, was off-loaded at the Port. This marks the 50th barge from Vulcraft to arrive at the Port since the company began using The Port of Caddo-Bossier in May 2017. The 50 barges were off-loaded without any lost time incidents.


Kean Miller LLP is pleased to announce that Jeffrey W. Price has joined the firm as senior counsel in the Shreveport office. Jeff will practice in the business, regulatory, intellectual property and estate planning groups. Jeff previously practiced as an inhouse counsel with a large publicly traded midstream oil and gas company in Dallas, Texas as well as in private practice in Washington, D.C and Shreveport.

u ECO. DEVELOPMENT AWARDS Stephanie Barnette

LSU Health conference space dedicated to oral surgeon Dr. Hardin Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, awarded Stephanie Barnette, President/ CEO of the Greater Minden Chamber, a Regent Scholarship. Given to professionals across the country, the Regent Scholarships recognize each recipient for their involvement in industry professional organizations, community service, and professional background.

The Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Conference Room at the LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine was dedicated to Dr. John C. Hardin, Jr., his wife, Quay, and their children John C. Hardin, IV (Johnny) and Michelle Hardin Lamb. Dr. Hardin made tremendous contributions as a mentor to the health science center in Shreveport. He spent countless hours mentoring students and residents in both the General Surgery and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Departments. In honor of the Hardin family’s contributions to surgical excellence and in honor of Dr. & Mrs. Hardin, the Oral & Maxillofacial Conference Room will forever be named the John C. Hardin & Quay Hardin Conference Center. Pictured are Dr. John C. Hardin, III, and wife, Sally Hope Hardin; grandchildren, Michelle Hope Hardin and John C. Hardin, IV with Dr. G. E. Ghali, Chairman of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Department at LSU Health Shreveport.

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Local auto dealer honored with 2018 Dealer of the Year Award The Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association (LADA) honored Denny Rogers with the 2018 Louisiana Dealer of the Year Award. He was recognized during the 80th Annual Convention Banquet held on June 16, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino in Incline Village, Nev. Rogers is Managing Partner of Landers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep Ram and Landers Alfa Romeo FIAT in Bossier City. He began his career in 1982 in Lafayette as a salesman. He has received many awards and distinctions including number one sales volume awards for the State of Louisiana amongst FCA Dealers along with coveted Customer Satisfaction Awards including Five Star, Elite Five Star, Gold Level Dealer Standards and most recently he has been validated for the JD Powers Customer First Award for Excellence. In 2017 his team received the Mark of Distinction recognition for Customer First Award for Excellence. “Denny is a well-respected and successful businessman,” says Mark A. Hebert, Sr., LADA Immediate Past Chairman. “He has worked his way from the ground up, is a family man as well as an integral part of his community; a great example to all dealers in the state and very deserving of this prestigious award.”

Rogers is currently serving his second term as President of the Shreveport/Bossier City New Car Dealers Association and is currently serving as National Dealer Council Chairman for FCA Dealers. In 1999, Rogers formed a recognition program for student athletes that not only excelled in sports but showed academic and leadership qualities that included involvement in local community and/or church organizations. He is a member of Renee’s Run LLC, a nonprofit formed in memory of

his late wife, Renee Rogers, that raises money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN). The Louisiana Dealer of the year is the most prestigious award LADA bestows because nominations come directly from the dealer body and is based on the dealer’s business success and civic involvement in the community. Rogers will represent Louisiana at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in spring of 2019 as LADA’s nomination for TIME Dealer of the Year.



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CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier Chief Nursing Officer, Glenn Dennis, (right) and Director or HR, Beth Maddox (left).


CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier 1453 East Bert Kouns, Shreveport (318) 681-4500 |


HRISTUS SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER Health System has a proud history of providing healthcare in northwest Louisiana for over 115 years. With approximately 1300 associates, over 600 affiliated providers and over 200 volunteers, the system remains committed to our mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and improving health in the communities we serve. CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System operates CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center and CHRISTUS Bossier Emergency Hospital. A 196-bed acute care hospital, CHRISTUS Highland includes birthing suites, a Regional Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, medical and surgical care, comprehensive coronary care, orthopedics and emergency services. CHRISTUS Bossier Emergency Hospital opened in 2018 and offers a full-service emergency room and 6 short-stay inpatient beds. Additionally, the facility houses an outpatient radiology and lab services. CHRISTUS Specialty Care Center houses the Breast Center, Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, and PET imaging services.  In outpatient care, CHRISTUS has ownership in Advanced Diagnostics Open MRI and Ashley Ridge Imaging, as well as Velocity Care which provides three urgent care clinics. In partnership with Pritikin, CHRISTUS provides intensive Cardiac Rehab. The CHRISTUS Cancer Treatment Center provides comprehensive cancer care, including hematology, medical oncology, and radiation, as well as genetic counseling. CHRISTUS offers state-of-the-art

radiation therapy with the Novalis Tx and in 2015, opened the first cancer clinic in Bossier. CHRISTUS Inpatient Rehabilitation Center provides patients with speech, occupational, and physician therapy in the inpatient setting, now located at 835 Margaret Place, Shreveport. CHRISTUS Home Health treats patients at their home while Grace Home provide hospice and palliative care inside CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center to those patients who need that level of care.  CHRISTUS Louisiana Athletic Clubs offer a full range of exercise programming including swimming, tennis, kids’ gym, specialized classes, weight training, and traditional exercise options. Working with local school boards, CHRISTUS provides sports medicine to four local high school athletic programs. CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System is the region’s only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital (CMN). There are 17 signature CMN Hospital programs at CHRISTUS, where healthy kids are about more than just hospital care. Our vision is to serve the children of our region, from birth to 18 years, with wide-ranging health and wellness programs designed to promote a healthy community. Associates answer why CHRISTUS is the Best Place to Work: Shelbi Morris, RN: From my experience, CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System is the best place to work because it is a faith-based hospital that focuses on holistic patient care. As a nurse for CHRISTUS, I am not only allowed, but encouraged to provide top quality patient centered care that focuses on the patient’s emotional

and spiritual needs alongside their physical needs during hospitalization. CHRISTUS helps me be the nurse that I entered this profession hoping to be! Lexi Little, Certified Child Life Specialist: “CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier has so many wonderful characteristics about it. This facility truly puts the patient and their needs first. Every group of people that I work with truly interacts as a team and a family. Each day it is a joy and an honor to work at CHRISTUS. I am so thankful for my time here and cannot wait for what is to come!” Christy Belgard, RN: “CHRISTUS has a feeling of truly working with individuals who care about you – a family atmosphere. There is a CHRISTUS bond – you know that each of us are working toward one goal and that is upholding the CHRISTUS Difference.” Chrissie Wade, RN: “This is by far the best place I’ve worked. There is a CHRISTUS difference and you can feel it in the air. The staff care about each other as well as the patients. I feel valued as an employee and I feel that the Administration really cares about us. I hope to be here until I retire. I have worked other places but I am lucky to have this job and work with these people! I have found the best place to work in town!!” Dana Smelser, Director of Marketing: “It’s the people! That’s what makes CHRISTUS so special. We love our patients and their families – it’s a privilege that they choose us to care for them. We truly believe that. Healthcare is challenging but to work in an environment where we are encouraged to take care of each other as we take care of our patients….it’s special!”


AUGUST 1, 2018




BIZ. Sales Associate Chris Sepeda (right) presents CNB President Jason Smith and his staff with their second Best Places to Work award.


Citizens National Bank 2711 E. Texas St., Bossier City 888-861-0515 |


ince our founding, the goal of Citizens National Bank has been to be a bank that is sound, profitable and to be a bank that will continue to grow. All while providing a personal banking experience for our customers and engaging in the communities we serve. It was an ambitious enterprise back in 1985 when the first Citizens National Bank opened for business especially since the local and national economies were in a downturn. The bigger, stronger institutions were acquiring many of the smaller banks while other banks were facing closure by the regulatory authorities. But that first group of local businessmen believed their concept of a locally owned and managed bank was viable. A bank that provided modern banking services with a personal, one-on one connection to financial expertise was, at this time, a rarity. Their sharp instincts and business insights proved them right. We can be proud of the fact that our values and purpose have stayed just as strong as they were the day we opened our doors. Today, Citizens National Bank has 12 locations in Caddo, Bossier, Desoto, Claiborne and Webster Parishes. Our dynamic growth enables us to serve more communities by offering a wide range of banking products and services backed by capital strength to our market areas. Because we are locally owned and managed, Citizens National Bank will continue to maintain a strong presence in our communities. With the implementation of an Executive Management

Team, consisting of 4 Executive Vice Presidents reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens National Bank stands poised for future growth and acquisitions. Is there a reason for our success? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” It goes back to the people. Those dedicated, experienced and responsible local people with a vision of having a local bank in strong hands. That same level of integrity is realized in Citizen National Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Jason Smith’s vision for the bank. That vision is for our shareholders, employees and clients to realize their shared potential and maximize the potential of the communities we serve.

Employees explain why Citizens National Bank is the Best Place to Work: Jean Thorne, VP Business Banking Portfolio Manager: I love working for Citizens National Bank because I enjoy the people I work with. It says something about the place you work at when you look forward to going to work every day. We have a great team of professionals who are like family and I love working together helping our customers achieve their financial goals with innovative and personalized strategies while fulfilling their dream. CNB is the best bank around offering the best customer service and friendly atmosphere.


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u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: Andrea Tillman, store manager, employee for 7+ years CEO/PRESIDENT: William Smith, owner CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 8 regularly, 30 during holidays WHAT PERCENT ARE MALE: 50 WHAT PERCENT ARE FEMALE: 50 AVERAGE TURNOVER IN A FISCAL YEAR: < 10% AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: 1-5 years PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: Personal interviews BENEFITS PROVIDED: Generous salaries and hourly wages, personal time/sick days, vacations, free meals, very flexible with hours for students, free holiday hams and turkeys for everyone BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: Holiday bonuses FLEX HOURS OR TELECOMMUTING OPTIONS: Bill works with all employees to make sure we don’t miss important times for our kids at school, when they are sick or anything that’s important to us personally. He makes sure we don’t miss important things in our lives. He normally works those shifts to cover for people. SUPPORT HEALTH AND EXERCISE: Yes ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: Bill donates a tremendous amount of food to the schools, to high school and middle school sports teams, and donates items to charity auctions constantly. Stresses the importance of being a good community citizen to all of us. EVALUATION & RECOGNITION OR SUPPORT: We have a system called Celebration Alerts that Bill pays us when we go above an beyond with a customer. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: Most everyone that’s ever worked here is family to Bill. He treats us like family and cares about his employees. He creates a work environment that places huge importance on being good everyday with every customer but also an environment where people have fun. PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES’ FAMILIES: Bill will, without fail, help any employee that needs help. STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Bill makes sure we have fun and laugh every day.

HoneyBaked Ham 5739 Youree Dr, Shreveport (318) 865-4411 |


illiam “Bill” Smith, a Shreveport native, attended Southwood High School and LSUS. He is also a veteran of the United States Army. Smith is a former President of Shreveport Little League and has coached girls softball at every age level through high school. He and his wife, Cindy, bought HoneyBaked Ham in 2010. Since their purchase of HoneyBaked, they have nearly tripled annual revenues and lead one of the larger HoneyBaked franchises in this region. Their HoneyBaked restaurant consistently receives high ratings from an independent auditor for cleanliness, brand consistency, and quality. The store, located at 5739 Youree Drive in Shreveport, is also among the largest business-to-business gifting stores in the United States. “Our success is driven by the gold-standard quality of our product, our employees, and the loyalty of our customers. We have been blessed to have the perfect combination of all three,” Smith said.

Using high quality bone-in smoked ham, the restaurant uses a special curing and cooking procedure. With its sweet, crunchy glaze enhancing the flavor, and the spiral-slicing process, HoneyBaked Ham is the easy-to-serve centerpiece at holiday dinners, Easter celebrations and family meals. Their offerings also include homemade side dishes, classic roasted turkeys, and desserts that meet the strict standards of taste that has made HoneyBaked Ham a success. Team members answer why HoneyBaked Ham in Shreveport is the Best Place to Work: Andrea Tillman: I have been the Manager for over eight years and enjoyed every minute of it. The atmosphere, the food, and the people, especially, make this place an amazing place to work. Michael Chaves: HoneyBaked is full of humor, empathy, and loving and caring individuals. Bill does a great job at assuring the work environment is fun and enjoyable. HoneyBaked definitely has a unique work

environment. It is by far the most enjoyable place I’ve ever worked. Shelby Reddy: This is a great place to be! A wonderful environment and people to work with. We aren’t just co-workers, we’re family. Working here teaches you many useful skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management. As a HoneyBaked Ham employee, you learn many useful things that you’ll carry with you as you continue through your working journey. Abby Smith: I love working at HoneyBaked because of the environment and relationships, not only between the employees, but with the customers as well. The store and staff have an easy going, uplifting and above all, contagious vibe that makes for an exceptional experience throughout. Colton Moore: The atmosphere in the work establishment, causes there to be a lot of fun while making work easy.

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u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: Brian Ledoux, media director, employee of 5 years CEO/PRESIDENT: Isaac Palmer, CEO CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 5 WHAT PERCENT ARE MALE: 20 WHAT PERCENT ARE FEMALE: 80 AVERAGE TURNOVER IN A FISCAL YEAR: <1% AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: 1-5 years PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: After an initial interview and follow-up, candidates receive a “mock” project, which requires them to work in tandem with an existing staff member in a leadership role. This provides insight into how the potential employee accepts and follows direction, offers insight, expresses talent/skill, work ethic and interpersonal communication skills.

Kalmbach Smith Meadows 1530 Fairfield Ave. Shreveport (318) 227-8611 |


almbach Smith Meadows pushes the boundaries of what a marketing firm should mean to its clients. The KSM team redefines the role of marketing, public relations and advertising with every client and every project. We are a local Shreveport marketing firm that represents various industries and companies both small and large. We manage communication needs that include branding, audio and video production, website development, social media marketing and more…oh so much more. First and foremost, we are committed to maintaining high ethical standards with our employees and in our service to others. Second, but always priority, we enjoy what we do and never take ourselves too seriously. Our business culture holds quality, out-of-the-box creative, responsiveness and loyalty at the core of our partnerships. As the owner, Cindy Smith, has found that when one is blessed with a solid team of talented professionals with strong work ethic, running the business becomes much easier.

Write your dreams down. Pray about them. Determine the path to make them reality. This is the strategy by which KSM has grown over the years. Cindy has found the formula for success starts with determination and a strong network of mentors, partnering vendors, staff who are believers in the mission, and clients who equivocally partner in the strategies and goals.  As a team, it’s not as much about us, as it is about improving our customer experience and retention.  In a service-oriented business, customer service is the equivalent of a premium product.  From the initial contact thru the marketing planning and ultimately implementation, KSM continues to find new ways to reach the client with service that elevates and confirms their importance in our cycle of business transactions.  Employees answer why KSM is the Best Place to Work: Karly Stoltz, Media Buyer: KSM is the best place to work because it‘s rewarding to help local businesses reach their goals and grow, while working in a fun and energetic envi-

BENEFITS PROVIDED: Fully-paid Healthcare Insurance Premium, IRA with company contribution, vacation and sick days BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: Annual Performance Review with Potential Gain in Earned Salary

ronment. Danielle Fauber, Graphic Designer: I consider KSM to be the best place to work for many reasons. Everyday I’m able to do something new or different, whether it’s creating new branding for a company, designing a pilot’s flight suit, or creating graphic packages for commercials. I come to work every day knowing it’s not going to be just ‘another day at the office’. KSM is also like family, and you can always count on your coworkers to help brainstorm ideas or just have fun to help boost your creativity. Bailey Tejada, Graphic Designer: KSM is the best place to work because I have been able to grow professionally and personally in the short time I have been here. I have had opportunities that I may have never had working anywhere else, because our boss sees potential in us that we may not sometimes see in ourselves. And it’s always nice walking in knowing you’re working at a place that feels like a home away from home, because your coworkers are the best!

FLEX HOURS OR TELECOMMUTING OPTIONS: Yes, depending on need SUPPORT HEALTH AND EXERCISE: Yes ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: KSM encourages support of locla nonprofits and also developed a giving back program titled Due Your Business. Quarterly donations are made to select organizations or causes in the community.  Staff aids in the selection and presentation of funds. This reminds the employees of the blessings we are bestowed and the need to pay it forward. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: KSM business culture fosters self-starters who take ownership in their position on the team and the quality of their performance. The staff is encouraged to access the many resources available for OTJ training and personal skill development and advancement.  The atmosphere is open, creative and casual prompting work that is fun.  As a team, we care tremendously about what we do, but never take it so seriously that we forget to enjoy the process.  STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Spontaneous “field trips” to local restaurants, shops, events/ entertainment venues

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L to R: Libby Murphy, President & CEO; Gary Smith, L.A.B. Employee of the Year; Brandon Smith, Research & Development Specialist; Lindsey Beckham, marketing director

AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: More than 5 years USE PROGRAMS AND/OR PRACTICES TO RECRUIT AND/OR RETAIN EMPLOYEES OF DISABLED COMMUNITY AND VETERANS: Yes PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: Application, Drug Screen, Background Checks BENEFITS PROVIDED: Health Plan, Dental, 401K with company match, FMLA, PTO time, and sick days BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: Annual bonuses SUPPORT HEALTH AND EXERCISE: Yes ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: Our business is centered around providing our blind community with all the resources and training they need EVALUATION & RECOGNITION OR SUPPORT: We have annual evaluations by supervisors, and there is a mid year self evaluation. Bonuses are awarded after the annual evaluation. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: Since 70% of people who are blind are unemployed, our employees are very excited about working. They have very high attendance records and the atmosphere feels very much like family. It is also rewarding for our sighted as well as non-sighted employees to see that their success creates more employment, training, and services for the visually impaired community in NWLA. PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES’ FAMILIES: Health and life insurance, and counseling support STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Annual company picnic and ] Holiday party, Thanksgiving potluck lunch, and incentives for safety such as pizza parties, t-shirts, gift cards, etc.

Louisiana Association for the Blind 1107 Burt St., Shreveport (318) 227-2869 |


ouisiana Association for the Blind (L.A.B.) was established on April 4, 1927 as the Shreveport Association for the Blind. For over 90 years, L.A.B. has provided employment and training opportunities for people who are visually impaired in our community. Initial employment opportunities included a broom-making operation, and later expanded to include mops, fabrics, rugs and woven baskets.  The once sleepy broom-making operation transformed into a beehive of production-from a state of the art digital print shop to an online office supply store to a converter of safety products all designed and manufactured by a blind and low vision workforce.  L.A.B is not only improving the lives of those who purchase our products, but it is improving the lives of the blind employees who manufacture these products by giving them financial independence. L.A.B is a home away from home for many employees.  It empowers the employees by giving them a purpose.  For some, L.A.B is an open door to bigger and better things.  For others, it is a lifetime of reliable employment opportunity with the environment of acceptance. Employees share why Louisiana Association for the Blind is the Best Place to Work: Cigale Rivers: When I walk through those doors to start my day I feel that I have left my home to come to my

second home. This environment and the people are so pleasant; I am surrounded by family throughout my day.  No one here treats us differently because of our disabilities, treating us and giving us the respect and the opportunities that we deserve.  We are encouraged to not settle, but to always reach out for advancement for new and higher positions, making L.A.B. the best place to work! Sheila Robert: L.A.B. is the best place to work due to a number of reasons. The L.A.B. work atmosphere is family oriented and relaxed, you genuinely feel that they care about you personally as well as your career aspirations. L.A.B. promotes from within so you know if you work hard that opportunities are available as you grow as an employee. L.A.B. encourages innovation and creativity, your ideas are valued and appreciated. L.A.B.  values hard work and continuously look for ways to show appreciation to the employees for reaching goals and tasks completed. L.A.B. promotes education and always encourages employees to look for new avenues and opportunities to learn and grow. L.A.B. institutes needed programs for the community and seek out new ways that their clients can learn to live independently by getting them the tools and resources they need to succeed. L.A.B strongly believes in its mission to help people who are visually impaired learn to live independently and obtain successful

employment and proves that through their efforts, training and community outreach programs but at the same time they also believe in the employees behind those efforts and programs and value what we all can do when we work together to accomplish our mission. L.A.B. encourages all people, clients and employees alike, to want to be better, do better, ask more, know more, help more and asks that we encourage those around us to do the same. Timothy Thomas: I work under the best supervisor I ever had. I have the opportunity for full time steady employment. Debra Neiderer: Benefits are great! Employees are very pleasant and easy to work with. Daniel Lowery: L.A.B. is a very people friendly organization. It is structured for team building. The atmosphere, air-conditioned building, daytime hours and stress-free conditions, is the best I have ever worked in. Darien Alex: Glad to have the chance to make money outside of the social security benefits. I would not have this opportunity elsewhere. Belinda Antoine: The fact that we are helping the visually impaired employees get through life with a higher expectation, that gives me a lot of satisfaction. The hours, benefits and easygoing atmosphere are also a strong point. 


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u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: David Brossette, HR Manager, employee for 5 years CEO/PRESIDENT: Barry Regula, Sr. VP and GM CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,100 WHAT PERCENT ARE MALE: 41 WHAT PERCENT ARE FEMALE: 59 AVERAGE TURNOVER IN A FISCAL YEAR: 40% AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: 1-5 years (business has only been operating for 5 years) USE PROGRAMS AND/OR PRACTICES TO RECRUIT AND/OR RETAIN EMPLOYEES OF VARYING ETHNICITIES AND CULTURES/DISABLED COMMUNITY/AGING WORKFORCE/VETERANS: Yes PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: We conduct “Auditions” attended by hourly crew members, hiring managers, Directors and the General Manager, we are able to see the real personality of the individual, which allows us the opportunity to select those who will compliment our culture BENEFITS PROVIDED: Retirement/investment/stock options, medical, dental, vision and 401k, PTO/Vacation. BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: individual departments to develop and implement incentive programs FLEX HOURS OR TELECOMMUTING OPTIONS: flexible schedules to those attending college or have a second job ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: Yes EVALUATION & RECOGNITION OR SUPPORT: Yes our kudos system is great HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: A combination of fun, excitement and opportunity STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: We provide opportunities that allow our crew to “escape” while at work thru events such as employee appreciation day to our annual Halloween Costume contest.

Margaritaville Resort Casino 777 Margaritaville Way, Bossier City (855) 346-2489 |


argaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City is a full-service gaming, hotel, dining and nightlife facility located on the banks of the Red River in Bossier City. Opened in June 2013, Margaritaville is singly-owned by a small group of investors, making it the only property in Shreveport-Bossier that has not operated under a corporate umbrella. Margaritaville Bossier offers a wide array of amenities, including an 18 story, 395 room hotel with 36 luxurious suites, the Margaritaville Retail Store, and 5 award-winning dining options. The 30,000 square-foot gaming area features state-of-the-art slot machines and table games, as well as the Players Club. Margaritaville also has three bars: the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, the Center Bar on the casino floor, and The Busted Coconut, located next to the tropical pool complete with Jacuzzi, entertainment area, and outdoor dining venue. In addition, Margaritaville is home to the Paradise Theater, which hosts a variety of musical, comedy, and community events throughout the year. Margaritaville offers the premier gaming experience in Northwest Louisiana with over 1,200 of the industry’s most exciting slot machines. From penny slots to high limit, there is a game for every player at every denomination. Margaritaville also offers more than 50 action-packed table games including craps, blackjack, roulette, mini bac-

carat, and many more. Free cocktail service is available to all customers playing. In 2017, Margaritaville opened an all-new High Limit area, featuring 100 high limit slots, 6 high limit black jack tables, a private cage and cash center, and much more. In addition, a new Baccarat room was opened in December offering 4 mini-bac and 2 midi-bac tables. Exquisite dining is an important part of Margaritaville’s culture. Whether guests prefer coffee and a snack from Banyan Tree Café, tasting menus from around the world at The World Tour Buffet, Asian fusion at Bamboo Asian Café, or fresh-from-the-gulf seafood and perfect steaks with a river view at the award winning Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak, the food will always be extraordinary. In March 2017, Riverview Restaurant and Brewhouse opened to rave reviews and high demand. Riverview offers tapas, sharing plates, brick oven pizza, a huge variety of craft beer, premium liquors, and wines, as well as an adults-only upstairs game room featuring billiards, shuffleboard, Golden Tee, and more. Giving back to the community is a high priority for Margaritaville and its crew members. In 2017, the company proudly supported numerous charities and community events, like the AVTT Vietnam Wall, Paws in Paradise, supporting area animal shelters and the First Annual SIP, UNLIMITED honoring Lucky Palace’s Kuan Lim.

Employees donated over 6,000 logged volunteer hours throughout the year. Crew members answer why Margaritaville is the Best Place to Work: Earntonette Harris - Table Games Dealer: My favorite thing about my job in Table Games is having fun and entertaining my guests! Bill Broom – Riverview Restaurant and Brewhouse Server: The thing I like about Margaritaville is interacting with the guests and having fun at work. Charity Myers – Senior Marketing Manager: I’ve been here since the very very beginning, when we were still wearing hard hats to work every day. One of the best things about working at Margaritaville is the great benefits offered to the employees - medical benefits, matching 401K, and Food Truck Fridays! Breanca Simpson – Cage Cashier: The best thing about working here is my coworkers. They’re very friendly, and we hang out and have fun outside of work. It really is a family. Kim Haigh – Director of HR: I’m so proud of the wonderful crew members we’ve hired in the 5 years since we opened. We have over 400 that have been with us since the very beginning, which says a lot about what a fun place it is to work.

11 AUGUST 1, 2018

Pictured are crew members who have been with Margaritaville since it opened five years ago.

AUGUST 1, 2018



u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: Linnea Allen, VP of Corporate Communications/Social Media Director, employee of 6 years CEO/PRESIDENT: Drake Mills CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: Total of 670; Northwest and North Central LA - 230 WHAT PERCENT ARE MALE: 31 WHAT PERCENT ARE FEMALE: 69 AVERAGE TURNOVER IN A FISCAL YEAR: 11% AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: 1-5 years USE PROGRAMS AND/OR PRACTICES TO RECRUIT AND/OR RETAIN EMPLOYEES OF VARYING ETHNIC AND CULTURES/ DISABLED COMMUNITY/VETERANS: Yes PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: Personality/ behavioral assessments, criminal background checks, credit checks, drug testing, professional references, skills assessment BENEFITS PROVIDED: Medical, dental, vision and life insurance, FSA, short-term and long-term disability, PTO time, paid holidays, retirement, Employee Stock Ownership Plan BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: Yes SUPPORT HEALTH AND EXERCISE: Yes ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: Yes with our Project Enrich program which gives 20 volunteer hours per year EVALUATION & RECOGNITION OR SUPPORT: Annual evaluations, job shadowing, cross-training, attendance at leadership workshops HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: Our Culture is so important to us, that we have a Culture Department which oversees our Culture Council, made up of employees from different markets and departments to constantly evaluate employee morale and to maintain consistency of culture throughout the bank. PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES’ FAMILIES: Paternity leave, flexible hours to accommodate school events/ doctor visits, etc., tickets to local family entertainment or sporting event STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Retail teams have game nights for employees, execs will host employee groups at ball games, our president hosts Star Wars nights and rents the theater on the opening of the new Star Wars movies. annual holiday parties, and annual Culture Celebrations in each market region with food and inspirational speakers.

Origin Bank 308 Market St., Shreveport 800-255-2053 |


rigin Bank is a 106 year old, Louisiana chartered bank, which provides a wide range of traditional banking services. Since our founding in 1912, the bank has been committed to serving and helping its communities grow and prosper. With a philosophy and Brand Promise of making every customer feel like the only customer every time, the bank provides a unique brand of personalized, relationship banking to an ever-expanding list of customers and communities. The emphasis on the Origin Bank Culture is what continues to separate us from competitors in the markets we serve, helps us to attract the top bankers in our footprint, and enables us to provide an unmatched banking experience for our customers. In keeping with our culture and our mission to passionately pursue ways to make banking more rewarding for our customers, employees, shareholders and communities, last year we created the Origin Experience Strategy Team, a non-executive team of employees representing all departments and markets to bring together ideas from across the organization to renew purpose, passion, productivity, performance and profitability, with the focus on the customer’s experience being the product. The goals of the team involve simplifying banking, not only for customers, but also for employees, and creating solutions to problems by advancing collaboration across all departments to strengthen organizational health and build better customer journeys. Employees across all of our markets have a deep passion and commitment

to our Core Values, Core Purpose, and Brand Promise. Our Core Purpose is to enrich the lives of the people in our community. Our Core Values are as follows: Trust is our foundation - earn it every day; never compromise our integrity; have corporate and individual commitment to our communities; have respect for self and others; encourage and recognize strong work ethic and individual initiative; practice innovative, flexible and forward thinking. The Origin Bank Culture is clearly defined, not only by the posters on our walls and the words on our intranet site, but also by the people who make up our team. Our employees are our best asset and we greatly value what each of them does on a daily basis to make Origin a success. Origin Bank has more than 40 banking centers in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Employees answer why Origin Bank is the Best Place to Work: Mary Yawn: Origin Bank is able to offer everything that the national banks offer their clients; however, we are small enough to still deliver personalized customer service to our clients. I believe in going above and beyond for my customers and Origin Bank has given me the flexibility to do so.  Origin Bank believes in their employees and offers them a very competitive salary, health care benefits, and flexible PTO schedules.  One thing that is very special to me is that this organization gives back to the community and provides each employee with Project Enrich hours so that each employee can participate in non-profit organization events.  I love working with my co-workers/work family. 

Tammy Beavers: Origin Bank is the best place to work because I am allowed to perform my job duties, knowing that my supervisor has confidence and trust in me to complete such tasks without micromanaging. I am blessed to be a part of a great commercial team and also have formed close friendships with many back office team members, which to me, makes a better overall workplace experience. Michael Barrett: Origin is a great place to work because of its employees! Every employee I come in contact with is always so friendly and professional. They are always willing to help with any issue you lay at their feet. It is obvious our HR department and managers do a tremendous job in screening and interviewing potential new hires to make sure they are a perfect fit into our culture. Our people are what make us different and a great place to work. Karen Rogers: I think it’s the best place to work because it’s family oriented and my coworkers show that they care. Origin also encourages you to get involved with the community and does great things for nonprofit organizations. I take great pride in our organization. Jennifer Hemmings: Origin is the best place to work because of its involvement in the community. I love that we take an interest in various non-profits through our Project Enrich program. Through donations with our Cookouts for a Cause, and giving of our time through Project Enrich, our employees are making an impact in the community we live and work in.

13 AUGUST 1, 2018



Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau 629 N Spring St., Shreveport (318) 222-9391 |


he Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau is the official destination marketing organization attracting sports, meeting, leisure and gaming visitors resulting in economic growth through visitor expenditures and enhancing the quality of life in Louisiana’s Caddo and Bossier Parishes. The Shreveport -Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau is the official visitor information center for visitors to Shreveport - Bossier and Caddo and Bossier Parishes, providing information and assistance to tourists, group travel leaders, convention/ meeting planners, sports events and media. Shreveport began life as a log -jammed river port, and has become home to a modern convention center, world- class hotels, family -friendly lodges, and charming bed and breakfasts. Our unparalleled dining offers cuisines from all over the world, with our own home -town version of East

Texas Cajun. Throw in great shopping, an almost non-stop series of festivals and events, riverboat casinos, and you can “Let the good times roll!”” Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau team members share why they think it is the Best Place to Work: Lila Davis, Visitor Service Specialist: Working at the bureau has been a life changing experience for me. It has given me the opportunity to meet and greet visitors from all over the world. Being able to share with them our wonderful Southern hospitality and the amazing things we have to see and do in our great cities, is fulfilling. Chris Jay, Public Relations/Social Media Manager: The greatest part of working at the Tourist Bureau is being able to help others – whether they’re visiting tour groups, conventioneers, leisure tourists, or locals – appreciate what makes Shreveport-Bossier so special. It’s truly a joy to help visitors and locals alike discover things that they love here, and I get to experience

that joy every day. Aly Velasquez, Marketing Associate: The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s leadership has fostered a sense of family amongst our staff. We work in the best place because our job inspires us to be our best selves, take every advantage to grow our skills, and challenges us to use our creativity to problem solve while serving the community we love. Charlie Rice, Executive Assistant to the President: I love working at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau! The bureau has a great working environment and everyone works as a “team”. I look forward to coming to work every day! David Bradley, Vice President of Sales and Service: The Shreveport Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau is a great place to come to work every day. I have been in the business 30-plus years and the way my teammates support each other with one goal in mind every day to keep our community full of opportunity makes me love this organization.

BENEFITS PROVIDED: 501(c)3 retirement plan, vacation and sick time, heath care benefits FLEX HOURS OR TELECOMMUTING OPTIONS: Employees who work more than 40 hours a week are allowed to flex hours worked over 40 hours in the next week. ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE: We volunteer together once a year for Day of Caring through United Way. Weekly, the staff gathers food for the Northwest Louisiana Food Bank. We have used funds collected for jeans day to donate to the Renesting Project and other local nonprofits. EVALUATION & RECOGNITION OR SUPPORT: Yes our kudos system is great HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CULTURE: We are a creative group, who care deeply about our community. The office environment is very positive, cultivating and encouraging. PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEES’ FAMILIES: Families have always been a part of our office culture. Children are welcome in the office. STRESS RELIEF, TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Once or twice a year, we do team buildingand meet every other week to troubleshoot.

AUGUST 1, 2018



u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: Sara Hebert, senior communications consultant, < 1 year CEO/PRESIDENT: Albert M. Smoak, President & COO CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,700 BONUS OR INCENTIVE PROGRAMS: We offer a total rewards package that consists of competitive base pay along with the opportunity to earn annual incentive awards, based on the employee’s and the company’s performance. FLEX HOURS OR TELECOMMUTING OPTIONS: Some of our work/life balance programs include Alternative Work Arrangements— Telecommuting and flexible work schedules when the needs of both internal and external customers are met; Free Parking or Parking Subsidies. SUPPORT HEALTH AND EXERCISE: Wellness resources are available to support employee well-being at no cost to the employee including on-site flu shots (at most worksite locations), access to a health coach and rewards for managing your health. FOR MORE DETAILED PROFILE INFO, SEE BELOW


Southwestern Electric Power Company 428 Travis St., Shreveport (888) 216-3523 |

outhwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) serves 535,000 customers in northwestern and central Louisiana, western Arkansas, East Texas and the Panhandle area of North Texas. Its headquarters is in Shreveport, with regulatory and external affairs offices in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, La. and Little Rock, Ark. SWEPCO has been providing affordable, reliable electricity to customers since 1912 and is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP). SWEPCO is committed to providing and fostering an inclusive business environment that values and leverages the unique talents, perspectives and experiences of each employee. Every employee at our company brings distinct insights based on his or her combination of gender, age, culture, ethnicity, religion, abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, personality, world experience and upbringing. Those differences are a powerful asset, because they reflect the diverse nature of our workforce. Our diversity initiatives include education programs, a dedicated diversity website, employee resource groups, a variety of diversity-related events and activities, and work/life policies and programs designed to attract and retain a diverse mix of employees. Our parent company, AEP, was named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. Our parent company AEP is recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as one of the most military-friendly employers in the country, and we actively seek veteran candidates who are looking to

redeploy the skill sets they acquired in the military to an electric utility setting. Some of our benefits for full-time employees include: • Paid Holidays, Personal Days and Vacation Days • Sick Pay and Long-Term Disability Programs • A 401(k) Retirement Savings Plan, a “Cash Balance” Retirement Plan • Comprehensive and Affordable Medical Plan Choices • Employee Assistance Plan provides confidential counseling and referral services • Comprehensive Dental Plan, comprehensive Vision Care plus vision discounts • Free Employee Life Insurance • Free Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance • Flexible Spending Accounts, Travel Assistance Plan • Pet Insurance • Group Legal, Home and Auto Insurance Plans Southwestern Electric Power Company is a financial supporter of non-profit organizations whose focus is improving the quality of life. We are proud to be a partner in education to thousands of teachers and students, particularly in grades pre-K to 12. Through our economic development efforts, SWEPCO strives to make certain our communities remain strong. As a corporate citizen the Ark-LaTex, SWEPCO identifies opportunities to sponsor and partner with organizations who uplift and serve underrepresented communities. Hundreds of SWEPCO employees generously share

their knowledge, time and effort in this mission. Our long-term partnerships and volunteerism with organizations in Shreveport-Bossier like United Way, the Strategic Action Council, Southern University at Shreveport Louisiana and Community Renewal represent targeted initiatives to build a better community for all. Employees receive regular job evaluations and we recognize employees through Service Awards, Employee Activities, and SWEPCO Now. We believe in doing the right thing every time for our customers, each other and our future. A strong and healthy culture fosters engaged employees and creates the foundation for long-term success. Company culture is known to drive performance. An engaged, collaborative and empowered workforce not only will improve morale and performance, it will fuel innovation, spark ingenuity and drive continuous improvement. We continually work to foster a culture that supports the agility and focus needed to succeed in a fast-paced, changing work environment. This includes building on our commitment to customers, safety, operational excellence and innovation. In addition, safety is a priority within our culture. Zero Harm is at the heart of everything we do at AEP. It means we believe all occupational illnesses and injuries are preventable Because We Care that everyone goes home in the same or better condition than when they came to work. We care about our people, our customers and our communities.

Employees share why SWEPCO is the Best Place to Work: Karen Wissing, Communications Consultant, Sr.: To me, SWEPCO is the best place to work for a few reasons: our company puts safety of its employees first, encourages the growth and development of its team members and promotes conversation about the diverse workforce across our threestate territory. I’m proud to work for SWEPCO! Kamal Hasan, Customer Operations Specialist: I was going to give the easy answer: the pay is good for the position and benefits. But, when I thought about it: I like the community outreach a lot. We’re not just here making money. For the company-wide United Way giving campaign, SWEPCO matches what employees give. That’s awesome. I’m proud of the work our team has done in Puerto Rico with power restoration. It’s nice that we can help out. Don Jackson, Customer Operations Associate Senior: In 1972 when I came on board, my father worked for SWEPCO. I was going to college and working elsewhere so I decided I’d try to come to work here because there was an opening. I could see it was a good company to work for with great benefits. People here are always great and if you needed any help, they were always willing. You call it the SWEPCO family. Grant Zich, Senior Lineman: It’s the pride of being able to do a challenging and dangerous job safely and efficiently. I’m proud to get the lights back on, so that people’s lives can return to normal.

15 AUGUST 1, 2018

real estate

Vintage Realty Company 330 Marshall St., Suite 200, Shreveport (318) 222-2244 |


intage Realty Company is a privately owned, full-service commercial real estate provider, specializing in the leasing, management, development and brokerage of office, medical office, industrial, multi family and retail properties. Alvin Childs and David Alexander are the principal partners of the organization and began Vintage Realty Company in 1988 to meet the demands of the expanding commercial real estate market in Shreveport, Louisiana. In its over 30 year existence, Vintage has established a strong foothold in eight additional markets. From office buildings to apartments, shopping centers to industrial warehouses, lots to large undeveloped tracts, Vintage employees possesses a unique combination of talent and expertise. Vintage realizes that an owner’s property represents a large investment, therefore Vintage’s core belief is to treat all assets the same - as if they were their own. From preparing and following budgets to implementing marketing plans, contract negotiations to closings, Vintage ensures that a property gets the attention it deserves. The mission of Vintage Realty Company is to create value for its clients by realizing and exceeding their goals through an empowered team of dedicated professionals.

Vintage Realty Company’s whole approach to real estate development, brokerage, leasing and management is to place primary importance on the clients’ best interest. This concept of “clients’ interest first” is the embodiment of its organizational culture and it is embraced by every member of the Vintage team. The company has over 150 employees and maintains a corporate office in Shreveport, Louisiana with additional offices located throughout the region to serve Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and East Texas markets. To learn more, visit Vintage Realty employees explain why their empolyer is the Best Place to Work: Meg Powell: I love working for Vintage Realty Company because of the type of work we do and how we do it. We are truly “Growing A Company and Building Communities”. It is very exciting to have a new company come to town to lease space in a building, welcome new residents to one of our communities, or manage a property more effectively to have happier tenants and owners. But, many real estate companies can say those things. What sets Vintage apart is that the company leadership empowers their employees to do their best work for our clients through good communication, on-going development

and trust. The owners and managers are always available to answer questions or talk over new ideas. They also understand that a work life balance is important and supports employees in those efforts. We truly are like a family here at Vintage! Sheryl Culpepper: When you mention that you work at Vintage Realty people remark “I see your signs everywhere.” It fills you with a sense of pride knowing that we have such a strong presence in the Shreveport Bossier market. I also love to watch the development of multifamily properties that go from an idea to a completed community. Vintage Realty is not just a place to work it is a family. – Jennifer Spence: I have met interesting and talented people while working at Vintage Realty during the past 10 years, and have relationships with co-workers that continue outside of the 8 to 5 office environment. Dewanna Adams: The culture of Vintage Realty Company is something special. We have very talented employees that thrive on being part of the competition in the commercial real estate industry. We, as employees, are recognized, respected and fairly compensated for our work. This is what makes Vintage Realty Company a great company to work for.

u BREAKDOWN NOMINATED BY: Merissa Coffman, HR Manager, employee for 2.5 years CEO/PRESIDENT: David Alexander CURRENT NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 135 WHAT PERCENT ARE MALE: 50 WHAT PERCENT ARE FEMALE: 50 AVERAGE TURNOVER IN A FISCAL YEAR: 15% AVERAGE TIME EMPLOYEES SPEND WITH THE COMPANY: More than 5 years PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING TOOLS USED IN HIRING PROCESS: Multiple interview process, reference checks, various agencies for 11 panel drug screen, and a 7-year-plus comprehensive background check.

BIZ. August 2018  

The August 2018 edition of BIZ. Magazine, which includes our 2018 Best Places to Work awards section. BIZ. is a northwest Louisiana based bu...

BIZ. August 2018  

The August 2018 edition of BIZ. Magazine, which includes our 2018 Best Places to Work awards section. BIZ. is a northwest Louisiana based bu...