Biz New Orleans November 2017

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New Orleans’ largest independent caterer offers advice for your next event. PG. 70

Sarah Hall, president of Joel Dondis Catering

Checking In The new NOPSI Hotel pg. 64

PostHurricane Rate Raise: Is it coming? pg. 54

The Cutting Edge of Co-working

The Shop at CAC pg. 78

november 2017

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Publisher Todd Matherne

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Web Editor Kelly Massicot Assoc. Multimedia News Editor Leslie T. Snadowsky

Contributors Julia Carcamo, Maria Clark, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Kim Roberts, Jessica Rosgaard, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Liz Shephard, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell, Melanie Warner Spencer

Advertising Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Sales Manager Maegan O’Brien (504) 830-7219 Senior Account Executive Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Senior Account Executive Carly Goldman (504) 830-7225

Marketing Director of Marketing & Events Cheryl Lemoine Event Coordinator Whitney Weathers Digital Media Associate Mallary Matherne For event information, call (504) 830-7264

Production Production Manager Jessica DeBold Traffic Coordinator Topher Balfer Production Designers Emily Andras, Demi Schaffer, Molly Tullier

Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Office Manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription Manager Brittanie Bryant For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231

AABP 2016 Award of Excellence Bronze: Best Feature Layout 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 Biz New Orleans is published monthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: one year $24.95, two year $39.95, three year $49.95 — foreign rates vary call for pricing. Postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biz New Orleans, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2016 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.

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features top stories this month



Same Name, New Service

Gourmet that Goes Anywhere

From serving up gas and electricity to luxurious suites and fresh local cuisine — a look at the reinvention of NOPSI.

Reflecting on a year of unprecedented growth, Sarah Hall, president of Joel Catering and Special Events, shares New Orleans’ largest independent caterer’s recipe for success. 13

contents november 2017 | Volume 4 | Issue 2

16 | Editor’s note Latte Please 18 | publisher’s note Ready for Change: Elected leaders need to be prepared from day one.

22 | Calendar 24 | industry news 26 | recent openings 28 | Events

in the biz 34 | dining Sweet Taste of Success: A look at some of the big players in Louisiana sugar

36 | tourism It Ain’t My Fault: You don’t need an excuse to indulge in gumbo and brass bands at the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival Nov. 18 and 19.

40 | entertainment Making Music Without Breaking the Bank: Reopened


Sept. 21, Tipitina’s New Orleans Music Office Co-op provides local artists with muchneeded resources at a bargain basement price.

In the Wake of Equifax: Nobody can know for sure who has been affected, so how do you stay safe?

42 | entrepreneurship

54 | insurance

Shop Online, Buy Local:

Post-Hurricane Rate Raise?

is steering online shoppers to local businesses.

44 | etiquette Fine, Don’t Read This: Dealing with passive-aggressive behavior in the workplace

50 | banking & finance

Following three major hurricanes, Louisianans could see insurance rates increase.

from the lens

58 | maritime & ports

78 | great workspaces

Chugging Along: Local

Collective Creativity: The Shop at CAC creates artful, stateof-the-art office space and cool cache for days.

businesses and organizations weigh in on the Port of New Orleans’ newest acquisition, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

86 | why didn’t i think of that? Power Tripping: Damesly, a new boutique travel company, invites women to boost their professional skills while enjoying exotic locales. 90 | making a match: businesses and nonprofits Big Sky Ranch: Get your team out into nature with a handson day at this Northshore animal sanctuary.

96 | on the job French Market Coffee Offers New Courses 46 | marketing 38 | sports Time To Fly: Pelicans positioned for playoffs or bust

It’s All Fun and Games: How businesses are taking “gamification” to the next level

62 | guest viewpoint Change Or Die: It’s time for business to unite our region around climate change.

on the cover Sarah Hall, president of Joel Catering and Special Events Photograph by Romero & Romero photography 15

Editor’s Note

On the Web

Beyond the magazine But wait, there’s more! Visit to watch videos from this month’s issue, including:

Latte Please


s I sit here writing this, we are — at so very long last — enjoying a nice cool day that actually feels like…dare I say it? Fall. Fall has always been my favorite time of the year, even when I lived in Nebraska and I knew that it meant every day was just a step closer to months of stone grey bleak skies packed with snow and ice. During those years I learned to savor every fall day, reveling in the color changing leaves and mild temperatures to an extent I hoped would hold me through the months ahead. Here, things are different. I recently saw someone in a t-shirt with an outline of Louisiana that said, “Winter Is Not Coming.” While I’m one of the rare few that has never seen “Game of Thrones,” I still recognized the reference and smiled because no, it is not coming. Not really, and that’s awesome. What is coming is a calendar full of festivals, and parties, and holidays, and cozy sweaters and jeans, and cuddling up with a good cup of coffee, and thinking about plans for the new year, and maybe some spring travel. Within this issue you’ll find articles relating to all these fall joys, including advice from catering superstar Joel Dondis Catering for your next get-together; a look at the story behind New Orleans’ latest luxury hotel, NOPSI; a chat with the women behind Damesly, a travel company just for women; and even a lovely photo of a perfect cup of coffee taken at the first and only coffee classes in the state, designed to help students reach the level of professional barista. Ok, so there’s nothing about jeans and sweaters, but I’m definitely wearing them now, and couldn’t be happier. Happy Reading and Happy Fall Y’all!

TAKE A VIDEO TOUR Take a virtual walk through Joel Dondis Catering’s event space, Il Mercato — responsible for a good portion of the company’s 30 percent growth last year — and check out all that the recently reopened Tipitina’s Music Co-Op offices has to offer local industry professionals at

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Publisher’s Note

Ready for Change Elected leaders need to be prepared from day one.


emember the 18th of November. It is the day we finalize our New Orleans governmental leadership team for the next four years. All that’s left on the ballot to vote for is mayor and council districts B and E, then the team of eight elected leaders will be formed. This is too important. After the decision is made, that team needs to get started on planning immediately. Going forward, we need to get this right. We must begin the long transition process by forming a plan and strategy and tackle our city’s issues starting on day one. We have so many opportunities for positive change in New Orleans, and using the next four months in transition can only help the team of eight begin implementing a united plan of action from the get-go. New Orleans has transitioned so many times during the past 300 years. Let’s make this next transition one that no one ever forgets. Let this be the one that got it right. There is no better time than right now. Todd Matherne

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Meet the Sales Team

Maegan O’Brien Sales Manager (504) 830-7219

Caitlin Sistrunk Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7252

Carly Goldman Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7225

Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales (504) 830-7215

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Louisiana International Trade Week & Jubilee

2 LifeCity’s Regional Sustainability Committee Sustainability Workshop 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 1515 Poydras St. 5th Floor Auditorium

2 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce State of the Cities (Abita Springs, Madisonville and Folsom) 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The Lakehouse 2025 Lakeshore Dr., Mandeville

7 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce State of Jefferson 2017 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport 2829 Williams Blvd., Kenner

8 Louisiana IT Symposium 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sheraton New Orleans 500 Canal St.


New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Power Breakfast sponsored by Fidelity Bank 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. 1515 Poydras St. 5th Floor Auditorium

15 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Business Community Appreciation Luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Benedict Plantation 1144 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville

16 GEB University Violence, Shootings & Safety: Considerations for Your Safety Plan 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Gillis, Ellis & Baker Training Room 1615 Poydras St., Suite 700

16 Propeller Pop 2017 A showcase of New Orleans’ rising pop-up chefs 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Propeller Incubator 4035 Washington Ave.

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and AMA New Orleans Educational Seminar: How to Market New Orleans 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1515 Poydras St. 5th Floor Auditorium




New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Alliance 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Ruth’s Chris Steak House 525 Fulton St.

8 Propeller PitchNOLA: Education 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Propeller Incubator 4035 Washington Ave.

9 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Kendra Scott Networking Evening 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Kendra Scott 5757 Magazine St., Suite C

9 St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Northshore Young Professionals — Pop Up 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Morton’s Seafood 702 Water St., Madisonville

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Jefferson Chamber of Commerce A Taste of Jefferson Various times and locations

New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Chamber After 5: NOLA VFW 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. NOLA VFW 531 Lyons St. St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar 69796 Stirling Blvd., Covington

17 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Business & Breakfast 7:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Bonefish Grill 4848 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner

29 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Prosper Jefferson Seminar Series: Building a Company Culture 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. JEDCO Conference Center 700 Churchill Parkway, Avondale

29 Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Military Hiring Fair 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Belle Chasse Civic Center 8398 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse


Close your next deal at one of these business-friendly bistros.

Tsunami Sushi

Tommy’s Cuisine

601 Poydras St Suite B, New Orleans • (504) 608-3474

746 Tchoupitoulas St. • (504) 581-1103

With the opening of Tsunami in the Pan American Building, edible art has come to the CBD! Talented, trendsetting chefs serve up fresh and diverse sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi along with mouth-watering grilled fish, steaks and top shelf creations to round out the menu. Open all day MonSat, plus Saints Game Sundays!

Tommy’s Cuisine is a locally-owned and operated restaurant located in the Warehouse District. Famous for its inspired upscale Creole-Italian cuisine, all perfectly served in an old-world atmosphere, Tommy’s has been the place to meet, eat, and drink for over a decade. Experience a world-class wine menu along with the finest dishes in the city at Tommy’s Cuisine.

Cambria Hotel New Orleans Bistro & Bar

Riccobono’s Peppermill Restaurant

732 Tchoupitoulas St. • (504) 524-7770

3524 Severn Ave., Metairie • (504) 455-2266

The Warehouse District’s newest eatery and destination bar features locally inspired small plates, hearty salads, sandwiches, and entrées. Specializing in artfully prepared cocktails and select regional craft beers, Cambria New Orleans Bistro & Bar is the hip new gathering spot for work or play in the Big Easy.

Join us for your holiday party. It’s not too early to book your reservations. From 5 to 50 guests we will make sure every detail is attended to. Please see our group menus available on our website, www.riccobonospeppermill. com or call for custom arrangements. 23

Industry News

Tulane Unveils BMT Unit

As a city, we will no longer support leaders who refuse to put the needs of the people first. Those people have spoken, with a recent poll of likely voters ranking affordable housing as the second most important issue facing our city today.

Tulane Medical Center opened its newly renovated $3.8 million Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) program on Sept. 27. The patient care unit was expanded from seven beds to 16 and includes a new air and water filtration system, along with additional amenities designed for blood cancer patients. cruising

Norwegian Breakaway Coming Next Year

$25 Million Gift for Tulane

The largest cruise ship to ever sail from the Port of New Orleans — both in length and passenger occupancy — is set to arrive one year from this month. Norwegian Cruise Line announced Oct. 3 that its 4,000–passenger cruise ship, Norwegian Breakaway, will sail 7-, 10- and 11-day seasonal cruises to the Caribbean following its arrival on Nov. 11, 2018.

Tulane University School of Medicine received the largest gift in its history from the family of internal medicine physician Dr. John Winton Deming, who passed away in 1996. “This is a gift that will build our research enterprise and encourage breakthroughs that we can only imagine today,” said Tulane President Mike Fitts.


Louisiana Ranks Among Least Financially Savvy States (1=Most; 25=Avg.) 47th Median Credit Score 22nd Mortgage Debt as % of Median Income

Children’s Hospital Opens LaPlace Pediatric Clinic Children’s Pediatrics, a new Children’s Hospital clinic in LaPlace, opened Sept. 30 at 2840 Airline Highway. The clinic will be served by three pediatricians who can refer to specialty care at Children’s as needed.

32nd Foreclosure Rate Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA. The organization unveiled its 2017 Annual Report Card on the state of New Orleans housing issues at the 11th Annual Housing, Health And Community Resources Fair at Dillard University on Sept. 30. Overall in 2017, HousingNOLA gave the City a “C” letter grade, a drop from the “B” in 2016.

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22nd % of Credit Usage 30th Housing Expenses as % of Median Home Price 51st % of Unbanked Households


Delgado Partners with Copa Airlines Leading Latin American airline Copa Airlines has partnered with Delgado Community College to provide airfare discounts to anyone traveling to and from Latin America in order to participate in educational programs offered at the Delgado Maritime Industrial Training Center. Discounts reach up to 15 percent and are available now.

45th Delinquency Rate on Mortgages, Auto Loans, Student Loans & Credit Cards 26th % of Adults Spending More than They Earn 42nd % of Adults with Rainy-Day Funds 19th Total Debt as % of Median Income Source: WalletHub

New Orleans East Clinic Opens New Orleans East Hospital announced the opening of its New Orleans East Clinic Sept. 27. The clinic offers multi-specialty services, including primary care, gastroenterology, neurology, pulmonary and orthopedics in one location — 5620 Read Blvd.

EJGH Reaches Partnership Agreement The board of directors of East Jefferson General Hospital has accepted a letter of intent (LOI) to lease the publicly-owned community hospital to University Healthcare System, L.C. — a partnership between HCA Healthcare and Tulane University. A definitive lease agreement is expected by the first quarter of 2018, with final approval by a vote of the Jefferson Parish Council. 25

Recent Openings

Lukka Boutique Upscale women’s clothing retailer Lukka Boutique opened its first store in New Orleans at 1000 Girod inside the Beacon in South Market Oct. 4. The boutique opened in Baton Rouge in 2013. This is its first expansion.

Curio Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts announced the opening of its newest restaurant, Curio, Sept. 18. The eclectic bistro led by Executive Chef Hayley Vanvleet is located at 301 Royal St.

Aspen Dental Kenner, Louisiana, is now home to a new Aspen Dental office at 2240 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Operated by Dr. Sapna Mathur, DMD, the office is the sixth Aspen Dental-branded office in Louisiana. A reported 58 or the 64 parishes in Louisiana, including Jefferson, are designated as dental health professional shortage areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Shop at the CAC The first co-working space of its kind in New Orleans, The Shop at the Contemporary Arts Center opened Sept. 28. Designed to serve as a network for local innovations, the 40,000-square-foot space includes a staffed reception area, rooftop deck, seven conference rooms and up to a 40 percent discount on HR services.

Select Comfort Select Comfort, makers of the Sleep Number® beds, celebrated the grand opening of its new technical support center at 1333 S. Clearview Parkway in Elmwood Oct. 4. To date, 133 of the projected 225 new direct jobs have been filled. The project is estimated to result in an additional 104 new indirect jobs in the future.

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The Annex NOLA The Annex, a collection of 87 luxury apartments in the French Quarter at 939 Iberville St., is now leasing. Originally constructed in 1920, the Art Deco building’s renovation was completed by general contractor The McDonnel Group and designed by John C. Williams Architects.

Omni Air Transport

Leviton Innovation Center

Private air charter Omni Air Transport will begin Learjet 45 service at all airports in and around New Orleans that can accommodate the jet on Nov. 15. The jet comfortably accommodates eight passengers and can fly non-stop up to 2,000 miles.

Home and business automation leader Leviton opened its new Innovation Center Sept. 26 at 865 Fulton St. Just a short walk from the Leviton LIVE experience center, this new location is dedicated to the creation, design and promotion of new products. 27

Events 1






Faubourg Private Wealth Event

Tulane Business Forum

Wednesday, September 20 | WWII Museum

Friday, September 22 | The Great Hall in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Faubourg Private Wealth Advisors hosted its second-annual Fiduciary Risk and Responsibility for Retirement Plan Sponsors event, along with co-hosts LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors, Phelps Dunbar LLP, Retirement Strategies Group and Swan Global Investments.

The 38th annual Tulane Business Forum attracted over 750 business professionals representing over 200 companies to hear national and local speakers on a variety of business topics.

1. Jean Paul Lagarde, Jaron Miller and P. David Soliman 2. Panelists Alex Glaser, Daniel Williams and Toni Supernau 3. Tyson and Emily Vanlandingham

1. Robert Lalka, Louis David and Ben Swig 2. Stephen Udvarhelyi 3. Thomas Spiers, Caroline Kearney and Eddie Hayes

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photographs by cheryl gerber 29

Events 1






New Orleans Chamber 3rd Quarter Business Luncheon

Jefferson Mayoral Luncheon

Friday, September 29 | Sheraton New Orleans

Thursday, October 5 | Hilton New Orleans Airport

“Coaching Companies to Greater Sales and Profits!” was the topic covered by keynote speaker Jack Daly at the New Orleans Chamber 3rd Quarter Business Luncheon, co-hosted by EO Louisiana.

Mayors from each municipality in Jefferson Parish spoke about the progress being made in their respective areas at the parish’s biannual Mayoral Luncheon.

1. Eric Hutchinson, Keith T. Naccari, Keith J. Naccari and Joseph Marriott 2. Jack Daly 3. Melissa Benitez, Jennie Diemont and Sandra Jordan

1. Mayors Ben Zahn, Belinda Constant and Timothy Kerner 2. Ray Seamon, Jennifer Esler and Lee Giorgio 3. Sen. Conrad Appel, Rep. Polly Thomas and Tony Ligi

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photographs by cheryl gerber 31

in the biz Biz columnists speak out



Time to Fly Pelicans positioned for playoffs or bust More on page 38

In the Biz d i n i ng

Sweet Taste of Success A look at some of the big players in Louisiana sugar By Poppy Tooker


riving through central Louisiana’s rolling hills in Concordia Parish, you may do a double take as you pass fields of sugar cane. Since 1990, research botanists at LSU Ag have worked to develop cold tolerant varietals of cane. Until this year, cane was a crop solely grown in the southern part of the state. Matt Frey, his brother, Mitch, and about a dozen other first-timers are harvesting a Cen-LA cane crop now. Why would farmers add sugar cane to the usual rice, corn, soybeans, cattle and crawfish? One word: money! Sugar cane was Louisiana’s first cash crop and has remained in the top ranking for over 200 years. The tall perennial grass was brought to New Orleans by the Jesuits in 1751 and first planted near the site of where their Baronne Street church stands today. Louisiana’s climate was perfect for cane cultivation as three harvests can result here from just one planting. Once Etienne de Bore discovered how to refine sugar in 1795, we were off to the races, financially speaking. Twelve to 14 million tons of sugar are harvested annually, with an economic return of over $2 million. According to Sam Irwin of the American Sugar Cane League, 2016 broke all records for highest sugar yield. Last year, 431,000 acres each produced 7,982 pounds of the sweet stuff. That’s almost double the 4,180 pounds per acre produced in 1975 by the remaining 400 farm families still growing cane, down from over 1,200 farmers 40 years ago. Despite all the good news, America doesn’t produce enough sugar domestically to satiate the nation’s sweet tooth. Imported sugar can wreack havoc on the

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A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.

industry here, requiring governmental control of the commodity product. In 2008, NAFTA lifted trade restrictions with Mexico and in 2013, following a bumper crop, Mexican sugar was dumped on the U.S. market causing prices to drop. This past summer, a new sugar trade deal was crafted with Mexico, but U.S. refiners and farmers still have concerns about possible loopholes. In some corners of the state, boutique operations are adding to the mix. Since 1944, the Romero family of Three Brothers Farm in Youngsville has cultivated cane on their 29 acres. In the last decade, the father/son team of Bob and Chris Romero has produced raw sugar from their annual harvest. By using heritage crops in traditional ways, Three Brothers products have earned

Instead of using a wood fire, Charles uses propane. Otherwise, his syrup is an authentic taste of history. Once word began to spread across the food community about the magical Poirier elixir, orders poured in. At the time, it was illegal to sell homemade cane syrup in Louisiana, but once the Louisiana House of Representatives heard Charles’ story and tasted his syrup, that was quickly rectified. the distinction of being “Certified Despite working to double his Cajun” by the Louisiana Department production annually, Poirier’s Cane of Agriculture. Syrup sells out quickly each year. The Just down the road from Three first batches are released in late October Brothers in Youngsville, Charles Poirier and completely sell out by March. has achieved legendary status amongst Dying for a taste? Go see Chef Kelly chefs and bakers for his handcrafted Fields, executive chef and partner at cane syrup, made exactly as his great- Willa Jean. An early advocate, Kelly great-grandfather, farmer Anatole not only makes her cornbread with Poirier, did until his death in 1941. Poirier’s, but also serves it decadently Fascinated by his family’s heritage, with butter and more syrup for dipping Charles began collecting heirloom — an activity I highly recommend! n cane varieties — planting, cultivating and harvesting it himself. He acquired a small mill and began a backyard operation, cooking the syrup down Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio in a 15-pound black iron pot, usually show, Louisiana Eats! Saturdays at used for cracklins. The one difference between his process and his great- 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. great-grandfather’s is the fuel source. on WWNO 89.9 FM. 35

In The Biz to u ri sm

It Ain’t My Fault You don’t need an excuse to indulge in gumbo and brass bands at the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival Nov. 18 and 19. By Jennifer Gibson Schecter

Jennifer Gibson Schecter

was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on


ost cities have something everyone can agree to fight about. In Chicago Northsiders and Southsiders have strong opinions as to which baseball team is the best. In Los Angeles arguments about the best routes to drive were famously parodied on Saturday Night Live. New Orleans is no different, although our most strongly held opinions usually pertain to recipes and our shining star is the muddy color of roux. The 10th annual Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival on Nov. 18 and 19 provides attendees with the chance to compare and contrast our native dish, learn about its history and do so while experiencing one of the best brass band showcases on the planet. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, has grown the free Gumbo Festival tremendously over the past 10 years. It began as a small holiday bazaar to sell off surplus Jazz Fest t-shirts for $5 so that people could replenish their collections lost in Katrina. The festival was such a success that they did it again the following year and added food and music. The current location, Louis Armstrong Park, provides a beautiful setting with plenty of space to enjoy the bands and the food. The combination of gumbo and brass bands in one event provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors and locals to immerse themselves in intrinsic cultural touchstones for New Orleans.

36 Biz November 2017

“They’re both pretty iconic to New court that will include New Orleans Orleans, so I would imagine that they soul food classics. are a big part of the attraction for New this year is the first annual tourists generally,” said Scott Aiges, Gumbosium, which will include cooking director of programs, marketing and demonstrations and thoughtful discuscommunications at New Orleans Jazz sions (or should I say, playful arguments) and Heritage Foundation, referring to about gumbo. Aiges is planning a the combination of gumbo and brass “Creole vs. Cajun Gumbo” cook-off, with bands. “We very purposefully created two side-by-side cooking demonstraa festival that celebrates both of them, tions highlighting the similarities and both to celebrate them for our local differences in the two styles. Expect the audience and to create a destination topic of tomatoes to draw a passionate for visitors who want to sample lots response. of them all in one place.” The brass bands will be just as hot Approximately one dozen food ven- as the gumbo. The lineup for Saturday, dors will participate and offer gumbo Nov. 18, includes: Tuba Skinny; Tremé in more varieties than your mama Brass Band; Original Pinstripe Brass thinks is appropriate. Gumbo z’herbes, Band; Free Agents Brass Band; and shrimp and oyster, chicken and andou- To Be Continued (TBC) Brass Band. ille, Creole filé, dark roux, gluten-free On Sunday, Nov. 19, please your and even vegan options will be on ears with: Louisiana Philharmonic sale. All of that in addition to a food Orchestra (LPO) Brass Ensemble;

Pinettes Brass Band; Hot 8 Brass Band; the debut festival appearance of the Trumpet Mafia; and the GrammyAward-winning Rebirth Brass Band. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival over the course of the weekend, making a tremendous economic impact for food vendors, 35 craft vendors, musicians and area businesses. The Jazz and Heritage Foundation produces this festival as part of its mission to serve the community, so while it doesn’t make a profit on the event, the foundation works to enable others to do so. While the details are confidential, Aiges said, “We do have a strong interest in the economic impact on the community of the free festivals and we keep as much data as possible… Suffice it to say that some of the vendors do really, really well – which is what we want. We purposely keep the cost of a food booth or a crafts booth very low so that we can help our vendors make a profit.” The Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival is Saturday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day at Louis Armstrong Park at 701 N. Rampart Street. While admission is free, donations are encouraged. For information on the lineup, vendors, parking and more, visit n 37

In The Biz sports

Time To Fly Pelicans positioned for playoffs or bust By chris price


fter several seasons of appearing on the brink of something special, the New Orleans Pelicans are seemingly there. Led by the trio of power forward Anthony Davis, center DeMarcus Cousins and guard Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have added experience and depth with the signings of guards Rajon Rondo, E’Twaun Moore, Tony Allen and Ian Clark, and the re-signing of small forward Dante Cunningham. There is reason to believe head coach Alvin Gentry has the pieces in place to not only make the postseason, but potentially make some noise in the playoffs, too. At 24, Davis is continuing his upward progression to his full potential. At 6’11”, he excels in the lane, but can shoot from the paint, 15 to 20 feet away from the basket and beyond the arc when a three-point shot is open. Last year he averaged 28.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes per game, and Holiday played in 67 games was named first-team All-NBA in 2016-17 after delaying the for the second time in his five start of his season to care for Jrue Holiday, years with the organization. his wife, who underwent brain Anthony Davis and His career averages are 22.4 surgery. Still, he had 15.4 points, DeMarcus points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.4 7.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 Cousins blocks, and 1.3 steals in 34.4 steals in 32.7 minutes per game. minutes. Shockingly, he has Depending on the lineups Gentry yet to win a playoff game. But this chooses, Holiday will see action at may be the best team he’s had built shooting guard and the point, which around him. he will share with Rondo, a four-time Cousins is Davis’ twin tower. The All-Star and assist machine. While duo may be the best big man combo Rondo may be on the downside of in the association. He arrived in New his career, he will serve a leadership Orleans too late last season to provide role here. Cousins and Rondo were a postseason push, but in 17 games teammates in Sacramento during the with the Pelicans he averaged 24.4 2015-16 season. That year the center points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and had 26.9 PPG, while the guard led 1.5 steals in 33.8 minutes per game. the NBA in assists with 11.7 per game.

38 Biz November 2017

Chris Price is an

award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at

If there is one perceived weak spot entering the season, it’s at small forward. Cunningham will likely start here. He opted out of his contract with the Pelicans, and then re-signed a oneyear deal with the team. He averaged 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 25.0 minutes per game last year. Darius Miller (0.4 PPG, 0.4 APG, 1.3 RPG) and Solomon Hill (7.0 PPG, 1.8 APG, 3.8 RPG) will play in reserve. The small forward position’s limited scoring will be supplemented by Moore (9.6 PPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 RPG), Allen (9.1 PPG, 1.4 APG, 5.5 RPG), and Clark (6.8 PPG, 1.2 APG, 1.6 RPG). When Boogie and The Brow aren’t dominating the frontcourt, the bigs will be backed up by centers Alexis Ajinca

(5.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.6 BPG) and Omer Asik (2.73 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.3 BPG) and forwards Cheick Diallo (5.1 PPG, 0.2 APG, 4.3 RPG) and Perry Jones (3.4 PPG, 0.4 APG, 1.8 RPG). The Pelicans are poised to be one of the top defensive teams in the NBA this season. That’s been part of the formula that Gentry saw as an assistant with Golden State when the Warriors won the NBA title in 2015 (and again, without him, last year). Although the team is patched together with a number of one-year deals, Gentry finally seems to have the players he needs to be successful. To make the playoffs, the team will need to find success early in the season and sustain it after the midseason All-Star break. If the Pels stumble early, it will be too easy to trade away solid players to teams in contention, and whatever hopes are present now will unravel. n

ap images 39

In The Biz enterta i nment

Making Music Without Breaking the Bank Reopened Sept. 21, Tipitina’s New Orleans Music Office Co-op provides local artists with much-needed resources at a bargain basement price.

Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.

By Kim Singletary


nown as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans is a mecca for live music of every kind. In fact, on a typical Saturday night, WWOZ includes more than 55 local venues on its live music calendar. But when it comes to meeting the needs of local musicians looking to create, record, promote and distribute their craft, the city’s resources expense of going into a studio and leave a bit to be desired, especially recording an album and doing prefor fledgling artists operating on Tipitina’s and post-production, designing Foundation a very limited budget. new co-op a cover, maybe starting an LLC, This is why in 2003 the Tipi- manager, creating a website, doing the Joshua tina’s Foundation created a Music marketing, all of that has always Miles Office Co-Op program. What been seen as being really costly. In started as a pilot project in New Orleans this new technology age we can help to provide a low-cost option for musi- bridge that gap — teach musicians to cians to enjoy access to the software, be more self-sufficient.” space and support they need, has grown Miles’ instrument of choice is the into a statewide co-op with locations trumpet, but he also has seven years of in Shreveport, Alexandria and Lake experience in audio and engineering, Charles. along with studio setup. He says Tipitina’s New Orleans location, the co-op — located on the site of however, was forced to close for about a McDonogh High School at 1331 month-and-a-half this summer after it Kerlerec St.— is stocked with everylost its manager. On Sept. 21 it reopened thing a musician could need. with new leadership — local musician “We’ve got eight rooms — two recordand New Orleans native, Joshua Miles. ing rooms, one rehearsal room, one “This city sees an ongoing rotation of media room with a green screen, a some of the best musicians out there,” conference room where we can host says Miles, “but they need resources. The workshops or musicians can hold meet-

40 Biz November 2017

ings, and additional rooms for graphics and design,” he says. For only a $10 a month membership fee (if you pay online or annually), artists also have access to an array of audio software, video editing software, tutorials and access to word processing and graphic design software, on-site technical support. The co-op also offers typical office services like printing, copying, fax, phone and high-speed internet. Musicians can also receive free legal advice via the organization’s ELLA Project, a pro-bono music business legal assistance program designed to assist with intellectual property concerns and contracts. The co-op is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. “We polled our membership to find out when they would be most likely to use the co-op and those hours are

what we came up with,” Miles says. “It makes sense because for musicians, evenings are typically spent doing gigs, sometimes into the early morning. By about 10:30 a.m., however, they’re typically up and going.” Still in the early days of his new position, Miles says the focus is on getting the word out about the co-op, increasing membership, and working on ideas for workshops. “I’ve got pages of ideas,” he says. “There’s so much we can do to help musicians — not just local musicians, but our members from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California, and even overseas, to not only concentrate on their art, but on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.”n

the basics

Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Op What: Workforce development center for musicians, filmmakers and other digital media workers in Louisiana Location: McDonogh High School campus; 1331 Kerlerec St. Membership: $10 a month if paid online or annually Open: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information:

portrait by cheryl gerber 41

In The Biz entreprene urship

Shop Online, Buy Local is steering online shoppers to local businesses. By keith twitchell

Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.


o say that the internet has disrupted traditional consumer shopping patterns is an understatement on the level of saying there’s room for improvement on the Saints defense. An everincreasing percentage of buyers are making their purchases online, and if they go into a store at all, it’s to check out the products in person before searching for a better deal on the web. If you believe some of the pundits, is on the verge of world domination. Not so fast, says a recently launched New Orleans-based venture called “A lot of brands are not excited about dealing with monopolies like Amazon,” observed Locally president and co-founder, Mike Massey. “And even though Amazon wins business with its fast delivery, there are a lot of times when the customer wants the product now.” In addition, Massey cited data that indicates that “52 percent of online shoppers prefer to shop at the brand website.” In essence, Locally bridges the gap between local retail outlets and online shoppers. The company has established a vast database of products and retailers, which enable consumers to identify the products they want, then find local stores that carry them. They can even do price comparisons before settling on their preferred place of purchase. From there, the buyer can either make a quick trip to the store itself – walking in knowing the exact item you want makes for a fast turnaround time – or arrange for delivery via yet another nascent direct-economy option,

42 Biz November 2017

Fed Uber?

independent microdelivery services (see sidebar). According to Massey (an experienced retailer himself, as a third-generation member of the Massey Outfitters family), Locally receives daily inventory updates from thousands of stores nationally. Similarly, national brands publish their catalogues to Locally, and use Locally’s data to identify dealer locations and hours to post on their own websites. There is one gap as yet unbridged in this approach: the connection to the truly local stores that carry their own unique products, such as bakeries, craft stores, specialty clothing outlets and the like. The entire Locally system is driven by product bar codes, and as Massey pointed out, “it’s hard to print a bar code on a bagel. But local product

stores can engage if they can develop product codes.” For now, Locally tends to focus on higher-end specialty products, and thus far the concept has proven remarkably successful. From its founding in 2014, Locally now has a presence in some 800 cities across the country. In Massey’s view, retail is going to continue to evolve. “Retailers are going to have to choose between the mass market world and the specialty world,” he predicted. “There’s not going to be too much room in the middle. Local stores are going to have to offer better service, be better curators of their products.” Local stores will also have to establish new and better ways to connect with local customers, and is definitely part of that equation. n

Just as Uber took the established concept of taxi service and applied smartphone technology and the direct economy approach in order to create an entirely new industry, a handful of entrepreneurs around the country are using the same methodology to create a new approach to delivery service. By establishing a network of independent, on-call drivers, companies such as offer buyers and sellers a fast and affordable way to get products from store to home. founder, Mike Massey, sees this as a real opportunity. “There are about 30 of these microdelivery services nationally, but none that is truly national,” he said. “We are keeping an eye on them, and if one breaks out, that would be something we would consider incorporating into our model.” On the driver’s end of the equation, the appeal might be less stringent regulations on vehicle quality, plus avoiding the potential problems that come with carrying passengers. Another opportunity knocks …. 43

In The Biz et i q u ette

Fine, Don’t Read This Dealing with passiveaggressive behavior in the workplace By Melanie Warner Spencer

Melanie Warner Spencer is

editor of New Orleans Bride and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and managing editor of Louisiana Life and Acadiana Profile. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to


hen dealing with passiveaggressive coworkers, it’s hard to even know where to start. On the one hand, the unpredictable nature of this type of behavior can cause us to think we are going crazy. On the other, even after confirming passive aggressiveness, you still have to work with the person. It may not always be pleasant or easy, but keep reading to learn how to identify the behavior and regain or retain your sanity. According to “The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools and Workplaces,” by Nicholas James Long, Jody E. Long and Signe Whitson, passive aggression is a deliberate and masked way of expressing hidden anger. In an April 2017 “Psychology Today” article, Whitson writes that it commonly manifests itself in the following behaviors: • Avoiding responsibility for tasks; • Doing less when asked for more; • Missing deadlines; • Withholding important information; • Going over a boss’s head to make him or her appear incompetent or unresponsive; • Leaving notes or using e-mail to avoid face-to-face confrontation; • Ignoring the notes or e-mails left by others; • Complaining about office policies and procedures; • Arriving late; • Extending their lunch break; • Using sick days unnecessarily; • “Forgetting” or “misplacing” impor tant documents;

44 Biz November 2017

• Resisting suggestions for change or improvement; • Procrastinating; and • Questioning co-workers in public settings, such as during meetings or presentations.

Additionally, passive-aggressive people often shut down conversations with language such as “OK, fine,” and employ the silent treatment or sulking. This behavior is repetitious and difficult to prove, especially to human resources, because, Whitson writes, “the passive-aggressive employee is always armed with a plausible explanation for such behaviors and is expert in casting himself in the role of victim to any angry accuser.” It’s possible that after reading the above list of attributes, you’ve realized you are being passive-aggressive. Most of us slip into this behavior at one point or another and it’s usually passing and situational. However, if this piece so far has lead you to realize you are

person with his or her own medicine. This will only make the situation worse. Next, whenever possible keep the other party at arm’s length. Why interact if it’s not necessary? That said, if you have to work with the individual on a project or communicate for any reason, use email, so that you have written chronically passive-aggressive, consider documentation. If email isn’t an option this #realtalk time. and you have to communicate face-toTake a step back for self-reflection face, enlist a third party to be present and begin to work on better ways to as a “witness” of sorts during meetings communicate your emotions, especially and other interactions. anger, as passive-aggressive behavior is a During direct conversation, Melody symptom of feeling angry and voiceless. Wilding, a licensed social worker and Learn to set boundaries, be clear about teacher of Human Behavior at The City your opinions and expectations, and University of New York, recommends learn how to identify and cope with in a Forbes piece on the subject to “take anger and other emotions. the ego out of communication” and There are countless resources online, avoid using “you” or “your” in favor of but you may also want to consider sched- “we,” to depersonalize issues. uling a few sessions with a therapist She also advises that it’s important to or counselor who can help you work “work to establish clear standards and through the underlying causes and expectations that hold people accountfacilitate solutions that result in more able,” asserting that “consequences productive work and — because this — when designed effectively — are behavior likely isn’t confined to the the most powerful way to snub out office — personal relationships. passive-aggressive behavior.” If the list confirms your suspicions As with most workplace problems, it about a colleague, fear not, there are boils down to effective communication. a few strategies you can implement. Identify the problem, find the best First and foremost, don’t succumb method of communication and be to passive-aggressive behavior of your consistent. In no time, you’ll be on your own in an effort to combat the other way to a healthier, happier workday. n 45

In The Biz market i ng

It’s All Fun and Games How businesses are taking “gamification” to the next level. By Julia carcamo

Julia Carcamo is president

and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at and


f you’re a marketer, you’ve surely heard the term “gamification,” and maybe wondered how it might impact your business. Gamification taps into a universal human desire to play...and win. For a customer, it makes doing business fun. In a way, gamification has been a part of businesses far longer than we’ve been hearing this cool new marketing term. Most of us understand frequent shopper, or loyalty programs. From carrying punch cards in our wallets to playing games to win a prize, we have been part of gamification programs. But a new form of gamified marketing is taking it beyond the traditional “pay for play” approach. According to Forbes, on average, American households are enrolled in 29 loyalty programs, yet they are active in only 12. Jerry Epstein, chief executive officer of Engaged Nation, warns, “This 42 percent participation rate will continue to decline if retailers persist in presenting predictable, onedimensional models that only reward customers with points and discounts for their purchases.”

Businesses must modernize their approach to gamification. The science of motivation has advanced significantly in the past two decades, but many loyalty programs haven’t kept up with those advances. OfferCraft’s vice president of marketing and public relations, Dan Grech, sees that changing and notes, “Recent advancements in technology are making it possible to have loyalty programs where members

46 Biz November 2017

can get incentives that are far more which they designed to reinforce their customized to their tastes. My company market position around healthy living. is taking that one step further by incor- It recognizes and rewards members porating artificial intelligence into those who increase their physical activities, programs. This allows a company’s acknowledging their desire to improve rewards to change and evolve depending their health.” on the preferences and behaviors of every “These are good examples of the new customer. This makes those rewards “win-win model” that rewards both the far more appealing and their loyalty customer and retailer,” adds Epstein. programs far more effective.” “The key is to develop a program which resonates with your particular audience.”

When the customer wins, the company does too.

How to get started

Built on the theme of a classic board “You don’t need to jump into the deep game, McDonald’s Monopoly pro- end of the pool to start; testing a motion is probably the most widely program or product is a great way to recognized example of gamification. see what works,” says Epstein. “First, Customers collect game pieces during create a well-thought-out campaign restaurant visits to win various rewards. that makes consumer participation “The genius in this program is that it fun and relevant while providing a supports the business goals of driving tangible return.” repeat visitation and additional purThis can be done in the traditional chases in a fun and engaging manner,” way with, for example, the inexpensive says Epstein. He adds, “Another good punch card. You can also take your example of gamification is the Walgreens game to the next level by structuring Steps and Balance Rewards program, it in such a way that customers can

win a reward or discount before they make the purchase. This approach can often make the pain point of paying more fun. In turn, that experience will reflect positively on the company, product or brand and will add additional perceived value. “Your game could also include a chance to win something of much greater value, such as a gift card or shopping spree; adding this additional level of reward increases the enjoyment factor of the overall experience,” adds Epstein. Execution of these types of programs varies widely, from electronic games supplied by a “gamification company” to the old school way of picking a winning prize or discount out of a hat. If you’re going the route of partnering with a gamification company, Grech advises, “Find a good partner. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to mess this up. You can’t just throw a game into a marketing or internal communications piece and hope for the best.” As with any marketing program, the direction you choose must be able to live in your marketing environment, be sustainable and scalable. n 47

perspectives hot topics in southeast Louisiana industries

banking & finance • insurance • maritime & ports • GUEST VIEWPOINT


PostHurricane Rate Raise? Following three major hurricanes, Louisianans could see insurance rates increase. More on page 54

Hurricane Irma over the Virgin Islands at peak intensity on Sept. 6, 2017. Irma was the second-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of sustained winds.

Perspectives banki ng & fi nance

In the Wake of Equifax Nobody can know for sure who has been affected, so how do you stay safe? By Kim Roberts


he recent cybersecurity attack that hit the credit reporting agency Equifax, one of the nation’s three main credit-reporting agencies, over the spring is considered to be the worst data breach of modern times by some industry experts. The company announced on Sept. 7 that it was a victim of a massive data breach that resulted in compromising the personal information of 143 million consumers, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and birth dates. According to Equifax, hackers exploited a security vulnerability in a United Statesbased application to gain access to consumers’ personal files. If an individual has a credit report, chances are pretty good that they are among the millions of consumers whose personal information was stolen. “It is my understanding that there is a third-party software which is used by Equifax on its website which had a flaw in their program which made their website vulnerable to attacks,” said Matthew Person, managing member of Person Huff CPA Group. “Equifax did not install a security update earlier this year when it became available from this third-party company and therefore allowed Equifax’s system to be susceptible to an attack. The system was hacked and the personal data of these consumers was compromised.” And while Equifax reports that 143 million consumers were impacted, no one really has any idea how many people actually had their information stolen. With a breach of this size and magnitude, it’s hard to say for sure exactly how many people were affected. Whether you know for sure your information was exposed or not, it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. “It’s not clear what happened to all the personal data of the millions of consumers

50 Biz November 2017


What To Do If Your Information Has Been Stolen Advice from Anthony Rutledge, CPA, senior manager at Laporte CPAs


Place a fraud alert on your account with all three major bureaus. This is free and lasts for 90 days.


Get a copy of your full credit report now so you can monitor for changes. Annualcreditreport. com is the only authorized place to do this for all bureaus free on an annual basis, as required by the federal government.


Freeze your credit with all three bureaus. No one, not even yourself, will be able to open a credit account unless unfrozen. There is a cost to freezing and unfreezing your credit, which varies by state, but it is nominal. Equifax is currently waiving fees. Upon freezing, a PIN is provided that will be needed to unfreeze your credit. Don’t lose it.

Former chairman and CEO of Equifax, Richard F. Smith, pauses as he arrives to testify before the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Oct. 3.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) 51

that were hacked on the Equifax website,” Person said. “Consumers have lost more of their sense of security now that their personal data has been compromised by one of the three major data gathering companies. And it is not like you can tell Equifax to not track your information unless you stop using credit cards and all other forms of credit, and start dealing only in cash.” So, what can consumers do to protect themselves? “If affected, your data is already stolen, but there are measures to defend against your data from being used,” said Anthony Rutledge, CPA, senior manager at Laporte CPAs. “First, place a fraud alert on your account with all three major bureaus. This is free and lasts for 90 days. Second, get a copy of your full credit report now so you can monitor for changes. is the only authorized place to do this for all bureaus free on an annual basis, as required by the federal government. Third, freeze your credit with all three bureaus. No one, not even yourself, will be able to open a credit account unless unfrozen. There is a cost to freezing and unfreezing your credit, which varies by state, but it is nominal. Equifax is currently waiving fees. Upon freezing, a PIN is provided that will be needed to unfreeze your credit. Don’t lose it.” “The key to going forward is proactive advocacy over your personal finances,” he said. “There are risks other than credit fraud, such as a false tax return where someone uses your Social Security number to complete a fake tax return and claim a refund that is not theirs.”

Michael Richmond, director of tech services for Postlethwaite & Netterville, suggests filing taxes as early as possible to avoid anyone stealing your personal information and using it to file a fraudulent claim that could lead to losing your tax refund to a thief. “We are seeing more and more financially driven thefts and this is being done through people’s tax returns,” he said. “Knowledge is power. Protect yourself. In addition to filing taxes early, start looking at your credit reports closely. Consider a credit freeze; it won’t affect your credit score, can be easily reversed, and could be well worth the extra step.” Northwestern Mutual Investment Services has stated that in the wake of the Equifax breach, and the fact that it affected nearly half of the entire United States population, chances are pretty good that most people’s information has been compromised — even if they have never dealt with Equifax. They advise consumers to take a deep breath, assume their information is at risk and take measures to protect themselves, sign up for fraud alerts, or freeze their credit. If you don’t want to take these steps, it is a good idea to sign up for a credit-monitoring service which will notify you anytime there is activity involving your information. The company also advises that individuals sign up for online accounts with their financial institutions, noting that someone with your information might do so and you might not know until you see your next statement. Open online accounts with your financial institutions so that they have a record of your online account and password.

Consumers have lost more of their sense of security now that their personal data has been compromised by one of the three major data gathering companies.

Matthew Person, managing member of Person Huff CPA Group

When you sign up, it’s a good idea to opt into two-factor authentication whenever possible; this makes it harder for thieves to get into your accounts. And use strong passwords — make them random with special characters and numbers, or use long phrases only you would remember. Lastly, monitor your financial accounts weekly, if not daily, to ensure all listed transactions are legitimate. Notify your financial institution immediately of any unauthorized transactions or concerns. “In the case of Equifax, since it is a reporting company it’s important to remember that the people affected weren’t their clients — it was the data that was stolen and probably sold,” Richmond said. “Our personal information, whether we like it or not, was under their control because of credit and services used. It came to them and was repackaged and compromised. People were part of the process without even knowing it.” “In the long-term it will be interesting to see how things are going to play out for Equifax,” he said. “For consumers, they have learned that they need to monitor their credit and assets closely.” What responsibility does Equifax bear for this breach? “It would be best to consult an attorney on legal rights and Equifax’s responsibility in this situation, but there is not much to be done legally until or if your data is illegally used,” Rutledge said. “Of course, class action suits are in the works.” n


Take Steps Now to Protect Yourself Sign up for fraud alerts. Sign up for a creditmonitoring service. If you don’t plan on buying a car or a home for a while, consider freezing your credit. You can unfreeze it at any time. File your taxes early to avoid someone else filing in your name first.

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Use strong passwords — a mix of numbers, letters, symbols and capitals. Monitor your accounts daily, or at least weekly. Be wary of unexpected emails containing links or attachments: If you receive an unexpected

email claiming to be from your bank or other company that has your personal information, don’t click on any of the links or attachments. It could be a scam. Instead, log in to your account separately to check for any new notices. Call the company directly: If you aren’t sure whether an email notice is legit,

call the company directly about the information sent via email to find out if it is real and/or if there is any urgent information you should know about. If you do end up on a website that asks for your personal information, make sure it is a secure website, which will have “https” at the beginning (“s” indicates secure).

Look out for grammar and spelling errors: Scam emails often contain typos and other errors — a big red flag that it probably didn’t come from a legitimate source.

to hackers. Do some research to find out who and where the text came from. Don’t call back unknown numbers.

Never respond to a text message from a number you don’t recognize as this could also make any information stored in your phone vulnerable

(Source: Consumer Reports and local industry professionals)

52 Biz November 2017 53

Perspectives i nsu rance

PostHurricane Rate Raise? Following three major hurricanes, Louisianans could see insurance rates increase. By Maria Clark


ew Orleans may have been spared so far this hurricane season, but as insurers tally the costs of hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria, it might mean an increase in insurance rates. An early estimate of the insured losses in the United States from Hurricane Irma range from $25 to $35 billion according to AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe modeling firm. Meanwhile, losses from Hurricane Harvey are a little more than $10 billion. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused $25.4 billion in insured property losses in Louisiana, according to Insurance Journal. While those living in the areas most affected by the hurricanes run a higher risk of seeing auto and homeowners’ rates increase, insurance agents say that a ripple effect can happen in non-affected areas. “Generally speaking, the insurance industry is affected by weather patterns both positively and negatively over time,” said Gates Skene, a personal risk advisor for Ross & Yerger. “The lack of major storms over the past several years has led to what we refer to as a ‘soft market’ — meaning that premiums may be lower, underwriting appetites are more lenient, and competition is increased between insurance carriers.” She added that this trend is largely due to increased surplus and capacity in the market because insurers have not had to pay as many claims. “Now that we’ve seen the devastating financial impact of back-to- back hurricanes, we can expect the insurance market to harden,” she said. A hardened market won’t affect only areas that have experienced direct damage from

54 Biz November 2017

Arlene Estle stands outside her home, which was damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

severe weather events, but the industry as a whole. Skene added that homeowners across the United States, but especially in the Southeast, can expect to see not only rate increases, but also stringent underwriting guidelines and even non-renewals as companies with less financial capacity pull out of the market altogether. “Therefore, individuals who are buying homes in the areas that were most recently affected by damage can expect to see a tightening of underwriting guidelines, particularly for older homes that are more likely to sustain damage,” she said.

Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 — which accounted for $28 billion in insured losses in Louisiana alone — many insurance companies left the state. A total of 930,000 claims were filed in Louisiana resulting from the two storms, according to the Insurance Information Institute. “This created a huge problem. You can’t have a real estate market without a stable insurance market,” said Dan Burghardt president of Dan Burghardt Insurance Agency. In turn, state property insurer Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., grew. In 2008, the insurer had 174,000 policies

AP Photo/David J. Phillip 55


Top 10 costliest Hurricanes in U.S. History Katrina

$49.7 billion

Aug. 25–30, 2005


$24.47 billion

Aug. 24–26, 1992


$19.8 billion

Oct. 28–31, 2012


$14.03 billion

Sept. 12–14, 2008


$12.4 billion

Oct. 24, 2005


$9.3 billion

Aug. 13–14, 2004


$8.89 billion

Sept. 15–21, 2004


$7.2 billion

Sept. 17–22, 1989


$5.6 billion

Sept. 20–26, 2005


$5.7 billion

Sept. 3–9, 2004

* Monetary value in 2016 dollars Source: Insurance Information Institute

according to the Louisiana Department was from coastal surge. Private insurers don’t of Insurance. typically insure against flood damage. Flood In 2016, insurance commissioner Jim Debris surrounds insurance is managed under the National a destroyed Donelon announced Louisiana Citizens Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). structure in the Property Insurance Corp. was shedding According to a report by CNN Money, aftermath of Hurricane Irma 10,000 policies to shift that coverage to about 400,000 homes in the counties affected on Wednesday, private insurers in order to spread the risk. by Hurricane Harvey have policies under Sept. 13, 2017, in Big Pine Key, According to the state’s Department of the NFIP and about 500,000 homes in Florida. Insurance, Louisiana has been able to attract counties along the Florida Gulf Coast. 22 private insurers to handle property policies since However, after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as Katrina. As of last year, Louisiana Citizens had less well as several flooding events in recent years, the than 1 percent of the homeowners’ insurance market. program only has about $2 billion cash in hand and “Right after Katrina no one was interested in writing the ability to borrow only up to $6 billion. homeowners’ insurance policies,” said Burghardt. “All Recent reports show that very few homes are of the major companies pulled out of the state and insured against flood damage. Only about 15 percent people were left with either having to pay exorbitant of homes in Harris County, Texas — where Houston rates or using a backup like Citizens.” is located — are covered by flood insurance. Even He added that after hard weather events, the high-risk areas like New Orleans have seen drops insurance market typically responds by being more in the number of homes covered by the NFIP. Over selective about where and how much risk they are the last year, the number of NFIP policies in New willing to take on. Insurance companies rely on what Orleans lapsed by 3,200. This represents a 3.8 percent is called a reinsurance — insurance purchased by drop from June 2016 to June 2017, according to data an insurance carrier from one or more companies provided by the Federal Emergency in order to mitigate risk. The reinsurer would enter Management Agency (FEMA). into an agreement where they would pay a share of A smaller pool of individuals Interstate 10 the claims that the main company receives during buying into the program means less in Houston strong weather events. The process assures that money to pay out in the event of a closed due to one company isn’t taking on too much risk and is natural disaster like back-to-back floodwaters from spreading it out among smaller companies. hurricanes. Hurricane Marc Eagan, president of Eagan Insurance, said “Insurance means buying into a Harvey on even 12 years after Katrina a lot of companies won’t pool. You weren’t affected this time Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. insure within 3 miles of Lake Pontchartrain as part but someone else was,” said Trey of steps they have taken to minimize their losses Maddox with Morrison Insurance after a major weather event. Agency in Metairie. He said that although Irma and Harvey deeply He added that it may still be too early to see how impacted Texas and Southern Florida, those impacts far the ripple effect from Irma and Harvey will hit. have yet to be felt locally. Most of the damage in Texas Insurance rates vary depending on the location, was due to flooding and in Florida a lot of damage age of a property, and construction of the home. So 56 Biz November 2017

far most of the claims from both storms are flood related, although there have also been property claims from hazard damage. “We certainly are nowhere near Katrina rates, but I believe we have hit the bottom and rates are on their way up,” he said. n

AP Photo/Alan Diaz/David J. Phillip

Perspectives mari t i me & ports

Chugging Along Local businesses and organizations weigh in on the Port of New Orleans’ newest acquisition, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. By Chris Price


n September the City of New Orleans gave the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to the Port of New Orleans in exchange for the Gov. Nicholls and Esplanade Avenue wharves. The wharves — prime waterfront real estate just downriver from the French Quarter — are scheduled to be converted into part of Crescent Park, which will stretch from roughly Iberville Street in the French Quarter to Alvar Street in the Bywater. The deal came nearly a year and a half after Mayor Mitch Landrieu floated the possibility of selling or leasing the railroad to a private entity. Without knowing if the railroad’s pricing structure and scheduling could remain cost competitive, economic activity at the port and railroad was hampered. With the acquisition of the railroad, however, it’s expected that the port will gain a greater competitive advantage in international trade, many of its 22 tenants will invest and grow their operations, and real estate on the Industrial Canal will see redevelopment. “With the NOPB and Port NOLA alignment, the port controls a larger portion of the supply chain and can plan future investments and operations synergistically and strategically,” said Port of New Orleans president and CEO, Brandy D. Christian. “This increases our logistical competitive advantage globally.”

The Port & The NOPB – By the Numbers The Port of New Orleans is a self-sustaining state-owned body which receives no local or state funding for administration or operations. According to the New Orleans Board of

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Trade, the port accounts for 160,500 jobs in Louisiana, is responsible for $8 billion in earnings and contributes more than $800 million in state and local taxes annually. On a national level, it’s estimated that 380,000 jobs are dependent on the cargo that is handled by the Port of New Orleans, with an economic impact to the national economy of $37 billion. The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) began running in 1908. It effectively put all the tracks feeding the city’s portage under a single, public entity in order to prevent a price-gouging monopoly from forming. Today, the NOPB runs along the New Orleans riverfront and inner harbor at the Industrial Canal, moving rubber, plywood, steel, metals,

ores and minerals, sand, paper, lumber, resins, grain, animal feeds, cement, wallboard, canned goods, latex, asphalt and chemicals. New Orleans is unique in that it’s the only city in the United States with a deepwater port and a north-south and east-west railroad gateway served by all six Class 1 railroads — CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, Canadian National Railway, and Kansas City Southern Railway. The NOPB connects the city to a combined network of more than 132,000 miles of tracks that reach every major market in North America. These efficiencies provide port tenants with lower shipping rates and faster shipping

Real Estate & Railroads In exchange for giving the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to the Port of New Orleans, the city received the Gov. Nicholls and Esplanade Avenue wharves —prime waterfront real estate just downriver from the French Quarter which will be converted into part of Crescent Park.

times due to the fact they can take advantage of direct delivery on one railroad line instead of using multiple carriers. In addition, companies can ship goods directly to multiple markets from the Big Easy, lowering costs by preventing shipping, warehousing and distributing from multiple locations across the country. The NOPB also has some of the fastest delivery schedules available — shipping goods from dockside in New Orleans to Chicago in 48 hours. “Cargo through the Port of New Orleans goes in or out on the railway,” said Christian Jensen, president of the Jensen Companies, the holding company for businesses including

Transportation Consultants, Inc. (TCI), TCI Packaging, Import Systems International, Triton Stone Group, and TCI Tank Logistics. “We’re intrinsically tied.”

Why Change? The mayor’s office considered selling or leasing the NOPB as a way to bring a much-needed influx of cash to city coffers. The city hired Dallas-based consulting firm KPMG Corporate Finance to organize information, collect feedback and study potential options for the NOPB. It estimated the railroad’s value between $61 million and $196 million. 59

Proponents of the sale and leases option noted that, in addition to the initial cash injection, possible ongoing taxable income and private capital for tech improvements might be available. In the lease, the city was looking for a 40-year, $60 million agreement that demanded $20 million at the signing and $1 million annually. Five companies offered bids to lease the railroad with total lease payments ranging from $113 million to $69 million. Opponents, including the port and the New Orleans Board of Trade, balked at the idea, saying any changes in operations could negatively impact New Orleans’ ability to compete with rival ports, as costs would increase, getting goods to their destinations could be more difficult, and, ultimately, business and jobs would move out of the city. A year ago, then-NOPB general manager, Jeff Davis, admitted, “The uncertainty that has surrounded the railroad over the last year has created difficulty for us in attracting new business. It’s been difficult to expand with our Class 1 partners. Nobody wants to enter a deal just to have management change a few months later.” Christian said the port and the city were able to meet with an attitude of collaboration and cooperation to discuss individual and mutual goals. “This involved recognizing the economic benefits of transferring ownership of the

money matters

For Lease Five companies offered bids to lease the New Orleans Public Belt, with an upfront payment ranging from $20 million to $55 million and total lease payments from $113 million to $69 million. Initially, the city was looking for a 40-year, $60 million agreement that called for $20 million at the signing and $1 million annually. Operator

Upfront Payment Total Payments


$20 million

$113 million


$22 million

$83 million

OmniTRAX $30 million

$78 million


$55 million

$76 million


$24 million

$69 million

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railroad to the port as well as the quality of life impact that nearly three miles of contiguous open space would mean to the city, residents, and visitors,” she said.

Capitalizing On Synergies Landrieu called the transfer a “win-win-win.” for the city, railroad, and the port, and said the move would allow for greater opportunity to facilitate commerce and economic development. For the past two years, many port tenants held off on multi-million-dollar capital improvements in New Orleans until the railroad’s future was settled. “With the resolution of the railroad’s ownership, port tenants who rely on the NOPB’s service can invest in New Orleans with confidence,” Christian said. “The NOPB will continue its service to the port, its tenants, and as a switching railroad for the six Class 1 railroads, as it has since its inception.” The port is currently in the process of developing a master plan which includes strategic efforts of growing port operations while effectively incorporating the railroad into its mission. At this time, both are working together to identify and plan business development opportunities. David W. Kearney, president of The Kearney Companies, Inc., said his businesses have been involved in the logistics industry at the Port of New Orleans for more than four generations, primarily converting railcar shipments to and from ocean containers for export and import markets around the world. “This is the best possible outcome,” Kearney said. “The NOPB is a finite resource. If it had sold to a private operator, the new owner may have had different interests than the port and the city. Now it will be better aligned with the port and its tenants going forward. It means we can invest in facilities and look long-term. It assures we’re able to grow, expand to take on more, and that will lead to jobs.” Jensen said his companies “wouldn’t continue to invest if there was a private operator.” “The risk was a private operator could monopolize rates,” he said. With the alignment of missions, he believes the port can unleash value that was previously untapped. “I believe this is the greatest move for the city and the public good. We’ll continue to invest as the port reaches maturation.”

Areas for Growth

With the NOPB and Port NOLA alignment, the port controls a larger portion of the supply chain and can plan future investments and operations synergistically and strategically.

Brandy D. Christian, Port of New Orleans president and CEO

Maximizing the port’s assets, including the $25 million Mississippi River Intermodal Rail Terminal — which opened in March 2016 — the port’s on-dock intermodal rail terminal at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, and expanding rail has been a major component in the port’s growth strategy. In anticipation of the railroad for real estate transfer, the port purchased a shipyard on the Industrial Canal for $10.5 million from Harvey Gulf International Marine and agreed to make $4.5 million in capital improvements to the France Road site, which formerly housed Trinity Yachts and Higgins Industries. TCI relocated there from their site at the French Quarter wharves, and has agreed to a 20-year lease of the land, worth $727,679 annually, through mid-2039. The area around the Industrial Canal is seen as prime for redevelopment. “The port has a lot of land on the Industrial Canal,” Jensen said. “I see development of storage for containers and rail cars, especially for petrochemicals, which are made just up river,” adding that storage fees on the rail cars could be a new revenue driver for the port. n 61

Perspectives g u est V I E WP O I N T

Change Or Die It’s time for business to unite our region around climate change. By Liz Shephard


n the business world, change is a must. Adaptation in business — just as it is in life — is crucial for survival. Business author Alan Deutschman popularized this concept through the familiar phrase, “Change or die.” And yet, in the greater New Orleans region, our business community has yet to come together to address our changing climate, increased flooding and the global impact of our industries. We are able to discuss flooding and green infrastructure, and even coastal restoration, but for some, despite its direct and powerful influence on all of those issues, “climate change” is viewed as irrelevant and verging on the political. We avoid the subject of the changing climate, and by doing so, we limit our own ability to change and adapt. Climate change is founded in basic science (that 97 percent of global scientists confirm). Carbon emissions trap heat in our atmosphere, which makes our global climate warmer and contrib- of the Clean Power Plan which would require states like Louisiana to come utes to increased storms. Think of a teakettle that is heating up; water boils. up with an individual plan to shift toward clean, low-carbon power. As In our oceans, for example, the a state and region it appears that we increased heat generates powerful are unwilling to talk openly about this hurricanes. Natural disasters have issue, just as our federal government doubled in the past few decades, and 90 percent of them are weather related. is denying the science. But why, when we are so vulnerable Change is here. to the impacts? While the city of New Orleans Is it the idea that climate change is recently unveiled a new Climate Action Strategy that includes goals “too liberal?” No, climate change is a bipartisian issue. In fact, there are many to run on 100 percent low-carbon power by 2030, the federal govern- outspoken republicans (namely those in other communities where climate ment, through the Environmental change is placing their people in harms Protection Agency (EPA), has recently way, like Miami) who are outspokenly announced a proposal to end the rulings

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in favor of policies that reduce carbon emissions. In fact, there is a bipartisian climate-solutions caucus. There are people speaking out in support of addressing climate change all across our region, urban and rural alike. A young girl from Acadia Parish is even suing the federal government for not curtailing climate change through regulation. Is it the special interests of certain industries that are holding back the discussion? How do the special interests of the oil and gas industry, a predominant funder of Louisiana’s local and state government budgets, impact our state’s ability to focus on climate change

solutions? When several parishes are actively engaged in suing oil and gas companies for coastal damage exacerbated by climate change, how does this impact the industry’s ability to play a leading role in generating solutions? It is primarily the large industries of our business community that have historically been known to prevent the spread of information to consumers and citizens in order to protect their own interests (and often at the expense of their direct customers). We can learn from the tobacco industry’s fight to undermine evidence linking secondhand smoke to cardiovascular disease. After combing through nearly

50 million pages of previously secret, internal tobacco-industry documents, UC Davis and UC San Francisco researchers documented how the industry funded and used scientific studies to undermine evidence of health risks to the public. In fact, Exxon mobile has already been found guilty of hiding knowledge about climate change over the past several decades. It doesn’t take much to realize that it’s in the best interest of the carbon-producing industries of Louisiana to undermine the existence of climate change. Or is it? Are short-term profits really more important than the long-term survival and legacy of an industry? This isn’t about defining our regional carbonproducing industries as “bad” or “unnecessary.” Quite the contrary, we need the jobs and income these industries provide for our livelihoods. But, while our economic prosperity depends upon these industries, they also threaten our survival. This is a truth that we as a region must face. And we must come together and adapt in order to get to a better place. We must change. Business and industry can, should, and must be the leaders of the solutions needed in Louisiana, and I believe that the oil and gas industry could be the leaders of this transition. While we can point to corrupt, ill-intentioned motives of business leaders, we can also point to those business leaders who stepped up to do the right thing — who made an investment in an innovative solution that also earned a profit. For example, Tesla is currently worth $160 billion through its innovative electric car and battery solutions (improving air quality and the environment, with business values exceeding Ford and GM). In Kentucky, home to “coal country”, a new start-up is teaching coal miners to code. New energy efficiency contractors are training workers how to conduct energy assessments among a series of new workforce development programs. Solutions exist, but we need the capital, the minds and the efficiency of our most important industries to be

at the forefront of issues like climate change — even when it means that these industries themselves must make changes. Staples, General Mills, Nestlé, and roughly 30 other large corporations have stepped out in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and are continuing to dedicate resources to adapt to and mitigate climate change. Perhaps the issue isn’t self-interest of industry. Perhaps the greatest barrier to having an honest discussion around these vexing issues is the profound need for strong leadership. If Louisiana is going to remain the “Energy State” of our country, we need leaders with vision to see beyond the status quo to the extraordinary window of opportunity we have to secure our local economy’s long-term health. The time is now, and it is in our own self-interest to do so. So where will you take us, business leaders of today? Will you seize this opportunity to bring us into a better future, one with cleaner air, cleaner water and fewer flooding events? Will we stand at the forefront of innovative change as a beacon of hope for our nation’s energy future? As a state and as a business community, let us be willing to step out as leaders on this challenging, yet promising, frontier. n

Liz Shephard is the CEO of LifeCity, LLC, a local consulting and software company that makes social and environmental impact profitable for business. If you and your organization are interested in maximizing profits through positive benefit to the community, contact her at 63

S a m e Name

N ew Service

From serving up gas and electricity to luxurious suites and fresh local cuisine — a look at the reinvention of NOPSI. By Jessica Rosgaard

64 Biz November 2017

Located in the vibrant Central Business District, NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans is a nine-story brick building originally constructed in 1927 as the headquarters for New Orleans Public Service Inc. (NOPSI), the city’s former utility company and transit operator. The hotel’s restaurant, Public Service, sits adjacent.

A Little Lagniappe The employees who worked at New Orleans Public Service Incorporated would share recipes — sometimes tied to the kitchen products the company sold. “They would say, ‘Oh, I just got this mixer and I was able to make this recipe,’ so it was a very smart marketing and merchandising tie-in,” says Ellen LeMaire, the hotel's general manager. Eventually, NOPSI collected the women’s recipes and printed a cookbook. In yet another nod to its history, The NOPSI Hotel decided to redistribute these recipes to guests. As part of the hotel’s turn down service, instead of finding a chocolate on their pillow in the evening, guests receive a recipe from the NOPSI cookbook. The hotel had the original recipes rewritten by hand and printed on notecards. Each recipe card includes a spice pack created by NOPSI’s chef to enhance the finished product. “What’s nice is if you’re here for more than one night — which we hope you are — we have five different recipes,” says LeMaire. “So each night guests get something different, and hopefully find a recipe they like to cook.” The original NOPSI cookbook has been out of print for years, but the recipes have garnered interest from hotel guests. The hotel is currently looking into reprinting it and making it available for purchase in the gift shop.


ew Orleans’ first new luxury hotel in recent years, The NOPSI Hotel officially opened its doors at 317 Baronne St on July 6. The latest in the city’s long list of historic renovations, this $50 millionplus project represents the transformation of a building that first opened 90 years ago as New Orleans Public Service Inc. — more commonly known as NOPSI. NOPSI served as the city’s gas and electric company from 1922 until 1983, but the nine-story brick building perched in the Central Business District was also a site where public transportation was managed and merchandise — like kitchen appliances and cookbooks — was sold. Somewhere during its long history NOPSI even hosted cooking demonstrations. After decades left vacant, Connecticut-based real estate developer Building and Land Technology (BLT) purchased the building in 2015. In its new form, The NOPSI Hotel is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, a privately owned and operated company based out of Middleburg, Virginia, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson in 2005. NOPSI is the company’s seventh, and latest management project. “NOPSI Hotel is the latest opening in New Orleans’ ongoing hotel boom,” said Kristian Sonnier, vice president of communications and public relations for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The growing diversity of our city’s hotel portfolio is allowing us to attract a broader range of visitors and NOPSI Hotel is the latest example of how the demand for the New Orleans experience is creating more supply in downtown New Orleans to meet that demand.”

ACCOMMODATIONS: The NOPSI Hotel has 217 guest rooms, including 76 suites. Guest rooms range in size from 350 to 800 square feet, and are tastefully furnished and decorated with artwork inspired by NOPSI’s transit heritage. Guest bathrooms are tiled, and the showers are hailed as being the largest in the city. In addition to showers, suite bathrooms include large footed bathtubs.

Suites on the ninth floor feature large outdoor terraces that guests can use for in-room spa treatments. The hotel and its outdoor patio are pet-friendly, with designated rooms on lower floors to allow guests and their four-legged friends to take the stairs. Rooms are specifically cleaned with chemicals that are safe for pets and children. The property features 14,000 square feet of “historically significant” indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the Dryades Ballroom — an industrially elegant space with arched windows, exposed brick, and 30-foot ceilings. Large, bright chandeliers provide a glamorous contrast to the 24-foot high crane and track that once transported machinery for repair in the building. As for the hotels location in the CBD, “We feel we have the best of both worlds,” says Ellen LeMaire, the hotel’s general manager. “You can easily walk a few blocks and be in the French Quarter and have that experience, but you can also have a business meeting, be very productive and focused.”

SERVICE IS LITERALLY ITS MIDDLE NAME: The NOPSI Hotel prides itself on providing a high level of service, and boasts a large, experienced staff. The ratio of employees to guest rooms is almost one-to-one,” says LeMaire. “That’s unheard of in the hotel market nowadays. We just found it was important to provide that service level.” That luxury service level includes a valet, doormen, bellmen and a concierge. The hotel currently employs 165 people — 155 full-time and 10 part-time — and is still hiring. “You have someone purely dedicated to take time with you, and listen to you explain what you’d like to see or experience in the city and steer you in the right direction,” says LeMaire. The hotel also provides housekeeping service twice a day, with an evening turn-down service. “At NOPSI Hotel, service is more than just a word; it’s part of the building’s fabric and complements Salamander’s authentic approach to hospitality,” says Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “We took a lot of time hiring the right staff, and hiring people who were certainly passionate about hospitality,” says LeMaire. “It takes a little more attention to detail to be a luxury product.” 65

Public Service is a casual, yet sophisticated restaurant designed to showcase the civic spirit of the former New Orleans Public Service, Inc. Chef Dustin Brien and team prepare contemporary cuisine honoring the Gulf Coast’s hard-working fishermen and farmers in an open-display kitchen, highlighted by a modern raw bar and open-flame rotisserie.

NEW DINING AND DRINK OPTIONS FOR THE CBD: Adding to the growing list of drinking and dining options in the Central Business District, the NOPSI Hotel features three different food and beverage venues, each providing a different experience. The hotel’s restaurant, Public Service, takes its name seriously. “We are a community restaurant; we built this place for the locals, for the community,” says Chef Dustin Brien. “Public service was such a big part of what everyday life was in New Orleans, and we’re paying tribute to that.” The restaurant can seat up to 112 guests at a variety of tables and booths. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chef Brien says he aims to serve modern comfort food, with seasonal and fresh ingredients, and at a lower price point than other restaurants in the area to help drive local business. “This city is all about local, local, local,” Brien says. “We want everything local; we want everything from here.” Brien admits that approach does come with its challenges. “In an economy based on tourism, people want to come down here and they want to get crawfish in the middle of January. We can get them, but they’ll be frozen from Asia, and we don’t want that.” Brien is so focused on local, fresh ingredients that he plans to eventually make his own cheese and charcuterie. “We are a scratch restaurant; we make our pasta from scratch, we make our bread from scratch. We make everything here in-house.” And while Brien places an emphasis on seasonal ingredients, and seasonal dishes, he’s planned a menu that guests will always be able to count on. “The cooks have this core menu that never changes, so that when we do introduce the seasonal items that core menu is so strong that those items are consistent,” he says.

A STEP BACK IN TIME: Constructed in 1927

Did You Know? Last November, just eight months before opening NOPSI, Salamander Hotels & Resorts debuted a 170-room luxury resort in Destin, Florida, called The Henderson.

66 Biz November 2017

and designed by Favrot and Livaudais, a Louisianabased firm, NOPSI lies within the boundaries of the Lower CBD Historic District. “It was a beautiful building,” says LeMaire. “It was very inviting, and people liked to come to it.” For many locals, a trip to pay the utility bill was part of a special day downtown. The grand lobby of the building featured vaulted ceilings, ornamental columns, arches and stone terrazzo flooring. “They’d get dressed up and come in here to pay the bills, then they’d go to lunch somewhere in the 67

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NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans features a sweeping lobby with faithfully renovated vaulted ceilings, graceful arches, ornamental columns, brass grilles and stone terrazzo flooring.

New After Work Meetup NOPSI’s lobby also features the underCURRENT Bar and Patio for afternoon cocktails and light snacks, and Above the Grid — a rooftop spot for hotel guests and visitors to enjoy cocktails and a pool with a view of the city’s skyline. Patrons are welcome after 4 p.m.

Even the wrought-iron fence on the outdoor patio city or they’d go to the park, or they’d go shopping,” had to match the style of the original construction. LeMaire says. “The fence we originally chose had fleur de lis Things were very different from the way most of finials, and we had to change those,” said LeMaire. us conduct business today. “There was a connection. People came in here, “We had a choice of two types of spears to ensure the historical accuracy.” there was a transaction being made, but they came At the center of the sweeping lobby is an exact here to see someone, and they usually knew who replica of the transaction table; the original was they were talking to.” LeMaire adds, “It’s so foreign too damaged to save. The table looks like a fancy to us now; we don’t go anywhere to pay a bill, we version of what you would see at a bank, or the do it online.” post office — with slots for various forms that you In 1983, operation of New Orleans mass transit might need to fill out in order to complete your system was transferred to the New Orleans Regional transaction. The original table had a thick marble Transit Authority. A few years later, NOPSI became top; this one is covered with a pane of glass allowing Entergy New Orleans and moved the office to its patrons to view NOPSI memorabilia that’s displayed current location on Poydras Street. in the cubbies: an electric bill, an employee ID FROM FLOODED RELIC TO TREASURED badge, streetcar tokens — all pay homage to the TIME CAPSULE: In addition to the NOPSI building’s history. “There have been guests that have come in, locals building, BLT also acquired the former Dryades that say, ‘This is what you had to do for a bus Building, and another structure next door that once transfer,’” says LeMaire. “They educate us.” housed a savings and loan company. The hotel solicited memorabilia donations through BLT enlisted Woodward Design + Build, a New its website, and plans to hang a plaque with the Orleans architecture and construction firm that names of people who donated items. Like the worked with Louisiana’s State Historic Preservation building, time and nature took a toll on those, too. Office to maintain the historic integrity of the “People had all kinds of things,” says LeMaire. buildin, during the renovation process. When construction began, workers found water “We would have even more but so many people lost stuff in Katrina, and they all said, ‘Oh, I had a whole in the basement from Hurricane Katrina. box of stuff that was ruined,’ or they threw it away.” “Unfortunately in the CBD there were a number Walking down the alleyway, old advertisements of buildings that were vacant — Katrina didn’t help,” says LeMaire. “With the resurgence after the storm, and documents hang on the wall above the original people started to come in and look at the buildings, transaction counter. “It kind of looks like a bank teller counter,” says LeMaire. “We were actually look at what was here. I don’t know that the building going to put it on the inside of the meeting room, would have come into its own if the owners hadn’t but they [historical team] said, ‘No, you have to thought it was important to have a luxury product keep it out as it was before,’ which, it turned out, and sustain the history of the building.” is the better thing to do, because more people get Architectural details of the building had to adhere to see it and experience it being on the outside.” to the original design for the building to maintain Ellen LeMaire says that everyone at NOPSI — from its historic property status. The renovation was the hotel staff and management to the executives performed under the guidelines and approval of at Salamander Hotels — respects the physical and the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office, the historical place they hold in the neighborhood. Federal Park Service, and the New Orleans Central “We’ve always said we were part of the community,” Business District Historic District Landmarks LeMaire says. “We will continue to be part of the Commission, which oversees the Lower Central community, and not just a hotel for tourists.” Business District Historic District. And about those locals who stop in for a visit, “The sconces have all been cast just as they were. We were able to save some of the cornices, and what “You know, they come to pay a bartender now, so it’s probably a little better transaction,” she laughs. they couldn’t they re-fabricated,” says LeMaire. “The terrazzo floors are original, and you’ll see there’s some imperfections just as you would have with any older floors.” 69

70 Biz November 2017

Gourmet Reflecting on a year of unprecedented growth, Sarah Hall, president of

that Goes Joel Catering & Special Events, shares New Orleans’ largest independent caterer’s recipe for success.

Anywhere o

By K i m Si n g l etary P ort ra its by Rom e ro & Rom e ro


ast year Joel Catering and Special Events fed hungry celebrants at more than 600 events. In 2016 the company saw a 30 percent increase in revenues, reaching over $3.8 million. It was a record-breaking year for the full service catering and event planning company founded by Lake Charles, Louisiana native Joel Dondis in 1993. From intimate home weddings and family get-togethers to serving former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and George Bush and gigantic organizations like the NBA and Microsoft, Joel Catering has carved out a niche for itself by raising the bar for event cuisine. A Miami native, Sarah Hall came to New Orleans to attend Tulane University for a degree in political science. After tasked with creating a seminar for other Tulane students, Hall says she decided to trade in law school for a different calling. “There’s something about having the ability to create an aesthetic, not just meetings and papers,” she says. After reading about a big party Joel Catering had worked on, Hall decided to explore job opportunities there. She started as the company’s receptionist, then a few months later was promoted to production manager, then sales manager. “After that I left for a year to serve as national sales manager for Emeril’s before coming back at the age of 26 to become VP,” she says. Hall took over the role of president of the company in 2009. She oversees daily operations and collaborates with Dondis when it comes to long-term planning and big purchases, like the company’s addition of its own venue, Il Mercato, in 2013. “It’s a real challenge to work in this market,” says Hall. “Food is everything in New Orleans and locals tend to go to a lot of parties and events, so we need to be different. We need to stand out.”

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n Weddings in New Orleans

Sixty percent of Joel Catering’s business is weddings — a lucrative business in the Crescent City.

Number of Weddings Hosted in 2016 — Top 4 Cities in Louisiana


New Orleans

Q: Tell us a little about the scope of Joel Catering. For almost 25 years we’ve been doing off premise catering with the focus on offering fine dining quality food at special events. In 2000, we entered into a partnership with the Hampton Inn and Suites Convention Center where we have our own setup — Joel’s at the Hampton. We are the food and beverage provider for the hotel, which includes 20,000 square feet of meeting space. We handle all the events and meetings there. At the end of 2013, we purchased and began renovating Il Mercato, a Spanish style building built in 1931 at 1911 Magazine St. in the Lower Garden District. We spent 2014 renovating the building and opened the over 3,000 square-foot space and courtyard in December 2014.


Baton Rouge





Wedding Catering is Big Business


Average spent on a New Orleans wedding in 2016

Q: What does your staff look like? We have 20 full-time employees, eight of which are office staff. At the Hampton space we have a director of catering, an executive chef and banquet caterer, and we have our Executive Chef Bryan Clark. We also have about 12 part-time staff.


Amount of that spent on food


Amount spent on alcohol

$6,946 Average total spent on food and beverage, or over 24% of the average wedding budget. Source:

Q: How does your business break down? Where does the bulk of your revenue come from? About 60 percent of our business comes from weddings — that’s by far our biggest source of revenue. The remaining 40 percent is split evenly between nonwedding special events, local business events and conventions.

Q: Who is your biggest competition? There are definitely other independent, off premise caterers in the city, but our biggest competition comes from all the local restaurants and hotels. More and more restaurants have started to get into special events where, of course, they are providing the food; plus hotels and convention centers typically will set a food and beverage minimum for a visiting group. If you already have a minimum to meet at your hotel of course it makes sense to hold your event there and have them cater. There’s plenty of competition.

Q: How does Joel Catering set itself apart? Our focus is always to create a truly unique experience for our clients that really meets all of their goals. Everyone says they’d like a beautiful event where everyone has a good time, but that means different things to different people. Are they looking for a real party atmosphere where people can let loose or something a bit quieter where colleagues can catch up? We really talk to every client and work with them to determine what they want and then what venue would best suit their needs. People also tend to have preconceived ideas of what event food is. We don’t do just beef, fish or chicken — our menu is literally a book that’s more than 100 pages long. The tendency is often to be very conservative with food choices for events but we like to encourage people to go for something more innovative, interesting and exciting. Having our own venue has also been a real game changer. It has allowed us to control our own fate to a certain degree. 73

o Favorites

Favorite TV Show? I think Netflix is the real expert on this and it tells me that I have a real love of gritty foreign dramas. Biggest life lesson learned? There are no real short cuts. Best advice ever received? Nothing replaces hard work. A person can be smart, informed, even well connected, but at the end of the day it’s a willingness to put in the work that’s going to make the difference. Hobbies? I’m terrible at hobbies! I love reading, travel and interior design but those things aren’t exactly hobbies… Daily habits? No matter what I’m doing or where I am in the world I always want to start my day with a latte. After that, I’m open to ideas! Pet peeve(s)? Being inconsiderate of others. Favorite meal? I love our butternut squash gnocchi with jumbo lump crab in a sage butter sauce. What are you most looking forward to in the next year? Enacting all of my plans for our company — and a really good vacation.

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You can work with a venue doing off site catering for years and then suddenly they decide they want to create their own in-house service. Having Il Mercato has been great. In 2015, Il Mercato won a Louisiana Landmarks Society Award for excellence in historic preservation. We’re very proud of that. In 2016 — our first year of operation, we hosted 70 events, including a lot of weddings, but also fundraisers, corporate events, other social events and photo shoots.

Q: How do you market your business? Having been in operation over 20 years we definitely get a lot of business from word of mouth, but we’re also really focused on developing relationships with every part of our industry, including event planners, wedding planners and all the various venues. We’re also active in industry groups like NACE (the National Association for Catering and Events). We recently joined the Leading Caterers of America (LCA), a collection of the top independent caterers in the country. Most cities in the U.S. only have one member in this group — larger cities may have two. We’re the only member in the state of Louisiana.

n Past clients of Joel Catering include: Private Events

President Barack Obama, President George Bush, President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry, Nicolas Cage, “All The King’s Men” World Premiere, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” Screening, Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Charity Corporate Clients

Q: Can you talk about one of your more challenging events? We’ve done so many, and of course every event has its own challenges, but one that stands out for me was a dinner we did recently for a group of local businesspeople on a footbridge over Bayou St. John. Logistically, that was a real challenge. There was of course no on-site kitchen, no running water, no electricity, but we still managed to create a multiple-course seated dinner for 100 people on the footbridge. The evening started with cocktails at the Pitot House nearby and then the St. Augustine marching band led everyone down the street to the footbridge. It was a really fun and unique event.

American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, CBS Eyemark, SAP, Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Eastman Kodak, Viacom, Gucci, Wolfgang Puck, Microsoft, The Food Network, The NFL, The NBA, Tiffany & Co., JP Morgan Private Bank, Louis Vuitton

Q: You said a majority of your business is weddings — what’s new in wedding catering? Mixology is really huge right now — crafting high quality specialty cocktails. We have actually created a separate component of our company that is dedicated to this. We spend days steeping tequila or infusing vodka. We offer multiple choices in glassware — offering everything you’d expect from a really great bar. This is an example of one of our company philosophies, and that is that we always push to get ahead of our customer, to offer them things they didn’t even know they wanted before they have the chance to ask. Our chef creates cocktail tastings for us to try new creations. We’re always working on something new. When we started getting into cocktails, our clients would be coming to us asking for things like a vodka martini or an old fashioned. Now they’re starting to come to us and just say, “I trust you to create something amazing because I know it’s going to be great.” That’s where we want to be.

Q: What are your goals for the future? In the most immediate future I have to say I could not be more excited about the fact that we’re in the process of bringing a new person onto the team — a special projects manager. Almost every business owner knows that there is always that list of things that you would love to do, a to-do list that you’d love to get to but, with all the daily tasks, there never seems to be the time to get to those things that you know would make the company better — take things to the next level. This person will be spearheading those projects, things like updating our website and logo, increasing our social media presence and taking charge of all those ideas we brainstorm during the summers when things tend to slow down in the hospitality industry.

Q: With holiday event season in full gear, what advice to you have for businesses when it comes to choosing and working with a caterer? I would say that people may not understand the importance of a caterer at an event. We have a lot to do with how a party runs. We have a lot of staff on site and we play a very important role in how things flow. I think the first step when you’re planning an event is to decide what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for something where your sales team can network? Are you wanting something that’s more teambuilding and casual? What is the ultimate goal? As a caterer we’re looking to get as much information as we can about who is coming to an event and what the host is looking to do. Is this a group that is entertained a lot? Do they know each other well? Are they local or from out of town? I think people also sometimes worry about sharing too much when it comes to their budget, but here again, the more we know, the better. The budget range for events can be gigantic — say $45 a person to $250 a person. People use words like “normal,” and “average,” and those things mean different things to different people. The more we know the better we can help you plan the perfect event at the perfect location with the perfect food and drink.


Other Joel Dondis Projects

Joel Dondis, founder of Joel Catering & Special Events is also behind the following local ventures: La Petite Grocery – 2004 Sucre – 2007 Grand Isle Restaurant - 2007 Salon by Sucre - 2015 75

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from the lens Southeast louisiana businesses in full color


great workspaces

Co-Working By Design The Shop Contemporary Arts Center More on page 78

From the Lens great workspaces

Collective Creativity The Shop at CAC creates artful, state-of-the-art office space and cool cache for days. By Melanie Warner Spencer Photos by Sara Essex Bradley


he free-flowing cold brew — conveniently situated next to beer taps housing two different selections from Urban South Brewery — is just one of many details indicating that The Shop at the CAC is not like most office spaces. The 40,000-square-foot co-working space at 900 Camp St., was completed in September and has quickly generated buzz around town for its cool digs, community and cultural partnerships and swanky design. The fact that it is housed in the circa-1900s, former Katz & Besthoff (K&B) warehouse — which also serves as home to the Contemporary Arts Center — of course accounts for some of the chatter around town. The property was developed and is managed and owned by The Domain Companies, which is also a tenant. The renovation and design is by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, whose recent projects include the Orpheum Theatre restoration, The Ace Hotel and Crescent Park. Architecturally, massive, original timber beams, historical replicas of the building’s 85 windows and — every industrial design junkie’s favorite element, exposed brick — define the space. “The project’s design, from furniture layouts to glass storefronts, is meant to maximize connectivity,” says Matthew Schwartz,

“At its core, the design of this new coworking environment is informed by some fairly basic tenets: people like variety; they need places to congregate; casual interaction fosters creativity; natural light is a good thing; and a little visual excitement can’t hurt,” says architect Steve Dumez, principal and director of design at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.

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The architect sought to create an environment that would bring people together, building a new creative community out of a collection of individual tenants. “People also require interaction in today’s workplace,” says architect Steve Dumez, principal and director of design at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple. “They go to work to meet and to collaborate, to brainstorm, to sometimes do research, to do a whole range of activities they don’t necessarily think of as ‘work’ in the traditional sense of the word.”

co-founder and principal of The Domain Companies, which specializes in sustainable, mixed-use development. “The design inspiration is consistent with the primary goal of shared workspaces, which is to move from yesterday’s tight, cubby-like office and cubicle spaces to bright, open, modern workspaces that create energy and foster creativity, communication and interaction.” Schwartz points to the architectural staircase connecting the two floors to illustrate this concept. “This feature creates a focal point for the commons spaces, while enhancing both visual and physical connectivity for the entire space,” he says. “A ‘Spanish steps’ feature spans both sides of the staircase, creating additional workspaces during the day and serving as the focal point of programming in the evening.” The common spaces are flanked around the perimeter of both floors by 69 private offices, seven conference rooms and private phone booths. The Domain Companies occupies about one-third of the fourth floor. The “library” on the fourth floor is a quiet, lushly furnished room open on one side to the atrium and on the other side is closed off to the common space by a glass wall. The rooftop deck provides outdoor space with stunning views where members can work,

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at a glance

The Shop at the Contemporary Arts Center Developed, managed and owned by The Domain Companies, which is also a tenant Address: 900 Camp Street, 3rd Floor Office completed: September 2017 Architect: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Contractor: Palmisano Interior Designer: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple Furnishings: AOS Finishes and Art Curation: Studio Interior Design Square footage: 40,000 square feet Budget: $13 million (development cost) Primary goal: To create a modern, collaborative, multi-purpose, art-filled space, while also preserving the historic integrity of the building. Biggest challenge: Working above an operating arts and cultural institution and balancing the historic architecture with contemporary finishes and art. Standout feature: The iconic, four-story atrium crisscrossed with original supporting, heavy timber beams, exposed brick and restored wood windows.

Open floorpans, shared workspaces and ample areas designed for interaction create a need for private, quiet spaces to make or take a phone call or hole up to concentrate. Phone booths on both floors are a simple design solution. 83

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“Responding to the natural materials found in the historic CAC building — wood, brick — the design uses a limited palate of new materials [such as] concrete, wood [and] steel, to act as a backdrop for key design elements found in the artwork and furnishings that accent the open environment,” says Dumez. The team at AOS selected a mixture of vintage, midcentury modern and reproduction pieces to furnish the lounge areas and library. Each of the private offices also come furnished.

take a break or enjoy yoga and meditation, as well as other programming. Work by local artists, such as Bruce Davenport Jr., Ellen Macomber, Eric Nunez and Frank Relle, to name a few, populate the spaces, which are infused by a curated playlist by DJ, artist, photographer, model and actress, Musa. “Being a part of an iconic cultural institution like the Contemporary Arts Center, we had the goal of creating opportunities for artwork of virtually every medium,” says Schwartz. “We achieved this by working with our partners to design and furnish a workspace featuring art-filled, expansive common areas with endless configurations for events, meetings, conversation and privacy.” In addition to the yoga and meditation classes, professional development events, networking and community events are held at the space. Members can host their own events and are also entitled to a bevvy of amenities and benefits, such as memberships to the CAC, shower facilities, parking, state-of-the art technologies, IT support, HR, accounting and other benefits services. “Operationally, the goal of The Shop is to remove the hassles in handling the physical needs of a business, so we incorporated every possible amenity into the design in order to achieve that experience for our users,” says Schwartz, who stresses that the project utilized the federal and state historic tax credits. “It’s an example of how important these programs are to restoring Downtown New Orleans’ most beautiful historic places. The design is entirely place-based, unquestionably New Orleans, and celebrates our culture’s unique focus on the arts.” n 85

From the Lens why d i dn ’ t i th i nk of that ?

Power Tripping Damesly, a new boutique travel company, invites women to boost their professional skills while enjoying exotic locales. By Ashley McLellan


he number of women traveling alone, or with groups of other women, is on the rise. In fact, experts at travel guide publisher Lonely Planet recently reported that more than 50 percent of travelers polled by the website have said their next trip would be solo. The industry has seen a marked increase in searches and booking of women-only retreats, and a 230 percent increase in the number of women-only tour companies in the past six years. But while they are setting out to explore the world, many want a deeper experience than just dining, shopping or beach lounging. Data not only indicate the rise of solo tours and women-focused travel tours, but also an increase in travel that involves some aspect of personal growth — with 32.9 percent of female travelers reporting their aim was to learn a new skill. Retreats and itineraries packed with glamping (glamorous camping), clean eating, yoga and creative activities are rapidly increasing in popularity. Designed to provide not just personal but professional growth opportunities, Damesly, a New Orleans-based boutique tour company, is the brainchild of co-founders Kelly Lewis and Alyson Kilday. Damesly has conducted three tours since its launch in 2016. “Our first [tour] was our soft launch tour called Riding + Writing, which was a creative writing lesson combined with horseback riding through the Rocky Mountains just outside of Denver,” Kilday said. “The second was a photography tour called Cameras + Canyons that went to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon and involved photography lessons and one-on-one shooting and editing with a woman who shoots with National

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Geographic, Travel Channel and more. The third was a tour to Hawaii, where I’m from, that was focused on surfing and personal discovery. That was a very transformative tour for all of us.” Lewis said the company has found more of a balance between professional and personal development with each trip. “When we started Damesly, we were focused almost solely on skill building, on entrepreneurship, etc.” she said. “What we’ve found is that our trips have also become about self-discovery, almost accidentally. It seems you really can’t have one without the

other. As we get further into chasing what it is we are passionate about in our lives and in our careers, our goals, our identities and our priorities sort of shift, too. And that’s been a really beautiful thing to watch.” With a wide variety of trips, from budgetfriendly to more extravagant, and tour groups capped at 15 or less for intimacy, Kilday notes that Damesly aims to have travel opportunities with all women in mind. “We have weekend ‘Mini Damesly’ workshops, such as the Lake Powell houseboat and media communication trip, all the way to weeklong excursions to Hawaii or Iceland.

Damesly Co-founders Kelly Lewis (left) and Alyson Kilday (right)

Each trip is unique because it’s about the people that come together as much as the location we travel to,” she said. “The prices vary depending on the trip, and most importantly on the type of workshop and mentor we bring in for each trip. We want as many women as possible to have the opportunity to join us, so we work hard to create affordable trips with the Minis — all inclusive weekend adventure and workshops under $1,500. Weeklong international trips and executive level workshops will be priced on a trip-by-trip basis.” Damesly’s inaugural tours have garnered fans and positive press from across the country. “In the past year, we’ve been able to run several trips and have been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and recently in the print edition of Travel + Leisure as one of the top 10 female travel companies,” Kilday said. “It’s been a great start.” Lewis, who was originally a client of Kilday’s creative branding agency, Hop & Jaunt, has always loved travel and it’s a passion she enjoys sharing with other women. “I have worked in women’s travel, specifically, for several years,” she said. “First as the founder of Go! Girl Guides, which publishes travel guidebooks for women, and then as the founder of the Women’s Travel Fest, an annual conference for women who travel. For me, this was the next progression — to get women actually out there traveling.” Lewis approached Kilday with the idea of Damesly and their creative friendship and professional collaboration quickly turned into a business partnership. “When she approached me with her idea for Damesly, I knew it needed to be built,” Kilday said, “and so I joined as her co-founder.” Damesly aims to stretch further than just being a typical one-time guided tour experience. “Our aim is to build a community of women who like to travel, who are creative and professional and who support one another in their creative projects,” Lewis said. “Our trips take our ladies to amazing parts of the world, but they also involve skill building and creative development, which I think is really important. We want the women who take our trips to return home feeling equal parts relaxed and inspired, ready to kick ass in their careers.” Along with building a community, Damesly excursions transform the typical work trip stereotype into something much more than conference rooms and power lunches. “I wasn’t traveling for pleasure as much as for conferences and work,” Kilday said. “I remember thinking that the most valuable takeaways from

on the go

Travel with Damesly Upcoming ventures include a new minitrip series for women who want a unique experience, but don’t have the budget or time for an extended stay, as well as fulllength excursions such as a public relations workshop and cruise on Lake Powell (a lake bordering Utah and Arizona), a hiking and landscape photography session in the Grand Canyon, and trips to Iceland and Hawaii. Upcoming tours: November 3-5 Makers + Magnolias mini-trip in New Orleans – focusing on the art of creation. March 28-31 Writing + Riding: Creative writing workshop with horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies. May 4-10 Islands + Identity: Surfing trip and identity exploration on Oahu. Visit for more information and booking. Payment plans for some trips are available. 87

most big conferences wasn’t always the talks, but the people you met. So with Damesly I wanted to play with the idea of ‘What if, instead of being one of a thousand listening to a keynote speaker, you could spend a weekend with them? How much more would you learn? How much more meaningful would a personal shared experience be with others who shared your passion?’ Damesly is a place where you get to meet amazing people and learn new skills — we just happen to do it in epic locations.” Kilday said with the rise of the female solo and group traveler, more and more travel companies and brands are taking notice. “In the past year, we’ve seen national brands and startups coming into the market,” she said. “Women travel for a million different reasons, like men, but studies have shown that women are far more likely to travel with the goal of learning something new or to experience something new.” A sad fact is that safety also has to be a priority. According to Kilday, Damesly encourages all its clients to do their own research, pack carefully and purchase travel insurance. The company also provides a unique set of plans and contingencies for each client. “We’re very serious about taking care of our clients,” she said. “We make sure that their safety is always a primary consideration, but we also educate our clients on the unique nature of each destination so that they feel comfortable and empowered to explore on their own. Each trip is unique, from weekends in North America to weeklong trips around the world. Depending on the type of trip, we provide our travelers recommendations for different types of travel insurance they can pick up if they choose.” While Kilday and Lewis are hands-on with each tour, Damesly also recruits locals in order to maximize the experience at each unique location. “We’re the facilitators, but we bring in local guides, and each trip is also based around a learning component so we’ll bring in the trip leaders, such as a professional outdoor photographer to teach women how to use their cameras while hiking the Grand Canyon, or a rock-star PR lady to teach small business owners how to gain exposure by getting featured on media while cruising Lake Powell,” said Kilday. “Each trip will have its own trip leader.” Destinations are chosen with two factors in mind: A combination of unique and gorgeous

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locations everyone wants to check out and professional or creative skills women want to or need to learn. Transformation, women-oriented community, personal growth and friendship are the ultimate goals of each Damesly experience. “Exploring and learning together is an experience you’ll remember forever,” Kilday said. “When our dames leave with a handful of new friends and a memory they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives, we know we’ve created something worthwhile.”n

safety first

Among the places Damesly has visited include (top) Hawaii, (middle) Arizona, and (bottom) Colorado.

Travel tips for women Before You Go Know the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate for your destination, Research Your Destination Visit the Department of State’s official website,, where you will find country-specific information for every country of the world. You will also find information about visa requirements, crime and security conditions, health and medical considerations, local laws, areas to avoid, and more. Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave. There are countries that may require a woman to have a male escort to leave a country. Pack Accordingly Countries may have laws and customs about women’s clothing and appearance. For example, what you wear to a mall in Mexico might not be acceptable in a mall in the United Arab Emirates. Be Aware of Your Surroundings It is important for women travelers to understand the cultural norms of the country they will be visiting. Pay attention to local laws and customs because they can be quite different from the United States, especially if you intend to travel alone. Avoid dark, isolated areas at night. The safety of public transportation varies from country to country. In many places, informal taxis or minibuses pose particular threats to people unfamiliar with local conditions, especially to women traveling alone. Find out from reliable sources, such as local authorities or tourism officials, what is and is not safe. Create Boundaries Be cautious when sharing information about your plans and itinerary with strangers. Don’t feel the need to be overly polite if you are bothered by someone. While it may seem rude to be unfriendly to a stranger, creating boundaries to protect yourself is important. Use facial expressions, body language, and a firm voice to fend off any unwanted attention. *source: U.S. Department of State,

From the Lens maki ng a match: b u s i nesses and nonprofi ts

Big Sky Ranch Get your team out into nature with a hands-on day at this Northshore animal sanctuary. By Pamela Marquis


rooster’s rousing crow begins each morning at Big Sky Ranch and Retreat in Folsom, Louisiana. The bunnies start nibbling, the horses begin grazing and the cats set off for a day full of adventures — all happy to be alive. Big Sky is home to health and wellness enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and devoted animal lovers Dr. Catherine Wilbert and Sharon Schluter. The couple shares their bucolic 10-acre sanctuary with more than 250 animals, many of whom have been given another chance at life by these two women. Joe Sanford, owner of Pelican Pictures, recently produced an award-winning promotional video for the organization. He says he was impressed with the women’s dedication and awe-inspiring kindness. “They have compassion for every single animal on the ranch and it is clear that each animal is cared for and loved,” he said. “Both women are amazing. Catherine is so brilliant and has a great way of motivating those around her, and Sharon is cut from the same cloth.”

Keeping the Numbers Down Wilbert and Schluter work with animal rescue organizations throughout the state and nation to create low-cost ways to help alleviate cat overpopulation through spay/neuter, adoption and enhanced education programs. They also promote the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) approach to addressing community cat populations. “Every three months a cat can have a litter of five,” says Wilbert. “In eight years, one unspayed cat, her mate and all her offspring could result in 2,072,514 cats.” Along with the ranch, the couple also manages a 501(c)3 organization called Care, Advocacy and Treatment of Neglected & Indigent Pets — cleverly abbreviated to CATNIP. Its ambitious vision is to see a world with no more need for animal shelters.

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Ansen was born into a large litter that was adopted by Big Sky Ranch. He had horribly bowed legs but treatment from the ranch helped him walk again, and find a home.

“Shelters and sanctuary sites are a necessity today, but they are a reactive solution to a problem of overpopulation, and CATNIP was founded to become a leader in our community and beyond in finding proactive solutions,” Wilbert said. “We can end the need for both euthanasia and shelters by primarily controlling cat populations. We want to stop the problem before it occurs.”

A Good Match

FOR COMPANIES WHO… …are looking to spend a day volunteering in the great outdoors. The farm is home to more than 250 animals, from cats and dogs to donkeys and doves, so there’s always something to do or something to clean up.

Hurricane Relief Efforts Currently the Big Ranch’s office is a flurry of activity as staff and volunteers organize their efforts to rescue stranded cats who are in critical stages of distress from the flooding and damage caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The organization is taking part in a national Bonnie pet-rescue effort with a team of and trusted first responders such as Clyde Brother Wolf, a no-kill shelter in Asheville, North Carolina. “I always regretted not being able to help the animals after Katrina,” said Schluter. “Now I can’t sit idle while animals are alone, scared, helpless and in their greatest need. I just can’t.” Both Wilbert and Schluter have made multiple trips to Texas and Florida to rescue animals. They are also coordinating efforts to transport these rescues to other no-kill shelters throughout the country.

Other Programs The CATNIP Foundation has many innovative outreach programs, such as its Barn Cat Program, which identifies adoptable “working” cats for farms and the Seniors For Seniors program, which pairs senior cats with senior citizens living in assisted living or memory care centers. “The ultimate impact of this program will not only save the lives of senior animals, but will make a dramatic difference in the lives, health and overall happiness of seniors,” Wilbert says. “Many of these cats that are up for adoption were previously owned by older citizens, so they’re ideal lap cats.”

Earned Income Wilbert served on numerous non-profit boards and has managed her own successful businesses; she knows that a well-run business needs to be sustainable. A nonprofit cannot survive on grants and donations alone, which

The ranch is also a small organic farm, providing volunteers the opportunity to work the land and learn more about organic farming. …are construction oriented Construction of new housing, fencing and care facilities is always needed. …are looking for a unique setting for a retreat, event or activity.

is why Big Sky offers seminars, retreats and farm camps for kids and adults. The nonprofit also caters parties, sells organic fruits and vegetables, and markets handmade gifts. It’s even a sought-after venue for weddings and other social events. Proceeds from all of Big Sky Ranch’s efforts help fund the organization’s mission.

Making A Difference Thanks to Big Sky Ranch, 400 animals were rescued and fixed after the Baton Rouge floods of 2016 and 150 tons of animal food were distributed to 20 rescue organizations and individuals in the affected areas. Since August 2016, 400 animals have been adopted from the ranch and 500 animals are spayed or neutered through Big Sky Ranch’s low and no-cost spay neuter services as well as its TNR program every year. Sixty cats, on average, are fixed each month at Big Sky Ranch. Sometimes that figure reaches more than 100 cats in a month. Thanks to Big Sky’s continued efforts and outreach to other animal welfare facilities and government organizations, St. Tammany Parish is already reporting a reduction in intakes and euthanizations. So far, more than 100 displaced animals have been rescued, cared for and adopted from

Big Sky Ranch is a great place for corporate events, such as retreats and “Lunch and Learns.” Its peaceful setting is the perfect location to become a better and more productive team.

We can end the need for both euthanasia and shelters by primarily controlling cat populations. We want to stop the problem before it occurs.

Dr. Catherine Wilbert

All proceeds from these events go to support Big Sky Ranch and its CATNIP Foundation. Current Needs: The nonprofit is currently focused on relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. To support these efforts, the nonprofit encourages the following actions: Adopt from Big Sky Ranch. Now is the ideal time for these cats to find their forever families. This will also help create space for the pets that will be arriving from the devastated areas. Donate supplies: Big Sky will be caring for many animals for the foreseeable future. They need food, litter, bleach, brooms, mops and volunteers. Donate cash: Wilbert and Schluter will continue to visit Texas and Florida and they will need to purchase such things as gas and tarps. Please donate to Big Sky’s PayPal page to help. 91

I always regretted not being able to help the animals after Katrina. Now I can’t sit idle while animals are alone, scared, helpless and in their greatest need. I just can’t.

Thanks to Big Sky Ranch, 400 animals were rescued and fixed after the Baton Rouge floods of 2016, including Roxanne.


Big Sky Ranch CATNIP Foundation Mission: Big Sky Ranch CATNIP Foundation is a local nonprofit in St. Tammany Parish with a mission to raise community consciousness about the well-being of people, animals and the planet. Its primary focus is animal rescue and adoption, with a goal of creating a no-kill, no-shelter community.

Sharon Schluter

the ranch’s efforts in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. In the beginning of October, Wilbert and Schluter reported that Big Sky Ranch was working on assisting animals affected by the Puerto Rico hurricane but that the situation there was “complicated by politics.”

Success Stories Roxanne: Roxanne was a kitten who swam for days looking for safety during the 2016 Baton Rouge floods. She was a special case because the floodwaters had infected her eye and it needed to be surgically removed. When they put her up for adoption, they thought she would have a hard time finding a home, but a young couple, who had a cat who was blind in one eye, quickly adopted her to be his new best friend. Ansen: Ansen was born in a large litter of kittens that was rescued by Big Sky Ranch. As his siblings continued to grow normally; Ansen did not. His legs bowed and he was unable to walk. Big Sky Ranch worked tirelessly to help him. They created tiny splints for his legs and fed him bottles throughout the night. Eventually he recovered and was adopted. Now he’s living in Uptown New Orleans with two other cherished cats. Max: It took Big Sky Ranch a long time to domesticate Max, a cat found feral in Folsom. One day, a 9-year-old boy came to the ranch looking for a new cat because his beloved cat had recently died. The boy spent time with every cat at the ranch. Then he found Max. For more than an hour he talked and cuddled with the once wild-cat. The two clicked and Max went home with him that very day.

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Location: Big Sky Ranch, 15442 Jack Fork Road, Folsom, LA 70437 Phone: 985-276-0270 Website: Annual Budget: $250,000

Adoptions A big part of Big Ranch is finding homes for all the lovable cats they rescue. Since last year, Big Sky Ranch has adopted more than 400 animals. One thing is certain: it is difficult to walk onto the ranch and leave without taking a sweet cat home with you. Wilbert, Schluter and the cats themselves are pretty persuasive. Sarah Hugg Centorino, communications strategist with Gambel Communications, discovered that fact soon after her first meeting with her new clients. “I was in love with everything about the ranch — from the animals to the mission

behind the organization,” she said. “One kitten in particular, Ansen, really captured my heart. He had been through a lot but was so full of life and so playful. It took my husband and I about five seconds to decide that he belonged in our family.” Big Sky is an oasis imbued with tranquility and hope for its many four- legged, feathered and human friends. It consistently sounds a clarion call to the community about the importance of caring for all creatures great and small. “We must learn to be kinder to our planet,” says Wilbert. “That’s what we are trying to do in our small way.” n

Ongoing Partnerships: Big Sky Ranch and its CATNIP Foundation work with many animal welfare groups throughout the parish, state and country including: St. Tammany Animal Services, St. Tammany Humane Society, CatHaven, Purrs of Hope, LASPCA, Meow Mission, Kitty City USA, Brother Wolf, American Humane, RescueBank,, Alley Cat Allies, Animal Rescue Front and InDefense of Animals. 93

PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Ace and the Louisiana Open Housing Act, which make it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. For more information, call the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-273-5718.

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From the Lens ON THE JOB

The Perfect Pour photo By jeffery johnston


he first classes at the first and only certified and accredited Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Training Lab in Louisiana started Oct. 9 at 1533 Melpomene St. in the Lower Garden District. The lab is run by SCA member and small-batch coffee roaster, French Truck Coffee, and currently offers courses to help students achieve the level of professional barista. From Nov. 6-11, French Truck will partner with Gather Coffee Company to offer a Q-grading course designed to teach students to properly assess and contract green coffee. There are only about 3,500 Q-graders in the world. For more information, visit n

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