LEE WAY A QUICK START FOR JEFFERSON PARISH’S NEW PRESIDENT
CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, JEFFERSON PARISH PRESIDENT
WHAT’S THE FUTURE? P.16
STRESS ON THE JOB
TOP COPING TIPS P.22
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
June VOLUME 06 ISSUE 09
FROM THE LENS
08 EDITOR’S NOTE 09 PUBLISHER’S NOTE
Local experts provide advice to lower stress
IN THE BIZ DINING........................... 12
Threatened with closure, QED Hospitality successfully pivoted from dining to telemedicine.
Challenges and lessons learned from the massive shift to remote work
TOURISM. . ...................... 14
Despite a cut in funding, the French Quarter Management District launches a new campaign and continues to work to protect the businesses, residents and the culture of New Orleans’ biggest tourism draw.
WB Collective brings all-female coworking space to the Warehouse District WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?. . .....................................52
What role should insurance play in the COVID-19 pandemic?
SPORTS .. ....................... 16
What will professional sports look like in this new world? ENTREPRENEUR.......... 18
Top tips to help businesses face a new normal on the other side of COVID-19 lockdown
Pet portrait artist Melissa Vandiver invites you to celebrate your beloved pet in true New Orleans fashion — dressed to impress.
GUEST. . ........................... 30
Business owners can’t afford to be complacent in this new marketplace.
ON THE JOB..........................................................................56
At-home baking was all the rage during lockdown, causing yeast to be as hard to find as toilet paper. But for those craving carbs, professional bakers, like those at Breads On Oak, have you covered.
Lee-Way Only a few months in as Jefferson Parish’s new president, Cynthia Lee Sheng is relying on her passion for efficiency and partnership to lead through uncharted waters.
ON THE COVER Cynthia Lee Sheng, Jefferson Parish President Portrait by Romero & Romero
MEET THE SALES TEAM
Caitlin Sistrunk Sales Manager
(504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com
Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7298 Brennan@BizNewOrleans.com
Senior Account Executive (504) 830-7255 JessicaJ@BizNewOrleans.com
Colleen Monaghan Vice President of Sales
(504) 830-7215 Colleen@BizNewOrleans.com 6
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
Publisher Todd Matherne
Open IT ’S A GLORIOUS FOUR-LETTER WORD. I LOVE SEEING ALL THE YARD SIGNS FROM DIFFERENT
businesses proclaiming it. It’s a sign of hope. A sign that, at least in some small way, things are reaching a bit toward normalcy. By the time this magazine comes out, it will have been two-and-a-half months since the shelterin-place order was given and I have to say, I’m feeling pretty proud of my city right now. I know we’re far from perfect, but what I’m seeing — or maybe choosing to see — is the flood of helpers that this pandemic has created. I’m seeing how the darkest of times can bring out the light. In my family’s daily walks around our neighborhood, for example, I’m seeing people who have chosen to use chalk to write out jokes — the setup, and then, half a block later, the punchline — hoping to bring a smile to someone they may never meet, or even know about. I’m seeing neighbors out in the streets and sidewalks, chatting to each other, maybe for the first time. I’m seeing a rainbow of masks, each one a message proclaiming “I care about you, stranger, and I want to keep you safe.” And speaking of strangers, I have a neighbor across the street —who I’m embarrassed to say we hardly know — who asked for our cell phone numbers so she can text us when a package arrives on our doorstep. She’s done it many times now. It’s wonderful. I feel fortunate that my job also involves talking to so many helpers, and now you can hear some of those conversations. Biz has started a new podcast. It’s called Biz Talks, and in it, our Associate News Editor Rich Collins and I take turns talking to influential professionals from a wide variety of industries and organizations about what they’re doing and the best practices they’re seeing, all in an effort to help out other businesses and organizations. New episodes are released every Tuesday at BizNewOrleans.com. I invite you to have a listen. There’s still a lot of unknown ahead. A lot of hard work. A lot of adjusting and pivoting. This is promising to be a very long summer, but I believe we can do this. I believe we can use this situation to do better by the ones who need it most, to be innovative, to reach out in ways we’ve never done. In every challenge lies opportunity and I believe in our region’s ability to see that opportunity and capitalize on it. Please continue to keep us posted on how you’re moving forward. We’re eager to share the news. Stay safe, and sane, and thanks for reading.
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Errol Laborde Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Associate News Editor Rich Collins Contributors Jennie Campbell, Rich Collins, Keith Loria, Pamela Marquis, Ashley McLellan, Chris Price, Jessica Rosgaard, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, James Sebastien, Melanie Warner Spencer, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell ADVERTISING Vice President of Sales Colleen Monaghan (504) 830-7215 Colleen@BizNewOrleans.com Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Brennan@BizNewOrleans.com Senior Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 JessicaJ@BizNewOrleans.com MARKETING Director of Marketing & Events Jeanel Luquette Event Coordinator Abbie Dugruise DIGITAL Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Digital Operations Manager Sarah Duckert PRODUCTION Production Manager Emily Andras Production Designers Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney Traffic Assistant Jeremiah Michel ADMINISTRATION Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde Office Manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Audience Development Claire Sargent For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231
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BIZ NEW ORLEANS
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Moving Forward AS WE ENTER JUNE AND THE PHASE REOPENINGS
begin, all I keep thinking is how we need to move forward and bring the best of what we learned with us — in all aspects of our lives. For businesses, as we reopen our stores, restaurants and offices, we need to make our staff and customers feel welcome and safe as they visit so they feel comfortable and return. That initial visit will earn a customer for life with a great positive experience. Individually, even with the stay-at-home orders ending, we still need to be cautious and use common sense as we go about our daily lives. From now on, we will always wash our hands often and be cautious of the things we touch and how close we get to people. These are just a few simple steps we can do to keep ourselves, and those around us, safe. For me, I’ll also be bringing a renewed focus on faith and family with me into this new normal. I now love being able to stream 7 a.m. mass and start my day in prayer, as well as spend real quality time with family — even if it means it has to be on Zoom. Todd Matherne P.S. On a different note, we are now doing wedding-redo from April. As I wrote in April, we were all excited to head off to Austin for our daughter’s destination wedding and here we are in June ready to do it all over again. No matter what, Austin or NOLA, this month Mallary and Ryan will celebrate matrimony and begin their lives together as one. They are moving forward.
In The Biz
AARON M. SPRECHER VIA AP
BIZ COLUMNISTS SPEAK OUT
DINING QED Hospitality successfully
pivoted from dining to telemedicine.
TOURISM The French Quarter Management
District launches a new campaign
SPORTS What will professional sports
look like in this new world?
ENTREPRENEUR Top tips to help businesses face a new normal
IN THE BIZ DINING
Serving in a New Way Threatened with closure, QED Hospitality successfully pivoted from dining to telemedicine. BY POPPY TOOKER
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
peared,” Landry said. “On company message boards, we could see sous-chefs coaching food runners and pastry chefs helping line cooks in their new jobs.” Landry said he had always recognized Jack Rose Executive Sous-Chef Vu Vo as a leader in the kitchen, but now he watched as the talented chef become a leader in a completely new field. Taje Willoughby, a former host at Jack Rose, became one of five selected to work with the most difficult software system and quickly became a trainer as well. The QED partners also found themselves in new roles. “Brian is studying the US CARES Act and handling other related issues in our hospitality company while I’m actively working in the telehealth business, interfacing daily with every employee,” said Emery Whalen. Although most transitioned workers are making comparable money, and in some cases more, both Whalen and Landry believe that when their food and beverage operations can reopen, most will want to get back to their previous jobs. “People work in hospitality because they crave social interaction,” Landry said. “Everyone wants to get back into the restaurants, bars and coffee shops.” Meanwhile, every day brings new stories of ways the telemedicine crew is helping on the front line. Kaitlin Koste, banquet manager at the Thompson in Nashville, recently called to schedule a routine doctor’s appointment for a woman who had coincidently just returned home from a double shift in an ER. “She began to cry,” Koste related to Whalen, “and thanked me for my work. She had been too busy to take the time to care for herself.” The exchange is just one example of how QED Resources is affecting people’s lives. “Our employees still have the opportunity to serve, just in a different way,” Whalen said. “We are so grateful to Divurgent for taking the chance that a bunch of hospitality folk could apply the same level of care, attention to detail and heart as they did in their previous jobs to a different kind of guest — hospital patients.” n
Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
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.
IN EARLY MARCH, EMERY WHALEN AND BRIAN
Landry, partners of QED Hospitality, were staring down the inevitable. For more than two years, QED Hospitality had successfully managed all food and beverage operations for the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans and the Thompson Hotel in Nashville. The company’s restaurants, bars and coffee shops totaled eight separate outlets employing over 200 people. After determining that takeout and delivery — the only options available during the COVID-19 shutdown — would not work as a business model, the pair realized a complete closure of their businesses was likely, a decision Brian Landry described as “gut wrenching.” Simultaneously, Emery’s brother, Ralph Whalen, senior vice president with international IT healthcare consulting firm Divurgent, was facing an immediate need for hundreds of new workers to staff telemedicine hotlines. Divurgent’s hospital clients were overwhelmed by the volume of scheduling calls needed to convert in-hospital doctor visits to telemedicine calls in order to reduce the number of people visiting already burdened facilities without compromising patient care. When Ralph Whalen heard the distress in his sister’s voice as she described having to potentially layoff so many beloved and valuable employees, a solution popped into his head. What if Emery’s hospitality employees could become telemedicine workers? This could solve the need at Divurgent, while maintaining QED employee paychecks and healthcare benefits until food and beverage operations could reopen. Emery Whalen immediately called a companywide meeting to present the opportunity to the staff. The new jobs would entail working from home, while maintaining social distancing during the quarantine. Within 72 hours, over 100 bartenders, food runners, chefs and waiters began training. They were ready to start making calls the following week after having mastered multiple healthcare software systems. This met QED’s primary goal — complete continuity in pay and benefits for everyone participating. In order to accomplish this, a new company was formed, QED Resources, which in turn was hired by Divurgent. Both Whalen and Landry were amazed and inspired by the incredible teamwork their crew displayed. “In their new roles, the traditional front of the house/back of the house divide disap-
IN THE BI Z TOURISM
Protectors of the Crown Jewel Despite a cut in funding, the French Quarter Management District launches a new campaign and continues to work to protect the businesses, residents and culture of New Orleans’ biggest tourism draw. BY JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
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 BizNewOrleans.com.
Quarter Museum Association, with the aim OFTEN IN COMMUNITIES THE SMALLEST organizations are the most adaptive and of making museum-going an integral part of impactful. One such organization is the the French Quarter experience. “By working together to develop shared French Quarter Management District (FQMD), created in 2007 as a political programming and coordinated marketing, subdivision of the state of Louisiana to the nonprofit museums of the French support residents and businesses in the Quarter can engage a larger percentage of French Quarter. the people who are already in the French There is no denying the draw of the Quarter — residents and visitors alike — and French Quarter and its role in tourism for thereby grow their audience and increase our region. According to a D.K. Shifflet & their visitorship,” said Frankic. “This, in turn, Associates (DKSA) report, in 2019, New has a positive impact on the French Quarter Orleans welcomed 19.75 million visitors, a environment, improving its sustainability as 6.7% increase in visitors compared to 2018. a historic resource.” Like all entities tied to tourism, FQMD Visitors to New Orleans in 2019 spent $10.05 billion, a 10.3% increase over the previous is reassessing its role and budget due to the year. More than 95% of those tourists spent impact of COVID-19 on the industry. The time in the French Quarter during their visit. group has increased its communication “As the most-visited destination in the city, with city leadership to assure that accurate the French Quarter is the proud ‘crown jewel’ information about impacts to security, saniof the city’s tourism industry,” said Karley tation and infrastructure are conveyed to D. Frankic, executive director of FQMD. the residential and businesses groups of the “Maintaining a safe, clean, high-quality French French Quarter. It is also working on a new campaign Quarter experience for all visitors, business owners and residents is of paramount impor- to “Keep the Quarter Clean” to build tance to the economic sustainability and upon the work that has been done during the COVID-19 shutdown. Many French cultural vibrancy of the city.” FQMD serves the French Quarter through Quarter property owners used the mandaa variety of initiatives, one of its most visible tory closure to repaint building facades, is the Supplemental Police Patrol Program, or deep-clean their buildings and generally French Quarter Task Force. According to the improve their properties. FQMD receives significant funding from FQMD 2019 Annual Report, the task force provided 18,000 additional hours of patrols longtime partner New Orleans & Company. over 84 shifts per week patrolling the French Because the hotel self-assessment revenues Quarter 24 hours a day, seven days a week. have been dramatically impacted by COVIDIt made 5,110 business checks and 13,044 19, New Orleans & Company had to reduce its financial support to FQMD for 2020. citizen contacts. Because the force has arresting and FQMD has reevaluated its police deploysummons writing capabilities, Frankic said ment to assure that supplemental security it has been credited by the New Orleans remains present despite a decrease in availPolice Department (NOPD) as having a posi- able funding. “The financial impacts to our city and tive impact on violent crime, including the removal of criminals, guns and drugs from state’s coffers is a direct result of decreased hospitality spending,” said Frankic. “Now the French Quarter. To further increase safety and security more than ever, it is essential that the in the French Quarter, FQMD engaged French Quarter be well managed. The French an investigation and corporate intelli- Quarter’s financial value goes well beyond gence firm to conduct the French Quarter our boundaries. Value-added industries such Security Assessment to review the current as produce, seafood and beverage vendors, security and safety infrastructure in the New airlines, tour companies, regional festivals Orleans Police Department’s 8th District, as and culture bearers all benefit from the well as the need, cost and effectiveness of the French Quarter. FQMD is working tirelessly French Quarter’s multiple security efforts to assure that everyone who lives, works and visits the French Quarter has a great time, is and resources. FQMD works to enhance commercial successful and gets home safely.” n and residential life in the French Quarter in other ways as well. It recently partnered with seven museums to become the fiscal agent for a new cultural coalition, the French
IN THE BIZ SPORTS
A Different Goal Line What will professional sports look like in this new world? BY CHRIS PRICE
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
in the air. With major sports shut down since April due to COVID-19, fans are looking for some sense of a return to normalcy. But this season will be anything but normal. With tens of thousands of Americans having lost their lives because of this disease, concerns of continued outbreaks are serious and valid and are being balanced against the financial impact the virus is having at all levels of athletics. To limit its spread, some leagues are, or are planning on, resuming play with safety protocols in place. Still, there are concerns about the virus’ potential impact on resuming sports. In late May, Peter King, author of NBCSpor ts.com’s Monday Morning Quarterback column, interviewed Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — the nation’s point person on infectious diseases. King asked Fauci about the potential for players testing positive during the season. Before King could finish his question, Fauci pounced: “You got a problem there…Once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down.” “Shut it down,” King wrote. “Quarantine the team, he means. For 14 days. The next two games for that team? Cancelled or postponed. That could be life in the NFL in 2020.” While a team potentially shutting down for two weeks would be unprecedented, there is the potential that with appropriate testing, infected players could be quarantined while the team continues to play. The sidelining of a star player, two, or more could have a catastrophic impact on a team competing for playoff positioning. While King was reporting on NFL football, every sports league is facing this, and many more potential issues in returning to action. As economics are a major component of professional and amateur sports, leagues obviously want to return to action. With no live games, there is no income from ticket sales, television broadcasts and commercials, and concessions. While league commissioners and team owners no doubt want to see full stadiums and arenas, there are numerous health concerns hanging in the balance. Some games will be delayed. Some may be played without fans in the stands. Some, including Fauci, say games may eventually be played with a limited number of fans to accommodate social distancing. But this raises several potential problems. First, if crowds are limited, how will franchises select
who gets a ticket to get inside? How will social distancing be practiced in normally crowded corridors and entry, food and bathroom lines? If fans are present, protective masks make sense. However, enforcing face coverings has, unfortunately and embarrassingly, proven to be fatal in some situations. Could alcohol add to volatility? The hope is that in the time before football kicks off, medical experts around the world may make scientific advancements in combatting the virus, which will help make games as safe as possible for players, coaches and spectators. With the economic impact COVID-19 has already had, professional and collegiate sports cities are also looking longingly to a financial boon of full hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions. Sports inject billions of dollars into local communities. If we are smart about continuing to combat this virus, we will have sports back sooner rather than later. That’s a goal line for which we should all be aiming. n
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
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 BizNewOrleans.com.
THE EXCITEMENT OF FOOTBALL IS ALREADY
IN THE BIZ ENTREPRENEUR
Break On Through Top tips to help businesses face a new normal on the other side of COVID-19 lockdown. BY KEITH TWITCHELL
CONDUCT A SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS. Given the nature of your business, how quickly is demand likely to return? Do you have any sense of the status of your competitors? Your supply chain? What impacts will lingering restrictions have on your business? Since the situation will continue to evolve for many months, this should be a regular exercise. Even if you are one of the fortunate entrepreneurs who has been able to maintain THINK SAFETY FIRST. Given our region’s relatively stable operations throughout the status as a tourist attraction, even if we elimi- crisis, a situational analysis is a worthwhile nate community transmission completely we endeavor. Things are going to be different will remain highly vulnerable to having the — starting with the economic challenges of virus re-introduced by visitors. Therefore, closed businesses and skyrocketing unemthe top priority must be protecting both ployment — and everyone should assume that staff and customers. In order to do this, a their enterprise will continue to be affected. good idea is to follow the lead of businesses like grocery stores, which have been allowed SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW BUSINESSES. One to remain open, and mandate the use of thing we can all do as our local businesses masks and gloves at all businesses, keep reopen is patronize them to fullest extent we hand sanitizer and disinfectant everywhere, can afford. These businesses are not only the and establish mandatory cleaning protocols. backbone of our economy, they are part of This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the essence of who we are as a city. We all financially smart as businesses can be held have a part to play in bringing New Orleans liable for failing to provide a safe space for back, yet again. n both employees and customers. A LT H O U G H S O M E O F T H E C O V I D - 1 9
restrictions have eased, we’re still a long way from life returning to how it was. As we shift into a “new normal,” reopening businesses are facing enormous uncertainty. That said, however, certain aspects of the new landscape are predictable, and the more prepared a business is to deal with them, the more rapidly it can get up and running.
HAVE A STRONG MARKETING PLAN. A strong marketing plan is more important than ever in this highly chaotic landscape. Many people will remain extremely cautious about resuming normal activities so it’s important that they know you are open and operating safely. Prioritize existing customers, but have a plan for replacing a significant percentage of them if needed. A S S E S S W H E R E YO U A R E A N D D O N ’ T B E AFRAID TO GET CREATIVE. How big a hit did
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
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.
you take? What is your cash position? How much of your market is likely to return, and at what pace? Which aspects of your previrus business model remain viable and which need to be revisited? Should you have a phased reopening? Loyalty is a great virtue, but you cannot let it sink your business, so you must be realistic about staffing levels. Difficult choices will be necessary across the board. That said, it may be worth convening your staff to examine creative ways to maintain as much of a relationship as possible. Can people work part-time? Are there ways they can generate revenue that you can share? Does it make sense to offer employees some equity in the business in return for foregoing some wages now?
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Perspectives HOT TOPICS IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA INDUSTRIES
HEALTH Advice for employers, parents and elderly caregivers looking to lower stress
TECHNOLOGY Lessons learned from the massive shift to remote work
INSURANCE What role should insurance
play in the COVID-19 pandemic?
GUEST Business owners canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford to
be complacent in this new marketplace.
PERSPECTIVES HE ALT HC ARE
Mental Health Tips for All Ages Local experts provide advice for employers, parents and elderly caregivers looking to lower stress during this difficult time BY JESSICA ROSGAARD
GOOD MENTAL HEALTH IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT,
but during COVID-19 it’s been a particularly hot topic as most people have had their employment situation change — either losing employment or transitioning to a work-from-home environment. The latter situation has forced managers to change tactics. MANAGEMENT CHANGES
“Initially, you think, ‘We can deal with this for a few weeks, and we’ll do what we have to do,’ and then the normalcy of it starts to sink in,” said Amy Bakay, founder of HR NOLA, a New Orleans-based consulting firm that provides human resources services to small businesses. “We’ve seen people starting to transition out of the panic/crisis mode now into, ‘OK, let’s see how we can make this work now for us.’” Bakay said managers’ concerns are now moving from focusing on the logistics of maintaining business operations into focusing on employee engagement and well-being in the longer term. “The question now is, ‘How can I keep my people motivated and engaged,?” she said. “How can I keep them well when I can’t physically be near them to assess that they appear to be well?” Bakay said she normally advises managers to stay out of employees’ personal business, “but now is different,” she said. “You need to get involved in their personal business. You need to talk to them and see how they’re doing and see what plans you can put into place to keep them well from a holistic perspective.” Managers might not be able to do a daily huddle with each of their employees, but Bakay said at minimum they should
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check in with employees once a week to have a conversation that includes, “Here’s what we expect this week; here’s how we’re going to operate this week; here’s what I’m going to do for you; and is there anything else that I can do to support you with these initiatives this week?” She added that managers might have to set new expectations for employees.
We’ve seen people starting to transition out of the panic/ crisis mode now into, ‘OK, let’s see how we can make this work now for us. Amy Bakay, founder of HR NOLA
TAKING BACK CONTROL
Most of the issues that are causing stress right now can fit into the broader categories of fear and uncertainty — fear of the virus, fear of losing a job, uncertainty when it comes to protecting oneself and loved ones, and not knowing when this will all end. Dr. Bruce Wilson, an internal medicine physician at West Jefferson Medical Center, noted that “control is everything” in times of uncertainty, and one easy way to take control is to make a to-do list and set goals. “Seize this moment, because it may not come again,” said Wilson. “Who are you going to be after quarantine?”
Exercising and eating a healthy diet are two things that individuals can control; they’ll also help you physically feel better. “Exercise increases energy, it increases mood, and it helps curb infection by increasing the immune system,” Wilson said. “So now you’re taking control over your ability to be infected by the virus. Everybody wants to know, ‘How can I beat this thing?’ Staying healthy is the best way to beat this.” Staying healthy, Wilson added, includes controlling your mindset. “We are a thermostat and we can control our mood,” he said. “Looking on the bright side actually releases endorphins, helping to prevent that mood of uncertainty and fear, and now you start having a mood of enlightenment, a mood of increased energy.” Wilson advised that now is a great time to start a meditation practice to help with mental and physical well-being. He recommended starting small — just a minute of closing your eyes every day — and then allow yourself to grow into it and watch how meditation relieves stress and keeps you calm.
HELP YOURSELF TO HELP OTHERS
Stressing that self-care is important not only for individuals, but for all those around them, Dr. Diane Franz, director of the psychology department at Children’s Hospital, said children are very in tune with what’s happening around them, so it’s important for parents themselves to self-monitor. “If you’re struggling, that impacts your kids,” she said, “so take care of yourself as much as you can.” Franz advised parents to “try to have a schedule, predictability — those things are helpful for little kids, and older kids. Even if you have a different routine, just try to have a routine.” Finding a way to contribute might help relieve some stress. “We’ve seen all these homemade efforts to make masks or donate food or make cards for people in nursing homes,” said Franz. “Any small thing that kids can do to feel like they’re helping, it’s obviously helpful to the people they’re giving those things to, but it also helps us.” RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES GET CREATIVE
Maintaining social distance from family is especially stressful if someone has a relative in an assisted living facility. “People in a facility are already alone or they’re no longer living with their children,” said Scott Lovitt, owner of Audubon Care Homes in Metairie. “They’re already isolated and already more or less alone and this just amplifies that, makes it a hundred times worse.” In an effort to keep residents connected to their loved ones while social distancing, Lovitt has introduced patient engagement technology at his facility, utilizing a 70-inch touch screen for various activities. “Residents can paint pictures, do puzzles, and play ‘Jeopardy!’” Lovitt said. “They can Skype and video with their family members, take yoga classes, watch old TV shows and movies. It’s a huge stress reliever.” Mark Francis is the VP of special projects at Schonberg Care, which has retirement communities throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. He said he’s overseeing a number of projects aimed at keeping older adults and their loved ones connected. Schonberg Care has set — and continues to achieve — a goal of each resident having what they call “quality touch” with their friends and family three times a week. “In addition to Skype, Zoom and FaceTime, we’ve had porch visits or gate visits, where we’ll have family members on one side of the gate in the courtyard social distancing, but still able to have a conversation,” said Francis. “We’ve facilitated window visits where families can be inches apart and have a wonderful conversation and really feel that closeness. I think that’s what they want more than anything.”n 24
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
Seize this moment, because it may not come again. Who are you going to be after quarantine? Dr. Bruce Wilson, internal medicine physician at West Jefferson Medical Center
PERSPECTIVES T ECHNOLOGY
Remote Control Local tech professionals share the biggest challenges they’ve seen and lessons learned with the massive shift to remote work BY KEITH LORIA
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE
way we live and work, and tech companies have been busier than ever helping people make the required adjustments. Keith Frischhertz, co-founder & president of Monarch Technology, an IT solutions company, said when the lockdown began in March one of his biggest issues was finding computers. For people who “don’t have computers at home, they rely solely on an iPhone or other smart devices,” he said, adding, “Procuring machines for customers was challenging given supply chain strains.” Cloud-based services also quickly became strained due to a massive influx of subscriptions when so much of the workforce moved home. “But to the credit of everyone we have dealt with, they have scaled their services in a surprisingly efficient way in order to meet demand,” Frischhertz said. “It still takes time to provision new clients, but it gets done and the services are running as expected.” While Frischhertz said the work demands at Monarch Technology have started to level out, tech solutions company Leviton remains “busier than ever” according to Greg Rhoades, facility manager for the company. Rhoades said the company has seen increased demand in particular for handsfree lighting controls. Among Leviton’s offerings are occupancy sensors in commercial bathrooms that turn lights on via motion and antimicrobial light switches commonly used in hospitals. “Whether it’s in their home right now, or as they begin to return to their workplaces, people want to reduce their need to frequently touch surfaces and devices,” Rhoades said. In the real estate realm, Barret Blondeau, co-founder and CEO of Unlock’d — a tech real estate platform designed to make it easier
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
Employees are actually putting in more hours on average, dragging the laptop into bed post-dinner to finish up more emails and tasks. Greg Rhoades, facility manager for Leviton
for buyers and sellers to execute a transaction — said the company was already utilizing Zoom and Skype for much of what they did, so the transition to work remotely was seamless. “However, showings were going down fairly dramatically, so we had to adjust,” he said. “We needed to back off marketing a bit to make sure the team was all right, and we took a pause for a good month.” In late April, Blondeau reported that the company had received two new listings and Unlock’d renewed its marketing efforts as showings began to return. “We have seen increased traffic on the website because more people are at home,” he said. “We are doing more virtual walkthroughs and we’re going to develop that [feature] more in the upcoming months to serve the market better going forward.” Neel S. Sus, CEO of Susco, a Metairiebased software company, said the lockdown
has forced many companies into upgrading their tech. “At the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, a lot of businesses were operating with some pretty vanilla infrastructure, such as broadband and old routers,” he said. Sus understands the change firsthand, as 90% of his company’s work was previously done in-office. “High-speed internet from home is a big challenge—especially for workers that need to transmit voice and share screens,” Sus said. To meet the new demand, Susco has been busy helping companies replace old internal software with web- and mobile-based applications that can be used from any location. One of the risks of so many new people working from home is that there is an even greater chance of security breaches. “Due to people accessing corporate data from home-based machines, the risk of the
client home machine not being secure is greater than ever,” Frischhertz said. “Additionally, that machine is likely accessed by multiple users, further complicating the issue. More people accessing a resource always increases the risk, and when there are multiple people accessing a machine for personal use as well as corporate use, the chance of the machine becoming compromised increases.” Sus agreed that security risks have amplified and added that it’s important to stay on top of possible exposure. “The challenge with remote workers is giving them easy but secure access to everything they had access to at the office,” he said. “I would encourage every employer to have all of their confidentiality disclosure paperwork much tighter than it was before.” Sus also suggested not sending classified info over email, but rather using the phone to share anything they want to keep private. Frischhertz said he has seen one big positive come out of the current pandemic: The work IT professionals do has come to the forefront. “Typically, if an IT professional does his or her work well and prevents catastrophes because they stay on top of things, they’re perceived as doing nothing,” he said. “Interestingly, when something goes drastically wrong, the IT pro is again perceived as not having done his or her job correctly. It’s a sharp, double-edged sword. During this whole COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that many organizations from the top down are actually noticing the work their IT staff performs and the services they provide.” Another major takeaway from the lockdown was the realization that businesses should have a contingency plan in place and need to be versatile enough to afford their employees the ability to work remotely. “Flipping the switch to allow Monarch’s employees to work from home and support our clients took all of zero seconds because our entire infrastructure is cloud hosted,” Frischhertz said. “That setup may not be suitable for all businesses, but there is always a compromise to be made wherein critical systems can be made available with little effort and expense.” Rhoades added that while a lot of companies may have feared employees working from home would result in a lessening of productivity, he has found that not to be the case. “Employees are actually putting in more hours on average, dragging the laptop into bed postdinner to finish up more emails and tasks,” he said. “We’re also using more creativity than ever before, bouncing ideas off unrelated third-party spouses and children rather than coworkers who are often deemed ‘too close’ to the project. Better connections are being made from companies to customers, despite the physical distance.” n
The challenge with remote workers is giving them easy but secure access to everything they had access to at the office. I would encourage every employer to have all of their confidentiality disclosure paperwork much tighter than it was before. Neel S. Sus, CEO of Susco
PERSPECTIVES INSUR ANCE
Business Interrupted, But Not Insured What role should insurance play in the COVID-19 pandemic? Where do we go from here? Local insurance professionals weigh in. BY JAMES SEBASTIEN
THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT MANY BUSINESSES
have been interrupted due to COVID-19, but should businesses be entitled to collect on business interruption insurance? The insurance industry is saying no. One of the biggest reasons cited by insurance companies is that standard business interruption insurance used in property policies is typically limited to physical property damage from something like a natural disaster. “Most business interruption insurance is triggered by property damage and has a 72-hour waiting period time deductible,” said Blake J. Martinez, shareholder, commercial insurance and surety bonds at Ross and Yerger. “With COVID-19 not directly damaging property — and if it did, it theoretically could be sanitized or cleaned within the 72 hours — the majority of insurance companies have not been paying business interruption claims.” If they were forced to pay out on claims, companies argue the results could be financially devastating for the property and casualty insurance industry. “We were already in the midst of a hard market for the last year with premiums increasing since mid-2019,” said Martinez. “If the government were to mandate these claims be paid, you would likely see some type of government/taxpayer support as this would test the solvency of many insurers,” he said, adding that the impact on future premiums “would be substantial.” Is there insurance small businesses could have purchased specifically for something like a global pandemic? Martinez said the answer is probably not, at least not very easily.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
“Insurance that will cover the perils of and is set to receive a $141 million payout pandemics, virus, government action, from this year’s cancellation.” In an effort to assist companies who were etc., is typically acquired in a standalone enterprise actual net loss policy,” he said. in the process of going through renewals or If it is available “Unfortunately, this type of product is not were having difficulties making premium payments, the Louisiana Department of readily available for small businesses as in the future, the standard insurance markets are typi- Insurance issued an emergency order business cally subject to large minimum premiums suspending all policy cancellations from owners may and captive programs require large upfront March 12 to May 12. want to look capital costs. ” As of the beginning of May, there was for a different One exception, however, are those in the speculation that the United States governtype of business business ment might step in and establish an insurof big events. interruption “For businesses that make a large portion ance program similar to the Terrorism Risk insurance that is of their income from a couple of events, a Insurance Act, which was created following not specifically standalone event insurance is a very good the estimated $40 billion in insurance losses tied to a risk management tool and it is key to make — and consequently, the massive market property loss. sure that pandemics are a covered cause withdrawal from reinsurers — that followed of loss,” Martinez said. “Wimbledon, for the attacks of September 11, 2001. Signed into law on Nov. 26, 2002 as a Ryan Daul, producer at example, has purchased pandemic insurance Daul Insurance Agency. for the past 17 years at $2 million per year, government reinsurance backstop, according
to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) “created a temporary federal program that provides for a transparent system of shared public and private compensation for certain insured losses resulting from a certified act of terrorism. The Secretary of the Treasury administers the program with the assistance of the Federal Insurance Office.” The act has since been amended and reauthorized multiple times, with the latest being on December 20, 2019, when the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program was extended through December 31, 2027. “It’s the usual response when something isn’t available from private insurers, but it’s hard to say what it would look like,” said Ryan Daul, producer at Daul Insurance Agency. “Most policyholders have business income forms as part of their property policy — that is the most common way business income is written. If it is available in the future, business owners may want to look for a different type of business interruption insurance that is not specifically tied to a property loss.” Another policy that is predicted to become a popular topic in the next few months is communicable disease liability. “Any business that is open to the public has a risk of being the source of an outbreak,” said Martinez, “and if it can be proved that they were not following state, federal or CDC guidelines, those businesses are subject to liability.” As we all struggle through this pandemic, it’s important for business owners to take a good look at the areas in which they may have risk and try and mitigate against those risks. “Alternative risk financing through captives and other risks not directly tied to insurance are very important, and agents are on the front lines finding and developing best practice risk management procedures to help clients limit liability,” Martinez said. The current pandemic has proven that not all risks can be accounted for; however, it’s important for businesses to stay in contact with a broker, who will be apprised of changes in the insurance industry as they are made. “The best advice I can give is stay ready for change, that means even adjusting your insurance policies for the ways that your business will change,” said Kristin Swanson, vice president of operations at Swanson Insurance Agency. “No one could have anticipated this happening, not even the insurance companies, whose job it is to account for risk. We have had to adjust our business model and for how insurance will be sold post-COVID-19 and on.” n
Any business that is open to the public has a risk of being the source of an outbreak, and if it can be proved that they were not following state, federal, or CDC guidelines, those businesses are subject to liability. Blake J. Martinez, shareholder, commercial insurance and surety bonds at Ross and Yerger
It’s Time to Lead Business owners can’t afford to be complacent in this new marketplace. BY JENNIE M. CAMPBELL , CMP, CMM, PMP
WE HAVE ALL BEEN AFFECTED BY COVID-19.
For some, it has created an opportunity for growth, for others some sustainability, and for others it has created devastation. As business leaders, we are facing and being challenged with adversity, and the determining factor in whether we survive is how we handle that adversity. The best way to move forward is to shift to our analytical minds and decipher the information around us by simplifying the constant bombardment of materials. Solid decisions are made from the balance of qualitative (emotions) vs. quantitative (economics) information. CHANGES
Changes occur when circumstances (crises) happen that impact your life and business. There are two types of crises: event-driven and process-driven. Both disrupt business and life as usual; however, there is a distinct difference between the two. An event-driven crisis (manmade or natural) follows an event/ aftermath pattern like Hurricane Katrina or the attacks of 9/11, where we are overtaken by an event and then left to recover. Most importantly, we know the event is over and we move to recovery mode immediately. A process-driven crisis, on the other hand, follows a pattern of acceleration, apex and deceleration. There is a beginning, middle and end that needs to be tracked, monitored and evaluated for the most optimum results. The importance in understanding the type of crisis will determine our ability to make decisions, to navigate and to succeed in our future. COVID-19 is a crisis event. While I believe the economy will turn around for long-term growth in 12 to 18 months, it’s clear that the greatest challenge we all have — no matter what size of business we run — is to balance our reopening or re-entry decision making based on health/safety (qualitative) information, vs. economics (quantitative).
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
This is a time for spending with intent and purpose through all levels of your organization.
I do not believe the economy will rebound for sustainability this year, but rather will experience incremental growth based upon the viability of the success of re-entry, true measurements against the phases of re-entry, and the consistent building of trust with clients and employees. Entrepreneurs and businesses need to reposition themselves and their organiza-
tions by streamlining expenses and making decisions on the infrastructure of their organizations. This is a time for spending with intent and purpose through all levels of your organization. This can be achieved by recognizing the struggles that lie ahead and communicating openly and honestly with employees, clients, potential customers and stakeholders (bank or investors).
The greatest challenge lies in decisions regarding reopening, sustainability after reopening and a company’s position in the market after reopening. We cannot be paralyzed by fear of the unknown and fear of this disease, but rather we must balance the impact of managing and mitigating the disease against economic viability until a vaccine is available. We must reopen with set guidelines in place, measure the impact of the disease against each phase, and make responsible decisions accordingly. We must be socially responsible when it comes to both our employees and clients. But how do we do that? REOPENING What’s crucial here is creating and relaying the groundwork of trust. True fear paralyzes all. As businesses, we must decelerate fear through actions, understanding, guidance and solid decisions.
Jennie M. Campbell, CMP,CMM,PMP is the CEO/president of Stewart Steelwood Investments, dba The Stewart Lodges, an exclusive, private corporate retreat center in Loxley, Alabama, specializing in customized small meetings. She may be reached at (866) 580-4343.
Now is the time to maintain and set the groundwork for future growth. This requires a three-step process: STEP 1 Analyze your financials from the reopening period by performing a deep dive analysis of all income and expenses as related to short-term change, long-term change and risk (monthly, quarterly and yearly). STEP 2 Continue to watch the economy. STEP 3 Continue to monitor the status of the epidemic. SUSTAINABILITY AFTER RE-OPENING
POSITION YOUR BUSINESS FOR FUTURE GROWTH In my opinion, sustainable posi-
tioning in markets will not happen until a vaccine is available, which may be in 12 to 18 months. By then the public will begin to have trust again. By that time, the goal is to have earned both your employees’ and clients’ trust by the solid, data-driven decisions you’ve made. CHOICES
We have the choice of empowering ourselves with pertinent knowledge, both factual and opinion driven. As leaders, we must make hard decisions when things become challenging. We must remove ourselves from the noise and decide to lead our organizations going forward. Our understanding of basic business concepts is essential. We must do what is best for the organization, which will result in taking care of our people. Adversity and change create tenacity, strength and longevity. Adversity forces us to deal with situations we have chosen to ignore. Embracing and accepting change will help us fine tune our organizations to become more resilient for future endeavors. n
ONLY A FEW MONTHS IN AS JEFFERSON PARISH’S NEW PRESIDENT, CYNTHIA LEE SHENG IS RELYING ON HER PASSION FOR EFFICIENCY AND PARTNERSHIP TO LEAD THROUGH UNCHARTED WATERS.
W hen Cynthia Lee Sheng took office on Jan. 8, 2020, as president of Jefferson Parish, she became the first woman to ever hold the job, but not the first member of her family to step into politics. The only child of the late Harry Lee — who served as sheriff of Jefferson Parish from 1979 to 2007 — Sheng started honing her work ethic at age 12, when she began working at her family’s restaurant, House of Lee, in Metairie. Unlike her father, a spontaneous, jocular and occasionally combative man with a larger-than-life reputation, Lee Sheng presents herself as a cool, numbers-driven leader, more comfortable with metrics and process than with making speeches and politicking. Harry Lee entered politics from a law background, but his daughter traces her interest in public service to a class she took as an undergraduate at Loyola By University: Social Issues in Drew Broach Administration 450. Portraits by “It was about federal reguRomero & lation, understanding why Romero we have to regulate society.
You’d read about a baby food case that District seat that year and, in 2015, the people got sick on, or you’d read the book Division B parish-wide seat. about the meat industry [“The Jungle” Last year, with Jefferson Parish President by Upton Sinclair]. It was all these cases Mike Yenni politically damaged and not of how and when do you need to regulate seeking re-election, she ran to succeed the public sector and the private sector him. She defeated former Jefferson Parish and the intersection. What amount of President John Young and another candiregulation? It was just fascinating to me. date for the administrative job that she “Up until then I was going to get a said she always preferred over legislative master’s in business administration. I duties, even if it carries less authority remember leaving a class one day with than that of the mayor of New Orleans. the thought that I wanted to go into Among her first actions as president government now. I went to my profes- was to throw out the administration’s sors, and said, ‘I love this.’ And one of organization chart and create her own. my professors said, “Yeah, that would be Her chart features service clusters and public administration.” less of a hierarchy, a move intended to Lee Sheng continued her education set the stage for progress. with a graduate degree from George Then COVID-19 arrived in Louisiana. Washington University and went to “It’s like hurricane time, where there’s work for Immigration and Naturalization no other discussions going on,” she said Services, eventually overseeing natural- in an interview with Biz New Orleans ization duties for a five-state area. in March. “I became very good at understanding how to make it more efficient, at getting You’re the first female Jefferson Parish more daily numbers from reorganizing president. Is that a big deal? things,” she said. “That whole kind of Well, for me, I always would say, “I’m the logistics side.” same person I always was.” But when I By now married, the mother of a young was on the campaign trail, I would see son and wanting another child, yet travthe reaction other people had — even eling a lot for work, Lee Sheng decided to from men. You would think women change careers. She took enough classes would say, “Oh, you’re going to be the at the University of New Orleans to sit first female,” but it was equally just as for the CPA test, passed it and went many men. I certainly could see what a to work for what is now the LaPorte milestone it was, to realize the imporaccounting firm, specializing in litigation tance of it through other people’s eyes services and forensic investigations. more than my own eyes. “Sometimes it might be a company that had an employee steal from them, or they What initiatives have you put in place? would bring us boxes and boxes and say, ‘Something’s not right with our receiv- I think every leader has to have an organization that makes sense to them, ables, but we can’t figure it out,’” she said and the organization chart before never of her early work. When her father was diagnosed with really made sense to me. So, we redid it. leukemia in 2007, Lee Sheng began step- We cleared my table, and I had [execuping gingerly into the public spotlight, tive assistant] Michelle [Forsythe] write representing her family before organiza- every department on an index card, and I sat and just looked at each card and said, tions that wanted to honor Harry Lee. Then one day, while watching a TV “You know, does this department serve our constituents, or does this news report about a corrupt Louisiana politician, her husband, Stewart Sheng, department serve us?” turned to her and said, “You really need to run for public office. You’d be good at it.” What does it say about you Within a week, three other acquaintances that your first big initiative was not, “We’re going to independently told her the same thing. “That was the first time that it actually hit spend a half a billion dollars So many people I can’t pick in my head, like it’s a possibility,” she said. fixing the roads or overjust one, but I really admire Lee Sheng decided to enroll in Loyola’s hauling drainage or doing people who give in a big Institute of Politics, but when Jennifer some public-facing thing,” way, whether monetarily or through effort, and don’t want Sneed abruptly resigned from the Parish but instead is an internal to be recognized or known. Council in 2008, she quit attending and shakeup of job functions started campaigning. She won the 5th and organization?
WHOM DO YOU LOOK UP TO?
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
For us to perform at our best, you have to look at it from the inside first. If we’re going to do anything well, it’s about setting up a team that makes sense. I’m going to meet with every single cluster once a month. My job is to take this to the next level, whatever that looks like. So I check in with every cluster once a month, and I keep them on track for that. That’s how I see my job. They’re going to be held accountable to me. What are the great strengths of Jefferson Parish, particularly for potential businesses and existing businesses? You know, we have such an incredible public works department. I think that’s a great strength when it comes to where a business locates. We have incredible communication among all of us. We have a really strong business community that works very closely with government. And I think what you’ll see with this COVID-19, it’s an even stronger alliance. I am on the phone all the time with our major healthcare providers. I’m on the phone with Cade Brumley [superintendent of Jefferson public schools] multiple times a day. I’m on the phone with [President] Todd Murphy of the Jefferson Chamber, [Executive Director] Tim Coulon with the Jefferson Business Council, JEDCO, all the time. So, in kind of a strange way, this is solidifying relationships even stronger. And I just feel something better is going to come. What that is, I don’t know yet. What’s another strength of Jefferson Parish? We’ve got great rail, and we’ve got a great port that’s all interconnected. It’s got six Class I railroads. The Mississippi River is such an asset for us. So, the interconnectivity with the airport to our port to our railroads, infrastructure-wise, that’s huge. And our water resources are huge for us, the fact that we have access to those things. What are the parish’s big weaknesses? The big weakness in our parish is the aging infrastructure for the water and sewer systems. We also have an aging population; that’s a particular concern to me with this virus. We need more industry here to keep our young families here. One of the issues that’s really big for us is housing. We have an aging infrastruc-
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
ture of housing and that doesn’t easily attract a young family when you have an expensive neighborhood but a 40-yearold house with low ceilings and not open kitchens and open dining rooms. A lot of our housing is like that. What are you doing about it? Terrytown is a great pilot project for us. It’s so close to Orleans Parish, so close to Oakwood [Center shopping mall] and there are incredible, incredible housing options there — good bones. We hired Tulane to do an architectural study of what’s there. We want to find a renovation, and we want to have an empty lot and build a new house. We’ve been working with the Home Builders Association, with JEDCO. We did a blue-ribbon committee, and then the Home Builders Association, through its nonprofit, just purchased a property. We want to light the spark to get the private sector interested in flipping houses in that area. We’re going to buy a lot and build a house, and we’ll sell it on the market and then, hopefully, replenish the fund and try to do it again, just to try to show a template of “look what can be done here.” What are you doing about the other weaknesses? We’re going to look at our sewerage. We’re trying to [add] backup generators, and we need to upgrade our water system altogether and get to where we have those meters that are kind of automatic readers. We also need more industry to attract and keep families who are of working age. We’re always looking at our targeted industries: water transportation, food, health care, IT [and environmental management]. These are all sectors that we think we in Jefferson Parish are positioned to be strategic about and competitive. If I’m a business person in the community or I’m a business person elsewhere who’s thinking about relocating, what are some things that you, the government, can do to attract me, and make me say, “Wow, that’s the place to go”? We’re limited by our land capacity, right? You go to Texas, and they can just keep building out. We have land on the West Bank that’s open — the Fairfield area, the
whole Churchill area. That is really the only available open land. I think if we look at the zoning, the game-changer is going to be Elmwood [Center, a shopping area], the live-workplay that they’re looking to do. There are a lot of industrial uses behind Elmwood. If we can expand that live-work-play and it’s really successful, the industrial uses can flip right over to the other side of the river and be strong for us over there. We can make sure the zoning matches. Testing is such a big focus as we move forward with COVID-19. What has that looked like in Jefferson Parish? Louisiana was one of four states approved for a federal pilot drive-through testing. New Orleans got two sites, and we got one site [at the John A. Alario Sr. Event Center]. We’re not in the healthcare business, so we’re having to figure out how to stand up a site to do health care. I wanted full capacity. I’m allowed to do 250 [tests per day]. We could do 1,000 a day if they let us, but the limit on the through-put is the testing facility to be able to test the swabs we give them. We understand that widespread testing is crucial during this pandemic and key to moving our community forward. We continue to offer free COVID-19 testing every day at the Alario Center. We also stood up some community testing sites around the parish. We were thrilled to partner with LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center to conduct mobile testing for COVID-19 at our Marrero Community Center. The mobile campaign was developed to bring walk-up testing to neighborhoods that have been heavily affected by COVID-19, with the goal of identifying early cases. We tested 1,000 people in just three days at this site. We were also so grateful to partner with Ochsner Health, the City of Gretna and the City of Kenner on standing up more walk-up test sites. We hosted a walk-up site at the Regular Baptist Church in Gretna on May 7 and at the Kenner Library on May 8. What things have you done to bring business back? [For restaurants and bars], we lifted all the regulations for signs [announcing businesses were open]. We said, “Get
those plastic board signs, put them up all over the neutral ground.” I called in my property maintenance and zoning director and said, “Do not issue any enforcement measure; let a restaurant put up extra signage on their building.” I have learned that My administration, along with the it is the tough times Jefferson Parish Council, has also in life that make you worked closely with the Jefferson Parish stronger and give Economic Development Commission to you your character. release the Jefferson Back to Business Whenever I am able Plan. This comprehensive strategy — to speak with young people I always try developed in concert with medical leaders to reinforce that and an industry task force — will enable message. Jefferson Parish to reopen the economy in a way that is thoughtful, careful and rooted in public health to ensure the safety of residents and employees. We know this has been a difficult time for our business community and for the livelihoods of many of our residents. My administration and the Jefferson Parish Council continue to work daily to meet the needs of the community. We have hosted dozens of free mask giveaways — thanks in large part to a generous donation of cloth masks from Hanes Co. Our council has also worked closely with Second Harvest and Jefferson Council on Aging to distribute food to those in need throughout Jefferson Parish. Government has a reputation of being slow. We don’t have a competitor, so it can be slow, right? Nobody’s going to come put us out of business. But that’s no excuse. I want us to be excellent. I want people to be impressed. I asked our directors, I said, “You might not be able to figure out an answer in 24 hours, but can you get back to someone in 24 hours?” Like in the restaurant industry: It’s a crazy Saturday night. It’s packed. You go in, and you see everybody walking around. But if the hostess comes up to you and acknowledges you and says, “I’ll be with you in a minute,” you feel like you’re taken care of. You understand, and it buys the restaurant some time. When my dad was sick, he It is hurricane-style with was telling me stories about us, in terms of the speed at his life. He mentioned that his which we’re having to move. dad sat him down when he was But everybody’s still here younger and told him to never in the community, whereas miss any opportunities that life in a hurricane everybody provides you. Whenever I have leaves. So who knows a decision to make, I always think of that conversation. what’s next? n
BIGGEST LIFE LESSON LEARNED?
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED?
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
BUS INE SS E S DI S CUSS TH EIR ROAD TO RECOV E R Y
UNPR ECEDENTED TI M ES CAL L FOR UNPR ECEDENTED M EASUR ES. As our city, our state and the world
adjust to ever-shifting standards of normalcy, businesses are finding innovative ways to adapt and position their teams for continued success. While the road to recovery may be paved with uncertainties and challenges unique to each industry, one thing is certain: New Orleans is no stranger to resiliency, and our professional community has all the expertise, prowess and determination needed to emerge stronger and more prosperous than ever. In this exclusive section, Biz New Orleans asked business leaders about their tactics for readjusting, working remotely and staying focused on their corporate missions during the historic COVID-19 pandemic.
A Clear er Path
B I Z F O R W A R D : T H E R OA D TO R E COV E R Y
Litigating at a Distance In unprecedented times, adaptation and collaboration are key
SI NCE 1 9 8 9 , CHEHAR DY SHER M AN W I L L I AM S,
L.L.P., has served the Greater New Orleans region with integrity, professionalism and experience. The firm’s attorneys provide superior legal consultation in a variety of practice areas, ranging from Business & Corporate Law to Healthcare Law, Personal Injury to Estate Planning, and all types of Litigation. The attorneys of Chehardy Sherman Williams Law Firm strongly believe in the community and choose to give back by serving in charitable groups and educational institutions, on various councils and as regional leaders. They believe that giving back provides opportunities to become even more aware of the area’s assets and growth, effectively enriching their lives and providing needed services, assistance and encouragement to others. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? Having litigators like James Williams, George Recile and Fred Herman as part of our litigation team has given Chehardy Sherman Williams national recognition as a top-tier litigation law firm. However, a significant number of our 58 attorneys practice non-litigation, “transactional law.” In the early stages of the pandemic, it became apparent that businesses would have numerous issues with government regulations and stay-at-home orders and the different types of government relief programs, including the CARES Act and various SBA loan programs. Therefore, we immediately created teams to focus on the issues facing our business clients.
Our attorneys have done their best to become experts in the ways the stay-at-home orders and PPP loans affect businesses. We have been proactively communicating with our business clients, keeping them up to date on a myriad of COVID-19 related issues through regular email newsletters. A large percentage of our business clients are healthcare providers and members of the tourism industry. Our attorneys had to become quickly educated regarding COVID-19 issues in those sectors. Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ ve embraced? The Greater Metropolitan New Orleans Area is blessed with many excellent law firms. Recognizing this, Chehardy Sherman Williams has tried to distinguish itself by providing superior client service. The foundation of our client service during this unprecedented time was our willingness to meet with clients anytime and anywhere. We pride ourselves on being available 24/7 and offering to go to our clients rather than have them come to our office. We have always believed so strongly in face-to-face meetings, but during this time, we have learned to embrace web meetings and video conferencing. The pandemic has taught us that remote meetings utilizing the web and video conferencing can be equally effective, when necessary. Do you anticipate your business w ill change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how ? Chehardy Sherman Williams believes that even as our community opens back up, COVID-19 issues will continue to affect our clients for a prolonged period of time. We believe that many clients will want to continue utilizing remote meetings as opposed to face-to-face, whenever remote meetings will be as effective, because they are perceived as safer, convenient and more economical. Internally, we are considering leasing additional space to enhance social distancing by our clients, attorneys and staff. Most attorneys I know believed, as did I, that the practice of law could not be accomplished remotely. The pandemic has taught us that while face-to-face interaction is still critical, there are many instances where remote interaction is just as effective, and if that is the only way to serve our clients, we will embrace it.
FROM LEFT: JAMES M. WILLIAMS, LAWRENCE E. CHEHARDY AND DAVID R. SHERMAN
We pride ourselves on being available 24/7.
DAVID R. SHERMAN Partner
CHEHARDY SHERMAN WILLIAMS, L.L.P. 1 GALLERIA BLVD., SUITE 1100 • METAIRIE, LA 70001 • (504) 833-5600 • CHEHARDY.COM
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DMG Design+Build Puts the Customer First No matter the circumstances, the company prioritizes innovation and relationships
“ TH E CUSTOM ER ’ S CONTR A CTOR ” I S A L A BEL
DMG Design+Build has worked hard to earn. Ryan McCroskey, the company’s founder, saw a need for what he describes as a single place where a team of professionals can take a client’s vision from conception to completion under one roof in the Greater New Orleans area. DMG Design+Build has been an award-winning company year after year. In 2019 alone, the team garnered several notable honors and distinctions, including: placement in the Remodeling 550 and Qualified Remodeler Top 500, as well as being named General Contractor Magazine’s #1 pick for kitchen remodeling and an Inc 5000 fastestgrowing company. DMG has received two prestigious Chrysalis awards, and Ryan McCroskey has been recognized in PRO Remodelers’ 40 under 40. Even though 2020 is off to a rocky start for businesses worldwide, this team continues to push forward with new and exciting ideas to embrace the social and economic changes. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? We are launching a new division of DMG Design+Build called 11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs. This new division is proving to be a hit amongst first-time home buyers and investors alike, but with people watching their money more closely during COVID-19, we want them to take advantage of this opportunity to achieve their goals. DMG’s 11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs benefits the clients who want to build a home that fits their family and lifestyle while saving time
and money. We will have 11 plans for clients to choose from. It also allows those same clients to focus their attention and budget on customizing their chosen plan by working with our Designer to hand-pick the selections, materials, and finishes. Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ ve embraced? One of the tools we use to accomplish successful communication is with our cloud-based Client Portal. The Client Portal is utilized throughout the entire project. This form of communication provides transparency between the client and DMG Design+Build with milestone logs during development of the project and daily logs once production is underway. The convenience of monitoring your vision come to life every step of the way could not be simpler, with 24/7 online access. Our Client Portal has allowed us to provide updates and communicate with our clients while social distancing. Do you anticipate your business w ill change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how ? We are known for custom design, home construction and remodeling but we expect to see a continued move with our 11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs whereby we may add more semicustom options. Our 11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs allow a client to choose a plan that meets their expectations from our library of designs. As the home builder, we work with our client to customize the home’s selections, materials, and finishes. Our 11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs offer clients the best of both worlds. They are able to achieve the vision for their new home without the timely investment to fully customize it. Since you are not beginning from scratch, there is both time and money saved. DMG’s core values remain the same: Through communication, build not just quality projects but quality relationships; Achieve excellence through teamwork; Honesty and accountability. We believe this new division will prove to be a much-needed benefit to our community. At the end of the day, the goal is to build the home you have always envisioned for you and your family. The home where holidays are celebrated with your family. The home where memories will continue for generations to come. The home where every detail is uniquely you.
11 Semi-Custom Value Home Designs is proving to be a hit amongst first-time home buyers and investors alike
RYAN MCCROSKEY, CEO
DMG DESIGN+BUILD 2345 METAIRIE RD. • METAIRIE, LA 70001 • (504) 275-6664 • DMGNOLA.COM
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A Polish is Worth a Thousand Words For Marion AlejosPuente, inspiration knows no borders
NE W O R L E A NS BA S E D A ND L AT I NA - O W NE D,
Passport Polish was born from founder and owner Marion Alejos-Puente’s love for both travel and nail polish. Each handmade product is inspired by a different country, and AlejosPuente determines the exact colors and shades by identifying a unique aspect of the polish’s namesake: everything from flags and national flowers to local agriculture have been represented in her extensive line. She’s constantly inspired by new cultures, cuisines and experiences and has traveled to 13 countries on her quest to find her next source of inspiration. Passport Polish is certified by Leaping Bunny cruelty-free standards, as Alejos-Puente carefully creates her ten-free, vegan polishes without formaldehyde, toluene, camphor or other harmful materials. As her business grows, she’s passionate about remaining environmentally and socially conscious, which led her to create a small business grant at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s all part of an effort, she says, to keep our communities vibrant. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? When the news of the state shutdowns began, I thought my business was over with. I sell handmade nail polish. Who is going to want that during a crisis? However, with nail salons being shut down, my business began to thrive. I recently started to offer press on nails, and those took off immediately! I then shifted my strategy to offer nail kits with easy-to-follow
instructions for sizing and application so that people could do their own nails at home. It is a form of self-care and a tiny piece of normalcy for my customers during these uncertain times. Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ ve embraced? A major lesson I have learned throughout this has been that you should always be ready to change your strategy at the drop of a hat. My initial plans for Spring 2020 were to expand to a full range cosmetic brand offering a wide variety of products. These last two months, I instead have spent most of my time making press on nails more than anything, and I have really enjoyed it! I know each set is going to bring some comfort to the customer it is being made for. A product that didn’t even account for much of my sales before has become a brand new baby that I have enjoyed watching grow. As far as new technology, I have done one-on-one Zoom tutorials with customers to teach them about nail care and give tips on making their nails last. I will also admit that I joined Tik Tok (like every other 30-something year old) to connect to a bigger audience (the kids are hilarious, too!) What has been your ex perience w ith the change to remote working? Passport Polish started in my parent’s dining room, so I was familiar with working from home; however, meetings with my vendors and customers are now all on Zoom. Product photoshoots are also home based now. I do a series of backyard photoshoots to display current items for sale, and I post more videos of myself on social media announcing any updates. I usually like to display my work and not myself, so having more of an online presence has been a major shift, but I am happy to discuss my company! Do you anticipate your business w ill change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how ? I do expect my business to shift once nail salons open back up. I will go back to B2B sales with nail salons and then expand my cosmetic line. My hope is the customers I gained during this time will stick with us to see the new products that we have to offer!
MARION ALEJOS-PUENTE, OWNER OF PASSPORT POLISH
...you should always be ready to change your strategy at the drop of a hat.
MARION ALEJOS-PUENTE Owner
PASSPORT POLISH CUSTOMERSERVICE@PASSPORTPOLISH.COM • INSTAGRAM @THEPASSPORTPOLISH • PASSPORTPOLISH.COM
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
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Maintaining Secure Connections In times of disaster, RentA-Nerd, Inc. stresses the importance of cyber security
DAR R IN PIOTR OWSKI FOUNDED R ENT-A-NER D, INC. in 1997, hoping to provide New Orleans with access to a network of knowledgeable and honest computer technicians. The business was born out of his one-bedroom apartment, but within a few years had grown to include a physical storefront and several employees. Even after Hurricane Katrina, Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. quickly resumed operations and helped residents restore their technological needs as they returned to the city. Thrice named Top Information Technology Company by New Orleans CityBusiness, the Nerds are no strangers to enduring and overcoming periods of crisis, and Piotrowski has a few essential tips for business leaders shifting operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? Initially, we stayed busy helping our clients transition to working remotely. We are now back to providing local businesses with all their technology needs. We have also spent this time focusing on self-improvement, doing everything from attending virtual classes and webinars to studying and taking tests for new certifications. We are fully staffed and eager to help other local businesses return to their full capacity as well. How have you maintained a sense of company culture? We continued with our weekly staff meetings, though now they are held remotely via Microsoft Teams. We take this opportunity to share our
“wins” for the week and then discuss any issues, make announcements and problem solve. I added a weekly catch up meeting on Friday afternoons, which are less focused on work. We talk about what we are cooking and any new (or resurrected) hobbies. In a way, sharing our personal lives has made us an even closer-knit group. What has been your ex perience w ith the change to remote working? As a technology company, we had an advantage, as we simply brought our laptops, monitors and desk phones home with us, and not much has changed in terms of how we do our work. Yes, we literally took the phones off of our desks—we use a VoIP (voice over IP) system, which has many useful features, like allowing us to replicate our office configuration remotely. Because technology is so important to all businesses, I want to stress the importance of protecting your data, both from disasters and cybercrime. Backup and recovery processes are vital, but business continuity — limiting downtime no matter the circumstances — can save businesses from expensive downtime in the event of a disaster. Rather than recovering data, data and access thereto is retained in near real-time. As for cybersecurity, hackers are more active than ever before since they know that people are tied to their computers and smart devices. It’s crucial to have the tools in place to offer protection from attacks, but it’s equally important to train your staff so they don’t open the door to cyber criminals. Your system is only as secure as your least proficient employee. Do you anticipate your business w ill change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how ? With more people working from home, there will be an increased need for cybersecurity in the home. Many residences are using consumer-grade firewalls which are not effective versus cyber threats. Also in the home, there are many devices with low security measures in place connected to the same network as your office computer such as TVs, lightbulbs, cameras, etc. Prior to COVID-19, there was already an awareness for better cybersecurity in a business. The home is now an extension of the office and will need to have the same protections in place.
DARRIN PIOTROWSKI, PRESIDENT
The home is now an extension of the office and will need to have the same protections in place.
RENT-A-NERD, INC. 2200 TULANE AVE #302 • NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119 • (504) 454-6373 • RENT-A-NERD.NET
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Meet Adversity with Action Change is inevitable. The decision is yours to not only survive, but to thrive
S O C I A L D I S TA N C I N G P R OTO CO L S H A V E
presented an unprecedented disruption to businesses worldwide, but for The Stewart Lodges and countless others, it’s meant operations have been at a complete stop. The company prides itself on granting businesses a refuge from their busy lives in a setting that earns top marks for rest, relaxation, connection and contemplation. They’re just as eager to open their doors as much as businesses are ready to check in — but before they do, President & CEO Jennie Campbell is set on doing things the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons. To do so, she’s using her years of hard-earned experience and wisdom to inform her every decision. Ar e ther e any lessons y ou hav e lear ned? Both as business owners and individuals, we are always faced with challenges and adversity. Over the last 30 years, I’ve overcome both personal and professional adversities that initially made me feel hopeless and afraid of the future. Inadvertently, each incident left me with the wisdom and the guidance on how to handle lifechanging decisions and situations. Right now, the best way to move forward is to shift to our analytical minds and simplify the information around us. This is a time for business owners to reposition themselves to streamline their expenses and make decisions on the infrastructure of their organizations. It’s a time for spending with intent and purpose. Most importantly, it’s a time for being honest with yourselves about any obstacles that lie ahead and communicating openly and
honestly with your employees, clients, potential customers and stakeholders. How hav e y ou maintained a sense of company cult ur e? Our company culture has always been built around a core of trust and integrity. Business is people, and people are business. At the end of the day, the two will always be linked. As a company, we have continued to invest in our people. Whether you’re a business leader or an employee facing adversity, you have the opportunity to rise to the top by having solid integrity. That means doing what you need to do and should do before what you want to do — and doing it when no one is watching. For our company, that means showing up for ourselves and each other, whether or not we’re together in one room. This has been a time for strengthening our relationships by working together. As a business leader, go the extra mile and give your services back to your employees and the community, especially in areas of need. Show appreciation on all levels. Show patience and kindness in conjunction with strong decisions and leadership. Do y ou ant icipate y our business w ill change in any w ay when the communit y opens back up? If so, how ? Information is power. In this unprecedented situation, it becomes crucial for business owners to constantly evaluate, analyze and act based on the information available in their respective areas. As we reopen, do we see a correlation between business activity and the amount of COVID-19 cases, and if so, is that relationship positive or negative? Depending on what the numbers tell us and how our communities are impacted, we have to be willing to pivot our strategies. Anticipate that business will change — but do we know how? We can decide right now, definitively, that we will make the most socially responsible decision for both our employees and our clients. We can’t be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. We can, however, balance the impact of managing and mitigating the disease against economic viability until a vaccine is developed, implemented and tested. Moving forward for us is about looking, learning and making responsible decisions accordingly.
JENNIE M. CAMPBELL, CMP, CMM, PMP PRESIDENT / CEO STEWART STEELWOOD INVESTMENTS, DBA “THE STEWART LODGES”
Right now, the best way to move forward is to shift to our analytical minds and simplify the information around us.
JENNIE CAMPBELL, CEO & President
STEWART LODGES AT STEELWOOD 32311 WATERVIEW DRIVE EAST • LOXLEY, AL. 36551 • (251) 602-1300 • STEWARTSTEELWOOD.COM 44
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See a Need, Make a Change United Way continues to focus on supporting vulnerable communities
UNI TED WAY OF SOUTHEAST LOUI SI ANA,
founded in 1924, is built upon a model to identify, assess and monitor the needs of our region. The nonprofit then funds programs, supports collaborations, convenes experts, advocates for change and fosters new and needed community services to address issues related to its mission, eradicating poverty. United Way works tirelessly to provide access to quality health and human services throughout its seven-parish service area and measures results to ensure an impactful and meaningful difference is made. As our communities adjust to life with COVID-19, that unwavering mission is more important than ever. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? COVID-19 has affected low-income households more than any. United Way’s mission is focused on eradicating poverty, so, in the immediate, we’ve increased our efforts to help families become more financially stable. The ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report, a study of financial hardship we began funding before the current situation even began, tells us one in two households were struggling to make ends meet pre-COVID-19, and those numbers are going up dramatically now. Hospitality workers represent a large portion of the demographic within ALICE population, so we immediately refocused our efforts to launch the Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund and raised over $2 million in a matter of weeks. We pivoted to offering emergency assistance to struggling hospitality workers through the fund, and we’re on track to help more than 4,200 hospitality workers with one-time $500 emergency crisis grants. The fund is just one example of how we didn’t pause for a
minute. In light of everything, it’s been gratifying to know how quickly we can play a significant role in helping the families who need it most. Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ ve embraced? When something of this scale and magnitude happens, we know ALICE households are already one check away from a crisis. This crisis reminded us our work is focused on the right issue, but we always have to be prepared to move immediately into relief, and ultimately, long-term recovery mode. We, like so many others, have jumped head first into collaboration through the Zoom universe. Our team switched into crisis response, which often requires a 24/7 work ethic, and looked for ways in which we could shift to continue to provide support to the community while following social distancing measures. For example, we rolled out a weekly financial education series through Zoom and Facebook live, developed innovative data storage procedures to help manage our child care provider assistance program, and transitioned our Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute to an entirely virtual footprint to continue to offer much-needed supports to summer camp providers. As we transition into long-term recovery, we have plans to introduce additional virtual resources to individuals and families to support their health and educational needs. Do you anticipate your business w ill change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how ? We’re an impact business that thrives on relationships: our staff spends a lot of time connecting personally with the campaigns they manage and partners we serve. That’s a big question mark for us now. People are craving those connections, but the rules and guidelines will be different. Fundraising, community impact work, and advocacy will change, and a lot of nonprofits like us will be thinking of more efficient and cost effective ways of doing things. We always have, but now in a different way. There are a ton of questions, but what we’re really focused on is staying on mission and on message. Regardless of what changes in the community, we are always ready to continue to generate an enormous amount of impact, virtually or otherwise, with each and every dollar we raise. The bottom line is; United Way is built for long-term recovery. We’ve been in existence for 95 years and will be around for 95 more years. The community can rest assured that our United Way is certainly up for the challenge of COVID-19 and is focused on what we can do to accelerate our recovery.
UWSELA PRESIDENT AND CEO, MICHAEL WILLIAMSON, PREPARES MEAL KITS FOR DELIVERY TO HOMEBOUND OLDER ADULTS AND INDIVIDUALS
The community can rest assured that our United Way is certainly up for the challenge of COVID-19 and is focused on what we can do to accelerate our recovery.
MICHAEL WILLIAMSON President and CEO
UNITED WAY OF SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA 2515 CANAL STREET • NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119 • (504) 822-5540 • UNITEDWAYSELA.ORG BIZNEWORLEANS.COM
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F rom seniors looking to continue living at home to those who are seeking a community to suit their medical and social needs, New Orleans-area businesses offer an abundance of options. These businesses run the gamut from in-home general care to facilities with complete around-the-clock medical staff and wellness centers, all with the aim of helping aging adults and their families live full, active lives. Discover some options for yourself or your loved ones from the following senior care specialists.
photos and other media to keep them engaged and connected. These features have become even more significant in light of COVID-19, as experts stress the importance of sustaining meaningful relationships when in-person visits are limited or restricted. Audubon Care Homes provides each resident the tools they need to stay safe, healthy and connected while in a high-quality, luxurious setting. For more information, visit the Audubon Care Homes website at auduboncarehomes.com.
a unique designation that provides a licensed nurse on site for 24 hours a day and higher than required staffing levels. Since 1996, the community has served the Gulf Coast and surrounding area with consistent standard-setting care with the best possible service. They are continuing to build out their offerings, most recently by opening up assisted living, skilled nursing and cognitive memory care for non-residents on a limited basis. To learn more, call 985-898-0515.
Audubon Care Homes Family-owned and operated, Audubon Care Homes is dedicated to creating a comfortable, home-like environment for seniors, with specialized efforts for residents in need of memory care. Their latest innovation is the iN2L touch screen computer system, which is programmed for activities, games, therapy, music, virtual museum tours, 1:1 intervention, staff education, and more. The system allows for residents to communicate with the world, family and friends through Skype and an online Family Portal, where they can share and access videos,
Christwood Christwood is known as the Northshoreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premier Life Care Community. Christwood residents enrich their lives as they discover new passions and take up hobbies while meeting new friends. Many residents continue their love of volunteering and work with service organizations both on and off campus. In independent living, residents enjoy a concierge lifestyle on the grounds of a 117-acre campus with convenient access to shopping, dining, entertainment and medical services. Their assisted living is a Level 4 Adult Residential Care Assisted Living provider,
Home Care Solutions Locally owned and operated, Home Care Solutions brings trusted, professional and highlypersonalized care right to your door. Their team of reliable and certified caregivers are matched with clients based on background, personality and needs, ensuring that each relationship is nurturing, supportive and built to last. Caregivers assist with everyday needs like light housekeeping, meal prep and medication reminders, as well assistance with bathing, dressing and personal care. Whether your loved one requires advanced care for managing
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Alzheimer’s and dementia, or whether they simply need a companion for socialization and leisure activities, Home Care Solutions takes pride in providing the most dignified and compassionate service possible. This private in-home company is also the only provider of Aging Life Care™ Management Services in the New Orleans metro area. In this capacity, Care Managers can assist with other elder care needs that may be especially helpful to outof-town family members or busy, in-town professionals. They can schedule and coordinate medical care, attend appointments, assist with household money management and can even refer families to elder law attorneys and other professionals. When difficult and often overwhelming circumstances arise, rest assured that your experienced Care Manager is there to help you navigate the complexities of medical, financial and longterm care. Their services are even available on an as-needed basis for clients who need professional assessments as required by long-term care insurance companies. From problem-solving and personal assistance to managing crisis situations and emergency services, Care Managers can be your eyes and ears when you can’t be there yourself. No matter the needs or circumstances, Home Care Solutions is committed to providing the peace of mind you need and the quality of care your loved ones deserve. For more information, call 504-828-0900 or email email@example.com. Home Instead Senior Care While communities practice social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19, the loneliness many seniors already feel can be amplified. Home Instead Senior Care in Metairie recognizes the effects long-term isolation can have on the senior community, including higher risk of heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. They recommend the following ideas to ensure loved ones stay connected and engaged during these difficult times: 1. Set a schedule. Regular check-ins can go a long way toward helping older relatives feel supported. 2. Video chat. Technology can’t replace in-person human interaction, but video chat platforms offer a user-friendly way to reach out. 3. Call. Sometimes picking up the phone is the best way to get the job done. 4. Embrace snail mail. Sending a letter or postcard is an easy way to remind someone you’re thinking of them. For more ideas on how to connect with older adults in your life, visit ReadytoCare.com or call Home Instead Senior Care at 504-455-4911.
Inspired Living Kenner Inspired Living Kenner offers a resort-style community designed to allow seniors to thrive regardless of care needs. The purpose-built community provides both assistance and empowerment to its residents, creating the ideal environment for a vibrant, happy lifestyle. Its features offer leisure and hospitality while providing care services for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living and beyond, from those who need “just a little” care to full, specialized help. Thanks to their popular rate-lock plan, seniors and their families can set a rate that works for them for Inspired Living Kenner’s services, from personalized care plans and management to personal care and select nursing services. They also offer specialized memory care services, bringing an in-depth understanding of the unique emotional and physical needs of each individual living with dementia. To learn more about Inspired Living Kenner’s services, call 504-313-6600 or visit inspiredlivingkenner.com. Notre Dame Health System Steeped in rich, Catholic-based tradition, Notre Dame Health System provides a continuum of healthcare services including home care, independent care, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, memory care, home health and hospice care. Community and home-based care is available in the Greater New Orleans area. Hospice services are offered in several areas of Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well the Mississippi Gulf region. Their spectrum of services allows them to tailor care for all. They pride themselves on employing the most talented and dedicated teams of healthcare professionals, administrative personnel, volunteers and support staff. Visit their website at notredamehealth.org to learn more. Patio Drugs The team at Patio Drugs is here to serve you through this challenging time. The pharmacy is taking extra precautions for the safety of their team members as well as the patients they serve. Their rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been increased to decrease risk and ensure cleanliness. Patio Drugs has been Joint Commission accredited for over 20 years, and their team members are trained and equipped on how to deal with infection control and emergency issues. Patio Drugs has offered free home prescription
delivery for 62 years, and that service continues and is more important than ever at this time. In addition, customers can take advantage of free curbside services. If you have any questions or concerns regarding services at Patio Drugs, or to have medications transferred and delivered to your home, contact one of their valued team members at 504-889-7070. The Blake Slated to open in the fall of 2020, The Blake is a resort-style senior living community. Their campus on Jefferson Highway in Harahan is still under construction, but once completed The Blake will offer seniors and their families a unique senior lifestyle option. Providing only the highest levels of technology, apartment design and recreation, The Blake will offer a full-service coffee shop, restaurant and lounge along with expansive courtyards, a media theater, a chapel, full-service salon and spa, outdoor fireside seating and an unmatched activity program. Their dining program is staffed by an executive chef and dedicated servers, providing residents with restaurantstyle meal options with three courses at every meal. Alongside their state-of-the-art hospitality services, The Blake offers a broad continuum of wellness and personal care, from 24-hour nurse staffing and housekeeping to transportation, on-site primary care health services, home health and outpatient rehabilitation facilities. Ville Ste. Marie Every senior’s needs are unique, so why should the care and services they receive all be the same? Nestled on a lush, green landscape just a short walk away from the Mississippi River, Ville Ste. Marie gives every resident the freedom to create their own custom care plan based on individual needs. This affordable community tailors its offerings to active, independent lifestyles as well as those requiring more specialized, assisted care, with multiple floor plans available so each resident can choose a living space that best suits their needs. A dedicated team of caregivers ensures that comfort and safety are the top priority, and they set the standard for assisted-living by empowering residents with their choice of activities and social engagements. No matter the need or circumstance, Ville Ste. Marie works hard to make every resident feel at home. To learn more about what Ville Ste. Marie has to offer you or your loved ones, visit villestemarie.com or call 504-834-3164.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
From The Lens SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA BUSINESS IN FULL COLOR
WORKSPACES WB Collective brings all-female coworking space to the Warehouse District
WHY DIDNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T I THINK OF THAT Celebrate your beloved pet
in true New Orleans fashion
ON THE JOB For those craving carbs, Breads On Oak
has you covered.
FROM THE LENS GRE AT WORKSPACES
Leading Women WB Collective brings all-female coworking space to the Warehouse District BY MELANIE WARNER SPENCER
HOUSED IN A RESTORED, CIRCA-1905
former cold storage facility, WB Collective is a coworking and event space in the Warehouse District designed for womenowned, -led and -founded businesses. The more than 7,500-square-foot space features exposed brick walls and other industrial design elements along with two coffee bars, two catering kitchens, a “huddle room,” large conference room and a 2,500-square-foot event space. Women’s Business Enterprise Council South and WB Collective CEO Phala Mire said she created a positive atmosphere via the warm and inviting space, pointing to the planning and design as key elements, plus the staff is “hyper-focused on making every guest feel welcome.” “Technology is ahead of the curve and our workspaces are designed with the entrepreneur in mind,” Mire said. “Although our
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The circa-1906 building that now houses WB Collective is owned by Mi Mi Montagnet Bankston of M2 Brokerage, a certified womenowned commercial and residential real estate brokerage firm. Sydney Anderson Realtors, another certified womenowned enterprise, handled property identification and acquisition.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY J.R. THOMASON COURTESY WB COLLECTIVE
“The biggest priority was identifying local, women-owned firms to execute the vision for New Orleans’ premiere co-working space for women,” said Mire. “Our stellar team of women-owned firms — architectural, interior design, construction and construction related — satisfied that goal. Second was to ensure the harmonious integration of a vibrant and contemporary design aesthetic with the classic architectural features of this 100-plus-year-old building. Both were accomplished with brilliant results.”
AT A GLANCE BUSINESS NAME
WB Collective LOCATION
401 St. Joseph Street, 2nd Floor DATE OF OPENING
Dec. 5, 2019 SIZE
Over 7,500 square feet DESIGN TEAM
Angela O’Byrne FAIA, president and principal in charge, Kris Lowry, interior designer, project manager and Karri Maggio, project architect from Perez, APC (Certified Women’s Business Enterprise Council South), as well as Angelica Rivera, CEO of Colmex Construction (Certified WBE) and Kris VanDierendonk, principal at KV Workspace (Certified WBE).
mission is to support women business owners and professionals, all are welcome.” Over the next year, Nashville and Birmingham locations are in the works, as are plans to open the New Orleans WB Collective as a venue for meetings, seminars and events. Mire said that prior to the COVID-19 crisis, her biggest challenge was scaling the WBC to meet the
demands of women entrepreneurs in the region. She said her goals have not shifted in the new landscape, and she remains committed to growing as a resource and “work home” for female entrepreneurs. “… There is inherent magic made when women get together,” Mire says. “The energy of the WBC speaks for itself!” n
NUMBER OF OFFICES/ WORKSPACES
10 enclosed offices (1-6 occupants per office), six open space reserved desks and 20 individual workspaces PERSON IN CHARGE
Phala Mire, CEO, WBEC South and WB Collective
FROM THE LENS WHY DIDN’ T I THINK OF THAT ?
Work of Heart Pet portrait artist Melissa Vandiver invites you to celebrate your beloved pet in true New Orleans fashion — dressed to impress. BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY
Pet painter Melissa Vandiver’s clients request everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, which is all part of the fun. “The owner of a cat approached me and just said, ‘I want you to paint my cat like he was part of the first moon landing,’ and that was it. Usually the conversation centers around the outfit or the look, but that guy wanted his cat to be part of a historical event.”
AT NO TIME IN RECENT HISTORY HAVE PEOPLE
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BIZ NEW ORLEANS
been spending more time with their pets than now. And what better way to commemorate the companionship our furry friends provide than with a commissioned portrait? Local painter Melissa Vandiver brings a unique sense of whimsy matched with artistic skill to the creation of one-of-a-kind pet portraits. From her home studio in the Irish Channel, Vandiver, who has lived in New Orleans since 2007, has worked as both a children’s book illustrator and pet artist for the past eight years. A self-proclaimed “dog person,” Vandiver’s pet portrait career started has kind of a happy accident. “Years ago, a friend did me a favor, and as a thank you, I painted her dog in a gown and pearls because I knew she’d love it. People kept seeing that painting and asking her about it, and so I started painting more and more people’s pets in costumes or specific settings,” she said. Vandiver’s collection stands out from many pet portraits because she includes cheeky portraits of cats and dogs in various costumes, from astronauts to Queen Victoria. Inspiration for each pet portrait is different, with client interaction and the personality of the pet themselves determining the direction of the painting. “The paintings are a collaboration between me and the client,” Vandiver said. “Sometimes people do not want any part of
the creative process and want me to come up with everything. In that case, I try to get a sense of the personality of the pet or the owner.” The painting process time varies depending on the pet, the complexity of the portrait and other details, but each portrait takes approximately 14 hours to complete. Vandiver said she is able to complete two to four each month, with the number spiking in the fall and Christmas season to 12 or more. Pricing depends on the size and number of animals painted and starts at $350 for one animal on an 11-inch-by-14inch canvas. Social media and word of mouth have been Vandiver’s main source of clients and referrals. Her sales are almost exclusively commissions. Client reactions are a big part of the payoff for Vandiver, and while she mostly paints dogs and cats, she said she’d love to expand her menagerie portfolio. “I don’t know who this client is, but I would love to do a big family portrait for someone who just has a bunch of different animals,” she said. “I’ve done a couple pigs, but other than that, only dogs and cats. I’d like to get some chickens and lizards and snakes and everything in the mix,” she said. n
BY THE NUMBERS Americans love their pets and are willing to put their money where their heart is.
amount of increase in spending on pets between 2013 and 2018
was spent on pets in the U.S. in 2018. Americans spent more money on their pets in 2018 than on: Fresh fruit and vegetables; Alcohol; Meat; Water; and Medicinal drugs. SOURCE: SURVEY BY MAGNIFYMONEY, A LENDING TREE COMPANY.
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BIZ NEW ORLEANS
FROM THE LENS ON THE JOB
The Bread Boom At-home baking was all the rage during lockdown, causing yeast to be as hard to find as toilet paper. But for those craving carbs, professional bakers, like those at Breads On Oak, have you covered. PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
DRIVEN BY A DESIRE TO BRING OLD WORLD-STYLE BAKING BACK TO NEW
Orleans, Sean O’Mahony and his wife, Chamain, opened Breads On Oak at 8640 Oak Street in Uptown in June of 2012. The artisan, 100% plant-based bakery and cafe quickly gained a following strong enough to support a second location, which opened this past January at 222 Carondelet Street. While the newest location had to close temporarily during the shutdown, Oak Street remained open seven days a week. “Initially we saw a huge drop in business,” said Sean O’Mahony, “but we’ve come back pretty strong. We’re still nowhere near our original numbers, but we’re pulling through.” BreadsOnOak.com. n