Biz New Orleans November 2020

Page 1




Christa Cotton CEO, New Orleans Beverage Group, makers of El Guapo Bitters



Dome Name Game: Who will it be? P. 16 The Truth about Family Business: Local expert separates fact from fiction P. 30

November VOLUME 07 ISSUE 02






FINANCE . . ....................... 22

Top advice for family-owned businesses right now


COVID-19 has devastated cruising but seems to have largely spared the rest of the maritime sector.

GREAT WORKSPACES.........................................................56


Opening a coworking space during a pandemic? Urban Properties did it. Here’s what they learned.

DINING........................... 12

With Tujague’s recent move, Mark Latter is ensuring the success of the family business. TOURISM. . ...................... 14

The new Andouille Trail seeks to draw visitors to Louisiana’s river parishes

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?. . .....................................60

How has life insurance changed during the pandemic? Is now a good time to buy?

The Dome has a lot to offer as it looks for a new name. ENTREPRENEUR.......... 18



After a devastating March, this family business flipped its business model and saw April sales skyrocket to 822% over the same month in 2019. Now, New Orleans Beverage Group is hoping to pay it forward and help their struggling restaurant partners survive.

The pandemic has changed everything about how we live and work, but what changes in the workplace are here to stay? Local professionals share their thoughts on what we can expect.

A Bitters Sweet Success Story

SPORTS .. ....................... 16

Looking for a business idea? Our water sector can’t keep up with demand.

In a world that gets more global by the day, TNOLA Languages has found a growing niche market.

INSURANCE................... 28

GUEST. . ........................... 30

A local business coach separates fact from fiction and offers advice to help things run smoother.

ON THE JOB..........................................................................64

Every week, Perrone & Sons makes about 250 gallons of their famous olive salad with the same recipe Bartholomew Perrone perfected in the 1920s.

Office of the Future

ON THE COVER Christa Cotton, CEO, New Orleans Beverage Group, makers of El Guapo Bitters Portraits by Jeffery Johnston



Mixing Business With Family IF THERE’S ONE THING THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC HAS DONE it’s remind us all of the importance of our loved ones to our happiness and overall mental health. Many of us, myself included, have been spending a lot more time around family since March — whether that’s through homeschooling or working from home — and we’re finding out that mixing business (and education) with family can have its challenges. For many businesses, however, this is not news. An incredible 90% of all businesses in the United States are family-run, including 35% of all Fortune 500 companies. Locally, New Orleans’ culinary scene, for example, includes no shortage of multigenerational family-run success stories, including all the Brennan family offerings, Antoine’s and Dooky Chase, to name just a few. But running a business with your loved ones isn’t easy. According to the Tulane Family Business Center, only 30% of family businesses survive long enough to be taken over by the second generation, and only 10% live to see a third generation. In this, our annual family business issue, we take a look at how this new global landscape is affecting local family-run businesses, starting with our cover story, a Q&A with Christa Cotton, CEO of New Orleans Beverage Group. If you like cocktails, you may be familiar with their El Guapo line of bitters and syrups. It may not be surprising that during the pandemic, sales have skyrocketed, but by how much is truly staggering. I bought a sample set of their bitters lately and used them to make my first real cocktail from home. I started simple with a lemon drop martini using El Guapo’s Lemon Drop bitters. I highly recommend — especially after a long day of work plus homeschool. Our dining expert, the incomparable Poppy Tooker, spoke this month with Mark Latter about Tujague’s recent move and the effect he hopes it will have on securing his family’s legacy. We also picked the brains of six local financial experts and asked them to share their No. 1 piece of advice for family businesses in the current climate. Finally, Matt Hahne with West Wind Coaching separates truth from fiction when it comes to family business and offers up a few tips for success. Whatever your business, I hope you are finding a way to adapt and even thrive in these challenging times. As always, if there’s any topic you’d like to see us take on, please send me us a note at

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Latter and Blum’s President and CEO Lacey Merrick Conway says the seller’s market for residential will likely last through 2020, but the full effects on the commercial side may not be felt until 2021 or later.

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Thanksgiving, I look at this year, like most of you, as one we would like to skip. However, if we did, we would have never been able to celebrate some special family events. I need to give thanks for many blessings God has graced us with, during this pandemic and the record-breaking hurricane season. We all know there has been a lot of distractions to pull us away form the normalcy that we all want to enjoy but reflecting on the many things that have happened this year makes me thankful in so many ways. This year, our family celebrated a third wedding with our daughter, Mallary, marrying Ryan in June. In September, we received great news that our daughter, Miranda, and her husband Paul are expecting in April 2021. Our daughter, Malayne, who lives in Virginia, welcomed her husband, Jake, back home in October from deployment and they are now preparing for Navy relocation to Corpus Christi, Texas, later this month. Happily, this brings them closer to New Orleans. In addition to all these wonderful life events, we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and socially distant family gatherings, along with Zoom calls, which are becoming fun family events. This year has made me even more aware of how important family is and the need to treasure every moment I have with those that surround me. When I have been down at my lowest during this time looking to the future with family has lifted my spirits. It is in those moments that I give thanks to God for the love of family in my life. Until we can celebrate together, I encourage you to be thankful for what you have and make the most of every day. Todd Matherne 8







DINING Mark Latter works to protect the

Tujague legacy while securing his own.

TOURISM New Andouille Trail aims to

boost visits to river parishes

SPORTS A Dome by Any Other Name: The

Superdome is valuable real estate.

ENTREPRENEUR Businesses in the water sector can’t keep up with demand.


A Legacy On The Move With Tujague’s recent move, Mark Latter is continuing to ensure the success of his family’s restaurant. BY POPPY TOOKER





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.

Soon after Claret’s debut, Mark was M A R K L AT T E R WA S J U S T 4 Y E A R S O L D when Tujague’s Restaurant became his approached to consider opening a fine second home and favorite playground. The dining restaurant in the same developbar’s shiny, brass foot rail became his balance ment. Fronting Magazine Street, The Bower beam, when he wasn’t peeking into pots in expands on the Latters’ love of fine, fresh the kitchen or sneaking down the street for flavors, something evident both on the plate beignets at Café du Monde. Eventually, his and in the glass. Sixty-five percent of the dad, Steven Latter, encouraged him to work menu focuses on vegetables grown specially in the kitchen, bus tables, whatever was at Sugar Roots Farms, complimented by needed at the moment. During Thanksgiving house-made pastas and small farm proteins. In 2019, constant issues with Tujague’s and Christmas, the busiest days of the year, Mark staffed the kitchen while his sister, ancient, decaying building combined with Shane, greeted guests on the second floor. It what Mark saw as unfeasible lease renewal terms, caused Tujague’s future to again was a true family affair. After college, Mark pursued a career in be in question. Rather than close, Mark sports, but after three seasons as the Saints’ courageously faced a move, the second in operations manager, he said the hospitality the 164-year-old establishment’s history. industry beckoned. First working as a (In 1914, Tujague’s moved to the corner of server at Bacco, and later as floor manager Madison and Decatur Street from its first at Redfish Grill, Mark returned to Tujague’s, location, three doors down.) The new Tujague’s is located three blocks where he began to learn the wine business. It was something that would become his closer to Canal at 429 Decatur Street. Mark said he sees the move as the only way to true passion. As much as he loved Tujague’s, however, ensure the survival of a New Orleans culiMark longed to be his own boss. He and his nary treasure. “Aside from my father’s legacy, the wife, Candace, began to plan a wine shop of their own. They had signed a lease on a Tujague’s name ties back to the Guichets, the Magazine Street storefront when his father Castets, even Madame Begue.” The most stalwart Tujague’s patron should passed away suddenly on February 18, 2013. feel at home in the new location thanks to “That changed everything,” said Mark. With Tujague’s future uncertain, he said trademark elements like Steven Latter’s he felt compelled to secure his father’s legacy prized collection of miniature liquor bottles and ensure his mother’s care so he doggedly and the bar’s beloved brass foot rail. The pursued financing until he was able to buy restaurant’s three floors encompass balcony out the family and make Tujague’s his own. and courtyard dining. Mark said he is eager Candace stepped in to help and found for the day when the restaurant can host herself at the helm of Bin 428, the wine happy hours, jazz brunches, wine dinners store named in a nod to their son Braden’s and weddings. “Tujague’s can now match the best of any birthday, April 28. The couple’s expansion continued in 2016, as the Latters became classic New Orleans restaurant,” he said. Perhaps most excited of all is Mark’s son, part of Freret Street’s revitalization with the opening of Bar Frances, a wine bistro Braden. Before closing the old restaurant last where 21st century flavors mingled with July, the Latters hosted a weekend of “last adventurous and obscure wines by the glass. suppers.” On the final evening, 8-year-old After being forced to close Bin 428 due to Braden could be found refilling water glasses lease and zoning issues, the Latters found a and delivering plates to tables of surprised home for their dream wine bar, becoming guests, further proof that in some families, the first tenants of Magazine Street’s hospitality is in the blood.n Framework complex. Custom-built to Mark’s design specifications, the new bar, Claret, brought together all the elements he had craved in previous projects. A huge center bar seats 24, while exterior walls roll up, joining the lush, live landscaping outdoors and the indoors. Small plates featuring house-made charcuterie and cheese compli- Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, ment a carefully curated wine and beer selec- “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and tion and seasonal craft cocktails. Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.




Sausage Celebration The new Andouille Trail seeks to draw visitors to Louisiana’s river parishes BY JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER




crisis.” That funny and true statement was made to me by Buddy Boe, executive director of Louisiana River Parishes Tourist Commission (RPTC) in a recent interview. Like many aspects of Louisiana culture, andouille — known for its smoky flavor and chunky interior texture — is derived from a mixture of traditions. It is a German sausage with a French name, crafted by generations of cooks in the river parishes. In September, the RPTC launched The Andouille Trail, a new culinary experience designed to showcase and celebrate andouille and the people who make it in Louisiana’s River Parishes. There are currently 34 stops or “links” on the trail where visitors can choose to eat andouille in restaurants, order andouille to ship home, take a cooking class with andouille as the star ingredient and even learn to make andouille themselves. “The Andouille Trail provides us with an opportunity to celebrate what makes Louisiana’s River Parishes so unique and why people come out here from around the world to experience our cuisine and our hospitality,” said Boe. “Now more than ever, our communities need something to look forward to and have a reason to celebrate. This initiative represents an opportunity to bring people together around our region’s favorite dish while supporting our small businesses through our industry’s recovery.” Boe said the trail had been in the planning stages since 2019. When the tourism economy was dramatically impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions, RPTC used that time to focus its efforts on launching the trail and working on other initiatives soon to come. Through the lens of New Orleans tourism, the River Parishes — St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist — are typically considered day-trip destinations for plantation visits and swamp tours. The Andouille Trail is meant to draw visitors to the River Parishes for longer than a day trip, guiding them through the three parishes to destinations on both sides of the Mississippi River, with current “links” from St. Rose to Convent, Louisiana. The helpful website encourages visitors to build an itinerary filled with locations classified as Buy It, Make It, Taste It, Eat It and Ship It. “Our desired outcome is to give people down the street and around the world another reason to visit Louisiana’s River Parishes,” said Boe. “Because of our area’s complicated history and the multiple

cultures that either came here or were brought here, our culinary traditions, one of them being andouille, have also added to the flavor profile of Louisiana cuisine. We wanted to make sure that our contributions to that Louisiana plate and buffet of food had its own asset that visitors could easily utilize and know where to go regardless of how they want to experience it.” To help market The Andouille Trail, the RPTC created logos and signage for the restaurants, coffee shops and andouille makers on the trail to incorporate into their own menus, websites and parking lots. The RPTC also launched a digital campaign within a three-hour drive market and has long-term plans for print campaigns in foodfocused publications and expanded digital advertising for chefs, cooks and even people searching online for the keyword “sausage.” They also created an Andouille Trail Passport. The culinarily adventurous can bring the passport with them to the “links” on the trail and collect stamps along with their experiences. After they go to five of the trail’s locations, they can mail in the passport and the corresponding receipts as proof of visits to the RPTC and in return, they’ll be sent a roux spoon marked with The Andouille Trail logo. The Andouille Trail is a permanent project that will expand over time. Boe said it is meant to help build the tourism infrastructure of the River Parishes and works in tandem with the other offerings in the region. The River Parishes website currently has 11 itineraries for visitors, including Nautical by Nature, Rhythms of the Region, Historic Women of the River Parishes and History of the Enslaved. Each itinerary is multiday, encouraging visitors to stay in local hotels and enjoy andouille-filled meals between other activities. To learn more about The Andouille Trail visit To find the Louisiana River Parishes itineraries visit n


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



Superdome Name Game The Dome has a lot to offer as it looks for a new name. BY CHRIS PRICE





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

are only a handful of other stadiums in the such a prestigious name was a great ride for world that host events of this stature, and the the “Old Gold Lady,” but the 10-year naming Superdome is one. A new corporate sponsor rights deal, worth between $50 million and for the Dome will enjoy being included in $60 million over the life of the contract, that coverage of the Final Four in 2022, the Super Mercedes-Benz USA has had with the New Bowl in 2024, and potentially additional Orleans Saints and the state of Louisiana is championship-level events. Matt Webb, vice president of corporate coming to an end. Last month, the Saints selected Oak View partnerships for the Saints, who is leading Group (OVG) — a Los Angeles-based global negotiations for the team told Forbes, “The advisory, development and investment fact that the Superdome is in New Orleans company for the sports and live entertain- plays a very positive role for any internament industries — to secure naming rights tional prospects. The respect and affinity to the stadium before the start of the 2021 New Orleans has on the international stage NFL season. Dan Griffis, president of OVG as well as the major national and internaGlobal Partnerships, believes a potential tional interest the Superdome gets due to the 10-year deal could be worth $10 million events we host are pivotal when discussing with an international company.” annually. As the Superdome’s main tenant, the Mercedes-Benz acquired the dome’s naming rights in 2011. It was the first time Saints also serve as a major draw. There are the stadium, opened in 1975, took on a 32 NFL teams, but only a limited number of corporate name. The German automobile stadiums – 30 – as the league’s two teams in manufacturer, known for cutting-edge New York and Los Angeles share fields in design and engineering, is also the name- their respective cities. As one of the NFL’s sake of the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz winningest teams since 2006, the Saints Stadium, opened in 2017, but it decided not and the Superdome have been featured in internationally televised prime time games – to renew its deal with the Saints. Naysayers argue a new deal will be including five scheduled for the 2020 season difficult because New Orleans is too small alone – multiple times during the regular a media market, Louisiana has only two season and playoffs. According to Meltwater stats provided by Fortune 500 companies (CenturyLink and Entergy, headquartered in the state), and the Saints, NFL stadiums receive an average the region has a small corporate base. But of 29,270 media mentions per season, while there are a number of major enticements the the Superdome receives an average of 40,064 building has for any organization looking to mentions. Even better, the Superdome has a 78% positive favorability rating, which is get into the naming rights game. While the Superdome is 45 years old, 51% higher than the average NFL stadium. In addition, the current $450 million multiple multimillion-dollar renovations post-Hurricane Katrina have kept the arena renovations to the stadium are the centerpiece of the deal the team and the state have modern and palatial. Forbes had high praise for the Dome in place to keep the Saints in the Superdome last month, stating “If there were a Mount until 2035. “The Superdome is one of the top leading Rushmore of professional sporting cathedrals, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in economic engines in our state and region,” the heart of downtown New Orleans would said Greg Bensel, senior vice president of be on it…. With each passing event, the communications for the Saints and Pelicans. Superdome adds to its star power, which “As we enter the first phase of this new renorivals that of other iconic venues like vation, the building has proven capable Madison Square Garden and Wembley over the last few decades to adapt and easily re-engineer itself to keep up, and in most Stadium.” The praise is well deser ved. The cases lead, in the landscape of new, high-tech Superdome is regularly the host venue for stadiums that have come online. And if you the NFL Super Bowl, the College Football couple that with the NFL-leading television Playoffs and National Championship Game, ratings that the Saints deliver, then you can and the NCAA Final Four: it annually see real tangible and quantifiable return on hosts the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Bowl investment for a potential naming rights and non-sporting events including Essence partner.” n Fest, numerous concerts and special events. Experts at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation say the international media coverage leading up to those major events is worth millions in advertising dollars. There THE MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME — HAVING




Your Next Entrepreneurial Opportunity Could Be All Wet Businesses in our water sector can’t keep up with demand. BY KEITH TWITCHELL




recently released a “net zero carbon emissions” proclamation for the state. At the individual property level, Dandridge noted that “green infrastructure increases property values. It prevents properties from flooding, which helps drive down insurance costs.” As such, the demand for water management is increasing among homeowners. According to Dandridge, the more established businesses in the sector are increasingly focused on the larger government contracts, leaving plenty of room for newer and smaller businesses. While she acknowledged that the field is presently struggling with a bit of a “turf war” mentality as part of its growing pains, her take is that growth will lead to more resiliency for the city and more opportunity for the sector, regionally and even nationally. Indeed, an underlying premise of the Urban Stormwater Plan is the notion that New Orleans can become “America’s Water City.” There is no small irony in the fact that a century ago, the Dutch came here to learn about water management, while today we look to their latest innovations. Entrepreneurial incubators like Propeller recognize this opportunity and host challenges each year for new ideas, inventions and tactics in water management. In essence, New Orleans is the perfect laboratory for experimenting with green infrastructure innovations, and each new approach — and new business — helps build the overall sector. In turn, more businesses providing water management services will benefit the community as a whole. “If we have more people in the market doing this work it can be done at a more affordable rate,” said Dandridge. “Green infrastructure then becomes affordable for more businesses and homeowners, which creates more overall benefits.” With wide open opportunities and a clear entry path, the water sector truly (and still) does offer opportunity in every drop. n


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.


of “Water, Water Everywhere ­— and Opportunity in Every Drop.” In the New Orleans region today, the water sector opportunities are greater than ever. I first got involved with water management as a member of the advisory board for the Greater New Orleans Urban Stormwater Plan. While working on the plan, I traveled to the Netherlands in 2012 to observe firsthand the innovative approaches our Dutch colleagues were telling us about. One of my biggest takeaways from that trip was that I had never seen a problem with so much opportunity embedded in its solutions. That view is nourished and expanded today by Jessica Dandridge, executive director of the Water Collaborative. “If you have that entrepreneurial spirit, look into the water sector,” Dandridge said. “There are not enough businesses in the sector right now. Small businesses can’t keep up with the work.” According to Dandridge, some water management and green infrastructure firms are booked a full year out. Growth in this sector begins with the recent expansion of workforce training programs relating to green infrastructure. This includes not just installation but maintenance, as many water management installations require ongoing upkeep. Delgado Community College, the Louisiana Green Corps and Groundworks are just three of the entities providing such training. Dandridge said that someone looking to seize a water sector business opportunity who is lacking knowledge in the field could complete one of the training programs and come out with enough expertise to launch a startup business. Opportunities within the sector cover a broad range of possibilities, including landscaping (installation and maintenance of rain gardens, etc.), construction (permeable paving, green walls and roofs), architecture, urban planning and civil engineering, among others. The work ranges from large, governmental projects to private sector jobs large and small, to homeowners looking to put in rain barrels, small water gardens, and/or remove and replace concrete with permeable paving. Mandates for increased use of water management practices are increasing; city zoning and building codes have numerous such requirements, and Gov. Edwards



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FINANCE Top advice for family-owned

businesses right now

MARITIME+PORTS The good news and bad news from the industry

INSURANCE How has life insurance changed during the pandemic? Is now a good time to buy?

GUEST The truth about family-owned




What is your top advice for family-owned businesses right now?

MITCHELL R. BORDELON, CFA, CFP CRESCENT STERLING PRIVATE WEALTH MANAGEMENT Given the financial uncertainty of 2020 thus far, there is no guarantee the rest of the year will improve. For a lot of familyowned businesses, the majority of their wealth is in the business, which is a major risk, so our advice has been focused on reducing exposure to this risk. First, we have been recommending that these owners increase their cash reserves, if possible. Second, we have been recommending that family business owners use their outside investments as a way to diversify and attempt to reduce the risk exposure they face via their business.







COVID-19 has created unique oversight challenges in business. We no longer have the same access to accountability practices as usual. Most work is self-regulated, and the motivation stems from a sense of discipline. While this can create obstacles in traditional businesses, it is also where ownership thrives. A family business is a vehicle for a family’s success; if grown it can help future generations expand upon the path you created. That’s the buy-in and because the buy-in is shared by multiple participants, the sacrifices no longer seem as severe. With a family business, your baseline trust starts much higher than a nonfamily practice and offers the unique advantage of dispersed responsibility in an era where communication is not guaranteed.


For family-owned businesses, a path forward may fork in many directions, and include questions like ‘What adjustments and innovations are required to keep moving forward?’ ‘Should I consider an outside liquidity option?’ and even, ‘Should I sell my business?’ After a dramatic drop in the second quarter, middlemarket M&A activity is rebounding in the sectors that have benefited or substantially recovered from the pandemic and related shutdowns. The current environment may create an opportunity for long-term wealth planning, while low interest rates, high estate- tax exemptions and potential lower valuations could support taking steps to transfer wealth in 2020.

PHILIP P. MONTELEONE, CPA/CFF, CMA, CFM CHAIR OF MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE BOURGEOIS BENNETT, CPAS | CONSULTANTS There are at least five benefits that should be used by most family-owned or small businesses in this ‘special’ year of 2020. We advise that these businesses look into programs administered by the SBA for PPP loan forgiveness and available EIDL loans, along with the Main Street Recovery Program, and tax credits available for employee retention and those under various medical leave acts. In addition, potential changes to the tax code might make this the year that is most advantageous for estate and business succession planning and the valuations needed to properly plan for the transfer of family wealth.





Many businesses have been fighting to stay afloat since COVID-19 began but it is not too late to get them back on their feet. I advise that in addition to cutting unnecessary expenses and accessing grants, businesses should build an emergency financial plan and succession plan and that owners should take care to protect their personal wealth as it is so very easy to deplete personal assets in such way due to the current business environment and trying to keep the business open. All businesses should have a savings account for rainy days and tax planning.

The dynamics of each family business are unique, but there are some constants, especially if there are multiple family members working in the business. It is important that each person have very specific, defined roles and that boundaries are set and communicated. In difficult times, re-examining your strategy is key. Doing things the way you have always done them might not be enough. People make the difference, so finding employees and partners that can help guide the business and provide expertise is essential to success. Relationships with key service providers are also essential in challenging times. Keep your advisors informed as your needs change and allow them to provide input and new solutions.

If you are able, I advise giving back to the community. It will put a smiling face on so many people that may be struggling while building brand awareness.




Good News and Bad News

That’s one reason why the port is joining others around the country to lobby for federal relief. “At Port NOLA, as essential workers, our cargo and rail operations continued uninterrupted with the health and safety of our people a top priority,” said Jessica Ragusa, Port NOLA communications manager. “That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented financial impact on ports across the globe. Expenses have increased due to COVID-19 healthcare and related protocols. Because we operate behind the floodwall, people sometimes overlook our significant role. Yet as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone concerned about necessities like toilet paper or thermometers has been reminded of the critical importance of the supply chain.”

COVID-19 has devastated cruising but seems to have largely spared the rest of the maritime sector. BY RICH COLLINS



and conventioneers through New Orleans has slowed to a drip since the COVID-19 outbreak began, the amount of goods being transported up and down the Mississippi River has not dropped precipitously. That’s especially surprising considering several challenges the industry faced this year. It’s also really good news due to the importance of the ports to the state’s economy. According to the Ports Association of Louisiana (PAL) port activity is responsible for $182 billion in annual economic output: direct jobs, indirect jobs plus local and state taxes. The five ports on the Lower Mississippi River — including the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana — comprise the largest port complex in the world and move more than 500 million tons of cargo annually. Each year, more than 60% of the nation’s grain and 20% of petroleum and energy commodities are handled by Louisiana ports. It’s understandable, then, that any potential disruption from the virus would be a cause for concern within the industry. “Almost everything that affects the economy affects the port,” said Paul Aucoin, the executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. “Earlier in the year, we were dealing with




high water issues, the tariff issue and then the pandemic, so all three things did cause a slight decline in our tonnage and resulted in less vessels coming to our port and fewer barges. We still had about 50,000 barges and close to 4,000 vessels, but it’s a little less than it was the year before.” Aucoin said the port, which stretches for 54 miles between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, expects to move about 5% to 7% less oil, petrochemicals, grain and other cargo in 2020 than in 2019. Downriver at the Port of New Orleans, the amount of containers and break bulk cargo being moved may have dropped a similar amount, but the situation is made more dire by the cancellation of all U.S. cruises since March. Port NOLA is the sixth-largest cruise port in the nation, handling more than 1.2 million passengers in 2019, hosting five homeported oceangoing cruise ships and boasting a fleet of inland river cruise vessels. The port’s projected passenger totals for 2020 were 1.4 million prior to the suspension of the cruise operations. The cruise revenue impact from COVID-19 from mid-March through October will be approximately $7.1 million and there will be another $3 million lost if cruises don’t resume in November and December.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone concerned about necessities like toilet paper or thermometers has been reminded of the critical importance of the supply chain. Jessica Ragusa, communications manager for the Port of New Orleans

Many companies work in conjunction with the ports to keep cargo moving through New Orleans. The pandemic has changed day-to-day life for them as well. At Marquette Transportation, a national marine transportation company with operations in Louisiana, the aggregate and commodities segments of its business were largely unaffected by the pandemic. The softening of the world’s oil markets, however, did cause a “significant but temporary” slowdown on the liquid side of the business. “We’ve recently seen a measurable uptick in that sector, however, and are hopeful it will consistently increase,” said Ryan A. Peters, the company’s director of GulfInland crew management. “By all accounts, it looks like we’re going to have a strong fourth quarter with grain markets picking up due to harvest and a glimmer of an increased need to transport liquid.” Peters said Marquette did not have to lay off any of its 1,500 employees, a third of whom are in Louisiana. The company’s vessel-based employees were largely unaffected by the crisis, he said, while shorebased teams had to adapt to working from home like workers in many other industries. Another maritime business, Crescent Towing, has focused on keeping goods moving while maintaining safety. “Our chief concern has been and remains the safety and wellness of our employees,” said Andrew Cooper, the company’s senior vice president. Cooper said there’s been an increase in 2020 operations expenses due to investments in thermal kiosks, PPE and sanitizing equipment. “However, we see this as the cost of doing business in the ‘new



normal’ and ensuring the safety and welfare of our employees.” Of course, nothing would be “rolling on the river” without assistance from the Mississippi River pilots. “The pandemic has changed every aspect of our business, top to bottom,” said Capt. Michael T. D. Miller, the president of Associated Branch Pilots, whose pilots board ships several miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and navigate them through the Mississippi River Delta. Miller said the pilots initially had to define their own best practices, from testing to social distancing to sanitizing. Some of those protocols were then adopted by the U.S. Coast Guard to guide the industry. “We can’t get away from each other and still do our jobs, so we had to adjust,” said Miller. “We live remotely on relatively small stations with pilots and crew 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pilots are also interacting multiple times a day with crews on ships from all parts of the world then coming back into the bubble on the pilot stations.” FROM THE RIVER TO THE COURTROOM

Changes to the maritime industry aren’t relegated to the river. Attorney Richard Martin, who specializes in admiralty and maritime law for Lamothe Law Firm, said the “new normal” for practicing law is … not for him. “I’m 40 years out of Tulane Law School,” said Martin, who has experience as a deckhand on towboats, a roustabout worker on offshore vessels and a U.S. Navy officer on an aircraft carrier. “Before COVID-19, there were infrequent occasions when I would take a video deposition to avoid spending lots of time and money traveling to a distant U.S. city or a foreign seaport. Everything else was always in person. Now, non-contact video proceedings have become the norm for depositions, court conferences, and hearings in both federal and state courts. So has Martin embraced the benefits of practicing law by video? The answer is a resounding no. “Practicing law is a learned art based on in-person experiences,” he said. “Dealing face-to-face with judges, other lawyers and witnesses is critical. It’s as important as a poker player watching for an opponent’s ‘tell.’ I hope the latest crop of new lawyers doesn’t get trapped into a video practice world. Social media have made the art of personal contact almost obsolete, and learning firsthand and in person from more experienced lawyers and judges is how the art of practicing law is perfected.” n




We can’t get away from each other and still do our jobs, so we had to adjust. Capt. Michael T.D. Miller, president of Associated Branch Pilots








Life insurance can give you important peace of mind — particularly at a time like this — knowing that your family will be protected financially if something should happen to you. In addition, with whole life insurance, your policy will accumulate cash value over time. Since the cash value is guaranteed to grow and is unaffected by the market, it can become a stable source of funds that you can access at any time. At Northwestern Mutual, right now if you’re looking for a death benefit of less than $1 million, in nearly all cases the process can be done remotely.

Q 28

How has life insurance changed during the pandemic? Is now a good time to buy?



Times of uncertainty, such as this pandemic, tend to bring financial security to the forefront of everyone’s mind, particularly life insurance. Life insurance has a wide range of wealth-building and estate-planning capabilities beyond the standard death benefit. For example, it can be used to provide tax advantaged investment income, estate and income tax-free death benefits, as well as to provide financial support for heirs. With today’s pandemic, along with tax and economic uncertainty, it is definitely beneficial for people to review their life insurance and overall financial plan.





The best time to buy insurance is before you need it. This is especially true for life insurance — in fact, the earlier in your life you buy, the better, as you are generally in better health, thus premiums are lower. While we have seen some difficulty coordinating those who needed to meet with a nurse for a blood pressure reading and blood draws, most of the problems have fixed themselves. The biggest positive change has been the discussion about life insurance that this pandemic has encouraged. Those people who welcome the discussion usually know someone who was affected by COVID-19 and want to make sure their loved ones and businesses are protected.

Life Insurance sales at State Farm have far exceeded all projections for 2020 as a result of COVID-19. People who only had coverage at work and lost their jobs or were furloughed with no benefits were suddenly faced with no coverage. For this reason, we always stress the importance of additional life insurance outside of a company group plan. Our customers also had more time to have detailed and meaningful conversations when their world slowed down. The importance of protecting loved ones has been magnified this year, along with a desire for families to have their financial house in order at all levels. The best time to purchase life insurance is today.




The Truth About Family Businesses

on product quality or customer service is continually present. Here’s the scorecard on how family firms outperform non-family firms: • EBITDA earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) runs 2 points higher. • EVA (economic value added) is 5.5% greater • ROA (return on assets) is 6.65% greater • Revenue growth is higher, usually averaging 5% or more. • Family businesses are trusted more than non-family businesses per the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer.

A local business coach separates fact from fiction and offers advice to help things run smoother. BY MAT T HAHNE


Family drama is hard, emotional work. Adding it to your business makes things really tough. I frequently see the family drama and family craziness layered over businesses. You’ve seen it too — the irrationality of applying family rules to the business: • Jody gets promoted because he’s mom’s favorite. • Aunt Matilda gets paid for doing nothing. • Karen’s adult children consistently miss their measurables; they don’t even work directly for Karen. • Kris got promoted because she’s the tallest and oldest in the family. FAMILY BUSINESSES ARE THE LIFEBLOOD

of south Louisiana and the United States — 90% of businesses in this country are family-run or family-owned. Family businesses provide more than 60% of the nation’s employment and over half of the GDP. The math is simple: If you want to grow a stronger economy, do more with family businesses. Even though there are a lot of myths about family businesses, they ARE a great bet. They strengthen not just our business community, but the whole community. Sure, the intersection of business and family can be messy, but there are some simple tools available to help strengthen any family business. THE REAL FACTS ABOUT FAMILY BUSINESSES

The statistics misquoted virally about family businesses state only 3% survive a thirdgeneration handoff. This is just NOT true. Multigenerational family businesses are, in fact, stronger because:




• They are almost always long-term focused; their goals are aligned with sustainability (a nice contrast to many of today’s ‘pop-up’ investments). • Institutional memory of more than one generation allows them to ride the cyclic ups and downs of the market with slight or almost no reaction. They’ve seen it before. • Those in family businesses are quick to respond to trends, but not first to jump. Family businesses adapt well because of the younger generation’s desire to change with times, balanced by the older generation’s deliberate thought. • The path from dinner table to boardroom is short. Ideas heard from younger members during Thanksgiving dinner move quickly up the chain. Family businesses are usually anchored by family values. Letting the business down is letting the family down, so good corporate governance and an inherent emphasis


1. Family rules run the family; home busi-

ness stays at home.

2. Business (e.g., professional) rules apply

Matt Hahne is a Professional EOS Implementer who helps make family businesses stronger by using simple, real-world-proven tools to introduce accountability and discipline, clarify and communicate vision, and build team health. He may be reached at (504)250-3807 or

in the business. What may be a standard reaction for the family is definitely not normal for a professional setting. You may still beat up on your siblings (I do); do not bring that into the business. Your brother — when in business with you — is a professional co-worker. Be mindful of wearing your sibling hat or co-worker hat at all times. If you are a family business reading those two rules and freaking out ... you are normal, common even. Resources abound to assist you and your family business. Start with the Tulane Family Business Center, where resources and comfortable peer group discussions are available. One last plea to all: Please help our community grow by doing more business with family businesses. n










hile 2020 has rained economic hardship on many small and family-owned businesses, it has created unexpected opportunity for others. Some of these organizations, like grocery retailers, have found themselves in the right industry at the right time. Others have pivoted toward new strategies that enabled them to not only survive the pandemic but flourish. One of these fortunate businesses is family-owned New Orleans Beverage Group, which owns the popular El Guapo line of cocktail bitters and syrups. As bar and restaurant closures decimated the company’s wholesale business, CEO Christa Cotton redirected sales to consumers stocking their at-home bars. This strategy, along with other savvy moves, has paid dividends for the company in the form of skyrocketing sales. El Guapo’s bitters are made by hand and are zero-proof, non-GMO and gluten-free. The company’s entire product line (which also includes syrups and mixers) is high fructose corn syrup-free, but the bitters specifically are no sugar added. The 10 flavors sold on for $19 each are diverse: from Chicory Pecan, Crawfish Boil and Gumbo bitters to Summer Berries, Polynesian Kiss and Love Potion No. 9. Cotton grew up in a small farming community in Southwest Georgia where her grandfather was a farmer, so she notes the company manufactures with the seasons. “When Ponchatoula strawberries are in season, we’re making strawberry syrup and summer berries bitters,” she said. “We work with farmers in Ponchatoula to source berries and make sure we’re doing as much as we can to keep our money and our production in the local economy.” This past April, just as the company’s sales began hitting new heights, Cotton was announced as one of only six women chosen as this year’s Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) Legacy Award recipients. Cotton specifically received the Mexico Fine Spirits Award from Jose Cuervo in Mexico. Established in 2009 and generously supported by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, LDEI is an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy for the good of the global community. Cotton spoke recently with Biz New Orleans about El Guapo’s banner year and the company’s efforts to support independent restaurant partners who are facing a tougher road.


What’s the family story behind El Guapo? I really got started in this industry during college. My family owns commercial real estate around the Southeast, including a lot of the Rouses grocery stores here in New Orleans and all over. In 2005, during my first semester of college [at Auburn University], Katrina hit, and I ended up helping my parents restore coastal properties that had been decimated. We had multiple properties [that] had to be revamped and fixed after the storm. My dad decided that as a family we needed to diversify because we almost went bankrupt going through that whole process. He saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about a distiller in Atchison, Kansas, who had just opened a craft distillery. This was before the real boom of craft distilling and craft brewing in America. He drove himself to Kansas and hired this guy as a consultant, and I spent my last half of college helping my parents open Thirteenth Colony Distilleries, which was Georgia’s first legal distillery. It was a dream job for a 21-year-old. Once I graduated in 2010, I wanted to learn more about marketing and had the opportunity to work in New Orleans at Trumpet, the ad agency. My main client was the Louisiana Office of Tourism, so I worked on state advertising campaigns, focused on food and music, and built a lot of strong relationships with chefs, restaurants, hospitality groups and festivals. But I missed making things. Ultimately, I had the opportunity to buy the trademark from El Guapo. I was hesitant to do it, but, after sitting down with my family and going through the numbers with my parents, they said, ‘If you don’t do this, we’re going to.’ That was the push that I needed to buy the trademark in July 2017, and I started New Orleans Beverage Group, which owns the trademark, but now we also own and operate an acidified foods manufacturing facility and are able to co-manufacture, co-pack and private label for other brands. Our products are currently available in 28 states and four countries, and we are in the process of expanding our work here in New Orleans. Brian — my life partner, business partner, all things partner — is a CPA and wanted to be a part of this, so he left his job to be here with me, and he’s really helped me build this into where we are today. He’s our CFO, and we have a 2-year-old daughter, Flora.

How has 2020 been for business? I clearly remember being at dinner with my mother on March 8, when my phone rang. It was our buyer from Costco. Last year, I pitched Costco in Dallas and we were in the midst of rolling out our products in 24 stores across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. In one phone call, a quarter of a million dollars was wiped off our projections for the year. They literally pulled our spaces from the store because they needed the room for extra toilet paper. Immediately, we were trying to figure out what to do with this inventory. It probably took me a good two to three weeks to get over the initial shock. March was bad: We didn’t have very many orders, all of our restaurant partners were closing, and I was really concerned about what was going to happen. Before the pandemic, maybe 60 to 65% of our business was wholesale and distribution, and the remaining percentages were retail sales. We didn’t put a heavy emphasis on retail sales because the bread and butter of our business was B2B. We invested a lot of our resources into beefing up our e-com presence through our website, also through Amazon, and ultimately, we flipped our business model. We went from majority wholesale to dominantly direct-to-consumer e-com fulfillment. As soon as we made that switch, we saw our sales skyrocket. Looking at our numbers in April, I think we were up 822% over April of 2019. It has evened out a lot, but that initial pop of sales going crazy was really good for our brand exposure. It was great for us to have a way to talk with our consumers. How has this year pushed you creatively as a company? We are trying to find economical solutions to problems we’ve never experienced before. Our team is very creative, and we’ve been able to do a lot without spending a ton of money to get things done. Capital is hard to come by these days. Trying to do all these things while keeping your revenue and capital in a good spot, while your numbers are going crazy and you can’t really go out and raise money, has been an interesting experience, but somehow we’re making it work. We’ve spent a ton of time on our recipe blog. People are searching online. They want interesting cocktails that they can make at home but don’t take a million ingredients. We’ve had a lot of



MAKES ONE COCKTAIL 3 oz bourbon (we used @13thcolony) .5 oz El Guapo® Creole Orgeat 8 dashes El Guapo® Holiday Pie Bitters 1 large rock of ice 2 Luxardo cherries, yard flowers and leaves, to garnish In a lowball, combine bitters, syrup & bourbon. Stir to combine and place one large rock in glass. Garnish with cherries and any other desired accoutrements. We chose yard flowers & a tropical leaf… because optimism. [For more recipes, visit or on Instagram @ elguapobitters]

customers ordering gift boxes for virtual chefs have been champions of our brand. happy hours or birthdays or big celebra- It’s our time to advocate for them and tions that people can’t get together for help them in any way possible. We are anymore. Social media has been really also working on some co-manufacturing important to us throughout this whole products with local brands and chefs here in town, and holiday ideas to process. Through the pandemic, we have had partner with chefs on cocktail kits. The Fortune 500s, universities, all sorts majority of the revenue from that goes of partners reach out to us wanting to back to the chef or to the restaurant do virtual events. We’ve done virtual so that they have a holiday sales item conferences, team building exercises… to push to their customers, bringing We put together and ship cocktail kits, revenue in the door at a time when and then we teach a virtual experience they’re struggling. where we incorporate trivia or history When it comes to drinking, we do of cocktails and a Q&A session. They partner with as many local distilleries as we can, but we offer non-alcoholic have been extremely popular. Now, a lot options and alternatives on our social of our business, in addition to e-com, is media and our blog. You can search virtual events. Before the pandemic, we “zero-proof cocktails” and find several had never done a single virtual event. options for ways to have an interesting How do you plan to maintain those gains drink that doesn’t necessarily have to be once life returns to normal? I don’t think alcoholic, because we don’t think that we really know what that new benchmark you should be out there having four or will be. I don’t think our company will, five cocktails every single day. for at least the medium term and maybe even the long term, ever go back to being What can customers look for as the holidays approach? We have holiday60 to 65% wholesale. I think retail will be a more integral part of our business and specific products: our holiday pie bitters a bigger percentage in our revenue than and a sweet potato syrup that has won a wholesale, at least for the medium term. Good Food award. We also have Creole I think emphasis on direct-to-consumer Orgeat, made with pecans that my uncle is something we will continue in the future, grows. Those products are great for milk because now we have loyal customers punches and Old Fashioneds. that are buying from us online in regular Biz: On a personal note, how has it intervals. We have people that religiously been juggling parenthood with business purchase once a month, and I don’t see during a turbulent time? that going away, even as the pandemic Cotton: Impossible. I think, like most gets better. Retail partners will always be working moms, I feel like I’m always failing somewhere. We’re at least able important, but that component of online to support all of our business partners shopping is something we just have to because we order takeout an embarintegrate into our business and keep up and running. rassing number of times per week. There’s just not enough hours in the day. From Are you still able to collaborate with your an employer perspective and a work-life restaurant partners? It’s sad because balance perspective, it’s also making us so many of our restaurant partners are rethink how we want our company to independent restaurants that are really be structured and what we can be doing struggling. We’re trying to figure out ways better as employers in the future. to help. It’s a double-edged sword because we’re doing great, but the partners that What does the future hold for El Guapo? had supported us and that we love so It’s funny, when I started this, I wrote much are really going through a hard time. five goals on a piece of paper. We’re We talk with chefs every day about dangerously close to getting four of the ways to get into the consumer, packaged five completed by the end of the year, so goods space. Even if it’s not with us or maybe I need to dream bigger. We’re with a product that we can make, we’re trying to expedite a growth plan that is trying to connect chefs with the right smart and sustainable. We want to build manufacturing partners to get a product an actual factory. We want to figure out on the shelf and get revenue coming in how to make some of these partnerships the door from a hot sauce or a king cake, and opportunities that we’ve gotten from whatever the case may be. COVID-19 into permanent relationships. I feel like as a business owner, rising We want to be great employers, and we want to figure out how to grow to tides raise all ships, and a lot of these


become the size of the business that we want to be, but also keep our values, brand and personality the same. As you grow, things change, and you can’t always hold onto all of that, but these are conversations we’re having internally. We’re trying to be smart about the opportunities that we capitalize on and trying to build the best strategic plan for growth in the future, beyond COVID-19. n

Through the pandemic, we have had Fortune 500s, universities, all sorts of partners reach out to us wanting to do virtual events. We’ve done virtual conferences, team building exercises … Now, a lot of our business, in addition to e-com, is virtual events. Before the pandemic, we had never done a single virtual event.



Office By Ali DeFazio Eva Fedderly and Kim Singletar y

Illustrations by John Holcroft

The pandemic has changed everything about how we live and work, but what changes in the workplace are here to stay? Local professionals share their thoughts on what we can expect.

of the



Prior to the pandemic only 17% of employees in the United States worked remotely five or more days a week. That number jumped to 44% in April of this year according to a recent report by Statista. Remote work quickly became necessary to stop the spread of disease, but will it continue after a vaccine? The present thought is yes, at least in some form. In June, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 55% of participating employers reported they anticipate most of their employees will work remotely at least two days per week after the COVID-19 threat is over. This isn’t surprising to Amy Bakay, CEO of HR NOLA, who said many employers are recognizing the benefits of remote work — which can include a more engaged workforce and lower overhead — and even asking themselves, “Why didn’t we do this before?” “This pandemic has proven to many organizations that working remotely can be cost efficient, productive, and if implemented correctly, can improve work-life balance,” she said. “If all workers can be remote, imagine the global talent pool you now have access to. Remote work flexibility can be mutually beneficial to the employer and employee if there is proper communication, the right equipment, clearly defined objectives and a lot of flexibility.” So how will this workforce shift affect the office of the future?


Space LEASES When it comes to the state of office leases in New Orleans, it might be too soon to tell. Snappy Jacobs, owner of CCIM Real Estate Management, which leases office spaces, said he hasn’t had any office clients fail to renew a lease or end one early yet. “I think the pandemic has put things on hold, if anything,” he said. Jacobs does, however, think office spaces will get smaller. He said clients have expressed interest in spaces with fewer common areas, including fewer parking garages and elevators. The goal, he said, is “a smaller space that can be more flexible.” While some businesses are thinking small (especially those that plan on keeping a good portion of their workforce remote all or most of the time), others are looking for a larger space, one that allows for adequate social distancing. Blaine Gahagan, founder of property management firm HGI Facility Management in Elmwood, said he had one national company not renew their lease only for another to snatch up the space so they could expand their offices. “It became a net effect,” he said. “We didn’t lose any leased space.” Gahagan said he predicts office space will fluctuate. “It’s going to swing to remote and less density,” he said. “And then it’s going to swing to more traditional or a combination of traditional and remote.” COWORKING SPACES The demand for flexibility and affordability in an uncertain economy is leading some companies to coworking spaces “I don’t think the skyscraper is dead, but for smaller businesses this is a great option,” said Genevieve Douglass of Urban HUB, a coworking space in the Lower Garden District. Urban HUB offers an array of options and price points, from super flexible — the option to occupy a desk on a first-come-first-served basis for $30 a day — to the more stable option of renting a dedicated desk that includes mail service, locked storage and signage for $400 a month. “This is a place where there’s a community, and it also offers a chance to get out of the house where people can have dogs and children and bad internet,” said Pamela Meyer of The Shop, a coworking space located inside the Contemporary Arts Center in Downtown New Orleans. “We offer a solution that someone could use daily like they’re used to, or just off and on as needed.” In addition to day passes and dedicated desks, The Shop can also provide a furnished office space for a team of up to eight people, as well as meeting and event space.

Of course, with coworking spaces comes… well, working around others. Here, both The Shop and Urban Hub have spaced out seating and added sanitation stations. Urban HUB, for example, is currently limiting occupancy to 50%, has placed hand sanitizing stations throughout the space and boasts multiple points of entry as well as outdoor space. At The Shop, users are required to sign in in an effort to keep track of occupants and enable contact tracing if needed. “Now that we’re in phase two, we will allow guests, but we’re very strict with it,” said Meyer in early September. “They have to be pre-registered and we use a wifi check-in.” She added that The Shop is sanitizing surfaces once every two hours and uses nano-septic wraps — a self-cleaning rubber material that uses an oxidation process to break down germs — on touchpoints like door handles. LAYOUT CHANGES Is the idea of an open-air office doomed to become a relic? Not necessarily, said Alexis Miranne, business developer at office design firm AOS. “So many people want to say, ‘Well, we’re going to get rid of open desking.’ And that’s not necessarily a fix for everybody long term, right? The question is really, about how can we have the agility to be flexible?”

While flexibility can look different depending on needs, there are small changes offices can make, like switching to disposable dishware to lessen the spread of community germs. The plexiglass dividers we’ve become accustomed to seeing are most likely here to stay. Some office managers are starting to think about longer-term solutions like glass dividers. “One thing we’ve seen manufacturers develop really quickly are pop-up solutions within an office space,” said Miranne. For example, phone booths that offer privacy in a world where telecommunications have become increasingly important. Offices that can’t afford phone booths could consider re-allocating old spaces into areas exclusively for teleconferencing. That’s right — goodbye, conference room. Hello, Zoom room. When AOS started work on office layouts during COVID-19, the company’s Director of Marketing, Caroline Hayes, said effective

It’s going to swing to remote and less density. And then it’s going to swing to more traditional, or a combination of traditional and remote. Blaine Gahagan, founder of property management firm HGI Facility Management, on commercial office space trends.

communication quickly became a cornerstone of every plan. “It’s not just the furniture or the floorplan, you know, it’s about looking at how people interact in a space,” she said. With AOS’s clients in higher education, however, Hayes said it doesn’t matter how much you spend on safety amenities if students and staff don’t use them effectively. For this reason, she said offices will start including signage around how many people are allowed in a room, as well as arrows to direct foot traffic and designated entry and exit points to avoid crowding in common areas. So, what about the open-air office? Miranne thinks it’s here to stay — just with the addition of dividers and desks positioned at least 6 feet apart.

of having to care for a loved one. Mental health, said Stefanie Allweiss, co-founder of Gotcha Covered HR, has to be a priority. “Offering flexibility during the workday, permitting generous use of PTO, and making adjustments in scheduling work hours are some ways to help employees take needed breaks for self-care,” said Allweiss. “Employers need to think outside-the-box when it comes to expectations of ‘normal’ work hours if it will help employees deal with childcare and self-care needs.” Since the pandemic, many employers are prioritizing health and wellness over all other business initiatives. Over the past six months, there have been myriad new COVID-19-related federal, state and parish guidelines, mandates and laws directed at customer and employee protections and protocols, including those around attendance and timekeeping, remote work, vacation and sick leave, as well as temperature testing, company safety, security and hygiene, and travel policies. Helene Wall, associate director of Louisiana-based accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville, said best practices suggests that businesses maintain their own procedures separately from employment-based policies through the use of a comprehensive employee handbook. Training on policy administration is the best method to ensure consistent application of policies across the workforce. “Keeping them separate provides options to make effective workflow changes quickly and limits the risk of having outdated or incorrect information in writing that could adversely impact the organization,” she said.


HR and Legal HIRING With much of the workforce currently remote, hiring during a global pandemic has presented a challenge. Amy Bakay, CEO of New Orleans-based human resources firm HR NOLA, said companies have been getting creative when it comes to attracting and hiring skilled employees. HR NOLA recently hired a team member that nobody on the staff met in-person. “We had several discussions, conducted panel video interviews, utilized the Predictive Index Behavioral and Cognitive Assessment, checked references and made an offer [to a recent employee],” said Bakay. “We will onboard electronically, provide orientation through video calls and send the welcome gift to their home. The only thing we have not done yet is elbow bump to make a human connection.” Corporate Playbook President and CEO Deborah Elam, who specializes in business consulting for executives, believes remote hiring is here to stay and added that it provides an opportunity for diversifying the workplace. “Workers who have physical limitations will be able to more fully participate in the workforce on an equal footing,” Elam said. “They won’t have to come into the office just to be ‘equal.’” KEEPING EMPLOYEES HEALTHY AND ENGAGED

With so much screen time and less in-person connection, employee engagement can suffer. Here, again, companies have been forced to get creative, making efforts to host virtual happy hours, cooking classes and even mindfulness meditations. The line between work and personal responsibilities has also been blurred as parents have taken on remote schooling responsibilities or employees may find themselves in the position




Employers need to think outside the box when it comes to expectations of ‘normal’ work hours if it will help employees deal with childcare and self-care needs. Stefanie Allweiss, co-founder of Gotcha Covered HR

WORKER’S COMP The pandemic has presented multiple challenges when it comes to worker’s compensation. Essential workers, such as health care workers, mass transit operators and grocery store employees, are at a high risk of exposure to the virus while at work, but are not guaranteed that a COVID-19 infection would be covered under workers’ compensation in most states. In Louisiana, employers are not liable if an employee or patron claims to have contracted COVID-19 at a workplace unless the company exhibits gross negligence. And how does worker’s compensation work if employees are working from home? “Generally speaking, an injury or illness suffered by an employee which occurs during the course of employment is compensable, regardless of where it happens, said Wall. “With the new normal of working from home, employers should strongly consider updating their employment policies to account for scenarios outside of a traditional office environment. This may include new or updated policies that address such issues as workers’ compensation incident reporting, guidelines for a designated workspace, safety and security in the remote workplace, and care and use of company-provided equipment, among others.”


Safe and Secure A NEW LEVEL OF CLEAN Remember when periodic vacuuming, dusting

and emptying trash bins was enough? Those days are gone, likely for good, said Brock Dumestre, owner of a local disinfecting company called Bactronix. “Cleaning commercial spaces now is all about completely removing the biological fingerprint of a person,” said Dumestre. “And this isn’t just a COVID-19 problem. Even after this disease has passed, there will likely be others. This issue is going to be around for a while. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if OSHA gets involved and expects companies to have a biological mitigation plan. That seems logical.” The biggest buzz word in cleaning right now is electrostatic spraying. Around since the 1940s, electrostatic spraying is a process in which a liquid is

positively charged as it is dispensed through a nozzle. The charged droplets repel each other; since most surfaces are naturally negatively charged, they bind to them. This type of cleaning allows all areas of a surface (think nooks and crannies) to be reached quickly with less product. Barrett Wiley, owner of Cleaning Concierge, a commercial cleaning company operating in New Orleans since 2009, said he’d typically see requests for electrostatic cleaning outside of day care centers, schools and medical facilities only very infrequently, for instance during cold and flu season. Since the pandemic, he said demand has increased by “at least 100%.” The CDC has a list of almost 500 approved common cleaners for COVID-19, along with recommendations on how long a surface must remain wet to be effective — times range from 30 seconds to 25 minutes. The database is searchable by a product’s EPA registration number. Whatever company or products they choose, Dumestre cautions employers to do their homework. “[Commercial cleaning] has become a very crowded space right now as everybody rushes to check off boxes,” he said. “I encourage people to ask a lot of questions. What are the differences in application methods? What type of disinfection are you getting and how long does it last? And, most importantly, has it been tested? Do you get any kind of report or certification? Documentation is very important right now to provide a company with protection if needed.”

CYBER SECURITY Eight-hundred percent — that’s how much cyberattacks in the United States reported to the FBI had increased barely two months into the pandemic, making it unsurprising that in May, Computer Weekly stated “Coronavirus may be the largest-ever global security threat.” “We’ve seen unified commercial platforms like Zoom and Teams get hacked recently,” said Stephanie Kavanaugh, sales and marketing director for Universal Data, a cyber security-focused IT firm operating in New Orleans since 1982. She said the majority of attacks she’s been seeing locally are phishing attempts, where a person is tricked into opening an email or text message and that breach is used to gain secure information. “It’s really important to strengthen what we call the ‘human firewall,’ meaning educating employees on how to recognize a potential threat.” Kenny Grayson, owner of Grayson Data, a New Orleans IT company launched in 2016 that specializes in working with small businesses. He said small businesses are typically used to operating remotely, but many medium-sized businesses were not, which meant there was a bit of a scramble to move from one corporate network to a remote workplace where each employee could be at home on their own network with their own equipment. Grayson said he has been moving businesses to a Cloud-based setup — like he uses with his own company — to help with security issues. Ted Nass, co-owner and VP at Avexon, a New Orleans software development and technology company formed in 2018, said his company has been busy moving companies from a traditional remote connection, or Virtual Private Network (VPN), to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, (VDI). “With a VPN you have to pay for each license so a company could have 5,000 employees but had only purchased 1,000 pieces of equipment [laptops] with licenses because they didn’t think more than that many people would be working remote at one time,” Nass said. “Then the pandemic comes and now they’re stuck without the access they need. A VDI system, on the other hand, works almost all through a web page. It’s more secure as you can set a user to any level of access and you can use any device you want to work. You can login at the office and then go home and login at home on your laptop and be right where you left off.” While once a very expensive option, Nass said he’s seeing the pricing coming down on VDI. “The Cares Act covers this type of thing and so do some grants,” said Nass, noting that an investment in a better remote setup also makes sense with the multiple weather interruptions we can have in this region. “The South is a little behind in terms of moving to VDI, and Louisiana and Mississippi are at the tail end,” he said. “But in the last two years things have started to ramp up.” n

Local Companies Innovating for COVID-19 DigiTHERM — has developed an infrared body temperature scanning kiosk that is non-invasive, easy to use and offers a socially distant way to take temperatures. Any temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit triggers an audible and visual alert, enabling employers, restaurants and venues to effectively and immediately detect potential hazards. — created a device that pulls information from the barcode on any driver’s license in order to easily record the names and phone numbers of all customers. Since 2003, has developed identity verification and information gathering technologies for more than 6,000 clients.

Stop & Block — Makers of sunscreen weatherproof, battery-powered dispensers, the 3-year-old company has pivoted to create touch-free dispensers of hand sanitizer at local office buildings, shopping malls and other locations where people gather.





Project spotlight on new custom construction



4 Bedrooms | 3.5 Baths MAIN LEVEL 2421 SQ. FT. PORCH 267 SQ. FT. TOTAL

2688 SQ. FT.













UNP R ECEDENTED TI M ES CAL L FOR UNP R ECEDENTED M EA SUR 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 Culture of Connectivity Strong, steadfast values keep people and businesses united.


relying on innovative technologies to keep them connected in both their personal and professional lives, and Cox Communications continues to play a key role by providing a full range of crucial digital services. Even before the onset of the pandemic, the company was making great strides in transforming New Orleans and other serviced areas into what Senior Vice President & Southeast Region Manager Anthony Pope calls “smart cities.” Their mission, which includes the superfast residential internet service G1GABLAST, is to create an infrastructure of cuttingedge technology that seamlessly unites businesses, schools, homes, hospitals and other essential industries. And to ensure customers receive the highest standard of service and support, Pope is careful not to lose sight of one of the most important pieces to the puzzle: Cox’s own employees. After all, the strength of the company — and the impact it has on those who rely on their innovation and efficiency — starts with the skilled workers who are making the technologies of tomorrow a reality today. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19? The sudden and successful pivot of my employee base to a remote work strategy is pulling us forward in new and introspective ways. We’ve removed the tradi-

tional rigidity about where our employees work without sacrificing productivity, and we’ve improved the customer experience by emphasizing the quality of the job and virtual technical support to keep New Orleans safe. The world changed overnight, and in response, so did we. This has empowered us to continue meeting our customers where they are so they can work, play, teach and connect with friends and loved ones. How have you maintained a sense of company culture? At Cox, our values come first. Throughout 2020, we’ve remained very intentional in listening to our employees while offering clear guidance and support. As further care, we provided $1,000 to all full-time employees to help cover unexpected expenses related to the pandemic. We introduced flexible work options; are helping to cover elder and childcare costs; have rolled out heightened safety, mentorship and wellness programs; and are offering employees paid time off to vote. We’ll always remain very purposeful as to how we care for our people, even when we’re working together in new ways. I’m equally proud to share how these values flow into the neighborhoods we serve. Here locally, we’re championing social justice initiatives, stocking local food banks, feeding and providing PPE to healthcare providers and equipping low-income children with school supplies, portable devices and low-cost internet. Our One Call a Day campaign partnership with the New Orleans Saints is also helping us connect with area locals who are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Our goal is to build bright futures for everyone. Are there any lessons you have learned? Any new technology you’ ve embraced? Technology will continue to evolve, but our desire to connect with each other won’t. Our employees, customers, communities and vendors want to be seen…and deserve to be heard. We’re actively listening and in response, we’ll continue making significant investments in our network and other platforms to ensure you stay connected to what and who you care about most.

We’ll always remain very purposeful as to how we care for our people, even when we’re working together in new ways.








When it comes to business in this country, it’s most often a family affair — 90% of all business ventures in the United States are family-run, including 35% of all Fortune 500 companies. Here in Southeast Louisiana, we’re proud to have our own array of family-run superstars that represent a wide range of booming industries, and we are excited to share our annual showcase of local family-owned and family-run businesses. This group of hardworking professionals, along with their families, have fostered legacies that continue to set the standard for excellence, service and prosperity in our region.


A Cl ear er Path



Cenac Marine Services 742 HIGHWAY 182 HOUMA, LA 70364 (985) 872-2413 CENAC.COM THREE GENERATIONS OF THE CENAC

family have led Cenac Marine Services — and upheld its deeply rooted values — since the company was founded in 1927. The family legacy was started by Jock Cenac, who believed that excellent customer service and outstanding employee morale were the keys to success and longevity for any business. More than 90 years later, and after passing through the care of Jock’s son, Arlen Sr., and current owner, Benny Cenac, those values have withstood the test of time. “The maritime industry is in my DNA,” says Benny Cenac. “Beginning with the humble roots of our company started by my grandfather and continued by my father, I have always been driven by their work ethic, sustained excellence and commitment to quality.” Over Cenac Marine’s lifetime, the maritime industry has made great strides in innovation and technology, and the company has evolved in turn. Keeping up with and embracing new ways to do business and serve customers is one of the many ways the company — and Cenac himself — ensures the prosperity of the region and state. And because of its ancestral beginnings, Cenac takes care to make his company feel like a second home for his employees. His philosophy is simple but effective: take care of your

people, and they’ll take care of you. Cenac exemplifies that principle through every facet of his company, whether that means providing outstanding benefits and resources or simply offering support. He maintains an open door policy for all his staff — or in the time of social distancing, an open phone line. “The most important value that was instilled in me was the unique opportunity a family-owned business can capitalize on,” Cenac says. “The company has grown larger and larger but has never lost sight of the benefits of treating everyone

(ABOVE) Benny’s fondest memories at Cenac have been shared with family. Pictured are his two sons and late father, Arlen B. Cenac at a boat christening. (RIGHT, TOP) Cenac Marine employee working on the building of a new ship. (RIGHT, BOTTOM) Tier IV Tractor Tug being built at Main Iron Works for Bisso.


DID YOU KNOW? Benny Cenac, Jr. is the owner of Louisiana’s largest privately owned refuge, Golden Ranch Farms, where he raises various animals, including blackbuck antelope, oryx, Père David’s deer, axis, elk, sika and even zebras.

like family. This foundational belief has not hindered growth but enhanced it, as generations of employees have made Cenac a leader in the industry.” When obstacles do arise, as they certainly have in 2020, the team at Cenac Marine Services is well-equipped to meet any challenge proactively and unitedly. As the winner of a Safest 70 award from the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, the company reinforced its reputation as a leader in safety by enforcing strict guidelines to protect the health of all employees, partners and their families during the pandemic. “The challenges brought this year have certainly been unique. However, my father and my grandfather faced many unique challenges over the years,” Cenac says. “Their dedication, persistence, and determination are all ingrained in me as I watched them navigate through obstacles over the years. Their spirit lives in me as we tackle yet another obstacle in our way. The team here at Cenac has always risen to the occasion under difficult circumstances.” Cenac is equally passionate about supporting his local community through philanthropy, another virtue instilled in him by his father and grandfather. Coastal restoration and climate conservation are of profound importance to him, and he strives to make a difference by volunteering his time with organizations like Restore or Retreat, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Through it all, Cenac never loses sight of what makes Cenac Marine’s success, prestige and resiliency possible: the vision and dedication of the family members who paved the way before him. “My biggest accomplishment at Cenac Marine is growing the company and never losing sight of the foundation it was built on,” Cenac says. “This company’s success is largely based on the work ethic and commitment from my father and grandfather. I am proud to be able to continue that today.”




founded in 1980, family was always envisioned as the heart of the operation. Not only is the company family owned and operated, but when customers call on the team of sales, design and installation professionals, they’re trusting Classic Interiors to design

spaces that are perfectly suited to their own family’s needs and lifestyles. It’s a responsibility not taken lightly, so from the second a client schedules a consultation, Bill Bourgeois and his dedicated staff use their years of knowledge and expertise to make every client’s vision a reality. “My father instilled the value of hard work to achieve success,” says Bourgeois, who now runs the family business alongside his two sons, Michael and John. “I feel that I have passed on this traditional value to all of my children and our work family. Everyone at Classic Interiors strives to have advanced product knowledge, and everyone working here, at one point, has installed the products they sell.” Whether working on a residential home or a large commercial project, Classic Interiors (PICTURED FROM offers a range of elegant window treatLEFT TO RIGHT) ments and flooring options suitable for Michael Bourgeois, any customer’s budget. Their showroom Bill Bourgeois, John Bourgeois features an extensive Hunter Douglas gallery, automated window coverings, interior plantation shutters, custom tile showers, backsplashes, wood, vinyl, porcelain, laminate flooring and more. Customer satisfaction is always the number one priority, and Bourgeois says there’s no greater reward than hearing a customer express their satisfaction with their experience. “Knowing that many of our next jobs come to us from a satisfied customer referral is how we envision our business being successful for another 40 years.”

DID YOU KNOW? While the Bourgeois family’s leadership has always been the same, the company has gone by a few different names. Once called Classic Flooring, Paint and Decorating, Inc. and Blinds & Shutters Direct, the company was rebranded as Classic Interiors to reflect the full scope of available products and services.



Dupuy Storage 4300 JOURDAN RD. NEW ORLEANS (504) 245-7600 DUPUYGROUP.COM M O R E T H A N 8 0 Y E A R S H AV E

passed since John Dupuy opened a coffee warehouse in New Orleans, starting a legacy that would transform Dupuy Storage into the leading global logistics and storage provider it is today. The intervening years have been marked by change and innovation, as the company’s footprint has grown from its humble beginnings on South Peters Street to encompass additional facilities in South Carolina, Texas and Florida. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the company’s dedication to its deeply rooted values. Four generations of the Dupuy family have upheld the same standards of trust, reliability and service that have become synonymous with The Dupuy Group. Today, that task is helmed by the father-daughter team formed by President Allan Colley and Vice President Janet Colley Morse. The pair have worked in tandem since Morse’s childhood to ensure the preservation of the company’s central ideals, which has only served to make the company — and its relationships with customers and staff — stronger than ever. According to Allan Colley, it all comes down to three simple steps: “Keep your word. Empathize with others. Do what’s right.” Equipped with these guiding principles, the company has been able to adapt to changing times and technologies, never sacrificing its commitment

DID YOU KNOW? Dupuy New Orleans opened the first green coffee silo facility in North America in 1992.

to quality and customer satisfaction — and that remains true as Janet makes her own mark on the family legacy. “Our industry is a family,” she says. “I work with people I have known since I was a child. It’s a privilege to carry on the tradition of a family business, and I hope Dupuy will continue to be recognized for our service and our integrity.”



Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home 3827 CANAL STREET NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119 (504) 482-2111 SCHOENFH.COM FOR NE A R LY 150 Y E A RS , JACO B

Schoen & Son has been committed to providing families of all cultural backgrounds and walks of life with the highest standard of memorial and funeral services regardless of financial circumstances. Though the business has seen many expansions and transformations since its founding, five generations of the Schoen family have maintained the legacy of compassion, dedication and sensitivity that New Orleanians have come to know and trust. “Compassion and consideration have been the guiding principles for the Schoen family and its many dedicated employees since 1874,” says managing partner Patrick Schoen. “We are passionate about making a family’s time with us as memorable and uplifting as possible. It is our attentive personal concern that distinguishes us and allows us to give families the peace of mind that their loved one is well taken care of before, during and after their funeral.” The business boasts an extensive range of services, ranging from pre-planning arrangements and 24/7 assistance to burials, cremations, memorials and Military ceremonies. The integration of

DID YOU KNOW? The iconic family home, a city-designated landmark, was originally built in the Victorian style in the early 1890s. It was converted in 1931 to the Romanesque/Spanish Revival style that is seen today. Stop by for a tour.

modern technology allows family and friends to participate in and remember their loved one’s funeral from anywhere in the world through both live streamed and recorded webcasts. No matter what a family needs, the staff at Jacob Schoen & Son guarantee to offer services that meet all of their specifications while exceeding all of their expectations. That hasn’t changed after a century of serving their families and still continues today. “The sixth generation of the Schoen family is being groomed to continue our family’s legacy,” Schoen says. “We will have instilled in them the family’s values of serving others and the importance of giving back to the community we are proud to serve.”


WORKSPACES Urban Properties shares the challenges and successes of opening a coworking space in a pandemic.

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? In today’s global marketplace,

TNOLA Languages has found a growing niche.

ON THE JOB Perrone & Sons make olive salad

using the same recipe perfected in the 1920s.


Opening a Coworking Space During a Pandemic?

U R B A N H U B ’ S A U G U S T O P E N I N G WA S

Urban Properties discusses the challenges and opportunities of doing just that with this summer’s launch of Urban HUB. BY MELANIE WARNER SPENCER PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY

With the help of contractor Jon Drennan and interior designer Lauren Ferrand of Ferrand Designs, the interior at Rêve’s 1477 Louisiana Ave. offices was transformed into a comfortable and chic workspace designed for collaboration.

I think anybody in this neighborhood that works from home or is a freelancer is a good fit for us — interior designer, graphic designer, architect — anyone in the design realm. Genevieve Douglass, director of marketing and operations for Urban Properties and Urban HUB




different than what its creator, boutique real estate consulting, development, brokerage and property management firm Urban Properties, envisioned for the launch of the new coworking space in the Lower Garden District. For starters, pandemic-related restrictions on gatherings ruled out much of the professional development, networking, health and wellness, and social programming that was in the works for the coming weeks and months. Additionally, with limits on guest capacity, only so many members were allowed in the building at any given time. With parties and programming on hold, the company installed freestanding, touch-free hand sanitizing stations, contracted a professional sanitation team to visit once a week for cleaning, and were soon off and running within the city’s guidelines. The 3,517-square-foot, circa-1820 building was previously home to a public relations firm and didn’t require much in the way of change. A few modifications were made to the 1,480-square-foot courtyard as well. “We stuck with the current floorplan,” said Genevieve Douglass, director of marketing and operations for Urban Properties and Urban HUB. “We did some cosmetic work, painted head-to-toe, [and looked at] the strategic placement of furniture.” Urban Properties — which used to be based at The Rink on Prytania Street — managed the build-out and worked with Modern Market to furnish the space and outfit it with artwork. Once the space was finished, the company relocated, itself becoming a member of Urban HUB. “We really wanted to open up the space and invite others to share it with us,” said Douglass. “And this area, the Lower Garden District, didn’t really have many small office options.” The space includes conference rooms of varying sizes that are wired with Apple TV, a copy and storage room, kitchen and lounge with a large bar, and another lounge with a large screen TV for client presentations. A few other amenities include accessibility for people with mobility constraints and an on-site corporate apartment is available at a discount to members for use by their clients. Membership levels vary from day passes to monthly rentals. Douglass said the company works with members as much as possible, especially now.

Urban Properties — which used to be based at The Rink on Prytania Street — managed the build-out at the Lower Garden District coworking space Urban HUB and worked with Modern Market to furnish it and outfit it with artwork. Once completed, the company was added into the mix as a member of Urban HUB.





3,517 square feet, plus 1,480-squarefoot courtyard NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES


Eugene Schmitt, director The company promotes collaboration and its agents share in the philosophy for success. “This culture of sharing naturally creates a positive and dynamic work atmosphere,” said Joey Walker, partner and cobroker at Rêve.


Urban Properties (managed the build-out) INTERIOR DESIGN


Modern Market




Phone booths allow members privacy during business calls. Urban HUB includes various lounge areas, conference rooms and a kitchen with a large bar for meetings or just to offer a change of scenery. To promote a positive atmosphere, Urban HUB management keeps music playing during the workday and brings in food from clients like The Daily Beet and Good Bird.

“It’s really important to be flexible and to be understanding of people’s life circumstances and how people are reacting to the [pandemic] situation,” she said. “Being sensitive to people’s needs and keeping that in perspective, trying to keep things light.” Douglass said to promote a positive atmosphere, the space plays music and brings in food from clients, such as The Daily Beet and Good Bird. When it’s possible, they will provide (socially distanced) yoga classes in the courtyard, as well as hosting professional, fitness, wellness and social events and various workshops. The current member lineup includes a civil engineering firm, as well as freelance writers and graphic designers. Douglass said creative professionals have been drawn to the space. “I think anybody in this neighborhood who works from home or is a freelancer is a good fit for us,” she said. “Interior designer, graphic designer, architect — anyone in the design realm. [Being in a coworking space] helps with business development and networking.” In the coming year, Douglass said the company will work to help members feel safe, get back to 100% capacity and revisit projects put on hold due to COVID-19. “We are staying positive about the market, working on deals and pretending life is normal,” said Douglass. “We want our clients to feel supported and achieve their dreams.” n BIZNEWORLEANS.COM



Speaking Your Language In a world that gets more global by the day, TNOLA Languages has found a growing niche market. BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN PORTRAIT BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY


French city in America,” but Louisiana as a whole is home to many languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic, Haitian and German. In fact, according to the 2000 census, almost 10% of the state’s population age 5 and over reported speaking a language other than English. As such, Andrew Dafoe, a Colorado native who moved to New Orleans in 2006, said he was surprised to find “a huge lack of highquality language services available in the greater New Orleans area.” A certified interpreter, Dafoe launched TNOLA Languages in 2014 as a way to grow his freelance career. Six years later, the business has quickly grown to a team of freelancers who provide a wide array of translation services and interpreting to businesses, conferences, film sets and courtrooms primarily in New Orleans, but with a growing reach across the state and the Gulf South. TNOLA has an extensive, and still growing, menu of services including in areas of legal and medical translations of documents and proceedings. The company also provides subtitles for films, conference interpreting, and assistance with personal correspondence, websites and more. The price range for services varies greatly depending on the task and time required, according to Dafoe, with basic translation services starting at less than 25 cents per word, ranging up to large conferences with multiple interpreter teams running into thousands of dollars. “Historically, most of our work has been in the legal sector, primarily because that’s where a lot of the demand is,” said Dafoe, who is also Louisiana Supreme Court Certified. “In legal settings we’re hired by attorneys, their clients and also by district




Interpreters often work in incredibly important settings such as hospitals and courts, where the words they select can literally be the difference between life and death. Andrew Dafoe, owner of TNOLA Languages

and municipal court systems. Apart from the legal sector, we’ve had the opportunity to work steadily with a number of medical providers, private businesses and educational institutions as well.” While COVID-19 has changed in-person interpreting services, the business has thrived in translation services in written work and providing virtual services to companies. “With the shutdowns that came in response to the pandemic, our in-person

interpretation work essentially disappeared overnight, so it really forced us to focus on translations, and thankfully, there was, and is, a lot of information that needed to get out to everyone,” he said. “Apart from that, we’ve also seen an increase in willingness from clients to utilize the technology that’s available to provide interpretation remotely. When everyone is meeting via Zoom or Teams, it makes perfect sense to bring an interpreter in remotely as well.”

Dafoe said the translation industry is primarily composed of freelance linguists who operate as subcontractors. TNOLA works with more than 100 individual linguists. Interpreting and translation services require a deep set of technical skills along with a dedication to precision, discretion and sensitivity to privacy, according to Dafoe, something that TNOLA aspires to provide to clients of all backgrounds. “Interpreting is a specialized skill, and folks that aren’t familiar with it often assume anyone that’s bilingual can interpret,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and that misconception often results in people using underqualified individuals. Interpreters often work in incredibly important settings such as hospitals and courts, where the words they select can literally be the difference between life and death. I believed, and still believe, that language access is incredibly important and that the institutions and individuals who need language services deserve better. We’ve been striving to provide the highest quality language services ever since.” While his client list grows, Dafoe is looking to expand TNOLA’s reach to the business sector as a way to bridge the gap between employers and their team members whose first language may not be English. “I’d love to see us grow our base of folks who handle HR matters. Unfortunately, we often see what happens when employers don’t provide language services such as training, safety policies, and work agreements in a language understood by their employees,” he said. “By the time problems come up and we as professional interpreters get called in, it’s usually because it’s gotten to litigation. I think if firms did more to ensure language barriers get removed throughout the hiring and employment process, they could avoid a lot of these disputes.” Looking ahead, Dafoe is hoping to expand the company’s services to include supporting fellow interpreters as demand continues to grow. “I think we’ve got a model that works, an amazing team of dedicated professionals, and the motivation to keep growing,” he said. “We’re also working right now to launch an online training platform for interpreters. With the specialization required to be a good interpreter, training is in high demand. The new platform will also allow us to ensure our network of linguists is continually improving and refining their skills.”n

Unfortunately, we often see what happens when employers don’t provide language services, such as training, safety policies, and work agreements, in a language understood by their employees.

BY THE NUMBERS Interpretation and Translation is a growing field 77,400 Number of jobs (nationwide) in 2019 Job Outlook (20192029): projected to grow 20 PERCENT (compared to general occupational growth of 4%) 160 Number of Interpreters and Translators in Louisiana in 2019 $35,030 Annual Mean Wage SOURCE: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS



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







Muffuletta in the Making Every week, Perrone & Sons makes about 250 gallons of their famous olive salad with the same recipe Bartholomew Perrone perfected in the 1920s. PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

C A L I F O R N I A S I C I L I A N - ST Y L E G R E E N O L I V E S A R E T H E

main ingredient of the Perrone & Sons olive salad, which remains one of the top sellers among the now over 7,000 products offered by the family-owned company that started with Progress Grocery in 1924. Here, Rusty Perrone, the fourth-generation president of the company, uses a machine dating back to the 1960s to chop olives at the company’s production and distribution warehouse in Metairie. n