Content tagged “People”

'Business Report': From humble beginnings in garage, PreSonus changing global music industry

"The sleek contoured interior of audio engineering company PreSonus Audio Electronics' office resembles the designs of the recording equipment, audio mixer boards, and speakers created within these walls. And although the company moved into its new 44,000-square-foot headquarters six months ago, the new-car smell has yet to wear off," reads the new Business Report cover story on the rapidly growing Baton Rouge company that got its start in a south Louisiana garage and has since gone global. PreSonus was launched by former high school and LSU classmates Jim Odom and Brian Smith in 1995. "Late into the night after their day jobs as engineers, they worked in a garage warehouse that was part of a sonar company owned by Odom's uncle," reads the cover story. It took about a year for Odom and Smith to create the first product that could digitally control the dynamics of an analog audio signal. At the time, the other options were in high-end equipment that cost more than $100,000.

How to do PARK(ing) Day right

The return of the global event PARK(ing) Day to Baton Rouge this Friday will create temporary mini-parks at 16 sites across the city—and will probably cause countless double takes from confused passersby.

Case Study: What can be done to manage online reviews of my company or product?

In a perfect world, customers would base their buying decisions on the actual quality of a business or service instead of on opinions of anonymous Internet users whose remarks may or may not be valid. Word-of-mouth recommendations are still important; but online, comments and posts live in perpetuity and can influence purchasing decisions for weeks, months, even years to come. How your business leverages positive comments while managing negative reviews—and learning from them—is crucial to its success. Digital reviews are becoming increasingly influential, so we asked three business professionals for their thoughts on the best way to manage an online reputation.

Recommended Reads

President/CEO, Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce

Why don't we talk about race?

Years ago, a theory circulated that the decline and fall of the Roman Empire could be attributed at least in part to lead in the water.

A legacy of hope

President, ITI Technical College

Common negotiating mistakes

While even the word negotiation can evoke fear, stress and anxiety, the intent is quite simple: to discuss and ultimately agree on a deal.

Negative perceptions

If the much-hyped industrial construction boom materializes over the next three years as anticipated, Louisiana will have some 80,000 jobs it needs to fill with trained workers.

Shelia Sterling

Shelia Sterling has served Volunteers of America professionally for 25 years. Even while earning her master's in social work she was a VOA employee. "I have never worked for another organization," Sterling says. "I find the work we do both rewarding and humbling. I can't imagine doing anything else." Her institutional knowledge reflects job experience at all three Louisiana affiliates: Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans and, since 1991, Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge. Now vice president and COO of VOABGR, which serves a 19-parish region, Sterling oversees its leadership team and is responsible for the overall management, development and implementation of service programs. Those programs now impact annually over 20,000 of the region's most vulnerable residents, young and old: the homeless and the hungry; those living with disabilities and those living with AIDS; veterans and low-income seniors and traumatized children, among...

The Franchisee: Robert Myer

Robert Myer was first featured in the pages of Business Report back in the fall of 2001, in a feature titled: "Minorities in Business: Chasing the American Dream," at a time when the 52-year-old was had just opened his first staffing firm. For its Franchisee feature in the current issue, Business Report caught up with Myer, who shared some thoughts on best practices from his more than a dozen years in franchising. These days, Myer is not only the mayor of New Roads, he's also president and CEO of Comfort Keepers, an in-home care services and living assistance franchise with more than 700 locations worldwide that is ranked as one of the fastest growing franchises in America by Inc. magazine. He holds the same title with Express Employment Professionals, a staffing services franchise with offices in the U.S., Canada, South Africa and Australia. "I am what is called a multiunit franchise owner. ... With Comfort Keepers we have 10 franchise territories in five...

Reinventing AllBrands

When he was in the seventh grade, John Douthat had an encounter with a pig that he thought was a sure sign of his future career path.

Pat Quigley

In Baton Rouge, Pat Quigley made a name for himself as the owner of Ivar's, situated under the Perkins Road underpass. "Ivar's was my life," says Quigley, who kept the popular bar open every day of the year.

Garage to globe

The sleek contoured interior of audio engineering company PreSonus Audio Electronics resembles the designs of the recording equipment, audio mixer boards, and speakers created within these walls. And although the company moved into its new 44,000-square-foot headquarters six months ago, the new-car smell has yet to wear off.

Entrepreneur: Challa Kumar

Lab-on-a-chip technology has what Challa Kumar calls a "cool factor": Major things can happen in small devices. As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on Kumar, LOCs are hot products now, but they're not new. First made in the 1970s, LOCS have known applications in fields such as medical diagnostics and genomics. But through his work at LSU's Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, Kumar realized there's no limit to the kinds of applications that can be done in miniaturized laboratories. Kumar, an organic chemist from India, was hired in 2000 to set up CAMD's nanomaterials program. With his team, he says, he developed nanomaterial synthesis using LOC devices: "On a plastic chip, which is very inexpensive, we could do really sophisticated chemistry in its fluidic channels." To make the specialized technology available commercially, with LSU's permission Kumar founded the company Millifluidica two years ago.

Preston Armstrong Qvistgaard=Petersen

Talk about baptism of fire. In spring 2008, when Preston Q=Petersen became general manager of Team Automotive Group, the national recession was gathering steam. "There were significant concerns about the future of our lenders and their lending practices," he says. Within the year, the group—which comprises Team Honda, Team Toyota, Team Honda South and Team Collision— also encountered fallout from the "Toyota pedal recall." A shortage of parts and a surfeit of misinformation were among his team's daily challenges, Petersen recalls. Six years later, he prizes the achievement of weathering that uncertain period. "Our organization came though it all much stronger, more focused, and more capable in the end," he says. The TCU grad brought a special range of experience to his role as GM. His father had created Team, purchasing Baton Rouge Honda in 1988 and Levis Toyota in 1993, and Petersen had worked in every one of its departments. Perhaps as important, he was trained in...

Moving up the dial

The Jim Engster Show is leaving public radio station WRKF 89.3 FM and moving to Guaranty Broadcasting's Talk 107.3 FM. The one-hour talk show will expand to two hours and air live statewide during the weekday afternoon drive time from 4 to 6 p.m. The host's final broadcast on WRKF will be on Halloween. For Engster the move is an opportunity to reach a broader audience. His network, the Louisiana Radio Network, produces the show and will offer it to Guaranty affiliates around the state. Bill Profita, who currently hosts drive time talk on 107.3, will be moving to mornings, from 5:30 to 10 a.m. No word yet from WRKF on a program replacement.

Kathryn Bankston Smith

Kathryn Bankston Smith helps organizations understand the importance of managing their critical information and physical assets before a catastrophic event—such as a lawsuit, fire, flood, or hurricane—occurs. Having access to digitized documents and the location of physical file folders and equipment can make business continuity possible after a disaster strikes. A Certified Document Imaging Architect, Smith has more than 25 years of experience in implementing and consulting RIM/ECM solutions in addition to RFID asset management.

LaTania Anderson

"The best career-related advice I've ever received came from my mother. She always told me, no matter what career I chose, always do my best as unto the Lord. I have applied the advice she's given me to every aspect of my life especially in my profession. I always go the extra mile to help anyone. I believe I was put on this earth to serve and most of all to be a servant to others."

Robert Myer

AGE: 52

Case Study

Today, the mention of customer relationship management might bring to mind the software tool that helps businesses track, record, store and then data mine customer information to increase sales and streamline the sales process. But more directly, the critical, competitive advantage for a company can simply be providing customer service excellence and nurturing relationships. With more choices in the marketplace, retaining existing customers can be a greater challenge. It remains important to make a customer, not a sale, so we asked three business professionals for their thoughts on the best way to manage customer relationships.

Moving up

Lauren Pinac Nero has been named director of advocacy and communications for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana. The Crowley native will also serve as the nonprofit's general counsel. She will oversee all teacher advocacy governmental relations efforts, working with BESE, the Legislature, and local school boards, while also representing members with legal issues.

Challa Kumar

Lab-on-a-chip technology has what Challa Kumar calls a "cool factor": Major things can happen in small devices.

Q&A: Frank Duke

Frank Duke took over the helm of the East Baton Parish Planning Department nearly three months ago, just as the city-parish was beginning the process of implementing its new master plan, FuturEBR, and rewriting its zoning code. The new director has wasted no time rolling up his sleeves and getting down to business since coming to Baton Rouge from Norfolk, Virginia, where he headed that city's planning department. Duke sat down recently with Business Report to discuss his initial impressions of the Capital Region, his priorities and his hopes for the long term.

Reilly Family helps kick off program to help refugee children

Baton Rouge's Reilly Family has pledged $310,000 over the next four years in challenge grant funds to kick-start a new program designed to help unaccompanied refugee children seeking protection in the United States. The Louisiana Esperanza Project is being established by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge to provide legal services available under U.S. law that aim to not only protect the children's lives but assure their sanctuary in the U.S. remains documented. "The children at our border are some of the most vulnerable children on our continent," says Winifred Reilly, who, with her husband, Kevin Reilly, Jr., helped kick off the project. "Their parents have the same hopes and dreams as we all have for our own." Winifred and Kevin Reilly, Jr., joined several CCDBR board members and Jennifer and Sean Reilly in funding the project and challenging the community to match their gifts. "Louisianans are known for their generosity, and in this cause, we can help save lives,"...

Entrepreneur: Stacey Moore

Stacey Moore calls herself "a seeker," always looking for ways to do things better. As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on Moore, that inclination moved her to leave Our Lady of the Lake hospital after four years there as a critical care nurse to pursue a master's degree in public administration at LSU. Graduating in December 1998, Moore was hired by Woman's Hospital, where for 14 years she served as a project coordinator and supervisor in Nursing Administration. At Woman's, she says, "I really developed and fine-tuned the skill set needed to start my own business." That aim evolved over the last few years. She'd seen the importance of high-quality, in-home caregivers for members of her own family. In January she resigned from Woman's to launch Moore Care, administering a network of caregivers. She says, "I don't use the term 'sitter agency,' because we're not sitting; we're giving care. We are the family when the family can't be there."

Blue Cross executive VP and COO announces retirement

Peggy Scott, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana executive vice president and chief operating officer, announced today that she plans to retire in July 2015. "We will be sad to see her leave us," says Blue Cross President and CEO Mike Reitz in a prepared statement. "Peggy has played a vital role in the success of this company over the past nine years. We will use this next year to conduct a search for a successor to carry on the exemplary leadership that she provided. We wish her the best." A native of Baton Rouge, Scott received her bachelor's degree from LSU in 1973 and her executive MBA in 1992 from Tulane University in New Orleans. Prior to becoming executive vice president and chief operating officer, Scott also held positions of chief financial officer and treasurer at Blue Cross. She is married to local economist Loren Scott. —Steve Sanoski

Preston Castille Jr.

"If you are willing to embrace it, failure creates endless opportunities for success and innovation. I've heard this advice from many people over the years, but it was best captured by a young businesswoman in a television interview years ago. She and her father would often ask each other, Have you failed at something today?' She explained that the only way to truly be innovative and explore your potential is to freely push yourself as hard as you can and be willing to fail trying. Today, I try to push myself as hard as I can and know that even if I fail, greater success and opportunities may be just around the corner."

Freedom and faith

Attorney, Carleton, Loraso & Hebert

Bruce Wilkinson

Bruce Wilkinson describes himself as half New Orleans Irish Channel, half Ascension Parish, and three-fourths Cajun. He says he has helped train a million people and worked for 1,652 clients over a 28-year career. Wilkinson recently spoke to the Downtown Business Association about leadership challenges and dealing with generational differences in the workplace.

Open Air Bicycle Repair

Some might consider Open Air Bicycle Repair to be a washer shy of a tight fit.

Stacey Moore

She calls herself "a seeker," always looking for ways to do things better.

Jamie S. Simpson

In 1993 Jamie Simpson was just 23 when the founder of MMO Behavioral Health Systems asked her to join the fledgling enterprise. "Chris [Nichols] believed in my abilities and talents long before I did," Simpson says of her mentor. "She pushed my limits on a daily basis." In the ensuing decades, MMO grew from a single-service agency serving the Baton Rouge area into a major provider of mental health programs and services throughout Louisiana. And Simpson's role expanded in the process. "I learned early on in my career that in order to survive the health care industry, diversification of lines of service was necessary," she says. "I took on different positions of increasing responsibility to assist our organization in diversifying and moving forward." Today, as president and COO of MMO, Simpson is responsible for all facets of the business, though "compliance and revenue streams are on the top of [her] list." In 2008 she became a co-owner of MMO, realizing, she says, "I was already...

'225': Hang time with LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva

In July, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva is appreciating a few quiet moments, right before the LSU football frenzy invades all of Baton Rouge. He'll see something football related every day once the season starts in August, but that makes the month special. "I get excited for the start of every year," Alleva says. "It's almost like a rebirth every year. That's one thing nice about college sports. There are a whole lot of freshman coming in, there's new energy, and there's always excitement around the start of a year. It's fun and gets my juices flowing." In the cover story of the latest issue of 225, sports writer Lee Feinswog spends a day with the LSU athletic director. "Alleva never could have imagined 40 years ago that he'd one day be a grandfather in Baton Rouge," Feinswog writes. Alleva came to LSU after a long career at Duke University. There, he replaced AD Tom Butters in 1998, and his experiences as a family man at Duke prepared him for the LSU job, where every move...

Entrepreneur: Nicole Williamson

Two years ago this month, Tread BR first opened its doors. "People probably thought we were a tire place," owner Nicole Williamson jokingly tells Business Report for its latest Entrepreneur feature. In fact, Tread's name derives from its signature class. The hour-long Tread class combines treadmill-based cardio workouts, strength training and Pilates core exercises. Class is limited to 12 so that the instructor can interact one-on-one with clients, watching and guiding their form. "It's like having a personal trainer," Williamson says, "but you get the energy of a group class." Initially she was a "one-woman show": checking clients in, teaching classes, keeping the books and running the clothing boutique within the studio. Today, nine other instructors assist her in teaching as many as 55 classes per week during the regular fall-to-spring schedule. And Tread is one of half a dozen workouts offered. Regarding her 1,500 or so clients, Williamson says, "I'm fortunate to have such...

Richard LeMoine

AGE: 41
THE FRANCHISEE: After two decades in retail, Richard LeMoine became his own boss so he could enjoy more time with his family. His career choice: selling cured and exotic meats.
THE FRANCHISE: Beef Jerky Outlet began its franchise expansion in 2010 and now has more than 20 stores, with twice that amount scheduled to open in the next few years.

Jim Engster

"Director Woody Allen said that 'Showing up is 80 percent of life.' He made that statement five days after the death of Elvis Presley, both of whom were born in 1935. Allen has weathered the ravages of age, sometimes brilliantly, other times scandalously, while Elvis has presumably been dead for the past 37 years. I arrived as a freshman at LSU on the day Elvis expired at age 42, and I watched more talented classmates veer down the Presley path, burning out far too early due to a lack of commitment to excellence. Even in the often-fickle media world, success is predicated more on dedication than on ability. Allen called it right. Excellence in life starts by showing up."

In Conversation: Chris John

The oil and gas industry mostly got what it wanted during the last legislative session. But it continues to be criticized for damaging the coast, accepting tax breaks, fracking and other issues. Against that backdrop, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association in July released its latest report about the economic value of the energy sector, which says the industry supported nearly 300,000 jobs and $73.8 billion in sales in 2011 and contributed $4.2 billion to state and local treasuries in fiscal year 2013. The Grow Louisiana Coalition, established to promote the industry statewide, now can take those numbers on the road. Business Report spoke with LMOGA President Chris John the day the study was released.

Mindfulness at work

Mindfulness—being focused and fully present in the here and now—is good for individuals and good for a business's bottom line.

Moving up

Corey Landry has been promoted to branch manager at IberiaBank's Airline-Pecue branch. He joined the bank in October 2012 as an assistant branch manager. Prior to that, he worked as a relationship banker and assistant branch manager for Capital One bank for four years.

Nicole Williamson

"People probably thought we were a tire place," jokes Nicole Williamson, 31, who founded the Perkins Road fitness studio Tread BR.

From welder to auditor to the world of fashion

It's hard to see the welder from Walker in the 29-year-old man with close-cropped black hair, black-and-white Chuck Taylors, tuxedo trousers, and black and gray checked shirt collared loosely with a turquoise tie in a half-Windsor knot. Doug Secrest has come a long way.

Sonya Burton

Business First Bank was just a year old in 2007, when Sonya Burton joined it in the role of internal auditor and compliance officer. "I was interested in Business First Bank specifically because it was such a young institution," Burton says. An alumna of LSU's Graduate School of Banking, she saw the move as "an exciting prospect": "To be able to establish a risk program from the ground up was a huge opportunity," she says. Her role at BFB grew "organically," in tandem with the bank's growth. "I was given the opportunity to view risk from a more comprehensive level," she says, "while we filled out the risk department with individuals who could specialize in a particular area." In March the bank announced that, to take advantage of strategic growth opportunities, it was reorganizing into three geographic regions, each with its own CEO, yet "centralizing enterprise risk management." Burton was promoted to the new role of chief risk officer, overseeing activities in all three...

'225': Pastor Joseph Moore devotes his ministry to the homeless

Open Air Ministries, a project of Pastor Joseph Moore, is now supported by more than a dozen local churches and nonprofit organizations. As 225 details in a feature from the August issue by Editor Jeff Roedel, Open Air's mission is to provide spiritual growth and support to the area's homeless, all the while feeding them, distributing secondhand goods and clothes and offering skills, training and work opportunities. Hundreds of men and women line up each week, some with backpacks, others with crinkled plastic shopping bags. As they gather around the pastor, he tells them that he loves them, and that God loves them more—and then he prays. "There's an amen—strong and in unison," writes Roedel. "It sounds like a riot. It sounds like a rebellion against the struggle of their daily lives and the way they know most people look at them as they walk the streets of this city." Though the "official" count of known residents without permanent housing is 955, Moore says the...

'Business Report': How former LSU, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal built a multimillion-dollar business empire

More than two decades ago, a 7-foot-1-inch basketball star with a lopsided grin, a sense of humor and a tenacious business drive attempted to walk into LSU professor Joe Hair's principles of marketing class and got stuck. "He joked a lot about his height, even saying, 'They don't make these doors big enough for a guy like me,'" Hair tells Business Report in a feature from the current issue. "And he couldn't fit at the desk, either. So we got him a different chair to sit in, but we couldn't find a desk for him to sit in because he was so big." Shaquille O'Neal is still living large. He retired from the NBA three years ago after a 19-year career and four championship rings. But the 42-year-old continues to build his brand and expand his investment portfolio. He has a net worth of nearly $350 million, and last year he reportedly made $23 million in television commercials, endorsements and partnerships. He owns car washes, fitness centers and burger chain franchises. He has his...

'Business Report': BR barber has kept customers laughing, looking good for five decades

Tucked behind what may be the smallest Subway sandwich shop in America on Perkins Road, just south of College Drive, is the three-chair Beau James barber shop. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, the unassuming shop is the sixth place where Jimmy Fontenot, 72, has cut hair since he left Mamou when he was 21 years old. Over that span, Fontenot has trimmed hair and traded barbs with four governors, a music legend and a whole lot of regular Joes. Customers like the entertainment—and suspense—Fontenot provides at the barber shop. Recently, Fontenot arrived at the punch line of a joke as he lightly applied a straight razor to the neck of Justin Speed, 25. "It's like he's daring you to laugh," Speed says. Dane Domingue, a 42-year-old engineer, enjoys trying his fractured French on Fontenot. "I'll pick up every 10th word," Domingue says. "I like talking to Mr. Jimmy. My mother's from Ville Platte." Domingue got childhood haircuts from Tom...

How do I go beyond the trite and cliché when trying to motivate my sales team?

A sales manager must continually look for ways to motivate his sales team. Unfortunately, banal incentive programs and speeches filled with clichés won't work. How do you go beyond the trite and cliché when trying to motivate your sales team? We asked three experienced sales managers and trainers for their advice.

On being a leader

The Capital Region's Top 100 private companies didn't automatically start out on top.

Executive Spotlight: James "Jim" Beard

In the new issue of Business Report, Beard Construction Group is ranked No. 63 in the Top 100 List of Private Companies, up from No. 86 in 2013. But its president, James "Jim" Beard, isn't one to rest on laurels. As he tells the magazine for its new Executive Spotlight feature: "I always seem to be focused on the next quarter or the next business year, always trying to figure out where the next job is going to come from." Still, Beard recalls appreciatively the firm's early days, in 2004, when he and his partners didn't yet have an office. "Mr. Louis Witty, the dad of one of the partners, allowed us to clean out his garage and set up shop there," Beard says. "We each took a corner and hit the ground running." Their first contract was a landfill project in Alabama following Hurricane Ivan. "After that, things took off at a much faster rate than we imagined possible," he says. The civil construction firm's headquarters went up in Port Allen in 2005, providing easy access to...

James "Jim" Beard

In this issue of Business Report, Beard Construction Group is ranked No. 63 in the Top 100 List of Private Companies, up from No. 86 in 2013. But its president, James "Jim" Beard, isn't one to rest on laurels: "I always seem to be focused on the next quarter or the next business year, always trying to figure out where the next job is going to come from." Still, he recalls appreciatively the firm's early days, in 2004, when he and his partners didn't yet have an office. "Mr. Louis Witty, the dad of one of the partners, allowed us to clean out his garage and set up shop there," Beard says. "We each took a corner and hit the ground running." Their first contract: a landfill project in Alabama following Hurricane Ivan. "After that, things took off at a much faster rate than we imagined possible," he says. The civil construction firm's headquarters went up in Port Allen in 2005, providing easy access to Interstate 10. BCG has completed projects across the Gulf South and beyond,...

Queens for a day

Professional basketball player

Talking Points: David LaCerte

Gov. Bobby Jindal in June elevated David LaCerte from deputy secretary to secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. LaCerte replaces former Congressman Rodney Alexander, who stepped down after less than a year. While LaCerte, a former Marine Corps infantryman, does not supervise the federal Veterans Affairs system, he does hold strong opinions about what the scandal-plagued VA must do to establish trust with veterans and the rest of the American people.

Michael DePaul

"I can be very stubborn. My father often told me, 'Mike, it's not like the whole world is wrong and you're right.' His words stuck with me, because it's a wonderful reminder to try to recognize the signals and admit when I'm wrong. Still, it's much easier said than done. At work, I defend my positions pretty strongly, but I try to quickly recognize when there is more support for a different position. In fact, there's usually more than one way to solve a problem, and the difference between them is often minimal."

Shaq Inc.

More than two decades ago, a 7-foot-1-inch basketball star with a lopsided grin, a sense of humor and a tenacious business drive attempted to walk into LSU professor Joe Hair's principles of marketing class and got stuck.

Still in the family

In April 1954, a Pak-a-Sak convenience store manager in Baton Rouge named Jay Prothro got the itch to open his own business. The married young father didn't know what kind of venture to launch; he was simply driven by the idea of entrepreneurship.

Mix and mingle

When Elizabeth Carter decided it was time to branch out into her own interior design firm, she learned the importance of networking.

Lord of the rings

The doughnut shop is an American institution.
Before gas stations became convenience stores, these establishments were one of the few places a consumer could purchase a cup of coffee without going to a full-service restaurant. National brands like Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme spread like wildfire over the second half of the 20th century, sometimes coexisting with successful mom-and-pop doughnut shops.

Watch 'em rise

In 1972, a local restaurant owner named Frank Dedman Sr. made a life-changing decision. Eight years earlier, in 1964, he had opened a drive-in eatery that sold car-side burgers, po-boys and homemade ice cream.

Encore entrepreneurs

When Tim Stoll was in his 40s, he envisioned himself climbing the corporate ladder until retiring in his 60s. But after two decades of working for one of Baton Rouge's chemical corporations, the business manager with a Ph.D. in chemistry had a change of heart.

Tess Brunet & Patrick Hodgkins

"We've created the record store that we would want to go to."

The barber

Jimmy Fontenot, 72, arrived at the punch line of a joke as he lightly applied a straight razor to the neck of Justin Speed, 25.
"It's like he's daring you to laugh," Speed says.
Customers like the entertainment—and suspense—Fontenot provides at Beau James barber shop.
The three-chair shop is on Perkins Road, just south of College Drive, tucked behind what may be the smallest Subway sandwich shop in America. It's the sixth place Fontenot has cut hair since he left Mamou when he was 21.

15 things we do at work that say, 'I don't care'

We care deeply about our clients, employees and co-workers. Of course we do. But if we're like most people in the workplace, we may occasionally do (or not do) things that send the wrong signal.

'Business Report': Local executives share advice on business plans

While many believe creating a solid business plan is the first step toward achieving success in a business venture, some wonder if it's necessary to spend countless hours perfecting the strategy. Business Report asked three local planning professionals—Stephen Waters, senior business consultant at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University; Tim Stoll, owner of The Alternative Board-Metro Baton Rouge; and Jennifer Fowler, associate director at the Louisiana Business & Technology Center—how a business owner can tell if their business plan is holding them back. The consensus is that the plan should be analyzed, put into action and then re-evaluated for effectiveness, rather than remaining on a shelf. "If you have a written business plan, you are ahead of most business owners. But is it holding you back? I can assure you the plan is not," Stoll says. "Nevertheless, your plan might not contain a clear and compelling vision that tells your...

Moving up

Fonda Funderburk has been promoted to senior vice president of the Bank of Zachary. She is the manager of retail operations for the bank, overseeing all front-line activities. Funderburk is also a lending officer, primarily in consumer loans. She has been with the Bank of Zachary for 32 years, starting as a teller in 1982. Also, Kim McDonald has been promoted to vice president of the bank. She is the electronic banking manager, a position she assumed in 2013 after several years as manager of the Central branch. She first worked for the Bank of Zachary while a student at Zachary High, but began her current tenure in 2008. McDonald has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Additionally, Donna Brown and Jeree Chaney have been promoted to assistant vice presidents. Brown works in the bank's accounting division. She started her career at the bank in 2002 as a teller, most recently serving as an assistant cashier. Chaney is a loan officer, primarily in...

How to hire a lawyer

If you're being sued, the prime time to hire an attorney has already passed.

Edward "Sandy" Comeaux

If you want to know what welders want in a cap, just ask them.

Keeping the home fires burning

An abiding principle in military strategy is, "Never fight a war on two fronts."

John Georges' big gamble

A little over a year ago, John Georges launched an experiment that flew in the face of conventional wisdom: He bought The Advocate, a daily newspaper, and instead of going digital, like other newspapers around the country, he expanded his printed product and took it regional.

How do I know if my business plan is holding me back?

While many believe creating a solid business plan is the first step toward achieving success in a business venture, some wonder if it's necessary to spend countless hours perfecting the strategy. We asked three planning professionals, "How do I know if my business plan is holding me back?" The consensus is that the plan should be analyzed, put into action, and then re-evaluated for effectiveness, rather than remaining on a shelf.

Spencer Watts

"A former boss told me, You can have the greatest collections and the types of services that librarians absolutely love, but if we're not making the right connection with the customers and giving them what they need and delivering it to them in a way that is convenient and fully accessible, then we're missing our opportunity.' His ultimate message was that steadfastly maintaining a focus on the customer helps us be as responsive as we can, and it also allows us to do a better job of anticipating what they need."

Robert Mercer

It's hard to imagine a more experienced hotelier than Robert Mercer. With nearly 50 years in the business, Mercer took the helm at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel in October 2012. Previously, Mercer had managed numerous upscale hotel properties in major Southern cities—in Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando, to name a few. Though his employer is actually Davidson Hotels & Resorts, Mercer's job entails working closely with the developer and owner of the landmark Bluebonnet Boulevard property, Mike Wampold. "It is our job to ensure that his investment is well taken care of, well thought of in the community, and financially successful," Mercer says. The GM's transition at the award-winning hotel was free of surprises. "I knew before I arrived how beautiful the hotel was and that I would be able to have interactions with the owner, which I believe is most important in order to fully understand what drives him and what he expects from me as the general manager." Wampold Companies, he...

Being a Big Buddy

Head coach, Southern University women's tennis

How do I handle a workplace bully?

Workplace bullying isn't limited to the extremes of verbal abuse or physical violence. Intimidation, humiliation and interfering with another employee's work all fall into the category of bullying. Managers and supervisors don't have to overlook such situations. In fact, having a strict policy defining bullying and its consequences is a good first step to maintaining a positive work environment. Read more advice on the topic, offered by three human resources professionals when asked, "How do I handle a workplace bully?"

Norman R. Morris Jr.

"George Brown and Charlie Tapp, former executives of the Beer Industry League of Louisiana, gave me an opportunity back in 1990 to start a career in governmental affairs. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work for them. I learned so many valuable lessons from George and Charlie, but the best advice they gave to me was In order to be successful you must love what you do,' and Your word is your bond.'"

Moving up

Randy Ledet has been named managing partner of Planche Politz Ledet, replacing Patrick Planche. He has been a CPA and partner in the firm since 2008. Ledet, a native of Houma, is a graduate of the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business and a member of the Louisiana chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.

The underdogs

Last year, Mike Legit made what seemed to some to be an unusual business move: He opened an independent pharmacy on a busy thoroughfare where CVS and Walgreens dominate two corners of a nearby intersection and Walmart and Winn Dixie dominate another.

Lani Guilbeau

POSITION Founder and owner
COMPANY Fleur Du Jour Florist
WHAT THEY DO Accommodate planned events with expert floral and design services
ADDRESS fleurdujourla.com
NEXT GOAL To reconnect with her clients

Executive Spotlight: Cynthia Rougeou

Cynthia Rougeou begins each workday at the Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System with a Diet Dr. Pepper. On the best days, she tells Business Report in its new Executive Spotlight feature, that kick-start is "followed by interacting and sharing ideas with our senior executive staff." Promoted to executive director in 2006, Rougeou oversees the daily operations of LASERS and professes a "passion" for its mission: "to provide a sound retirement plan for our members through prudent management and exceptional service." LASERS members do not participate in Social Security. "Our average retiree has a very modest pension," Rougeou says. Dispelling misconceptions has been a consistent part of her current job, she adds: "We are not going broke, and we are certainly not Detroit. In fact, our 30-year average actuarial return exceeds 8%." For the past decade LASERS has ranked among the top 10 performing public pension systems in the nation, notwithstanding its unfunded accrued...

Cynthia Rougeou

Cynthia Rougeou begins each workday at LASERS with a Diet Dr. Pepper. On the best days, she says, that kick-start is "followed by interacting and sharing ideas with our senior executive staff." Promoted to executive director in 2006, Rougeou oversees the daily operations of LASERS and professes a "passion" for its mission: "to provide a sound retirement plan for our members through prudent management and exceptional service." LASERS members do not participate in Social Security. "Our average retiree has a very modest pension," Rougeou says. Dispelling misconceptions has been a consistent part of her current job, she adds: "We are not going broke, and we are certainly not Detroit. In fact, our 30-year average actuarial return exceeds 8 percent." For the past decade LASERS has ranked among the top 10 performing public pension systems in the nation, notwithstanding its unfunded accrued liability. Rougeou says: "In our most recent valuation, the UAL dropped by nearly $700 million. For...

Talking Points

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has for several years been trying to figure out how better to meet the needs of the state's employers. Curt Eysink, who directs the LWC and spoke recently to many of those employers at a Rotary Club of Baton Rouge luncheon, says progress has been made. But as the Gulf Coast prepares for tens of billions of dollars in new investment, the real test is still to come.

My Favorite Tech: Stafford Kendall

It's no small feat to be singled out from all of the small businesses across the country and named as one of 75 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But that's just one of Covalent Logic's achievements under the leadership of Stafford Kendall. Her client list includes the likes of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, BREC, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana Economic Development, as well as publicly traded oil and gas companies, and hospitality firms.

Jennifer Carlton Rood

"When I began at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, I found an immediate connection with my then-boss, Dr. Donna Ryan. Over the next 20 years, she transitioned from boss to mentor to friend. She led by example, and I have tried to emulate that. She'd always say, Work hard, treat people with kindness, tell the truth and above all, remain calm.'"

Sandra Weitz

Founder, Comprehensive Pain Management

Jerry Passman

Jerry Passman suspects building is in his DNA. His grandfather was a builder. His father, Bobby Passman, launched Passman Homes in 1971. "He paid me 50 cents to sweep out [his first spec home]," Passman says. "We were together from the beginning." In due course Passman took the reins of the family enterprise. He now has a business partner, Robert Baughman, yet his job remains full-time: "I handle a lot of the office work, do the government paperwork, meet prospective customers, work with our Realtors, and put together proposals." Nevertheless, in January, Passman assumed another role: the presidency of Louisiana Home Builders Association. "I had a desire to give back to the industry that has been so good to me," he says. He is the spokesman of LHBA's estimated 5,200 members, of whom 40% are licensed home builders. The remaining 60% represent "all industries involved in home building—from the dirt to the lumber ... to the attorneys who close the sales." In the legislative...

'225': LSU student with cerebral palsy fights for legalized medical marijuana

Jacob Irving, a 21-year-old political communications major at LSU, was diagnosed at birth with a spastic form of cerebral palsy. As 225 details in a feature from the current issue, Irving's muscles and movements are permanently impaired to the point that even the simplest of activities require a Herculean effort to perform. To maintain some flexibility, he exercises and stretches for 40 hours each week. His prescription drug intake is considerable. Although he has managed his condition with ease, Irving is quick to point out that he's more fortunate than most. For the majority of people, life with a permanent movement disorder is even harder. ​A member of the LSU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Irving has become an ardent defender of medical marijuana, an affordable, non-invasive treatment option for some patients. For his own condition, Irving says using medical marijuana could be transformative. "It is known to loosen the muscles, making the daily...

In her own words

We asked Miss Louisiana USA 2014, Brittany Guidry, to tell us a little about what what she has experienced in the lead-up to the competition Sunday. Check out what she had to say and some photos from the events below!
Brittany: So far I'm feeling great! The anticipation is killing me for finals. As a state titleholder, this is what we've focused on from the moment we were crowned in our home state to the actual day of Miss USA finals.
We haven't had much time for sleep with our early mornings and late nights, but the excitement of it all keeps us running. A normal day for us is breakfast at 7 a.m., then we head straight to an event, get back for lunch and then one or two more events. After all of that it's time for dinner and we are headed off to another event or rehearsal! The days are busy, but I'm enjoying every second of it.

Meet Miss USA 2013 Erin Brady

The ladies vying for the 2014 title of Miss USA have gathered in Baton Rouge! The pageant airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC, live from the River Center. But before the new winner is crowned, we spoke with Erin Brady, the current Miss USA, whose year in the spotlight is wrapping up. Find out what she revealed to us, including what you should keep in mind while watching the show, and the one beauty item she can't do without.

'225': A look inside the Buddy Stewart Memorial Music Foundation & Rhythm Museum

Philliper Stewart is keeping the legacy of her father, Buddy Stewart, alive in Mid City north. As 225 reports in a story from the current issue, Buddy was a musician who owned a popular record store on North Acadian Thruway. His daughter worked with him for 17 years. After he died, she had to figure out what to do with a long-standing business that was now selling an outdated product. She knew it was something she needed to hold onto, but wasn't sure the direction to turn. In the early 2000s, the store became the Buddy Stewart Memorial Music Foundation & Rhythm Museum. The site has photos and memorabilia, occasionally still sells a record or two, and hosts the annual Rocktober Fest community event. Another goal of the foundation and museum is to improve music education in local schools. Already, Stewart's foundation has partnered with Capitol High School to bring back its music program. She welcomes the opportunity to help young people gain an appreciation for music. "You...

Entrepreneur: Helena Cunningham

Helena Cunningham entered the affordable housing industry as a third-year law student. As Business Report details in its Entrepreneur feature on Cunningham from the current issue, she was already a CPA when she interned with the law firm that served as legal counsel for the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. Based in Baton Rouge, the agency administered federal financing programs needed by developers of affordable housing. After passing the bar exam in 1997, Cunningham was hired as general counsel for LHFA; in April 2001 she became its president. "I loved its purpose," she says. "Once I got in, I figured out this organization had so much potential." Under her leadership, LHFA flourished, offering many programs to promote housing for low- to middle-income families. With a view to someday starting her own business, Cunningham moved into the development side of the industry in 2009, becoming the managing director of the NHP Foundation's Gulf Coast Region. She says, "Mostly our...

John Maginnis: A life in words

John Maginnis was one of a kind. We were proud to have his words appear in the pages of Business Report and Daily Report. John was our friend. But then, John made friends wherever he went, and once he found his home in syndicated columns, faxes and the Internet, that meant he had friends in every corner of Louisiana. And everybody was always glad to see John coming. We had the pleasure of working with John way back in the immediate post-Gris-Gris era. John was business partners with Rolfe McCollister Sr. and Rolfe McCollister Jr. in a weekly suburban newspaper called Baton Rouge Enterprise. David Dodson worked as a reporter for John there. After the founding of Business Report, John began his solo career, which led to books, a syndicated column statewide, online media and his role as a dinner speaker. When John was at the head table as a speaker, you knew you would be entertained, you would learn something, and you would leave feeling a little...

Reconnecting

For more than a decade and a half, Jeff Fluhr became a well-known fixture downtown, encouraging development of the city's center while working for Executive Director Davis Rhorer.

The next step

Owner, Judy P. Foust Inc.

How do I turn a negative atmosphere in the office into a positive one?

Most people would like to have a good relationship with their supervisors and co-workers. They want a job where they look forward to starting their shift. The payoff is that creating a positive work environment can lead to getting the most out of your employees. The good news is management sets the tone. We asked three area professionals to answer the question, "How do I turn around a negative atmosphere in the office into a positive one?"

The Slumber Queen

Kim Brecheen's favorite color is red. Her favorite author is Danielle Steel, and her favorite food is chocolate. When you walk into her $2.4 million Central home, there is a large painting of a sexy red dress that hangs on the wall directly across the front door.

Moving Up

Campus Federal Credit Union has promoted four people on its executive management team. Kristie Daspit has been promoted to chief operating officer. She previously served as vice president for marketing and project management. Her responsibilities include the strategic oversight of information technology, marketing, operational systems support, vendor management, and research and product development. Ron Moreau has been promoted to chief development officer. He previously served as vice president for business development and community relations. His responsibilities include the strategic oversight of branch administration, business development, community and financial education, and the member relations center. Jay Noel has been promoted to chief lending officer from vice president of business services. His responsibilities include the strategic oversight of business and retail lending, collections and mortgage lending. And Jane Verret has been promoted to chief administrative...

Helena Cunningham

POSITION Founder and CEO
COMPANY National Housing Consultant Services
WHAT THEY DO Consultant and development services with emphasis on affordable housing
ADDRESS nhcsla.com
NEXT GOAL Develop the Saltz Building downtown

Lisa Traina

Lisa Traina is a trailblazer in the world of business and technology. She was one of the few women to major in computer science at LSU in 1982. "The women in the computer science department were few and far between," Traina says. "They still are. I've always worked in a man's world."

Mary Stein

Every morning, Mary Stein drinks one cup of Community Coffee, leisurely reads the whole newspaper, and jams to rock 'n' roll music in her car on the way to work. But talk to the Assistant Director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library for five minutes and your would think Stein drank a pot of coffee, speed-read the paper and listened to Bollywood on her way to work.

Kimberly Robinson

Kimberly Robinson's passion for justice and improving people's lives is what attracted her to the practice of law. Few would assume her area of expertise—tax law—could be the means to feed those passions.

Jenni Peters

There are so many reasons Jenni Peters is an inspiration. She turned a $100,000 investment into a $2 million business. She ran competitively for Nike. She has trained local teams for the Boston Marathon. She has an impressive array of race medals hanging from the bookshelves in her office—and an even more impressive collection at home. She's 58 years old and still runs 30 miles per week.

Kristy Nichols

Don't tell Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols that the easiest way for a state to save money is to trim services. "I go crazy when I think about the way budget cuts are usually done," Nichols says. "There's a better way than in negatively impacting the end user, and that's by doing things smarter."