Brown Eagle: Helping Louisiana chemical manufacturers soar

Today, most people think of logistics as sending an envelope from one place to another or having a package that was ordered online delivered to their home or business. 

To industrial and manufacturing sites, finished products logistics starts at the packaging line and ends with the customer. Plus, what’s being sent from one place to another usually weighs hundreds or thousands of pounds and is being delivered to locations all over the world. What may surprise people most, however, is that there’s a company here in Baton Rouge that’s providing multinational Fortune 500 chemical manufacturers with best-in-class logistics solutions. It’s Brown Eagle.

Though the company could be considered one of the city’s best kept secrets, Brown Eagle is at the forefront of providing innovative 3PL and 4PL logistics solutions for chemical manufacturers in Louisiana and across America. The company operates projects and supplies everything from end-to-end logistics project management to a single forklift driver. Brown Eagle also manages over 600,000 square feet of warehouse space across six sites in the Capital Region, providing contract warehouse operations, dedicated storage solutions and public storage options to clients whether they need to store one pallet or thousands.

“Our pitch to prospective clients is pretty straightforward,” says CEO Lela Mae Wilkes. “Their core competency is not packaging, warehousing and shipping—their core competency is making the product. Brown Eagle has the people, systems and expertise to package the product and get it to the customer while the client can focus on making the best product they can.”

This approach has worked well as Brown Eagle has developed long-lasting relationships with some of the chemical industry’s top companies. In fact, Brown Eagle has an average client tenure of 28 years. “Being locally owned and managed lets us respond to our clients’ needs quickly,” says Lela Mae. “That responsiveness and our expertise has enabled us to double sales and employees, as well as triple our number of new clients over the past five years. This is a strong testament to our ability to customize services to our clients’ increasingly complex and global needs.”

While speed is important, safety and accuracy are Brown Eagle’s passion. Brown Eagle recently completed 2.4 million man hours without a lost-time incident, dating to 2014, and has a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of zero for four of the past five years. The company also touts a shipping accuracy rate of 99.999 percent with one location going an amazing 41 years without an error or customer complaint. Brown Eagle’s president, Billy Bellefontaine, gives credit to the company’s focus on work processes and training. 

 “I met Lela Mae in my previous life as Supply Chain Technology Director at DOW.  Her safety and performance achievements are elite at any level,” says Billy. “Brown Eagle was ahead of the curve on the adoption and development of standardized processes in the logistics industry. Continuous development and improvement of our processes and systems allow us to outperform competitors today and has set the stage for greater growth.”

One of the keys to Brown Eagle’s success is communicating “why” following procedures perfectly is important.

“Early on, we had a workforce that mostly had military experience and would do their job just as they were shown. Today, we take it a step further and teach why the worker needs to perform each step in a procedure,” says Lela Mae. “Our training incorporates the potential consequences of process variation of each and every step.”  

Brown Eagle is an award-winning company. In 2019, it won the coveted “Supplier of the Year Award” from the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, and in 2020, it was recognized for its focus on safety and was named one of LWCC’s “Safest 70 for 2020.”

Behind this unwavering commitment to work process and training is a genuine concern for employees. No one shows this more than Lela Mae herself. Despite the demands of running a large company, she relishes the opportunity to recognize and celebrate her employees’ achievements. 

“I look forward to COVID ending so I can start visiting our project sites again,” she says.  “Our employees take pride in reaching safety, quality and production milestones and I like to honor them in person because there’s nothing like seeing the smile on someone’s face when they’re being recognized for a job well done.”

To better serve their clients’ needs and with an eye towards growth, Brown Eagle bought the former Baton Rouge Beer Agency warehouse in 2017. The 110,000-square-foot warehouse and office facility on Airline Highway now houses their headquarters and solids (powders, pellets and flakes) transfer and packaging systems with a capacity greater than 600,000 lbs./day.

Looking forward, the Brown Eagle team will continue to provide innovative and best-in-class logistics solutions to manufacturers across the United States and are excited to explore acquisition opportunities in the e-commerce space in larger markets.

“We’re in a great position to help clients soar in 2021 and beyond,” Lela Mae says.


FROM THE OWNER

Owner Lela Mae Wilkes

Brown Eagle has achieved the safety milestone of a TRIR of ZERO for 4 of the last 5 years! We owe this achievement to the hard-working women and men of Brown Eagle, who have worked relentlessly to achieve this goal. These are the frontline workers of the logistics workforce who work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week packaging, warehousing and shipping our clients’ products all over the globe. Our clients’ products are used to feed the world, assemble and power our vehicles, produce building materials, clothing and all sorts of other consumer goods.

Brown Eagle would not have achieved today’s success without the strong, diverse leadership of the women and men serving on the front line of supervision and management. Many of us have worked together for decades, growing as a team for 20, 30 and even 40 years!

We cannot say thank you enough to our clients, who have supported Brown Eagle as a woman-owned business. We are especially grateful for their support and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing us with protective equipment and allowing us to socially distance on the production line, our clients have led the charge in the areas of safety, health, quality and environmental stewardship.

The Louisiana chemical industry is the backbone of our state’s economy. Brown Eagle has been fortunate to not only be a participant, but an important player in this industry.

I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for our company.

LELA MAE WILKES

OWNER