PALA Group: Drawing strength from a diverse, specialized portfolio

President & CEO Scott Barringer (standing)

PALA is celebrating its 50th anniversary in stellar fashion, as it will mark a record year in revenue for the employee-owned industrial contractor. It wasn’t by accident. PALA has built a reputation upon its decades-old commitment to delivering high-quality projects using the safest construction practices. 

From day one, diversification has been the name of the game for PALA, and that has enabled it to weather a host of economic storms. Led by Scott Couper, the original  contracting entity, PALA Interstate has literally been expanding and transforming itself since its founding in 1973 as a contractor in the sugar industry. Not long after, the company moved into the pulp and paper, refining and petrochemicals sector, then later formed its Aboveground Storage Tank and ASME Vessel construction operations.


Top executives: Scott Barringer, CEO; Gay Young, CFO; Barry Abshire, CRO; Craig Pierce, Vice President-Finance; Jamie Coots, Controller 

Phone: 225.226.7400

Address: 16347 Old Hammond Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA 70816


In 2012 PALA created the SMART Safety Group from the ground up, drawing from one of its core values, safety.

In 2017, PALA acquired U.S. Fusion & Specialty Construction, providing specialty installation and welding of plastic pipe and liners, and in 2021 created ELITE Helical Solutions to expand into the helical piles market. More recently, PALA acquired ARCCO Power Systems, a leading provider of industrial generators and service as well as emergency response.

As a result, they’re a very horizontal, diversified and collectively stronger, organization. Each company is run independently and has its own president and COO. “Our various businesses serve diverse end markets and have few customers that overlap,” says Scott Barringer, PALA President. “We let them run their businesses while we provide oversight to ensure they stay true to our values, ethics and risk tolerances.”

Travis Blair, left, and Dustin Miller, President of U.S. Fusion

The presidents of the various companies meet regularly to provide business updates, point out potential opportunities, and seek ways to work collaboratively that are beneficial to the larger group. “But at the end of the day, they retain their individuality as companies,” says Craig Pierce, Vice  President – Finance, “but benefit from being part of a diverse group of enterprises.”

That’s important since each company has its own identity, areas of expertise and unique backgrounds. “It’s important that they don’t abandon those things that made them who they are,” Barringer says. It has been a successful business model so far that has led to unparalleled employee retention. A lot of the credit also goes to the PALA culture. Put simply, it’s a great place to work, where employees support, challenge and respect each other.

(From left) Scot Millican, Tom Sanders, President of ARCCO, Allen Bonnecaze
Brandon Chapman, President of SMART Safety

Another big differentiator … in 2008, PALA became an employee-owned company via acquisition from the original founding family owners. Barringer says selling the business to the employees was a huge milestone. “The original owners had many offers to sell to competitors, but they didn’t want PALA to change as a company and how it operated. They were proud of what they had created and wanted to see that continue. Selling to the employees gave them that assurance.” 

While the first five years of the transformation were challenging, the company ultimately succeeded through the consistency and willingness of management and the employee owners. They’re currently reaping the rewards, as they continue their quest to increase shareholder value.

Today, PALA is a group of growing companies relentlessly focused on delivering the best possible service to its customers and creating value for its dedicated group of employee owners. They strive to provide the most responsive services that deliver exactly what is needed, when it’s needed.


This year we celebrate our 50th anniversary in business from our beginnings as an industrial contractor in the sugar mill industry to the employee-owned diversified group of companies we are today. Reflecting back, I am proud of the successes our companies have achieved. Being in business for so long has meant that we have faced numerous challenges over the years which we have met through the dedication and perseverance of our 500+ employee owners. Today, I feel more confident than ever in our leadership teams as we continue to do what has made us successful—providing our customers with world class services delivered safely and on time. 2023 is not only our 50th anniversary but is shaping up to be a record year as well. I know I speak for the rest of the employee owners when I say we always believe the best times are ahead of us. We are looking forward to many more records and milestones in the future.