Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Cherry Fisher May

Acadiana’s business leaders are navigating well in challenging times.

People love lists, especially this one. As we at ABiz close the books on our fourth anniversary issue, we once again rank the region’s top 50 locally owned business performers as determined by gross revenues. You’ll see some new names on the roster this year, and that is bound to happen, at least for a while. Our small staff does an amazing job of ferreting out the little-known companies that fly under the radar, but inevitably some do escape the stealth of our research. At least for now.

The top 10 list, however, remains essentially intact. Except for Courtesy Motors’ move to displace McIlhenny in the No. 10 slot, the rest of the top tier have returned to the stage, albeit with a little shuffling of the cast. Moreno and Schumacher hold their one-two ranking with Stuller and LA Wholesale Drug swapping the next two slots. Acadian Companies (the Acadian Ambulance group) flipped rankings with Sunland Construction for fifth place this year. Courtesy now rounds out the top 10, doubtless a result of CEO Don Hargroder’s acquisition strategy in recent years, bumping McIlhenny down to the next tier.

These companies have shown a modicum of growth in revenues, despite the tough economic times. Collectively, their reported gross numbers moved up a click, but their hiring numbers indicate a confidence in even stronger future growth. Over 1,200 jobs were added by the top 10, the bulk of that by Moreno and Schumacher. Schumacher’s 247 jobs were all added through organic growth with some small expansion of Schumacher’s contract employment model to attract previously independent contractors. (As this issue goes to press, the company announced an expansion at its local headquarters that will produce 600 new direct jobs with an average salary of $62,500.) The 800+ jobs added at Moreno in 2010 were largely due to additional contracts for projects in Africa and the Gulf of Mexico.

It is a reflection of Lafayette’s resiliency overall, even in the wake of the BP oil spill last spring. As reported by Leslie Turk in March, the Lafayette metro gained 2,700 jobs in 2010, mostly in the oil patch. Retail sales also increased slightly last year rolling into even more robust gains so far in 2011. Currently at 6.4 percent, local unemployment figures remain well below the state (8.2) and national (9.1) average.

These numbers are a reaffirmation of what we all know intrinsically: we are operating in a challenging business environment, but when compared to the condition of the national and even regional economy, it could be much more difficult. And even in the face of these tough times, local companies are still showing a generous spirit that reflects the strong character of this community in general. The United Way of Acadiana campaign has held steady for the past three years; corporate giving actually moved up slightly in 2010. The Community Foundation of Acadiana ended 2010 with almost $50 million in assets, an increase of about 9 percent over the previous year. Across the community, fundraising entities generally report higher, not lower, donations.

These and other stories will be highlighted at the annual luncheon honoring the top 50 privately held and eight publicly-traded companies in Acadiana at the Cajundome Convention Center next month. The event is sponsored by Allen & Gooch Law Firm, Whitney Bank and Rob Eddy of The Pinnacle Group. Watch for details.

We are proud to bring this report to you and even prouder to be part of such an exemplary, dynamic and innovative business community. We look forward celebrating with you at the luncheon.

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