Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jady Regard sees a new business venture at every turn. By Leslie Turk

Jady Regard
CNO – Chief Nut Officer
Age: 42
Cane River Pecan Company

A New Iberia native, Jady Regard decided to return to Acadiana in 2002 to take over the family’s mail-order catalog/Internet-based business, Cane River Pecan Company. The company got its start in 1969 when the family bought pecan orchards in Natchitoches Parish along the historic Cane River. Regard had spent the previous 12 years in the sports industry, first working as the equipment manager for the LSU basketball team from 1989-1992 and then as general manager of the Louisiana IceGators before accepting a job as corporate sales manager for the Chicago Bears. Regard, however, had no idea in 2002 how much room there was back home for his entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to flourish: Since returning to Acadiana (he lives in Lafayette with his attorney wife and two children) he has started four very diverse companies — and he’s got his eye on at least a couple more.

So what’s Shaq like? Fantastic! He was a great student at LSU, an All-American talent and one of the funniest guys you ever wanted to be around. 

How/why did you make the transition from working for the Chicago Bears and Louisiana IceGators to pushing pecans? Any skills from those jobs help you? I really missed Louisiana and I had a great opportunity to work for myself, which has always been my personal goal. The sales skills I learned when selling hockey in Acadiana and the sales skills I developed in working with large corporate clients in Chicago have helped me immensely in developing successful sales methods with my present companies.

How long were you back in the family business before you launched the online store Louisiana Living? About five years. The thought of Louisiana Living was on the table for nearly three years before I decided to launch it. It started with King Cakes. We had the clients, the infrastructure and the staff, and once we learned how to make a really great cake we were off.

How does a product get approved for the site? We routinely receive product submissions in our New Iberia offices; if I like what I see and I believe it fits our current product lineup it’s approved. I like to say it has to pass a committee of One.

Is boudin really your best seller? Yes, boudin is our year-around best seller; of course many of our items are seasonal and will peak during their respective season like live crawfish in the spring, turduckens and pecans in the fall and king cakes during Mardi Gras. The majority of our orders come from Louisiana residents who want to ship one of our specialties out-of-state, or folks living on the West and East Coast who cannot find our Creole and Cajun products in their community.

What’s the next best seller? We sell a lot of crawfish pies.

Do you actually inventory any of these products? Yes, we inventory nearly all of our products here on site since so many customers like to “bundle” their orders with various items. Someone may want to order two pounds of boudin with three pounds of crawfish tails and a bag of Community Coffee. We can do that since all of those products are warehoused here, on site.

What prompted your foray into children’s books and Little Band Man Company? I took a children’s literature course in graduate school while obtaining my master’s at Texas A&M. Ever since then I kept ideas flowing for the perfect story to tell. I was on the LSU campus one game day and noticed so many children with their parents and wondered if there was a book in the marketplace that demonstrated many of the elements that makes game day so special. There was nothing, so I set out to write the story. Once LSU was complete, it was easy to see that every school has their own game day story, so I set out to write about it for other schools like ULL, OU, UT and A&M. More schools are on the way. As far as the Little Band Man Company, I was purchasing some toy soldiers for my brother one holiday and noticed and small Navy musical toy band. I thought it was cool and wondered if anything like it existed for college marching bands. I found nothing so I decided to do it myself. We are now up to seven schools and growing.

Tell me your most exciting wild alligator hunt story (Regard also owns Bourbe Lake Hunting Club). The time an 11-footer was hooked and bit the bottom on my boat and put two holes in the floor of the boat. Immediately we took on water and had to rush back to the dock to change out our boat before sinking. You do not want to sink a boat near an 11-foot wild alligator that is already hooked and not too happy about it. Oh yeah, we got the gator!

How cool would it be to appear on Swamp People? It would be an interesting experience. We have a story to tell that has not yet been told on the show — our guided hunts for out-of-towners and our sustainable program, which I believe is responsible and interesting.

So your big shopping season is about to kick in. Does your life change much during the holiday rush? Yes, it gets more hectic. I come home late and it forces me to Christmas shop in the summer.

What’s going to be your No. 1 seller this holiday season? It’s our Pecan Trio Assortment, a triple flavor threat ­— pecan speaking of course.

How many pecans will you sell? We will sell about 75,000 pounds from Thanksgiving through the third week in December.

Where do you get the pecans? Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia. We never buy any pecans west of Louisiana – too dry of a pecan, not enough natural oil in the nut, which is where all the great flavor is concentrated.

Any more ideas for a new business venture? I had one just the other night concerning the landscaping industry. I woke up and bought the URL address in the middle of the night; I was too worried someone would have had the same thought at that very moment. I am quirky like that.
My biggest regret is ... not taking a job I was offered out of college to tend bar in Grand Cayman. I would have liked to try that for a year or two.

The one business venture I thought about doing but didn’t is ... owning my own bar. I have not ruled it out. I have the name and the layout ready to go.

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