As Acadiana Business closes out FY2 (we begin our third year of publication with next month’s issue), we are livin’ the dream. Does it make us sound too wonkish to admit that identifying Acadiana’s top 50 privately held companies has been a fantasy from the time we published our very first issue in September 2007? 

OK. If that strikes you as a little over the top, it’s also a little bit true. But if you’ve been a member of Acadiana’s business community long enough, you remember when our team published annual rankings of Acadiana’s Top 100 businesses (determined by gross revenues) in a previous publishing life. That team — essentially our editorial director Leslie Turk and some researchers and reporters — eventually moved on to other ventures, and the daunting project was dropped. We’re all back together again, and we knew when we launched Acadiana Business that we wanted to dust off the concept, tweak it a bit and reintroduce the rankings. Of course, it makes it easier that Leslie was champing at the bit to tackle this list from the outset. She’s done a terrific job here, and we appreciate the participation of all those businesses that were nominated and sent in their numbers. The research on the rest was just as overwhelming as we remember, and although there are lots of new research tools at our disposal, it’s still like rounding up chickens on the prairie on Mardi Gras Day. All of which explains why it’ll take a few years for the list to accurately reflect Acadiana’s top 50 revenue generators. So expect to see it change up quite a bit over the next several years.   

For veterans like us, it’s gratifying to see that many of the companies that made the cut in the old days are still on the list and to identify the new ones in the mix. We also decided to report separately on the publicly held companies that are domiciled in Acadiana, and that’s new; when we analyzed the local top performers in the previous endeavor, there were none. (The parishes included in our report are Acadia, Iberia, Vermilion, St. Landry, St. Martin and Lafayette.) 

The inaugural list itself is the kind of snapshot of activity you can’t find elsewhere at such a critical time for the business community, and the fact that our team has such a long-term perspective on the local business scene is extremely important in the analysis that accompanies the list. We’ve profiled some bellwether companies that epitomize the trends we see. It should be no surprise for anyone that Stuller Inc., even after all these years, still tops the list. 

With the support of presenting co-sponsors Allen & Gooch Law Firm and Whitney Bank, we are able to honor Acadiana’s business leaders with a luncheon Aug. 11. It should be pointed out that these sponsors were not involved in compiling the list; their participation is limited to the luncheon only (Giles Automotive is also a supporting sponsor). Our keynote speaker for this event will be U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. A limited number of tickets are available, and you can find luncheon details on our Web site — www.acadianabusiness.com — click on INDevents. 

We will also announce a handful of awards that day, including the CEO of the top ranked company, the Dealmaker of the Year and the CEO of the Year, which will be determined by several factors, including business success, community and corporate leadership, civic involvement and corporate philanthropy. We are delighted, too, that the Acadiana Economic Development Council will announce the criteria for an award of its own which will be presented annually at this event, beginning next year. 

These are challenging times for business owners and executives across America. Please join us as we congratulate those here in Acadiana who continue to impress us all as they rise to that challenge, day after day.

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