Ready, Set, Geaux
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Wynce Nolley

New oil center running store aims to take advantage of its proximity to Girard Park.

20110629-Abizturkfile-0101
 Mark Miller, Smitty Smith, Donald Cleveland and Edie Riedel of the new Oil Center running store Geaux Run

 Come mid-July, the Oil Center will add to its merchant mix a store fit for the many joggers, runners, sprinters and marathoners who frequent adjacent Girard Park. For runners, Geaux Run will also be operated by runners.
“We want to be a one-stop shop for trail and road running,” says Smitty Smith, a New Iberia engineer and co-owner of Geaux Run.

“A lot of times when you go into stores you can’t get everything you need in one spot,” Smith says. “You end up having to run all over the place and get your nutrition here and clothes there.”

Smith and his three partners hope the new concept, scheduled to open in mid-July at 906 Harding St. next to Renaissance Market & Brasserie, will become the go-to running store in Lafayette, something the owners say they will achieve by utilizing a single, time-honored technique.
“Hopefully, in time, we’ll have everything the runners need in one area,” Smith says, “and we’re going to do that by listening to the runners and getting feedback and getting them what they need and what they want.”

There is one thing runners might have trouble finding at Geaux Run, the increasingly popular FiveFingers running shoes, which claim to promote a more natural and efficient forefoot strike.

“We’re going to carry minimal shoes but not barefoot,” says co-owner Edie Riedel, who is also a tier I certified run coach through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. “Unless you’ve been chasing your food down for generations, you don’t need to be running barefoot.”

Smith’s running resumé includes his completion of five IronMan races, two 100 milers, 12 marathons, five 50k trail races, two 50 milers and numerous shorter triathlons.

Riedel’s experience includes five full marathons, one 50k, two 50 milers and a 100 miler. The third partner is Mark Miller, who also owns Pricision Bikes and has completed 22 IronMan races, along with several half IronMan runs and century rides.

The last of Geaux Run’s four founders is local attorney Donald Cleveland, who has completed four IronMan races, one 100-mile trail race, one 50k trail race (about 31 miles), one 50-mile trail race and many shorter distance triathlons.

Clearly, their love of all things running has fueled the concept behind building the store, which they eagerly share while they assemble some of the store’s paneling in anticipation of its first inventory.

“We have passion for our sport,” says Smith.

“Exactly,” Cleveland says, “and so we wanted to bring that passion to the community and allow it to be run by runners. It’s also an opportunity for people to participate in the store and give feedback.”

According to Cleveland, the proximity to Girard Park was a key factor in the decision to build Geaux Run in the Oil Center.

“We want to organize group runs from our store,” Cleveland says. “We want to participate in the regular road races such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It’s a great opportunity to run and it’s a great opportunity to lead a run from our store.”

And if traditional road running doesn’t suit your feet, trail running gear and events will also be available through Geaux Run, which will head up runs in the nearby trails at Chicot State Park and the Kisatchie National Forest.

“We’ve seen a trend of a lot of people willing to do trail running,” says Cleveland. “It’s a different kind of running. It’s a good break during the winter from your regular road races. It presents a different challenge.”

The store’s first project this year, Dec. 3, is a trail race in Chicot State Park called Cajun Coyote, which will consist of 20-, 60-, and 100-mile distances with the store’s owners acting as co-sponsors and race directors.

“We run. A lot,” says Riedel. “We love what we do, and we want to help other people reach their goals, whether it’s a 5k or a 100-miler.”



Paddle Tale

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

St. Martin Parish will soon be home to a unique resort for adventure-minded eco-tourists.

Kayak enthusiasts wanting to paddle their way along Acadiana’s many waterways will soon be able to do just that with a kayak community being established at the Bayou Teche Experience Kayak Adventure Resort, which will hold its grand opening Oct. 1 right off Louisiana Highway 31 near Breaux Bridge.

“Basically, what we want to do is we want to build a kayak-enthusiast community in our resort,” says Ingo Werk, proprietor of the Bayou Teche Experience. “Our aspiration is that we can turn Breaux Bridge into a hub for kayak and canoe enthusiasts.”

Currently, Werk is manning the kayak company Pouch America in Los Angeles and Bayou Teche Experience will exclusively use its unique Pouch Foldaway kayaks and canoes, which are handcrafted in Germany. The resort will also provide lodging, a shuttle service, guided tours and a rental service.

“In California, the market is just over-saturated,” says Werk, “while in Louisiana there is a lot of potential to develop eco-friendly tourism like kayaking. We’re going to focus on the cultural experience and on the geographic experience because Acadiana Cajun country is very unique. We want to combine the kayak experience with the cultural experience as well. What I feel is that you [Louisiana] have a lot of water and a lot of unique geographic assets. You have the Atchafalaya Basin and Lake Martin right next to it. You have a beautiful countryside. You have wonderful food, very special food. You have great music like Cajun and zydeco.”

Bayou Teche Experience will provide shuttle service to local museums in St. Martinville and even to Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, adds Werk. “I’m originally from Germany, so what we want to focus on bringing in is a lot of tourists from Europe — from Germany, France and the United Kingdom. For them, Acadiana is a very, very special and unique experience.”

— Wynce Nolley



Gannett axing employees — again

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gannett’s already short-staffed two Acadiana dailies survived another major round of layoffs announced June 21, but the country’s largest newspaper chain still left its corporate mark in Louisiana by dropping 31 employees from its payroll statewide (a whopping 27 in Monroe).

In a memo sent out to all Gannett employees, Robert Dickey, president of the community-publishing division, says 700 layoffs are necessary as “national advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends. ... I appreciate and thank you for all that you do to create and deliver award-winning journalism to our customers and communities every day. Even under these challenging circumstances, I know you will continue to do so. ...”

The company also is forcing some higher-paid employees to take more unpaid vacations, or furloughs, in the coming months.

In queue with the corporate American dream, Gannett didn’t just distribute the dreaded employee memo; it also shelled out $3 million in bonuses to its top two execs last year, in addition to the combined $17.6 million it paid for their salaries alone. CEO Craig Dubow’s pay included a $1.75 million cash bonus, and COO Gracia Martore was paid $8.2 million, with a cash bonus of $1.25 million. The bonuses were awarded partly on the basis of cost-cutting that included layoffs and other austerity measures. Dubow would get $22.5 million if he quit right now.

— Heather Miller



Banking On It

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reaux joins MidSouth board of directors
MidSouth Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Jerry Reaux has been named vice chairman of MidSouth’s board of directors, as well as vice chairman of the board that oversees MidSouth Bancorp Inc., the bank’s holding company. Reaux joined MidSouth in February after decades of banking experience in Acadiana, most recently serving as CEO and board vice chairman of Tri-Parish Bank. Reaux’s many roles at MidSouth include finance and accounting, credit, information technology and human resources. He is also MidSouth’s Lafayette market president and works closely with the mergers and acquisitions team. Reaux, who from 1995 to 2003 was CEO of LBA Savings Bank, plays a critical part in developing MidSouth’s strategy for potential mergers. Reaux is filling the board seats for Dr. JB Hargroder, a founding director of MidSouth Bank who served as vice chairman of both boards for 26 years. “[Hargroder] has served this bank and helped guide its incredible growth with the utmost professionalism and integrity,” says MidSouth President and CEO Rusty Cloutier.  “While he will continue to serve as an invaluable board member, he was ready and willing to pass the torch to a new board member who, as a top executive for MidSouth Bank, is closely involved in the day-to-day decision making.” In addition to his banking board seats, Reaux also serves as finance chairman for the board of directors at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and on the board of directors for Lafayette Crime Stoppers.

Teche Federal converts to state-chartered commercial bank
Teche Federal Bank has completed a conversion from a federally chartered savings bank to a Louisiana chartered commercial bank, which will be regulated by the commissioner of the state Office of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. As a result of the charter conversion, the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System has replaced the Office of Thrift Supervision as the federal regulator for Teche Holding Company. “This is a significant and positive change for our bank in light of the Dodd-Frank Act, which made certain changes that removed most of the advantages of our savings bank charter,” says Teche Federal President and CEO Patrick Little. “We also believe there is a significant advantage to being a commercial bank and having a local, Louisiana-based regulator who understands and lives in our market area. Additionally, we expect our annual regulatory assessment to decrease by approximately $100,000, a significant annual savings for our shareholders.”

Regions board investigating its own execs
Regions Bank executives could come under fire if an investigation by the bank’s own board finds they shielded bad loans from investors and the public for too long amid the financial crisis. Citing a report from The Wall Street Journal, financial blog The Street says the execs came under scrutiny after the Federal Reserve raised concerns about the bank’s practices and people within the company. The Regions Financial audit committee is trying to find out whether top dogs at Regions delayed the reclassifying of loans that were likely not going to be repaid. Regions, the 12th largest bank in the country and the only one of its size still receiving government assistance following the financial meltdown, may also be on the verge of a $200 million settlement with the SEC to answer to civil charges of “defrauding investors in subprime securities,” The Street reports.

IberiaBank closes third acquisition of the year
Lafayette-based IberiaBank has just finished another acquisition, adding certain assets of Florida Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Bank of Florida Corporation, to the bank’s list of recently completed mergers. The Florida Trust clients and associates will be brought into the IberiaBank Wealth Advisers. IberiaBank paid $700,000 for the deal at closing, but an undetermined contingency payment will be made by IberiaBank in about a year. The amount of the contingency payment is based on the amount of revenue Iberia receives through the acquisition. Incorporated in 2000, Florida Trust had approximately $415 million in assets at the time of the closing. It operates offices in Naples and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Florida Trust acquisition comes on the heels of IberiaBank’s completed purchase of Metairie-based Omni Bank and Cameron Bank of Lake Charles. The three buys bring the Lafayette-based bank’s assets to approximately $12 billion with 177 bank branch offices in six states, 24 title insurance offices in Arkansas and Louisiana, mortgage representatives at 54 locations in 12 states, and one office of Iberia Capital Partners LLC.

— Compiled and edited by Heather Miller



CATCHING UP WITH HUNTER GOLDEN
40 YEARS OLD
ENGINEERING DIRECTOR, SYSTIMA TECHNOLOGIES
1989 GRADUATE - ST. THOMAS MORE

How do you go from being a two-sport collegiate athlete to a rocket scientist? Brains, of course. Lafayette expatriate Hunter Golden, a 1989 graduate of St. Thomas More High School who went on to superlatives on the gridiron and the track field for then-USL’s Ragin’ Cajuns, has the brains to match his brawn. The son of Lafayette real estate agent Sue Golden and the late Dr. Peter Golden, a popular Lafayette dentist, Golden’s football career — he played offensive lineman, tight end, deep snapper and linebacker during his career in addition to throwing shot put for the track team — ended with a devastating knee injury during the 1992 season. But it didn’t interrupt his academics. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from USL and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering — he is literally a rocket scientist — from Texas A&M.

Golden’s aerospace career took him first to Seattle for a four-year stint as an analyst/engineer for Boeing. Then it was on to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a program analyst for a private defense firm — he was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was attacked — and later as a systems engineer/analyst for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. He returned to the Great Northwest in 2006 and now serves as the head of engineering for Systima Technologies, a “rapid response” technology firm.

He still gets back to Lafayette, where his mom and a sister remain, about once a year. Now 40 and living in suburban Seattle with his wife of 10 years, Corey, and 6-year-old twins, Erin and Peter, Golden helped ABiz catch up.

ABiz: Tell us about your current job.
HG: My current work is not much different than what you see on the TV program Mythbusters. However, we do it with a lot more rigor in our research and development programs for the aerospace and military industry.

ABiz: What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of since leaving Lafayette? 
HG: Raising twins, becoming a key person running a small business, developing a system for which I’ve applied for a patent.

ABiz: What are some of your hobbies? How do you blow off steam? 
HG: Boating, snow skiing, wake boarding, mountain biking, soccer, hiking, camping, hanging out with friends.

ABiz: What’s the most satisfying aspect of your career? 
HG: Playing a major role in the direction of a small technology firm.
 
ABiz: What’s the most challenging aspect? 
HG: Managing people and trying to keep everyone happy.

ABiz: What was your most memorable game/moment on the gridiron?
HG: My most memorable game was both the best and worst for me. While playing linebacker I was cut blocked by a tight end against Cal State-Fullerton and dislocated my knee, completely severing my ACL, PCL and MCL. This game started out the best for me because it was my first game at linebacker as a starter. I was injured early in the game, but as memory fades I can only remember that I made every tackle up to that point. I still believe that had I not blown out my knee we would have won that game and beaten Auburn the following week but lost by a point.

ABiz: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten and from whom?
HG: I attended an American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics dinner my first year at Boeing, and Phil Condit, the CEO when I started at Boeing Commercial, was there to answer questions. He was asked what a young engineer can do to make a significant contribution. His answer was that you should take on each challenge no matter how small and do your best. If you show that you can do even the little things well, then you will establish credibility and more challenging work will follow. Then and now as a manager at a small business I see how important that advice really is. It is hard to give your complete trust to someone and assign them a task if you don’t have confidence in them.

ABiz: Any advice for college students looking ahead to a competitive job market? 
HG: Before graduation make sure you take advantage of all the relevant work experience you can gain.



Hops Spring Eternal
By Andrea Gallo

Even as it expands its operation and reach, Bayou Teche Brewing remains true to its roots.

The Knott brothers — Karlos, Byron and Dorsey — are stirring up more refreshing flavors for Acadiana and the surrounding areas to sip on by expanding their family-run Bayou Teche Brewing while retaining their local charm.

The current brew house cannot accommodate its demand, Karlos says, as a supply meant for three months sells out in three days. The new Bayou Teche Brewery, next-door to the old one, will be 100 times larger at approximately 10,000 square feet, costing nearly half a million dollars. Despite new walls and equipment, Bayou Teche Brewing will remain a farmhouse brewery that accentuates the Cajun lifestyle and “vision of the beer,” Karlos says.

While the new brew house is finished structurally, the Knott brothers are still at work devising a waste water plan. The new brewing equipment is set to arrive in late fall or early winter, making an opening date possible in mid-winter next year.

Along with plans to employ more people from Acadiana and St. Martin Parish and increase beer production, Karlos hopes to make the brewery a place to welcome locals and visitors alike into the “Bayou Teche process.” That includes serving food that complements each beer, as the brewery has its own smokehouse and it frequently serves Cajun favorites like boudin. Blue Cheese, Karlos says, is the perfect complement for one of its most popular and renowned beers, smoked wheat with native cherry wood.

While Bayou Teche Brewery is growing around the country and now available in Mississippi and Alabama, Karlos emphasizes its local roots and devotion to South Louisiana, saying he’s not sure if he’s comfortable having his beer sold in a “place where you can’t get grits and sweet tea.” He says they do not make English beers because his Cajun grandfather only spoke French, leading them to brew French and Belgian beers in his honor.

“We want to be a beer that promotes and protects the heritage of our culture,” Karlos says.

The current brewery is located at 1106 Bushville Highway in Arnaudville. Visit its website at www.bayoutechebrewing.com.



Bibi’s Patisserie baking on Pinhook

Bibi’s Patisserie is coming to 1321 W. Pinhook Road, the former location of Back in Time Photography. The sweet treats will be free of sugar, gluten and preservatives, and there are a number of vegan and organic offerings.

Before you wonder how something could be delicious without being chock full of the traditional baking fare, try it out. This business began because both Nathan and Hannah Raffels wanted to treat their respective parents to something delicious that wouldn’t exacerbate their diabetes, so after a lot of research and cookbook studying, they discovered that not only would their wares help diabetics, but those suffering from celiac disease as well.

The Raffels have planted a pumpkin patch behind Bibi’s, so come fall fresh pumpkins grown on site will be in the pies and muffins. “We believe that people should know where their food is coming from,” says Nathan. They will also have about a dozen organic teas to choose from, and — sorry — there are no to-go cups. “We have lots of cozy seating,” Nathan adds. “We want people to realize it’s OK to sit down and relax for a few minutes.”

Traditional cinnamon rolls (and those with orange zest), cakes, danishes, naan, croissants, bagels and muffins that come in lemon poppy seed, strawberry, chocolate and banana nut are among the selection. Cookies and brownies, too.

The bakery is scheduled to open in early July. Look for Bibi’s Patisserie to eventually be sold in some local grocery stores as well. Check out its Facebook fan page or give Nathan and Hannah a ring at 356-5645.

— Anna Purdy


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