Fired Up and Ready

Tabasco turns up the heat on its effort to save America’s wetlands.

By Leslie Turk

McIlhenny Company has stepped up in a big way to save America’s wetlands. At a press conference April 11, McIlhenny Company Chairman and CEO Paul McIlhenny, a charter member of the America’s Wetland Foundation and staunch coastal advocate, introduced the new wetlands label that will be appearing on Tabasco bottles across the world.

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The CEO said he often entertains friends and business associates at company headquarters on Avery Island — which is situated in the upper coastal wetlands of south Louisiana, about 163 feet above sea level. “They are amazed at the beauty of the marshes of South Louisiana but totally unaware of the fragility of the ecosystem,” he said of the visitors, most of whom come to hunt and fish. Although Avery Island is well elevated, it is surrounded by swamps, marshland and bayous — an area that is home to numerous indigenous plant and animal species. It is also a prolific seafood habitat.

McIlhenny went on to talk about some of the major corporations and foundations that also have come to experience the natural area for themselves before investing in the Wetland Foundation, including The Walton Sisters, who have likewise been moved by the beauty and fragility of Louisiana’s wetlands. The McIlhenny family has developed its own preservation initiatives and model for areas adjacent to Avery Island.

Thanks to the popularity of Tabasco, the new campaign, “Tabasco is hot on America’s Wetland and fired-up to help save it,” will bring worldwide attention to the effort. The label notes that Avery Island is in the heart of America’s wetlands, “a remarkable place that is vanishing at a rate of a football field every hour.” Now if that won’t move you, nothing will. Included on the label is   the website, www.americaswetland.com, where contributions can be made.

McIlhenny Company, which last year ranked No. 12 on ABiz’s list of Acadiana’s top privately held companies with an estimated $171 million in 2010 revenues, ships millions of bottles of hot sauce to more than 166 countries and packages it in 22 languages.

“We are experiencing the greatest land loss on the planet,” said Val Marmillion, executive director of America’s Wetland Foundation. “Our goal is no net loss of wetlands and no net loss of culture.”

Also discussed at the press conference Wednesday, which was held at Tabasco’s corporate office on Avery Island south of New Iberia, was the Entergy Corp.-funded $4.5 million study on coastal assets. The study predicts that, if nothing is done to protect coastal communities, losses due to storms, erosion, and man-made and natural disasters will amount to $350 billion by 2030, exceeding the domestic product of the region. “One of the themes I want you to take away is urgency. We cannot let this beauty disappear for future generations,” said Gary Serio, vice president of corporate safety and environment with Entergy. “Unless we want to convert the beauty we have now into memories, we need to act now,” added Serio, who also chairs America’s Energy Coast Industry Council.  

The campaign is a major shot in the arm for the wetlands preservation effort, and Tabasco is powerful entity to help spread a message that also happens to hit close to home. Paul McIllhenny is the fourth generation of the famed Tabasco sauce-making family. Avery Island has been the home of the Marsh/Avery/McIlhenny family for more than 185 years and home to original Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce for more than 140 years. “We are doing our part in bringing the attention to this serious problem,” McIlhenny said. “To lose what you find in this region would be a catastrophe of international proportions.”

Several years ago, when McIlhenny inserted a small pamphlet about the plight of Louisiana’s coast into Tabasco boxes, the America’s Wetland Foundation heard from people all over the U.S. and from as far away as Moscow.  

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“We got heartwarming notes, such as one from a little boy who was contributing his allowance,” Marmillion said. A couple in North Carolina hosted a Gumbo party — no doubt spiced with Tabasco — and sent us the donations from their friends. A couple in New York City was inspired to ask their wedding guests to contribute to the wetlands.

“Tabasco is one of those worldwide, iconic products, so this is helping us raise awareness about Louisiana’s coastal crisis all over the world,” Marmillion continued. “The foundation is deeply appreciative of the McIlhenny personal and corporate commitment to our work.”

McIlhenny announced the Tabasco packaging campaign at the “Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Forum,” the last of 10 held during the past year from South Padre Island to Orange Beach. The BRRC initiative, sponsored by the America’s Wetland Foundation, has invited coastal leaders and stakeholders to forums in an attempt to spread accurate information about what the future holds and to help local communities begin envisioning their future and make the choices they must make in order to achieve resiliency.

Paul McIllhenny also previously served as a member of Gov. Mike Foster’s Committee on the Future of Coastal Louisiana and the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection and Restoration and Conservation.

 

LITE’s new CEO brings impressive credentials

turk-3The board of commissioners for the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise has chosen Dr. Kam Ng as the organization’s new chief executive officer.

Ng (pronounced Ning) will be joining the LITE staff in early July, after he retires from his current position as the deputy director for research at the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Va.

“Kam will be a tremendous asset to LITE because of his exceptional experience, professional training and leadership in private and public partnerships,” says Dr. Robert Twilley, UL’s vice president of research who has served as LITE’s interim CEO since November 2010, when Henry Florsheim left the post for a job in Arkansas.

Ng received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Rhode Island in 1988. He also received an MBA from Marymount University in 2005 and completed the Senior Executive Fellow Program from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2002, and the Senior Executive Program at the Federal Executive Institute in 2004.

Ng currently oversees a $900 million annual budget for basic and applied research at ONR. He also manages the education and outreach programs that develop the next generation of scientists and engineers and is responsible for the strategy and development of the Navy Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.

Prior to joining ONR, Ng worked at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, ITT Grinnell Corporation, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. He holds six patents and has authored more than 70 technical articles on mechanical engineering.

The new CEO’s job will be to lead LITE into developing a technology enterprise, managing university-private partnerships, promoting technology-driven economic development and engaging community stakeholders.

Ng says his expertise in immersive technologies, simulation-based design and leadership skills are “a perfect match for the CEO position at LITE.”

“I view this as a great opportunity to develop digital media technologies using partnerships among the university, industry and government,” he says.

A press conference will be scheduled closer to Ng’s arrival. — Leslie Turk


By The Numbers

$5 Billion

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Amount Houston-based Cheniere Energy plans to spend to convert its Cameron Parish facility into a liquefaction plant that will be used to export natural gas. On April 16, Cheniere cleared the final major hurdle to exporting liquefied natural gas when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved its conversion plan, which will enable the company to pursue exports and take advantage of the glut of natural gas being produced domestically. FERC’s decision keeps the company on pace to complete the Sabine Pass terminal by 2015, adding 191 acres to the existing facility and making it the first LNG export facility in the lower 48 states. A similar facility currently operates in Alaska. Cheniere plans to keep its import capability (soaring production of natural gas, thanks to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, decimated the need for LNG imports). Natural gas that is cooled to 256 degrees below zero becomes a liquid that tanker ships can transport. Once it arrives at its destination, it is converted back into gas. Louisiana Economic Development says the new project will create approximately 148 jobs and retain 77 existing jobs, with a total compensation and benefits package that will exceed an average of $100,000 a year. The new jobs will support another 589 indirect jobs in the area, and 3,000 construction jobs will be created by the project at the peak of construction activity, according to LED.

$6 Billion

Amount that will be spent to develop another LNG facility in the state. A day after Cheniere got final approval from FERC, Cameron LNG, a unit of Sempra Energy, announced it had signed agreements with Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. to develop and construct a natural gas liquefaction export facility in Louisiana. With Japan importing record amounts of the fuel, Mitsubishi and Mitsui, both based in Tokyo, would each get a third of the 1.7 billion cubic feet a day of export capacity in exchange for helping develop the project. The LNG plant will be part of Sempra’s existing import terminal in Hackberry. Construction will begin in late 2013, and the facility is expected to come online in late 2016, San Diego-based Sempra said in an April 17 in a statement.


Me Salon all about the real you

A couple of years ago, Marcella Morrison was on her way to Lafayette from Oregon.
It wasn’t necessarily a wild hair that put Morrison on the road to Louisiana, but it helped. Her brother is a commercial diver for a company out of Morgan City and he and his wife live in Lafayette. “I came to visit like three different seasons and decided I’ve been doing hair long enough, so I was in for search of a little adventure and personal growth,” she says.
Both the adventure and growth have panned out for Morrison, who with Erica June decided to open the Me Salon, 1507 Kaliste Saloom Road. And so far, so good. “Very surreal, actually,” she says. “I’m doing much better than I ever had anticipated. And obviously I’ve learned things I didn’t expect to learn. So that’s been good. I feel very fortunate.”

Morrison has 15 years in the hair business. She began her career at a trade school while a senior in high school. By that summer after graduation, she was licensed to cut hair.
With the license in hand, she went to a hair-cutting factory of sorts, “a get ’em in, get ’em out kind of place” for five years, “which gave me really great experience.” It was that experience she used to become self-employed for nine years before moving to Lafayette.
Before she and June opened their shop, an incident with a woman bound for a Mardi Gras ball got her to thinking.

“Her hair was gorgeous. But she didn’t look like the model in the magazines, so she started crying,” recalls Morrison, who then came to the realization that for her client “it was more about competition” with other women than her own hair.

“That was always a funny thing,” says Morrison. “I don’t even like the whole fluff of makeup. It can kind of be a superficial industry.”

After a while, Morrison developed a bond with clients whom, like her regulars in Oregon were more of “wash and go” type. And while learning up-styling and the like was a good experience, it came with a lot more stress, she says.

“But then I realized once I get clientele that are a lot like me and we have a lot in common, we become more like family,” says Morrison. “So it’s really refreshing to me to know that what I do can make someone feel good about themselves.” — Dominick Cross


Big Changes for the Woods

turk-5Longtime banker Janet Wood is retiring to launch a new career, just as husband Chuck returns to locally owned media.

By Heather Miller and Leslie Turk


Janet Wood is officially retiring from Capital One Bank June 1, marking the end of a 30-year (to the day) stint in the Acadiana banking market.

“I started my banking career 30 years ago on June 1,” says Janet, who’s been retained by Capital One on a part-time/consulting basis until her official retirement date.

Janet left her position as Capital One’s Lafayette market president two years ago to take on a strategic sales role for Capital One’s Louisiana and Texas markets.

“My position had gotten to be really big in terms of Louisiana and Texas strategy, and I knew it was going to get even bigger as the company handed down a more formal strategy from [corporate headquarters],” she says. “I realized that I wanted to play a smaller role, not a larger role, so I decided to retire. They’ve all been very supportive of my decision.

“I’m evaluating opportunities right now,” Janet continues. “Possibly looking at working in a field outside of banking, perhaps performance coaching, but nothing solid. It would take some time to prep for that.”

The wife of Delta Media General Manager Chuck Wood, Janet has served on the boards of Downtown Development Authority, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and Crime Stoppers. She’s also a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and Leadership Louisiana. She’ll continue to be very involved with the UL Lafayette Foundation, for which she serves on the board of trustees, and still plans to serve as a mentor for the705, a civic and networking group geared toward young professionals in Acadiana. “The [strategic sales] position had me traveling a lot, so I’ll be as committed, if not more, now that I’m retiring,” she says.

In early April, Chuck Wood, whose general manager position with Cumulus Media was eliminated in January, landed a job as GM of Carencro-based Delta Media. Publicly traded Cumulus, which is headquartered in Atlanta, owns the local radio group that includes FM stations 94.5 KSMB and 99.1 KXKC.

Owned by businessman Charles Chatelain, Delta Media has four TV stations, MeTV (KLWB), RTV (KDCG), This TV (KXKW) and The CW (KBCA in Alexandria); and five radio stations: KLWB (SNAP 103.7), KOGM (KOOL 107.1), KXKW (MUSTANG 87.7), KSLO AM 1230 and KSLO FM 105.3.

Local TV station KDCG was just recently added to its portfolio. Delta purchased the station from businessman Bobby Dupre, whose “The Bobby Dupre Show” remains on the air, as has much of the station’s programming.

Chuck, who says he was attracted to the opportunities Delta presents and the fact that the media group is privately owned, maintains he will be committed to offering local programming. “Our staff will strive to mirror the local values of Acadiana with our programming content in radio, television and interactive platforms,” he says.

Radio insiders say the elimination of Wood’s position with Cumulus was likely part of a broader move by the company to do away with general managers in smaller markets.


Number Crunch

$184,778

Amount U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says Angie Normand embezzled from Coccolare Spa on Doucet Road between March 2008 and April 2011 by diverting funds from the company’s checking and payroll accounts. According to a bill of information filed by Finley’s office alleging wire fraud, Normand began working at the spa as a bookkeeper in December 2007. She made checks from Coccolare’s bank account out to cash, gave herself a raise by manipulating her payroll information, changed payroll and tip records and also falsified deposit books and other payroll, according to the bill of information. She was charged in federal court because the salary increase caused interstate transactions to take place, leading to interstate wire fraud. The popular spa provides both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures.


Schumacher expands to New York state

Schumacher Group was chosen the exclusive emergency medicine management firm for Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y., the first new hospital in New York state in nearly 25 years, and its sister hospital, Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris, N.Y.
Both hospitals are members of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System, the active parent company of the institutions, which provides health care to nearly 450,000 residents in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties in New York state. This is the first contract for Schumacher Group in this area of the country.

The Greater Hudson Valley Health System chose Schumacher Group over 12 competing management firms to staff its busy emergency departments at ORMC and CRMC, according the press release announcing the contract.

ORMC alone will see approximately 65,000 annual visits to their ER. In order to provide clinical leadership and operational oversight in the Greater Hudson Valley Health System, Schumacher Group hired Drs. Bruce Whitman and Carlos Holden as medical directors for ORMC and CRMC, respectively. Schumacher also brought Dr. Anuj Vohra onto the staff at ORMC as the associate medical director.

“This is a brand new market for our company, so the recruitment effort was tremendous,” said Jason Duncan, Schumacher emergency medicine director of provider recruiting and retention.

“With no previous contracts in this area of the country, the Greater Hudson Valley Health System put great trust in our team. We worked hard, retaining 50 percent of the existing physicians from the previous staffing group and signing four new physicians to join in.”
The complete turnaround for the start-up took place in just 90 days. 

“Our expansion with the Greater Hudson Valley contract marks a new territory for our organization,” said Schumacher Group President and COO Jim Guidry. “We are confident that our medical directors, along with our incredible team of providers, nurses and physicians’ assistants, will all work together to put patients first and deliver quality care at ORMC and CRMC.”

The momentum from the Greater Hudson Valley Health System contract has since brought Schumacher Group into other parts of the Northeast as well. As of March 1, St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark, N.J., welcomed the company as the exclusive provider of its emergency department services.

Schumacher Group is one of the largest emergency medical staffing and management companies in the country. It is also a health care resource for hospital medicine, wellness programs, care management, urgent care, physical therapy, and billing and coding.
In July of last year Schumacher Group CEO Dr. William “Kip” Schumacher announced a major expansion of the company that over the next five years will create 600 direct jobs in the Lafayette area, with average salaries of $62,500, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the corporate expansion project will result in the creation of another 784 indirect jobs.  — Leslie Turk

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