North Lafayette's Exterior Specialties last week signed a multi-million deal with Metals USA to be the Houston-based company's exclusive distributor of a variety of products it offers in Home Depot stores. One of the top 10 metal service center companies in North America, Metals USA does about $1.8 billion in annual sales.

Exterior Specialties, formed a year ago in hopes of successfully negotiating this contract, is headed by Roger Gothreaux and his son, Van. A division of the family-owned Agiero Group, whose primary interests are in the construction industry, Exterior Specialties will set up and man kiosks and other displays for products like aluminum carports, screen rooms and patio systems in 16 Louisiana Home Depot stores. The stores are located in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Hammond and New Orleans. Exterior Specialties also will handle all sales. "We are bringing these products to the Home Depot stores," Van says. "We order the products from Metals USA, which delivers them to our warehouse," he continues. "They are then installed by Exterior Specialities' installers."

Agiero Group is headquartered at 161 High Meadows Blvd., behind the State Police building on East Pont des Mouton. Roger Gothreaux has been in the construction business for more than three decades.

Van says the contract is estimated to generate $4 million to $5 million in annual sales, though he declined to release the potential value for his company. Exterior Specialties expects to hire about 40 people statewide — eight in Lafayette — as a result of the contract, which begins Aug. 15. For more information on available positions, call 504-3427.

 

Brother Abdalla expanding his shopping center

Almost 11,000-square-feet of empty shells in Brother Abdalla's The Boulevard shopping center, located at the corner of Johnston Street and Arnould Boulevard, are being converted into six new retail/office spaces — four at 1,917 and two at 1,580. "They are all specs," says Abdalla, who owns Brother's on The Boulevard clothing store, the shopping center's anchor tenant. For years the shells have sat unfinished, but Abdalla says the center's central location between the Grand Theatre on Johnston Street and the Camellia Boulevard bridge has it benefiting from the economy and infrastructure improvements created by those two projects. "People want to be on Johnston Street," he says.

Abdalla also credits the additional activity created by Jason's Deli, which opened in his center in late 2001, for the decision to invest in the expansion at this time. The four larger units are between Wild Birds Unlimited and the popular sandwich shop. "Those will be highly desirable, because Jason's does such an incredible business," Abdalla adds. Because most retailers typically want 2,000 to 2,500 square feet, according to Abdalla, the decision was made to create four spaces with the flexibility to combine two or more for a larger retailer.

Abdalla believes the smaller spots, to the left of Wild Birds, will likely be more attractive as professional office space.

Construction should begin within a month. All of the new space will be marketed at $18.50 per square foot, compared to the center's older square footage, which goes for $14.50 to $15.50. Once complete, The Boulevard shopping center will include about 63,000 square feet.

 

River Ranch's kiki expanding to Baton Rouge

Kiki Frayard is opening a second location of her high-end accessories and gift boutique, kiki, in Baton Rouge's Perkins Rowe, a mixed use shopping center development at Perkins Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard. Frayard says the store will open in October next to Barnes & Noble, which is under construction in the lifestyle center, a mix of residential, retail and entertainment in a village atmosphere.

Late last year Frayard, who doubles as vice president/creative director at Lafayette-based The Graham Group, moved an expanded version of her shop from the Oil Center to a spot next to Bonefish Grill in The Market at River Ranch. A year before the move, her daughter Kate joined the family business full-time; she had been assisting in the buying since kiki's inception four years ago.

The store sells handbags by Isabella Fiore, Kooba, Lauren Merkin and Carlos Falchi; jewelry lines Erica Courtney, Lee Brevard, Alexis Bittar and Rebecca Norman; and fragrances by Creed and Bond No. 9. Though the store's concept is upscale, Frayard says her buys are geared toward a variety of price points. She says the Perkins Rowe store will be much like the Lafayette location.

 

Holiday Inn Express going up on Kaliste Saloom Road

Construction on an 80-room Holiday Inn Express on Kaliste Saloom Road next to the long-vacant First National Bank building is scheduled to begin in early July, according to Tim Breaux of Ironhorse Development Co. Breaux's company is developing the project on a 3-acre tract for Albert Daigle of New Orleans, who has a Holiday Inn Express in Belle Chasse. The site is just south of Silverbell Road and north of Asma Boulevard, across from Saloom Office Park.

The hotel will consume about 1.75 acres, and Breaux hopes the remaining acreage (the portion along Silverbell and Kaliste Saloom) can be subdivided and marketed to potential restaurants and other retailers.

Lafayette has another Holiday Inn Express on Ambassador Caffery Parkway (behind Chili's). The almost 5-year-old property is locally owned by Dr. Scott Odom, who in November will open a four-story, 80-room Candlewood Suites at the site of the old Eckerd's on Kaliste Saloom Road across from River Ranch.

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