Jared Stepp and Eric Smith, the 29- and 32-year-old duo that operated the Apple certified repair business My Digital Phoenix in Lafayette for the past several years, are opening an Apple retail store at 4415 Ambassador Caffery Parkway in mid-January (in the Super Target center).
Called the Orchard, the store looks and feels just like an official Apple Store, says Frankie Russo of Potenza Creative, the local ad agency helping to roll out the new concept.
Customers will have the opportunity to test-drive Apple’s entire suite of products, from the MacBook and MacBook Pro to Apple’s full line of desktop computers. Knowledgeable experts will answer any questions and help customers learn to use the equipment, and the Orchard’s seven Apple certified technicians will also service all of the electronic items it sells (with iPhone service coming later in the year).
The Lafayette store is one of only three Apple resellers nationwide able to personalize Mac products. “It’s a high-tech digital engraving process that basically tatoos any image [or name] onto the back of these items,” Russo says. Additionally, private instruction/tutoring and in-store events/classes will be held once a week in the front lobby.
The store plans to launch with special offers and promotions for the first customers, but an official opening date has not yet been set.
STATE’S LARGEST CPA FIRM MOVING IN
Postlethwaite & Netterville has hired CPA Eustis Corrigan to head its expansion into the Lafayette market. With annual revenues of more than $30 million, P&N is the state’s largest public accounting firm and ranks among the top 100 in the country. Corrigan has resigned from his position as CFO and senior executive vice president at MidSouth Bank to join P&N as a director and managing director for the Lafayette market. He resignation is effective mid-January, when the P&N office opens here.
“Eustis has an excellent reputation both in the public accounting realm, as well as in the business community,” says P&N Managing Director and CEO Bill Balhoff. “His vision, experience, and knowledge are exactly what we need to help achieve our goal of continuing our growth in the Lafayette market and throughout the state. It’s a great fit for our firm.”
Corrigan, who has worked at MidSouth Bank since moving to Lafayette from San Antonio in 2006, grew up in Lafayette and earned his accounting degree from LSU. The 44-year-old has an extensive accounting, tax and business background, having served as a tax services partner and office managing partner with KPMG LLP, where he had client and business development responsibilities for financial institutions and financial services companies throughout the South.
Balhoff says P&N, which has 300 employees, has roughly a couple dozen high-profile clients in the Acadiana area that will benefit from the presence of a local office. “They’re feeder clients,” he says, noting the business the firm has generated over the years from their referrals. Balhoff cited Lafayette’s successful diversification efforts, its growth in recent years, the university and the pool of professional talent as factors driving P&N’s decision to open the local office.
P&N has yet to settle on a location but will find office space big enough to accommodate anticipated growth. The overall firm’s revenues grew 25 percent in fiscal year 2008, and Balhoff hopes its first year in Lafayette will prompt the size of the local staff to swell from an initial 10 to about 20 within a year. The firm serves privately held and public companies, non-profits and individuals throughout the country from 10 offices in Louisiana and Ridgeland, Miss.
FORMER KATC ANCHORS LANDS PR JOB
Former KATC-TV3 anchor Julie Kelley has changed careers, joining Miles Perret Cancer Services as director of public relations. After leaving the station in early August, Kelley said one of her main objectives was to stay in Lafayette. “I fell in love with Acadiana during my 10 years anchoring the news, and I’m thrilled to continue my work in our community on behalf of families fighting cancer,” she says. “Miles Perret Cancer Services provides support to anyone with cancer — any cancer, any age, and we want to make sure the community understands what we do.”
Kelley, who grew up in Vermont, has served on the boards of directors of Faith House, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Acadiana. She is also a member of the Junior League of Lafayette.
NEW BISTRO ON THE BLOCK
The popular little eatery on Brook Street, Bonnie Bell’s Bistro, has made the leap to downtown. Located in the old T-Coon’s on Jefferson Street, owners Bonnie and Paul Gibson managed a total makeover in record time. Gone are the wooden booths, funky signs and fish tank; Bonnie Bell’s has warm red walls and a quiet ambience — at least it did on day one in mid-December. Its menu: lots of soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches translated from the Saints Streets location to downtown. Bonnie Bell’s is open weekdays for lunch, Tuesday-Saturday for dinner.
COX ADDS FOX BUSINESS NETWORK TO LINEUP
In mid-December Cox Communications began carrying FOX Business Network on Channel 263, its digital cable sport and information tier. The network is also available in the Lafayette area on DirecTV Channel 359.
FNB is a financial news channel that touts its ability to deliver breaking news on the financial world. Its goal is to relate what’s happening on Wall Street to Main Street viewers, specifically how fluctuating markets affect real people at home. Headquartered in New York, FBN is owned by News Corp, which has bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and London.
FNB, which launched a year ago, will be carried nationwide by Cox Communications to more than 2 million of its digital subscribers beginning Jan. 1, 2009. The new deal will increase FBN’s total distribution to 45 million homes, making it available in major markets around the country.