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.
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.
“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
The 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
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.
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
Longtime 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.
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
Summit with a View
JohnPac vendors gather the Louisiana way. By Dominick Cross
If you follow Louisiana Hwy. 82 southward toward the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll encounter a scenic, two-lane road through small Louisiana towns and wetlands in Vermilion Parish. Not long after the road bends in a westerly direction, you’ll come upon the community of Pecan Island.
And if you were there Feb. 16 and pulled into the Pecan Island School Lodge and ventured into the gym, you would’ve encountered the first-ever JohnPac Product Summit taking place in the converted school’s gym. “We thought it would be a great way to highlight all of our products that we offer in a very unique venue for our costumers,” says Mary Ellen Henry, CEO of JohnPac Inc. “We had 20 national vendors here today showing their products, innovation in products.”
JohnPac manufactures polypropylene woven bags but is also a large packaging distributor, Henry says. “We probably have 3,500 different products that we sell.
“Everything you see in here we re-sell,” Henry adds. “We’re a very large distributor.”
And that includes protective packaging, such as bubble-wrap and stretch film, all on a large scale for an industrial company looking to package and ship their particular product. “We work with a lot of well-known brands,” says Henry. “So that’s one of the reasons JohnPac has been successful, because we try to partner with very well-recognized names in packaging.”
One of those is Sealed Air, the inventors of what’s known as bubble wrap to the rest of us, is also into plastic packaging that fits the form of whatever is being shipped, from lamps to electronics, and gets it there in one piece. “It’s amazing what you can do with thin plastic nowadays,” says Steve Meeves.
Meeves is based out of Houston, but he often travels to New Orleans.
“I thought it was kind of unique and different to come down here,” he says. “I’ve never been this far down before.”
KLW Plastics manufactures 3.5- to 7-gallon tighthead plastic containers that could pass as super secure gas cans. Its corporate office is in Monroe, Ohio, and it has a plant in Houston with another scheduled to open in Atlanta in August. “Only liquid chemicals would go in here,” says Tom Gruber, KLW Plastics’ national sales manager. “Powder and solid substances won’t because you can’t extract them.”
The containers have a wide mouth and a hefty screw-down lid to secure a range of liquids, including flavorings, drilling fluids, carwash fluids and micro-electronics slurry that can cost up to $1,000 an ounce, according to Gruber. “It would be like slurries that would be used for motherboards of laptops,” Gruber says.
Donna Friesner, manager of KLW Plastics’ customer service, said the containers are “U.N. graded for chemicals.”
In other words, the United Nations has set a global standard for the containers that can be used and accepted around the globe without inspections.
“Everything we do is up to a U.N. rating,” maintains Gruber. “But we’re the only company that focuses solely on tight-head containers. All of our research and development goes back into making the most efficient, reliable, dependable tight-head containers in the marketplace.”
“And we use 18 percent less energy manufacturing our product than our competitors,” says Gruber, “so that helps with our carbon footprint and sustainability.”
Gruber says when the containers are trimmed as they are being made it is a cost-saving measure on a couple of fronts. In addition, tight-head containers are recyclable — even before they leave the building. “We employ a technology called TCS, which allows us to take out some of the excess plastic,” Gruber says. It’s then used for soon-to-be-made containers.
Another of JohnPac’s vendors, Lantech specializes in secondary packaging solutions; it builds stretch wrappers, case erectors, shrink wrap machines, palletizers, and palletload conveyors.
Founded in 1972, Lantech has more than 65,000 stretch wrap machines worldwide and more than 150 U.S. and foreign patents for its stretch wrapping innovations.
“We invented the stretch wrapper basically in 1972,” Mike Dippolito, of Louisville, Ky., says of the family-owned business. “We’re represented literally around the world.”
Like a spider spinning a web, the semi-automatic stretch wrapping machine spins a sheet of plastic around a pallet of boxes on a turning plate. “This machine saves money on film; we use a fraction of the film as some others,” he says. “And it also saves on labor.”
The machines, the “bread and butter” of Lantech, according to Dippolito, are for “anyone who makes a product and ships it on a pallet.” That includes grocery stores to computer companies.
It’s called load containment.
Dippolito says the company’s Q-300 also has the ability to literally stretch your dollar as it stretches the film.
“That machine actually takes 10 inches of film and stretches it out to 30 before it comes through the head,” he says.
January retail sales jump [16.5%]
Coming off a year-over-year increase of almost 11 percent and bolstered by the building material and food categories (we are, after all, now the “South’s Tastiest Town”), Lafayette Parish retail sales in January were 16.5 percent higher than January 2011. Building materials and food increased 37.5 percent and 17.3 percent, respectively.
The momentum from a strong holiday shopping season appears to be carrying over into 2012, as the parish’s January retail sales totaled more than $427 million. Sales of more than $566 million in December pushed 2011 total retail activity to $5.34 billion — the second highest year on record after 2008. December sales were the highest recorded for any December, with the final tally for all of 2011 reflecting a 10.9 percent increase over 2010.
“Seeing strong retail sales numbers in January will continue to boost local consumer confidence levels in the first quarter,” says Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “National estimates for February retail sales are promising, and we see no reason to expect local retail sales to veer from that trajectory.”
For January, all other categories showed increases over 2011, except furniture, which is down 9.7 percent from 2011. The general merchandise category, which finished 2011 down less than 1 percent, saw a 5.1 percent increase.
— Leslie Turk
Number of jobs Lafayette reportedly gained in the 12-month period ending in January, representing the highest employment growth (7 percent) of the eight metropolitan statistical areas in the state. Source: Louisiana Workforce Commission
IberiaBank buying Florida Gulf Bank
IberiaBank is making good on its plans to continue expanding its financial footprint in Florida: The Lafayette-based bank has agreed to purchase Florida Gulf Bank in a deal worth $43.7 million.
Pending shareholder approval, the acquisition could be finalized by the third quarter of this year, according to a release from IberiaBank. Florida Gulf Bank has eight offices in the Fort Meyers-Cape Coral market and boasts $350 million in assets, $262 million in loans and $279 million in deposits. Florida Gulf also has $16.4 million in “non-performing” assets.
The definitive agreement calls for Florida Gulf Bank shareholders to receive $23 in IberiaBank common stock for each share of Florida Gulf common stock outstanding. IberiaBank has also agreed to fork over more cash (up to $4.4 million) if certain loans are resolved within three years of the acquisition.
IberiaBank entered the Florida market in 2009 when it purchased two failed banks, Orion Bank in Naples and Century Bank in Sarasota. The publicly traded Lafayette-based bank, which has 173 banking offices in six states and mortgage reps in 12 states, continued its Florida expansion in early 2011 when it purchased $700,000 in unspecified assets of Florida Trust Company.
The Florida Gulf Bank purchase comes a little more than a year after IberiaBank announced its acquisition of Metairie-based Omni Bank, a $40 million stock deal that carried IberiaBank into the top five ranking in the New Orleans area. The deal marked IberiaBank’s first Louisiana acquisition in seven years. Three weeks after revealing its plans to buy Omni Bank, IberiaBank announced its acquisition of Cameron State Bank of Lake Charles, which added 22 branches and $706 million in assets to IberiaBank’s portfolio.
The latest acquisition announcement also falls on the heels of IberiaBank’s 125th birthday, which the bank celebrated the week of March 12 with iPad giveaways, free gasoline and other events to commemorate the milestone.
— Heather Miller
Amount the CEO of The Daily Advertiser’s parent company got in severance when he resigned last year citing health problems.
During his stint with Gannett, the parent company of the USA Today and 80 other American newspapers, Craig Dubow slashed some 20,000 jobs, including positions right here in Lafayette. In noting his departure, The Wall Street Journal wrote: “His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns. Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.” The Journal was pointing out the irony of a USA Today editorial, “5 Good Reasons Why Wall Street Breeds Protesters,” that ran the week after Dubow’s departure: “The bonus system has gone beyond a means of rewarding talent and is now Wall Street’s primary business,” the newspaper editorial stated, adding: “Institutions take huge gambles because the short-term returns are a rationale for their rich payouts. But even when the consequences of their risky behavior come back to haunt them, they still pay huge bonuses.”
Citing March 16 regulatory filings, NPR noted that Dubow’s final compensation package includes $12.8 million in retirement benefits, $6.2 million in disability benefits and a $5.9 million severance payment. Gannett stock options and restricted stock, which Dubow had accrued during his years of employment with the company and are valued at nearly $7 million, were also part of the package. In addition, the filings indicate Gannett will pay $25,000 to $50,000 annually for a $6.2 million life insurance policy covering Dubow and another $70,000 annually for benefits such as health insurance, home computer and secretarial assistance and financial counseling. He will receive most of these benefits for three years unless he goes to work for a competitor. NPR also noted that the company’s shares have rallied under Dubow’s successor, Gracia Martore, as investors hope that a new program to charge readers for online access to all of 80 of its newspapers will enhance profits.
Negligence, Rather than Fraud, Key in Stanford Case
Attorney hails appeals court decision as “the most significant for investors” since Stanford’s Ponzi scheme was shut down in February 2009.
By Leslie Turk
On March 19 the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed a 2011 lower-court ruling, clearing the way for state court class actions against financial advisers, lawyers and other third parties accused of aiding convicted financial Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas had ruled in 2011 that the federal Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, or SLUSA, barred the state cases in Louisiana and Texas because they were related to securities fraud.
But the federal three-judge appeals court panel said that law was only “tangentially related” to the fraud alleged by the plaintiffs, the sale of bogus CDs issued by Stanford’s Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.
Defendants include Stanford financial advisers, SEI Investments Co., which was accused of inducing investors to move retirement funds into the CDs, and the insurance brokerage Willis Group Holdings.
Phillip Preis, a lawyer for plaintiffs who has estimated total losses of $1 billion among some 1,000 Louisiana investors, said the ruling was the most significant for investors since Stanford’s fraud was uncovered in February 2009.
“It will allow us to assert negligence claims,” Preis told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a big deal.” The plaintiffs in the Preis lawsuits affected by the appeals court’s decision claim that SEI Investments Co. and Stanford’s financial advisers, among them Tiffany Angelle and Hank Mills, both of whom worked out of the former Lafayette office in River Ranch, either knew or should have known that Stanford was stealing their money.
Preis also told Baton Rouge’s Daily Report that the ruling is significant because state law only requires that plaintiffs prove negligence, not outright fraud, on the part of those entities. Preis said the appeals court’s decision makes it more likely that those people will be made whole:
Preis filed the original class action suit in Baton Rouge’s 19th Judicial District against the Stanford Trust, trust administrator SEI, a major international firm, and the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. Defendants were able to move the suit to federal court, but the Fifth Circuit (Monday) remanded the suit back to Baton Rouge. Preis expects to meet with Judge R. Michael Caldwell during the next six weeks to set a new schedule for the suit. “All those big companies like SEI that supported Stanford,” Preis says, “we have a very viable claim against them.”
A Houston federal jury found Stanford guilty March 6 on 13 criminal counts, including fraud, conspiracy and obstructing the SEC’s investigation. The 61-year-old could face more than 200 years in prison at his June 14 sentencing, or a maximum of about 20 years if he is sentenced to concurrent terms, the Tribune reported.
Coach Hud Inspires Real Estate Agents
UL football coach Mark Hudspeth spreads his championship message to Van Eaton & Romero’s team.
For its 34th annual awards presentation recognizing the company’s 2011 top producers in both residential and commercial real estate, Van Eaton & Romero invited UL head football coach Mark Hudspeth to inspire its agents. Hud challenged the real estate agency’s employees to maintain the passion they have for their job while inspiring, motivating, and pushing one another to be the best — much like he challenged his football players at the beginning of their bowl-winning season.
Bill Bacqué, CEO of Van Eaton & Romero, reviewed 2011 statistics, comparing the firm’s numbers to the numbers posted by all firms in the area.
In a residential market with only a 1 percent increase over 2010 in closed homes and dollar volume reported to the Realtor Association of Acadiana’s Multiple Listing Service, Van Eaton & Romero contributed a 13 percent increase in total closed sides over last year to 2,544 sides, and a 22 percent increase in closed listing and selling dollar volume totaling $460 million. This marks a 31-year dominance of the local real estate market.
Van Eaton & Romero’s top associates, based on individual closed dollar volume, included: Charlie Baudoin, Lori McCarthy, Melanie Lunn, Dan Fuselier, Robbie Breaux, Priscilla Fitch, Penny McGehee, Sylvia McLain, Janice Simar, and Sara Whitney. The top five groups: Teresa Hamilton team; New Iberia team of Rebekah McGee, Lynette Bagala, Linell Champagne and Zonnie LaBry; and duos of Carole Horn and Calvin Legé, Judy Hagood and Marie Lee, and Bill and Sandy Stephens.
Healthier, Happier Meals
McDonald’s adds apples and fat-free or low-fat milk to its kids’ meals.
By Dominick Cross
McDonald’s is making a couple of nutrition changes to its menu under its recently announced Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices initiative.
“Every new Happy Meal includes a choice of fat-free chocolate milk or 1 percent low-fat white milk,” says E.J. Krampe, local McDonald’s owner/operator. “And by adding apple slices, we are changing the nutritional quality of our Happy Meals and addressing a challenge children face in meeting the recommended daily consumption of produce.
“We are setting a standard for the industry,” he says.
Dr. Cynthia Goody, director of nutrition for the McDonald’s Corp., visited a Lafayette McDonald’s on Kaliste Saloom to discuss the Happy Meals initiative, which also includes the optional portion sizes and a 20 percent reduction in sodium that have been in place since 2003.
“What’s new with Happy Meals is that it includes apples and French fries with every meal,” says Goody, adding that the portion will be a quarter cup of raw apples and 100 calories of Kid’s fries. “It’s the best of both worlds: You get fruit and fries at McDonald’s in the same box and in the same meal.”
Goody says children will still have a choice of Chicken McNuggets, hamburger, cheeseburger, and beverage, which includes 1 percent low-fat milk, water, apple juice and fat-free chocolate milk.
“McDonald’s is about portion size, eating from the recommended food groups of the USDA My Plate and decreasing the amount of sodium, saturated fats, added sugars and calories,” she says. “And you can still have your fries, too.”
Goody says she wouldn’t characterize the changes as a revamping of the McDonald’s menu.
“We know that our customers love our world-famous French fries and burgers and triple-thick shakes,” says Goody. “And they want to feel good about coming more often to see us, so they’re asking for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat and fat-free dairy.”
With that in mind, Goody says the breakfast menu offers fruit-maple oatmeal, “a brand-new breakfast product, but it’s available all day with or without brown sugar,” she says. “And new, coming this spring, blueberry-banana nut oat meal.”
“There’s a lot of dialogue around health and well-being and because we feed 27 million people each day in the United States — which is roughly the equivalent to feeding the U.S. population one meal once every 11 days — we want to be a part of the solution,” she continues. “We want to be introducing more fruits, vegetables, whole grain, low-fat, fat-free dairy into the American diet.”
Goody says McDonald’s customers visit on average two or three times a month.
“There are no good foods, there are no bad foods,” she says. “It’s about what and how much you choose to eat. ... Everything in moderation.”
Acadian Contractors hiring 40-50 workers
Abbeville-based Acadian Contractors, an oil and gas fabricator serving the Gulf of Mexico for the past four decades, has won a major contract with Weatherford U.S. to build seven tanks for Marine Well Containment Company’s expanded containment system.
Headquartered in Houston, MWCC is a not-for-profit, independent enterprise that provides well containment equipment and technology in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
The value of the contract was not disclosed.
MWCC’s Expanded Containment System is being engineered for use in water depths up to 10,000 feet.
Acadian will be providing material, labor and equipment required to fabricate and paint the tanks that will be mobilized in the event of a deepwater well control incident in the Gulf of Mexico; the project is expected to take three months to complete. Acadian has a workforce of approximately 300 and says it has an immediate need for another 40 to 50 skilled workers. The company has additional contracts that will run into 2013.
According to MWCC’s website, the expanded containment system is being engineered for use in water depths up to 10,000 feet and has the capacity to contain up to 100,000 barrels of liquid per day (and handle up to 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day). The system will include a subsea containment assembly, dedicated capture vessels and a dispersant injection system.
Headquartered five miles south of Abbeville on the east bank of the Vermilion River, Acadian Contractors recently added an 11,500-square-foot climate-controlled blasting and painting facility.
Founded in 1972, Acadian Contractors is located five miles south of Abbeville on the Vermilion River. Acadian’s main yard is equipped with 1,000 feet of bulkhead on two slips with more than 38,000 square feet of covered fabrication area. Acadian recently added an 11,500-square-foot climate-controlled blasting and painting facility.
Acadian also has offices in Houston and Grand Cane, La.
— Leslie Turk
Cochon’s Link still in running for top James Beard award
Donald Link, of Herbsaint and Cochon fame, is still in the running for the James Beard Outstanding Chef award, the highest honor the prestigious awards bestow on an individual chef.
The Acadiana native is competing against:
· David Chang, Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City
· Gary Danko, Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco
· Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York City
· Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago
· Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
Link, who opened a location of Cochon in River Ranch last year, won the James Beard Best Chef: South award in 2007; Cochon co-founder/chef Stephen Stryjewski won it last year.
In the running for Best Chef in the South for 2012 are:
· Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery, New Orleans
· John Harris, Lilette, New Orleans
· Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, AL
· Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace, New Orleans
· Alon Shaya, Domenica, New Orleans
Justin Girouard of The French Press was named a semifinalist for the Best Chef: South award in February but has been eliminated from the competition.
The Beard Foundation Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in North America. Winners in each category will be announced Monday, May 7, at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
— Leslie Turk
Lafayette businessman Mike Moreno got more than half of his money out of Stanford Group but still had $20 million invested in the company when regulators shut it down in February 2009, according to court testimony in the ongoing trial of Allen Stanford.
At press time, Stanford, 61, was still on trial in Houston, accused of masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme centered on the sale of so-called CDs at the Stanford International Bank, based on Antigua. Court testimony in the fraud trial revealed Moreno’s substantial losses. Jason Green, a former Baton Rouge-based financial adviser, testified in late January that Moreno tried to pull his money out before the company crashed, but his request was denied.
Bloomberg reported on the ongoing trial:
A former Stanford Group Co. executive told a jury that one client of R. Allen Stanford’s securities brokerage lost at least $20 million before the business was closed by U.S. regulators.
Jason Green, who led Stanford Group’s private-client group, offered the figure while being cross-examined by the defense on the fifth day of Stanford’s investor fraud trial in federal court in Houston.
Stanford’s lawyers have said that customers who bought the certificates of deposit issued by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. and sold by the brokerage were able to withdraw every penny of their money until the Securities and Exchange Commission sued in February 2009.
Asked by defense attorney Ali Fazel if anybody had not gotten their money back before then, Green replied, “Yes, one person I know of specifically” was denied $20 million. Green later identified the client as Michael [stet] Moreno, who had residences in Lafayette, Louisiana, and in Houston.
As ABiz previously reported, Moreno was among 49 investors Stanford receiver Ralph Janvey listed in July 2009 court filings who either cashed out some of their holdings before Stanford was shut down or moved their money into non-Stanford accounts. Those 49 investors took out a total of $494 million, $47 million of that withdrawn out by Moreno. Green testified that Moreno needed the money to settle tax obligations, according to Bloomberg.
Moreno, [Green] said, entrusted Stanford’s business with almost $50 million before withdrawing some of those funds to address a tax obligation. The $20 million withdrawal request was made shortly before Stanford stopped allowing clients to redeem CDs before their maturity date to stanch the outflow of capital as the global financial crisis deepened.
Receiver Janvey tried unsuccessfully in 2009 to claw back Moreno and other investors’ proceeds.
Prosecutors have said Stanford treated the savings of thousands of investors as his “personal piggy bank” to buy two airlines, build a cricket team and stadium, funnel money to a Swiss bank account and otherwise live a life of luxury on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Stanford faces 14 charges of defrauding nearly 30,000 investors from 113 countries.
In October Moreno told ABiz that he has been living temporarily in Dallas, raising $300 million to start a new fracking company. — Leslie Turk
Lafayette native Paul Ayo and his wife Jenine hope to have E’s Kitchen up and running in Parc Lafayette within two months. The 1,900-square-foot store is opening next to Armentor Jewelers in the new mixed-use development near the intersection of Camellia Boulevard and Kaliste Saloom Road.
“Our tagline is better service, better products. It’ll be a place for people in Lafayette that actually love to cook, a place for them to go to buy the cooking supplies they reallly want ... a level above what you can get in the box store,” Paul Ayo says.
E’s Kitchen will offer a wide selection of unique kitchenware and gadgets; among its top brands are Shun Knives, Swiss Diamond (hard-surface non-stick cook ware), Regal Ware (American-made pots and pans), Joseph Joseph (gadgets and utensils), Edgeware (knife sharpening tools) and Kuhn Rikon (Swiss-made cook ware and tools).
“There are quite a few that are really exciting, to be honest,” says Ayo, noting that an emphasis will be on carrying American-made products.
E’s Kitchen will also offer cooking and product demonstrations.
Paul Ayo says he’s long wanted to start his own business and that market research revealed a gap in the market for locals who love to cook and want to be able to test and touch the very latest products on the market before buying. E’s Kitchen will afford them that opportunity.
Ayo’s parents, Elroy and Elaine Doucet, are also assisting in the venture.
Jenine is a school teacher, and for the past five years Paul was business manager at Honda of Lafayette, a position he left in December to start E’s Kitchen. He was finance manager at Honda of Lafayette for four years before becoming business manager and also spent a year as store manager of San Francisco Music Box Co. — Leslie Turk
Company announces two major local departures days before confirming it will begin charging for online content. By Leslie Turk
The Daily Advertiser announced that its executive editor and publisher are leaving, just as its corporate owner confirmed what’s long been speculated: The newspaper giant is moving to a paywall system.
On Feb. 17, The Advertiser’s executive editor, Brian Tolley, announced that he is moving to another Gannett paper, The Clarion-Ledger, in Jackson, Miss. Tolley will reunite with former Daily Advertiser President and Publisher Leslie Hurst, again serving as her executive editor.
In a headline that morning, Gannett Blog referred to Tolley as Hurst’s protege and noted that his new staff could face a 20 percent reduction.
Reported the blog, which is not affiliated with Gannett:
He will be leading an especially traumatized newsroom, even by Gannett standards. The paper has been without a top editor since Ronnie Agnew left in July to lead Mississippi Public Broadcasting after the GCI-wide mass layoffs of 700 the month before. The managing editor’s job also has been vacant.
Meanwhile, the newsroom faces the potential loss of both assistant managing editors if they accept recently offered buyouts. Indeed, paper-wide, 12 buyout offers are on the table: one in finance and 11 in the newsroom.
The newsroom now employs 50, according to one of my Jackson readers. So, those 11 potential buyouts could reduce staffing by more than 20% — unless they’re replaced. And even if they are, it’s assumed — as with all similarly-situated papers — that new hires will be far less experienced.
Tolley’s title will be executive editor/director of audience engagement and growth at the Clarion-Ledger Media Group. He starts March 12.
Tolley, who also oversaw the Daily World in Opelousas, joined the local daily in April 2010. Before that he was editor of The Fayetteville Observer in Fayetteville, NC, and also worked in Daytona Beach, Fla., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Columbia, SC.
“Brian leaves The Daily Advertiser and Daily World in much better shape than he found them,” Advertiser President and Publisher Ali Zoibi said. “That is a tribute to him and the team he developed.”
Three days later, Zoibi was announcing his own departure, saying he is retiring and moving out of state to spend more time with his ailing mother. Zoibi joined the local paper in December 2010.
At the time, Zoibi said Richard Roesgen, 50, general manager/executive editor of Gannett-owned The Reporter and Action Publications in Fond du Lac, Wis., would replace him.
A week later, however, Zoibi notified employees that Roesgen will not be coming to Lafayette. In his memo to employees, Zoibi cited “unexpected personal matters” and asked the staff to respect Roesgen’s privacy, reported Gannett Blog.
On Feb. 22, Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, confirmed that it will begin charging for online content. By the end of the year, all of its 80 community newspapers will have moved to a sophisticated paywall system the company projects will increase annual subscription revenues by 25 percent and bring an extra $100 million to its bottom line. Only USA Today will remain free, at least for now.
The content initiative is not new, as newspapers across the country have been setting up paywalls over the past couple of years with mixed success.
Kevin Latiolais, a 22-year veteran of Midsouth Bank, has been promoted to regional president of the bank’s Lafayette and Opelousas markets.
A Breaux Bridge native and resident of Youngsville, Latiolais began his career at Lafayette-based MidSouth in 1989, working part-time for the bank while attending UL Lafayette and serving in the Louisiana National Guard. Latiolais earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from ULL and is also a “master graduate” of Rapport Leadership International. The former first vice president of commercial lending for MidSouth, Latiolais’ new duties include managing business development and commercial relationships throughout the two markets.
MidSouth has $1.4 billion in assets and has 40 locations throughout Louisiana and Texas.
Jennifer Fontenot has been promoted to regional retail manager at the bank. Fontenot is adding responsibility for the Lafayette, Opelousas and Carencro retail banking centers to her existing role as Banking Center Manager of the Ambassador Caffery Parkway location in Lafayette. As regional retail manager, Fontenot manages and directs a group of 11 banking centers to achieve sales and service goals and ensure customer satisfaction. She also works on staff development.
A 17-year industry veteran, Fontenot has been a Banking Center Manager at MidSouth Bank for the past six years and before that was a branch manager for IberiaBank. She also previously worked for Bank One and First National Bank of Lafayette, both of which are now Chase. Fontenot earned a bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in management from UL Lafayette in 1999.
Environmental Drilling Solutions has named Spence Girouard controller. Prior to joining EDS, Girouard worked for Broussard, Poche, Lewis, & Breaux as a CPA. He has experience in financial planning and management and the preparation of financial and tax statements. Girouard earned a BS in accounting from UL Lafayette in 2006 and CPA designation in 2009. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. EDS offers rig site solutions regarding cuttings drying, solids control and zero discharge technology for land and offshore drilling applications.
Rachel Hebert is Heart Hospital of Lafayette’s new chief financial officer. Originally from Abbeville, Hebert most recently served as divisional controller with Promise Healthcare Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., and has more than a decade of health care experience. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UL Lafayette, an MBA in health care administration from Florida Atlantic University and holds a certification in public accounting. Dr. Richard Fei, a pulmonologist who has been practicing in Lafayette for 18 years, has joined Our Lady of Lourdes. Fei earned his medical degree in 1986 from National Taiwan University Medical School in Taiwan. He completed a residency in 1991 at VA Medical Center Long Beach: University of California. He also completed a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship in 1994 at the University of New Mexico.
Naomi Primeaux has joined Right Angle as graphic designer. She is a December 2011 graduate of UL Lafayette, where she completed a bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in graphic design. During her collegiate studies, Primeaux was granted the UL Lafayette Excellence Award three years in a row and was also named Outstanding Graduate in Visual Art. She also received multiple Acadiana Advertising Federation Student ADDY Awards, including a Gold Student ADDY and four Silver Student ADDYs.
Investor reports for publicly traded banks with a presence in the Lafayette market saw mostly positive gains in 2011 over 2010. End-of-year reports were available for the following banks that represent at least 1 percent of the market share:
Lafayette-based MidSouth Bank reports earnings of $2.7 million for 2011, or 48 cents a share, as compared to $4.6 million, or 47 cents a share, at the end of 2010.
For 2011, IberiaBank earned $53.5 million, or $1.87 per share, compared with 2010 earnings of $48.8 million, or $1.88 per share.
Home Bank saw annual revenues of $5.1 million for 2011, an increase of $432,000 (9 percent) compared to 2010.
Earnings for 2011 were $7.2 million, or $3.45 per share, compared to $7.1 million, or $3.37 per share, in 2010.
Chase reported a 2011 record net income of $19 billion, or $4.48 per share, up $1.6 million as compared to 2010.
Mississippi-based Hancock Bank, which completed its purchase of Whitney Bank in 2011, reports annual earnings of $76.7 million in 2011, up from $52.2 million in 2010.
Earnings for 2011 were $3.1 billion, or $6.80 per share.
Compared to 2010, earnings were up $404 million, or 15 percent.
Generated annual earnings of $8.5 million for the year ending Dec. 31, up 34.3 percent from earnings of $6.3 million in 2010.
According to investor reports, 2011 net income reached $37.6 million, a gain over 2010 income of $22.9 million.
Full-year results reflect a net loss available to common shareholders of $429 million or $0.34 per diluted share.
From 2007 to 2010, the median household income in Lafayette went from $42,067 to $47,200. That 12.2 percent increase makes the Lafayette metro the fastest-growing in the country, its closest competitor Corpus Christi, Texas, where median household income rose 9.4 percent to $50,621.
The median income among the top 1 percent of earners in Lafayette jumped 6.1 percent to $362,290.
The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 2:
Oil and gas propelled resource-rich states through the recession, while manufacturing losses and the housing bust ripped a hole in the Rust Belt that has yet to be repaired.
Lafayette’s median household income growth, 2007-2010
The District of Columbia notched the greatest increase over the 2007-2010 period, with an 8.1% jump in income, in large part because of federal-government employment.
Louisiana as a whole inched up 1.6 percent to $43,389, fifth best in the country, with the Houma-Thibodaux and Alexandria metros both growing 5.1 percent — to $49,850 and $41,029, respectively. That 5.1 percent increase tied them for 10th place with two other metros. The Baton Rouge area rose 4.4 percent to $50,827. — Leslie Turk
The number of customized woven polypropylene bags and bulk bags Crowley-based JohnPac manufactured last year.
JohnPac provides industrial packaging across the U.S. and the globe and is ranked 37th on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana with $39 million in revenues for 2010.
JohnPac’s first-ever vendor-sponsored trade show, the JonPac Product Summit, was held Thursday, Feb. 16 at Pecan Island School Lodge. Twenty vendors from around the country were on hand.
In early January, ABiz broke the story on the dismissal of Heart Hospital of Lafayette Chief Operating Officer Karen Wyble. No reason for Wyble’s termination was given.
Just six weeks later, the registered nurse-turned-hospital executive has landed a job as regional vice president of operations at LHC Group, a Lafayette-based home health and hospice provider.
LHC Group confirmed Wyble’s employment Feb. 17, two days after the national provider of home health and hospice services announced that its board of directors and management are exploring a range of strategic alternatives to boost its stock price (see related story on Page 1).
In her new role, Wyble will work with hospitals around the country to facilitate partnerships for home health and hospice care.
Wyble has more than 20 years of health care experience. While COO at Heart Hospital of Lafayette, she served the dual role of vice president of cardiovascular services for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, which has held a major stake in the specialty heart hospital since late 2007. Wyble previously served as assistant vice president of nursing at Lafayette General Medical Center.
Wyble holds master’s degrees in business administration and health care administration from the University of St. Francis. She earned an associate degree in nursing from LSU and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Loyola University. She is an alumnus-certified critical care nurse.
Donna Landry, Lourdes’ vice president of corporate development, has been serving as interim COO of Heart Hospital since Wyble’s departure. — LT
Moreno affiliate calls off IPO, announces it’s being acquired. By Leslie Turk
On Feb. 1, Houston-based independent producer Dynamic Offshore Resources agreed to be acquired by SandRidge Energy Inc., based in Oklahoma City. The cash-and-stock transaction, valued at $1.28 billion, came a day after Dynamic Offshore postponed its initial public offering.
The buyout consists of approximately $680 million in cash and 74 million shares of SandRidge common stock valued at $8.02 per share.
Dynamic Offshore had hoped to raise about $300 million in its IPO, expecting to sell up to 16.7 million shares at $17 to $19 apiece. Shares were scheduled to begin trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “DOR,” but the company announced Tuesday that it was postponing the IPO.
An underwriter cited “market conditions” as the reason.
Dynamic Offshore Resources focuses on the acquisition and development of oil and natural gas properties in the Gulf of Mexico. It has the equivalent of 62.5 million barrels of crude in proved reserves and produces 25,000 barrels a day from wells in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
SandRidge reported that about half of Dynamic’s production and reserves is oil and about 48 percent natural gas. SandRidge hopes to double Dynamic’s oil production over three years.
Citing Deologic data, The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal with SandRidge is the largest for Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas fields since the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.
SEC filings in connection with Dynamic Offshore’s planned IPO indicate that Lafayette businessman Mike Moreno has been a limited partner of Dynamic Offshore since its inception. In February 2008, energy private equity firm Riverstone Holdings and global private equity firm The Carlyle Group announced that they had committed $450 million for investment in the new Houston-based oil and gas company. That deal was announced about a year after Riverstone/Carlyle purchased half of Moreno Group Holdings, which includes Dynamic Industries, Arc Equipment Rental, Dii LLC, Southern Steel and Supply, and Dynamic Marine Services.
Moreno is CEO of Moreno Group, which continues to have a number of business relationships with Dynamic Offshore.
According to the SEC filings: “In the ordinary course of business, we purchase offshore services from certain companies that are owned by or affiliated with the Moreno Group. We believe that these services were negotiated on an arms’ length basis and that the terms are no less favorable than those we could obtain from unrelated third parties. During the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the nine months ended September 30, 2011, the amounts paid for these services totaled $6.2 million, $10.0 million, $6.4 million and $4.0 million, respectively.”
Cottage Landing, a student housing project, is under construction at 301 Coolidge St. in the Oil Center.
Student Cottages Going Up On Coolidge
For the first time this fall, UL students will have the option of living in a cottage community.
By Leslie Turk
An Atlanta-based company is entering the Lafayette market with a unique $8 million student-cottage complex on Coolidge Street at General Mouton.
The back of the complex, across from the old Rodemacher plant, is in the 1800 block of West Pinhook Road, what was once the site of Evangeline Motors.
Cottage Landing Partners, a subsidiary of Barnhart Guess Properties, is developing the 47 cottages with 189 bedrooms, says Frank Klemenc, director of architecture, planning and construction for Barnhart Guess. Barnhart Guess handles leasing, management and development of mostly mixed use and retail space, as well as retirement communities, throughout the Southeast but is now branching out into student housing. “We’re starting to do these all over the country where there is a need,” Klemenc says.
Called Cottage Landing, the gated Oil Center complex will offer three-, four- and five-bedroom options. Students will pay $530 per bedroom for a five-bedroom cottage, $540 per room for a four bedroom and $550 for each room in a three-bedroom cottage. Amenities include a resort-style swimming pool and sun-bathing patio. Pre-leasing of units is under way.
Court records show that another Barnhart subsidiary, Red Lafayette LLC, purchased the 4-acre tract of land in mid-December for $1.25 million from Evangeline Oil Realty Co., which is owned by former U.S. Rep. Jimmy Hayes and several of his family members. The Pinhook Road location once housed Evangeline Motors but most recently was occupied by Styles Fashion Outlet.
Including the cost of the land, Klemenc says about $8 million will be invested in the development.
Choot em, Troy!
One of the “characters” in the popular History Channel reality-TV program Swamp People has filed a federal lawsuit against three companies accusing them of violating his trademark on several catchphrases, according to The Advocate.
In early January, Troy Landry from the Assumption Parish town of Pierre Part filed the suit in federal district court in Lafayette against National Cap and Sportswear, Halpern Import Co. and Ripple Junction Design Co. He claims in the suit that in 2010 he trademarked the catchprases “Choot Em,” Tree Shaka,” “Tree Breaka” and others, which he uses to sell apparel through an eponymous production company.
— Walter Pierce
The Picard Group’s Nick Cahanin, Josh Borill, Tyron Picard and former state Sen. Mike Michot
Michot joins The Picard Group
Former state Sen. Mike Michot, term-limited after 16 years in the Louisiana Legislature, has joined The Picard Group as senior policy advisor.
The governmental affairs and business consulting firm, which also has offices in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C., was founded in 2011 by former Acadian Ambulance exec Tyron Picard. Michot and Picard are longtime friends.
In his last four years in the Legislature, Michot chaired the Senate Finance Committee.
Michot, 48, will advise the Picard team and its clients on finding effective solutions in the governmental process. By law he is prohibited from lobbying the Louisiana Legislature for at least two years.
“We are honored that Mike Michot has chosen to join our team. His advice and counsel to our team and our clients, as well as his relationships on the local and federal level, will be of great value,” says Tyron Picard. “The addition of Mike, along with our existing affiliation with the Roedel Parsons Koch Blache Balhoff and McCollister law firm in Baton Rouge, deepens the pool of resources available for both our team and the clients which we serve.” Picard and Michot have known each other for more than 25 years.
“Our law firm is also excited to draw upon the experience of Mike Michot, whose addition to the overall team makes a positive statement for the future of our governmental relations practice locally, statewide and in Washington D.C.,” says Larry Roedel, managing partner of Roedel Parsons.
Moving over to The Picard Group with Michot is his longtime legislative aide, 34-year-old Josh Borill of Crowley. Borill has been named deputy public policy advisor.
A Lafayette native, Michot also owns the local durable medical equipment company, Premier Medical Equipment. He is the son of former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Louis Michot and the late Patricia Smith Michot. He is married to the former Monique Broussard of Estherwood and they have two children, Mikie, 16, and Mary Carolyn, 15.
— Leslie Turk
By the Numbers
Amount Donald Mosing, chairman emeritus for the board of directors of Frank’s Casing Crew and Rental Tools (No. 8 on ABiz’s list of Acadiana’s Top 50 privately held companies with $240 million in 2010 revenues), donated to UL’s College of Engineering in early January. The gift, the largest current, non-bequest donation to the engineering department, will create a $1 million endowed chair in mechanical engineering, a computer aided design laboratory and a student career development program. Mosing is the son of the oilfield service company’s founder, Frank Mosing.
Mosing’s donation came just as this amount was confirmed as UL’s share of the latest $50 million in higher education funding cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2011-12. No faculty or staff layoffs or furloughs are planned, with the cuts instead hitting operating expenses, equipment and supply acquisitions, and travel. University subsidies for athletics, research, and economic and workforce development centers will also be reduced.
The amount, according to Lafayette Consolidated Government, that night club Karma owes LCG in delinquent payments of the special law enforcement levy dating back to June. On the hook for nearly $5,000 per month and facing a one-year suspension of its liquor license, Karma is one of six downtown bars that stopped paying the levy in protest. The bars filed a federal lawsuit against LCG challenging the constitutionality of the security fee.
Amount 32-year-old Brandy Z. Rogers of New Iberia embezzled from Teche Federal Bank from June 2008 to January 2011. Rogers, who was a customer service rep for the local bank, accessed customer accounts and CDs without their knowledge. She created a Teche Federal Bank account using a made-up name and SS number and deposited some of the funds into the account, then wrote checks using the made-up name. Rogers also created and processed loans in the names of Teche Federal Bank customers without their knowledge. In her effort to conceal the scheme, Rogers altered the customers’ IRS 1099 forms. At her Jan. 13 plea hearing in federal court, in which she pleaded guilty to embezzlement, Rogers acknowledged that she embezzled funds for her personal benefit, including the purchase of vehicles, home improvements, living expenses and entertainment. She faces a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 years, a fine of not more than $1 million, or both, and supervised release of not more than five years.
— Leslie Turk
On the Menu
Bistro Byronz has opened in the old Elephant Room at
Bit of Red Stick in Hub City
How Gene Todaro and the Kantrow family came together to bring Bistro Byronz to Lafayette.
By Anna Purdy
Located at 5412 Government St. in Baton Rouge, Bistro Byronz (pronounced either bye-renn or bye-ronz, they don’t care as long as you come visit) began in 1979 with a Houston hospital visit and ended up being one of the more successful restaurants in Baton Rouge.
Now, thanks to a friendship across literal bridges, it’s expanded to Lafayette.
Located at 2605 Kaliste Saloom Road, it’s where The Elephant Room used to be. After someone skidded and smashed a car into the building, Gene Todaro had to close to rebuild. In the meantime, Elephant Room was moved and its concept restructured to fit the location at 340 Kaliste Saloom, a few doors down from Marcello’s Wine Market Cafe. While deciding what to do with the old location, an out-of-town business was hoping to bust into Lafayette’s notoriously generous yet decisive restaurant scene.
Franchise founder Mike Kantrow and his wife were in Houston when their son, Byron, was receiving urgent medical care. While waiting and needing something to eat, the couple happened upon a little sandwich shop near the hospital that impressed them. When they got home, Kantrow found a spot on Government and Eugene streets and figured out if they sold a certain amount of sandwiches they could make extra money to supplement their growing family. It was named Byronz, with a “Z” stepping in for a possessive “S” and named in honor of Kantrow’s father, brother and son.
This location closed in 1990. More than a decade later Kantrow’s kids, Brock and Emilie, were all grown up and decided to leave their respective careers to go back to the family business. A short time later the restaurant had locations in Mandeville and Shreveport, and now it’s made its way to Lafayette. Brock has taken a step back from the family business although “he and Byron are the marketing idea men. They came up with the website,” says Emelie. A mother of two small kids with another on the way, Emelie has been shuttling to and from her corporation’s new Hub City location regularly. While the Krantows do have partners and investors, Emelie makes it clear that “it’s a family affair. My mom came up with a lot of the recipes.”
“Bistro Byronz has added a unique culinary option on Government Street in Baton Rouge for a number of years now,” says Jay D. Ducote, one of the loudest voices in Baton Rouge’s food scene at biteandbooze.com. “Its lunches and weekend brunch are applaudable dining options. My go-to dishes are the blue cheese chips and the steak frites — but don’t order it anything over medium rare!”
The cuisine at Bistro Byronz is French American. The recipes originated in Baton Rouge, so it isn’t Cajun or Creole. Bistros traditionally have light meals that can be ordered and eaten with little fanfare. The food and ambiance are twins of modest elegance in bistros — these are restaurants that began in Paris over a century ago in people’s homes. Bistro Byronz is black and white with antiqued mirrors and pictures of muted yet bright color as tittles along the walls. The space is nicely segmented for intimacy. “We thought dividing it would make the place seem smaller, but it seems bigger,” says Nicole Jordan, who functions as the proprietor of Todaro’s Lafayette eateries.
In fact, it was Jordan who was instrumental in bringing Byronz to Lafayette.
“I was familiar with it and I wanted to bring it in. When I did wine sales and they opened Byronz in Baton Rouge I helped do the wine training. I fell in love with the concept and feel,” she says. “I told Gene I think you should talk to Bistro Byronz. We have kind of the same vision of things.” The Kantrows had been looking for a ready-to-go spot in Lafayette, because building was somewhat cost prohibitive for the moderately priced eatery.
In fact, everything is under $21 at Bistro Byronz. The concept is true to the idea of a bistro — lunches run from $8-$13 on average and dinners $10-$20.
BLUE CHEESE CHIPS, $4.95 nibble, $8.95 full plate
People in Baton Rouge raved to me about these chips, so I knew I had to try them first. The chips are not culled from a Sam’s Club bag but potatoes freshly hand cut and fried in a mixture of soybean and corn oils. For a person who doesn’t like potato chips, these are magnificent even without the bleu cheese. With it, of course, it’s better. The cheese is fresh and has less of a bite while still flavorful. Clusters of bleu cling to the chips and get most of them, but when you get to the plate’s bottom you see the hot chips were placed on a bed of the stuff, which is now melted and waiting to be scooped up.
A cassoulet is the inspiration for the word and dish casserole. Traditionally, it is ham slow cooked with white beans in an earthenware pot called a cassole, which is how the name came about. This might have been this day’s best dish. The sausage is from Poche’s Market in Breaux Bridge and made of chicken and duck, first grilled before slow cooking, adding a depth in flavor. The white beans were mulled with bits of pork, and it was perfectly spiced.
Shrimp Louie with pasta salad
SHRIMP LOUIE, $9.95
Served on your choice of bread, the Shrimp Louie comes packed with small shrimp with a tomato and lettuce. The side is a cold rotini pasta salad with tang. For a few bucks more you can 86 the sandwich and get the Shrimp Louie on salad.
I mentioned my love of the Reuben a few months ago when I wrote about Village Café’s take on the classic. To me, it’s a marvel of a concept: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island or Russian dressing on rye or pumpernickel bread is some sort of alchemy where things I hate marry and give birth to something I love. The Byreuben subs out the Thousand Island for the Louie dressing and the result is a bit of a lighter sandwich. The corned beef came hot and wasn’t fatty, cut properly and spiced right.
BISTRO BREAD PUDDING, $5.95
Others have certainly blended the best of king cakes and bread puddings, but my eyes had yet to see it. Bistro’s is deceptive: it comes out looking like king cake, with the white frosting and sprinkles, but you cut in to taste the hot, soaked cake underneath. It’s sweet and puts the two quintessentially Louisiana desserts together in a lovely way.
HEAVENLY HASH, $4.95
I hate marshmallows. Yes, I’m the odd duck who will rarely even put them in cocoa. So if I like this, have faith you’ll dig it. But in this it was truly awesome. A dense, creamy brick of chocolate punctuated with caramel and marshmallows is delectable.
To make a reservation, call 988-1032 or check out the website at bistrobyronz.com/bistro-in-lafayette.
Wood out — yet again — at KSMB group
Radio veteran Chuck Wood, who returned to his old job with the local group of stations that includes FM stations 94.5 KSMB and 99.1 KXKC in mid-2009, was let go in early January by new owners Cumulus Media. Local radio sources say Wood’s position was eliminated, likely part of a broader move by Cumulus to do away with general managers in smaller markets.
Citadel Broadcasting Corp. sold the local stations to Cumulus in September, about two years after bringing Wood back to run the local franchise, which also includes 104.7 KNEK and 95.5 KRRQ. While Wood’s position may not fit into Cumulus’ model, it was common knowledge in radio circles that the group of stations was performing well financially.
In 1998, Wood landed a job as sales manager with one of the KSMB group’s chief competitors, what is now Townsquare Media, after being forced out by then-owner Powell Group and replaced by another local radio veteran, Mary Galyean. Powell later sold to Citadel.
In 2009, it was Galyean who was cut loose by Citadel to pave the way for Wood’s return. She’s since moved on to a job as communications business support supervisor with LUS Fiber, and most bets are on Wood landing on his feet very soon as well.
Reached on his cell phone, Wood declined comment.
The woman answering the phone at Cumulus headquarters in Atlanta referred our inquiry to the local Cumulus office. A message left there was not immediately returned.
Cumulus had confirmed in February 2011 that it was negotiating with Las Vegas-based Citadel in a deal valued at about $2.4 billion in cash and stock. On Sept. 16 the publicly traded media giant announced that it had closed the deal. With the completion of the Citadel acquisition, Cumulus said it became the largest pure-play radio broadcaster in the U.S., with more than 570 radio stations in 120 markets and a nationwide radio network serving more than 4,000 stations.
— Leslie Turk
Morgan Keegan’s Lafayette office on Camellia Boulevard in River Ranch
Raymond James Buying Morgan Keegan
Combination creates one of country’s largest off-Wall Street wealth management and investment banking firms.
By Leslie Turk
In an effort to expand both its private client wealth management and capital markets businesses, and noting that timing and pricing are right, Raymond James Financial Inc. has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement to acquire Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. and related affiliates from Regions Financial for $930 million. Memphis-based Morgan Keegan’s Lafayette office is located in River Ranch; it has eight financial advisers with four assistants, one insurance specialist, an office manager and a receptionist.
In all, the acquisition will add 1,000 private client financial advisers to Raymond James’ adviser count, bringing it to more than 6,000. Raymond James is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla. At least for the foreseeable future, it is expected that the name Morgan Keegan will be retained.
Regions Financial will also receive a $250 million dividend from Morgan Keegan, bringing the total value of the deal to the bank to $1.18 billion. The deal is expected to close by March 31 of this year.
“While our preference is generally organic growth, we have used strategic mergers to grow throughout our history when the timing and pricing are right and, most importantly, when there is a strong cultural fit and clear path for integration,” Raymond James CEO Paul C. Reilly said in announcing the acquisition. “This merger reflects those tenets. Morgan Keegan private client and capital markets professionals are well-respected in the industry for their capabilities and client-service orientation. Bringing them to Raymond James and working with their excellent management teams represents a major step toward achieving our vision of being the premier alternative to Wall Street.”
The combined businesses of two of the Southeast’s biggest brokerages will create one of the country’s largest full-service wealth management and investment banking firms not headquartered on Wall Street.
Regions is expected to use the proceeds from the sale to help pay off its $3.5 billion debt to the U.S. government, money it received as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Listing acquisition highlights, Raymond James noted that Morgan Keegan, with an anticipated $700 million tangible book value at closing, has demonstrated stability and profitability across economic and market cycles. Together, the firm expects its financial planning, high-net-worth and retail front-end support systems to drive greater financial adviser productivity.
As part of the merger, Morgan Keegan CEO John Carson will join Raymond James Financial as president and will oversee Fixed Income and Public Finance. Other senior leaders from Morgan Keegan will be joining the firm in roles yet to be determined.
Raymond James, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, affirmed its commitment to maintaining a large presence in Memphis, where it has had retail and institutional offices for years prior to the merger. Raymond James’ Fixed Income and Public Finance businesses will be centered in Memphis, and the firm intends to continue to operate a regional support center there.
Lafayette native pitches winning idea at startup weekend
By Erin Z. Bass
Project manager and community organizer with Lafayette’s FiberCorps, Crawford Comeaux took first place during Baton Rouge’s Startup Weekend Nov. 11-13.
in case you missed it