July 21, 2015 01:00 PM

The plummeting price of oil — back in June 2014 it topped $100 a barrel and by January had fallen by more than half, down to a five-year low of $45 per barrel — has not wreaked the kind of havoc on our economy some feared. At least not so far, and certainly not according to the revenue figures reported by this year’s crop of Top 50 Private Companies in the Acadiana region.

But there has been — and will continue to be — pain. In his mid-June State of the Economy presentation, Gregg Gothreaux, the longtime leader of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, warned the audience of civic and business leaders (among them some Top 50 execs) that the worst may not be behind them. Gothreaux expects this year’s bumpy ride to last through next year but predicts a turnaround beginning in 2017. You can read much more about his insightful and frank analysis of the local economy in a recap of the presentation here.

There are some real standout performances on this year’s list, starting with Taylors International, which provides remote site catering and camp services to various industries, including offshore oil and gas. The company jumped 13 spots on the list, increasing its revenues from $63 million to $132 million. Find out what’s driving the success of Butch Darce and his team — and that of three newcomers to the list and one St. Landry Parish bellwether company — in the Q&A profiles on the following pages. And don’t miss this month’s cover story on Lafayette’s own Krispy Krunchy Foods, which also makes its Top 50 debut this year.

It’s worth noting that Top 50 mainstay C&C Technologies, founded by brothers Thomas and Jim Chance in 1992, was sold earlier this year to Houston-based Oceaneering International for $230 million and is (sadly) making its last appearance. We also want to point out that we estimated a significant drop in Bruce Foods’ 2014 revenues (the company does not disclose any financial information) largely resulting from its divestiture of assets in recent years.

In all, 35 companies reported an increase in revenues, while only 12 were down and three flat. We think that’s more than holding their own in this challenging economic environment.


Biggest Revenue Gain

Taylors International - 110 percent

Who’s UP

Taylors International - 110 percent
Manuel Builders - 53 percent
Ville Platte Iron Works - 50 percent
Truston Technologies - 47 percent
CLM Equipment - 41 percent
Musson-Patout Automotive Group - 36 percent
Monster Companies - 33 percent

Who’s DOWN

Bruce Foods - 34 percent
Louisiana Rice Mill - 17 percent
Machine Tools - 17 percent
The Lemoine Company - 16 percent
Louisiana Crane & Construction - 16 percent

Largest Employers

Kergan Brothers/Sonic Drive-Ins - 4,600
Acadian Cos. - 4,000
Stuller Inc. - 1,500
Taylors International - 1,500
Schumacher Group - 1,492
Louisiana Crane & Construction - 1,200
McDonald’s of Acadiana - 1,200


For the second year in a row, health care staffing company Schumacher Group, whose revenues rose 10 percent from 2013 to 2014, increasing from $612 million to $675 million, leads the Top 50. Download the complete list of the Top 50 Private Companies here

Download the Top 10 list for Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lake Charles here

Download the Top 8 Acadiana-Based Publicly Traded Companies here




Reggie Welty
Photo by Robin May


CAD Control Systems

Worldwide drilling equipment supplier

No. 34

Reggie Welty, President

What kind of year was 2014 for your company and employees? What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

The first 10 months of 2014 were very promising with new orders coming weekly. Our Singapore and Dubai offices were generating new orders with offshore rig builders and land rig builders. The GOM and West Texas office where busy with field service work, which kept our field service techs extremely busy. We have built and designed our Mud Pump Relief Valve, our main investment of 2014 that will be on display at LAGCOE this October. The valve should be put in full production this year and ready for market by October 2015.

How has business been for the first half of 2015, and what are your expectations for how it will end?

The first half of 2015 has been OK, but our backlog from 2014 has been keeping our production team busy. We have, however, been picking up some new orders. We are working with several international clients right now to secure some long-term contracts that would help end 2015 on a positive note and get 2016 off to a good start.

What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing your company (and industry) as they relate to profitability and growth?

Oil and gas prices because they tie right back to our day-to-day business.

What’s the best business advice you were ever given?

You must have a solid business plan, with good funding and a bank that is willing to take risks with your ideas.




Jamie M. Tarpley, G.T. “Butch” Darce and Dot Darce
Photo by Robin May


Taylors International Services

Remote site catering and camp services

No. 15

G.T. “Butch” Darce, Chairman/CEO

What kind of year was 2014 for your company and employees? What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

2014 was our best year in terms of sales, with an increase of nearly 100 percent and the addition of nearly a dozen new clients. Growth was not only financial but geographic as well. We entered several new countries during the year. Our expansion was across the board in our offshore and land-based support services. We were able to manage this growth with great success. Taylors’ diverse business approach to multiple markets and business sectors has proven to be a winning business plan. I am very proud of the efforts put forth by the entire Taylors team as we turn to a new chapter in our company’s history.

What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

Stable senior management with a united and collective vision, our continued efforts to analyze all of our cost components, a dedicated globally focused purchasing department and our uncompromising goal of providing high quality products and services to our clients help us maintain our financial performance. We insist on margins that afford us the ability to reinvest in training and education of all employees.

How has business been for the first half of 2015, and what are your expectations for how it will end?

2015 is growing on the success of 2014, and we envision an increase in revenues, in spite of the overall downturn in the oil and gas sectors. Our growth is organic and is based on the realization of our clients that Taylors is an experienced, fail-safe provider of services around the globe.

What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing your company (and industry) as they relate to profitability and growth?

Our challenge is our inability to control the movement in commodity prices. Commodity prices affect the following:

• Revenues: The price of crude has fallen, and drilling activity as well as construction and services have also fallen, which reduces our opportunities for growth.

• Costs: We are exposed to increases in the cost of groceries, for example beef and dairy prices have climbed dramatically over the past 12 months. We have seen a recent increase in the costs of eggs and related products.

To mitigate this risk we work closely with clients and vendors to adjust our service offerings.

We are in the service industry, and that requires top-notch quality employees and continuous training. Recruiting, training and nurturing an ever-growing workforce are our greatest challenges.

What economic indicators do you watch most closely in your financial planning process and why?

As mentioned above we continually monitor commodity prices as well as general financial influencers (inflation, interest rates, oil and gas indices, government spending) in the overall economy. As a global service provider to a number of industries (oil and gas, construction, government, mining, military and emergency response), we are better able to adjust to any reductions in any one area.

What’s the best business advice you were ever given?

My grandfather was a wise and honorable man. When I started my first job as a salesman, he told me to be persistent, respectful, ethical and honor all promises. He told me to sell what you believe in. My grandfather told me if you believe in your product, you can persuade others to share your belief.




Nicholas Manuel
Photo by Robin May


Ville Platte Iron Works

Machining, welding and coating

No. 49

Nicholas Manuel, President

What kind of year was 2014 for your company and employees? What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

Late 2013, we made a large investment to begin manufacturing a new product line for one of our customers. Largely due to this new line, our sales increased 34 percent in 2014.

How has business been for the first half of 2015, and what are your expectations for how it will end?

Business has been good so far this year. We are being cautious, however, as our customers have seen a decrease in business due to the downturn in the production of oil and natural gas pipelines. Management is keeping a close eye on everything and making adjustments as necessary.

What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing your company (and industry) as they relate to profitability and growth?

Ville Platte Iron Works has always made a policy of offering a quality product for a low cost. Because of this, we are usually able to meet or give better pricing than customers are paying at other manufacturing facilities. However, our customers have been under pressure to lower their costs, and as a result are beginning to send more and more product lines oversees, at prices that we cannot compete with. As a result of this, we are working with our customers to find different products that we are not currently manufacturing — those they might be fabricating in-house but would be able to save money by outsourcing to us, or that they are getting from another domestic manufacturer and could potentially get a better price on from us. We are starting to produce lower quantity orders with a shorter lead time, which is something oversees suppliers cannot accommodate.

What economic indicators do you watch most closely in your financial planning process and why?

As most of our work relates to the oil and natural gas pipelines, the economic indicators we look to most are the prices of oil and natural gas.




Don Chachere
Photo by Robin May


Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods

Food and seasonings manufacturer

No. 39

Don Chachere, President and CEO

What kind of year was 2014 for your company and employees? What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

Tony Chachere’s finished the fiscal year up 11 percent over prior year growth. This was due, in part, to key investments in new sales personnel and efficiencies derived from new packaging equipment. Additionally, the company recently introduced a line of six pourable marinade flavors to complement our successful line of injectable marinades, which have grown to become the No. 1 bestselling injectable marinades in the U.S. We’ve been quite happy with the performance of the pourable line at the shelf thus far.

How has business been for the first half of 2015, and what are your expectations for how it will end?

Business outlook continues to be positive. At present rates, we expect to continue trending up and project that we will end the year somewhere between 11 percent and 15 percent growth.

What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing your company (and industry) as they relate to profitability and growth?

Holding the line on escalating raw materials and packaging pricing has proven to be a continued challenge in our business, particularly in a competitively priced retail environment.

What economic indicators do you watch most closely in your financial planning process and why?

Broadly, the state of the economy tends to be a good indicator of financial performance. We also track inflationary pressures and commodity shortages and integrate expectations gleaned from those gauges into our financial planning process.

What’s the best business advice you were ever given?

My grandfather, Tony, and my uncles, Alex and Paul, gave me a few pieces of advice when I first came into the business back in 1981. They may be clichés, but they’ve stood the test of time. Tony always said, “Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Alex was fond of saying, “Don’t be afraid to make a profit off of your friends. It’s a lot harder to make money off your enemies.” Finally — and this one’s central — Paul would maintain that there are two strategies in brand positioning. You can either “cater to the classes and eat with the masses” or you can “cater to the masses and eat with the classes.” We’ve tried to hold true to those mantras in our business, and it’s been a formula that really works for us.




Tony Cook, Maxim Doucet and Kade Comeaux
Photo by Scott Teven


Monster Companies

Hauling, construction and rentals

No. 25

Tony Cook, Co-Owner

What kind of year was 2014 for your company and employees? What factors and/or management decisions affected your financial performance?

2014 was a great year. Monster Companies, which includes Monster Heavy Haulers and Monster Rentals, is always expanding and reinvesting back into the enterprise. We have an ongoing process for updating our fleet and rigging up new trucks, cranes and other pieces of equipment to ensure we have the very latest equipment available in the marketplace to serve the oilfield trucking, construction and rental industry. In the oilfield, you have to plan and operate as efficiently as possible so your business can withstand downturns in the industry like we’ve seen in the last few months. One of the advantages of trucking is that we relocate oilfield rigs, so with the downturn in oil prices that we’ve seen recently, our company stayed busy moving our equipment as rigs relocated.

How has business been for the first half of 2015, and what are your expectations for how it will end?

2015 started out as an incredible year for Monster, as our first quarter was one of the best the company has ever seen. Since then, we have managed to stay profitable by cutting costs where we can, but keeping our 375 employees working.

What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing your company (and industry) as they relate to profitability and growth?

In the oilfield industry, you have to anticipate downturns in oil prices like we’ve seen recently and you have to plan for those to survive. Monster has been able to continue growth and profitability through these tough times because of sound planning and execution. When you put your money in the right places while business is booming, you’re more able to withstand the tough times

What economic indicators do you watch most closely in your financial planning process and why?

We try to focus on our customers as economic indicators. The customer is our main focus mainly because we go as they go. The majority of our customers are with us due to the mutual respect we have been able to obtain by meeting their needs in the oilfield trucking, construction and rental business.

What’s the best business advice you were ever given?

Respect isn’t given, it has to be earned and that a man is only as good as his word.




Read the Flipping Paper!

While the members of this diverse group of Acadiana women can’t all say they were firsts, each of them has contributed to our community in ways too countless to capture in 500-word profiles ...