Top 50

Just One Word: Diversification Oil and gas’ dominance of the Top 50 is dwindling, and that should send a clear message to everyone about the critical importance of a diverse economy.

by Leslie Turk

Since its inception in 2009, the Top 50 list has served as a panorama of the local economy, as just about every sector of the regional business landscape is represented year after year. As one might imagine, however, the most dominant industry on the list has traditionally been oil and gas — with a significant number of companies deriving at least some of their revenues from energy production. That’s beginning to change, as the prolonged downturn is forcing more of these companies off the list.

The reality is that oil and gas may never have such influence again, as prices appear to be stuck in the $50 per barrel range. Since the price of oil began to slide in mid-2014, the Lafayette MSA (which also takes in St. Martin, Iberia, Acadia and Vermilion parishes) has lost 19,100 jobs, 7,600 of which were energy positions, according to adjusted numbers released by the Louisiana Workforce Commission in May.

Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux reviewed this year’s list and is optimistic about what he sees, particularly the picture it paints about a more diversified economy. For Acadiana to remain resilient, he stresses, its diversification efforts will need even more momentum in the years to come.

“The list reflects Acadiana’s continued diversification as a medical, energy, transportation, technology, finance and entertainment hub,” Gothreaux says. “Even during tough times, local energy companies are represented on the list — with some new additions this year. As companies leave the list, it presents both an opportunity and a threat depending on the reason for the departure — acquisition, becoming publicly traded, etc.”

What he calls Lafayette’s three historic economic pillars — medical, energy and entertainment — all maintain a significance presence on the list.

New to this year’s list are two advertising and marketing firms, Potenza Inc. and BBR Creative, which we’re near-certain represents a first for the Top 50. Also making their debut are Waveland Services, White Knight Production, Triad Construction and Energy Services and Ace Specialties, which increased its revenues by a whopping 570 percent — from $3 million to $20 million — after becoming the official distributor of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” caps.

Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co. assumed the No. 1 position for the first time in the history of the Top 50, swapping spots with Acadian Cos., which led last year’s list.

Just under half of the companies on the list, 24, were able to increase their revenues from 2015 to 2016, with 21 down and five flat.

“The Top 10 companies — particularly Acadian, Stuller and The Lemoine Co. — continue to demonstrate their success and growth while also providing a level of confidence to Acadiana’s overall economy,” Gothreaux adds.

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