Part of the mission of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce is to celebrate the achievements of our region. Our celebrations are an opportunity to recognize the individuals and businesses who have reached milestones, achieved success, or served our community in meaningful ways. By highlighting businesses of all sizes and configurations, we not only recognize those who have achieved but also provide examples for other companies to emulate.
One of our signature recognition events is our J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Luncheon, which gives us the chance to recognize both an outstanding corporate entity in a large-scale regional industry as the J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year as well as recognize and honor small business excellence with our 318 Forum Top Biz Awards.
The J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Award pays tribute to the memory of Mr. J. Pat Beaird Sr., a titan of industry in Shreveport and a dedicated community servant. Mr. Beaird Sr. was born in 1911 and served the community until he passed in 1987. He was the driving force behind many operations and organizations in our region, including Metal Fab Corporation, which later became AMF Beaird and the Beaird Oil Corporation. He was an active member of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the Industrial Development Council in the 1940s. In 1956, he was named president of the new Industrial Division of the Chamber of Commerce, which focused on the diversification of industry in the greater Shreveport area. He was referred to by many in northwest Louisiana as the “Captain of Industry."
Mr. Beaird’s legacy and impact is undeniable, and the benefits of his dedication are still being felt today. In honor of that legacy, each year the Chamber's Senior Council selects one major organization which exemplifies the standards Beaird promoted – real dollar expansion, community involvement and job creation – to receive the annual J. Pat Beaird Memorial Industry of the Year Award. This year, we are delighted to recognize Heard, McElroy and Vestel, an organization which has demonstrated excellence in the financial sector as well as leadership in the community.
We are also delighted to partner with 318 Forum for the 318 Forum Top Biz Awards. These awards recognize established businesses who are leading the way and driving change in our region.
This year, we are excited to recognize a diverse collection of businesses, from solopreneurs, to family businesses, to successful startups, to firms with decades of experience. Each business is a unique combination of individuals, skills and talents, and each brings something different to our community. This variety speaks to both the capacity and the resilience of our community as well as the creativity and innovation that bubble just below the surface.
As you’ll see in the following pages, we have a business that began as a passion project in the garage of the founder, a side hustle that blossomed into a fullservice agency. An organization literally saving lives every day, to one that is constructing buildings that will be with us for generations. Businesses that are adapting to and adopting new technologies and finding ways to offer new kinds of services, better opportunities for customers to focus on their business, new ways to show off our community or get the word out, or to keep homes and offices secure. Each is successful and making a difference in their own way.
We’re thrilled to recognize these businesses as some of the best in Shreveport-Bossier and hope you will come celebrate them with us on Sept. 26.
J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Heard, McElroy and Vestal
Robert Dean, the managing partner at Heard, McElroy and Vestal, offers some simple advice for business leaders who desire to leave a lasting legacy.
“Manage for the long term, not the short term,” he said Since 1946, Heard, McElroy and Vestal has been managing long-term financial success for its clients. Heard, McElroy and Vestal is the 2019 J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Award winner. Dean said the recognition is honoring and humbling at the same time.
“You sit there and say there are so many other companies more deserving,” he said. “I look at the people who have gotten it in the past. Those are companies that we really admire. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence is an honor to us. We do appreciate the recognition. A lot of people work really hard every day to accomplish the mission. I appreciate it for all of our people. We are very grateful and humbled at the same time.”
S. Burton Heard was the first managing partner when he founded the firm in 1946 along with Charles McElroy and Charles Vestal. Robert Dean follows his brother, John, as the firm’s fifth managing partner. Each of those managing partners has served as chairman of the board for the Chamber.
Dr. Tim Magner, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, praised Heard, McElroy and Vestal for its commitment to the community as well as its clients.
“For more than 70 years, Heard, McElroy and Vestal has served the community, the region and the state with tax and accounting services,” Magner said. “Truly a leader in the industry and a pillar in our community, the leaders and staff of HMV combine solid financial expertise with a commitment to giving back through their leadership of a number of important community groups throughout the years.”
The accounting firm offers traditional audit and tax services, as well as wealth management and mineral management. Heard McElroy and Vestal has more than 100 employees in offices in Shreveport and Monroe. And while most of their clients are in north Louisiana and the ArkLaTex, they serve clients across the country.
“We are local to north Louisiana, but we have a big reach,” Dean said. “It all comes back to our mission statement: to offer great solutions and provide opportunities for our clients, our people and our communities.”
Dean added that it is the team at Heard, McElroy and Vestal that makes the difference.
“We have a unique mix of individuals at the firm,” he said. “Some started right out of school. Some have been here as long as 50-plus years. Some have come from other places and came back to Shreveport. I wanted to come back and live here, raise my family here, and serve the community here. That’s what it’s all about.”
The team at Heard, McElroy and Vestal embraces a spirit of servant leadership and innovation in every aspect of the business, Dean said. That culture is how the firm attracts and retains top talent.
“Even if you’ve only been here two days, you’re a leader in this firm,” he said. “From every managing partner right down the ranks, we all do our part to make the firm better for those that come behind us. We take a stewardship mentality. We take care of the firm, the clients and the community. It’s all very important to us. We don’t take it for granted.”
Just as Heard, McElroy and Vestal has built a multigenerational team within the firm, it has built a multigenerational client roster at every level of business and financial growth.
“We specialize in closely held family business,” Dean said. “We have a great range of clients. We start with them when they are small and help them grow, and we grow with them. We help high net worth individuals, and we help startup companies.”
As Dean reflects on Heard, McElroy and Vestal’s 73-year history, he sees how the firm is well-positioned for the future.
“As time evolves, the world gets more complex,” he said. “We have to evolve with it. Mineral management and wealth management have been two of our responses to that. We saw the need develop over time. More and more, we become advisors to our clients. Not that we are the ones that provide all of the solutions, but we help get them to the solutions.”
That commitment extends beyond the firm’s clients.
“As a community, we have a lot going for us,” Dean said. “We have our challenges, too. But if we communicate and coordinate together, we can do great things. There’s no place I'd rather be. When it comes to quality of life, I want to live here. I want to take care of it. I want it to not only survive but to thrive.”
Bookkeepers On the Geaux
Sabrina Walker started a side hustle in 2015 providing bookkeeping and accounting services for one client. In 2018, she decided it was time to give it a go at self-employment. It was time, she decided, for Bookkeepers on the Geaux.
Walker had left a large accounting firm in Shreveport and was working at The Shreveport Club while growing her client roster for Bookkeepers on the Geaux. She said she needed that transitional period to prepare herself for launching out on her own.
“My husband never wanted me to go to the club,” she said. “He wanted me to go to my own business immediately. I just wasn’t ready yet. I went to work at the club for a couple of years and finally got comfortable with the thought that I was ready to do this.”
One of the internal struggles she had to overcome was the doubt that people would take this small-town girl from Doyline seriously.
“There was this fear that I was a woman in the South,” she said. “I know that shouldn’t still matter, but it does. It wasn’t an obstacle, because it hasn’t affected anything. But in the back of your head, it’s a fear. I know I know a lot of people, but at the same time are they going to trust me enough to come with me?" Bookkeepers On The Geaux is a 2019 Top Small Business Award winner. Walker provides mobile bookkeeping services. Instead of clients coming to her, she goes to them. Walker’s services include payroll, payroll taxes, state taxes, accounts receivable billing, accounts payable, financial statement preparation and more. She also is a certified QuickBooks trainer.
The goal, Walker said in her application for the award, is “for our clients is to take the stress of bookkeeping out of their company, to free their time up to focus on other important tasks of the business.”
Walker said the recognition caught her off guard at first.
“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I was happy, but I was in shock. I have a competitive nature, so I wanted to win. But I also knew it was a great honor even to be nominated.”
Walker continues to set new goals for growing Bookkeepers on the Geaux.
“The ultimate goal would be in a couple of years to have a storefront where, if a client wanted to come to me, they could. I’d have a full-time admin to handle the daily shuffle, and then maybe another bookkeeper on staff.”
Walker also serves as a Greater
Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Diplomat, Friends of the Louisiana State
Exhibit Museum board member and a Program Advisory Committee member for
Remington College. Walker said it’s her connections she has made
through her business and these organizations that keep her going. And
she has some direct advice new small business owners and those looking
launch out on their own.
“Don’t give up," she said. “Keep trying. Keep pushing forward. That’s if you’ve already started. If you’re working toward starting your own business, make sure you have some sort of financial backing. I had my husband. He supported me the first full year of my business. Everything I made I put back into building my business. You need to have some money in savings so you know you can support yourself through the hard times.”
Danielle and James Richard are proud to share equally in the success of their business, Richard Creative, which has been named a Top Small Business award winner.
“He’s the Richard, and I’m the creative,” Danielle said.
James is comfortable with knowing that Danielle is the driving force behind the graphic design and marketing firm. With his background in human resources, he takes a pragmatic approach to their division of labor.
“I don't provide any of the creative, but it's really a pretty good working relationship,” he said. “She gets to focus on what she loves and what she's really talented at. She's really good at taking difficult concepts and boiling them down so that the average person can understand it. I deal with federal taxes and insurance when we hire staff. None of that is very glamorous, but it lets her focus on her strengths.”
Danielle started Richard Creative about 10 years ago. The couple’s son was a year old, and she was looking for a way to continue her career and spend more time with her family. When she struggled to find a part-time job in graphic design, she took the leap to become a freelancer.
“There's just not really jobs for professionals that are part-time, so we said, 'OK, let's try freelancing and see how that works.’ It started out super small, just me and my computer and an Excel spreadsheet for invoicing. Over the years, it has grown and grown and grown.”
About three years ago, the business grew to the point that James left a full-time job in HR to join the family business. And for the Richards, family is very much part of the company.
“We’re both able to walk the kids to school in the morning, and we're both here when they get out of school in the afternoons,” Danielle said. “We both can work on appointments and homework and all that goes along with trying to raise two kids. So, that part's been really nice.”
Richard Creative assists its clients with a variety of print and digital marketing and branding initiatives, including logo designs, merchandise, print collateral, website development and social media strategy.
“We are the filter between the organization and whoever it is they're trying to communicate with,” Danielle said. “Whether it's doing some design work so that the visual branding is consistent with what they've been doing over time, or whether it's something like a website design that gets all of their company information out there.”
Danielle said she did not have much business acumen when she started, and that’s one piece of advice she’d give other entrepreneurs just starting out.
“Take some business classes,” she said. “That part was something that was totally foreign to me. I've worked for businesses. I’ve seen how small businesses operate, but it's just totally different once you get into the middle of it. There are so many variables that you just wouldn't have thought about on a day-to-day basis.”
James said he and Danielle are proud to be recognized among this year’s Top Small Business Award winners.
“It's an honor,” he said. “It validates a lot of the work we've been putting in.”
Red River Brewing
Jared Beville is in such a state of transition at Red River Brewing that he did not anticipate being a 2019 Chamber Top Small Business Award winner to be among those changes.
“It was shock and awe,” he said of the reaction when he heard the news. “It’s been a whirlwind year around here so far, and it continues to be. It's a little bit humbling to look at it and say, 'Oh, we've come a long way.’ There’s still a long way to go, but it was definitely very surprising.”
Not that change is anything new to Beville and the team at Red River Brewing. The company started in Beville’s garage about 10 years ago. From there, it took three years to incorporate the business and open the first iteration of the brewery, then at 1010 Marshall St. After a couple of years working on the brewery as a side gig, the team raised some capital, brought on some new partners and moved into the current location at 1200 Marshall St. Beville soon realized that wasn’t the end of the road for Red River Brewing, just another fork.
“We were a manufacturing brewery at that point,” he said. “That was our initial road map. As a manufacturer, you can brew your beer and sell it through the three-tier distribution business. You can also have a taproom, where you can sell just your beer directly to consumers.
“In November of 2017, we made the decision we were gonna pivot and go toward a brewpub, based on the general overall business environment that we were seeing.”
Becoming Shreveport’s first brewpub meant bringing in food service. Enter chef Anthony Felan with Fat Calf Boucherie and meats from Smith Family Farms. Now Beville is transitioning again. Felan is leaving the brewpub. The new restaurant will be the Smokehouse at Red River Brewing. They will continue to serve and sell meat from Smith Family Farms.
Ally Bean, operations manager for Red River Brewing, said the smokehouse theme was a natural fit for the new restaurant.
“The smokehouse setup that you order food from now was brought in from Jared’s family’s farm in Winnfield,” she said. “It was deconstructed there and brought over and installed here. That land and the smokehouse were bought from Huey Long. That smokehouse was Huey Long’s smokehouse. So, we have this unique story that's already sort of built into this place that we haven’t utilized.”
One thing that Red River Brewing has utilized well is its space. In addition to the bar, the brewing operation and the restaurant, the building features a game room and a stage for live music. Beville recently welcomed Sanctuary Glass, a glass-blowing business, into the space after a chance encounter.
“Jim Malsch was having lunch here at the brewery with Michelle Pennington,” Beville said. “They were discussing the fact that (Pennington) was coming to town to start an art school, and the initial piece of that art school was glass blowing. They were going to get a small mobile unit, and they needed somewhere to get up and going. I said, 'Look, we've got some extra space here.’ So fast forward about three or four months later, and they were up and going. For us, it’s about having an open mind and looking for where we can partner and help improve the community.”
Beville said never losing the spirit of entrepreneurship has been the key to growth and success for Red River Brewing.
“That's a lot of changes that we've gone through in about a 15-month period,” he said. “We've kind of been in start-up mode for about six years, ever since we've been open. It’s been interesting. It's been challenging. It’s been very enlightening and very humbling. But overall, every little improvement, every little adjustment, has made it better.”
Shreveport Security Systems
Shreveport Security Systems provides security, surveillance and smart home solutions to the Ark-La-Tex. “Our goal is to give you peace of mind within your own home or business,” Benjamin Simmons, owner of Shreveport Security Systems, said. “Whether it be our 24/7 monitoring service, our full HD camera systems or the smart home automation systems, we want you to feel safe and in control of your property.”
“I enjoy finding a way to connect customers with their actual needs, pointing out things they may have overlooked or suggesting ideas for protecting things they might not have considered,” Simmons said. “It’s important that each system is personalized to each customer and isn’t just a cookie-cutter product.”
Shreveport Security Systems was founded by Simmons' father, Don Simmons, in 1979. Benjamin began running the family business in 2012 and purchased the company from his father in 2015. He was excited to win the Top Business award. "It told me that people appreciate the hard work that we do, and that we're representing ourselves well,” Simmons said.
Shreveport Security is the oldest, locally owned alarm company in Northwest Louisiana. They pride themselves on not using door-todoor sales tactics like larger companies. “We aren’t shipping salespeople and technicians in from out of state,” Simmons said. “We rely on word of mouth and reviews to reach new customers.”
Their method is working, as the company continues to thrive. Simmons hopes to expand into the smart home market in the future. “We’re now offering a 'one-stop shop' for security, surveillance and smart home solutions,” Simmons said. “More and more people want to control their devices from their phone, and this allows them to do that from one app.”
For more information, visit https:// shreveportsecurity.net or call 318-929-7850.
Back row: Wendy Thomas, Seva May, Byron May, Hailey Lawson Front: Jessica Mcgee, Hayley Smith, Stephanie Patterson Pringle, Keyle Cavalier and Lindsay Lafferty.
SB Magazine, a local publication, is taking a turn in the headlines instead of only creating them!
Byron May, owner/publisher of SB Magazine, was beyond honored to receive the Top Business award for 2019. “I was very excited to hear that SB was named one of the Shreveport Top Businesses of the Year,” May said. “We’ve worked hard to make SB Magazine an integral part of Shreveport and Bossier, and it’s gratifying to have our efforts noted.”
May started the company in 2000. “My favorite part of my job is receiving positive comments about our publication from people in our communities and seeing success stories from our advertisers,” May said.
“SB Magazine is the leading lifestyle regional magazine that educates and inspires local readers about the arts, technology and health in the Shreveport and Bossier communities,” May said.
“Our success is a result of listening to the pulse of Shreveport and Bossier City and consistently providing information and note-worthy articles that connect with our readers,” May said. “We also take pride in seeing the positive benefits for our advertising partners.”
SB Magazine is the only monthly magazine-style, subscription-based publication in the local market, and has thrived as such despite various changes and adjustments over the years. “A number of years ago, SB moved heavily into the digital arena,” May said. “The publishing world is moving there quickly and so, too, must SB Magazine.”
For more information, visit SB Magazine at sbmag.net or find them on social media via Facebook.com/thesbmagazine and @sbmagazine.
Wieland offers construction management services to the Ark-La-Tex and beyond. Their main projects locally include the new YMCA, Port of Caddo- Bossier Regional Commerce Center, Pratt Industries, Ternium, Shreveport Aquarium, AFS Logistics and Fern Avenue Marketplace with Whole Foods and La Madeleine French Bakery & Café.
Wieland is dedicated to finding and serving lifelong clients through excellence in construction. Charley Kingery, senior business development manager for Wieland for over a decade, was excited to see Wieland win the Top Small Business award. "We are very humbled and honored," Kingery said.
“What sets us apart at Wieland is our people, and the culture to be of service to our clients and to give them an enjoyable construction experience,” Kingery said. “My favorite part of my job is the ability to work on interesting projects that have a positive impact on the community, and meeting a diverse group of people at all levels in an organization.”
For Wieland, the future looks bright. “Over the next several years, Wieland desires to have 100% customer satisfaction with each client and strives to be appropriately profitable to benefit all of its current and future customers,” Kingery said. “In terms of expansion, Wieland hopes to add more medical and office to its portfolio, while continuing to serve its manufacturing, multi-family, church and municipal clients.”
For more information, contact Ryan Roberts, VP and regional director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Adam Palmer Sr., project manager, at email@example.com; www.wielandbuilds.com.
Young Professionals Entertainment
Young Professionals Entertainment (YPE) is an award-winning media, marketing and entertainment firm, making creative waves in the Ark-La-Tex.
“Through our media, we provide video production, photography and audio recording,” Brent Latin, founder and CEO of YPE, said.
YPE provides services for individuals, families, small businesses, churches, nonprofits, large corporations and government entities.
“Through marketing, we create and manage social media, create and manage websites and provide traditional marketing solutions. Our entertainment is encompassed with YPETV, our live streaming platform with content created by our company and 5th Quarter Sports, our live prep and college sports brand.”
“My favorite part of the job is connecting with so many people from all backgrounds, ethnicities and professions,” Latin said. “Plus, I love the art of creating media to promote organizations and brands.”
“Our company is very forward-thinking, and we always try to be ahead of the curve when it comes to media,” Latin said. “Live streaming events and sports are definitely one of our differentiators.”
Latin was very pleased to learn about winning the 2019 Top Small Business award. “Initially, I was shocked when we received this award because we are still a very small business that is still in the growth stage,” Latin said. “However, we are honored – and this only creates another area of motivation!” Over the next few years, Latin plans to hire 10 to 15 full-time employees for YPE. "We'll also expand our now regional reach to more of a national reach,” Latin explained. “Our goal is to be the 'go-to’ company for media and marketing needs. Through live streaming, we will expand our 5th Quarter Sports brand and our YPETV brand, which displays our creative content.”
For more information, visit www.youngprosent.com or find them on social media at @youngprosent. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 318-759-7767.
LifeShare Blood Center
LifeShare Blood Center provides transfusion services comprising clinical and medical expertise and blood and blood components to customers. They’ve been operating since 1942 and were honored to receive a local Top Business award.
“We’re proud to have our corporate office in Shreveport. During our 77 years of operation, we have and have had numerous great people work together to make our mission possible,” Chad A. Douglas, president and CEO of LifeShare Blood Center since 2016, said. "I feel this award is a culmination of the dedication of hundreds of people who do and have worked for LifeShare and our Board of Trustees, past and present, who dedicate so much to our organization.”
For LifeShare, people come first. “What separates us from our competitors is our commitment to provide all of our partner's needs within the field of transfusion medicine,” Douglas said. “My favorite part of the job is creating opportunities and growth for people around me.”
In 2019, LifeShare expanded to create two new divisions. LifeShare Tissue Services is working to provide select tissue needs to customers, while LifeShare Cellular Services provides clinical and research expertise to develop material and treatments through a state-of-the-art cellular laboratory.
“In our first year, LifeShare has partnered with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Louisiana Tech University and University of Louisiana-Monroe as well as local and national companies in our pursuit of these future medical solutions,” Douglas said.
They hope to continue to thrive in Shreveport for many years to come.
For more information, visit LifeShare.org.