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Monday, July 21, 2014


Local entrepreneurs put products on the map


This year has seen the growth and arrival of many large companies in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, but there is also a rise in entrepreneurial ventures on the smaller scale. Several smaller businesses and start-ups are working to get their goods and services produced in our area, and many are working toward getting those services known outside of Louisiana. Here is just a sample of the ideas and hard work coming from small businesses in Northwest Louisiana.

Great Raft Brewing Company

Great Raft Brewing Company has been going strong since opening their doors in late 2013. "It's been great to see how Shreveport has embraced us, and we are further along than we thought we would be at this point in the year.

Not only are people supporting our brand on site at the brewery, but they are buying our products at retailers around town," said Lindsay Nations, co-founder along with her husband Andrew and vice president of Great Raft Brewing.

Their market has expanded recently; in late March, they added Monroe and Ruston to their distribution area, and they now have distribution agreements that cover all of Northwest Louisiana. The Nations are working to get the Great Raft name spread to the national market as well.

"There are a number of brew festivals around the country that allow us to collaborate with our friends in the brewing industry as well as share our beer with people outside of the state," Nations said. They participated in Savor in Washington D.C.

"Seventy-five breweries are selected at random, and we were selected as one of the breweries to represent the South. We poured two beers, and a chef paired the beers with some food options. We are also participating in an event called Beercamp. Sierra Nevada has brewed 12 collaboration beers with breweries all over the country, and they are basically having a national party. They are stopping at a brewery in every region, and the last stop is in Mills River, N.C., and we will be presenting beer at that event on Aug. 3." You can enjoy a Great Raft beer on-site in Shreveport at their location at 1215 Dalzell.

Hummer & Son Honey

What started as a childhood curiosity has turned into a successful regional business for Billy Hummer of Hummer & Son Honey. “This all started as a 4-H project of mine in fifth grade at Curtis Elementary. I was looking for a project that was different than everyone else, and so I went the bee route,” Hummer said. “In 1986, we bought our location on Sligo Road [in Bossier City], and my father had retired from Barksdale and took over my 4-H project. I came back from college at LSU [Baton Rouge] in 1996 and started working with him full time.”Hummer & Son has become a farmers’ market success story. “When we started selling honey, we wanted to get our name out there so we started marketing at the [Shreveport] Farmers Market. They have really helped some small businesses get a foot hold,” Hummer said.

Hummer & Son Honey is available across the South. “We cover East Texas, Southern Arkansas, West Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida. We really wanted to focus on Louisiana because honey is best when it comes from your area. We want to be a regional type producer so that we can market the best product possible,” Hummer said. “In this market, we are in the large local grocery stores. Brookshire’s is our biggest customer. They were the first to carry us; they took a chance, and we have both benefitted from that relationship.”

Lambert Applications – Fish Your Lake

Fish Your Lake creator James Lambert is working to make those great fishing spots easier to find the next time you’re on the lake. “It’s a ‘you are here’ map. I take a lake, and I construct an app for that specific lake,” Lambert said. “The first was for Lake Claiborne for testing and prototyping. Anytime you’re on the lake, you show up as a blue dot, and all the boat ramps and other important spots are flagged. If you find a good fishing spot that you like, you can drop another pin and that spot will be recorded for later use,” he said. “You will never get lost on the lake, and you’ll always be able to find where you were. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. All I have to do is change a few lines of code and can create the lake for anywhere across the country.” Lambert expects the app to be available in the next month in the iTunes app store for iPhone and is hoping to hit regional retailers to get the app to their customers.

4 Your Home Inc. – Tadpole Tape Cutter

This Shreveport-based start-up is patenting the TadPole Tape Cutter, a cutting tool to make home and professional painting projects easier. “The idea came from when I was painting my front doors. I was trying to cut tape and got frustrated. I just couldn’t find anything on the market that was comparable [to the TadPole],” said owner/creator Lee Mallahan III. He started experimenting at home, and the idea grew from there.

“I designed it over many hours and many late nights trying to figure out the proper angles and

materials and came up with the tiny TadPole Tape Cutter. It’s called the TadPole because it’s small – less than 3/4 vs. the big bulky cutters that are pretty heavy and pretty sharp. It cuts duct tape, strapping tape, painters tape – every tape. The cool thing is you can take it off in a second and pop it on another roll of tape. Whatever project you’re working on, it can make it a lot easier.”

All the production of TadPole Tape Cutter occurs in the Shreveport-Bossier City area. “Everything is done locally from the manufacturing side, and the Louisiana Association of the Blind is going to do the packaging. It will be 100 percent American made here in Shreveport-Bossier.”

To see the TadPole Tape Cutter in action, visit YouTube and search “TadPole Tape Cutter HQ.”

Ark-La-Tex 3-D Technologies

Mark Holstrom of Ark-La-Tex 3-D Technologies has created a start-up he hopes will help manufacturers get their products out in a less expensive manner. “We will be offering prototyping services that reduces costs for the manufacturing industries, and we will be able to eventually move into the food industry. With the 3-D printing it just depends on the type of material and the type of machine that we have as to what kind of item we can create,” he said.

They currently have two operating printers and one large printer they are working on. “They will be the largest FDM – filament deposit material printers – in the United States. We will be competing with the large printers in Europe that use the same type of material,” Holstrom said. They plan to have the large printer up and running by the end of the summer. They are also working to get their name out in the community. “We have done a lot of education with Sci- Port and different art agencies in town and participated in the Pop UPs and Louisiana Startup Prize,” Holstrom said.

Digital Lion – Newsthing

Digital Lion is a software start-up that is creating NewsThing, an app that provides on-the-spot news that can be read and shared in real time. NewsThing is the idea of Justin Martin and Darras Lattier, and the product is in the final steps of preparation to go into beta-testing.

“We want to build products that create new mediums for news and information. The goal is to get hyper-local, real-time news information app where people can give their perspective on the news and use it to figure out what is happening regarding nightlife or the arts,” Lattier said.

Users will be able to pick different categories of information when NewsThing is first downloaded, and those stories will be pushed to them. “It’s all one source. The goal is to have people interact with it in a way that creates a complete story for someone when they open up the app. This allows people to have something that is very specific to where they are, and it’s information that comes in as it’s happening,” he said. “The intention is to have the ability to know what is happening around you in a decent amount of time, and have free information without having to pay for it.”

Cool Products

Wayne Hogue of Cool Products is creating metal outdoor products and even holds a few patents. “I’m really working on marketing the deer skinner that I invented. I sell them locally, but Texas has been my ideal market,” he said. “Right now, I’m just selling one or two at a time, and they are prototypes. I am hoping to get enough out there in the market to create the demand so I can take orders and eventually I can quit producing them in-house.” Right now, his products are selling mainly through word of mouth. “I hope to start hitting the gun shows soon,” Hogue said. The most recent patent he filed is for a chair he created and plans to market them at the [Shreveport] Farmers Market. Go to http:// b ayoustyle. com to view his products.


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