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INNOVATOR

special supplement to new orleans citybusiness

OF THE YEAR

2002

Production manager

Rick Boyce, vice president

Jeff McCrory and marketing

director Adrian Simpson

New Orleans

CoffeeCo.

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2002

INTRODUCTION

NEW orleans

publishing

group

This spring marks CityBusiness’ inaugural Innovator of the

Year luncheon and awards ceremony. Its purpose is to honor

Louisiana companies and individuals that have demonstrated

innovation through products, services and research.

Although this is the first year for the statewide honor, we were

impressed with the outstanding nominations we received from

entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions,

NO PG

medical professionals and engineers, to name just a few.

Many nominations reflected the state’s world-famous

food and drink industry, including our Innovator of the Year,

New Orleans Coffee Co., a small, family-run business that is

revolutionizing the old-fashioned technique of cold-brewing

coffee and bringing it to an ever-expanding market.

We were also amazed by the high-tech developments happening

in Louisiana, from building guitars literally using rocket

science to devising new medications and technology for use

around the world.

Congratulations to all the outstanding innovators. The publication

you are holding in your hands serves as a lasting salute

to the businesses and individuals that exemplify the spirit of

innovation thriving in Louisiana.

We challenge our readers to start thinking about nominees

for next year’s innovators today.

congratulates

the

Innovator of

the Year

Honorees

of 2002

Innovator of the Year

3B


INNOVATOR

OF THE YEAR

2002

special supplement to new orleans citybusiness

Table of Contents

New Orleans Coffee Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5B

American LIFECARE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7B

Autoimmune Technologies LLC . . . . . . . 8B

TEACH AN OLD DOG

NEW TRICKS.

Upgrading your production

facility requires a balance

between old and new ideas.

The old dogma in oil and gas says make the most

out of what you’ve got. At EDG, our engineers

possess the expertise to quickly assess your

platform’s workability. Just like that. Combining

engineering with a construction mentality, we

apply the latest concepts in oil and gas production

to your existing assets. Meanwhile, you meet (or

exceed) your production goals and upgrade

projects become your new best friend.

Dr. Nicolás Bazán/LSU

Neuroscience Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9B

CA Guitars Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10B

Delgado Community College

Ship Simulator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11B

EDG Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13B

Integrate Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13B

Dr. Ronald Lemon/

LSU School of Dentistry . . . . . . . . . . . 14B

Levy-Rosenblum Institute for

Entrepreneurship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15B

Mele Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16B

Richard Gray’s Power Company . . . . . . 17B

School Leadership Center . . . . . . . . . . 17B

Southern Candymakers . . . . . . . . . . . . 18B

Companies and individuals on the brink . 18B

COVER PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

www.edgweb.com

Call 1-888-EDG-9298 for new ideas offshore.

The entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by NOPG LLC, 2002,

with all rights reserved. Reproduction or use, without permission,

of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited.

NOPG LLC, 111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie LA 70005, (504) 834-9292.

4B Innovator of the Year


THE

INNOVATOR

OF THE

YEAR

New Orleans Coffee Co.

Entrepreneurs bring 150-year-old coffee-making

technique into the new millennium

The guys at New Orleans Coffee Co.are ready for

world domination. “Our goal is to bring the

product to the rest of Louisiana, into Texas and

Florida,into the rest of the country and

then ... conquer the world,” says

Marketing Director Adrian

Simpson, only half-jokingly.

In his British accent

— Simpson joined the

company last spring after

being marketing director

for Coca-Cola in his native

England — he sounds all the

more convincing.

New Orleans

Coffee Co. already

sells its patented

CoolBrew cold-drip concentrate and

Café Au Lait to more than 80 stores in

the greater New Orleans area, including

the north shore. Employee

Michael Parks,who is better known

as “Ump” because of his job

umpiring little league baseball

games, arrives around 5 a.m. each

weekday to start delivering the

goods to grocery and convenience

stores.

The cold filtration process

used to make the concentrate has

existed for more than 150 years

and is currently used by gourmet

coffee shops to make their iced

coffees, says company founder

Philip McCrory. This rids the

coffee of its bitterness. When

heat is used in the process, a

chemical reaction occurs that

converts the flavorful oils to

acids, he says. The longer coffee

Production manager Rick Boyce, vice president Jeff McCrory and marketing director Adrian Simpson

at New Orleans Coffee Co.’s Mid-City facility.

sits in a pot, the more bitter it tastes.

McCrory, a pharmacist by trade, started the

company in 1989 after getting sick of drinking

bitter coffee and not feeling inclined to

run out to a gourmet coffee

shop every time he had a

hankering. The quest for

a smooth cup even drove

him to powdered instant

coffee, “which actually

doesn’t taste like coffee at

all.” He figured there had

to be a better way; he

found it in the cold-filtration

technique.

The innovation, says

McCrory, is bringing the

cold filtration process to

a mass market. Customers can buy CoolBrew

and Café Au Lait in the refrigerated section of

most local grocery and convenience stores,

and the company supplies the coffee

concentrate used in mocha-flavored

Smoothies at Smoothie

King franchises nationwide. In

coming weeks, CoolBrew will be

available at H-E-B grocery stores

throughout Texas.

The company’s business

partner, Brown’s

Dairy, meanwhile, is working

on expanding the reach

of Café Au Lait.

New Orleans Coffee currently

has capacity to produce

about 500 gallons a

day of the concentrate

and could up its production

to more than 1,000 gallons

a day if need be. If things

work out as planned, that should be soon.

The company is launching a marketing strategy

over the next six months where it plans to

focus on out-of-state business as far away as

Massachusetts and California. Simpson says the

company is in “advanced negotiations” with

several grocery store chains in those states.

Once the out-of-state campaign is up and running,

New Orleans Coffee will turn its attentions

back to the already-strong local market.

Although it still employs only eight, the

family-run company has come a long way

since McCrory founded it in Covington in a

building his brother owned there, where he

converted a couple of stainless steel barrels

into coffee extractors. The business’ electricity

comes from solar panels that McCrory

brought over from his solar-powered house.

Simpson points to the panels as a gauge of his

boss’ remarkable innovative spirit. “He doesn’t

just talk about things, he actually does

them,” Simpson says.

Three different locations and

eight years later, the company

moved into its

continued on page 6B

Innovator of the Year

5B

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER


continued from page 5B

current Mid-City warehouse two and a

half years ago.

The 30,000-square-foot facility on

Ulloa Street behind Mid-City Lanes

Rock N Bowl includes two large buildings

and a cooler for storing the

CoolBrew, which comes in seven flavors,

and the Café Au Lait, a product introduced

last year with business partner

Brown’s Dairy. The two extractors have

considerably larger capacity than the two

steel barrels at the Covington location.

A large sack of freshly ground coffee

beans sit in a corner of the room, to, as

McCrory says, “de-gas,” a process that

takes about 72 hours. The roasting

process creates carbon dioxide and

ground coffee must sit for a while to let

the gas evaporate.

The coffee beans arrive at the facility

green. Employees then roast (some in a

still-operational 100-year-old roaster),

grind and de-gas them. At that point,

the fresh grounds go into the extraction

vats and oils are extracted using the

cold-filtration process. The coffee

extract travels via a channel to the bottling

area, where it is bottled using a

semi-automatic bottling machine.

To prepare for anticipated growth,

New Orleans Coffee recently invested in

a fully automatic bottle-filling machine

and capper that will reduce seven to

eight hours of work to two or three.

McCrory says customers like the

CoolBrew not only because the colddrip

process provides coffee without bitterness,

but because it offers convenience.

“You can have a cup of coffee anytime

you want it and all you need is hot

water. You don’t have to have a pot or filter;

there’s nothing to clean up.”

As for the Café Au Lait, a number of

factors make it stand out from its bigname

competitors. For one, it is made

using the CoolBrew concentrate and

fresh, low-fat milk from local bottler

Brown’s Dairy. It therefore has the same

shelf life as milk. Competitors’ versions

use powered milk and can sit on a grocery

store shelf for months. At 16

ounces, it is larger than most competitors’

products.

Another uniquely New Orleans component

of the Café Au Lait is chicory, the

ground root of an herb that has many

fans in these parts. “Anyplace else in the

country if you mention chicory people

turn up their noses, but they’ll come

down here and drink coffee and chicory

in their café au lait and say it’s great.

They can’t wait to come back to New

Orleans and get it.”

Apparently, out-of-towners associate

CoolBrew with New Orleans too, perhaps

remembering the CoolBrew Café

that opens once a year at the New

Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Simpson says the company does a brisk

business through its Web site, and that

it’s not uncommon for a customer to

Here is the latest poster touting Cafe Au Lait, which recently became available in EZ Serve stores.

order just a few bottles of CoolBrew and Coffee wants to expand its core following

to the rest of the country and per-

pay more for shipping and handling than

for the actual product. “It’s one of the haps, eventually, the world. “We’ve had

things they miss about New Orleans, like some people approach us to talk about

a praline or crawfish.”

exporting it for us,” Simpson says.

And Parks adds that he’s always pleasantly

surprised at how depleted the Simpson has checked out the closest

In his travels back home to the UK,

shelves are, of both CoolBrew and Café thing to competitors, coffee-flavored

Au Lait, when he makes his deliveries syrups, he says, which are “of very

and pick-ups. “I usually only bring back poor quality.” Indeed, New Orleans

a few bottles.”

Coffee Co. may soon be ready to take

Encouraged by the enthusiastic over the world.

response to the products, New Orleans

—Kaija Wilkinson

6B Innovator of the Year


American LIFECARE

Company brings eastern medicine to the managed care market

A trip to China in 1995 gave American

LIFECARE Chairman Ed Michael

Reggie the idea to transform his managed

care organization by incorporating the

healing arts. “At that time in the United

States there was tremendous backlash

against HMOs because of burdensome

restrictions on choice,” says Reggie.

“American LIFECARE elected to maximize

patient choice by offering its members

access to a broad range of complementary

and alternative medical services.”

The services, which became widely

available last year, include yoga, massage

and acupuncture. Members of the socalled

Healing Arts Network also get discounts

at Aveda Concept salons and

Smoothie King franchises. Members do

not pay extra to access the network, and

the process is simple: Members simply

show their insurance identification cards

to the receive discounts.

“Whereas members might perceive

massage to be a luxury enjoyed periodically,

they might be inclined to purchase

a Smoothie on a regular basis as a healthy

lunch alternative, for example,” says

Reggie. “It is these daily benefits to the

HAN member that make the network

truly unique.” He says the therapeutic

massage and other spa services have

proven extremely popular.

Judging from a surge in membership,

American LIFECARE’s Healing Arts

Network has been well received. Since it

was introduced, membership

increased from 534,000

to more than 690,000, making

the company the market

leader in this region.

American LIFECARE

provides health care networks

and administrative

services to managed care

organizations, health insurers,

third-party administrators

and self-funded employers.

Besides Louisiana, the

networks are available in

Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and

Alabama. The company began in New

Orleans in 1983.

For its blending of Eastern and Western

medicine, American LIFECARE is named

in an American Association of Health Plans

report, “Innovations in Health Plans.” It is

among a handful of managed care entities

in the U.S. behind the “Collaboration for

Healthcare Renewal,” an initiative geared

toward expanding the reach of complementary

and alternative medicine,products

and services.

The collaboration is building a national

database of complementary and alternative

medicine products and services so it can

A patient enjoys a massage at Bliss Day Spa, a participating

provider in the alternative medicine network.

examine and analyze cost-effectiveness and

utilization. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the

National Society of Actuaries and several

Fortune 200 employers are joining the

managed care organizations in the effort.

The emphasis on patient choice is

what makes American LIFECARE innovative,

says Reggie. The company offers a

full range of managed care services in

addition to its Healing Arts Network.

“In stark contrast to HMOs, which are

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

typically characterized by rigidity and

restrictions on choice, American LIFE-

CARE offers open access to a broad network

of physicians, as well as a variety of

complementary and alternative medicine

providers.”

Other offerings include 24-hour,

seven-day telephone access to nurses

and disease management programs.

American LIFECARE’s networks

include:

•A preferred provider organization

accessible throughout Louisiana,

Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and

parts of Alabama.

•A point-of-service plan which offers

deep discounts. Under this network,

available in Louisiana and southern

Mississippi, beneficiaries select a primary

care provider who refers the patient

to a specialist if necessary.

•TierOne, a network for hospital

employee health plans. Patients using

this plan get the highest level of benefits if

they seek treatment in-house.

•LIFECARE Discount Plans, a supplemental

product which provides significant

savings on dental, optical and

audiological services and products.

—Kaija Wilkinson

Innovation Announcement!

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1010 Decatur St.

or

Our popular mother store in the French Quarter

334 Decatur St.

(504) 523-5544

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Innovator of the Year

7B


Autoimmune Technologies has only been

around since 1995, but the products it is

developing are more than a little ambitious

— even controversial. The biomedical

and biotechnology company develops

diagnostic tests, explores the mechanisms

that cause disease and researches

therapies for autoimmune disorders.

President Russell Wilson is a former

Tulane University professor with a doctorate

in cell and molecular biology. The

company is licensing its core technologies

from Tulane University Medical School,

where the initial research took place.

Autoimmune is working on researching,

patenting and getting approval for four

different tests, says Michael Charbonnet,

manager of the company.

The first test, called the APA Assay, is

for diagnosing fibromyalgia, a mysterious

disease that usually involves widespread

body pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

The patented APA Assay, according to

Autoimmune’s published research,

detects anti-polymer antibodies in the

blood of most patients with fibromyalgia

and fibromyalgia-like symptoms.

The data suggest the disease has a

physical basis and is not the psychological

disorder many doctors assume it to

be, Charbonnet says. “There has never

Autoimmune Technologies

Company develops groundbreaking tests for autoimmune disorders

been an antibody response or immune

response and this is a spectacular

demonstration of it,” he says.

Autoimmune has engaged a company in

New Jersey to make the test kits and is awaiting

FDA approval to begin clinical trials.

The HIAP Test developed by

Autoimmune is patented and was

spurred by data suggesting a retrovirus

causes systemic lupus erythematosus and

three related autoimmune diseases:

Sjögren’s syndrome, Graves’ disease and

juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Lupus is

probably inherited but has an infectious

element as well, Charbonnet says.

Autoimmune is looking for a manufacturer

to produce the test kits.

The company’s test for human mammary

tumor virus does not detect a disease,

but rather detects a predisposition to it.

Data by Robert Garry, a professor at the

Department of Microbiology and

Immunology at Tulane University Medical

School, suggests that breast cancer is associated

with an endogenous retrovirus

(HMTV). This type of virus is passed

from parent to child.

“It’s an estrogen responder,” says

Charbonnet. “When estrogen kicks in,

the virus starts.”

Autoimmune’s test would discover if

someone has that inherited virus.

The test is in the patent application

stage. The company may not seek

FDA approval since it is a predictor

of disease, rather than a diagnostic

device and thus does not require it.

Autoimmune is working with a

health products company to commercialize

the test.

The most controversial of

Autoimmune’s tests, at least from

the Department of Defense’s standpoint,

is its ASA Assay, which

detects a particular antibody in

Gulf War Syndrome patients. In

Congressional testimony earlier

this year, Garry explained that his

research suggests that the illness is closely

associated with an abnormal immune

response to squalene — which he links

to anthrax vaccine containing squalene.

The U.S. Army researchers have sought

to discredit the work of Garry and his

researchers, he testified, but they subsequently

verified his discovery and applied

for a patent covering their own work on

squalene, even though Autoimmune

already holds a patent for their test.

Squalene is used as an adjuvant in animal

vaccines to produce a more enhanced

response. It has never been approved for

Dr. Russell Wilson and Dr. Peter Kulakosky of

Autoimmune Technologies

human use, however. Charbonnet says

Autoimmune probably won’t get the test

approved by FDA because the U.S.

Veterans Administration could use it to

the extent required to help Gulf War syndrome

patients without getting approval.

To date Autoimmune has invested

about $2.5 million (all from its partners)

into product development. Wilson is leery

of VC money, however the company is

hoping to get a cash infusion at some point.

If and when success comes,

Charbonnet says he’d like to start a fund of

their own to help other entrepreneurs and

stop the state’s high-tech brain drain.

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

We listen. We lead.

We

lead.

innovate.

And we honor our staff for earning Innovator of the Year honors!

Here’s to our entire pediatric program - medical staff, nurses, professional and support staff, as well as our Board

of Directors for contributing to the success of Jefferson Parish’s first and only Pediatric Emergency Room. We are

proud that the program has received an On the Brink honor in this publication’s Innovator of the Year Competition.

At West Jefferson Medical Center, we’re proud to be singled out in a competition that honors creativity and

business innovation. And we remain committed to providing the leading edge care that distinguishes medical

institutions like ours year after year.

8B Innovator of the Year


Dr. Nicolás Bazán

Director of the

Neuroscience Center of

Excellence at the Louisiana

State University Health

Sciences Center

Founder — St. Charles

Pharmaceuticals

In the early 1990s, Dr. Nicolás

Bazán began looking for a way to

create a new kind of painkiller that

was nonaddictive and nontoxic to

the liver. In March of this year, he

received word from the U.S. Food

and Drug Administration that clinical

trials could begin for the treatment

of post-surgical pain using the

drug that came from those efforts.

Along the way, Bazán formed

a company, St. Charles

Pharmaceuticals, and garnered

nearly $1 million in federal grants

and $4 million in venture capital funding

to develop the new painkiller. He is now

developing some 10 additional new

drugs for afflictions such as stroke and

Alzheimer’s disease even as his painkiller

goes through the approval process.

“We are in the middle of phase 1 (clinical

trials) and the incredible thing is this

idea of a pill (came about) years ago, and

now people are swallowing it,” Bazán

says. “So it’s a full cycle of discovery.”

Bazán says the plan is to finish this

phase, which includes 40 to 50 people in

Texas,by July,then start phase 2.“I hope to

do phase 2 here in New Orleans,” he says.

The potential market for the new drug

is immense. Last year the market for

painkillers was $13 billion in America

alone, Bazán says, and it will likely grow

15% to 20% per year.

The reasons are many, but one important

factor is demographics: aging baby

boomers mean more illness and more

pain. There is pain associated with cancer,

pain after surgery,pain in children,he says.

“This is a very important area of medicine

where new treatments are needed.”

Bazán and a chemist from Spain, Julio

Alvarez-Builla of the Universidad de

Alcalá, designed the new drug as an

alternative to other analgesics, such as

acetaminophen (the active ingredient in

Tylenol), which can have toxic effects on

the liver.

For instance, combining acetaminophen

and alcohol can cause severe liver

damage,Bazán says.Many liver and kidney

transplants are due to this problem,he says.

The developmental drug will not

mask fever, he adds. Other analgesics

that do reduce fever may not be appropriate

for situations such as post-surgery

Bazán created a nonaddictive, nontoxic painkiller.

since fever can indicate to doctors that a

patient has an infection related to the

operation.

He has two patents related to the

drug, which are owned by the LSUHSC

Foundation and licensed by St. Charles

Pharmaceuticals. He decided to start St.

Charles because he wanted to keep this

technology in New Orleans.

Bazán is originally from Argentina

where he directed a biochemical research

institute. But in 1981 he was forced to

leave by the right-wing military dictatorship

that ruled the country. The 59-year

old researcher is tireless, attending conferences

around the globe in addition to

conducting research. He constantly reiterates

the need for developing resources

in the biosciences as a means of economic

development in Louisiana.

“We need this new culture of innovation

desperately here,” he says. “It will

take a lot of effort and a lot of time.”

His firm attracted the attention of John

Koerner III, owner of Koerner Capital

Corp. in New Orleans, who invested $4

million to bring the painkiller through the

pre-clinical trials necessary before the FDA

approval process. St. Charles will seek a

second round of financing later this year.

He is continuing his work with Alvarez-

Builla and they have additional patents on

new drugs they are developing for treating

Alzheimer’s and stroke victims. Bazán is

also leading one of three teams in the state

using a $9 million federal grant to develop

nano and micro technologies. His team

will study neurosignaling, with projects

focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and memory

as well as macular degeneration and

retinitis pigmentosa.

—Megan Kamerick

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Only American

LIFECARE

gives you such far

reaching choices:

both eastern and western medicine.

By offering HAN, American LIFECARE is the first and only

health insurance network in the region to integrate alternative

and traditional western medicine.

For no extra cost, you can offer your employees HAN, the

Healing Arts Network, for immediate discounts on services and

products such as acupuncture, massage, Aveda Concept

Salons®, Smoothie King ® and yoga. They simply show an

insurance I.D. card with the American LIFECARE logo; no

referrals or forms are required.

More than 42% of Americans now use alternative medicine

on their own, and pay full

price. We have responded to

this demand, so that you can

take the lead in offering maximum

choice.

AMERICAN

LIFECARE

MANAGED HEALTHCARE

NETWORKS AND SERVICES

Ask your health insurance agent about American LIFECARE or contact:

650 Poydras Street • Suite 1150 • New Orleans, LA 70130-6131

504.561.0600 Fax 504.679.0150 •

www.americanlifecare.com • info@americanlifecare.com

Innovator of the Year

9B


Rocket science meets music at CA Guitars Inc.

Home-grown composite guitars rock the music world

At a mere 2 years old, CA Guitars Inc. is

gaining a following among well-known

musicians for its acoustic and bass guitars

made of composite material. Several

albums coming out this summer and fall,

such as the latest record from country artist

Tim McGraw, feature guitars built by CA,

which is headquartered in Lafayette.

Jimmy Stewart, guitar player with country

act “Brooks and Dunn,” recently performed

on the Tonight Show using a CA

guitar. On the rock and roll side, backup

bands for Kid Rock and Bruce

Springsteen have played the guitars.

Business, as they say, is good. “We

have basically zero guitars in stock and

people are calling and begging for them,”

says Dennie Edwards, sales and marketing

director for the company. The guitars

are available through the company and at

30 music stores nationwide. They sell for

around $1,500 each.

As the company grows, it aims to

expand its distribution to more than 14

countries. “Distribution is set up in

Europe already, I’ve just got to have the

guitars,” says Edwards.

CA Guitars should be able to keep up

with demand when it moves into a 12,000-

square-foot building in

downtown Lafayette in a

few months. The move

will quadruple its space,

and the company has

hired manufacturing

expert Rich Lasner to

help bring production

from “20 a week to 20

day,”says Edwards.“The

sky is the limit really. We

hope to reach 75 (guitars)

a day in the building.”

The work force will grow

as well, from 20 to more

than 100. The company expects revenue

to increase by as much as 800%.

So what makes the guitars special?

They are amazingly sturdy instruments

that produce the high-quality tones of specialty

woods like rosewood and mahogany,

says Edwards. The are impervious to

changes in climate and humidity. Using

patented processes,the company tailors the

instruments to duplicate the tones of highquality

wood instruments. “We’re making

our own tone wood — sonically,” says

Edwards, who adds that the guitars are

environmentally friendly since they do not

Country artist Tim McGraw checks

out a limited-edition, custom guitar

use real wood.

The story of CA

Guitars starts with a

man who ditched the

corporate life to follow

his dream. After a successful

but unsatisfying

15-year career as an

aerospace engineer for

Martin-Marietta (now

Lockheed-Martin), Ellis

Seal decided to lend his

skills to something he

really loved: Guitars. An

amateur musician from

Bay St. Louis, Miss., Seal experimented

on his own guitar by replacing its wooden

top with a composite blend he created

using techniques he learned making parts

for the National Aeronautics and Space

Administration.

Seal pared his Martin Marietta hours

down to part time, eventually quitting to

devote himself full time to building the

perfect guitar in a shed behind his home

in Bay St. Louis. His brother-in-law Barry

Sallinger, at the time an attorney in

Lafayette, encouraged him until he finally

got it right. Seal and Sallinger, who left his

job as an attorney, launched CA guitars in

fall 2000. The main facility is in Lafayette,

but Seal still has a 2,000-square-foot

workspace near his home in Bay St.Louis.

Seal and Sallinger initially approached

national manufacturer Peavey. The company

was so impressed it offered to market

the instrument. There was only one problem:

The deal called for moving manufacturing

operations to Asia.

Similar proposals from other manufacturers

followed. But Seal and Ellis

refused to move. “I think our desire to be

part of the local culture and local economy

with the help of people like LEDA

(Lafayette Economic Development

Authority) and the Louisiana Music

Commission helped reinforce the idea

that we were right to stay in Louisiana,”

says Edwards.

The company has relied on the help

of private local investors to get things

going. It participates in numerous local

music festivals each year.

In coming years, CA Guitars plans to

partner with other companies to build

other musical products such as speaker

enclosures and instrument cases.

—Kaija Wilkinson

Marine Radar School

Full Mission Bridge Simulator

An innovative approach to maritime training

10B Innovator of the Year

• Prime Location – City Park Campus

• U.S. Coast Guard/STCW Approved Courses

• State-of-the-Art Training Facilities

• Mississippi River Visual Database

• Exceptional Instructors

• Customized Inland and Offshore Training

• Only Bridge Simulator in Louisiana

Contact: Delgado Community College, Marine Radar School, 615 City Park Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119-4399

Phone: (504) 483-4266/483-4157 • e-mail: rschwa@dcc.edu • Internet: www.dcc.edu


Navi-Trainer Full Bridge Simulator

Delgado ship simulator becomes a hub for maritime training

In the center of a building tucked away in

the back of the Delgado Community

College City Park Campus, there’s a program

in motion to bring maritime professionals

from across the globe to New

Orleans to learn more about their craft.

Delgado, in a cooperative effort with

the Louisiana Department of Labor

and the college’s Maritime Advisory

Board, has brought the latest in ship

simulation technology home.

The Navi-Trainer Full Bridge

Simulator created by Truancies Marine

USA is the first maritime

simulator of its kind in the

region. Funded through a

$12 million grant from the

state’s Incumbent Worker

Program, the simulator has

helped approximately 400

maritime workers complete

newly mandated U.S.

Coast Guard training programs

since it began operating

in December 2001.

When the maritime

industry learned of the

new training requirements

many thought they would

lose their jobs, says

Kathleen Mix, associate

dean of Delgado’s community

outreach. The industry must

meet the continuing education requirements

by 2002. However, she says at the

same time the new mandates were

issued, the state’s Incumbent Worker

Training grants became available.

The idea to use the grant money to

Delgado, in a

cooperative effort

with the Louisiana

Department of Labor

and the college’s

Maritime Advisory

Board, has brought

the latest in

ship simulation

technology home.

help out the maritime industry was the

brainchild of Louisiana Labor Secretary

Gary Forster. Mix says it made perfect

sense to match the fund with the industry

that needed it the most — an industry

that means so much to the future of

both the city and the state.

“What Delgado is trying to do with

the Incumbent Worker Program is build

a partnership with both the maritime

industry and the state. We’re also building

a future for quality training at an

affordable cost,” says Rick Schwab, project

manager for Delgado’s

Community Outreach.

Schwab says the simulator

is the most important

aspect of the Incumbent

Worker Program because

it gives mariners real-life

navigational experience

and crisis management

training that cannot be

recreated in a classroom.

He says individuals in

courses on everything

from radar to navigational

charting can first learn

about the instrumentation

in lecture and then get

practical experience using

it on the simulator.

The Delgado Maritime Advisory

Board is made up of industry employees.

Working one-on-one with the

board, community outreach personnel

were able to design specific training

programs and high-tech classrooms

that met the needs of the industry.

The simulator gives mariners real-life navigational experience and crisis management training.

The simulator is in a room that looks like the

bridge of a ship.

With funds from the Incumbent

Worker Program, Delgado was able to

train over 6,000 maritime workers in

more than 20 course topics last year.

“People are coming from all over

because our programs are much more

affordable than others,” Schwab says.

He estimates that between 50% and

60% of all maritime workers trained at

Delgado are from out of town. He says

that benefits the city and state in the

form of tourism dollars.

The simulator itself is housed in a

room designed to look like the bridge of a

ship, complete with the latest in operational

maritime instrumentation such as

ARPA radar and electronic chart system.

Surrounding this “bridge” is a series of

screens which project 240 degrees of

computer-generated simulator mission

images. Using video footage and precise

topographical data of the Mississippi

River and other waterways throughout

the world, software designed by Transas

gives the simulator operators a realistic

view of travel on each watercourse.

The simulated missions are as varied

as the imagination. Instructors can

ease novices into operating watercraft

as small as an inflatable powerboat all

the way up to an oil tanker. The simulator

recreates the precise characteristics

of each vessel including turn time

and draft. Instructors can also add

complications to missions such as

other vessels or even weather-related

problems like high winds or lightning.

“The simulator allows the individual

About half of the maritime workers trained at

Delgado are from out of town.

being trained to grow with experience.

We can start with a mission that has few

complications and add things as the

student gets better,” Schwab says.

The initial simulator system and

related software cost about $300,000,

but Schwab says once the simulator is

complete with additional upgrades, it

will be worth approximately $1 million.

Everything that occurs during the simulation

exercise is videotaped and tracked on

navigational charts so those instructors can

later debrief the students on what occurred.

They can even recreate an incident investigation

following an accident where instructors

role-play as interviewers, questioning

the captain and other bridge personnel

about what happened during the mission.

—By A.J. Mistretta

Innovator of the Year

11B


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2002 BUSINESS TO BUSINESS SHOWCASE

Please join us for a fantastic day of face-to-face selling with

over 100 business booths. Take this opportunity to promote

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For booth or sponsorship information please

call Ben Clement at 293-9260

12B Innovator of the Year


EDG Inc.

3D technology helps

transform offshore

platforms

In its bid for business in the

worldwide oil and gas industry,

engineering firm EDG

Inc. has a distinct advantage.

In 2001 the Metairie-based

company, which handles all

phases of planning and construction

of oil and gas production

facilities, acquired

state-of-the-art laser technology.

This move enabled

EDG to create precise, computerized 3D

models of offshore platforms.

The Cyrax 3D Laser Scanning system

was developed by the San Francisco-based

CYRA Technologies Inc.in the late 1990s.

Initially used in land surveying and architectural

projects, the tool was continually

upgraded over several years by CYRA until

officials realized its potential as a means of

modeling plant equipment and piping.

EDG Chief Operating Officer Tim

Moreau was the driving force behind the

company’s purchase of the laser scanner.

He believed the system would allow the

company to more accurately capture

data for 3D modeling of existing facilities,

thereby making the planning of

modifications safer and less costly than

more traditional methods.

“This technology lends itself to getting

the data into the 3D computer programs

quicker,” says Erby Aucoin, EDG

engineering technician. “If we can actually

import the information into the program

without inputting it manually then

we’re ahead of the curve.”

When oil and gas companies want to

make changes to existing platforms, engineers

must go to the site and take exact

measurements of the structure. They

bring those measurements back to the

office where designers add new components

to the models.

Previously, the process of collecting the

data meant that at least four engineers

would have to fly to the site and spend anywhere

from three days to several weeks

taking manual measurements. In addition

to being time-consuming, the process was

often dangerous, with engineers having to

scale scaffolding erected on the platform.

The Cyrax 3D system allows entire

precise images to be scanned within minutes.

For instance, Aucoin says one view

of a complex pipeline system where a

team of four engineers would have to

spend three days completing measurements

would take two individuals with the

Cyrax system only 20 minutes to scan.

The Cyrax laser uses a green pulse laser

light that is emitted from the scanner

through a window and bounced off

Engineering technician Erby Aucoin looks at a 3D image

on a laptop computer.

objects up to 450 feet away. As the light

returns, the time and intensity of each dot

in the laser’s view is measured by the scanner

and captured by a laptop computer.

The scan can then be linked to other

scans shot from different angles to produce

a rotatable 3D image of the entire

object. Engineers can measure each point

in the scanned image to any other point in

the image, then import the scanned object

into 3D drafting software like AutoCAD.

Aucoin says EDG estimates they are saving

their client companies between 5% to

10% of total project cost. Other problems

like field welds — on-site alterations of component

parts — and interference between

new and existing plant components are

drastically reduced with the Cyrax system.This

translates into less downtime on

the platform and additional savings for the

company. EDG has used the laser scanning

technology in a handful of offshore

projects for companies like Chevron USA

Production Co. and Marathon Oil Corp.

Since acquiring the Cyrax and related

software, EDG has worked closely with

CYRA in providing feedback on the system

in an attempt to improve the quality of

its performance. CYRA has made seven

upgrades to the software program in the

past 14 months based on that feedback.

“A new version of the software just

came out this month which will automate

several functions and speed up the entire

modeling process. It’s getting better but

we still have a ways to go,” Aucoin says.

In 2001 the Cyrax system brought in

approximately $250,000 in revenue to

EDG. The firm projects that figure will

double in 2002, with Cyrax technology

eventually accounting for 10% of total

company revenues.

Aucoin says EDG is open to exploring

other potential applications of the

Cyrax laser including scanning landmarks

and statues for preservation purposes.

He says if local buildings like the

Cabildo should somehow become damaged,

a 3D model of the structure would

allow engineers to obtain exact measurements

for its restoration.

—A.J. Mistretta

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Company finds its niche in

environmental data management

When entities like US Steel, Conoco

and the Louisiana Department of

Environmental Quality need scientific

data compiled, they turn to Baton

Rouge-based Integrate Inc.

In the 12 years since it was founded by

entrepreneur and chemist Dr. Michael

Crouch, Integrate has developed a number

of software systems designed to manage

chemical and geographical data.

Crouch comes to the business with an

impressive background: He has 30 years

experience in analyzing and managing

environmental data and founded a laboratory

that became one of the first to qualify

for the Federal Contract Laboratory

Program to analyze data from Superfund

sites. In 1990, he struck out on his own by

founding Integrate.

The company’s flagship product is

TerraBase, an environmental database

system introduced in 1997 that the company

offers as an application service

provider. TerraBase allows clients to

access data over a secure Web site.

Using TerraBase, clients may see aerial

photos of their facilities along with

related chemistry and geological data.

They may access this data in seconds,

regardless of their computer or operating

system. “They can look at hundreds of

megabytes of information over a normal

modem,” says Crouch.

The information can be easily shared

with select individuals such as engineers,

consultants or lawyers. “Whoever has

permission can access all or part of the

data, wherever they are, and that’s a big

deal,” says Crouch. He adds that while

numerous companies provide scientific

data management services, very few, if

any, provide a Web-enabled application.

Integrate has carved out a niche in the

environmental information management

industry, which is clearly on the rise. A

recent study by Boston-based market

research firm BTI Consulting Group

Inc. says the environmental management

information systems industry will

reach $6 billion by 2005 and is growing

at 35% per year.

Integrate’s piece of the pie is relatively

small, but Crouch is confident his company

will grow along with the industry.

The company was recently valued at $25

million and he expects to increase its

market value to $100 million over the

next two years.

Early this year, Integrate’s growth

prompted Crouch to raise venture capital

for the first time since the company was

founded.Integrate used the funds to move

Integrate Inc.

Entrepreneur and chemist Michael Crouch

founded Integrate 12 years ago.

its software to the Web, build a data center,

purchase the powerful servers that run

TerraBase and begin an aggressive sales

and marketing campaign.

Crouch says the company raised $2

million of its $5 million goal. “We’re in the

growth phase right now,” says Crouch.

“We’ve always done well, but we figured if

we’re going to go national we’ve got in

invest in our infrastructures.”

Integrate has already “gone national”in a

sense: The company manages groundwater

data for all landfills for Waste Management

in the country, and for huge global operations

like ExxonMobil, Citgo, Canadabased

Imperial Oil, and PPG Industries, a

global supplier of coatings, glass, fiber

glass and chemicals based in Pittsburgh.

Integrate is divided into three operating

divisions: data management services, software

sales and development, and Webbased

services. Data management is the

consulting arm that helps entities organize,

manage and maintain their data. The software

sales and development division sells

desktop versions of software and enters into

joint development contracts with partners.

Web-based services section provides applications

such as TerraBase, the fee-based

application service provider. Currently,

most revenue come derived from data

management services, Crouch says.

Another new service Integrate plans to

offer by the end of this year is Validate

Online, which will provide automatic validation

of analytical data. The process of

checking the data against federal guidelines

normally takes four to six weeks, but

the Validate Online service will complete

the process in minutes. Integrate will offer

it to anyone who needs the service.

As Integrate beefs up its offerings, it

will be adding to its staff of 20 before the

end of the year, says Crouch.

—Kaija Wilkinson

Innovator of the Year 13B


Dr. Ronald Lemon

Dental invention draws inspiration from unlikely source

Sometimes the simplest ideas come when

you least expect them. Just ask Louisiana

State University dentist Ronald Lemon,

who got his inspiration for a new dental

cement delivery device seven years ago

while watching a documentary on the

Hoover Dam.

Lemon says for years dentists were

plagued with the problem of applying a

mixture called mineral trioxide aggregate

during dental surgery. The MTA was

developed in the early 1990s and was wellreceived

by the dental community as the

most effective compound available for use

around tooth roots and exposed nerves.

However, in their search for an effective

method of delivering the material, dentists

wound up destroying other devices and

wasting a lot of the expensive mixture.

The problem was that MTA’s composition

was similar to a mixture of sand and

water.The gritty substance would clog the

devices it passed through, making the

material virtually unusable.

Enter Lemon. The documentary he

watched on the construction of the

Hoover Dam made him realize what had

to be done to use MTA effectively. In

order to keep the concrete from drying,

the dam contractors had kept the mixture

vibrating as it was poured. “I figured

if we could keep the MTA vibrating then

it would remain mixed throughout the

application process,” he says.

Lemon took to his garage where he

quickly taught himself how to use a soldering

gun. Next he took a series of broken

dental instruments and took them

apart, made adjustments and created

something altogether new. “You have a lot

more failures than successes when you’re

trying to make something like this,” he

says.“But I was determined to get it right.”

With prototype in hand, Lemon went

to Denstply, the largest dental supply

company in the world and the sole distributor

of MTA. In a boardroom of

stone-faced company executives, Lemon

demonstrated what his device could do.

“When I had finished my presentation

the CEO turned to his assistant and

said ‘Get the box,’” Lemon recalls. “The

assistant returned with a box full of

instruments that the company had created

to apply the MTA. I figured I was

doomed. Someone had already come up

with this. Then the CEO grabbed a

nearby trash can and dumped the contents

of the box into it. I went from deflation

to inflation just like that.”

Lemon holds his invention, a dental cement delivery device.

Lemon says the beauty of his

device lies in its simplicity. The

actual handheld applicator

attaches to most ultrasonic

equipment already in dentist’s

offices. The applicator vibrates

just like ultrasonic cleaning

tools, keeping the MTA mixed.

To hold the substance and dispense

it, a Teflon sleeve that

holds approximately .10 grams

of the MTA is fitted over a piston

at the tip of the applicator.

The device will be available in

several different shapes to allow

dentists to get MTA into all

areas of the mouth.

Each device will cost about $90 and

most users will want to acquire four different

shapes to complete all possible

procedures with MTA, Lemon says. LSU

owns the patent to Lemon’s invention.

Dentsply took over development of the

device, which is currently awaiting final

approval from the FDA.

A non-ultrasonic version of the applicator

has been on the market for one month,

Lemon says, but the real thing won’t be

available until sometime later this summer.

Lemon’s applicator has far-reaching potential

in dentistry.

In addition to being used in regular

root canals and related procedures, the

device will also be used by dentists in procedures

where the patient has sustained

oral trauma and has exposed roots.

Lemon predicts the next big group to use

his device will be pediatric dentists.

At least 10 percent of all dental procedures

in the future will likely involve

MTA and the ultrasonic delivery system

Lemon says.

—Anthony Mistretta

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Where innovations come to life.

Congratulations to our innovators

Dr. Nicolás Bazán

LSU

Neuroscience Center

Innovator of the Year

Finalist

Dr. Ronald Lemon

LSU

School of Dentistry

Innovator of the Year

Finalist

Dr. John Burgess

LSU

School of Dentistry

On The Brink

Award Winner

1600 Canal Street • Suite 1010 • New Orleans, Louisiana 70112

(504) 568-3712 • Fax (504) 568-3460

http://www.foundation.lsuhsc.edu

14B Innovator of the Year


Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship

Curriculum helps businesses grow and prosper

The Levy-Rosenblum Institute for

Entrepreneurship started in 1992 with

two goals in mind: develop an innovative

entrepreneurship curriculum and involve

Tulane University and the A.B. Freeman

School of Business more actively in the

regional economy.

“We started with nothing,” says John

Elstrott, director of the institute and a former

economist at the Freeman School.

The school received a $750,000 gift

from the Levy and Rosenblum Family

Foundation, which it used to endow the

institute. The gift paid $50,000 a year,

the yield of which was 5%. “So we had

$2,500 to work with,” Elstrott says.

The institute now has four distinct projects

in the community doing everything

from working with family businesses to

helping low-income families start businesses,

get an education or move into homes.

“I had some expertise and interest in

getting research out of the research environment

and into the commercial environment,”

Elstrott says.

So he worked with the Department of

Energy helping commercialize research

from federal labs. This provided the

institute more money, including funds

for his salary and a half-time secretary,

Lina Alfieri-Stern. She eventually earned

a master’s degree and became associate

director of the institute.

She now runs the individual development

account collaborative of Louisiana.

The IDA serves more than 200 lowincome

families locally by working with

them to help them save money to buy a

home, get an education or start a business.

The money they save is matched by financial

backers in New Orleans, including

local banks and corporations.

Stern is working to expand the concept

to other communities in the state as

well. Elstrott says they would like to start

a similar program at the high school level

to complement the Academies of

Entrepreneurship.

That program works with Booker T.

Washington and John McDonogh Sr.High

School students and teachers. Students

learn about entrepreneurship and the skills

needed to be business owners. Student

must form a business that draws on their

skills or hobbies. The curriculum includes

field trips and summer internships.

The institute also formed a partnership

with the Tulane Association Business

Alumni to create the TABA Community

Service Program.The goal is to extend the

Pictured (counterclockwise) are Alanna Pugh Bailey,

Lina Alfieri Stern, Louisa Frederiksen, John Elstrott,

Rosalind Butler and Donna Darensbourg.

Freeman’s School’s resources while giving

students hands-on experience.

Students each donate 25 hours or more

each year to assist 10 to 15 nonprofit

organizations and local businesses with

support and assistance.

Levy-Rosenblum also works with family

businesses through its Family Business

Center. This provides a peer learning and

training environment to help family businesses

grow and prosper and add to the

region’s economic development,

Elstrott says. “Family

business represents some of the

most successful entrepreneurs

in the region,” Elstrott adds.

Many family businesses

deal with leadership and succession

issues as well as family

communications and dynamics.“It

has brought us closer to

our members and helped us

place interns in our jobs,” he

says. This means more out-ofstate

students end up here permanently

instead of going back

home, and perhaps even starting

their own business,he says.

The center has served 75 businesses

and now has 20 members

who pay an annual fee for the center’s

periodic programs and forums.

As for funding,Elstrott says the institute

is entrepreneurial. The family business

center has corporate sponsors, while the

IDA collaborative has support from banks,

foundations and government contracts.

He is seeking a sponsor for the Academies

of Entrepreneurship. “My deal with the

dean is we have to pay our own way,”

Elstrott says.

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Women of the Year

Recognizing exceptional achievement among

local professional women

Help us identify the city’s most successful working women

In a special supplement coming up in CityBusiness, we’ll name Women of the Year from

the local area. We will identify, profile and honor these professional women, whose successes

in business and contributions to the community have set the pace for the future of

our region. We are looking for innovative leaders who are making waves with their energy,

ideas, achievements and commitment to excellence. Nominations are welcomed from all

business sectors.

Deadline: August 30, 2002

Three ways to submit a nomination form:

1) Fax it to Women of the Year at 504-837-2258

2) E-mail it to lovelacem@nopg.com

3) Mail it to Women of the Year, CityBusiness, 111 Veterans

Memorial Blvd., Suite 1810, Metairie, LA 70005

Feel free to attach additional sheets if necessary.

A panel of judges will use nomination forms and independent research to make final selections.

Self-nominations are accepted. The Women of the Year will be profiled in CityBusiness and

honored at a special event.

Nominee:

Title:

Company/organization:

Business address:

City, state, zip:

Company phone number:

Nominee’s E-mail address:

Birthdate:

Education (dates/type of diplomas, degrees, technical training):

Business accomplishments (job responsibilities, special projects, business-related affiliations):

Community involvement (nonprofits, civic, state and national organizations):

Achievements and awards:

Nominated by:

Name/title:

Business address:

Phone number:

Innovator of the Year

15B


Mele Printing

Covington firm gambles on a new printing process to corner the local market

Mallery Mele spent a year and a

half investigating sublimated printing

before taking the jump into the

process at Mele’s Covington plant.

So far the investment is paying off

handsomely.

Last year the company did

about $800,000 in sales related to

the process and Mele expects that

to grow to between $1.2 and $1.4

million this year. If that seems

ambitious, he points out that

national firms are doing up to

$100 million a year in sales.

The process involves printing

special inks onto a piece of paper,

which is then transferred onto

material using very high heat and

pressure. This causes gasses to

release, and dye explodes onto

the material to create an array of

colors, Mele says.

The process can be used to create any

number of products, including swimsuits,

flags, doormats, mouse pads, potholders,

even pillows. Right now the market is

focused mostly on polyester materials, but

Mele can print on a variety of substrates

such as silk and even ceramic.

One of Mele’s clients, Toland

Mallery Mele at Mele’s Covington plant

Enterprises, put the bug in Mele’s ear

about getting into this highly specialized

form of printing. Toland is one of the

largest flag manufacturers in the country

and produces many home items such as

garden flags and doormats. Toland buys

$3 million in sublimated paper outside

the state. “Mele’s move into this product

has helped us keep more of that money at

home,” says Jeff Sands with

Toland. “As Mele develops

more customers outside

Louisiana, they bring more

money into our economy

and become a better vendor

for us.”

Mele is now one of the

few companies in the Gulf

South producing dye sublimation

and is now competing

at a national level. “We

are opening up our market,

whereas (before) we were

selling just to the metro

area,” Mele says. “Now we

go to California and New

York to very high-end merchandising

marts. So the

opportunities have expanded,

but it’s a very high-end

technical industry. We are skimming the

surface.”

Sands predicts Mele’s work on digital

imaging will have a major impact on the

entire industry. There are now about 12

companies nationally doing sublimated

printing competing for a growing $300

million market, he says.

“Mele is now bringing in money from

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

out of state for sublimated projects and

keeping money in state that used to

leave,” Sands says. “The real breakthrough

will come with digital and Mele

is leading the nation in that.”

Mele says the company, which has

locations in Kenner and Mid-City as

well, converted one of its large lithographic

printers in Covington to sublimation

and uses specialized software that

allows it to print the paper that contains

the dye digitally.

“Now we can show people prototypes

of the final product and still achieve quality

in final production,” Mele says. The

company can print one piece of art and

repeat it a thousand times. “That is

unheard of. Normally people cannot

have this kind of flexibility.”

The company’s next step is to move

from just producing the sheets with dyes

for printing to actually manufacturing

products and selling them directly to

large retailers or other companies. For

now, however, Mele is just getting used to

a rapidly changing world.

“It’s a new market for me as well,” he

says. “So it blows my mind at times we

can do this.”

—Megan Kamerick

16B Innovator of the Year


Richard Gray’s Power Co.

Device helps electronics reach their full potential

What began in 1999 as a small moonlighting

venture between a technology

guru and an audiophile has turned into a

million-dollar business with more than

5,000 products sold worldwide.

“Our first product was the Richard

Richard McCarthy, co-owner of

Richard Gray’s Power Co.

Gray’s Power Company. It’s a product so

powerful that we actually named it a power

company,” says RGPC co-owner Richard

McCarthy of the power-correction device.

McCarthy says Richard Gray, a wellknown

electronics technician, understood

that home audio and video equipment

plugged into regular outlets did not reach

its full potential because of interference.

As the current from the transformer on the

street makes its way to the equipment, it

encounters noise and cross-talk from other

appliances which filter power.

“If we could all plug our equipment

directly into the transformer on the

street we would. Obviously that’s

impossible. But Richard Gray figured

out a way to get us closer to that ideal,”

McCarthy says.

Standard power line conditioners or

surge protection devices are wired in series

and therefore give added power resistance

and choke performance potential. In electrical

terms, “choke” means to prevent or

retard performance. In contrast, the patented

Richard Gray power correction device

is wired in parallel, effectively moving

power from the street transformer directly

next to the equipment without any interference.

After years of experimenting, Gray

came up with a prototype for his device

in 1997. When he described his technology

and the way it worked to

McCarthy, who was one of his clients,

McCarthy saw a potential business venture.

The two realized that with Gray’s

inventions and McCarthy’s entrepreneurial

know-how they would easily

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

have a means of supplementing their

existing income. Neither expected the

device would have such a profound

impact on the electronics market.

McCarthy says the RGPC’s patented

“Electric Flywheel Effect” works to overcome

lapses in current, filling in gaps

when demand temporarily overcomes

supply, providing a more natural audio

experience as well as a sharper, deeper

image on all video formats.

The Chicago-based Transformer

Manufacturers Inc. manufactures all of

RGPC’s products, which are in turn

distributed to more than 200 dealers

across the globe.

“With our unique product we have

created a whole new category of technology

that is in the process of changing

the way audio, video and home-theater

systems are installed. Everything until

now has been Band-Aids that have

reduced noise but also limited the

dynamics in current. We’re changing all

of that,” he says.

McCarthy says he estimates RGPC

products, which retail for between $700

and $1,200 depending on model, save

between 5% and 15% of energy costs.

“We believe this technology will become

increasingly more popular until there’s a

Richard Gray device in every home in

America,” he says.

Sales at Richard Gray have increased

steadily since 1999. With 2001 sales

already at $288,989, McCarthy expects

2002 fiscal year revenues to surpass $1

million.

McCarthy says he believes the RGPC

is the best surge-protection system on the

planet. If a current surge is strong enough

to penetrate the system’s choke device,

another component will automatically

blow the fuse the system is connected to

in order to stop the surge from damaging

the electronics.

“The RGPC provides state-of-the-art

protection from both lethal spikes and

constant smaller power surges that

plague electronic parts, causing eventual

failure,” McCarthy says.

Several new Richard Gray products

await patent approval and are expected

to hit the market soon. McCarthy says

the unique, transparent design of

Richard Gray’s High Tension Wire

allows for optimum current transfer,

which provides better power delivery

to components.

Another product, Richard Gray’s

Substation, will be a step-down transformer

used to isolate all of the plugs in a

high-end home theater system, providing

more advanced current protection without

sacrificing performance.

—A.J. Mistretta

School Leadership Center

Nonprofit group brings new dimension to school improvement

“It’s hard to remember

your objective is to

drain the swamp when

you’re up to your neck

in alligators.” That’s

the analogy School

Leadership Center of

Greater New Orleans

President and CEO

Brian Riedlinger uses

to describe the plight

of school principals. In

Riedlinger’s example,

the principal, because

of problems or “alligators”

facing the school, Approximately 125 principals have participated in the fellows program since 1997.

never has the opportunity to work toward The center also has an eight-week program

for aspiring principals designed to

improvement. The key for leaders in education,

Riedlinger says, is to be able to set a prepare individuals to become school leaders.

According to available data, between

course of action and not become daunted.

That’s the idea behind the School 40% and 60% of principals in Louisiana

Leadership Center, a nonprofit organization

where area principals and educa-

five years, making the preparation of poten-

will be eligible for retirement within the next

tional leaders come together to get the tial replacements essential, says Riedlinger.

skills and support they need to make a For proof of the center’s effect on principals

and their schools, Riedlinger points

lasting difference at their schools. More

than 70,000 students at 120 schools in to an outside study conducted by the

Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Bernard and St. Tammany parishes are in the spring of 2001. The study showed

represented by the center.

students in the area covered by the center

Baptist Community Ministries began scored nearly 40% higher than their peers

the center in 1997 as a means of improving

educational leadership in the five-

LEAP tests. “The increase was even con-

in other parts of the state on the Iowa and

parish area. Part of the original $6 million sistent across socioeconomic boundaries,

grant provided by the ministries foundation

was used to recruit 13 area princiing

below the poverty level have tradition-

which is unusual since those students livpals

who in one year designed the basic ally scored lower ... We think the results

program. Since then, other community show that (the center) is helping all schools

organizations have donated additional work smarter, not harder,” he says.

funds to specific programs at the center. Riedlinger says the center’s emphasis

While traditional development centers on continued support beyond the principal’s

time in the program is what sets it

for educational leaders usually give limited

workshops dealing mostly with management

skills,Riedlinger says the center’s pating in programs and then returning to

apart from all the rest. Instead of partici-

programs offer a more comprehensive their schools isolated from their colleagues,

principals are constantly con-

approach to leadership development.

The focus at the center is not on isolated nected with the center and each other

skills, he says, but on each principal’s ability

to improve his or her particular school. “Research tells us that it’s that consis-

once they are fellows.

Riedlinger says the organization is tency that makes the difference,” he says.

unique in that it allows principals from “It’s very easy to lose track of your goals

public, private and parochial institutions and objectives when you’re fighting problems

every day.” One of the common mis-

to share solutions to common problems

and network with one another.

conceptions that the center combats is the

Approximately 24 principals each idea that all schools should work to

year are invited to join the center’s fellows

program. The two-year program “There are a lot of people who say if you

improve in the same areas,Riedlinger says.

involves monthly meetings as well as work on these seven areas then you’re

spring and fall institutes where principals going to be successful. That’s not the case.

discuss such things as how to change the What we do here is work with each principal

on their specific school because each

culture of a school or bring about longterm

structural transformations that will one is different and each one has its own

have a positive impact on the institution’s specific problems,” he says.

learning environment.

—A.J. Mistretta

Innovator of the Year

17B

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER


Southern Candymakers

Candy shop goes after the right markets, enjoys sweet rewards

Strict adherence to old-school candymaking

traditions, tenacity and targeted

marketing have been the keys to success

for French Quarter-based Southern

Candymakers.

After a 25-year career as a biology professor

at Tulane University, Dana

Tompkins decided to completely switch

paths and open a candy store with husband

Robert and son Peter, who had

found success managing a candy store in

Atlanta. The family also enlisted the help

of Peter’s friend, Chuck Williams, who

helps manage the operation today.

With the House of Blues not yet open,

business was slow at first at the store at

334 Decatur St., which opened in early

1992. “We lost more money the first year

than I ever thought was possible,” says

Dana Tompkins. She and the store’s two

other employees — Peter and Williams —

would stand on the street and offer praline

samples to the few passersby.

Despite slow business, they persisted.

They watched House of Blues go up in

1994 and the once-deserted stretch of

Decatur come to life. With an influx of

tourists, not to mention frequent orders

from the House of Blues for its VIP

guests, the business grew.

Southern Candymakers’ creations

are based on family recipes and the

inventory is constantly evolving. Recent

additions include Bourbon Street Bark

and Jackson Squares, with mainstays

Tortues (Southern Candymakers’ version

of the candy known as a “turtle”),

and old-fashioned pralines.

Five years ago, the entrepreneurs

decided to open a location in Martha’s

Vineyard, at the urging of head candymaker

and manager Jill Demeny, who is

from the area and knows how the population

swells in the summer. This location

is open “from just after JazzFest

until Labor Day.”

The business was recently able to

expand locally as well, opening an additional

location six months ago at 1010

Decatur near the French Market. “In the

year 2001 (compared with 2000), we

grew by 50%,” says Tompkins. The

company predicts a further 50% increase

in revenue this year.

One of the reasons Southern

Candymakers enjoys success in a full market

is because it augments in-store sales with

other avenues of distribution.It markets the

candies through Junior League and other

charity events throughout the region and in

Dana Tompkins, Chuck Williams and Peter Tompkins at

Southern Candymakers’ original Decatur Street location.

California. Tompkins attends about a

dozen such shows each year, usually in the

months leading up to the holidays.

The store also does a brisk mail-order

business through its full-color catalogue,

which is sent to those who request it

when they visit the stores. Mail order

now represents 25% of sales, she says.

Last year, Southern Candymakers

added on-line sales.

Because the candy is handmade,

Southern Candymakers does not have

many wholesale accounts, Tompkins

says. It does, however, sell its candy

to gift shops in upscale hotels like the

Ritz-Carlton. Other retail clients

include Butterfield’s and Blue Frog

Chocolates. It even exports its

Tortues to a gift shop in Japan,

“which is doing a thriving business

selling our candies exclusively.”

Local hotel clients include the

Sheraton, International House and the

Hotel Intercontinental, which order

custom candy assortments for their

most valued clients, candy trays for

parties and pralines to place on guests’

pillows in lieu of the usual mint.

The company also gets business

from local corporations.“We have been

fortunate to have many companies both in

New Orleans and elsewhere give our candies

as their corporate gifts and to serve

our candies at functions,” says Tompkins.

And if the business’ growth is not proof

enough that the candy is top-notch,

Southern Candymakers has won several

prestigious awards. Its No. 1 seller, the

creamy praline, took the Best Candy in

Show award at the Atlanta National

Gourmet Show, beating out more than

800 entrants.

—Kaija Wilkinson

PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

On The Brink

Besides our 2002 honorees, these individuals and companies were also nominated for their innovations.

Dr. John Burgess

Professor and Chairman of

Operative Dentistry

LSU School of Dentistry

New Orleans

Dr. Burgess developed an innovative dental-filling

material that releases fluoride but

also wears well. According to LSU School

of Dentistry, no similar materials have been

developed.

Burkenroad Reports at the A.B.

Freeman School of Business

Peter Ricchiuti, director of research

Tulane University

New Orleans

Founded in 1993, Burkenroad Reports is

the nation’s first university-sponsored securities

analysis program. Market investors

interested in “getting in early” on small,

successful companies look to the

Burkenroad Reports. Last year, the companies

followed gained a collective 3.9%,beating

both the Standard & Poor’s 500 and

the Russell 2000.

Chao-Jun Li

Department of Chemistry

Tulane University

New Orleans

Li developed a process by which manufacturers

can substitute water as a solvent for

toxins like benzene. The process has widespread

applications in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals,

chemicals, polymers and plastics.

He received a 2001 Presidential Green

Chemistry Challenge Award from the EPA

for this innovation.

E-commerce Service Providers Inc.

President Joey Auer

New Orleans

As president of thriving IT-solution company

Diamond Data Systems Inc. since 1992,

Joey Auer knows the local tech scene inside

and out. About a year and a half ago, Auer

saw the need for e-commerce solutions for

brick-and-mortar stores and founded a new

company, E-commerce Service Providers.

The company sets up and manages e-commerce

sites for its clients for a commission of

sales. Its client list currently includes Tony

Chachere’s Creole Foods in Opelousas.

Kajun Kettle Foods Inc.

Co-owners Monica Davidson and

Pierre Hilzim

New Orleans

Kajun Kettle is perhaps better known for

one of its flagship products, Crawfish

Monica, which got its start at the New

Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1981.

Since then husband and wife team Monica

Davidson and Pierre “Pete” Hilzim (who

named the famous crawfish dish after his

wife) have expanded their product line to

include sauces, seasonings, marinades and

pre-made food products such as sauces.

Clients includes numerous upscale and

chain restaurants. They also market their

products through a Web site.

MakeBuZZ LLC

New Orleans

MakeBuZZ is an on-line marketing firm that

provides consultation and Internet marketing

services. It helps business design strategies

to drive traffic to their Web sites. The

firm is currently developing an artificial intelligence

system that controls customer acquisition

in real time.

Micromaster Inc.

President Mark J. Alleman

Metairie

Since last year, Micromaster has offered a

wireless application that integrates with business

accounting software. It allows a remote

sales rep to enter orders via a WAP-enabled

cell phone or other palm device.The entry is

then transmitted to a remote server and can

be immediately retrieved using the import

capabilities of the business software.

State Farm Insurance/

Xavier University partnership

New Orleans

Xavier University and State Farm Insurance

Co. established a partnership to create a

community-based technology, education,

counseling and community center in the St.

Roch community of New Orleans.

Members of the community will benefit

from computer training for adults and

children, counseling services and educational

support services. State Farm will

supply financial assistance in the creation

of the downtown center as well as providing

computers, office equipment and

other resources.

West Jefferson Medical Center

Pediatric Emergency Room

Marrero

The only emergency room dedicated to

the treatment of children in Jefferson

Parish opened in December 2000 and has

expanded its services and hours of operation

throughout last year. So far it has

assisted more than 6,000 patients as well as

their families, and admissions and revenue

are increasing steadily.

The Worley Companies

Metairie

The product/service nominated was

WorlTrac, an automated insurance claims

management software platform. Worley

provides claims and risk management, loss

adjustment and investigative services to

insurance companies, corporations and

government entities.

18B Innovator of the Year


G ENERATING S OLUTIONS F OR T HE F UTURE.

At Entergy, we understand how vital economic growth is to New Orleans. That’s why we're finding

new ways to help build a better future for our city. It's a commitment made to our customers by our

more than 2,000 New Orleans-area employees.

We're investing millions of dollars to upgrade our systems and add new equipment to meet the

needs of a growing community. We’re adding two new state-of-the-art electric substations that will

help support future growth. And we're developing and funding initiatives that will attract new

business and more jobs to New Orleans.

At Entergy, everyone understands that working together in our community generates more than

power. It generates solutions.

1-800-ENTERGY www.entergy.com ©2001 Entergy Corporation

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