Success Stories in Livingston Parish
“Our people are our most valuable asset. The local craftsmen we have and the work that they produce here, that’s the core of what makes us who we are.”
CB&I is the most complete energy infrastructure focused company in the world, and as Livingston Parish’s largest private employer, the company draws its strength from its highly skilled, local workforce. The pipe fabrication facility at the Livingston Parish Industrial Park employs more than 600 people. The facility sits on 70 acres, houses an average of $35 million worth of piping inventory on site and makes or supplies piping products for the many plants and refineries in Louisiana and beyond.
Plant manager T.J. Dickey says their strategic location in Livingston lets them give a local option to the many skilled laborers who would otherwise drive to neighboring parishes to work on the plants the fabrication facility services. The company also helps to nurture this home-grown workforce by collaborating with local high schools and training its own employees on site. “We have people in our labor pool who come and go, but the majority of our skilled craftsmen have been with us from 5-25 years,” he says. “We’ve trained them to be journeyman craftsmen, because we have to eliminate the learning curve wherever we can. If you have a consistent, well-trained workforce, you can get more production, become more efficient and realize a greater profit. It’s important to us to keep our people employed; they’re our most valuable asset. The local craftsmen that we have and the work that they produce here, that’s the core of what makes us who we are.”
Ferrara Fire Apparatus
“Livingston was the perfect halfway point between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The location gives us high visibility and is very convenient for our customers, both local and worldwide.”
Paul Christiansen, Ferrara Fire Apparatus
Ferrara Fire Apparatus is the industry’s leading designer and manufacturer of fire and emergency response vehicles, having delivered nearly 5,500 trucks for service in major cities across the U.S. and around the world. The company started in Baton Rouge in 1982, and by 1994 had outgrown its cluster of buildings. Unable to find a site large enough to accommodate one large facility, Ferrara turned to neighboring Livingston Parish and found an ideal site just off Interstate 12 in Holden. Today, the company has 400 employees working out of a 300,000 square-foot manufacturing space.
“The move to Holden allowed all manufacturing to be under one roof, and it made a much nicer experience for our customers,” says VP of Sales and Marketing Paul Christiansen. “Livingston was the perfect halfway point between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The location gives us high visibility and is very convenient for our customers, both local and worldwide. They can reach us via two major airports, and they can easily get to our factory to see a truck in service.
“It’s very convenient to tap into a large labor force. Because it’s so easy for them to get here, we can draw from a regional talent pool to attract the best workers.” Joe Easley, Superior Steel
The family-owned Superior Steel company has grown from a four-man operation in 1967 to a company with 85 employees supplying structural steel to commercial and industrial customers across the country. With such a wide reach, the company could choose to locate anywhere, but they chose Livingston Parish, purchasing nearly 20 acres on the site of the former Vulcan Foundry and East Jordan Ironworks in Denham Springs in 2012, where they renovated buildings, invested more than $1 million in new equipment and expanded the fabrication plant to 90,000 square feet.
Superior Steel President Joe Easley says Livingston’s location between the major metropolitan areas of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, plus its extensive highway infrastructure gives his company an employer’s advantage. “It’s very convenient to tap into a large labor force,” he says. “Because it’s so easy for them to get here, we can draw from a regional talent pool to attract the best workers. And they love coming to Livingston from surrounding parishes, the quality of life makes it a great work environment.”
“It’s the dedication that citizens of Livingston have to support their communities and businesses. I’m overwhelmed by that.” Bob Estave, Walker Metals
When Walker Metals outgrew its 7,000 square-foot facility built in 2003, the metal building and roof manufacturer briefly considered moving out of Livingston Parish to find more space. But co-manager Bob Estave says he found the perfect location in the Co-Mar Industrial Center that gave his customers from Baton Rouge, Hammond and beyond easy access via Interstate-12. In January of 2012 they built the first facility at Co-Mar, double the size of their original building, and by February had to add an additional 4,000 square feet. Just a year later, they added a second, 8,000 square foot building to the Walker Metals complex.
Estave says Co-Mar is able to accommodate his rapidly growing business, and he enjoys the security of good police and fire protection, but it’s the local customers who help his business the most. “It’s the dedication that citizens of Livingston have to support their communities and businesses. I’m overwhelmed by that,” Estave says. “They want to keep business local and understand what power local sales tax can generate, especially with the public schools.”
Walker Metals has bought two additional lots at Co-Mar for future expansions.
“It’s easier to get answers out of local government when you need help, you don’t have to go through 52 people to get what you need.” Blythe Daigle, CAP Technologies
In 2011, CAP Technologies purchased the shell of a manufacturing plant that had burned down. The abandoned property was an eyesore in in the heart of Denham Springs, but for the metal coating and cleaning company it was a perfect opportunity to tap into what Blythe Daigle calls an ideal labor market. They salvaged the site by renovating the warehouse and building offices on the front, then cleaned up and landscaped the property, proud to have repurposed the location for 13 new employees.
CAP employees enjoy the low cost of living and excellent public schools in Livingston Parish, and one family even relocated from Mississippi for those reasons. Daigle says the way of life in Livingston just makes doing business easier. “The people are so welcoming and ready to work with us,” she says. “The city officials are accessible, it’s easier to get answers out of local government when you need help, you don’t have to go through 52 people to get what you need. We’ve even had elected officials stop by and introduce themselves, offering whatever they can do to help.”
After a few short years in Denham Springs, CAP is ready to grow to 50 employees, with the potential for additional developments on the property as business expands.