Alexandria business comes in second 2010 Louisiana Small Business Award

Veterinary Practice from Metairie Is Louisiana Small Business of the Year

Cajun Lubes, LLC of Alexandria is the Runner-Up

New Orleans, La. – A small business owner from Metairie, Louisiana, who embattled a catastrophic loss and overcame challenges generated as a result of Hurricane Katrina, has been named Louisiana Small Business Person of the Year. Louisiana District Director Michael Ricks just announced that owners Drs. Stephen and Rose Lemarie of Southeast Veterinary Specialists are the statewide winners for the 2010 Louisiana Small Business Award.

The Lemaries will join the nation’s top small businesses in Washington to compete for the honor of National Small Business Person of the Year during the National Small Business Week celebration, May 23-29.  A local ceremony honoring Drs. Stephen and Rose Lemarie will be held at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on May 27, 2010.

From a modest beginning as a mobile veterinary dermatology service in 2000 to sustaining and overcoming Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and withstanding a thirteen month construction delay in the aftermath a major disaster, Southeast Veterinary Specialties truly exemplifies the true meaning of what tenacity, staying power, and commitment to unwavering business principles really means. The practice started with 7 employees and the specialties of Veterinary Dermatology and Surgery. Over the past 9 years the practice has grown and now employees 50 full time employees and has added specialty departments in Oncology, Internal Medicine, Radiology, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation.

After expanding the specialty services, the Lemaries soon discovered they were filling a void in animal health care and quickly began to outgrow their location.  In fact, Hurricane Katrina struck just days before the Lemaries were scheduled to break ground on their new hospital.  Undaunted by the devastation, the Lemaries contacted their lender to discuss financial options.    The $2 million SBA loan allowed them to start construction and achieve their ultimate goal of building a state of the art veterinary hospital that is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   This appears to be the largest privately funded project in Jefferson parish since Hurricane Katrina.  Both Stephen and Rose are the first to admit, that without the recommendation and assistance of the SBA and their lender, the task of fulfilling their dream might not have occurred. “The SBA programs really do work for small businesses,” says Stephen and Rose.  As a result of the Lemaries’ opening their hospital, clients no longer have to travel to teaching hospitals for specialized veterinary care.

The first runner-up, Cajun Lubes, LLC of Alexandria, owned by Dwight and Jillyn Epperson has grown from just five oil change locations in and around Alexandria in 1999 to twelve operating Jiffy Lube service centers located throughout Louisiana.  The number of employees has increased from 36 in 1999 to more than 90 today.

In 2009, Jiffy Lube International, Inc. recognized nine of the twelve Jiffy Lube stores for “Outstanding Performance that Exemplifies Excellence and Consistency in Customer Satisfaction”, an award presented only to Jiffy Lube stores that achieve a customer satisfaction survey of 95% of better in at least two of the four quarters of the calendar year.  One store, in Metairie, achieved a score of 95% or better in all four quarters of 2008, an accomplishment achieved by only 16 stores in the 2,100 Jiffy Lube worldwide franchise system.

Other award winners that will be honored in Baton Rouge on May 27, 2010 are:

  • Small Business Exporter

Manuel Blanco, President

Atlantis International, Inc.

Metairie, La.

  • SBA Young Entrepreneur

Bret J. Esquivel, President

Darren Kattan, Vice President

Immense Networks

Baton Rouge, La.

  • Jeffery Butland Family-Owned Business

Philip N. Chisesi, President/CEO

Cody Chisesi, Plant Manager/Custodian of Meats

Nicholas Chisesi, Sales Manager

Philip P. Chisesi, Facilities Manager

Charisse Teresi

Chisesi Brothers Meat Packing Company

New Orleans, La.

  • Women in Business Champion

Cynthia Louise Pazos, President/CEO

Diabetes Management and Supplies

New Orleans, La.

  • Financial Services Champion

Dan Watsky (posthumously)

Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank

New Orleans, La.

  • Veteran Small Business Champion

Hal Brown, Local Veteran Employer Representative

New Orleans JOB1 Business and Career Solutions Center

New Orleans, La.

  • Home-Based Business Champion

Clyde P. Dardar, President/CEO

La Networx

Arnaudville, LA

  • Minority Small Business Champion

Darlene A. Kattan, Executive Director

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

New Orleans, La.

  • Small Business Development Center Service Excellence and Innovation Center Award

William F. Joubert, Director

Sandy A. Summers, Assistant Director

Wayne R. Ricks, Business Consultant

Jonathan B. Holland, Business Consultant

Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University

Hammond, La.

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