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JAMES CABIRAC – FINANCIAL ADVISOR, BUSINESS OWNER
Nothing Bundt Cakes, Knights of Columbus
Hardware: Only 2x winner of NRHA
Young Retailer of the Year, NRHA
Innovator of the Year, Lafourche Parish
Business Person of the Year.
Financial services: 3x MDRT
#1 State of Louisiana 2022
#2 State of Louisiana 2023
POV People’s Choice Best Toy Store (Hi 5)
POV People’s Choice Best New Business (Nothing Bundt Cakes)
Vice President of Bags of Hope and Lafourche Parish Chamber Member
BUSINESSES’ RECENT SUCCESSES/ACHIEVEMENTS:
The success I’m most proud of is through these businesses, and being able to serve our community in different roles over 30 years.
What led you to the role you currently hold in your company? Did you see yourself in this position when you started out in the workforce?
I started off in the hardware industry at Kief Hardware when I was 15, bought it when I was 22, and sold it when I was 40. My brother, who is a General Agent with the Knights of Columbus, really wanted to recruit me for the Knights of Columbus. It took him about a year because I wasn’t particularly interested at first, but after doing some research and falling in love with the company and what they stood for, he brought me on board. So I definitely didn’t see myself as a financial advisor.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced over the years and how did you meet it?
I think my biggest overall challenge is that I’ve been in multiple different businesses and industries throughout the years– I’ve been in hardware, toys, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and now financial advertising. So there is always the challenge of learning and mastering a new business. You have to be ready to evolve– for example, we opened up four locations of Hi 5 in Lafourche Parish and quickly realized that our business model was not working and that we needed a larger market. So we rebranded everything we did there and moved it to Terrebonne Parish, which helped a lot.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought I was going to be a baseball player at first! But actually, I started at Kief Hardware at 15, and made the deal to own it at 17. So when I really think about it, my career path was set very young, as opposed to someone who is planning to go to college and has lots of options opening up.
What was your first job and what lesson did you learn from this job?
My first job was Kief Hardware, and I was in a position to buy it because the owners were 58 and were preparing to retire. Working side by side with the owners every day taught me the importance of work ethic that no one, not even the owner, is too good to do the work. The actual owner of the business would choose to get his hands dirty, so I have always had the mentality that there is nothing I am too good to do– which
in turn, makes for more effective leadership.
What’s the one thing you can’t leave your house without each morning?
Well, that’s just coffee.
What piece of advice do you share with your team regularly?
This advice came from my wife a long time ago, but I still pass it on regularly– don’t let someone else’s actions change who you want to be. Just be the better person. When you deal with retail, you deal with a lot of negative experiences from time to time, and you shouldn’t change who you are just because they were having a bad day.
What was your most fulfilling career moment?
This is a really tough question since I’ve had so many different career paths. I think what is most fulfilling with me is taking care of people. Even on the insurance side, one of the most fulfilling parts of my job is sitting down with a widow or widower and helping them to get their finances in order during a difficult time. You can’t replace the person in their life who passed, but you can help be there and guide them through these moments of sadness. Every single time I do a death claim, I let myself have that sadness with my client, and it is so fulfilling to help guide them into the future.
What is the best part of working here in the Bayou Region?
When I first started, I was in Baton Rouge and the difference between people is night and day. Nothing against those in Baton Rouge – we are all Louisianians – but the openness of the community in the bayou region is so different. There is just a sense of honesty and trust here that I have always really enjoyed, from my days in hardware, to cakes, to toys, and now, to insurance.
Who are your greatest influencers?
I have a couple, but I’m best friends with Paul Danos and the entire Danos family is a huge inspiration to me. They are a very large company, but they don’t compromise in their beliefs. I feel like the Knights of Columbus have a lot of the same qualities as that, saying ‘this is who we are,’ and if people don’t agree with our value system that’s fine– but it won’t change. Paul and his family don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk, and always choose integrity.
How are you going to impact the Bayou Region in 2024?
I don’t know quite yet– I am just going to try to be the best I can be and take care of my community.”