Most of the business news in our pages in the past few months has been gloomy as the local, oil-driven economy continues to hover slightly below mediocrity.
There have been stories of profits dropping, company lay-offs and even some who haven’t been able to survive and have had to move out of the area or cease operations altogether.
Those issues are still present in the current economic picture as the price of oil clumsily slumbers along at around $45 per barrel.
But for one week, we’ve put the issues of the present on hold and have been able to showcase some of the shining stars in our local economy.
This week is our Silver and Gold Issue.
In our pages, we’ve honored local businesses who have withstood the test of time and have survived for at least 25 years. Many have done even better and have stayed in operation for 50, 60 or some even 100-plus years.
That’s not easy to do. Studies show that almost 90 percent of businesses don’t make it to year 10. But many locals have beaten the curve and have found a way to keep themselves around for much longer.
So what’s the secret?
They all seem to say the same thing – it’s less about the business and more about treating people with compassion and respect.
The best businesses are those which feel like home. They are places that treat people fairly – with the common respect which we’d expect from our friends, family or neighbors.
These businesses all seem to do the little things well. They smile and tell you hello when you walk into the door. If you have questions, they answer them politely. They never make you feel like a burden.
When a purchase is finalized, the relationship isn’t over, but is likely just beginning. A lot of the businesses we profiled offer service options after the sale. This, of course, ensures that the deal is worthwhile for both sides. That builds trust between the company and the public. With that trust, businesses can survive a lot of the blips on the economic radar and find a way to survive.
Good businesses also have good people within them, too.
Just about every business we profiled this week touted the importance of people in the winning equation.
It, of course, starts at the top with ownership and management.
But the so-called “little people” matter in a big, big way, too.
Studies show that businesses which retain the greatest percentage of their employees from year-to-year often have the most success.
That means that hiring good people matters. Once they’re in place, it’s also equally important to treat them right so that they stay on board once they’re in place.
It’s always a good feeling to go into a place of business and a see a friendly face – someone you’ve dealt with before. The best of the best give customers that luxury and they do so by taking care of their own.
The business world is tough and competitive. If succeeding were easy, everyone would do it.
So for some to survive through multiple decades and for several generations is a worthwhile, noteworthy event which the community should rally around and celebrate.
Good, quality businesses are part of the fabric of a community. When they’re present, the standard of living within a place is much, much better and people tend to live happier, more stress-free lives.
We’re blessed in the Houma-Thibodaux area with several businesses who have overcome the odds, stayed true to themselves and are still kickin’ after all these years.
We hope that in the future, the price of oil will rise and that the tone of local business news will get back to a boom period where folks are investing freely in the local economy again.
But while we patiently wait, let’s celebrate the survivors and those who have withstood the test of time.
Congratulations to all of the area’s longstanding businesses.
It’s not easy to do what you do, and it often goes unappreciated.
But for one week, at least, this one’s for you. •