One of the pride and joys of Broussard, Louisiana, Acadian Kitchens, recently purchased a $1.2 million warehouse in north Lafayette to expand their thriving business and bring in more jobs, according to this article from The Acadiana Advocate.
The hard-working employees of the company, Acadian Kitchens, might be better known to some for being the makers of the Ragin’ Cajun and Cajun’s Choice brands of seasonings, box dinners, condiments, and other food products. In total, the company currently employs about 20, but with the new warehouse purchase and an increased production line, they’ll be looking to add possibly as many as 30 additional jobs when it’s all said and done.
Presently, the Acadian Kitchens company is operating out of three buildings at a combined footage of 10,000 square feet. The new purchase and the subsequent move will transition the company into a single, 35,000-square-foot building, and due to the warehouse’s strategic location of being housed on the NE Evangeline Thruway, drivers and employees will have a much more accessible route to the interstate highway. Land records indicate that the company has purchased the former Completeful building, located at 3136 NE Evangeline Thruway for just over $1.2 million.
CEO of Acadian Kitchens Paul Leleux estimated that the conversion of the north Lafayette warehouse into a proper food-processing facility will take approximately nine months, but it will allow them to consolidate its operations, add new equipment, improve its total productivity, and grow its workforce. The warehouse became commercially available after Completeful, the drop shipping fulfillment service, moved into the former Walmart facility on Evangeline Thruway.
Leleux commented on the increased demand in the food industry as a result of stay-at-home orders, hurricane evacuations, and other national events, saying, “the demand for food, particularly home-prepared food, is increasing. Particularly in this time of COVID, people are hesitant to go out and eat. Our goal is to allow the rest of the country to enjoy Cajun and Creole foods we’ve been enjoying all our lives in Louisiana. There’s nothing worse than having bad Cajun food. I’m doing everything I can to avoid that.”
That increase in demand was made ever more apparent last October when the company announced that it had hit a sales record just weeks after Hurricane Delta damaged one of the company’s buildings and its founder, Tom Riggsretired as CEO. The sales record was that Acadian Kitchens had its highest sales month in its total 34-year history. This was attributed to the company finding success in offering its Ragin’ Cajun food products in markets outside of Louisiana, particularly those on the east and west coasts of the United States.
While some of the company’s success can be attributed to the Illinois-based capital investment firm, Evanston Partners, buying a majority stake in the company in 2017. This was back when it was known as Southern Seasonings.
Surpassing its sales record just weeks after Hurricane Delta struck the company’s facilities was certainly an impressive feat. The violent winds of the late August storm had brought down a large oak tree atop one of the company’s buildings in Broussard, destroying 2,000 square feet. CEO Leleux reported that after the storm hit on Friday night, clean-up operations began Saturday morning, and operations resumed the following Wednesday.
Leleux said of the experience, “Hurricane Delta came at us hard like everybody else. We knew we had to do something to grow the company facility-wise, but that (storm) may have accelerated the process. We were still able to pay our people through all of it. We lost 2,000 square feet but didn’t miss a beat. It was a credit to a lot of people’s hard work.”
Employees of the tenacious company see the hurricane’s setback as more of a sign or a nudge that it was time to move on to a new facility— one that’s large enough to accommodate the company’s growth.
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