The Callais family, whose businesses include marine transportation, banking and waste management services, was named the 2010 Outstanding Family Enterprise by the Tulane University Family Business Center. The award was presented at the Family Business Center’s annual Wealth Management Seminar, which took place at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place on May 5. Accepting the award on behalf of the family were Gloria Callais and sons Michael and Corey.
“The Tulane Family Business Center is delighted to honor the Callais family, who embody the very best of family business practices and values,” said John Elstrott, director of the Tulane Family Business Center. “The Callais family is recognized throughout Southeast Louisiana for civic leadership, charitable giving and community service, but even more importantly, they have demonstrated unwavering faith and an unyielding commitment to family. In 2008, the family suffered the tragic loss of two members, Paul A. Callais (MBA ’93) and Peter W. Callais (BSM ’86). I don’t know many family businesses that could have handled such a terrible tragedy with the grace and strength the Callais family has shown.”
The Callais family currently owns and operates four businesses in Louisiana: Abdon Callais Offshore in Golden Meadow, SWeeDee Solid Waste Disposal in Houma, Community Bank in Raceland, and United Community Bank in Gonzales.
Abdon Callais Offshore, a marine transportation company serving the offshore oil and gas industry, was founded in 1953 by Abdon Callais. In the early 1980s, Harold J. Callais, Abdon’s son, acquired the company from his brothers and sisters and with sons Michael, Corey, Peter and Paul grew the business to new heights, becoming one of Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing privately held companies for four consecutive years.
A true entrepreneur, Harold Callais founded SWeeDee Solid Waste Disposal in 1978 with a single truck. Today, the company provides waste collection services for over 140,000 homes and over 6,000 businesses in 18 parishes. In 1982, Callais acquired Community Bank of Raceland, and in 1998, he founded United Community Bank in Gonzales. Harold Callais also founded Callais Cablevision, which provided cable television service to Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle for 35 years before the family sold the company in 2003.
Prior to their deaths, Peter Callais was president of Abdon Callais Offshore and Paul Callais was president of Community Bank and United Community Bank. Michael Callais now serves as president of Abdon Callais, and Michael Riche, a longtime employee and family friend, is president of both Community Bank and United Community Bank. Corey Callais, who served as president of Callais Cablevision prior to its sale, is president of SWeeDee and serves on the boards of Community Bank and United Community Bank. Gloria Callais, wife of the late Harold Callais, serves on the boards of all the companies except United Community Bank.
After receiving the award, the Callais family announced a donation of $450,000 to the Freeman School of Business at Tulane and the Tulane Family Business Center. Gloria Callais pledged a gift of $300,000 to establish a professorship in honor of Peter and Paul Callais, both of whom attended Tulane. She also announced a donation of $100,000 to provide an undergraduate business scholarship in honor of Paul Callais. In addition, Monica Callais, wife of the late Peter Callais, pledged a gift of $50,000 to name the Tulane Family Business Center library in honor of her husband.
The Tulane Family Business Center was established in 1992 to assist family owned enterprises with the unique issues and challenges they face in growing and prospering from one generation to the next. Operated under the auspices of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute, the Tulane Family Business Center sponsors seminars, lectures and programs featuring nationally recognized experts on family business issues as well as providing consulting services and networking opportunities for family business members.