REINVENTING THE DEAL
Guidry’s first steps in the reinvention of his company were actually not steps at all, but miles of pedalling. “I rode bikes,” he says. “I’d just purchased a new bike the Saturday before Katrina and I didn’t want to leave it, so I put it on the back of our car. Those two weeks we were away, I did a lot of riding. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know what the implications of the insurance are or the nature of the damage in terms of money, employees and customer base...but if I go back, I’ll no longer grip the steering wheel so tight, I’ll no longer tolerate unacceptable performance from anybody, and I’ll no longer take any stuff from customers who were trying to take advantage of us.’ So far, I’ve held to those decisions.”
Guidry’s decision to reopen at all was very pragmatic in the end. His insurance was such that he’d only get replacement money if he bought new equipment and rebuilt in Metairie, the Jefferson Parish location. (Guidry also owns a store in nearby Mandeville, La., a neighborhood which endured much less damage from Katrina). Otherwise, he’d be paid cash value for the equipment he’d lost in the flood, a significantly smaller sum.
As federal aid finally made its way to the New Orleans area, Guidry realized there were tax advantages to rebuilding as well. “We’re in the ‘Gulf Opportunity Zone’ now,” he says, “which lets us double the depreciation on a piece of new equipment in the first year. The Feds have earmarked $7-to-10 billion to help this area recover. We need it, but we’ve never seen an influx of money like that. When it happens, there will be a boom, and when it does, I will sell the boomers their cameras.”