The room was percolating with energy at the annual Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce banquet in January. Nearly 500 businessmen and women gathered to hear accolades and accomplishments of a good chamber year and plans to continue New Iberia’s stellar growth and development trajectory. For incoming chamber chairman Ryan Boudoin, it was the rocket launch he needed in planning for an even greater chamber year.
There are few things that Boudoin is as passionate about as family - and hair - but, his home town of New Iberia is certainly one of them. The hairstylist and owner of long-established Ryan Michael Salon has lived in New Iberia all his life and seen the city grow and evolve. He has a business and personal stake in helping New Iberia’s economy thrive in his new role as chamber chairman.
Deep-rooted into the community, he has been active in several organizations: Serving on the Pastoral Council of Sacred Heart Church, the New Iberia Historic District Commission Board, Acadiana Lifestyle’s Advisory Board and he was chairman of the 2018 Gumbo Cookoff.
While becoming involved in the community helped Boudoin to understand the needs of New Iberia, he felt he needed to be part of the solution, and six years ago joined the chamber as a volunteer and board member. “Cliché as it sounds, I really want to make a difference in New Iberia,” he says. It has been a good fit for him, as he has praised the 20 members and volunteers for their commitment and passion when it comes to making the biggest impact on New Iberia. And, in the last five years, Boudoin has noticed the community joining in “to make a change for the good.”
Boudoin will tell you that growing up the youngest of five children on his family’s ranch is what helped groom him to become the businessman he is today. He learned the basic fundamentals of hard work, commitment and teamwork in the guise of chores. “There were 36 pecan trees on our farm and every spring my siblings and I had the job of fertilizing them. Then, in the fall every day after school we’d pick pecans. There was a garden to tend to year-round…When you have a farm, there’s no sitting around, watching T.V.,” he laughs. Funny how the chores you dreaded as a child are the very influences that often help shape you as an adult. By the end of his childhood, Boudoin knew the value of hard work and responsibility.
Being a member of a large family also taught him how to work with others, pointing out that “being a family means being part of a team.”
Boudoin cached all that knowledge from his early years, applying it later on in cosmetology school and while working in a customer-service oriented business. He knew what he wanted: to one day own his own business. “Working at other salons gave me insight into the kind of service I wanted to give my customers and that made it so clear how I wanted to run a business,” Boudoin says.
As a small business owner himself, working 55 to 65 hours a week in his salon, he understands the challenge of working “on” your business and not just “in” that business. He and fellow board members see it as their job to help existing businesses by opening doors, building awareness, and increasing exposure.
Last fall, Boudoin and fellow board member Andree′ Schlicher began a video series on Facebook as a way to promote New Iberia businesses, particularly those that don’t use social media. Interviews are videotapes at local businesses and used to promote their services and products on Facebook, at no charge. The hope is that the free exposure works in reeling in more business and encourages those businesses to add social media to their regular marketing.
No doubt, it takes a village. Supporting the chamber boosts local businesses and the economy, and so is to everyone’s benefit to help in this effort. Here’s how you can help throughout the year.
5 Ways You Can Support the Chamber
1) Replace apathy with engagement. Volunteer on a chamber initiative; call the chamber and the staff will help you find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you.
2) Work to fix what’s wrong, but talk and post about what’s right! Follow the chamber on social media, “Like and Share” positive stories and add your own.
3) Share your story, contact the chamber about hosting a Business After Hours at your business.
4) Act Locally! Shop, eat, get healthy locally. A portion of sales tax from every purchase made locally goes towards taking care of infrastructure and public safety needs within Iberia Parish.
5) Help neighbors during natural disasters throughout the year to build a stronger community.