Innovation in Southwest Louisiana: Safe Haven Enterprises and Waitr Cook Up Success Through Safety and Tech
Safe Haven Enterprises, Jennings
Security Solutions at Safe Haven Enterprises
From its Jennings base, Louisiana-grown Safe Haven Enterprises operates in the realm of human and asset protection. The company manufactures fire- and blast-resistant modular buildings, ballistic-resistant doors and windows, and many other products that keep people and property safe. Safe Haven protects clients worldwide, including embassies and consulates, war zones and petrochemical complexes.
Alta Baker founded Safe Haven in 1998 after first-hand experience in seeking shelter against an imminent threat. In her twenties, Baker left teaching to take over her father’s construction company after his death. She was visiting industrial clients in Port Arthur, Texas, when a chlorine gas release occurred. The nearest safe house was 20 minutes away, she was told. Six months later, when visiting another job site in the area, a tornado touched down. With no safe house nearby, she and others had to “tie off,” or link one another’s belts together, and hide under structural piping until the winds subsided.
Safe Haven’s custom products can fit the physical requirements and risk factors of any business or client need.
Since then, Baker has led the company to become a respected, turnkey producer of blast-, fire-, ballistics- and weather-resistant components and structures.
“We’ve always tried to stay ahead of technology,” she says. “We have a history of going beyond what’s required in federal safety standards, so that as requirements become more stringent, we’re ready to meet them.”
The possible applications for safe buildings are growing significantly as schools, financial institutions, emergency operations centers, homeowners and others find reasons to “harden” their facilities from harm. Baker says Safe Haven responds with custom products that can fit the physical requirements and risk factors of any business. Sometimes, customers need to reinforce building penetrations, while other times they need entire portable buildings. One of Safe Haven’s latest products includes stackable buildings that save space and include comfort amenities, such as employee kitchens and modern design features.
Every client has different needs. Creating solutions is a big part of what we do.
Waitr Serves Up Fresh Tech for Restaurants
In its third year of operation, the service has expanded to more than
in 9 states
restaurant partners and over
Launched in 2015 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Waitr is becoming a boon for restaurants and a saving grace for today’s busy diners. Waitr helps users order from their favorite local eateries via a seamless mobile application that loads menus and handles payments and driver tips.
In its third year of operation, the service has expanded to more than 200 cities in nine states with 5,000 restaurant partners and over one million users.
When founder Chris Meaux hatched the idea for Waitr, venture capitalists told him he should do it somewhere other than Louisiana. Meaux disagreed and took advantage of several state incentives that helped the company get off the ground and grow strategically.
Powered By Louisiana Programs
Louisiana’s Angel Investor Tax Credit and its Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive gave Waitr the resources it needed to roll out services. Sales exploded in the first two years, helping Waitr qualify for another state economic development incentive, the Economic Gardening Initiative.
Waitr’s food delivery service has expanded to 34 markets in eight states, utilizing a mobile application handling everything from menus to driver tips.
The Economic Gardening program helps second-stage companies determine where and how to expand. It provided Waitr with customized business intelligence about the best markets for growth, including small to mid-sized cities in the Gulf South often passed over by Waitr’s national competitors. In 2017, the company opened a 100-job Technology Operations Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, taking advantage of LED FastStart® — the No. 1 state workforce training program in the nation — to recruit, screen and train new talent.
“Having been advised that we should look outside of Louisiana to launch a technology venture, I am proud to say that we have proven that theory wrong,” Meaux said. “We haven’t had a shortage of software engineers. We haven’t had a shortage of talent. And I don’t think we will. We anticipate more successful recruiting efforts in a state that makes many tremendous resources available to small businesses.”
We haven’t had a shortage of software engineers. We haven’t had a shortage of talent. And I don’t think we will.