The ocean can be terrifying. The horizon doesn’t end. It’s vast and unknown, like staring into space only it’s lapping at your feet. But in business, the ocean is a both an apt symbol for opportunity — think “the blue ocean strategy” for marketing and innovation — and a great place to make a living.

Louisiana has certainly done that for decades with offshore drilling, shipping and seafood. Civilization itself has made use of the ocean for commerce for millennia.


Our long relationship with the ocean has involved mostly, in one manner or another, sailing across it. There’s still plenty of stuff to figure out about working in deep sea environments. Christiaan’s guest on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana, Erick Knezek, and his company, Oceanetics, specialize in developing cutting edge engineering solutions for ocean-going enterprises, including the world’s largest — the U.S. Navy.

Christiaan Mader, Erick Knezek, Stephanie Kizziar talking blood and salt water Out to Lunch at Tula Tacos

Christiaan Mader, Erick Knezek, Stephanie Kizziar talking blood and salt water – Out to Lunch at Tula Tacos


Oceanetics is based in Annapolis, Maryland, home of the U.S. Naval Academy — Erick’s alma mater — but Erick is based right here in Lafayette. Oceanetics does a lot of defense contracting work, including research and development for both the private and public sector, and also specializes in developing renewable ocean-based energy.


Blood might be thicker than water, but unlike water, it’s nota renewable resource. The business of collecting blood is an old one, and it’s done primarily for serving the medical community. The work is important. Science has yet to develop a suitable substitute for it, and hospitals need it on high demand.

The nation’s largest independent nonprofit blood services provider is Vitalant, which you might know by its previous brand name: United Blood Services. Vitalant was founded in 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona and has grown to a network of 120 donation centers across the U.S. Vitalant operates here in Lafayette and serves 23 hospitals in 21 parishes.

Stephanie Kizziar is Vitalant’s Communications Director, and reports that just 3% of Louisiana’s eligible blood donor population are active donors. That means demand outstrips supply significantly, with local hospitals requiring at least 250 donations each day. Stephanie got her degree in mass communications from LSU in 2008 and previously worked in marketing. She’s been on the Vitalant team since October of 2020.

Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. You might also enjoy this previous Out to Lunch Acadiana episode about the marijuana business, for no other reason than, hey, who doesn’t like hearing about the magical properties of weed?


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