Ask any business owner in a small town: What’s the secret to success? And they’ll tell you: relationships. When everyone knows you, where you go to church and whether your mom can make a roux, you’re trading on a reputation bigger than your own.

Relationships drive business development and they can define success. That’s true if you’re selling barbecue sauce or underwriting commercial loans. Your word and your values mean something. So when a small town business endures, that’s usually a mark of strong community roots. Or a mark of making a high quality roux. Besides barbecue sauce, jarred roux is the secret sauce behind the longevity of Kary’s Roux and Pig Stand in Ville Platte.

Ross Lafleur is the general manager.

Ross Lafleur, most of the Kary's Cajun food products on the shelf of your local store come from locals suggesting, "Hey, seeing you already make roux how about making..."

Ross Lafleur, most of the Kary’s Cajun food products on the shelf of your local store come from locals suggesting, “Hey, seeing you already make roux how about making…”

Kary’s is well known for its line of specialty sauces and seasonings. You can find them at just about any grocery store in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida.

It started life as a restaurant. Ross’ grandfather bought the restaurant he worked in as a teenager. He and his business partner found success bottling and selling the barbecue sauce they served with their plate lunches. Ross’s dad, Kary, joined the business in the 1970s, and the Lafleurs splintered off to focus on manufacturing.

And that’s the business Ross now oversees. It comes with a lot of cooking. 21st century marketing is one thing, but the best way to sell a sauce, is the good old fashioned taste test. It’s also Ross’s favorite part of the job.

Whether you’re selling jarred roux or running a restaurant, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need somewhere to put all that money or maybe get a loan. And if you’re living in a small town, a community bank is a great option.

Banking, like a lot of other industries, is hot on consolidation. But community banks like St. Landry Bank and Trust still offer value to main street markets, where customers put a premium on knowing the people they business with.

Shelly Fontenot, at St Landry Bank if you're a customer and you have a community event you want St Landry Bank to sponsor they'll more than likely sign on

Shelly Fontenot, at St Landry Bank if you’re a customer and you have a community event you want St Landry Bank to sponsor they’ll more than likely sign on

At St. Landry Bank, Shelly Fontenot is the person to know. She leads business development for the Bank, meaning she spends a lot of time on the road building relationships and giving customers a taste of what community banking is like.

St. Landry Bank has been around a long time. It was founded in the late 19th century and is still firmly rooted in St. Landry Parish, with several branches in Opelousas and shops in Port Barre, Eunice, Scott, Carencro and in Lafayette.

Shelly had an unconventional path to banking. She got a degree in Fire Science and worked in the health and medical resources field out of school. She joined St. Landry Bank after connecting with her boss through a local Kiwanis Club. Shelly is from Ville Platte and now lives in Pine Prairie.

Shelly Fontenot, Ross Lafleur, Christiaan Mader, Out to Lunch at Tsunami Sushi

Shelly Fontenot, Ross Lafleur, Christiaan Mader, Out to Lunch at Tsunami Sushi

Out to Lunch Acadiana was recorded live over lunch at Tsunami Sushi in downtown Lafayette. Photos by Dylan Babineaux.