Chris Carrisalez

A worker erects a billboard for Lamar Advertising. The family-run, publicly-traded company in Baton Rouge received the outstanding corporate growth award from ACG Louisiana. The statewide organization noted its annual revenue of $1.5 billion, operating more than 325,000 advertising displays across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

ACG Louisiana, a state chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, named six winners of awards that recognize growth companies, business professionals and noteworthy corporate transactions in Louisiana.

The winners are New Orleans Saints-Pelicans owner and auto dealer Tom Benson, lifetime achievement award; Lamar Advertising Co. in Baton Rouge, outstanding corporate growth; Zlien in New Orleans, emerging growth company; Black Diamond’s acquisition of Bayou Steel in LaPlace, deal of the year; CenturyLink in Monroe, dealmaker of the year; and David de Lauréal, a managing director at Bernhard Capital Partners in Baton Rouge, young dealmaker of the year.

TOM BENSON: Benson, with automotive and banking interests in the New Orleans area and south Texas, was motivated to buy the Saints in 1985, after out-of-town investors planned to move the team from New Orleans, ACG said. ACG said Benson's Saints have excelled on the field, but also have become a focal point for restoration after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, annually putting millions in charitable contributions, goods and services back into the entire Gulf South, and helping to build a stronger and more unified New Orleans. In 2012, Benson purchased the NBA Hornets franchise, rebranding it as the Pelicans. Benson's real estate acquisitions also contributed to the revitalization of the central business district, ACG said.

LAMAR ADVERTISING: Lamar Advertising Co., founded in 1902 by Charlie Lamar and still run by his descendants, has grown from a small sign company on the Gulf Coast into one of the largest providers of outdoor advertising in North America. The publicly traded company has annual revenue of $1.5 billion and an enterprise value of more than $9.5 billion. It has more than 325,000 displays across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico as billboard, interstate logo, transit and airport advertising formats. Through generations of innovation and integrity, Lamar has changed the nation’s landscape while still maintaining the character of a family business, ACG said.

ZLIEN: The company was recently dubbed the “best-funded startup in the state of Louisiana” by Forbes. Zlien provides construction notice, lien and waiver management software to a $960 billion a year industry, helping material suppliers, subcontractors and equipment lessors manage those issues. The company has touched more than 1.1 million construction projects since its founding in 2011, ACG said. It has 70 employees, recently adding about one a week. 

BLACK DIAMOND: In April 2016, Black Diamond Capital Management LLC, headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, acquired ArcelorMittal’s LaPlace; Harriman, Tennessee; and Vinton, Texas, steelmaking and finishing operations. The LaPlace operations are accompanied by an additional rolling mill in Harriman, and three stocking depots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Chicago and Pittsburgh. 

CENTURYLINK: In October, Monroe-based CenturyLink announced an agreement to acquire Level 3 Communications in a $34 billion deal, including debt assumption. Upon completion of the acquisition later this year, the combined company will be the second-largest domestic communications provider, serving global customers, and will operate a worldwide fiber-optic network serving 350 metropolitan areas in more than 60 countries. In November, CenturyLink announced a $2.3 billion divestiture of its data center business to a consortium of funds advised by a group led by London-based BC Partners. Both transactions were negotiated by CenturyLink’s Monroe-based team of executives.

DAVID DE LAURÉAL: After many years in New York, the Louisiana native joined Jim Bernhard, Jeff Jenkins and others in 2013 to launch Bernhard Capital Partners. The Baton Rouge private equity firm has accumulated a portfolio of investments exceeding $750 million in managed assets. Among them are Brown & Root and Epic Piping, employing thousands in the state. Lauréal previously served as a principal with TowerBrook Capital Partners, an $8.5 billion private equity firm in New York, where he focused predominantly on the industrial equipment and services and consumer sectors.

The winners will be honored at an awards dinner May 17 at the Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans. A reception is at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.