Considered a business icon, Paul Candies’ devotion to Otto Candies LLC helped bring it to its 75th anniversary this year.
“He loved what he did so he geared his whole career towards that,” said Candies’ son, P.B. (Paul B.) “He was dedicated to making this company a better company so he worked at it every day.”
Paul Candies passed away in 2013, but grew Otto Candies LLC into one of the largest marine transportation companies in the United States. The company has been based in Des Allemands since its founding in 1942. As the company grew, there were discussions about moving the main office known for its signature boat painting alongside the building, but P.B. said it was he and his brothers who were instrumental in it staying there.
And his father was about staying true to their roots.
Paul didn’t oppose the move, but told his family if Otto Candies could continue doing business in Des Allemands why not stay there – and it did.
“This is where we were born and raised so we need to continue here,” P.B. said of his father’s thoughts about staying in the fishing community. “This is our roots and that is what we are going to continue to support.”
Seventy-five years later, Otto Candies LLC is still at its home base. Today’s company employs about 300 people even amid the petroleum industry slump, but the figure has peaked at 500 in better economic times.
P.B. described as one of the optimists, mainly in charge of everyday operations and sales, who dedicated his life to the company.
Paul had known his own father’s first days in business at the very beginning in the Paradis oil field where he carried Humble Oil Co. (now ExxonMobil) employees in a little inland boat back and forth to oil rigs.
Capt. Otto Candies started his business with one boat. Today’s company has a fleet of more than 40 boats in the U.S. and abroad, including last year’s launched vessel named for Paul Candies.
“Paul’s drive was making sure the doors stay open to make sure we could all come to work here,” he said. The company’s 11 executives all bear the name of Candies and among them was the powerhouse mover known as Paul Candies.
“He was driven to make constant improvement,” P.B. said of Paul’s dedication to growing his father’s company. “He looked for a challenge every day to make himself better.”
The company, which started in marine transportation, now also builds boats at a Houma shipyard they own.
Despite the company’s growth and significance in the marine industry, P.B. said his father was about treating everyone the same.
“He was just an average person,” P.B. said. “He didn’t let his role in business affect him. Whether he was talking to the janitor or the CEO of a company, he treated everyone the same.
“He treated everyone with respect and that’s how he wanted to be treated. That came from our grandfather who also treated everyone as you wanted to be treated and be sure it was done with respect.”
This may be why Paul, like his own father, was so philanthropic toward education.
“He loved affecting children,” P.B. said. “His theory was if you reach a kid in K-3, you have a bigger effect on them. He really liked to focus on lower education. When he saw computers, he would think about what it would take for all these kids to have enough computers.”
The family’s generosity also extended to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux where the Candies children went to college, as well as Southeastern Louisiana University that was Paul Candies’ alma mater.
Paul also worked with the late Rodney Lafon and School Board member Sonny Savoie to get the St. Charles Parish Schools Foundation off the ground.
In July of 2013, Paul Candies died, but left a legacy that Savoie said extended to adopting Allemands Elementary School.
“They carved a market for themselves,” Savoie said of the Candies family. “They helped put Des Allemands on the map.”
For P.B. Candies, the vision is the one his own father laid for them.
“Hopefully, it’s a bright future … a future for a third and fourth generation that can stay in this business and keep the legacy going,” P.B. said. “This is our 75th year and we hope to make 100 years old.”