by Christine Fisher
Two brothers, both Lake Charles natives, are examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that is prevalent in Southwest Louisiana. Each one has his own business and their own path of how it came to be, but they share a passion for this area despite the challenges experienced from Mother Nature.
“The opportunities in Lake Charles are endless. Anyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit, this is a great place to be,” says Todd S. Clemons, attorney and founder of Todd Clemons and Associates.
Upon graduation from Southern University Law Center, Todd was open to employment “anywhere from Lake Charles to New Orleans,” he says. “In my last year of law school, Judge Henry Yelverton of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal offered me a job as a law clerk, and I jumped on it because there’s no place like home.”
He went on to become an Assistant District Attorney in Calcasieu Parish for several years, then joined the Department of Justice as an Assistant US Attorney in the Lake Charles and Lafayette area. Todd opened his law firm in Lake Charles in 2007. The firm currently has three attorneys and will expand to four when his son, Micah Clemons, joins in August.
“The hurricanes, ice storm and flood have been difficult for many people and it’s sad to see so many people displaced, but Lake Charles is coming back stronger than ever,” Todd says. “The future is very bright; I see progress every day.”
Todd’s older brother, Thomas, is a graduate of McNeese State University and co-owner of PrideStaff, a staffing agency in Lake Charles, along with his sister, Tanya. “We always contemplated a joint business venture, and we wanted to open the business in Lake Charles because this is our hometown. We have family and extended family here. She resides in Connecticut, but she is very involved in the business and I’m the operating partner.”
Thomas is a member of the board of directors with the Chamber Southwest and serves as vice chair of business development and diversity. Todd is also a member of the Chamber Southwest. Both are strong advocates of how businesses can flourish when they provide excellent service to their customers.
“I agreed to serve on the board because my vision of this area matches up with the Chamber’s overall vision. Specifically, that involves increasing opportunities for businesses from all backgrounds,” Thomas explains. “Everyone should have a voice and a seat at the table. We are in a unique position to rebuild our area in a way that hasn’t been available prior to the recent events that have set us back. We just need to ensure that everyone is represented.”
Todd admits that as a boss he is demanding but fair. “Our clients pay significant fees for our services. In criminal cases, their freedom is on the line. They are trusting us, and we must deliver excellent service.”
Todd says he and his brother are both strong-willed, and they have a strong work ethic. “Our father is retired from the Postal Service. Growing up, we saw him go to work every day, delivering mail in the heat and humidity,” says Todd. “Although he was a college graduate, he never complained. Our late mother was also hard working, at one time working two jobs. In our family, we learned that if you want something, you must work for it.”
One of the aspects of Southwest Louisiana that Todd enjoys is the genuineness of the people, the abundance of outdoor activities and the food. “We have excellent cuisine, and we’re on the water between Houston and New Orleans; Lake Charles is a great location,” he says.
Thomas agrees. “There is an engaging and down-home feel of Southwest Louisiana. In my experience with my business, residents are engaging and supportive if we’re true to our word and we stand behind our products and services. People here really want businesses to succeed. I feel they are willing to give you every opportunity to do so.”