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Companies with local ties win Louisiana business excellence awards

BATON ROUGE — Two businesses with local ties were among eight Louisiana companies presented with a Lantern Award.

Southern Designs of Vidalia and Tin Roof Brewing Company of Baton Rouge received the awards at a recent ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.

Lantern Award winners are selected by Louisiana’s eight Regional Planning and Development Districts, based on the contributions of the manufacturers to their communities, including investments in employment growth and facility expansion. Each business also must demonstrate sustainability by remaining in operation at least three years prior to the nomination.

Vidalia’s Southern Designs employs 30 people who work out of a 30,000-square-foot facility, exporting products throughout the United States and Canada. The products are sold at Walmart, on Amazon and through the company website, metalunlimited.com.

Sales are projected to reach $4.5 million this year, company founder Tance Hughes said.

Hughes founded Southern Designs in 2008 while a senior at Vidalia High School, printing T-shirts in his garage. When orders grew, he moved into a retail unit and then a larger facility in his hometown, eventually transitioning from printing T-shirts to manufacturing decorative, laser-cut metal and wood products.

Tin Roof Brewing Company in Baton Rouge was founded by Natchez natives William McGehee and Charles Caldwell Jr. McGehee, who is the company’s CEO was recently named Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2017 Young Businessperson of the Year.

Tin Roof has been steadily growing since it was founded in 2010.

The company started canning beer in 2011, expanding to gas stations, grocery stores and other retailers — and not only locally, but nationally. As McGehee told Business Report last year, he was so stuck in the grind of everyday operations back then that the accomplishment didn’t fully register until he saw his beer on the shelves of a local Albertsons.

“That’s when it was like, ‘Oh, wow. This is real,’” he said.

With an expansion into Texas late last year, Tin Roof can now be found in seven states. The brewery has six core brews, five seasonal and three special single-batch beers.

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