Bossier is filled with businesses that have decades of history behind them. Formed by family members and carried on as traditions, growing into institutions over time, or meeting needs and evolving with the times — these businesses below have at least 30 years under their belts. Let’s look at what their history and see what secrets they can reveal to their longevity.
Brooks Heating and AC
Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning provides Heating and Air Conditioning and related services in Louisiana and Texas. Started in 1954 by O. L. Brooks. Purchased by Larry and Ruby Little in 1976, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan was established in 1997 and the ESOP purchased 55 percent of the company from the Little’s establishing control of the company a year later. In 2008, the ESOP purchased the remaining percent of the company and became fully employee-owned.
President Randy Johnson has been with the company for 40 years and Vice President John Turner for 20 years. The majority of the employees of Brooks have been employed with the company for over 15 years with several in the 20 to 25 year range, speaking volumes for the stability and longevity of the company.
“Our goal is to provide absolutely the best service and satisfaction of the customers of Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning,” Johnson told BIZ. Magazine. “Northwest Louisiana borders two other states and being the center of a major transportation crossroads, it gives strong opportunities for small businesses.”
Citizens National Bank
Citizens National Bank first opened its doors for business at 2005 Benton Road in October of 1985 when a small group of local business people saw the need for a locally owned and managed bank that would provide modern banking services, but without the cold and impersonal delivery of those services so prevalent in today’s financial institutions.
The bank’s total assets have increased dramatically every year since 1985. By 1988, just three years after its opening, the bank opened its first branch in the Heart O’Bossier Center. Because of the bank’s dynamic growth, the new Main Office at 2711 East Texas opened in 1997. In 1999, the first branch in Shreveport was opened at 9237 Mansfield Road, quickly followed by another at 1545 East 70th Street. Further expansion came in December of 2009 when the cutting edge Downtown Shreveport location was opened at 330 Marshall Street on the first floor of the Beaird Tower. On November 4, 2011 Citizens Bank & Trust of Springhill merged with Citizens National Bank and the Citizens Bank and Trust locations became Citizens National Bank. There are now 15 locations in Caddo, Bossier, DeSoto, Claiborne and Webster Parishes.
And so began the building of a business from almost nothing. Ruby Johnson’s dream in 1963 was to own a furniture store. She told her oldest son, Richard, who was then 20, about her dream and they were soon in business. The business opened in a small shotgun house on Barksdale Blvd. with with $80, some old furniture, and a dream. In late September 1963 as R&R Furniture. A.H. “Hobby” Johnson pitched in by loaning his old pick-up truck for deliveries. He later became a full time partner in the business. The younger brothers, Jim and Bruce, were also very active in the success of the store. In the late ’80’s the third generation joined the business. Howard, Richard’s Son, and Chris, Jim’s son joined keeping it a family tradition. The business continues to grow with a showroom and warehouse of over 72,000 square feet at the foot of the Shreveport-Barksdale Bridge. Chris has since handed it to his son, Zachary.
“Much has changed in the Johnson’s Furniture story but honesty and giving the customer a fair price will never change,” the Johnson’s Furniture website claims.
Barksdale Federal Credit Union
In 1954, Barksdale Federal was established to serve military and civilian personnel at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City. While continuing to proudly serve the men and women, and their families, of Barksdale Air Force Base, Barksdale Federal now serves over 1,000 companies, associations, and churches. Part of their success is tied to their excitement to “to serve all people who live, work, worship or go to school in Bossier, Caddo, Webster, Grant, Rapides and Allen parishes by providing financial products and service delivery to enhance their economic well-being, including those of modest means.” Barksdale Federal Credit Union was built on that foundation. “That foundation is as important today as it was in 1954 and remains to be what differentiates us from other financial institutions,” according to their website. With assets exceeding $1 billion, they are the largest locally owned credit union in Louisiana.
Joe Cobb began selling barbecue out of the back of his brother Herschel’s meat market in downtown Bossier City 65 years ago. A lot has changed since then, with a new development in downtown Bossier City going up all around its location 203 McCormick Street. The restaurant is an institution among Bossier residents for its simple chopped beef sandwiches. Its decor of wood paneling, photos of high school football teams of the past, funky old booths and advertisements from long ago all add to the ambience of a classic, roadside dive.
Melanie Coleman has taken a family business and pushed it into new heights with Holiday Lanes in Bossier City. Born and raised in Bossier, only five blocks from Holiday Lanes in fact, Melanie moved back to Bossier to run the bowling center hands-on last year after living in Texas for 25 years. Ms. Coleman’s father, Don Coleman, built Holiday Lanes in 1960 after a bowling trip with friends.
“I’ve seen all sorts of different groups and people come together. It’s real community,” said Coleman. “Everybody that works here views the guest in front of them as the best guest that’s ever been here. We treat all our vendors here, each team member that way.”
Tubbs Hardware has deep roots in Bossier City, dating back to the early 1920s. Owner Don Tubbs takes great pride in it being a Christian family-owned and operated store, with locations in Bossier City and Benton. His stores offer customer service that you won’t find online or at any of the big-box stores.
Don Tubbs went to work for Holmes Hardware in Bossier when he was just 12 years old, sweeping the very floors he would eventually own. He then purchased the store when he was 19. Eventually, he built a bigger store at 615 Benton Road, expanding it to include lawn mowers, parts and services, outdoor cooking, rentals, and Cajun gifts.
One thing that attracts people to the store is their specialty selection of Mardi Gras merchandise and King Cakes. Tubbs “X-treme King Cakes” feature an extreme amount of quality fillings. Each King Cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple, green and gold – and delivered in a beautifully decorated box with the history of the king cake printed on the side.
Davis Clothing and Outdoor
Davis’ Clothing and Outdoor opened its brand new retail and warehouse facility in north Bossier City at 4481 Viking Drive in the fall of 2015. The new store is a re-branding of Davis Big and Tall (originally Davis’ Men’s Store) – a 113 year old family business now being operated by 4th generation family members (and brothers), Lee and BJ Davis.
When asked how they’ve seen the retail market change since the early part of the 20th century, Lee Davis told the Bossier Chamber of Commerce that it’s come full circle. “Well, the family has seen the business survive two world wars, the great depression, the Vietnam and Korean wars, recessions, and the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. At the beginning, my Great Grandfather, W.H. Davis, began the business on Texas Avenue in the west end of Shreveport after retiring from the railroad due to an injury caused by an accident. The retail climate at that time was dominated locally by small independent retailers. From that time forward, we have seen competition in the forms of family owned specialty men’s stores, junior department stores, department stores, big box retailers, and now the internet has changed everything with the domination of the e-commerce business by companies like Amazon.”
Red River Chevrolet
Built in 1922 as a Ford dealership, the great grandfather of current owner George Fritze bought it in 1926 and soon added the Chevrolet franchise. In 1931, they dropped Ford, kept Chevy and changed the name to Red River Motor Company. Fritze’s grandfather ran the dealership from 1931 until 1954. His uncle and father filled in until my father took over in 1960 until he retired in 2012. I started working here in 1970 and became a partner and dealer in 1986. My son and son-in-law are now partners with me in the ownership and management of the dealership
Red River Chevrolet is a full-service Chevrolet dealership with headquarters at 221 Traffic Street, two remote used car lots at 207 East Texas Street and 1940 Airline Drive, a fleet and commercial sales lot at 800 Barksdale Blvd.