Richard Zuschlag, Chairman of the Board & CEO of Acadian Companies, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his incredible life journey. Still working full-time, Richard shares his love and admiration for Acadian’s loyal employees who have made the company’s success possible.
Richard came to Lafayette from Pennsylvania in 1970 as a communications engineer for Westinghouse. In 1971, when new federal regulations caused funeral homes to discontinue using their car-based chassis for emergency transport, Richard joined with two friends, Roland Dugas and Richard Sturlese, to form Acadian Ambulance Service in Lafayette Parish. They opened for business on September 1, 1971, at 12:01 a.m., with two ambulances and eight employees. Richard is the only employee left from the early days, yet many of Acadian’s team have been with the company their entire career; the employees and management team are loyal to Acadian’s mission of delivering the highest quality emergency medical support and care.
Over 50 years later, Acadian has grown to approximately 5,000 employees in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Its six subsidiary companies include Acadian Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, Acadian Total Security, National EMS Academy, and Safety Management Systems. Last year, Acadian transported approximately 700,000 people across their four-state region.
Acadian Companies is privately owned and under Richard’s leadership, it became an Employee Stock Ownership Plan known as ESOP in 1993 to allow the employees to share in the company’s financial success.
Over the years, Richard has learned that the heart of Lafayette is one of giving, of faith, and of people helping one another. Listening to his words will inspire any young entrepreneur who is looking to help others by meeting their needs. We thank Richard for sharing his experiences of success, and also for sharing that he has made mistakes and is grateful to have learned what is important in life. It’s also interesting to hear his thoughts on being a young man moving to Lafayette from Pennsylvania in July during our typical 99-degree weather and 100% humidity, and how he quickly grew to love Lafayette, its people, and its culture, including the spicy food!
Richard’s civic work has included fundraising for worthy causes ranging from the Boy Scouts to UL-Lafayette, The World War II Museum, and local schools. Among many, many awards, he has been the recipient of the Lafayette Civic Cup, received the Distinguished Citizen Award, and has been named a “Louisiana Legend” by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. He was instrumental in setting up the first enhanced 911 system in the state which gave the operator both the address and the phone number for persons calling for emergency assistance.
For more information on Acadian Companies, please visit https://acadian.com/.