The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
When the civil engineering company Ron Arceneaux worked for downsized in the ‘80s, he knew the logical choice was to strike out on his own.
“It was a matter of survival,” the Port Arthur native said. “And I felt I had a good enough reputation to get some work on my own.”
With the support of his wife, Susan, Arceneaux opened Arceneaux & Gates, his multidisciplined civil engineering firm, on June 6, 1988. In the company’s early years, Arceneaux had a staff of only five people.
“It’s been slow but manageable growth,” he said.
Today, that staff has expanded to 30. In February of this year, Arceneaux & Gates relocated from their previous site to the Community Bank building, 2901 Turtle Creek Drive, Suite 320.
Arceneaux said the decision to move was a difficult one, since his office at 3501 Turtle Creek Drive was where he got his start.
“It was a tough choice, because it was where I had always been,” he said at the company’s Wednesday open house. “We met with an architect to formulate a plan, but there wasn’t enough space available at our old office. Finally I threw my hands up and said, ‘Let’s look for something else.’”
He found the perfect space for his rapidly expanding business. Photos of Arceneaux playing bass guitar in his band, Longneck Road, adorn the wall, as well as him backstage with Billy Gibbons, lead singer of ZZ Top.
“He was in heaven at that concert,” Susan Arceneaux laughed.
“They were good guys,” Arceneaux added. “I used to help unload their gear every now and then.”
And of course, he didn’t forget Port Arthur’s finest. The suite’s two conference rooms are named for city founder Arthur Stillwell and legendary musician Janis Joplin.
“I had an office competition to name our two conference rooms,” Arceneaux said. “I didn’t want to suggest anything, but I had in my mind that I wanted to honor Arthur Stillwell, and I also wanted to honor our rich music tradition in Southeast Texas. The best two I got were those two.”
Arceneaux & Gates has been successful because the city knows it can rely on them, Arceneaux said.
“I think our business grew because of quality service and name recognition, and a lot of opportunities that came our way,” he said.
One of those opportunities was Hurricane Ike, Arceneaux said.
“The disaster relief that Port Arthur and other communities have gotten has been a tremendous boon for our business,” he said. “After Hurricane Ike, there was a lot of federal and state assistance that was available, but the city had to act quickly. They called upon us, and we pretty much dropped what we were doing to help them.”
Opportunity came knocking again in 2009, when President Barack Obama and Congress authorized the stimulus package.
“Again, the city asked us to help them in a very significant way,” Arceneaux said. “We dropped things that we were doing and concentrated on what their needs were, and we got them a $15 million grant to improve their sanitary system in town.”
The city of Port Arthur can expect to see Arceneaux & Gates at their new location for years to come.
“When there’s a crisis, we think we’re most qualified to help our clients out,” Arceneaux said. “I’m here for the long haul. We’re always going to be in Port Arthur, no matter what.”