When recently asked to comment on the start of his career Mr. Guidry, known to many as Bobby, took the audience back to 1958, when during school vacations as a boy of only 12, he worked 60 miles off shore on a tug boat owned by his father. His duties, during the 14 day long shifts at sea included being a deckhand, oiler, and cook. In 1963, after high school, he went to work full time helping to run the family’s tug business; something he would do for the next 45 years.
In a classic tale of American bootstrapping entrepreneurial success, Bobby Guidry started earning $300 a month from the tug business. With his monthly rent at $90.00, car note at $50.00, and a wife and child at home, his finances were extremely tight. But Bobby and his brother preserved and built the family business over the decades to become the clear industry leader with a fleet of offshore vessels unmatched in quality and power.
In sharing what he was most proud of regarding the years at Harvey Gulf International Marine, Bobby said, “it’s really two related achievements, first we avoided having any significant debt on the business, which in turn allowed us always to be profitable from 1963 to 2008.”
When asked if the profit record was ever in jeopardy given all the ups and downs of the oil business his answer shocks most. “No, in fact, we were profitable every single month; that’s 490 consecutive months of profitability in the oil field business; not too many companies can match us on that one.”
With a great sense of timing that had always marked his career, Mr. Guidry, and his family sold Harvey Gulf International Marine to a New York private equity fund in August of 2008 only weeks before the financial crisis gripped the nation.
When asked about the keys to his success in business his response flows quickly, “I worked harder than my competitors. When most others were asleep, I was already at work, when others were off playing on a Friday afternoon, I was still making sales calls or at the shipyard making sure our boat was first back into the water ahead of our competitors”. He went on to say that “without my brother and my loyal employees, the businesses would have never achieved the success we enjoyed.”
While Robert Guidry might be best known for Harvey Gulf International Marine, he has enjoyed tremendous success as a businessman spanning multiple industries that include Maritime, Real Estate Development, Hospitality, Gaming, and Lodging.
His career now spans six different decades and has seen him develop relationships with some of the world’s most recognizable and respected corporations including Shell Oil, Chevron, Texaco, GE, Caterpillar, Marriott, Wyndham Worldwide, Hilton, and IHG.
Being in his sixties and wealthy, many may choose to slow down, but not Bobby; he is working as hard as ever on new ventures. In 2013, Mr. Guidry started acquiring hotel development sites in key destinations in the Southeast United States. In 2014 and 2015, he was awarded Marriott franchise rights to build and operate hotels under their internationally recognized brands of Residence Inn, Town Place Suites, and Spring Hill Suites. Mr. Guidry has also has been approved to own properties flagged by Hilton, IHG, and Radisson.
Two notable hotel projects underway are an urban 250 room Residence Inn in New Orleans, and a unique dual-branded single building 330 room resort located near the gates of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. These two projects represent $100 million in development costs and will serve as the foundation of Guidry Enterprises’ drive to create a diversified portfolio consisting of nationally recognized branded hotels in carefully selected markets like New Orleans and Orlando where multiple demand drivers are present.
In 2009, Mr. Guidry and his brother became owners of Emerald Grand Resort and Harbor Walk Village, one of Florida’s finest mixed-use developments located in Destin, with an original development cost of $300 million and being comprised of 293 room keys, 6 restaurants, 8,000 sq ft of meeting space, a 100 boat slip marina, 120,000 sq ft of retail space, and a world-class spa. In 2014, Mr. Guidry financed the construction of a 22,000 sq ft Jimmy Buffett’s Margaretville restaurant in Destin, Florida.
In 2005, Mr. Guidry built Fountain Park Centre a 20-acre commercial development in Harvey, Louisiana that is home to four additional Guidry Enterprises businesses Parrot Pete’s, Salon Le Rouge, Royal Palm, and Exclusive Fitness.
In an effort to give back to the communities around him, Mr. Guidry established the Robert J. Guidry Foundation in 2015. Saying of his foundation, Mr. Guidry stated, “This is an opportunity for me to fund worthwhile charitable projects. I have been blessed in my business life with financial success. I plan to share my good fortune with those less fortunate through this Foundation.”