Letterman’s New Orleans branch like a homecoming

Letterman’s Blue Print & Supply was ready in early 2005 to open a location in New Orleans, where the owners’ roots lay. All the company needed to do was lock down the office space.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit and put that plan on hold indefinitely, New Orleans area manager Chuck Perret said. At least that’s what the Perret family thought.

Just four months later, Letterman’s opened a new office at 2475 Canal St.

“We had kind of always planned to open a New Orleans location. That’s where my parents (Lynn and Charles Perret Jr.) are from,” Perret said. “So it was kind of like going back home.”

Letterman’s actually made the initial move to New Orleans at the request of McGraw-Hill’s construction division. McGraw-Hill, like a lot of other companies, had been flooded out. Only days after the storm, the firm asked Letterman’s for help getting back into business.

Letterman’s leaped at the opportunity. The firm’s first New Orleans office was stationed in a few mobile trailers that McGraw-Hill trucked in.

Letterman’s spent the months after the storm churning out the historic plans and drawings of buildings that were being refurbished or rebuilt. The company spent a lot of time in seminars with large companies, including Wal-Mart, and trying to get job information into the hands of subcontractors. This work was piled on top of the business that was pouring in to Baton Rouge as companies relocated.

Still, it wasn’t long before Letterman’s realized it wanted a permanent New Orleans location. The company found some space for lease in a Canal Street building, which had flooded but was being renovated.

The New Orleans office is now Letterman’s second-largest, with seven employees.