Men of Iberville: Local architect has lots of irons in the fire
Sometimes the people who become the most successful, hardworking, and passionate were not necessarily the top students of their class. Brad Guerin is unabashedly that person.
"Going to high school, I didn't graduate top of my class," Guerin said. "I was one that could've done a lot better in school, but just worked hard when I got out."
It only makes sense then, that his company, Fusion Architecture's, scholarship offers opportunities not to the very top students in the parish, but rather to the ones that may be ready to kick it into gear upon moving to the next level.
"Over time I've given out more than fifteen $500 dollar scholarships to the seniors graduating in our parish, both in the private and public schools but not targeting the top graduates in the class. More the at-risk students that need the help."
Some of the better known sites his company is responsible for include MSA West, the Waterfront Park, and the White Castle Community Center. But Architecture is not the only work Guerin knows. He tells of his time stacking copies of the Post South hot off the press when he was just a boy, and the smell of newspaper in the office brings back memories.
"I just thought about that when I walked in and I smelled newspapers," he said.
Moreover, he recalls painting with his parents at the Iberville Arc as a boy and was touched by his experience with a renovation project there more recently.
Guerin's architectural firm has brought him much success, but he cares deeply about the future of Plaquemine. And his civic service and company's focus more or less proves that. His company has worked on over two hundred projects in the area's school sector.
"My passion has always been trying to invest back into our future and the kids," Guerin said. "My firm probably specializes in education architecture more than anything else. We've done a couple hundred projects over 17 years."
Guerin added that he's had over 100 students visit his office and do job shadowing during the day to see what it's all about.
"The things that I'm telling you today about scholarships, donating to school systems, to the churches," he said, "I can tell you our firm has probably donated three quarters of a million dollars. That we've done jobs for free. We've never done it in any way, shape, or form to get any recognition. That's not who I am."
He said although he was dressed nicely for the interview, he would feel more comfortable in a pair of blue jeans. He wasn't always going to be an architect, either. But when he got to LSU, he said he switched his major to architecture, and that's where he stayed.
"I had it in my mind like most people here that I was going to be an engineer," Guerin said. "It was instilled in all of us."
Sometimes things come full-circle, and recently Guerin ran into his high-school geometry teacher, who was one of his favorites. He was working on a school project and ran into his former teacher, who remembered him and took him around introducing him as her star pupil. He laughed.
Guerin's work in the private sector eventually spilled into the public arena. For instance, he served on the Iberville Chamber of Commerce Board for more than 10 years and as chair of the chamber. He does a few other things like that, too.
"I've been the President of the Main Street Board for the City of Plaquemine over 10 years, and I'm still on that board. I'm on the Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Plaquemine now, and I serve on the Krewe of Comogo Board."
His company puts a float in the parade. Krewe of Comogo parades each year in memory of Brenda Comeaux, who passed away of cancer and wanted to see a mardi gras parade ride in Plaquemine.
"One of the brothers, Edward Earl Comeaux has taken on building all of the floats," Guerin said. "They've got some of the nicest floats that I've ever seen."
Next, someone sitting on the Main Street Board would have to be invested in the past, present, and future of a city. In fact, Guerin said his daughter, Claire, is a fifth-generation student at St. John school. He also discussed the need for the new bridge to come to the parish and said it would be a "game changer."
"The Parish President has already said there's a bridge connecting the parish above us, there's a bridge connecting the one below us. We need that bridge here."
Next, Guerin's daughter suffers from Crohn's disease, so he and his wife Shawn are also passionate about helping others with Crohn's. He and a group of people who share that passion to offer support for those suffering from Crohn's disease, colitis, and autism will be hosting a fundraiser on July 18 at the Civic Center.
"It's actually with a group of friends," he said. "We formed a board and are calling the event Sportsmen Supporting Crohn's, Colitis, and Autism. We're going to raffle off a boat, and the money will go towards sending children to Crohn's Camp."
Guerin said he's the owner of six business's in total, and he would like to retire one day. But he still has "a lot of irons in the fire."
"I don't need to go to a 'career day' and tell people to be architects," he said. "I say work hard, do something you like, and treat people good."