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Fa-Kouri Construction Business Crosses Six Parishes

Published March 2013: Jacob Fa-Kouri got into the construction business, as many entrepreneurs do, by following in his father’s footsteps. From the time Jacob was a young boy, he and his brothers shadowed their father at construction sites across south Louisiana, doing clean-up work and whatever else he told them to do.

“My father is a master of detail who believes there is no substitution for hard work and on-the-job training,” Jacob Fa-Kouri said. “He made sure his sons learned how to frame, finish concrete, lay brick, paint and do carpentry and trim work, as well as manage a job site.”

After graduating from SLU, Fa-Kouri tried a different career path but quickly realized he missed the gratification of hands-on construction and the pleasure of being outdoors. He returned to construction and has never regretted it.

He built his business literally from the ground up over the past 36 years and today is involved in all areas of construction. He is a general contractor licensed and fully insured in Louisiana. His company, Fa-Kouri Construction, builds, repairs, renovates redesigns and remodels commercial properties as well as single family and multi-unit residential properties. The company also has industrial development and property management and maintenance divisions.

Fa-Kouri Construction crosses six parishes: Ascension, Livingston, East and West Baton Rouge, Iberville and Pointe Coupee. Their work crews will go further afield when requested.

“I like to have different projects in different areas,” said Fa-Kouri.

Fa-Kouri is perhaps best known for his association with the Bass Pro Shops development at Denham Springs in Livingston Parish, an association which came about through unlikely circumstances when he was traveling I-12 one day in 2003.

 “I got caught up in the heavy traffic near the Denham Springs exit,” he said, “and I got to thinking about what could make a positive out of this negative situation. I saw that big tract of vacant land and wondered about the possibilities for using the property at this busy interchange. I got in touch with Carl Guy and Randy Langlois from Advantage Realtors who found the family who owned the property, and we were able to put it under contract. I was thinking it would be a good location for a business like a Winn-Dixie or a Lowe’s; I didn’t know what Bass Pro was at that time.”

Likewise, Johnny Morris had never heard of Denham Springs, but Guy and Langlois were very persuasive in convincing the owner of Bass Pro Shops to come look at the property. Morris came and liked what he saw, and they eventually entered into negotiations to bring the huge retailer to Denham Springs.

The problems Fa-Kouri and Bass Pro encountered are well-documented, and they delayed the project many times. Fa-Kouri was free at any time to walk away and make a deal with someone else, but he stuck it out through four years of legal wrangling and other setbacks.

In explaining his perseverance, he said, “Once I learned what Bass Pro was and how it impacted communities where it locates because of the traffic it draws, I knew it was the right thing to do, not just for me, but for everyone in the region.”

The Bass Pro Shops store opened February 6, 2008, and has become one of the chain’s most successful stores. It is the third largest in the Bass Pro chain and has drawn many businesses to the area including Sam’s Club and numerous restaurants and other businesses. Fa-Kouri still has some parcels available in the complex. Significant to the success of these properties was Richard Huye owner of Tower Credit, whom Fa-Kouri calls his “financial and guardian angel” for helping create the financing for it.

While Fa-Kouri has had great commercial success, he gets immense satisfaction from residential developments and construction. He confided that his passion for homebuilding leads him to build solidly constructed homes which he himself would feel comfortable living in.

The company engages fully energy-efficient practices, and they reuse and recycle materials whenever possible. The crews clean up after themselves every day, and they make it a point to keep the job site clean during construction.

“We’re building starter homes around 1,100 square feet as well as homes up to 4,000 square feet, and we build every house using skilled workers and high-quality materials,” Fa-Kouri stated. “Each buyer has unique needs and deserves the same quality construction regardless of the amount they’re investing. One family’s $100,000 home is just as important to them as a $300,000 home is to another family, so we always do the best we can do for everyone.

“We do custom work, and one of the things I enjoy most is adding a special feature to each home to give them something that other houses don’t have. It might be a feature in the kitchen or master bedroom, but it’ll be something to catch your eye – and we don’t charge extra for doing it.”

Fa-Kouri currently has properties (houses and/or land) available in Spanish Lakes in St. Gabriel, The Village at Magnolia Square in Central, River Landing and Missouri Lakes in Addis, and Lake Pointe in Watson, among others. They also have several houses and lots available for lease/purchase in Sherwood Forest in Baton Rouge.

Fa-Kouri uses several different realtors for his properties because “realtors have different specialties and some know certain areas better than others.”

In addition to new custom construction, the company also offers a variety of services for commercial and residential customers. If a person or business wants to stay in their home or office but it’s just not meeting their needs or is begging for a facelift, Fa-Kouri Construction can perform a total or partial remodel.

“We can do a partial remodel or ‘gut’ it and completely remodel the interior – and exterior, if desired. We take something ugly or with poor functionality and turn it into a structure that is both beautiful and efficient,” said Fa-Kouri. “We can also build additions or separate structures.”

The Fa-Kouri office at 15735 Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge is a prime example of their remodeling work. They took a furniture showroom and warehouse and turned it into an elegant yet comfortable and practical company headquarters.

Entrepreneurs should plan, be conscientious and follow dreams

Jacob Fa-Kouri, owner of Fa-Kouri Construction, shares advice with new entrepreneurs that he follows in his business dealings: “Have a solid business plan so you know where you’re going to end up before you start a project. Do the best you can do in your work, and do what you say you’re going to do. Hold yourself accountable for everything the people working for you do. When finishing a project, turn around and see where you’ve been; did you cover all the bases; was the work done right? Your future success will depend on the reputation you build for yourself. “Treat customers and employees and everyone else with respect, and be fair in your dealings with them. If you do, you’ll earn their loyalty. And finally, don’t let naysayers discourage you from pursuing your dreams.
“One of the remodeling projects that give us the most gratification and is something that’s becoming more in demand is our ‘aging in place’ renovations. Many people as they age want to stay in the home where they raised their family and know their neighbors, but the problems that come with aging can make that difficult,” Fa-Kouri explained. “We go in and make the home’s entrances handicapped accessible, widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, lower kitchen and bathroom countertops, redesign bathrooms with custom showers and more.”

The company offers repair services to remedy damages to structures caused by fire, wind, flood, accidents and other causes. He stated that they fix the problems “but don’t put it back like it was; we make it better.”

Fa-Kouri also buys neglected homes and does everything needed to fix them up. That could mean minor renovations such as painting and new floors or a complete makeover. They look for brick homes for $125,000-$200,000 that they can turn into “what looks like a brand new home.”

“On all our jobs, we consult with our client before we start the work and listen closely to what they want,” said Fa-Kouri. “If they want to do more than their budget allows, we can design the project so it can be done in phases. We don’t meet with the client just once; it’s an ongoing relationship. Whatever the project is, we always do our best work. We’re not perfect, but if we make a mistake we always fix it and fix it promptly. I believe that if you do good work, work will find you. That’s what we’ve built our good reputation on.”

Fa-Kouri also believes in living a full life outside of work and giving back. He supports projects honoring veterans, and has been a sponsor of cystic fibrosis events and local soccer associations, and he won several championships in his seven years as a soccer coach for Catholic High in Baton Rouge. Fa-Kouri Construction is a member of the Capitol Builders Association and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.