Schilling Distributing Co. Inc. is so well known and respected in Acadiana, and the story behind its continued success is fascinating. Its founder, Herbert Eugene Schilling, had been the driving force behind the semi-pro Evangeline Baseball League and owner of the Lafayette White Sox. This league was as well known for its baseball skills as its players’ entertaining antics.
Schilling ‘s friend, Sydney Mouton, was State Manager of Anheuser-Busch and friend through Tennessee Walking horses Herbert kept on his Moss Street farm. Mouton told Herbert about the Anheuser Busch Corporation’s search for distributors and he went to Baton Rouge to learn more. Before the day was over, Herbert had been given a distributorship with the deal being confirmed on a handshake with August Busch. On January 1, 1950, Schilling Distributing Company opened for business in a rented warehouse on Pierce St. With Ira Barilleaux serving as Sales Manager, Alden Roy and Eddie Royer as drivers, and an old army ambulance, Herbert began selling beer.
Schilling built his first facility in 1957 on Stewart Street. In 1962, he expanded across the railroad tracks to the Pinhook location where the company would have rail access, inasmuch as all beer was delivered via rail. Another building next to it was bought to be torn down to create a parking area. After being inside and seeing the cashiers’ unique horseshoe shaped counter, Herbert decided to preserve the building. It has become known as the “Schilling Shack” and is used today for private parties or special events.
Herbert took great pride in his company. He made it his business to know every aspect of the company and was often seen in the market encouraging people to try his beer. The saying then was, “if you drink Budweiser for 2 weeks, you’ll never want to drink any other brand of beer.” Herbert did his best to get out and encourage people to do just that.
In 1971, Herbert Eugene Schilling II, Herbert’s son, graduated from USL with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management, after joining the U.S. Army Reserves. He joined his father’s company as the Sales Manager, quickly moving up to Vice President and General Manager. His mother, Olga Schilling, who retired after 32 years as a professor at the University, became a member of the Executive Board.
A recycling center was added at the Schilling Shack. This program was a part of a nationwide effort by Anheuser Busch and its distributors to clean up the country and provide the community with a place to bring cans in exchange for money. This insured aluminum prices would not increase drastically. The center was recognized twice for its program with the Anheuser Busch “Shining Eagle” award, having crushed over 20 million cans.
In 1980, plans were drawn for a new office, loading dock and mechanic shop. In 1981, Herbert Eugene Schilling died of cancer, never seeing his dream completed; the new complex was built as it had been designed by Herbert Schilling and officially opened on April 10, 1983. August Busch III came down to the opening ceremony and met the wonderful group of employees who had made this operation possible.
Schilling Distributing Co. Inc. has grown from a one-man dream to a multifaceted corporation, enjoying 62 years of success in business. One of the company’s proudest achievements is having a work force of 185 employees with over 1,911 years of combined experience. The company now operates under Herbert and his son, Charles “Buddy” H. Schilling, II.
In 1987, Schilling Distributing Co. Inc. began diversification efforts by building Pelican Park, a multi-million dollar softball complex, one of the finest facilities in the country. At that time, Pelican Park was recognized both nationally and by the Louisiana Legislature, as the “Softball Capitol of the World”. Pelican Park drew thousands of visitors to Acadiana annually, bringing in million of dollars in revenue to the area. In 1991, after much deliberation it was decided that, in the best interests of the Park and the youth of the area, the Park would be sold to the City of Carencro.
In 1988, Herbert E. Schilling II founded the Recycling Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation to provide curbside recycling of paper, glass, and plastics at no charge to the residents of the City of Lafayette. Many cities throughout Louisiana followed Lafayette’s curbside model. The Foundation was sold and is still servicing the residents of Lafayette today.
In 1996, Herbert E. Schilling II purchased two radio stations, 97.3 KMDL and 96.5 KFTE. He changed the name of 97.3 to “The Dawg” which became the No. 1 country station in Acadiana. The easy listening 96.5 was transformed into “Cool 96.5”.
Continuing the tradition of diversification, in 1997 Herbert E. Schilling II expanded into the security industry. In 1997 and 1999, Alarm Detection Incorporated and American Protection Systems, respectively, were purchased by Argus Security L.L.C., a company he started with his partners, Kenneth Hix and Alan Hebert. Their concept of having Acadian Ambulance serve as their dispatcher instantly made Argus the most accepted alarm security provider.
Schilling, Hix and Hebert then partnered with Robert Hanks and Senator Mike Michot to purchase the Broussard Rice Mill in Mermentau, Louisiana in 1999. Since then, they have merged with Eunice Rice Mill, a subsidiary of The Rice Company in Sacramento, California. Utilizing the equipment in Eunice, they have made their mill, now named Louisiana Rice Mill, the largest in Louisiana. Other businesses include International Trucks of Acadiana located in Upper Lafayette, New Orleans and Houma, and Fairway Transportation and Logistics in New Iberia.
Herbert Schilling II’s community involvement includes the development of the Louisiana Open Golf Championship, Lafayette’s premier PGA golf event hosted at Le Triomphe each April, and the formation of the Louisiana Classics, Inc., which was the funding agency for USL/UL Athletics to bring in top competition. He is a member of the Olympic Athletic Club in San Francisco, the oldest athletic club in America and host to the US Open Golf Championship this year. He is an honorary member of the PGA of America, Gulf States Section. He is a member of the Krewe of Louisiana. Mr. Schilling has served as past president of Oakbourne Country Club, and is a member of the UL “S” Club, UL Alumni Association, Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Krewe of Gabriel and the USGA.
Herbert E. Schilling II was the driving force behind organizing Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation and we are grateful for his leadership and stewardship. Thank you Herb and to Schilling Distributing for all you do for our community!
Ed McMahon, Olga and Herbert Schilling atRice Festival in early 1960’s