Breaking bread with Albert Lepage

Albert Lepage (MBA ’71) with student Peter Masone (LA ’21)

This spring, along with a select group of students and entrepreneurs, I had the opportunity to join Albert Lepage for lunch.

Mr. Lepage is the retired co-chairman of Lepage Bakeries Inc., a 113-year-old maker of bread and baked goods. He joined the family business in 1971 after receiving an MBA from Tulane. In 2012, he donated $12.5 million to the A. B. Freeman School of Business to establish the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Lepage named diversity and innovation as the key components of growing a successful company. He emphasized the importance of diversity in the workplace because exposure to different backgrounds and cultures fosters innovation and creativity. He also explained that technology is crucial in order to stay competitive and adaptable.

Lepage Bakeries Inc. was one of the first direct-store-delivery (DSD) companies in the nation to equip its drivers with computer software in order to automate the shipping process. Mr. Lepage said he was highly criticized at the time for investing money into this idea, but he explained how it gave his company a competitive edge. A few years later, every DSD company was starting to use the technology system.

During our lunch, he also spoke about the obstacles one faces while running a family business, including conflicts among family members. Mr. Lepage’s father left the business to his children who were active in the business. Albert later bought his siblings out and continued to run the company with his trusted accountant. From 1983 to 2012, he served as chair until the company was purchased by Flowers Foods.

The lunch provided a wonderful opportunity to have an open dialogue with a highly successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. Mr. Lepage is very active in the Tulane community and wants to see the school have a more diverse student population. Mr. Lepage added that there needs to be a stronger focus on providing the resources necessary to enable students from more diverse backgrounds to attend Tulane.

Peter Masone (LA ’21) is a 2019 Lepage Student Fellow at the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.