William Billy Bellefontaine Brown Eagle
Brown Eagle President William "Billy" Bellefontaine.

Executive Spotlight: Billy Bellefontaine

As seen in the Baton Rouge Business Report

Position:  President
Company: Brown Eagle Contractors
Age: 62
Family: Wife, (Dana), children (Danielle Fazio and spouse Frank, William and spouse Laura, and Blake), and two grandchildren (Fitz Fazio and Townes Bellefontaine)
Hometown: Hopewell, Virginia
Education: B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

In The News:

In November, Billy Bellefontaine was named the new president of Brown Eagle Contractors. He previously worked at Dow Chemical as a supply chain expertise director and comes from a family line of chemical engineers. As a new leader in the company, Bellefontaine will aggressively go after new opportunities in the petrochemical industry.

The Q&A:

What was your very first job, how old were you and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?  

The Piggly Wiggly in Jonesboro at the age of 16. I originally worked in the meat market and unloading trucks before school. Eventually I moved to bagger, stocker and then produce.  My biggest takeaway was that if you do every job to the best of your ability you will eventually be recognized and advance.

What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?

I typically get up around 4:30 a.m. My typical morning routine is to drink a large cup of coffee, eat something light, read the paper and scan through my e-mails.

As the new president of Brown Eagle Contractors, what are your top priorities for your first year on the job? 

My first priority is to implement a strategy aimed at aggressively growing opportunities in the petrochemical industry while maintaining Brown Eagle’s core values of safety and quality. The petrochemical industry continues to grow rapidly and we want to provide the best supply chain value on the Gulf Coast. We will always provide our customers with the best value and continue to recognize that people are our greatest assets.

You’re bringing to this role more than four decades of experience in engineering, logistics and supply chain management, previously serving as Dow Chemical’s supply chain expertise director. What lessons have you learned throughout your career that you think will help in this new position? 

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce benefit everyone and business. After working around the world in many different cultures and types of companies, I saw how diversity and inclusion work to accomplish the goals and vision of your company or group. The best ideas and innovations come from partnerships and conversations with the entire workforce.

For those who aren’t familiar with Brown Eagle Contractors, tell us a little about the company and describe your role. 

Brown Eagle has a 50+ year history of service to industry and dedication to the chemical industry. Brown Eagle is dedicated to safe and environmentally friendly operations of the highest quality through our commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. We plan to accomplish this with flexibility and adaptability to our customers’ needs and providing the best long-term value.

What’s your strategy for maintaining a healthy work-life balance? 

Work-life balance can be difficult, and it doesn’t always happen as planned. Recognizing that family must always come first is necessary. To me, if your home life is not good, then your work life can’t be good.

What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way? 

Positivity. It is always easy to point out the negatives, we do it all the time as parents or easy chair coaches, but finding and pointing out true positives in every situation is an art.

What’s something about your job or company that might surprise people?

It is a 100% woman-owned business. Owner Lela Mae Wilkes served on the leadership team for a decade before becoming CEO for many years, then the owner. She is an expert on the company, people and this business.

What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?

I love playing with my grandchildren, reading, traveling with my wife, playing golf and hunting.

What are your best productivity hacks?

Wake up early, simplify the information streams and be passionate about what you do.

What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it? 

In 1984 I was laid off in the paper industry after working for more than nine years. Job opportunities were limited without a secondary education, so with the help and support of my wife, I went to school and earned my chemical engineering degree.

What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? 

Besides land, probably sports memorabilia pre-1990.

What’s one of the dumbest?

A boat.

Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook? 

My dad. He was also a chemical engineer that rose to an executive position in the paper industry. While I chose to pursue a career in the chemical industry, his traits of treating people with respect, working hard and efficiently, and managing work-life balance with six children has always guided and inspired me throughout my career.  My wife and mother have also had tremendous impacts on my career and successes.

You’ve been asked to put together a short playlist of about five songs at a party. What are we going to hear? 

Kentucky Rain (Elvis Presley), Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison), Let It Be (Beatles), More Than A Feeling (Boston), Home (Phillip Phillips).