DENHAM SPRINGS — Opportunity doesn’t always knock.

For many businesses, trying to stay in the game is hard enough -- but the idea of expansion, much less vertical integration, seems to be a chance that’s never presented.

No one knows that scenario better than John Cavalier and his wife, Michelle, owners of Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs. The pair was offered an opportunity to grow in an industry that has seen a necessity for a lot of hard work as integrated companies begin to bear down on local outlets.

“I love it -- I love books, I love the work, I love the challenges, I love our customers, I love working with Michelle every day,” Cavalier said. “The other side (of book sales) is that it can be frustrating. Our economy has seen decades of consolidation within various industries and the book industry is no different.”

With the movement of the market in mind, the couple’s decision was an easy one. Forest Sales and Distributing -- a book distribution company which had been in business for 50 years -- offering up for sale its entire customer database.

Cavalier jumped in with both feet with a chance to broaden horizons -- adding a name to his own distribution company, Looziana Book Co., and relished in the idea of starting from the ground and building something entirely new.

“Since we’ve started the business late last year, we’ve spoken with a huge number of authors, illustrators, publishers, marketers, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, non-profits, civic organizations, local celebrities, government leaders, politicians, and several flat out crazy people!” Cavalier said.

“Where there’s conversation there is opportunity and this is going to broaden our professional and personal network like nothing else.”

There was intent behind the purchase beyond expansion. Cavalier saw a need, and also noticed a difference in the way modern book distribution was handled -- noting that he, and his wife, could work together to bring upgraded services to their new customers.

“Where Forest Sales succeeded was always their strengths in their relationships as well as their incomparable expertise in all things bookish Louisiana,” Cavalier noted.

“Michelle and I are going to be working like crazy to capture as much of that expertise that they built out over 50 years as possible.

“On top of that the areas we’ll be focusing on improving will be streamlining order processing workflows, improving order and back order management for customers, tighter inventory management practices, more robust marketing as well as launching a b2b e-commerce platform for our customers.”

Cavalier said he is hopeful that his new company will serve the entire state of Louisiana, with the express purpose of servicing small-business authors and publishers, just like him.

“There are hundreds of publishers across the state who are producing great books and for them Forest Sales was the business that distributed their titles to the wider market,” Cavalier said.

“The flip side of the homogenization and consolidation of the book industry is that all of the independent thinkers and doers who don’t fit into the molds of the bigger conglomerates are left hungry to create opportunity for themselves and to create their own markets.”

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McHugh David is publisher and editor of the News. He is also a real estate agent. He can be reached at mchughdavid41@gmail.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @mchughdavid41.

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