About Empire of the Seed

Empire of the Seed is a company that trusts in preserving and regenerating the best of the past while contributing to a clean, sustainable future. The company believes that diversity of ideas leads to a diversity of activities and cultural enrichment that enhances our community. The name and logo were conceived during the formative discussion of the Coastal Plain Conservancy (CPC), a non-profit whose purpose is to preserve the lands that define the coastal plains’ distinct landscape. Tall native prairie grasses once sprawled across the southern plains of Louisiana. Long leaf pines continued from Virginia to East Texas. These pines would allow squirrels to travel the expanse without ever touching the ground. Wild bison roamed the area before man, but not for long. Empire of the Seed, and its distinctive logo, were born from these images.

Empire of the Seed is an umbrella organization that includes preservation of older buildings for adaptive reuse, such as the Lake Charles Calcasieu Marine Bank (originally opened in 1928) and the nearby Cash & Carry building (circa 1936). These two buildings act as the host for creative individuals, functions and projects for the preservation and creation of cultural events. Such events include a farmers’ market, art shows, weddings, social gatherings, and public service development initiatives for Lake Charles’ downtown and lakefront.

We are proud to be associated with the CPC, McNeese State University and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Louisiana Native Plant initiative to find, nurture and restore to commercial production, indigenous plant varieties that were all but lost by neglect.

Within this umbrella organization are also consulting projects involving energy and business development in both Southwest Louisiana and the nation at large.

Oliver G. “Rick” Richard

Oliver G. “Rick” Richard, III Mr. Richard was Chairman, President and CEO of Columbia Energy Group until its acquisition on November 1, 2000. Richard ran this $7 billion Fortune 500 Company since joining Columbia Energy Group’s predecessor, The Columbia Gas System, Inc. in April, 1995. Columbia’s primary business encompassed the natural gas value chain from wellhead, pipeline to distribution. The company also owned the Cove Point LNG facility. Previously, Richard served as Chairman, CEO and President of New Jersey Resources; as President and CEO of Northern Natural Gas Pipeline; and as Vice-President and General Counsel of Tenngasco.

Richard was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the United States Senate to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as a Commissioner from 1982-1985. He received the FERC Chairman’s Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Secretary of Energy for his role in unbundling Interstate pipeline markets to create economic opportunities in natural gas markets.

Before joining FERC, he served as legislative assistant for energy issues to U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La) in Washington, D.C. from 1978-1981. He practiced tax law in Lafayette, Louisiana with the firm of Hayes, Durio, and Richard from 1981-1982.

Richard is past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and on the Board of Visitors of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communications, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. He was inducted into the Louisiana State University Hall of Distinction in 2009 and received the Law Center’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010 and Distinguished Alumni in 2011. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of Haddington Ventures and on the Board of Buckeye Partners, MLP in Houston, Texas. Richard is currently treasurer of the Coastal Plains Conservancy and Past President of the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana.

He has served three terms as a member of the National Petroleum Council, an advisory body to the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Chairman of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; and on the Boards of Directors of the American Gas Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is on the Board of Directors of three publicly traded companies: American Electric Power, Buckeye Partners, L.P., and Cheniere Energy Partners.

While at Louisiana State University, he earned a B.A. in Journalism and a Juris Doctorate of Law. He also received a Master of Law in Taxation from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Richard is past Chairman of the Lake Charles Downtown/Lakefront Development Board, member of the Lake Charles North Redevelopment Board, Executive Committee Member of the Calcasieu Boy Scout Council, Board Member of the Sowela College Foundation Board in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In June 2014, he was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America.  He is currently the Chairman of CleanFuel USA, an alternative motor fuel company based in Georgetown, Texas, and President of Empire of the Seed Consultants. He resides in Lake Charles, Louisiana with his wife, the former Donna Guzman. They have one son, David.

LSU Alumni Profile – The Odyssey of Rick Richard