James Landis Honored with the Icon Award by CityBusiness

Every year CityBusiness honors business leaders who have had a lasting influence on the city’s economic development.

Employees routinely cite respect, teamwork, flexibility and leadership skills among their top reasons for choosing a company and staying there.

These qualities are just a few that distinguish the Best Places to Work in 2019. The profiles in the following pages provide a snapshot of the benefits and culture that put these companies at the top of employees’ lists and keep them there.

CityBusiness selected honorees in the large company category (more than 50 employees) and honorees in the small business category (fewer than 50 employees).

To compete, companies must submit extensive nomination forms disclosing workforce data such as salaries, benefits, retention levels and employee advancement. The next part of the process involves an anonymous survey of company employees to measure workplace culture.

Also this year, CityBusiness honored 10 business leaders who have had a lasting influence on the city’s economic development and made their mark on the city overall. These ICON Award honorees, through their energy, innovative ideas, achievements and commit- ment to excellence, have moved our community forward.

Congratulations to the 2019 Best Places to Work & ICON Award honorees!

It takes a strong leader to run a company successfully. But it takes a great leader to take that company and seamlessly hand the reins to the next generation.

That’s what James Landis hopes he has achieved by passing down the senior management responsibilities for Landis Construction Company, the firm he ran for more than three decades after taking over for his father, the company’s founder.

Landis now serves as the company’s advisory board chairman. He stepped away from active management four years ago and describes himself as “98% retired.”

“One thing I found interesting when I retired was the number of people, including a close friend, who didn’t think I would really remove myself from the day-to-day operation of the company as quickly as I did,” he said. “We had been planning and preparing for a management transition for several years, and I was — and remain — very confident in our senior management.”

Landis worked on numerous high-profile projects throughout his career but said his most satisfying job was rebuilding Xavier University after Hurricane Katrina. The university’s president at the time, Norman Francis, felt strongly that the school had to open in January 2006, or else face the risk of not returning. “Considering that virtually the entire campus was underwater in September 2005 when he said that, I was not at all certain that was possible,” Landis said. “Our Landis team, along with an outstanding group of subcontractors, got it done.”

The 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair was another career high point for Landis, who helped see to it that the financially-challenged fair opened on time.

Twice in his career, Landis was challenged to keep his employee group together amidst financial adversity and maintain the firm’s core values of integrity and community service.

“Not doing the right thing can be tempting in trou- bled times, but these times are when relationships built on years of fair dealing are most important,” he said.

In addition to spending more time with his wife, four daughters and 10 grandchildren, Landis said his favorite aspect of serving as advisory board chairman is watching the current group of senior managers grow into their leadership roles.

“I truly believe that Landis today is a better company than when I retired,” he said.

— Autumn Cafiero Giusti

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