By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – To most of the residents in St. Tammany Parish, A.G. Crowe is the outspoken Christian lawmaker who has served in the Louisiana Legislature for nearly 15 years.
Crowe won his first term as a state representative in 2000, then after serving eight years, ran for Louisiana Senate and moved to that side of the Baton Rouge legislative hall, where he has served for seven more years.
But Crowe is no different than most people and has to make a living for his family, something that a state legislator cannot do simply by voting on state laws.
After Crowe graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a Business Administration degree, he ventured into the world of selling business products, something that would eventually lead him down an interesting path resulting in his own record storage business—The File Depot–which has developed into a national franchise with locations across the country.
Crowe developed a name in the St. Tammany Parish business world when he came home to open his own business products store—STOP (St. Tammany Office Products.)
That transitioned into X’press Imaging, a Xerox agency, and later opened the door into an industry Crowe admitted he never knew existed.
“I would have clients occasionally talk to me about where they stored all their records, especially doctors or health care professionals who had a lot of records,” he said. “When I talked to people about how records were stored I usually heard that they rented space to keep dozens of boxes of records.”
Crowe began to think more about the business and thought it might be a side line for him.
“I was going to use some extra office space I had, or build a mini-storage with the idea of offering it as space to store records,” he said. “I never knew any other kind of records storage industry existed.”
It was a consultant to Xerox who helped turn the light bulb on for Crowe.
“I had one small office space I owned and wasn’t able to rent out because of the location, so this fellow asked me to see the place. We walked in and he pulled out a tape measure, checking the width, length and height of the room. I had told him I was trying to get $1,000 a month to rent it and he said I could get $3,000 a month by storing records there,” he said.
Crowe jumped into the business, quickly renting a much larger space that had been a grocery store on Pontchartrain Drive.
“Within three months we were making a profit simply by storing records there,” he said.
Not only did Crowe store them, but he learned the real process for the business.
“We bar code everything so you know just where every box is and what is in it,” he said. “We can find any records you have in minutes and deliver them to your business. We also offer shredding services.”
Fast forward almost 15 years and Crowe has taken The File Depot to a national level. He went through the process to begin franchising his business, and now has 35 locations in nine states, with prospects for 140 more File Depot locations in the country.
There is still a File Depot in Slidell, but Crowe sold his original business to a local man, Wayne Labit, who operates the records storage business off Carnation Street, while Rob Perry operates The File Depot now in western St. Tammany Parish, set up in Abita Springs.
Crowe said he has done his best to live his life in the direction God has sent him, ever since he became a Christian as a nine-year-old boy at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in the Ninth Ward, where he grew up with six brothers and sisters.
“I remember being 9 and having a real life-changing experience in church,” he said. “After that I was never a wild kid. I was active in the Baptist Student Union in college and I never really strayed from the Christian life.”
He met his wife, Linda, in the Student Union at Southeastern and admitted, “I loved her country voice.” The couple has now been married 41 years and has two children and six grandchildren.
“I’ve tried to maintain my priorities throughout life—God first, then family and then my job,” Crowe said. “I go with the flow of the Holy Spirit. God always has a reason for what he leads you to do, and this business I now have is a perfect example of that. It sure turned out to be more than a small blessing.”
As for his public service career, Crowe wasn’t exactly planning that until he was appointed to the St. Tammany Parish School Board to serve out an unexpired term. That created an interest in public office and he ran for the La. Senate in 1989 before winning his second election with the Louisiana House of Representatives victory in 2000.
He has developed a reputation in the Louisiana Legislature as an outspoken Christian lawmaker who has authored numerous bills in support of family values.
Currently he is the president of the Louisiana International Deep Water Gulf Transfer Terminal Authority, a planned Louisiana port off the state coast that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the region. An announcement is planned soon about the final details for the terminal that will bring hundreds more container ships to Louisiana.
Crowe has been an 11-time recipient of the Patrick Henry Award for family values voting in Louisiana and has been named Legislator of the Year eight times from various organizations.
He has also received the “Gladiator” award for 10 years of 100 percent family values voting record, as selected by the Louisiana Family Forum.