International Rice Festival announces 2015 Honoree

CROWLEY – Herbert E. Schilling II, known as “Herbie” to his friends, has been chosen as Honoree of the 2015 International Rice Festival, according to Troy Perry, festival president.

This year’s festival dates are October 15-18.

Herbie was born in Lafayette on Oct. 12, 1949. He was the only child of Herbert and Olga Richard Schilling.

Herbie’s mother was from Jeanerette.  She was a 1932 graduate of SLI and received her master’s degree from LSU.  She was a professor at SLI/USL for 34 years.

His father came to Lafayette in the late 1920s to play baseball. By 1932, he was co-owner of the Lafayette White Sox, and then became a co-founder of the Evangeline League. The elder Schilling was involved with baseball until he was called to serve his country during World War II at the age of 37.  After the war, he returned to Lafayette to discover that the Evangeline League and his team were no longer a viable business option. He was presented the opportunity in 1949 to become an  Anheuser-Busch (“AB”) wholesaler, who brewed only Budweiser and Michelob beers at that time. 

Schilling Distributing opened its doors Jan. 1, 1950.  

“Herbie” is a 1972 graduate of USL with a degree in business management. He was a four-year letterman on the USL golf team that won the Gulf State Conference Championship in 1971 and played in the NCAA II Championship in Chico, California.

He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Army Reserves and when he returned from active duty went to work in the family beer business.  

Schilling’s father died in 1981 and it became necessary for him to take over leadership of the company. He was required by his father to work in every position and division of the company starting with summers off during high school and while attending college. His degree in business management and his working knowledge of all divisions of the company served him well as he moved from sales manager to general manager, vice president and president.

Under his leadership, Schilling Distributing achieved the inaugural Ambassador of Excellence award from Anheuser-Busch in 1981. Only six distributorships out of 1,470 distributors nationwide received this honor. It was awarded for overall performance in every facet of the company which did not include sales criteria.

August Busch III, the 1965 Rice Festival Honoree, came to Lafayette to present the award at the Grand Opening of the new Schilling facility on  Pinhook Road on April 9, 1983.

Schilling was selected to serve on the prestigious AB Wholesale Advisory Panel in 1983. There were 15 wholesaler principals selected out of the 1,470 wholesalers in the country at that time. He was then elected chairman of the Advisory Panel in 1985 by his fellow panel members. He was, and still is, the youngest chairman ever elected. This position required meeting with Busch and his management team every three months. The education from that one year rivaled four years of college. 

Schilling has grown Schilling Distributing from a 1 million case annual volume in 1981 to over 4 million case volume. He opened the present office and warehouse at 2901 Moss St. in 2003. It is worth noting that the location was his father’s farm, which was purchased in 1933.

A recent addition of 42,000 square feet of warehouse has just been completed providing a total of 104,000 square feet of controlled environment warehouse space and over 180,000 square feet with ambient area, office and mechanic shop. 

He has expanded the products distributed from exclusively AB beers to over 200 brands of beer, non-alcoholic products, water, along with a varied selection of wine and spirits. 

In addition to his leadership role in Schilling Distributing, Schilling has proven to be an active entrepreneur. He has started many different businesses beginning with the building of Pelican Park in Carencro. The park opened in 1987 as the premier softball complex in the United States, and his development of that facility led to his induction in the USSSA Hall of Fame.

From that starting point, he purchased two local radio stations, and changed their formats along with personnel. They are now known as “The Dawg” and “Planet Radio.”

Currently, he is part owner of various other business entities and serves on their board: Louisiana Rice Mill, L.L.C.; Fairway Logistics, L.L.C.; Acadiana Waste Services, L.L.C.; iTA Truck Sales and Service, L.L.C./Idealease, with locations in Houma, New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Lafayette.

Of course, his partnership in Louisiana Rice Mill, LLC, is the reason he is being honored. His association with the rice industry and his relationship with all the rice mills in Acadiana began under the tutorship of his father. Mermentau Rice, Inc., forerunner to Louisiana Rice Mill, was established in 1999. The partnership consisted of Isaac “Butch” Hanks, Bobby Hanks, Alan Hebert, Kenny Hix, Vic Segura, Senator Mike Michot and Schilling. 

He has also been involved in various non-profit organizations. In 1980, he resurrected the Louisana Open State golf tournament. He then founded The Louisiana Open, Inc., a non-profit organization that runs the Chitimacha Louisiana Open’s Web.Com Tour, which is the pathway to the PGA Tour. Since 1986, the tournament has donated a total of over $4 million to charities in the Acadiana area such as Boys & Girls Club, Hospice of Acadiana, Inc., Children’s Museum, Hearts of Hope and Louisiana CASA to name a few.

He also started the Recycling Foundation, which provided curbside recycling to residents of the city of Lafayette.

As a lifelong resident of Lafayette, community has a strong influence on Schilling’s decision to become involved in community organizations that positively affect the growth of Lafayette and the Acadiana area. He was a founder of the Upper Lafayette Economic Develop Foundation. He is a member of the CEO Advisory Board of the newly formed One Acadiana that serves nine parishes, and a member of Blueprints Louisiana. He is also a member of Mystic Krewe of Louisianians and Krewe of Gabriel. 

Schilling is a member of the Oakbourne Country Club. He served as the Greens Committee chairman in 1984, president in 1985, and was responsible for the construction of the redesigned course that exists today.

He is also a member of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Beer Industry League of Louisiana and the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association.

Being an avid golfer, Schilling is a member of The Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco, Edgewood Tahoe Golf Club on Lake Tahoe, and Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, South Carolina.

He is married to Renee Vidrine Schilling from Galliano, a graduate of Louisiana State University. They are members of St. John’s Cathedral Catholic Church. They have a blended family of eight children and 17 grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and one step-great grandchild.

Those that know Renee Schilling credit her for Herbie’s success — and you will receive no argument from him.

Schilling will be recognized at the International Rice Festival Honoree Social and Queen’s Ball to be held Sept. 19 at the Rice Festival Building. 

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