Angela Guth

BBB’s new president and CEO plans to steer organization more into community outreach

By Gena Latrell
glatrell@americanpress.com

The Better Business Bureau of Southwest Louisiana has a new president and CEO, Angela Guth.

Guth signed on to oversee the BBB about three months ago. Her office handles business questions, concerns and complaints for six parishes — Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vernon.

“I’ve given myself 12 months to learn all of the details that come with this (new title),” said Guth, “but I feel like I’ve learned all of it in two months. It’s been like a crash course. I’m so eager to learn more and more and more about our structure with the Better Business Bureau.”

Guth is from Lake Charles. An alum of Barbe High School, she’s been a community development officer at JD Bank, an accountant at Jones, Tete, Fonti & Belfour, and even an owner of Paparazzi Photo Booths, a company she started with three of her closest friends. She’s also been chairperson of the Better Business Foundation, starting in 2012, which led her to this current role. 

Her workdays involve answering phone calls from concerned consumers,  investigating the latest scams to hit Southwest Louisiana and “spreading the word” about the BBB. 

“Many people think the BBB is government-backed; we’re not. We are a non-profit organization. We serve as an unbiased liaison between businesses and consumers.”

The BBB was formed in 1912 after a group of business owners wanted to find out the truth behind advertising. A 16-member board of directors, including Guth, runs the local BBB; they meet monthly. It is funded – mostly — by the 650 accredited companies listed with this BBB — who pay dues. 

Guth says accreditation with the BBB does not come easily. 

“We do a complete background check on you:  Are you licensed? Are you bonded? Do you have an occupational license? Do you have a contractor license? We search you and your company. We make sure that you don’t have a government action against you . . . we look at complaint history,” said Guth. 

“We have so many databases we can look into to make sure you’re saying what you’re doing. When you get that BBB stamp, we’re backing you up, and people know we have done our homework.” 

Guth also says the accreditation and the accredited companies’ dues don’t cause a conflict. 

“Yes, we are funded by our accredited businesses, but we make sure that they are upholding their standards of trust in creating an ethical marketplace,” said Guth. 

The belief in ethics goes beyond Guth’s work at the office. She’s married to Bryan Guth and has two sons, ages 12 and 14. She says family is priority, and she instills these core values in her children. 

“My first job is being a mother,” said Guth. “I teach my kids to always give. Always help someone in need. I grew up that way, to always help someone in need.”

In addition to this, Guth makes time for service to the local community. She’s volunteered with the Lake Charles Symphony, Women’s Commission of Southwest Louisiana and Volunteer Center of Southwest Louisiana.

What may be her closest and dearest volunteer work is the work she’s done with the Alzheimer’s Association. 

“My dad passed away in May from Alzheimer’s,” said Guth. “He had early onset at age 62. He didn’t necessarily die of the disease; he had an accident. He fell and hit his head. He was put into an induced coma and never came out of his coma. When you’ve got Alzheimer’s and dementia, it’s very hard to come out of that.

“I still raise funds for it,” said Guth. “I still have the little pinwheels and go and put them in a friend’s yard and say, ‘Now, you have to pay me a hundred dollars,’” said Guth, laughing. 

She is also involved with the Kiwanis Club where she oversees the “Golden Rule” program in which they reward one child in each of the schools in Calcasieu Parish a medal, certificate and bag of goodies — to celebrate their “being kind and treating others how they would like to be treated.”

With her volunteering and community-service background, Guth brings a lot to her position at the BBB, and she said she would like to take the BBB in a bit of a new direction. 

“We want to do more outreach in our community,” said Guth.

The local BBB will be offering free shredding services for Calcasieu Parish — on National Secure Your ID Day with the BBB –  9 a.m.-noon Oct. 13 at Prien Lake Mall. They have a Smart Teen program, where she goes to speak to high school students about banking and other fiscal challenges before graduation. She wants to increase the amount of Lunch and Learns, where employers send their staff to the BBB office to learn about different aspects of business. 

According to Guth, the busiest time for the BBB is after a hurricane. People are calling to find out whether or not a business is legitimate because of what she calls “Hurricane Hunters,” people who want to take advantage of others after a storm. 

“There are so many criminals out there that will go after the most vulnerable people, but anyone can be scammed,” said Guth.

According to Guth, the need to be vigilant against scams is constant, and helping others not experience these crimes is something she’s committed to – both professionally and personally. 

“Consumers are scammed every day. A lot of them call and say, ‘I got this in the mail or I saw this or can you tell me if this company is legitimate?’” said Guth. 

“If we can say, ‘No, they’re not; do not engage in another phone call with this person. They’re trying to scam you;’ and they say, ‘Oh, thank God I called you,’ that’s a good day for us; that’s a very good day.” 

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BBB in Lake Charles, La., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

RickHickmanPhotographer
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png
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BBB in Lake Charles, La., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

RickHickmanPhotographer
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png

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