Leon Szyller, L.A.S., was born in Paris, France, his family was scattered before the onslaught of the Nazi invasion. Leon Szyller, then 16 years old, was sent to America. He graduated from Tulane University and became a teacher. To make ends meet he took on a small job with a home improvement company. Soon Mr. Szyller was working full time as an estimator/salesman.
In 1957, dissatisfied with the company, he began a small home improvement company with the help of his wife, Emma. L.A.S. Enterprises is born.
The 1960’s were an age of mass media. Strong advertising became the way to sell a product. Leon Szyller realized this, and so began a series of advertising ideas which took New Orleans and the Gulf South by storm.
In 1965, Leon Szyller began offering free gifts as incentives for estimates. These free gifts were usually home aids such as kitchen cookware sets. “The public still believes in Santa Claus,” Leon Szyller pointed out.
In July of 1972, Leon Szyller introduced to New Orleans his latest and most unique ad campaign ever. It featured a sad-faced workman staring at the camera with bold-faced type exhorting the public to “Put This Man to Work… this man doesn’t work much in the winter…” This ad campaign caught the public’s eye, and soon L.A.S. was the talk of the town. Customers calling in for estimates would comment cheerfully that they were doing their part to “put the man to work.”
In September of 1973, Leon Szyller began using another slogan; this ad featured a small green creature with large claws and lots of nasty-looking sharp teeth. “FIGHT THE UGLIES!” The ad proclaimed, “Call L.A.S. Enterprises for help with all your home improvement needs.” This unique phrase, coupled with pictures of an “Ugly Monster” sitting on the rotting wood of an old house, became an instant hit. “Fight the Uglies” soon grew to be an L.A.S. trademark; a constant attention-getter even today.
In, August of 1977, the “Fight the Uglies” campaign received a new twist. Along with an estimate, a customer would receive a free t-shirt with a picture of the “Uglies Monster” on the front and the L.A.S. logo on the back. The “Fight the Uglies” T-shirt is still a hot item today for any collector of New Orleans’ unique historical collectibles.
In 1981, Leon Szyller moved his New Orleans office to his newly erected building on the Interstate 10 service road. With its spacious offices and huge warehouse, the new building enabled L.A.S. Enterprises to expand its place as the largest Home Improvement Company the South.
During the late 1980’s, the oil recession and overall decline in Louisiana’s economy hit L.A.S. It was at this time the Szyller family decided to sell L.A.S. Enterprises. In 1989, Mr. Bill Linder became President and majority owner of L.A.S. Enterprises. Mr. Linder had been a resident of the New Orleans area since 1967, having migrated here from Minnesota where he received a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Bill Linder’s many years in the New Orleans area exposed him to the past successes and popularity of L.A.S. Enterprises.
Bill Linder brought Richard Maia, a fellow engineer from W. H. Linder & Associates, as Co-Owner and General Manager of L.A.S. Enterprises. Richard Maia immediately set out to remedy any shortcomings of the old L.A.S. ownership by bringing an engineering perspective. He quickly refocused the company. He redesigned the logo and streamlined the production department. L.A.S. Enterprises soon became a company leading the replacement window market. In 1995, Richard Maia became the sole owner of L.A.S. Enterprises and he fined tuned his vision to include the Gulf Coast emerging needs for storm protection and energy efficiency.
As L.A.S. heads into the new millennium, its focus has been to provide upscale quality products for competitive prices. L.A.S. accomplishes this through in-house manufacturing, thus eliminating the middle man.