Courant Turns 25: 1997 – 2022

Little did Darrin Piotrowski know back in 1997, when he was hanging flyers on telephone poles in his neighborhood, that he’d be the CEO of an award-winning technology firm twenty-five years later. He has accomplished this because of his strong work ethic, excellent interpersonal skills, and a penchant for hiring the right staff. Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. began as mostly a home user computer repair business. Courant, as the firm was rebranded in 2021, specializes in providing technical solutions to businesses in the Greater New Orleans Area.

Join us as we take a walk down memory lane. From late nights on Metairie Road to hitting milestone after milestone in the years following, the team has just gotten stronger and there is much to celebrate. Here are some fun facts and stories — one for every year Courant has been in business.

  1. Courant has been around so long that Nick Lauve recalls the days when they would haul a box of spare floppy drives, modems, and RAM to every service call to fix broken computers. Now their time is spent managing cloud apps and cybersecurity, technology that would have seemed futuristic only a few years ago.
  2. Darrin admits that when he started the company, he considered it his side hustle for at least the first year. He loved helping his customers with their (mostly home) computer problems. He and his growing team of techs thrived on new challenges. Their expertise in technology continues to grow.
  3. While he felt tech-savvy, Darrin knew he wanted controlled growth of the company. So he applied, was accepted, and completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in 2013.
  4. After nearly twenty years in Old Metairie, the company moved to the Tulane Avenue Bio-Medical District in 2016.
  5. For a few years, Darrin drove a Mini Cooper that was wrapped with the Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. name and logo. People commented to him frequently that they saw this vehicle all over town. It got to the point that he thought maybe they were confusing it with another nerdy sounding company and their similar vehicles. We’ll never truly know.
  6. Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. was rebranded as Courant in 2021. You can read more about this decision and process (which was fun!) here and here. Note that Courant is pronounced like “current” and is a nod to staying current with technology as well as the Mississippi River current, so vital to our beloved city.
  7. Our phone number remains a tie to our past: 504-454-NERD (6373).
  8. And if you call our number during business hours, you will be greeted by a live person in our office. Courant does not and never has outsourced its answering service or helpdesk. You might be surprised how often that is not the case.
  9. Similarly, Courant is locally-owned, which is also not always the case. We care about the community and are patrons of our own clients. We partner with local businesses for services such as website design and accounting and think it’s important to support local businesses whenever possible.
  10. It follows that for many years, Courant has been a member of StayLocal, which describes itself as follows, “StayLocal is Greater New Orleans’ independent business alliance. We create an environment for local businesses to thrive through research, education, and advocacy.”
  11. Courant recently joined Relative Humanity. Per their website, “Relative Humanity is a community of individuals and small businesses who believe that working together towards a goal of reducing society’s prejudice and inequality can build a healthier environment and stronger sense of community.” Courant supports this goal and hopes you will consider joining this pursuit as well.
  12. Courant has a well above industry average employee retention rate/duration. And it’s not because of the frequent Free Lunch Fridays. Techs mention professional development and the balance between “lighthearted joking around with a hard-working demeanor” as to why they love working at Courant.
  13. It follows that along with employee retention, Courant enjoys long-term client retention as well. You can read or watch some of our clients’ testimonials to learn more about these relationships.
  14. In fact, Courant enjoys a 98% client retention rate. Contact us if you want to fall in love with your IT provider. We are the experts in providing B2B technology, cybersecurity, and communication solutions.
  15. Back to employee retention. One of the core employees from the early years loves Courant so much, he has become a part owner! As we recently wrote, Darrin has partnered with Nick Lauve as the company’s CIO, helping to ensure the future of Courant.
  16. While Courant has won numerous awards, receiving the New Orleans CityBusiness Best Places to Work award has been the most meaningful to Darrin.
  17. Employees enjoy generous holidays and paid time off, up to and including unlimited PTO after a few years! Maintaining a healthy work/life balance has always been part of the office culture.
  18. In keeping with the flexible atmosphere of the office, staff were invited to select their daily start time, meaning early birds and night owls are accommodated.
  19. As a prank, the office (not “The Office,” though close) staff wrapped Darrin’s entire office in clear plastic wrap while he was attending an out-of-town conference. Upon his return, Darrin thought it was hilarious.
  20. That’s not the first time the team pranked Darrin. Cecily Coats, Courant’s long-time office manager, recalls this gem of a story: “We played a prank on Darrin once many, many years ago at the original office on Metairie Road. We had a two-story office so the inside tech would work on computer upstairs. Darrin’s desk was downstairs at the base of the staircase. When the technician walked the computer he worked on down the stairs, he dropped the computer and it went tumbling down. Darrin’s jaw dropped to the ground and started freaking out. We all burst out laughing as we all knew it was a junk computer we had laying around. It was also April Fool’s day so we got him!”
  21. Speaking of Cecily stories, she recounted this from August 2005: “It was a Friday afternoon tradition to run to the bank and then to the drive through daiquiri shop. So, the last work day before Katrina hit Darrin bought us all “hurricane” daiquiris. We had no idea that would be the last time we’d see each other until we all regrouped in Baton Rouge almost a month later. Darrin kept everyone employed and paid throughout the entire ordeal.”
  22. “Some Good News” is the weekly Friday afternoon video meeting that was started during the beginning of remote working in 2020 and it continues even now that the office is a hybrid workspace. The only rule is no work talk! Topics vary from sports to gaming, bird watching, and as good New Orleanians, food. Always food!
  23. When talking with the staff about their experience with Courant, everyone mentions the focus on customer service. That may explain why Courant has won Best Information Technology Company (voted on by readers of New Orleans CityBusiness) every year since 2017.
  24. Courant’s history wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the passing of Tommy Reine. Tommy was a long-time team member who passed away suddenly in 2014. He is missed greatly. Nick recalls being Mid-City neighbors with him and the countless nights they spent playing video games, cooking food, and playing music together.
  25. Nick perfectly summarizes, “In 25 years, we’ve been through booms and busts, hurricanes, recessions, a pandemic, and the constant transformation of our industry.  Through it all, we’ve maintained a great and dedicated staff with a culture of genuinely caring about our clients and genuinely wanting to help them every day.  This job can sometimes be a grind and feel thankless, but Darrin has created a culture that keeps our staff engaged and keeps our clients feeling like partners instead of customers.”


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