By Kirk Johannesen, The Republic senior reporter
George Boudreaux was a small-town pharmacist in Louisiana more than 30 years ago.
Today his name is known nationally because of a skin ointment he made in his store: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.
“I’m the Colonel Sanders of butt paste,” Boudreaux proclaimed Wednesday at Blairex Laboratories.
The Columbus company and Boudreaux’s Family Pharmacy Inc. merged operations May 8. The merger allows Blairex to expand its portfolio of products and Boudreaux to focus on marketing his paste, which aids in treating diaper rash and other skin irritations — and generated almost $9 million in sales last year.
Through his salesmanship, he has convinced mothers, doctors and celebrities of the paste’s healing properties and major retail stores to sell it.
Boudreaux’s path to creating his product started early. He said he was influenced by his mother, who was a registered nurse and a pharmacist at a hospital.
Boudreaux earned a degree in bacteriology from Louisiana State University and a degree in pharmacy from Louisiana-Monroe.
He opened Boudreaux’s Family Pharmacy in Covington, La., and operated it for 16 years.
Boudreaux concocted the paste, which he said is a derivative of something he made in pharmacy school, in the early 1970s to help mothers cure their babies’ rashes. He also used it on his children.
Word of mouth spread the product’s popularity, and eventually local doctors began recommending it to patients.
Word of mouth also led to the paste’s naming.
“We had a pediatrician in our local town that had a patient in one day whose baby had a horrible diaper rash,” Boudreaux said. “He said, ‘Why don’t you let me give you a prescription for that?’ She said, ‘No, I’m going to Boudreaux’s drug store and have him whip up some of that butt paste.’
“He called me laughing and said, ‘You know, you need to name this Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.’”
People outside of Covington soon noticed the product.
“We had people come from miles around and all the circle of pediatricians in our area grew, and grew and grew. It was throughout the state of Louisiana and then I had people in Mississippi,” Boudreaux said.
In 1994, Boudreaux focused on selling the butt paste after selling his drug store.
Boudreaux said he and his wife agreed that if none of their five children became pharmacists that when they turned 50 they would sell the business and hit road in their motor home and see country. Boudreaux kept the rights to the butt paste.
“I always knew that I would like to try to sell it nationwide, and sell it at trade shows and hopefully get into all the major retailers in the country,” Boudreaux said.
He got a manufacturer in Alabama to make the paste, which it did from 1994 to 2003.
Boudreaux stayed busy promoting and selling the product.
He has been on Oprah and ESPN, and sponsored a car in NASCAR’s Busch Series. After appearing on Oprah’s show, demand for the butt paste quadrupled.
Boudreaux said the paste is the fastest-growing product in its category, and in some markets is No. 2. He also said it has more than doubled sales every year for last four years.
The paste costs from $2.42 to $19.99 depending on the container’s size. The paste is available in one-, two-, and four-ounce and one-pound sizes. It’s available in retail stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s and CVS.
“We’ve had a lot of fun along the way. If you have fun while you’re making a living, you can’t beat that,” Boudreaux said.
In 2003, Boudreaux said that one of the local manufacturers in Louisiana had the capability of making the butt paste and was looking to add another product to make in his plant.
An agreement was struck with that manufacturer to make the butt paste.
The paste generated nearly $9 million in sales last year, although $10 million to $12 million was projected before Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, Boudreaux said.
The hurricane rendered the New Orleans plant inoperable.
Blairex President Tony Moravec, who had already shown an interest in acquiring the rights to the paste, contacted Boudreaux and offered help.
Boudreaux said that Moravec asked him to come to Columbus to take a look and the facility. Boudreaux liked what he saw, and for four months the paste was made here.
“They did such a good job that after the storm and after we got back up and running in New Orleans, we had gotten to know each other pretty well, and he had a lot of things I liked up here and had some potential to make some other products. We talked about joining our forces,” Boudreaux said.
The two talked in early January and the deal was stuck earlier this month.
Moravec first learned about Boudreaux and his butt paste a couple of years ago. He thought the paste would be a good complementary product to Blairex’s saline products and had potential for growth.
“We’re trying to grow our business. We’re always looking for products that we can develop internally or make sense to us to acquire and possibly grow based on our infrastructure,” Moravec said.
Boudreaux will remain in Louisiana and focus on selling the paste. Blairex will handle manufacturing.
Boudreaux expects sales of the paste to meet or exceed last year’s goal, in part because it is now being sold in Canada.
Boudreaux also is working on producing more products, such as a lotion and baby powder.
He also wants to get the paste into nursing homes. Boudreaux thinks that could generate more business than the baby side because he said many people need a protective barrier on their skin.