LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Strong and sure are two words that describe Deborah Alleman today, but it’s been a journey of growth and self-discovery for the woman running an international oilfield equipment company.
“So this August will be 14 years that my husband had a stroke,” Alleman says.
Debbie’s husband Pat was 52 when he died.
She was a happy stay-at-home mom of two young men. Her oldest son was in his second year of college at LSU, and her second son was still in high school.
Suddenly, she found herself at the helm of a company her husband had owned since the late 1970s.
Debbie recalls, “I had been in business with him before and just to run the inside office part, but when he died, that’s our livelihood and it was like jump in with both feet forward and go forward.”
She did just that and assumed what, at the time, was a very uncomfortable leadership role.
“I was definitely stepping outside of my comfort zone. Again, my husband was the outgoing one. I was, even when I was younger, the shy quiet one, just stay in the background, really didn’t say a lot,” she said. “He spoke for me. And I used to laugh and joke with him all the time because running a home with children… and he was always at the office and I’d say well you have a team. But now that I’d got into his shoes so to speak, it was completely different from you have a team. It’s that you are the leader of that team and stepping out of that comfort zone, and I did. I was having anxiety attacks every time I had to go into someone’s office.”
Now she is preparing to turn the reins of the business she has nurtured over to her oldest son, but he had to earn them.
“He came into hole opener, put on his work boots, started in the shop, was mentored by our engineer at the time our operations manager, and he has done a wonderful job. He is really the one at the helm of hole opener now. Again, I’m in the background.”
With her company in good hands, Debbie has settled into the background well because she has found other places to focus her energy.
Her life partly revolves around her 2-year-old grandson Patrick who is named after his grandfather. Patrick will be the fourth generation of Hole Opener.
Debbie recalls how quickly things moved when she first lost her husband, and how far she has come in fourteen years.
“It just hit me as, there’s got to be more to this, there’s got to be more. And I really dug more into myself and to my faith and to become a better person of me, a better version of myself. I have been blessed. They say treat people like you want to be treated, be kind to people. I want the city of Lafayette, I want my children to learn to be compassionate and to help others regardless of what they can give. You don’t have to help a thousand, you just have to help one person.”
She contributes to Catholic Charities of Acadiana, an organization that feeds and shelters those in need. She also advocates for the Boys and Girls Clubs because she it’s an investment in the future of children.