Post-Katrina, Torres is among a group of young residents committed to a new vision for their city - only today the challenge is to reinvent New Orleans's image rather than bolster it. Nicolas Perkins, a 36-yearold Tulane University graduate and serial entrepreneur who brokered a deal selling his last employer to Microsoft for somewhere in the hundreds of millions, chose to base his revolutionary new online trading company, the Receivables Exchange, in New Orleans. And real estate mogul and hotelier Sean Cummings (owner of the International House and Loft 523) is overseeing a massive new waterfront project aimed at reconnecting the iconic Mississippi River to New Orleans and its residents.
Linked by a dedicated vision, these businessmen are also perfectionists. Torres runs his company with the precision of a German- Swiss watch and virtual omniscience, thanks to a $500,000 custom surveillance system that lets him track just about every discarded to-go cup and beaded necklace in the Quarter. "At first my staff was wary of the system," admits Torres, "like they were being watched. But I explained that it wasn't about spying on them - it was about doing the best job possible."
Maintaining a crew of supervisors to oversee the street sweepers, garbage collectors, pressure washers, and hand crew, Torres likens his methods to doing battle. "If you listen to the radio, everybody is in communication. The supervisors are constantly talking and know where everyone is. It's like fighting a war - positions are known at all times." So much so that SDT's new corporate headquarters in St. Bernard Parish houses a war room armed with 20 flatscreen monitors displaying everything from the GPS surveillance system to weather and traffic channels. The command center is even capped off with a rooftop helipad. "It looks like you can launch a space shuttle from there," laughs Torres.