Retail & Investment Services
Born in Iran and raised in Israel, Jerry Azarkman arrived in California at the age of 24 with only $20 in his pocket. A determined young man with a talent for entrepreneurship, he exchanged those $20 for merchandise he bought wholesale in downtown Los Angeles, and became a door-to-door salesperson.
He discovered an underserved, neglected niche of immigrants — mostly from El Salvador and Mexico — with many needs. He sold them the products they had dreamt of one day owning. They became not only his first customers, but in some cases his first employees.
In 1981, when his brother moved to Los Angeles, they opened what would turn out to be a powerhouse in retail, services and community issues — Curacao. The department store has become one of the most trusted names in Hispanic retail sales. For more than 30 years, the company has proved its dedication to the community by continuing to provide quality products, outstanding customer service and increasing access to financial services for its customers who often have no credit history.
Curacao has been the first to launch many groundbreaking services, including its exports operation, which allows customers to send a variety of products to their relatives and friends in Central America and Mexico. The company is at the forefront of the Latino market, expanding innovative services that include Internet, phone, travel and money transfers.
Azarkman continues to strive toward a better future. In addition to overseeing Curacao Child’s Foundation, a nonprofit that delivers basic needs to families in the neighborhoods surrounding the stores, he is constantly visiting the stores as a speaker, motivating its associates with his story of starting an empire with $20.
CEO and CIO
Huber Capital Management
Joe Huber founded Huber Capital Management in 2007, after working at Hotchkis & Wiley, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. The company is a 100 percent employee-owned firm providing discretionary investment advisory services to institutional accounts and mutual funds. By introducing the study of behavioral psychology into his investment approach, Huber developed a revolutionary strategy that has led to high acclaim and adaptation on Wall Street.
Rather than buying companies that were “hot” at the moment, Huber, the company’s CEO and CIO, based his central tenet of investing on reversion to the mean. This concept is based on people undervaluing a business that isn’t doing well today, which causes an absurdly low stock price relative to the long-term earnings power of the assets. Huber then buys stocks from the companies that are currently underperforming but are likely to have a shorter reversion pattern and should revert over the next three to five years.
Huber’s approach has won the company major clients and numerous accolades. Huber Capital Management won the Lipper Award in 2014 for best five-year track record in both its small cap and large cap funds. Their small cap fund was ranked No. 1 out of 188 funds and their large cap fund ranked No. 1 out of 252 funds. While it is rare to have a fund family with a No. 1 ranked fund, it is unprecedented to have all eligible funds ranked at the top.
Huber prefers to hire people for his company who have had to work to get where they are. He believes this encourages self-starters who are passionate about what they do. Huber also hires employees with no experience and personally trains each of them in his business. Huber believes that by empowering his staff to work hard and allow flexible schedules, he will in turn receive the best productivity and retain employees.
Founder and CEO
NewMark Merrill Companies
Sandy Sigal has always been a hard-working self-starter. Growing up, his single mother worked long hours to support her family. Sigal picked up this same work ethic, pursuing new business ventures from the time he was very young.
In 1997, Sigal launched NewMark Merrill Companies, a commercial real estate firm. He went from being the CEO of a public company with a safe paycheck to pouring all of his money into the new venture and wondering how he would support his four children. The management team worked at least 10 hours per day, seven days per week, to make sure that NewMark survived its first year.
Sigal’s goal was to make an impact in low-income communities by building quality shopping centers that were safe and enjoyable for families. He was about 10 years ahead of other developers when it came to discovering the need to create shopping centers of value for largely Hispanic populations.
Since NewMark launched, Sigal, the company’s CEO, has built, acquired, or managed over 100 retail centers and currently oversees 10 million square feet across three states. After 17 years, the firm continues to grow. NewMark was ranked by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of its Top 10 Property Management and Top 10 Development Firms in 2012, and has been on its Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies list for many years.
Sigal is active in community organizations including Camp Max Straus, a camp for underprivileged children, and Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He was the recipient of the William Shatner Humanitarian Award in 2007, and is also an active member of the Young Presidents Organization chapter of Santa Monica, serving as their Chapter Chair as well as the Regional Education Chair for the Pacific Region.