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Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

Marketable assets

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With business failures and bankruptcies on the rise, boards of directors and management teams are under intense pressure to stem eroding sales and preserve the value of company assets, including intellectual property. Smart Business learned from Kevin D. DeBré, who leads the Intellectual Property and Technology Transactions Practice Group at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP, what business owners and managers need to know about preserving the value of intellectual property assets in these turbulent times and what they can do today to increase the marketability of these assets when the economy rebounds. How do businesses use intellectual property? Businesses use…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

Debunking diversity

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The million-dollar question about making an investment in diversity is: Will it pay back? While experts say diversity in the work force is a business imperative, defining diversity by employees’ physical attributes won’t foster a functional or profitable environment. In fact, the definition of diversity is always evolving. Twenty years ago, the word spurred thoughts of gender issues since men held a high majority in the work force, while today the gender gap is narrowed and is less of a concern. Diversity’s definition has expanded, and diversity of thought, education, socioeconomics, religion and life goals are only a few of…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

House calls

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The oddest thing happens when you call Stephen Shapiro. He picks up his phone. Something similar happens if you e-mail him: He responds within minutes. It’s not just the salesman in his blood; it’s part of the basic philosophy on which he and his partner, Kurt Rappaport, founded Westside Estate Agency Inc. No assistants, no secretaries. Just the basics, please. Wouldn’t you do just the basics if in one decade you could build your company to $1 billion with four employees, two offices and about 50 independently contracted agents? Shapiro, WEA’s chairman, has seen how the big real estate agencies…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

The List

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Altrex Performance Systems 14241 Utrillo Drive Irvine, CA 92606 (949) 654-2534 www.altrexps.com Online/on-site training courses Customer service and other business training Business Communication Institute 3450 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 507 Los Angeles, CA 90010 (213) 383-2132 www.bcicollege.net Offers a variety of business training courses Specializes in assisting foreign business professionals Concord Consulting Group Inc. 515 S. Flower St., 36th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90071 (800) 682-8490 www.theconcordconsultinggroup.com Trains in benchmarking all areas of business Improves skills through improved productivity de Bono for Business 248 W. Loraine St., Suite 103 Glendale, CA 91202 www.debonoforbusiness.com Trains for all business-related needs Offers workshops and…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

Global standard

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The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is a set of accounting standards that is becoming the global standard for the preparation of public company financial statements. CPAs working with public companies will be affected by the conversion, and as IFRS continues to grow in acceptance, they will need to become knowledgeable about the standards. While the proposed timeline for the transition is not yet definite, it’s not too early for accountants of public companies to familiarize themselves with the standards, says Don Carobine, CPA and vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc. “For accountants that work with public companies, regardless of…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

Sustaining momentum

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Sustainability isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving your business. Conducting business in a sustainable manner means you can spend less and increase revenue. While sustainability does help the planet, the incentive of reducing your business costs by half is a strong reason to pay attention. The buzz is that traditional energy and other resources will be in tight supply in the future, resulting in volatile prices. By investing in sustainable efforts now, you can help ensure your business’s long-term success. “Revenue and cost are affected by sustainability,” says Steve Glenn, a board member of the Sustainable Business Council,…
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

Astute advice

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One of the most important relationships that any business will establish is the one it forges with its accounting firm. Often, however, CPAs are underutilized. CPAs offer much more than tax preparation. They can provide expert advice in a number of areas, including estate planning, wealth transfer strategies, and mergers and acquisitions. “There are many ways that clients can benefit by utilizing their CPA as a business adviser,” says Shreedhar Kothari, vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc. Smart Business spoke with Kothari about what types of services a quality CPA brings to the table, how a company should go about…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

The List

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A Custom Electric 464 N. Stanley Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 428-4656, www.acustomelectric.com Knowledgeable electricians, Cost-effective service BreitBurn Energy Partners LP 515 S. Flower, #4800 Los Angeles, CA 90071 (213) 225-5900, www.breitburn.com Oil and gas company, An independent partnership company Commerce Energy Group Inc. 600 Anton Blvd., Suite 2000 Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (714) 259-2500, www.commerceenergy.com Small business and industrial customers, Electricity and natural gas Constellation NewEnergy Inc. 350 S. Grand Ave., Suite 3800 Los Angeles, CA 90071 (213) 576-6000, www.newenergy.com Conservation efforts, Helps customers maximize energy investment Eagle Electric 18256 Calvert St. Tarzana, CA 91335 (818) 343-8402 Serves…
Friday, 26 December 2008 19:00

The ups and downs of business

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Zafar Khan says that building a company can be like riding an emotional roller coaster. Positive things can happen, but you also may face challenges. “It’s having persistence, so that you can make sure that you drive through any tough situation that you’re in and keep focused on what the goals are,” says the founder and CEO of RPost US Inc. That persistence and focus have helped Khan lead the 50-employee company, which provides software-based business communication services. Smart Business spoke with Khan about how to be persistent, focused and have the courage to take risks. Q. What are the…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

Equity volatility

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In recent months, the equity market has experienced extraordinary volatility. A steady dose of gloomy economic indicators, combined with outright fear, have led many investors to flee the stock market in favor of treasury securities and cash. The best strategy investors can deploy during uncertain financial times is to remain patient, stick to long-term objectives and mitigate risk through diversification. “Long-term investors should focus on maintaining a broadly diversified portfolio that reflects their specific investment goals, risk tolerance and investment time horizon,” says Richard Cunningham, managing director of investment consulting services for Comerica Bank. Smart Business spoke with Cunningham about…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

Autopilot

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When Shane Evangelist took over as CEO of U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. in 2007, he wasn’t daunted by the tremendous growth of the online provider of auto parts. Evangelist’s success at developing Blockbuster’s online movie rental service had perfectly prepared him for leading U.S. Auto Parts, which grew from 2005 net sales of $59.7 million to $161 million in 2007. He says the key to successfully leading growth is clear communication. “Ambiguity is the worst thing you can have in an organization,” Evangelist says. “If you can get that team so that there is clarity on direction, roles and…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Checks and balances

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The ability to prevent check fraud is critical for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. After all, checks are still the predominant method of payment for goods in the United States. Fortunately, new technologies are making the process of safeguarding against check fraud simpler and more cost-efficient. “There are billions of checks written in the United States every year with over 30 billion projected in 2008,” says Regina Calhoun, manager of national check sales for Comerica Merchant Services. “Protection against check fraud and its associated losses becomes paramount to a business’s financial vitality.” Smart Business spoke with Calhoun…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Flying in formation

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Every day when he wakes up, Lyndon Faulkner wants to create something that is the best it can be. As president and CEO of Pelican Products Inc., Faulkner shares his relentless perfectionism with his 750 employees, all of whom are expected to strive to make Pelican’s high-impact, watertight cases and flashlights the best products in their class. “When you’re an entrepreneur in a small business, it’s very much about the individual, and what you’re driving singly,” he says. “As you run bigger organizations, the effectiveness of the guy at the top is how well you drive other people to make…
Sunday, 26 October 2008 20:00

Sprint to the finish

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Robert B. Yallen was trained as a collegiate sprinter, but even he thought his company might run out of steam in the early ’90s. Yallen — president and chief operating officer of Inter/Media Group of Cos., the company started by his father — saw a bright future ahead for the advertising agency and media organization that blends direct response advertising and general market techniques. That is until a slew of significant clients went into bankruptcy. Losing business would have been bad enough, but Inter/Media was on the billing end of the media needs for those companies. “So it was like…
Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:00

Creating harmony

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Integration plays a crucial role in mergers and acquisitions transactions. In order to blend operations into one harmonious company, it is important to create an acquisition integration strategy in advance of a deal’s closing. A well-executed integration strategy is designed to quickly align the management and employees of both companies around the transaction’s fundamental goals. Without a solid integration plan in place, momentum within both organizations may suffer. “A successful integration requires a disciplined and well-structured integration plan with clear objectives and timetables,” says Rick Parent, vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc. Smart Business spoke with Parent about how to…
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 20:00

The writing’s on the wall

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How to communicate your vision to your employees The walls in Robert Nickell’s office are floor-to-ceiling whiteboards. So are the walls of most of the offices at HNP Pharmaceuticals, a 100-employee pharmaceutical compounding laboratory. “We started off with just a basic whiteboard that you’d buy from Office Depot,” the founder, president and CEO says. “It’s just not big enough. You can actually go to Home Club and buy the whiteboard material in 8-and-a-half-by-11-foot sheets, and it’s just like paneling on your wall.” Now, when Nickell or his employees start brainstorming, they can literally write on the walls. The process has…
Saturday, 26 July 2008 20:00

The straight story

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As president and CEO of The Johnny Rockets Group Inc.,Lee Sanders doesn’t have to go very far to enjoy a meal in a retro-style diner steeped in an Americana motif. The restaurant group he oversees houses 1,530 employees in 220 such locations around the globe, including 35 right in his Southern California backyard. Still, when it came time to take his management team out for dinner, he chose to take them to a competitor up the street instead. “I found out that only one of us has ever really eaten there,” he says of the other chain. “We (went) there…
Saturday, 26 July 2008 20:00

Strength in numbers

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Suri Suriyakumar has a pretty straightforward view of leadership. “I totally believe in the fact that a great leader will be able to inspire teams to accomplish goals that they did not think were possible,” he says. “You have to inspire them and make them believe that they can accomplish these goals, because otherwise, they would have done it themselves — the reason they haven’t done it themselves is they look to you to motivate and inspire them.” Suriyakumar, president and CEO of American Reprographics Co., keeps that in mind with each step his company takes. Already the largest provider…
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 20:00

Talent agent

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When Adam Miller delegates a task, he’s not handing away allresponsibility. As founder, president and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., he believes that the onus is also on him to track performance and provide help when needed. “The real objective of performance management is not to punish employees,” Miller says. “It’s to make people more productive and to help them do better in their careers.” The task is something of a specialty at Cornerstone, which produces talent management software for companies across the globe. As a business philosophy, it’s also helped Miller lead the 145-employee company from 2003 revenue of…
Monday, 26 May 2008 20:00

SOX 404(b) audits

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Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, known as SOX 404(b), requires that companies evaluate the effectiveness of their internal controls over internal reporting and have this audited by their external auditors. Since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002, the SEC has delayed SOX 404(b) compliance for smaller reporting companies. The delay can be an extended window to improve internal controls. “Complete your testing and management report so there is sufficient time for the auditors to perform their test of your work, and also their own independent testing before the reporting deadline,” advises Richard Kam, principal for Gumbiner Savett Inc.…
Friday, 25 April 2008 20:00

Buying in

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Employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, are the most common form of employee ownership in the country. Originating more than 80 years ago, ESOPs were first recognized by the government in 1974. Now thousands of companies have these plans covering millions of employees. Among other things, ESOPs can be used to provide shareholder liquidity, to motivate and reward employees, and as an attractive form of debt financing. “There are many ways a company can benefit from an ESOP,” says Michael Savoy, managing director of Gumbiner Savett Inc. Smart Business spoke with Savoy about ESOPs, how they have evolved and the…
Wednesday, 26 March 2008 20:00

Laying the foundation

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A dream without plans ismere hallucination.Such is the advice thatAndrew K. Benton relied onafter becoming president andCEO at Pepperdine University in2000. After studying the institution’s then 63-year history, theleader set his sight towardfuture goals, but not withoutfirst laying a strong foundationin the present.You can’t just make boldproclamations, Benton says.You also have to invest the timeand planning to make thosegoals a reality. To guide suchthinking, the president enlistedthe help of his constituents todevelop a mission statementthat was both profound andconcise.Eight years later, these effortshave given Benton solid footing while overseeing a fiscal2007 budget of $267 millionand current enrollment of7,600 students.Smart Business…
Wednesday, 26 March 2008 20:00

The Cordova file

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Born: Los Angeles Education: Bachelor’s degree, business administration, California State University at Los Angeles; MBA, Pepperdine University Whom do you admire most in business and why? A person like Bill Gates really interests me. He created this huge organization, but what he’s doing now impresses me the most. He’s giving back; he’s being very open about it and devoting a lot of his wealth now. That’s the balance that I think impresses the most about Gates — or any leader that doesn’t just retire and play golf but really continues to commit themselves to the community. Who is your favorite…
Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

A new methodology

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Significant benefits can be gained with wide-scale virtualization. Holistic virtualization is the next step in the evolution. It is imperative to have a strategy to pull everything together for best results. According to Jaymes Davis, virtualization practice specialist at Entisys, “The most important thing about VOA methodology is that it is a new, trademarked methodology that is sweeping the industry as the de facto standard for building virtualization architecture. It is time to consider what it can do for you and your company.” Smart Business talked with Davis for his insight into holistic virtualization. What is holistic virtualization? It is…
Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

Giving back

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Edward P. Roski Jr. wasn’t born in Southern California, buthe’d be quick to tell you that he and his family made it theirhome when he was just 3 years old.And with the exception of a stint in the Marines that earnedhim two purple hearts, he’s lived there ever since. In thattime, he’s become a billionaire and seen Majestic Realty Co.,the private real estate company his father started in 1948,continue to grow, as it now owns, manages and leases morethan 70 million square feet of property.Working on notable projects, like the renowned STAPLESCenter, the company’s continued success has expanded toother markets…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

Passion works

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Jimi Hendrix often sang of cosmic coincidence, but even he would have been surprised to find that a concert he played in 1969 would ultimately change the strategic direction of Napster. It was at that concert that Chris Gorog, now chairman and CEO of the 139-employee company, saw a performance that defied convention. Hendrix was unique, empowering and made an unforgettable mark by taking enormous risk, Gorog says. More than 35 years later, the CEO has fostered unprecedented growth — from 2004 revenue of $11 million to more than $111 million in 2007 — at the digital music provider by…
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 19:00

Talent scout

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Half the game is won when you choose your team, says Mark McGough. When he came on as president and CEO of Pentadyne Power Corp. in May 2006, the struggling power systems manufacturer was in desperate need of a few star players. To find them, McGough first looked for underused talent within the company. He then let his staff vet external prospects through a series of interviews. “If the candidate is confident enough in their abilities, they’ll welcome the chance to meet those people,” he says. “In the process, I also got the buy-in of the people that were interviewing…