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Tuesday, 23 February 2010 19:00

The Singer File

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Born: Los Angeles. I was banished to America’s Siberia for four years — that was Chicago. It was pretty darn cold there. Education: B.S. in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles; medical degree from Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University; post-doctoral internship residency in internal medicine at the University of Southern California; post-doctoral fellowship in pulmonary medicine from the University of Southern CaliforniaWhat was your first job, and what did you learn from it? My first job was watching fruit flies have sex. I was studying the mating behavior of drosophila fruit flies. And what I learned…
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 19:00

3 Questions

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James Harwood has more than 16 years of experience as a human resources executive and consultant. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies, including Intel Corp. and Tektronix Inc., as well as nonprofit corporations and small businesses. He oversees HR administration departments, including payroll, benefits and workers’ compensation, and has an extensive background in organizational development. Harwood currently serves as the president of Total HR Management. Q. Is it now more of a challenge to keep employees focused and motivated? It can be. It’s important for leaders and managers to be as honest as they possibly can about the factors…
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 19:00

The Corbett File

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Born: DetroitHas held her current position since June 2007. She has been with PricewaterhouseCoopers for more than 25 years.What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? A sales associate in the men’s department at Saks Fifth Avenue. I learned that men’s clothing is more complicated than I thought. My interaction with them in purchasing clothing for an important interview, an evening with their wife or a blind date gave me a sense of comfort in working with men. Whom do you admire most and why? My mother. She is an extraordinary woman having raised nine children,…
Saturday, 26 December 2009 19:00

3 Questions

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Monty Ferdowsi has more than two decades of experience in the telecommunications industry and has more than five years of experience as president of Broadcore, a nationwide provider of hosted unified communications services. He has worked with VoIP development for much of the last decade, both as a professional and as an educator.Q. How might business owners and executives be able to benefit from installing a VoIP network? One of the benefits of being able to have IP is geographic independence. The IP network allows you to take your phone to a larger network, perhaps over the Internet. The traditional…
Saturday, 26 December 2009 19:00

Corporate governance

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As a result of the financial crisis, there have been a number of investor favorable proposals and announcements made by regulatory agencies, federal and state governments, and prominent proxy advisory firms on matters relating to corporate governance. Although a number of the proposals have been delayed in their implementation and are subject to intense debate, public companies need to understand these developments, as the proposals may have ramifications on how companies are managed, how their executives are compensated and how they prepare for their annual shareholder meetings. Smart Business spoke to Jonathan Friedman, associate with Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP,…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 19:00

Accounting Directory

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BDO Seidman LLP 1888 Century Park East, 4th Floor? Los Angeles, CA 90067 (310) 557-0300 www.bdo.com Brad Schrupp, Philip Strauss Business line leaders About BDO Seidman LLP is a national professional services firm that provides assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a range of companies. BDO Seidman has 37 offices and more than 400 independent alliance firm locations across the nation and has a global network of resources that includes member firm offices in 110 countries. Founded: 1910 Selected services Assurance, tax, financial advisory, consulting services, investment banking Deloitte LLP 350 S. Grand Ave., Suite 200 Los Angeles,…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 19:00

Ready for the market

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In times of recession there is pent-up demand by entrepreneurs to sell their companies. Even in good times investment bankers will tell a seller that the company must be positioned for sale to be successful. Because of the relative unavailability — or high cost — of outside funding for business acquisitions, your company needs to be positioned for sale now more than ever. Smart Business spoke to Jonathan R. Hodes, partner and chair of the M&A Practice Group at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP, about what it takes to position a company for sale. What needs to be prepared to…
Monday, 26 October 2009 20:00

Understanding IATs

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As the number of Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments continues to climb — more than 3.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, 5 percent more than the fourth quarter of 2007 — the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) has had to ramp up the rules and regulations that govern these types of transactions in order to align the NACHA operating rules with the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) compliance obligations. A NACHA ruling, which took effect on Sept. 18, is quite noteworthy and will affect businesses across myriad industries. The ruling introduces the International ACH Transaction (IAT)…
Monday, 26 October 2009 20:00

The right hires

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If your company is going to live the culture you’ve built, you’re going to need the right employees. Charlene Greene, the head of Southern California operations for True Partners Consulting LLC — which generated $43 million in systemwide revenue in 2008 — has made that one of her guiding principles when it comes to hiring and staff building. Greene, who holds the title of managing director in the tax services firm, has helped to design and implement a multiple-stage hiring process for new recruits, which includes activities that challenge each job candidate’s communication skills, team-oriented skills and problem-solving creativity. “First…
Monday, 26 October 2009 20:00

6. Figure out what your employees want

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Peter H. Griffith understands his employees today live in a different world than he did when he was starting his career at Ernst & Young LLP. As vice chair and managing partner of the Pacific Southwest region, Griffith has spent a good portion of his 28-year career thinking about the environment in which people work. “Ask anyone at the firm why they stay here, and they all say the same thing: our people and the culture that they’ve created,” he says. Griffith has taken a close look at the 2,200 people in his region and learned that flexibility is a…
If you’ve built a culture of innovation, keeping it can become a delicate balancing act. If you push too hard, you may deny creativity by forcing people down one path. But if you let people do their own thing without checks in place, you may lose consistency. At The ACT•1 Group of Cos., a staffing, human resources and management solutions company that employs more than 1,700 people, founder and CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd views a good culture as a book that everyone works from. There are core elements to the plot that everyone understands — the need to grow personally…
Friday, 25 September 2009 20:00

3 Questions

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Stephen Shapiro is the chairman of Westside Estate Agency, a high-end real estate brokerage that caters to clients with high net worth. Shapiro co-founded the firm in 1998 and has since built the company to more than $1 billion. The average sale price in 2008 for a WEA home was $12.1 million. Q. The commercial real estate market has been hit hard in this economic downturn. How has the sale of high-end homes been affected? There was a period of time a year ago when everything was in freefall. Everybody was afraid; they didn’t know how low it would go.…
Friday, 25 September 2009 20:00

The Woudstra File

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Born: Grand Rapids, Mich. Education: Bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University; certified public accountant designationFirst job: Worked as an accountantAt home: Woudstra lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Sue. They have two children and five grandchildren.Career moves: Woudstra joined Foremost in 1973 and remained with the company, moving up to the role of COO, until it was acquired by Farmers in 2000. He stayed with Farmers after the acquisition, starting off as vice president of Farmers Group Inc. and COO of Farmers Specialty. He continued to move up, earning a role as Farmers Group Inc. president and COO in…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 20:00

Lighting the path

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Core values are a critical starting point for defining your company, but Regency Enterprises Inc. CEO Ron Regenstreif says you can’t stop there. If the people at the top of your company aren’t reinforcing the core values each day, your core values won’t take root as the foundational principles of your business. You have to take a personal stake in making sure that doesn’t happen. “Once you’ve identified the values you want your company to embrace and embody, the pressure is really on you as the leader to keep doing what you’re saying,” says Regenstreif, also an owner and co-founder…
Sunday, 26 July 2009 20:00

Thinking globally

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Now more than ever, companies need to find ways to grow or else the uncertain economy will swallow them whole. One great way to grow your business is to “go global.” But, obviously, this is no small feat. You can’t just start shipping your products overseas and expect everything to fall into place. However, if you do your homework and follow a well-thought-out plan, you can take advantage of opportunities in global markets. Regardless of your company size or global experience, effective management of working capital throughout your global trade cycle is a critical success factor. According to Gigi Moore,…
Sunday, 26 July 2009 20:00

3 Questions

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William Phillips is senior vice president and group manager for Comerica’s Middle Market Banking Group, covering the South Bay area in Southern California. Phillips has been with Comerica since 2000 and is responsible for supervising a team of bankers who build relationships with privately held companies with revenues of $10 million to $100 million. Q. What role does a bank play in assisting its customers in a down economy? It is critical to quickly and clearly communicate during these times of change. Pricing, terms and conditions for most services and products are adjusting to market conditions. We try to promote…
Sunday, 26 July 2009 20:00

The Maheswaran File

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Where were you born? I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I’m one of the few people that’s probably lived in three different continents. I was born in Sri Lanka, I went to the U.K. when I was young and did my engineering degree in the U.K. I had my first 10 to 15 years experience there and then I came to the States in ’94 working for Texas Instruments. What was your very first job? The very first job was in an ice cream and jelly-making factory. I worked on the manufacturing line lifting boxes and crates of jelly…
Thursday, 25 June 2009 20:00

Unify your messaging

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Unified Communications (UC) is defined as integrated means of communications, used to optimize the flow of information across an organization. UC integrates real-time and not-real-time communications components with a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types. “When businesses are ready for increased productivity they are ready for UC,” says Monty Ferdowsi, the president of Broadcore. “And, the more the better; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Smart Business spoke with Ferdowsi about UC and how it can help your business become more efficient and profitable. What applications or components are included…
Thursday, 25 June 2009 20:00

Motivation in motion

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There was a time when Memo Kahan believed that payday was the day that mattered most to employees. “I used to be a guy who believed that getting your paycheck was all that there should be. You signed a deal or you get paid for doing a task,” says Kahan, the president and founder of PromoShop Inc., a promotions and marketing services company that generated $33 million in 2008 revenue. But his management team thought otherwise and, eventually, made Kahan see the light. “What our management team did was they tried to convince me that there was more to coming…
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 20:00

Healthy returns

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Revenue is down, the budget has been hacked away and now you’re edging toward reducing employee health care coverage — or even eliminating it outright. Before taking action, take into account the short-term benefits and long-term effects of your options.A knee-jerk reaction may be to shift the benefit burden to employees. But those who have been down that road, say there are ways to take a strategic approach to generate value from a shrunken budget and employee pool. The most successful organizations over the long-term will be the ones that cut costs now, while improving the health of their employee…
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 20:00

Stretch run

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Peter H. Griffith is far from old, but he understands his employees today live in a different world than he did when he was starting his career at Ernst & Young LLP. “I started in 1981,” he says. “That’s a different environment, and a majority of our people in our firm have started within the last five to six years, so when you think about those people, that does create a challenge.” But that challenge is one Griffith, who today is vice chair and managing partner of the Pacific Southwest region, has actually spent a good portion of his career…
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Safe and secure

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In order to prosper in this challenging economic climate, it’s important to have a professional wealth manager who understands your goals and objectives. Such an adviser can help you build a long-term investment plan with diversification across multiple asset classes. For optimal results, communicating regularly and directly is paramount. “As an investor, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be afraid to say, ‘No, that’s not the strategy that I want,’” says Dennis Gilkerson, senior vice president and Western Market group manager for Comerica Bank. “A portfolio manager works for the client.” Smart Business spoke with Gilkerson about how…
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

The List

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Big Blue Box 11747 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064 (310) 478-2583 www.bigblueboxonline.com • Shipping and packaging supplies • Competitive prices Box Brothers Co. 11701 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1C Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 478-4008 www.boxbros.com • Find closest location online • All packing supplies Box & Ship 2180 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 474-9497 www.box-ship.com • Open six days a week • Special offers/tracking available Casetack Com 11755 Wilshire Blvd. West Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 473-8885 • Professional shipping services • Delivery services Encompass Overseas Shipping Inc. 1601 N. Gower St., Suite 207 Los Angeles,…
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Estate tax: a new beginning

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Estate tax is fluid by nature, changing constantly as new social and fiscal policies emerge. Our country’s history of estate tax laws has been a veritable roller-coaster ride: reform followed by repeal followed by re-enactment. Under the current law, the estate tax and the generations-skipping transfer (GST) tax will be repealed for one year in 2010 only to be resurrected the following year if Congress does not take action. However, this scenario is unlikely now that President Obama strongly supports retaining the estate tax and Democrats have taken control of both houses of Congress. A bill recently introduced in Congress…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

Selling high

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Although a business owner may not be planning to sell his or her company now, Rick Parent, vice president of Gumbiner Savett Inc., an accounting and business advisory firm, says owners should always operate the business as though they are. “Everything is for sale at the right price,” says Parent. “I’ve seen many instances where business owners say that they are not going to sell. ‘This is always going to be a family business, even when I’m gone.’ But at the right price, everyone’s mindset changes.” To make sure owners are prepared to sell when a buyer approaches them with…
Thursday, 26 March 2009 20:00

Crystal clear

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When Holly J. Mitchell took over as CEO of Crystal Stairs Inc. in 2003, she realized the organization needed to evolve. The nonprofit, which works to provide early childhood care and education, had never adapted to its new size following a period of rapid growth in the 1990s — from a small nonprofit into a 350-employee the organization with an operating budget of $130 million. And there was too much emphasis on looking to the top for answers. “There was a line of middle management who were wonderful workers, compassionate people who did their jobs at their level well and…
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

Strength through diversity

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Hiring employees with an eye toward diversity, whether it’s ethnic, gender or age-related, can help fuel excitement and creativity. For the long-term growth of a business, it’s beneficial to have employees who share the same core values, such as a passion for their chosen field, but who offer a variety of perspectives and can communicate with all types of customers. After all, points out Melissa Pollard, senior vice president and group manager in Comerica’s Orange County Middle Market Banking Group, your customers will be from a diverse population. And you should be able to reflect the kind of customer that…