Orange County (1091)

Financial Services

WINNER

A large part of Anand Nallathambi’s career has been working for subsidiaries of insurance company First American Corp. He has held several executive and CEO positions over the years, and in 2010 he was appointed CEO of CoreLogic Inc. He guided the company through its separation from First American Corp. to become publicly traded.

Since the separation, Nallathambi has developed a world-class executive team and repositioned the company to be the leading provider of data services and solutions in its markets. Following the separation of CoreLogic from FAC, Nallathambi developed a bold strategy for transforming the company into a higher-growth, higher-margin leader.

The four key elements of this strategy included refocusing CoreLogic on its core operations, transforming the organization from a fragmented and distributed model to one integrated team, reshaping the cost structure and reducing costs, and reinvesting in products, services, technology and people.

As part of his plan to overhaul CoreLogic, positioning the company to lead in the markets it serves, Nallathambi reorganized the company into three core segments to further drive focus and accountability. The operating segments were Data and Analytics, Mortgage Origination Services, and Asset Management and Processing Solutions.

Over the course of 2011 and 2012, CoreLogic exited five non-core businesses and sold or exited numerous smaller units. Although these units collectively generated significant revenue, their business models lacked significant data, intellectual property and scalable returns to support Nallathambi’s long-term strategy.

To drive margin expansion and create funds to reinvest in the business, Nallathambi launched Project 30 — CoreLogic’s enterprise-wide productivity improvement program — to significantly reduce technology and corporate shared services costs. Through 2012, Project 30 has delivered $82 million in total savings.

Many of the company’s recent accomplishments are due to Nallathambi’s ability to build confidence in CoreLogic employees, clients and investors. He made difficult decisions to dramatically improve productivity and operational execution.

How to reach: CoreLogic Inc., www.corelogic.com

Technology

FINALIST

The goal of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is to be able to manage all customer touch points on one system to improve both the end user and consumer experience — and Jonathan Ord is an expert in it.

Ord had a friend in the automobile industry who expressed frustration with the multiple systems he was using to track one customer at his dealership. Through continued conversations with this friend, Ord went to work creating a CRM for the dealership space. In 2001, Ord co-founded DealerSocket Inc. with the goal of helping auto dealers manage every interaction and touch point with their customers on one platform.

In order to put his vision and plan into motion, Ord, who is also CEO, took out a mortgage on his home and started DealerSocket in his garage. Initially his customers felt the software didn’t interface well with the sales force on the floor. Thus, he offered to work without pay at a dealership for a year to gain a better understanding of his customers’ needs.

Ord aspired to help the automotive industry and make all customers fans of DealerSocket and its products. In the first year of business, 15 clients were signed, and in the second year, the number grew to 38. Today, DealerSocket serves more than 3,000 dealers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and supports 100,000 active users.

Even during the near collapse of the automotive industry from 2006 to 2008, Ord continued to improve his products so that dealers could survive and carry on. As a result of its persistence, DealerSocket now has 20 percent U.S. market penetration and is striving for more.

The vision and plan for DealerSocket is to continue to be the No. 1 CRM for auto dealerships through customizing CRM for large dealer groups, expanding into other countries, and developing or acquiring products that make sense for the company’s software suite.

How to reach: DealerSocket Inc., www.dealersocket.com

Technology

FINALIST

In 2009, Dominic Gallello was tasked to turn around a company known for expensive and difficult-to-use software. The mismanaged and ailing MSC Software, founded in 1963 to assist with simulations for the space program, had not updated its products in far too long, customer churn rates were high, and there was no spark at the company.

Gallello set out to build and communicate to employees a comprehensive strategy framework that reduced general and administrative expenses from 19 to 11 percent in the first year. He cut $40 million from operating expenses in his first two years. Gallello expanded R&D by 40 percent, brought on more than 40 doctorate-degreed employees through hiring and acquisition, and initiated the development of a next generation computer aided engineering (CAE) system to be brought to market this year.

In less than five years as CEO and president, the company has embraced his vision, and his team is highly motivated to develop the solutions for existing and new customers. At MSC, he leveraged the synergy between the improved morale and the new technology to help customers change the world — which is precisely what the company is doing: The company was instrumental in simulations of the entry descent and landing for the Mars Rover Curiosity mission.

Gallello introduced a culture of “You never stop learning at MSC.” He encouraged managers and individual contributors to pursue professional development and funded their efforts.

He started a high-potential employee program (“Managing your Career”) to build future leaders and a management development program (“Managing by Influence”). Gallello believes that personal success should be celebrated, but must also come with responsibility.

He and his family have personally funded construction of five orphanages in Romania in the past five years and they call more than 100 children their own. Gallello also is funding the development of a farm in Romania for teenagers who cannot find jobs after high school.

How to reach: MSC Software Corp., www.mscsoftware.com

Technology

WINNER

Although he was able to surround himself with talented professionals, Joseph Renton seemed to experience every possible problem when starting up a company in 1995. He had launched Systems & Software Enterprises (SSE) and utilized the technology consulting business to fund the development of new hardware products.

There was a lack of available capital, an ever-changing technology market and an aviation industry with tremendous barriers to entry for his in-flight entertainment efforts. But through it all, he never once accepted any venture capital money.

He was determined to see his vision through on his own terms. He knew he had to stay ahead of the innovation curve and that bringing in outside ownership would slow the process of finding creative solutions.

Undeterred, Renton used his relationships with bankers and clients to secure funding and even took out another mortgage on his house to see his company through its most difficult times. He knew that he had built a product that was superior to the competition and was willing to take necessary risks to prove that.

Renton focused on providing his team with interesting projects and establishing an entrepreneurial climate within the company, and he has found that the effort goes much further toward creating employee satisfaction than salary alone.

In 2001 his firm began marketing its first in-flight entertainment systems to major airlines. Soon after that release, 9/11 occurred, effectively bringing the avionics industry to a standstill. Rather than abandoning his vision during these slow times, Renton reinvested in development so his firm would be better positioned than its competition once everything returned to normal.

SSE rebounded stronger than ever, and after a decade of providing successful hardware systems, SSE was acquired by Zodiac in December 2012. However, as a true entrepreneur who is never satisfied, he used the time off to gain clarity and to prepare ways to create value in his next opportunity.

How to reach: System & Software Enterprises, www.imsco-us.com

 

Business Services

FINALIST

When she took the helm of Carl Warren & Company nine years ago, Caryn Siebert was facing the challenges of a company suffering substantial losses and outdated infrastructure. She went to her first board meeting and honestly and directly told the board members that under her turnaround plan, it would be three years before the company would break even.

Siebert, leveraging her knowledge of Six Sigma and prior experience as a CEO, was successful, and she took the employee-owned third party claims and litigation management company back into black ink.

Before Siebert came to Carl Warren & Company, the organizational structure consisted of branches that acted as separate profit centers. She recognized that this configuration was damaging to the business — the branches continued to compete against each other for clients and profits.

To eliminate this situation without significant staff layoffs, Siebert decided to restructure the company by forming business lines focusing on specific services like public and insurance claims. That way, offices are working together to best allocate resources and assist clients across geographic areas.

Carl Warren & Company realized significant growth, and in 2009, was named one of the “Best Companies to Work For” in OC Metro magazine. However, as the economic recession took hold, clients wanted cheaper rates and expenses continued to increase.

Siebert knew she could not cut employees or high-level services. Instead, she decided to expand the company into a new market segment, bringing workers’ compensation in its product mix. Revenues increased to $30 million that year.

Siebert’s aptitude for instilling loyalty — there is an almost 100 percent employee retention rate — extends even further in terms of her client relationships. With customized programs, certificates of guarantee and years of experience, the company has a strong client base that only continues to grow.

How to reach: Carl Warren & Company, www.carlwarren.com

Business Services

FINALIST

Every member of Dr. Vinod Jivrajka’s family is an entrepreneur, so it’s no surprise that Jivrajka is being recognized for excellent entrepreneurship skills. Born in Mumbai, India, Jivrajka started medical school at age 17, after which he came to the U.S. and began working for hospitals in New Jersey and Kentucky.

He eventually moved to Compton, Calif., after attending a conference in Los Angeles and falling in love with Southern California. After two years, he became a partner with two doctors with whom he would work for the next 25 years. Though the practice was the busiest group in the region at the time, he couldn’t sit still. The entrepreneur in him wanted to try something different.

Until the 1980s, there was no concept of a management care organization. Jivrajka saw an opportunity to innovate the industry. After decades of practicing as a physician, he realized the operational efficiencies a medical management company could achieve by overseeing both the management group and the medical group.

He borrowed money using the equity of his personal home, persuaded his slightly skeptical friends to buy in, and founded AppleCare Medical Enterprises in 1996, which includes two AppleCare Medical Groups, a management services organization, a hospitalist medical group and an insurance agency. By 1999, the company had grown by 10,000 percent.

Jivrajka, who is founder, president and CEO of AppleCare, successfully recruited 22 employees to start with him, of which 12 are still at AppleCare today. By making doctors’ interests the management company’s interests, AppleCare successfully created a work environment that put doctors first, which enabled it to gain doctors’ trust, confidence and loyalty.

He has led the growth of AppleCare to 185 management employees cooperating with almost 1,000 affiliate doctors servicing more than 75,000 AppleCare members. The company celebrated its 10th anniversary in April.

How to reach: AppleCare Medical Enterprises, www.applecaremedical.com

Business Services

WINNER

Heidi Golledge can speak to the benefits of an early start in entrepreneurship. While a student, she began selling candy bars via fundraisers and would give all her earnings to her single-parent mother to help pay household bills. She later began selling rabbits to pet stores, and earned enough money to purchase a computer.

With that entrepreneurial background and her education, she began brokering home loans, but despite some lucrative periods, she wanted her own show. She saw an opportunity to partner with companies like Monster.com to offer another layer to the recruiting business that would allow more visibility to job opportunities via multiple channels. She met her future business partner and in 1999 the two started CyberCoders.

The company has developed into a leading, worldwide recruiting firm that utilizes technology and highly skilled recruiters to match people with companies.

Golledge later bought out her partner to take the company in a strategic direction that brought financial risk — an online career community (“job blog”) that would eventually be known as the CareerBliss arm of CyberCoders. She was determined to offer a way for people to learn about a company’s culture before seeking a job there to make sure that the culture fit the person’s needs and career path. The risk paid off and CareerBliss produced 100 percent year-over-year growth in revenue for the last three years.

Built on a recession-proof business model, CyberCoders has opened or expanded multiple offices during the recent economic downturn. While others were laying off employees, CyberCoders was opening offices and hiring more people, taking advantage of top talent.

Inspired by her family values, Golledge makes them her business values as well. She treats employees like family and looks to make them feel successful and happy. Golledge believes that a happy person is a productive person, and she has zero tolerance for disrespect in the workplace.

CyberCoders, www.cybercoders.com; CareerBliss, www.careerbliss.com

Retail & Consumer Products

FINALIST

When Nick Seedorf was completing his religious studies in college, he believed he was on a journey, and he could see himself investing in the spiritual lives of college students.

But he had no idea that instead he would follow in the footsteps of three generations of family entrepreneurs instead.

More than 10 years later, he has one of the fastest growing companies in the nation, with nearly 100 employees and millions in revenue. But what does he believe is the best part about this? He still invests in people and relationships — through an opportunity he never expected.

After college, Seedorf’s high school hobby of buying and selling products grew into an e-commerce business called myGearStore.com, a mobile accessories retailer. The company was started in his one-bedroom apartment while he was a newlywed. The enterprise grew over the next few years, and he wanted to consolidate his suppliers through a distribution company, rather than continuing to buy direct from so many manufacturers.

Seedorf researched distributors, but he found no one was solely focusing on mobile accessories and keeping the right products in stock. Along with his insights into the size of the opportunity and the unaddressed pain points of retailers, Seedorf saw the need for a distributor who was a trusted adviser and had high-touch service and the right product assortment.

He launched nuCourse Distribution Inc. on Jan. 1, 2008, as an electronics accessory consultant as much as it is a distributor. Molded into an accessory advisory firm, the company focuses on building one-to-one relationships with each brand and each customer to effectively be “the matchmaker” in the marketplace.

This customer intimacy strategy has helped Seedorf build and keep customer connections and has given the market an understanding that not every retail outlet desires the same product, but the demographics of an area defines product sales.

How to reach: nuCourse Distribution Inc., www.nucourse.com

There are very few written policies that are required by law to be provided to employees, but there are certain policies companies can adopt to protect themselves and reduce their liability exposures. This can either be done though a company handbook or by distributing individual policies to employees.

“Courts have said that by advising employees of certain information, the burden shifts from the employer proving something didn’t happen to the employee proving something did. That can be a significant difference in an employer’s ability to defend itself both in terms of success and cost,” says Jeffrey Dinkin, a shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth.

Smart Business spoke with Dinkin about key policies that should be included in employee handbooks and what other options exist.

What are some required policies suitable for an employee handbook?

All employers are required to have sexual harassment policies that clearly state to whom employees should report complaints. More than one person should be designated, but if that’s not possible, there are outside resources to which you could direct them.

For companies with five or more employees, if the company has leave policies, policies regarding pregnancy disability leave must be included. As a note, under recently enacted legislation there must be continued employer health insurance contributions during the period of pregnancy disability leave for up to four months. The California Family Rights Act also allows 12 weeks of baby bonding leave, with continued employer health insurance contributions now also being required.

Employers with 50 or more employees are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which must be honored when you learn an employee is eligible for family medical leave, and requires a related employer policy.

Also, a new law dictates that employees paid in commissions need to be provided a clearly written commission agreement that describes how commission is calculated, earned and paid. It needs to be signed by, and a copy given to, the employee.

What else could an employer include in an employee handbook?

Employers should have a policy that requires employees to accurately record all time worked (the start and stop times), as well as the start and stop time for meal periods. The policy should clearly prohibit off-the-clock work. It is important to also address meals and rest periods provided by the company.

Technology and communications policies are increasingly necessary. It’s important that an employer indicate that the materials stored and communicated on devices owned by the employer belong to the employer, and it has the right to review and monitor those communications at its discretion.

There’s a lot of attention on bring-your-own-device workplaces. Employers need to communicate that work-related mobile activity is not private and information can be retrieved from a personal device including when the employee exits the company.

Is an employee handbook required?

Companies don’t need to have a handbook, but having one allows them to set forth some essential policies and employee rights and obligations that should be observed.  Handbooks enable everyone to have a reference to their rights and obligations.

What will suffice as notice in place of a handbook?

You can provide individual policies. Employers often provide new hires with the policy regarding sexual harassment, or there can be a separate meal and rest period policy. There is other information that must be provided to employees through permanent postings at the workplace or handouts.

Who should assemble the handbook?

An employment attorney is a good resource. He or she will typically have a model handbook that can provide a starting point that’s then customized to suit the employer’s needs. The chamber of commerce or an HR consultant have similar resources.

However, a big part of employers preparing a handbook is for them to become aware of their obligations and rights so they might better order their employment policies to protect themselves. It’s a good education tool and a chance for an employer to order its thoughts on how it wants to treat its workforce. ?

Jeffrey Dinkin is a shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. Reach him at (949) 725-4000 or jdinkin@sycr.com.

Website: Find Jeffrey Dinkin’s profile at www.sycr.com/Jeffrey-Dinkin.

Insights Legal Affairs is brought to you by Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth

Retail & Consumer Products

FINALIST

Personal ego was the furthest thing from John Fuller’s mind when he took over as CEO at The Johnny Rockets Group Inc. Instead of talking about what he wanted to do, Fuller set out to build lasting relationships with people in the corporate office and with franchisees and suppliers for the eateries that offer “timeless American food.”

And when he learned that no CEO from the company had ever visited its top suppliers or stepped foot in a particular franchise location, he became even more driven to develop a strategic plan for the future that incorporated everyone’s insights and contributions.

Fuller found that many of his franchisees had set their own path because of the lack of communication from the home office. The result was a company culture that had splintered in many different directions and left the organization without a strong common identity.

Fuller spends about half the year visiting restaurant locations to speak with employees and customers. He takes feedback and uses it to shape the decisions that are made at locations around the world. The effort has brought alignment and a sense of empowerment to employees who feel like they are a bigger part of this iconic organization.

His goal was not to turn every location into a clone of the others. One of his four key business principles is to focus on building leaders who can be difference-makers, rather than caretakers. By building a solid team able to handle the day-to-day operations, leadership can make decisions that can make a long-term difference in the business.

Fuller also believes in the need to see how customers are experiencing the product on a regular basis, which avoids being caught by surprise by a flaw in the service delivery. He advocates making every customer smile at least once during a visit to create joy, as well as understanding when problems do arise.

How to reach: The Johnny Rockets Group Inc., www.johnnyrockets.com