By DANIEL TAUB
The past 12 months have been a busy time for many of the 30 "Class of '97" up-and-comers profiled in the Business Journal last year.
One saw his company's revenues triple. Another is awaiting the publication of her first book. Yet another is running for municipal court judge.
For many of them, the past year has been one of the busiest in their careers, helped in no small part by the improving Los Angeles economy. Few saw major career changes, but rather increased workloads and responsibilities.
"There hasn't been a higher level of merger-and-acquisition activity than there was last year," said up-and-comer Mary Ellen Kanoff, a corporate partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins.
In that area, Kanoff helped New Regency Pictures acquire Restless Records and secure a $200 million equity investment from Fox Inc. She also helped take Information Management Resources Inc. public and worked on secondary offerings for that company and Data Processing Resources Corp.
The last year also was a busy one for Victor Coleman, president and chief operating officer of Beverly Hills-based Arden Realty Group Inc. Arden's real estate portfolio grew from 49 office properties worth $800 million last March, to 125 properties worth about $2.5 billion today.
Arden recently purchased the two largest office buildings in Beverly Hills 9100 Wilshire Boulevard and 8383 Wilshire and is now the largest landlord in that city, Coleman said.
Another member of the "Class of '97," Reason magazine Editor Virginia Postrel, will have her first book published early next year. Titled "The Future and its Enemies," it focuses on changes in American political, philosophical and cultural attitudes.
"It's in the category that is usually called 'social criticism,' but it has a much more positive outlook on how society functions than those types of books usually do," said Postrel.
Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, also had a busy year, pushing through Assembly Bill 62, among other accomplishments. The bill, which he co-authored with Assemblyman Tom McClintock, R-Granada Hills, removed the requirement that the L.A. City Council approve a San Fernando Valley secession from the city of L.A. The bill was signed by Gov. Pete Wilson last October.
The assemblyman, elected in 1996, also appears headed toward a leadership position. One possibility is majority leader, second in command under new Assembly Speaker Antonio R. Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles. He already has moved into the Capitol office that Villaraigosa, a close friend of Hertzberg's, occupied when he was majority leader.
The last year was also a good one for the entrepreneurial class.
Mike Spencer, co-owner of Lost City Ironworks Inc., headquartered near downtown L.A., spent the last quarter of 1997 installing all of the wall lighting and chandeliers in the remodeled rotunda of the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas. Spencer's company also designed illuminated tables for the nightclub at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas.
Spencer said his 1997 revenues were up about 300 percent from the previous year, and more growth is on the horizon.
David Foulad, founder of Ragwear USA, a downtown L.A. clothing company, said his company's sales went from $1.8 million in 1996 to more than $3 million last year. "In 1998, hopefully it is going to be more than $4 million," said Foulad, whose clothing now hangs on racks at Macy's and Nordstrom.
In the last year, Foulad also added two new lines of clothing for young men, and he plans to add a line of sportswear for girls by the holiday season.
For David Suissa, chairman and executive creative director at the Brentwood-based Suissa Miller advertising agency, the last year was devoted to strengthening his agency's ties to the community.
Suissa Miller now does advertising and marketing for the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum, USC and the L.A. Philharmonic. Suissa also joined the L.A. Philharmonic's board last year.
In the last year, Suissa's agency also has won accolades for its commercials for Acura and Boston Market, and was given Boston Market's entire account, which previously had been split between three agencies.
The last year also has been significant for up-and-comer Kevin Ross, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who a year ago hosted a weekly talk show on now-defunct radio station KTZN-AM 710. Before the station was converted to a Disney-themed radio station, Ross was transferred to sister station KABC-AM 790, L.A.'s second most popular talk radio station.
Ross also is running for municipal court judge in Inglewood.
"Whenever I'm not working and whenever I'm not looking at the next goal," he said, "I feel like I'm wasting time."
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