Stories for November 1998

Monday, November 30


Right before the happy holiday cards begin arriving every year, my "in" box and fax machine fill with year-end surveys aimed at taking the pulse of small-business owners. Although I'm curious about the findings, I'm always a bit skeptical when a small sam


I'm watching a video, recorded February 1997 for training purposes by Aetna U.S. Healthcare, one of the nation's largest health insurance companies. It should scare everyone who has company-paid health or disability insurance. You're at more risk than you

Weekly Briefing

When a company produces only a single type of product, competition with a rival manufacturer can be fierce. It's especially tough when a small business is up against a large corporation. Nonetheless, family-owned Gabriele Macaroni Co. Inc. has survived fo


Imagine your biggest competitor one day snapping up one of your most important distributors. Suddenly, you're left figuring out how to get out your product.


Westwood-based CIM Group LLC is poised to snap up a second property on Hollywood Boulevard the Hollywood Galaxy.


The bear market is officially over, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average not only making up for lost ground but setting a record high last week. So the Business Journal asks:


This being the official start of the holiday season, we thought it would be a good opportunity to focus on one of the economy's most important elements the family-run business.


Education: B.A. in sociology and political science, UCLA, 1976; J.D., UC Hastings College of Law, 1980


The airplanes flying to South Korea "have their business classes packed with the guys wearing Hermes suits," said Stuart Kim, founder and principle of downtown Los Angeles-based Pacific Gemini Partners LLC, a money management firm specializing in South Ko

LA Stories

Now that the biggest shopping weekend of the year is over, how many Angelenos successfully bought this year's hottest kids' gift item, the Furby?


The curtain is rising once again at the storied Egyptian Theatre, but the real show has been going on behind the scenes.


For much of the disaster movie that has been Los Angeles in the '90s, the entertainment industry has played the hero, creating new jobs and bringing much-needed wealth to a beleaguered metropolis. Yet even as the region's recovery has blossomed, several t

Q & A Family

As director of the Family Business Program at USC's Marshall School of Business, James Ellis has seen it all: from family squabbles to difficulties in raising capital.


The frenzied jockeying that's taking place among companies seeking a major piece of the Internet puzzle is about to get even more crazed. It's being played out in different ways and at different levels of the still-fledgling industry, from the massive por

Computer Column

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, says his friend and fellow billionaire Bill Gates is a brilliant and creative manager, and that Gates' company, Microsoft, is a great company. But Buffett has declined to buy Microsoft, thus missing out on the hot

Entrepreneur's Notebook

For Mark Rosenthal, working in the family business is a game of pluses and minuses that's not only exhilarating, it can be painful.


To say it's been a bad couple of years for Kaiser Permanente would be putting it mildly.


Hank Hilty's grandfather peers down at him from a portrait on his office wall, a constant reminder of the family legacy.


Destination Films, a new production and distribution company in Santa Monica, is off to a fast start after signing Hollywood veteran Barry London as its president of marketing and distribution.


With the District Attorney's Office cracking down on deadbeat parents, companies are lining up to compete for what could be tens of millions of dollars in county contracts to wrest child-support payments from delinquent dads.


L.A. County's unemployment is at its lowest level since 1990, with an estimated 92,000 local jobs having been created this year alone.

Real Estate Column

Property values are slowly but steadily rising downtown, as demonstrated by two office tower sales that are bringing profits to the sellers. But despite the upward trend, neither sales price is anywhere near the replacement cost.


Douglas Emmett Realty Advisors is negotiating to buy two Century City office towers 1900 and 1901 Avenue of the Stars for $225 million, real estate sources said.


If you think figuring out the NCAA's football rankings is confusing, just try determining the financial reward each university is likely reap in the upcoming bowl-game frenzy.


There's the marketing firm where the parents and children were so at odds with one another that a mediator had to lock them in a room for two days before a settlement could be reached.


It catered an elaborate holiday party for a Century City-based accounting firm, where murder mystery props sat next to the three-citrus marinated chicken. Then came the two private Thanksgiving parties catered on Thursday, and the two weddings on Saturday


Los Angeles often is described as a small-business mecca, with more than 90 percent of local firms employing fewer than 100 people.

Company Index



In 1928, a Russian immigrant named Samuel Zacky opened a small poultry market on a busy corner in downtown Los Angeles. The business was simple: Zacky purchased chickens from farms in nearby Van Nuys, customers picked a live bird from the coop, and a cler


25 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: The Canadian government selected Burbank's Lockheed Aircraft to compete for the design and production of an $800 million long-range patrol aircraft Pan American World Airways, buffeted by high fuel prices, warned it might need U.S


Pamela Anderson Lee has reinvented herself, but without the clinging swimsuit that shaped her career as an international sex siren on "Baywatch."


When Kang Young Oh first came to America from South Korea in the early '80s, he put to work the one asset he had his family.


The founder of a medical-supply company in the San Fernando Valley had built her business into a $30 million enterprise. Her two sons felt it was time for mom to move aside and they didn't appreciate her decision to linger on.


As yet another L.A. radio station switches over to an all-talk format this week, you have to wonder how much yakking the Angeleno audience is ready to hear.

Oped #2

The last few weeks have not been good times for California's public employees, whether they work for cities, counties, the state or schools.


Hollywood's star finally appears to be rising, and few individuals are prospering more from that rise than Mehdi Bolour, an Iranian-born immigrant who snatched up five commercial buildings in the district for rock-bottom prices between 1985 and 1996.

At Home

A few weeks ago I featured tips in this column about how home-based business owners can improve customer service. Since then I have come across some creative examples of the kind of tactics it takes to gain a competitive edge.


With the holiday season underway, the wife of one prominent local CEO plans to give out charm pins from Aaron Basha Fine Jewelry in New York at $17,000 a pop.

Corp Focus

Sizzler International Inc., the Culver City-based restaurant chain that filed for bankruptcy protection two-and-a-half years ago following years of declining revenues and profits, is back in the black after closing more than 100 company-owned restaurants


Employee benefits consultants help clients implement and manage things like health benefits, retirement plans and compensation packages. William M. Mercer is the No. 1 firm on the list, with 190 employees working on employee benefits.


David Roberts has joined Roth Bookstein & Zaslow LLP as partner in charge of the firm's law-firm services group. His duties will include handling traditional accounting and tax matters, along with providing a variety of financial and management consulting


Restaurants in L.A. tend to come and go, but neither El Cholo, nor its familia grande, are likely to bid adios anytime soon.

Monday, November 23

Computer Column

In the never-ending struggle of man vs. Microsoft, we can report one victory and one tie this week.


With its sales surging, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is outgrowing its Torrance headquarters and plans to open new facilities in the South Bay the first step in what is expected to be a continued expansion.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, already one of the largest and most well-known hospitals in the United States, is steadily expanding. In August, it announced the purchase of a new building for outpatient surgery. The new center is located on San Vicente Boul

Real Estate Column

Insignia/ESG Inc. has been rapidly building a global presence in real estate, but has only offered limited brokerage services here in Los Angeles.


Blessed with a growing number of Internet, software and communication firms, L.A., once seen as a poor relative to Orange County and San Diego in terms of venture capital investment, it now receiving as much, if not more of the precious investment capital


Lawsuit abuse and the filing of frivolous lawsuits continue to be serious problems in California, and a tremendous drain on the economy. California trial lawyers who make a fortune off the current system have consistently, and erroneously, denied that


Although chains like Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Catholic Healthcare West are leading a wave of industry consolidation, they have swept up plum properties usually large hospitals that are making a profit.


If you want to get an idea of how tough it's going to be to pass charter reform in L.A., just listen to George Kieffer.


Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Catholic Healthcare West have been at the forefront of a consolidation movement that has swept up dozens of hospitals in L.A. County. Here is a rundown on the county's three biggest hospital chains.


Scrambling to survive in an industry where big is not only better, it's critical, Los Angeles-area hospitals are merging and partnering more than ever before.


Within the 300-plus pages of the draft charter unveiled last week by the Appointed Charter Reform Commission is a little-mentioned change that would either create a new nightmare for developers or give local communities a stronger voice over land use de


Your special section on "Future Development: 21st Century L.A." (Oct. 19) was informative and thought provoking.


The two commissions on charter reform, one elected and one appointed by the City Council, have spent months arguing over details and holding public hearings. Last week, the appointed commission released its revised charter leading to even more arguments

Ask Lorraine

Question: My business is in sporting goods. Our business plan had projected that by the end of 1998 we would have an international presence. Of course, our timing couldn't be worse with the troubles in South America and Asia. But we still want to go ahead


Gridlocked parking lots. Harried sales clerks. Out-of-stock-merchandise. The holidays often are called the most wonderful time of the year, but for shoppers plunging into the annual purchasing melee, the season can be anything but.


I was disappointed with your recent article, "Phone Firms Feuding Over Local Market" (Nov. 2). Too often the reporting contradicted the facts presented.

10 Signs

3. You come from the divisions that aren't the fast promotion ones (where the top execs come from).


What's the best way to teach your children about investing? Three mutual funds are pitching to parents, through special "kid investment" programs.


Wall murals, bay window seats, cream-colored walls, plush comforters and emerald-green throw pillows adorn the rooms and corridors. Roast chicken and broiled salmon arrive on white china.

Corp Focus

After being pummeled by a supply glut and the Asian economic slowdown, the semiconductor industry is struggling to come back from one of its worst downturns ever. The wreckage so far has been severe, with layoffs and factory closures across the industry.

Featured Newsmaker

Jan McDougall, the first woman to hold the position of chief operations officer for the Union Rescue Mission in the organization's 107-year history, has dedicated her life to her missionary work. In fact, she was born for it.

Q & A

Turning Point in Career: Going to work for "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels and moving to Los Angeles for a programming job at ABC


Margie Harrier's office is a fairly spare place "a dingy little hole," as she calls it. An inspirational quote hangs on the wall; a few ornaments punctuate the bare bookshelves.


Allison Nathe has been named managing director of Pittard Sullivan's productions division. She will supervise the production of live-action projects, especially those for commercials and television network identity products. Prior to joining, Nathe was a


In the Nov. 16 forum of local investors, two letters were transposed in the accounting acronym EBITDA. The term stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.


Being fired as chairman and chief executive of Universal Studios Inc. may be the best thing that ever happened to Frank Biondi Jr. and not just because of his $30 million golden parachute.


Barry Wallerstein, the newly appointed executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, says he wants to speed up the agency's permit approval process and continue cracking down on violators.


Asia may be in the midst of its worst financial crisis in decades, but L.A.-based Chinese-American banks are thriving.

Company Index



The former Lawry's Gardens restaurant near Taylor Yard is coming back to life. Under a newly approved agreement involving the city, county, state and private developers, the Santa Monica Conservancy will acquire the gardens and buildings for divisional of


This has been a lucrative time for UCLA Medical Center. In one of the largest corporate cash gifts ever, Mattel Inc. donated more than $25 million to the hospital for the rebuilding of its Children's Hospital. The facility is expected to have 109 beds and


Over 220,000 techies descended on Las Vegas last week for the annual Comdex show.


Being squeezed from every conceivable quarter, an increasing number of Los Angeles-area hospitals are finding themselves in critical condition.


One of the ongoing controversies of the accounting world is the appropriateness of "success fees" (also called contingent fees) and referral commissions fees paid only upon the successful conclusion of a project, merger or public offering of stocks or b


It was both surprising and disappointing to note the annual list of SBA lenders in the Nov. 9 issue of the Business Journal.

Entrepreneur's Notebook

That's right. Just as the landmark Rockefeller Center in New York has a holiday ice-skating rink, the L.A. Parks and Recreation Department is setting up an ice-skating rink next month in downtown's Pershing Square. The rink is being sponsored by the Los A

County USC

County-USC Medical Center has been caring for underprivileged Angelenos for more than a century. Founded in 1878, it is the primary teaching hospital of the USC School of Medicine. The current structure in Lincoln Heights was built in 1932 and severely da


Twenty-four years ago, when she was 14, Lena Fafard's fate seemed sealed. The eighth grader was a repeat runaway who rarely attended school and hung out with a dangerous crowd in Pasadena.

Korean Air

The airline is coming to depend on L.A. which has the largest Korean population outside of that country for both passenger and cargo traffic, even as it scales back its inter-Asian flights and downsizes its worker base at home.


After announcing that its earnings plunged by 97 percent in its first quarter, Los Angeles-based Aames Financial Corp. said it plans to stop selling its mortgage loans as securities.

Long Beach

A subsidiary of Memorial Health Services, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center is the third largest private hospital on the West Coast. It's also one of the few independent community hospitals that have managed to stay out of the red a feat hospital offic

The Hell

For many Americans, including here in Southern California, the recent resurgence of the Dow suggests that, despite the crisis in Asia and other now unfashionable parts of the world, all is well with the economy. Yet a closer look suggests that the market'


NBC, facing a production boycott from the major studios because of its hardball financial demands on the producers of new TV series, has been quietly spreading the word that it is softening its stand on co-productions and extended license-fee deals.

Weekly Briefing

Running a small business is certainly a challenge, but sometimes the hardest part is just getting it off the ground. Donna McDaniel put everything she had into her business, Dolly & Polly Catering and Design, and was determined to make a name for her comp

Market Column

When Nova Development Corp. was just getting off the ground, a delivery service representative asked founders Todd Helfstein and Roger Bloxberg how many weekly pickups they would need. Three, they answered.


Located on Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center is the largest of Kaiser's four hospitals in L.A. County, with a staff of 4,100. The facility has 613 beds and more than 1 million outpatient visits a year.


Like most kids growing up in Southern California, stepbrothers Steven Brody and Tony Roberts loved pizza. They also craved fresh bagels from the Sherman Oaks bagel shop owned by Brody's father. So as college kids looking for a business opportunity, they c


In the mid-'50s, when Sol Bernstein was a young intern at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, he faced the most harrowing experience of his career.

Monday, November 16


Core Business: Land surveying, civil engineering, land-use entitlements, digital graphics and animation

LA Newsmakers

Kenneth M. Rem has been appointed managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' entertainment and media practice. Most recently, Rem was the leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Southern California tax practice.

Q & A

In the early-morning hours of New Year's Day, a man with a blue Macaw parrot riding on his shoulder will be tucked amid the lush flora and fauna of the "Friends of the Rain Forest" float in this year's Tournament of Roses Parade.


After suddenly slamming shut a few months ago, the real estate lending spigot is reopening but at slightly higher interest rates than before.

Developing Leaders

Brothers Philip and Stephen Forte have built a business based on the fact that plenty of people never, ever, want to be separated from their telephones.


The 10 fastest growing private companies in L.A. are about as diverse a lot as you'll find, covering software, educational retailing, mortgage lending, natural gas trading and aerospace manufacturing. Numbers 11-100 are just as varied.

Real Estate Column

An Art Deco-style apartment building near the Santa Monica Pier has a new owner, who plans an extensive upgrade.


When it comes to dynamic, fast-growing private companies, Northern California seems to grab all the attention. But those are precisely the kinds of enterprises that comprise the backbone of the economy right here in Los Angeles.

Cook Inlet

Few L.A. companies are headed by Native Americans, but Cook Inlet Energy Supply is and it's booming.


Emboldened by the results of the Nov. 3 election, organized labor is looking to flex its newfound muscle here in Los Angeles.

Responding to Critical Need

Around the world, industry continues to be driven by the onrush of technology and information. As a result, businesses are demanding employees with more up-to-date knowledge and skills than ever before. Combine this with an increasingly competitive global


In August, after L.A.-based Petersen Cos. Inc. bought Surfer Publications Inc. of San Juan Capistrano, the new owners called a 10 a.m. meeting at a nearby hotel.


When I mentioned to a well-regarded local investor that we were preparing a list of L.A.'s fastest growing companies, he asked, "How can you tell if it's the complete list?"


The combatants stand across the corner from one another, at the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Holman Avenue: Sterling Cleaners, a 36-year veteran of the trade with another location on Overland Avenue, and its challenger, Faultline Cleaners, a gle


As night follows day, regulations follow tax laws. And the new Roth IRA is no exception. Congress smiles in the spotlight when it passes a new tax break. Then it tosses the nascent law to the IRS and says, "Make it work."


Rapid growth can be hard to manage and even harder to sustain, so it's perhaps no surprise that nearly two-thirds of the companies on this year's list of fastest growing private companies were not on last year's list (including nine of the top 10). And if


Casino impresario Steve Wynn's latest gamble is far afield from the Las Vegas Strip's blazing lights.


To succeed in the software industry these days, a company must find a niche and be able to distance itself from the competition. CIM Vision International Corp. appears to have done both.


Few merchants would turn down cleaner sidewalks, crime-fighting patrols and marketing efforts aimed at generating additional business. But as the travails of Westwood's Business Improvement District demonstrate all too well, getting it done is not always

Educational Opportunities

Some years ago, financial consultant Ken Benson tried hiring high school graduates for part-time telemarketing jobs. He gave them a desk, a phone and a script, and let them have at it.


Who's the hottest star in Hollywood? The honor goes to Adam Sandler, who stunned the movie industry last week with the No. 1 comedy opener of all time, Disney's "Waterboy," which pulled in $39.1 million.

Computer Column

Sony has made a major marketing effort for its line of "VAIO" notebook computers and is now featuring the slim and lightweight 505G, a 200-megahertz Pentium system that the company clearly thought could dominate the market for budget sub-notebook computer


With the stock market again in the bull mode, the mergers-and-acquisitions market, which had been cooling its heels a bit in late summer, has snapped back to life, reports John Mavredakis, managing director of investment banking for Houlihan Lokey Howard


Robert Brada, 33, newly appointed executive vice president and general counsel of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., is one of the busier corporate lawyers in town.


Syndicated columnist Jane Applegate joins the Business Journal this week with a weekly column designed, she says, "to help entrepreneurs avoid the potholes."


Just a few weeks ago, more than a few analysts were talking recession and with good reason, given Wall Street's woes and economic turmoil in Asia, Russia and Brazil.


The explosive growth of cell phones, pagers and other gadgets that bounce signals off satellites has launched Tecstar Inc. into a steep growth trajectory, and is keeping it there.

Copr Focus

The Medicare market is supposed to be a terrible business for health maintenance organizations, with many pulling out of it entirely because the federal government has lowered reimbursements for Medicare patients. But if that's the case, how to explain th

Oped # 2

Westmac Commercial Brokerage Co. was left off the list of commercial real estate brokerages in the Nov. 23 issue. The firm would have ranked No. 22, with $171.8 million in 1997 leases and sales.


The owner of Norm Reeves Honda Superstore has added to his Cerritos car empire by purchasing three more dealerships in Cerritos Auto Square, the nation's largest auto sales center.

Weekly Briefing

Every year, retailers not only have to figure out months in advance what merchandise to order for the holidays, but how much. This can be daunting for a toy store, but not for Kids Universe in Beverly Hills, at least not this year. According to co-owner a


With Democrats in control of both the state legislature and the governor's office, it looks as if regulation of the managed care industry will be taken away from the Department of Corporations and handed over to a new agency.


Cutting deals that's the heart of Justice Technology Corp.'s business, and the way the company has grown from zero to $100 million (projected 1998 revenues) since starting up in 1993, says founder and President David Glickman.


The Sun Valley-based firm, which specializes in repairing and refurbishing landing gear for large commercial jets, wanted to transform itself from strong regional player into a multinational powerhouse.


While Wall Street's honeymoon with Fox Entertainment Group Inc. got off to a rousing start last week, with the third-largest initial public offering on record, some analysts question whether the marriage can last.

Entrepreneur's Notebook

Plans by developers to build as much as $1 billion worth of sound stages, office and retail space in North Hollywood have city officials extolling the benefits of redevelopment.


Procter & Gamble, the staid Midwestern soap company, has emerged as a force on the cutting edge of high-fashion couture.

Market Column

In a conference room at the world's biggest media-buying agency last week, the research guru was showing off an expensive new high-tech toy that will eventually change the economics of television.


Saddled with millions of dollars in delinquent loans and stung by two consecutive money-losing quarters, Bank Plus Corp., parent of Fidelity Federal Bank, is looking for a buyer.


Heading to his next impromptu meeting, Chet Pipkin passes through a downstairs hallway, where a photograph of his parents' garage hangs prominently on the wall. The garage is a standard beige stucco box, with a battered basketball hoop affixed to it. The

At Home

A graphic designer I spoke with recently is struggling with a perennial home-business-owner challenge: pricing. His prices are lower than the competition, but if he raises them he isn't sure how to justify higher prices to his clients.

No-cost Computer Training

Westech College, Inc. a private computer training school has been awarded a retraining contract from the State of California to retrain employees of California businesses in the latest software applications at NO-COST. Westech College offers computer trai

Tomorrow's Jobs

Making informed career decisions requires reliable information about opportunities that should be available in the future. This article presents highlights of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of industry and occupational employment and the labor for

Company Index



Relocating a business for personal reasons is one option frequently available only to entrepreneurs. If it's your business, you can pick up and move it just about anywhere.

LA Stories

Century City Shopping Center & Marketplace's billboard campaign has focused on the center being an open-air mall rather than enclosed. Several of its boards have an ad that reads "Room Temperature" with an electronic thermometer on which was displayed the


The wave of business improvement districts that has swept Los Angeles as a way to revitalize rundown commercial and industrial areas appears to be slowing, as local merchants and property owners study the effectiveness of the concept.


For decades, investment bankers have tended to focus on larger enterprises and for good reason, because there are larger fees associated with the Fortune 500 clientele. The chance to take a glitzy, high-growth company public is another perennial lure.


It's 7 a.m. on March 1, 2001. The hustle and bustle of the big city is coming to life. Store and theater owners are getting ready for the rush of thousands of tourists who pour in daily to snap photographs, spend money and experience the scene of this gre


Jameel Mohamed flew from Los Angeles to Honduras late last month, expecting to spend a week at the two factories that his company, LCA Apparel, has in San Pedro Sula, on the country's Caribbean coast.


Even though baby boomers and others are snatching up the New Beetles as fast as Volkswagen AG can ship them out, Marc Fogel is betting that the '90s update of the bubble-shaped Beetle is not enough of a throwback for some car buyers.


In 1992, armed with little more than $2,000 in cash and a couple of credit cards, building contractor John Daigle decided to set out on his own. He had years of experience managing restaurant and retail construction projects for others, he reasoned. Why n


35 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: Van Nuys Airport posted one of its busiest periods ever, with 264,169 takeoffs and landings occurring in the first three quarters of the year. Boeing Co. received a $27 million contract from NASA to develop a first-stage booster

Store of Knowledge

Store of Knowledge is on the fast track thanks to a clever marketing strategy and a mix of educational products that has found a major niche among lovers of public television.


While lawyers have been busy hashing out a final agreement for DreamWorks SKG to establish its studio facilities at Playa Vista, two lawsuits brought by environmentalists are quietly moving forward.

Market Scan

Market Scan Information Systems' revenue growth, while phenomenal in recent years, is just starting to ramp up, company officials insist.


The L.A. Unified School District has been pilot testing a plastic debit card system in its cafeterias, and plans to start rolling the program out systemwide this spring, said David Koch, LAUSD's chief administrative officer.

Monday, November 9


There was a kind of manic-depressive quality to the California Chamber of Commerce's election-night party last week in Sacramento. Watching the returns on a big-screen TV, some chamber members were celebrating the defeat of Proposition 9, which would have


Just a few weeks ago, Ron Doornink was in charge of a packaged snack-food company. Now he's running L.A.'s biggest maker of video games.

Company Index



When Alek Haidos took a job as director of student services for the College of Oceaneering, he found himself with a tremendous buying opportunity.


It was another banner year for small-business lending in Los Angeles County. For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the 25 largest lenders on the list made a combined 1,766 SBA loans worth $561.6 million. Lenders are ranked by the total value of loans made i

Market Column

Forming a new trade association from scratch would be a challenge in any industry, but it's a whopping headache in the P.R. business.


Starting Jan. 1, Europe will launch a daring financial experiment, with broad implications for U.S. investors and businesses. Eleven countries Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain


The vital signs of long-ailing Maxicare Health Plans Inc. are suddenly strengthening. But is it just a short-term fix so the L.A.-based health plan can be sold, or is it part of a long-term growth strategy?


Imperial Bancorp, which has enjoyed solid success by taking more risks than the average bank, finally got bit by some entrepreneurial bravado. So it's shifting its focus into a tamer line of business, at least for now.

Oped #2

At 6:15 every morning except Sunday, a tractor-trailer truck inches into an alley behind a Ross Dress For Less store in Westwood. Each time, it stops at the same spot a makeshift loading dock and each time the driver honks twice. Moments later, a crew


The San Diego company offers thousands of songs on its site that can be downloaded to home computers for free. Over the last year, that happened more than 4 million times.

Copr Focus

The once-troubled Alexander Haagen Properties Inc. has a new name, new management and a new outlook.


Being bilingual made it much easier for Jeb Bush to eloquently communicate his campaign message on television to Latino voters in Florida. It was considered a critical factor in his gubernatorial win last week.


Last year at this time, the nation's importers were pulling their hair in frustration as a flood of holiday merchandise triggered a near-meltdown of L.A.'s transportation system. Some key shipments were left waiting on the dock for as long as six weeks.


Last week's election raises many questions about the ability of business to work with a state government that will be dominated by Democrats. Here is a rundown on some of the hot-button issues:

LA Stories

Rising property values are nothing new in Los Angeles, but now comes word that the properties themselves are rising in local foothill communities.


A story in the Nov. 2 issue misstated the number of job candidates who have signed up with Futurestep, an online executive recruiting service. The correct number is 150,000.


Instead of lunching with cranky authors at the Algonquin Hotel in New York or sipping cocktails with literary agents at the Four Seasons, the high-energy publishing executive is about as far from the book capital of the world as she can get.

Computer Column

We continue to believe (despite the vociferous disagreement of a few readers) that the notorious "millennium bug" should be no concern for the vast majority of personal computer users. But recently we stumbled upon two other time-related software bugs, an


During a keynote address at last week's digital music conference, Webnoize '98, E! Entertainment Television CEO Lee Masters was sounding pessimistic about the scores of companies cropping up at the intersection of music and technology.


20 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: Construction of new housing in California fell nearly 22 percent in September, totaling 201,000 units, compared to 256,000 units in August Meeting in Brussels, European economic officials agreed to begin pursuing a single monetary

Ask Lorraine

Question: I own and manage a small financial consulting firm. During the last few years, working in a growing economic environment, we have grown quite substantially. But although we are still getting clients, with the threat of recession I am concerned t

Real Estate Column

Plans are afoot to expand Little Tokyo with a Cultural Marketplace and mixed-use project flanking the traditional heart of the district.


Radio Shack has begun offering store discounts to seasonal employees for the first time.


With Democrats now in charge of both the governor's mansion and the statehouse, a slew of HMO reform bills that died on Gov. Pete Wilson's desk this year have a real chance of becoming law.


Construction companies have been handed a bonanza of work by voters, who last week approved billions of dollars worth of bonds to finance public facilities construction throughout California.


When news surfaced that Michael Ovitz, the once powerful boss of Creative Artists Agency, was planning to open a management company with two of the hottest young personal managers in show business, it sent shock waves through Hollywood.


Driving around town with his $250,000 worth of luxury and gadgetry, Lee Pearlman has no regrets about living high.


The state Democratic party not only saw its candidate Gray Davis elected governor during last week's election, it also picked up a handful of additional seats in the state Assembly, thus solidifying its control over the Legislature. So the Business Journa


With $9.2 billion in Proposition 1A funds coming down the pike for school construction, architects are battling the construction industry over whether schools should be custom designed or built from a stock set of plans, using a "cookie-cutter" approach.


L.A. County dominates the state in the value of retail projects slated for development, with building permits issued for $282 million worth of stores a 50 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Economic Development Corp. of L.

Bank of America

The resignation of a top senior Bank of America executive in Los Angeles, coming barely a month after the completion of NationsBank Corp.'s $47 billion acquisition of BankAmerica Corp., has raised questions about the newly merged bank's future commitments


I read the Business Journal because of your excellent coverage of the business news of Los Angeles, California and the world. I do not read the Business Journal for one-sided political "hit pieces" such as the Joel Kotkin commentary on Barbara Boxer ("The


For all the usual gripes about torn-up roads and deteriorating pipes, L.A. voters remain hesitant about writing out a check. And who can blame them? If all the necessary repairs and renovations are carried out, the check could run into the hundreds of bil

Weekly Briefing

Ann Price's company, Motek, offers distributors a high-tech way of updating their inventory. The company makes software that allows forklift operators to update records from the warehouse floor, even as they are moving boxes. The trouble is, the system re


Those accustomed to watching Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal driving to the basket for a slam dunk at the buzzer probably won't be too impressed with his replacement on KCAL-TV Channel 9: Judge Judy.


If this is November, it must be time to write stories about the holiday shopping season. It would easy to be blas & #233; about the annual exercise were it not for the fact that consumer spending represents about two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and holiday sal

Entrepreneur's Notebook

There is nothing more valuable than to have your clientele see you on the evening news, sandwiched between an international story and a scoop from Washington. Through the media, you are instantly elevated to the role of expert.


Establishing public policy through voter initiative is a dangerous game, but the process does have its plusses: namely, the ability to empower voters on certain issues in which legislators are unwilling or unable to resolve. It's the "I'm mad as hell and


Playboy Online, which has been turning industry heads with its popular Web site, is taking some of its operations to Los Angeles.

Monday, November 2


Ask California businesses what they're looking for in a telecommunications provider and, regardless of the type of business, the answer is often the same. These businesses - many representing the middle market - want the convenience of a single source pr


When it was signed into law, the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 promised to revolutionize the phone industry reducing rates and stimulating innovation by opening the market to competition and innovation.


It's Saturday night and you're completing the big proposal that you and your staff have worked on all week. It must be in the customer's office by noon on Monday. Arrangements have been made for your reproduction service to make copies on Sunday. As the f


Next week, the Democratic National Committee will announce the finalists for hosting the 2000 Democratic Convention and Los Angeles is expected to be on the short list.


Write effective e-mails!


Contentious politics, a bloated bureaucracy, low test scores, union squabbles it's all part of public schools, Los Angeles style.

RE Column

Developer Ira Smedra plans to demolish the former Chasen's restaurant building on Beverly Boulevard and Doheny Drive in West Hollywood and build a Bristol Farms grocery market in its place. Smedra, president of the Arba Group, said he plans to retain and


Until now, the Phone Company has been charging thousands of dollars per month for T-1 data line to the Internet. This is about to change as Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) technology is being deployed throughout Southern California. DSL lines allow high-s


When Social Security reformers talk about switching to private accounts, they assume the accounts are feasible. But are they really?


As construction of the Staples Center arena speeds along, some nearby business owners are engaged in a battle with the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency and its efforts to buy land to convert to parking lots.

Weekly Briefing

Those who run beachside restaurants are beholden to the whims of the weather, the tourists, and the competition. Francis Mori, 38, owner and operator of 26 Beach Caf & #233; in Marina del Rey, inherited the restaurant from his parents, who founded it in 1983. Th


A record $300 million is being spent statewide on political advertising for the Nov. 3 election. Candidates who raise and spend the most on their campaigns tend to win, so the Business Journal asks:

Company Index


AT Story

The phones are ringing off the hook on any given day at Galpin Motors. A seemingly endless stream of calls from vendors, service clients and many potential customers light up the lines from open until close.

Featured Newsmaker

Horatio Alger would have loved Jim Morrissey, a 29-year-old who started out as a room-service waiter and was recently named director of operations for the biggest hotel in Los Angeles County.


Now that pre-cut, pre-washed lettuce has become almost ubiquitous in supermarkets nationwide, what does Ready Pac Produce Inc. have on its menu for future growth?


Imagine you're the chief executive of a software company and on vacation. Not the type to merely relax poolside, you're sailing your boat and unreachable by cellular phone or radio.

Market Column

L.A.'s high-tech industry has a well-publicized problem: There isn't enough venture capital to provide the growth funding that its thousands of starving start-ups need to thrive. Jerry Skillett is here to do something about that.


This week's election may not have generated much enthusiasm among voters, but it's been a multimillion-dollar windfall for the Los Angeles economy.


After intense pressure from consumers and public officials, a number of health maintenance organizations are allowing their members to see specialists without being referred by a primary care physician although the plans generally cost more and carry so


One of the area's largest independent TV and movie studio operators is in discussions to acquire Warner Bros.' studio lot in West Hollywood.


On paper, Roseanne's new syndicated talk show sounded like a delicious deal so tempting when it was pitched earlier this year that it set off bidding wars among competing stations and was touted as one of the fastest-selling daytime shows in syndication


On the surface, Disney's filmed version of "Beloved," Toni Morrison's chilling novel about slavery, has everything going for it. The book won a Pulitzer prize, it was directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme to generally critical acclaim, and it stars Opra


Surprise, shock and disbelief those are the most common reactions David Davis receives when he tells people that he works at a winery in the Antelope Valley.


As more and more executives in the travel industry strive to reach their target market

How Many

HOW Many People Are On-Line?


Just nine months after selling family-run Santa Monica Bank for nearly $200 million, Aubrey L. Austin has unexpectedly retired as the bank's chairman, chief executive and president.


15 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: McDonnell Douglas Corp., locked in battle with the United Auto Workers, threatened to shut down its commercial airline operations IBM released its first home computer In advance of the 1984 Olympics, L.A. tourism officials announ


One of the challenges in putting out a weekly is reporting on a news event that has been covered in the daily papers. Unless we can advance the story through new information or analysis there's little point devoting much space to it.

Computer Column

Tune your television to any cable channel reporting financial news and you will be bombarded with commercials for online brokerage houses, each seeming to boast of lower commissions and/or more information than the others. And the latest trend at these es

Small Biz

Driving along a semi-industrial stretch of Venice Boulevard just west of La Brea Avenue a stretch populated by a welding shop, an electronics store and a roofing company it's easy to miss Uncle Darrow's Cajun Creole Eatery.

Net Sales

The Internet has drawn shoppers in record numbers. But with so many sites to choose from, and so many competitors offering the same products, e-commerce Web sites must be able to draw customers to their sites - and keep them coming back.


No. Because quite frankly, I tend to follow public affairs, politics and current events as well as all aspects of the news and political issues, and I usually have made up my mind by the time we're hit with the onslaught of advertisements.


The controversial publisher of Hustler Magazine plans to open Hustler Hollywood Video, which will purvey videos, books magazines, juice and coffee in a building that used to house a Blockbuster Video and Boston Market.


National Media Corp., the nation's largest infomercial and direct response advertising company, is relocating its headquarters and 150 staffers from Philadelphia to Encino, according to Stephen Lehman, who took over in August as chairman and CEO.


Powell Blue has joined DDB Needham Los Angeles as chief operating officer. He previously was chief operating officer for DDB Needham Worldwide Ltd.'s operations in Australia.


The El Capitan Theatre will reopen Nov. 20 with the Walt Disney Co. film "A Bug's Life," after nine months of renovations to the backstage area.


Economic problems overseas continue to take a bite out of L.A.'s bottom line, according to recently released financial results.

At Home

A few weeks ago, one of my clients asked me to attend a meeting on short notice. I contacted my travel agent in an attempt to book a last-minute round-trip flight from New York to California, and was shocked to learn the airfare would cost more than $1,80


With construction of the $2.4 billion Alameda Corridor project barely underway, an effort to extend that high-speed rail route eastward through the San Gabriel Valley is making rapid progress.


News that Santa Anita Park race track is once again up for sale has rekindled an old question can L.A. support two horse racing facilities?

Tuned Up

An Oct. 26 story on the assembly races misstated the first name of the state assemblyman from the 60th District who is running for Congress. His name is Gary Miller.




News that Santa Anita Park racetrack is once again up for sale has rekindled an old question can L.A. support two horse racing facilities?


Most Admired Person: Dr. Martin Luther King, whose leadership of the civil rights movement awakened her social conscience


New payroll data shows that garment-industry employment has declined by more than 3 percent over the past year in California.


The city of Los Angeles has been making life less complicated for developers. For the most part, it's done so by improving and streamlining its notoriously complicated entitlement process. Unfortunately, unless they understand the ins and outs of these im


Unusually wet weather in Central America brought on by El Ni & #324;o caused an overproduction of bananas in the first half of the year, thus lowering the price. Then the Russian economy went into crisis mode, effectively shutting down a market that accounted fo


Maybe, just maybe, L.A. is back on track for getting pro football. Last week, National Football League team owners heard proposals from two L.A. groups: one led by real estate developer Ed Roski and the other by former Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz.


Driving down Sepulveda Boulevard used to be an adventure and not a very pleasant one.


productivity. Java was designed to accomplish two main goals, and has also highlighted an


On the cover of its second annual sex issue earlier this year, the OC Weekly featured a shirtless man with pierced nipples, blindfolded, wearing a harness and slave necklace. A pink ball was stuffed in his mouth.


Forget the Getty, MOCA and the upcoming Van Gogh exhibit. When L.A.'s arts elite really want to be where the action is, they hop on a plane to New York.