After a 16-hour flight from Hong Kong and lots of bottled water, Peter Griffith still managed to sound excited about his new job as vice chair of the Pacific Southwest Area at Ernst & Young.


On July 1, the company will announce that Griffith, the former global treasurer at Ernst & Young, will succeed Tony Anderson, who has led Ernst & Young in Los Angeles for the past decade. Anderson is being bumped upstairs as vice chair and managing partner of the Midwest Area, based in Chicago.


Anderson, a tireless advocate of civic life, served as chairman of the nonprofit Town Hall Los Angeles program, and on the boards of the California Science Center and the Pasadena Pops.


"I admire Tony and his contributions to the community. He did a fabulous job," said Griffith, echoing the sentiments of many business and civic leaders who have worked with Anderson over the years.


Griffith, who hails from the San Fernando Valley and attended USC, calls himself a "student of the capital markets."


Though he spent eight years at Ernst & Young in Cleveland in the 1980s, he cut his corporate finance teeth at Wedbush Capital Partners, where he ended as head of the firm's investment banking division in 1997.


"At the end of the day, I've always been very interested in how accounting firms fit into their key role in the global capital markets," he said. "And from the CPA side, I always felt that I had more insight into the details of companies' balance sheets."


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KB Home Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce Karatz is a true believer in Martha Stewart. Though Wall Street hit the No. 5 U.S. homebuilder hard on June 16 when it announced on a conference call with analysts that third- and fourth-quarter income will fall below forecasts, Karatz said the company could have done much better with Stewart.


"We believe if we had 40 or 50 Martha Stewart communities open right now our net sales would have been considerably better," Karatz said.


Last year, this column broke the story of KB Home's deal with Martha Stewart Omnimedia Inc., with Stewart helping to design homes as well as layout, faucets, light fixtures and other details like built-in bookcases and shelving. The first Martha Stewart-KB Home community of 650 homes is being built near Raleigh, N.C. Another 800 homes are being developed in Atlanta and a third development is slated outside Houston later this year.


"We are trying to get every single KB division throughout the country to get a Martha community going," said Karatz. "We think it's a wonderful branding strategy and unfortunately, we don't have enough communities going to have a material impact on our numbers yet."


Staff reporter Kate Berry can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 228, or at kberry@labusinessjournal.com

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