News Column

Small Businesses Win SCORE Awards

August 5, 2013

Two small businesses in Orange County will be recognized in Texas on Aug. 15 for winning national awards from SCORE, a volunteer-driven nonprofit group affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides free business advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Dog is Good won the organization's award for outstanding veteran-owned small business. Jon and Gila Kurtz own the Los Alamitos-based firm that sells pet-themed goods online, in retail stores and at trade shows.

The company had been in a slow-growth pattern when Gila Kurtz attended a women's networking group where SCORE mentor Tom Patty discussed marketing lessons he learned as former president of advertising firm Chiat/Day. Chiat/Day represented companies such as Apple, Nike, Pizza Hut and Nissan Motors.

Through occasional one-hour mentoring sessions spanning several years, Patty helped the couple understand how to market their business by capturing the strong emotions dog lovers feel about their pets. "He brought to the table a tremendous amount of expertise on marketing," Gila Kirtz said.

Patty's coaching helped the Kurtzes focus Dog is Good from a business that was "about dog stuff" to a brand for "people who love dogs as much as their children and are willing to spend money on them." Jon Kurtz said that focus helped the company grow to $1 million last year from $250,000 sales in 2009.

SCORE's outstanding minority-owned small business award will be presented to ViArch Integrated Solutions Inc., a technology consulting firm based in Orange. The company is owned by Angela and Eric Jones, an African American couple from Fullerton. ViArch, a portmanteau of "virtual architect," describes how the firm designs hardware and software systems, mostly for aerospace companies such as Boeing and Eaton.

When the couple started their business in 2008, they immediately jumped into one big project. "When that ended, things slowed down, and we realized we had to focus on the business side of things," Eric Jones said. "We wanted to be prepared for after the recession, when things would get busier."

The couple had technical skills but needed help with marketing and sales. After Eric Jones, an engineer, attended a SCORE presentation at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the couple decided to attend some of the organization's seminars at a Fullerton library.

The Joneses have consulted with SCORE mentors throughout the growth of their company. Aside from marketing and sales advice, consultants have helped the couple find and negotiate a lease for ViArch's office space.

Angela Jones says that being able to quickly find someone to answer a business issue gives her confidence. "You don't have to worry about lacking expertise on any specific topic, because SCORE can provide that," she said. "It's a huge boon for a small company like ours to get that kind of expertise for free."

On the move

B. Joseph Badalian has been named chief executive of Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center, which is owned by Tenet Healthcare. He was previously CEO of Lakewood Regional Medical Center, another Tenet property.

Drew Englebrecht has been promoted to vice president of marketing and operations for his father's Newport Beach-based fight promotions company, Roy Englebrecht Promotions. The younger Englebrecht has been the firm's operations and marketing manager for the past five years.

Tracy Stephens has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of Resources Global Professionals, an Irvine-based professional services firm. He was previously senior vice president of the company's central-southeast region. Layne Yoshida recently joined the business as managing director of RGP's Honolulu office. He was previously controller at Sopogy.

Scott Kitcher has been appointed executive director of CleanTech OC, an Irvine-based clean technology trade group. Kitcher is founder of EcoFin Consulting LLC, a financial and strategic consulting firm. He replaces Taylor Honrath, who has enrolled in graduate school.

Shirley Meredith has been appointed vice president of the independent representative department at Jusuru International Inc., an Anaheim-based nutritional supplement maker. She was previously director of sales at Give Something Back.

Felix Wong has been promoted to president of Ingram Micro Mobility's Asia Pacific region, from his previous role of vice president and managing director of the company's South East Asia region. The mobile services provider is a division of Santa-Ana based tech product distributor Ingram Micro. Wong replaces Bruce Thomlinson, who is now a senior vice president at Ingram Micro.

Colleen Cornett has been promoted to director of meeting solutions at Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau. She was previously director of convention housing and now oversees both departments.

New ventures

Advantage Sales & Marketing LLC, an Irvine-based company that sells, merchandises, and markets food products and packaged goods, has acquired Program Sales Inc., a food brokerage firm based in Charlotte, N.C. The new Advantage division will continue to operate in North Carolina. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Shareholders of Newport Beach-based Commerce National Bank have approved the company's acquisition by Sterling Financial Corp. for approximately $42.9million. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter.

A new Panera Bread bakery-cafe has opened at 19461 Main St. in Yorktown in Huntington Beach. The new restaurant's franchisee, Pride Bakeries LLC, will donate $1 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County for each cafe visitor that registers for its loyalty program through Sept. 30.

Kaufer DMC, a digital marketing agency, opens an office in Irvine. The new space will be lead by Scott Holman, who joins the company as director of industry marketing for architecture, engineering, construction and building materials.

PBteen, a spinoff of Pottery Barn that sells furniture and accessories designed for teens, has opened its first Orange County store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. The mall is already home to Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids locations.

Leadership

Robert G. Magnuson was elected as the new chairman of the board at PBS SoCal, a Costa Mesa-based TV station. Magnuson is the founder of Magnuson and Co., a communications management consulting firm based in Laguna Beach. He also teaches media and communications at Chapman University.

"Ignore the stock market except when it presents remarkable opportunities due to periodic investor foolishness." -- John Heldman, owner of Newport Beach-based Triad Investment Management, offers advice in a quarterly letter to clients

Contact the writer: 714-796-3589

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