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San Fernando
Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Economic Scene is Dominated by Service and Retail

Of the more than 1,200 businesses that call the City of San Fernando home, the top two industries by far are service providers and retail trade, followed closely by finance, insurance and real estate, and manufacturing. The top 10 companies, by sales volume in 2007, had revenues of more than $16 million combined. The largest, PureTek Corporation, has a 170,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing and packaging facility that produces pharmaceutical and nutritional delivery systems, as well as personal care liquids, lotions, creams and oils. They reported having 400 employees at their San Fernando plant. Another top 10 employer and sales producer is Future Graphics LLC which has about 180 employees in their San Fernando headquarters facility and 240 companywide. “The majority of our business is the resale of the raw materials required to recycle and remanufacture toner printer cartridges,” said Luke Goldberg, senior vice president. About 40 percent of Future Graphics business is international. That’s a big shift from just six years ago when 90 percent of the company’s revenues were generated by U.S. sales. The company moved its corporate headquarters to San Fernando about five years ago from Canoga Park. Sales have been good since the move with 2008 sales so far at about $130 million. “For us it trended way up in 2007 from 2006,” said Goldberg, “and it’s up, but not as big of a percentage, in 2008. Our business is still growing.” Another of the top companies in 2007 has seen a significant drop in its business over the past year. Santana Formal Wear, listed on the city’s rolls as Premier Accessories Manufacturing, has been in business for 30 years. The woman-owned business makes formalwear accessories such as cummerbunds and bowties. “We’ve been in San Fernando for 11 or 12 years,” said Dee Tennant, “We came from Chatsworth.” Originally the move was made because the taxes were lower. But Dee says one of the major reasons they’re happy in San Fernando is that the city is very responsive to their needs. “The fire and police departments are on top of everything all the time,” she said. “Even when there’s a little tiny bit of graffiti in our front yard here, they come in and just clean it up instantly when there’s any trash left it seems like there’s this one little spot here where people like to dump sofas and stuff the City comes and picks those up right away, too. It’s an excellent city to be in business in.” A couple of years ago, Tennant had well over 100 employees, but now they’re down to fewer than 30. “Business is off,” said Tennant. “It’s a byproduct of a myriad of things.” That includes a major shift in the formalwear business from mom-and-pop stores to large chains. According to Tennant, cost has replaced value as the driver and so cheap overseas imports have taken much of their business away. They’ve adjusted somewhat by increasing another sector of their business that supplies formalwear-type uniforms to casinos in Las Vegas and to places like Disneyland. “It’s tough doing business in California,” said Tennant. “Workman’s comp is very difficult.” Downsizing plan The company is planning to downsize, subleasing about half of their 17,000-square-foot building on Jesse Street. A walk down the outdoor San Fernando Mall suggests that those mom-and-pop formalwear shops are still thriving in the city. In a three-block span there are at least 20 storefronts that have a focus on bride and quinceanera gowns, special event videographers and photographers and party supplies. Isaac Algaze, president of Suburbia Bridal, has been in business in the city for 20 years. He says his is the oldest of the bridal shops on the Mall, all of which have been hit hard by the weak economy. “Right now it’s hard,” Algaze said. “People don’t have money, so we have to reduce our prices and give incentives and spend more money on advertising.” He figures that business is down about 15 percent over the past couple of months. Algaze said said he he felt the city was supportive of small business owners. “They help with events,” he said, “They had one about two weeks ago, the Menudo Festival. It brought a lot of people out.” Some in town don’t agree with that. “I wish that we could have better communication with the city and also a clear understanding of our agreement,” said Juana Cuiriz, CEO of the San Fernando Mall Association. The SFMA is a non-profit entity under agreement with the city to promote the mostly local businesses in a Business Improvement District that has about 255 businesses, said Cuiriz. They are funded by a fee assessed on business license holders each year Cuiriz has been its director for the past three years and brought in an outside group to audit the association and develop a plan going into the future. “We are now forming a new committee which is a downtown community benefit district,” said Cuiriz. “That is going to focus property owners, business owners and residents and we are all going to work together in planning perhaps a new BID or a PBID (property business improvement district). She said that while she knew the city has planned a series of study sessions to review the results of various consultants that have been retained to help in planning, she does not feel enough is being done to reach out to the mall merchants and involve them . City Administrator Jose Pulido said he just doesn’t have the budget to do an extensive community outreach program, and that his core staff of seven or eight are constantly prioritizing what areas need their focus. The city, Pulido added, recently secured a $99,000 grant from Congressman Howard Berman for reinvestment in the downtown area. The El Paraiso Furniture Store on the mall has a “for lease” sign that states “moved to larger location.” But according to Daum Commercial broker Lynn Larocque, they’ve actually gone out of business. “We’ve got plenty of interest in the property,” said Larocque, but the 10,000-square-foot space is too big for most of the local mom-and-pop stores that call. “So I’m doing my marketing right now to your larger national companies, but the national companies are all sitting tight,” she said. A veteran of the real estate business, Larocque said past experience suggests once the presidential election is over, things may pick up.

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