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San Fernando
Tuesday, Nov 28, 2023


CHRISTOPHER WOODARD and EDVARD PETTERSSON Staff Reporters The economy of the greater San Fernando Valley can be summed up in a word: diverse. The Business Journal’s list of largest private companies shows that the local economy is being fueled by everything from electrical equipment wholesalers to cemetery operators, citrus growers and air-conditioning firms. “The diversity just gives you a broader foundation,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County. “Most people say all that Los Angeles is about is entertainment, but this list shows otherwise.” But while the list demonstrates the variety of companies, it also illustrates the Valley’s strength in one key area, said Kyser. “What strikes you is the number of manufacturing operations. It’s a pretty diverse array. That just sort of jumps right out,” he said. The local manufacturing sector is no longer driven by heavy industry, such as the former General Motors plant in Panorama City, but by light industry, featuring such products as apparel, chemical products and even children’s toys. Topping the list of manufacturers is PMC Global Inc., a Sun Valley maker of chemical products. The company had $849 million in revenues in 1997, placing it No. 3 on the list overall. Bugle Boy, the Simi Valley-based clothing maker, ranked second among manufacturers, with estimated revenues of $500 million in 1997, followed by Applause Enterprises Inc., a maker of children’s toys and merchandise. The Woodland Hills company had 1997 revenues of $285 million. The top company on the list is not a manufacturer, but a seller of wholesale electrical equipment. Westlake Village-based Consolidated Electrical Distributors had $1.9 billion in revenues in 1997. Sunkist Growers Inc., the Sherman Oaks-based citrus growers’ cooperative, placed second, with an estimated $1.07 billion in revenues. A key to the Valley’s success in attracting and retaining manufacturing companies is its large and able labor supply, a trait shared by Los Angeles County as a whole, Kyser said. With 679,700 factory workers in 1998, Los Angeles County is the nation’s largest manufacturing center in terms of employment, eclipsing places like Chicago and Detroit. The greater San Fernando Valley, meanwhile, has about 99,000 of those employees, if Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena are excluded, Kyser said. Tom Leiser, executive director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, said L.A. County has been an attractive location for start-up businesses over the last few years. “Property values were down earlier in the ’90s, local government was eager to recruit new businesses, and it was easier to obtain a business license,” he said. While many large public companies have only their corporate headquarters in L.A. County, the smaller private companies often have manufacturing plants here as well, Leiser said. The list was complied through online services, information from the California Manufacturer’s Association and other sources. The companies themselves, in most cases, were unwilling to disclose details about their operations. Officials from Consolidated Electrical Distributors and PMC Global Inc., for instance, did not return phone calls. Kyser said many private companies simply like their privacy one of the reasons they don’t go public. “That’s the funny thing about L.A.,” he said. “You have a lot of these private companies that are below everybody’s radar, and they want to keep it that way. They’re just sort of there, quietly working away.”

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