In an effort to know more about the individuals in charge of the 50 fastest growing private companies in the Valley, the Business Journal profiled some of the faces behind the revenues: David Lewis, CEO No. 7-Ranked DLC Inc. After working for six and a half years as a recruiting consultant, David Lewis knew that he wanted to run his own company. And when the company he worked for was put on the market, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. However, his overtures to purchase it were rebuffed, which ultimately led the self-effacing Lewis to start his own financial consulting firm, DLC Inc. This move to become an entrepreneur didn’t come without a great deal of planning and deliberation, though it made sense considering Lewis has always been fascinated by economics and business. “I became deeply interested in economics after taking a course in high school and I ended up majoring in it at college,” Lewis said. “I love looking at things from a global economic perspective and figuring out that’s manifested at a company level. Running a company that has consistently made the fastest growing lists of both the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles Business Journals is no easy task. However, Lewis is quick to deflect attention away from his successes. Rather, he credits his employees for the company’s rapid growth. However, it’s clear that his humble nature has clearly paid dividends for the firm. “The secret to my success has been my ability to recognize my many glaring managerial shortcomings,” Lewis said. “Luckily, I’ve been able to remedy that by hiring good people around me.” Brian Theiss, President No. 10-Ranked Theiss Institute of Health and Fitness The fact that Brian Theiss has built his company into one of the fastest growing companies in the Valley isn’t much of a surprise, considering the strength and resolve that he has displayed throughout his life. An athlete through high school and college, Theiss had his eyes set on a career in the fitness industry from an early age. But then disaster struck in the form of a weight lifting accident that left Theiss nearly paralyzed. It took a full year of rehabilitation just to walk again and another six to fully recover. But Theiss’ determination never wavered even in the face of these events, as he stayed focus and determined to build up a fitness consulting and training business. “I’m always working on developing better and better systems and I study my field every single day,” Theiss said. “I usually work between 80 and 90 hours a week.” Theiss’ dedication hasn’t gone unrecognized, as he won a pair of prestigious awards in 2004 when the International Science Support Association bestowed him with the “Best Working Fitness Model,” and “Trainer of the Year,” awards. However, Theiss doesn’t take credit for his success, rather he attributes it to the help of his wife. “My wife helped me get through things that were unbelievably difficult, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here today,” Theiss said. David Czerwinski, President and Managing Partner No. 22-Ranked, EZ Shipper Racks, Inc. When David Czerwinski took over Westlake Village-based EZ Shipper Ranks Inc. in the spring of 2001, he knew very little about the tree nursery industry. Originally in real estate, Czerwinski demonstrated an entrepreneurial streak early on, founding a real estate development company called Davian in the New York and New Jersey area. Following that venture, he went into the publishing world where he ran a division of the children’s book firm, Western Publishing. That post led to a position as a senior vice-president at a Valley toy company (which Czerwinski declined to mention). It was after leaving this post when Czerwinski inadvertently stumbled into the most successful business venture of his career. “I met EZ Racks’ founder, Jeff Salmanson, at a social event and I became really interested in his company,” Czerwinski said. “I ended up helping him write a business plan and secure some investment financing for the company. I ended up liking the idea so much that along a former co-worker of mine, I bought half the company as an investment.” EZ Shipper Racks provides nursery tree transport services. After that, Czerwinski never looked back, applying the entrepreneurial and managerial skills that he had gained at his previous jobs into leading his new company. Since he began running EZ Shipper Racks, Czerwinski has led his company from revenues of $2.5 million to having already grossed $9.1 million in just the first half of 2005. Hector Galvan, President No. 11-Ranked Prime Building Materials Inc. Budding building materials magnate Hector Galvan came from humble beginnings. Following high school, the native of Mexico was working at A-Wahl’s Building Materials Inc. in Sun Valley when two dramatic incidents occurred within a 12-inch span. First, his brother was killed in a carjacking incident, then shortly thereafter the Northridge Earthquake occurred, creating a massive need for building materials. Galvan had always known that he wanted to start his own business, but the two events provided him with the impetus he needed. Exactly 10 years later, Galvan has four stores in operation and grossed over $10 million in 2004. Galvan believes that the secret lies in selecting talented employees to work for him. “I always try to hire people smarter than me and I work hard. I’m always hitting the pavement to grow the business. We had to build from the bottom up,” Galvan said.
Some Personalites Behind the Firms