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Saturday, Dec 9, 2023

Through the Year 2004: Companies, People in Transition

January Shake, Rattle, and Rebuild: January marked the 10-year anniversary of the Northridge earthquake. As a result of the earthquake, numerous Valley businesspeople saw their livelihood immediately vanish. The quake started a massive re-building project at CSUN and at local shopping malls. The San Fernando Valley Economic Alliance was born from the Valley’s need to revitalize itself post-Northridge. Grocery Strike: Four months into the strike, shoppers reveal that they are starting to re-think their previous shopping habits. By the end of the year, stock prices at grocery chains involved in the strike do not fully recover. Joel Simon Elected Chairman: Simon, an attorney and partner with Encino-based law firm Alperstein, Simon, Gillin & Scott LLP is elected to serve as chairman of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley. Simon replaces local attorney Bill Powers. February Roth Gets Tossed: Randy Roth is removed as managing director of the Sunquest Industrial Park site. Officials at Summit Alliance begin conducting a search for a new development partner. Four years earlier, Roth had announced plans to develop the site into a 550,000 square foot light industrial manufacturing park on a 33-acre parcel that had once been a Sun Valley landfill. Jewish Home Expands: The Jewish Home for the Aging breaks ground on the largest expansion program since its inception more than a century ago. It will add space for nearly 250 new residents and establish a new state-of-the art research and treatment center at the home’s six-acre Grancell Village campus in Reseda. Encino-Tarzana Hospital for Sale: Tenet Healthcare Corp. decides to put its only Valley hospital up for sale alongside 18 of its other California hospitals. Tenet claims it cannot afford to pay the roughly $1.6 million it needs to complete state mandate seismic upgrades, a requirement stemming from the damage done to Valley hospitals during the Northridge earthquake. Tekelec Lays Off 75: Factory workers and management at Calabasas-based, Tekelec, face layoffs or relocation to North Carolina, as the telecommunications firm moves all of its locally based manufacturing. The move east is expected to lower the costs of shipping products overseas as the company expands globally. March Palmdale restarts Flights: Las Vegas-based Scenic Airlines begins launching daily $75 roundtrip flights to Las Vegas from Palmdale Regional Airport. City and airport officials hope that this will be the beginning of a rebirth for the airport, which has not had commercial flights for six years. Valley Presbyterian Builds Tower: Presbyterian’s new $51 million patient tower is ready for occupancy. The six-story tower, which will update many hospital services, is expected to further strengthen Valley Presbyterian’s reputation as the major children’s hospital for the northern part of Los Angeles County. Liberman Files IPO: Liberman, a Spanish-language media company based in Burbank, files an initial public offering, hoping to raise $184 million to pay off debt and expand its radio and television properties. Cardinal Health Layoffs: The Business Journal reports that as many as 250 employees could be laid off at Cardinal Health’s local offices, effectively shutting down the company’s Woodland Hills offices. John Kerry Wins Primaries: Senator John Kerry routs competitor and future running mate Senator John Edwards to win several Democratic primaries and effectively capture his party’s nomination for president. Northrop Grumman Relocates Center: Northrop Grumman dedicates a manufacturing center that took two years to relocate from Santa Barbara County. The Hemispherical Resonator Gyro center is the latest addition to a 765,000 square-foot, nine-building park that serves as Navigation Systems headquarters in Woodland Hills. How Much?: The price of gas in Southern California reaches a record high of $2.20 a gallon, and stays above the $2 mark for the balance of the year. April Buying Spree: Westlake Village-based Jafra Cosmetics, a $400 million beauty products company owned mostly by New York investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, was sold to Vorwerk & Co. KG, a German-based household products firm, just weeks after Jafra filed its intention to go public. Sentinel Sold: The Los Angeles Sentinel the largest and oldest black-owned weekly in the West, was acquired by businessman/activist Danny Bakewell and promptly announced expansion plans to include bureaus in the San Fernando Valley, Inglewood, Lynwood, Compton and Rancho Cucamonga. Mortgage Firm Acquired: WMC Finance Co., the sixth largest nonprime wholesale lender in the country, was acquired by GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric Co. WMC, with 2003 loan originations of $8.2 billion, remains in Woodland Hills under the direction of its president Amy Brandt. Sex Stoppage: Adult film producers impose a two-month filming hiatus when two performers test positive for HIV. Bigger: Countrywide Financial Corp., a behemoth in home mortgage lending, announces plans to open a commercial real estate lending arm, Countrywide Commercial Real Estate Finance Inc. Broke: Randall Roth, once a high-flying Valley developer who planned to redevelop a large swath of land in Sun Valley, files for personal and business bankruptcy protection. Both filings were eventually dismissed when Roth did not submit the necessary documents and filing fees. The Sun Valley project, taken over by new managers, remains undeveloped. May Pink Slips: Health Net Inc. announces plans to lay off about 500 workers, representing 5 percent of its national workforce after the company’s net earnings plummet to about $15 million from $72.1 million in the first quarter of 2003. The move includes about 100 workers in its Woodland Hills headquarters. Road Kill: Construction of the Transit Hub for the Valley’s Metro Orange Line closes a stretch of Owensmouth Avenue between Oxnard and Erwin streets, setting off a stream of protest from the community. The road reopened in November, but the Orange Line remains about six months behind schedule as the year ends. Wet Paint: Earl Scheib Inc. agrees to be acquired by Elden Holding Group LLC, but by September, the deal falls through. June Passings: Ronald Reagan dies at age 93 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease and is buried at his presidential library in Simi Valley. School’s Out: Learning Tree University, a 30-year-old community school for continuing education, closes its doors when its new owner, Corinthian Colleges Inc., determines that it cannot make a go of the school’s classroom operations. LTU’s online courses and its healthcare courses, part of the $3.3 million acquisition, are absorbed into Corinthian’s other business units. Quitting Time: Four city commissioners resign from Mayor Jim Hahn’s administration to throw their support behind the mayoral race of former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg. The four included Lisa Specht, a member of the Coliseum and Recreation and Parks Commissions; Doug Ring from the Community Redevelopment Commission, Dennis O’Sullivan, with the L.A. Homeless Services Authority and Victor Sampson, a member of the Police Permit Review Panel and the First 5 Commission. Shuttered: Honeywell Airport Systems in Simi Valley throws in the towel after three consecutive years of losses at the airfield lighting manufacturer. About 85 employees got pink slips as a result, including engineering, manufacturing and administrative personnel. Sold: Southland Title Corp. is acquired by LandAmerica Financial Group, one of the four largest title insurers in the country. July Departures: Los Angeles Laker Center Shaquille O’Neal takes a new job with the Miami Heat. Public Stance: Mannkind Corp., a Valencia based biopharmaceutical company founded by Al Mann, launches its IPO at $14 a share. After spiking to about $24 a share in September, the stock has settled into the $16 per share range. Family Affair: The nation’s first paid family leave law takes effect in California, adding to a lengthening list of reasons businesses say it is becoming more and more difficult to operate in the state. August Robbins Bros.: It is reported that Robbins Bros. The World’s Biggest Engagement Ring Store is looking for an equity partner. The newsletter MergerMarket quoted an unnamed source who said that Glendale-based Robbins Bros. signed on with international investment bank Rothschild several months before. Steve Robbins, chairman and CEO of the company did not return phone calls from the Business Journal, but spokeswoman Tracey Lyles responded by e-mail saying that the company was funding a national expansion and had no intentions of going public. Rocketdyne: The largest Aerospace employer in the San Fernando Valley may shut down local operations altogether by the end of the decade. Byron Wood, the company’s chief executive said the company may face “a cliff” as early as 2009 resulting from increased competition from European and Asian manufacturers, shifting U.S. government policies and an American aerospace industry with infrastructure that dates back to the Cold War. September Polytainer: The Simi Valley plastics manufacturer with 350 employees announces it plans to move to Arizona, citing high costs due to workers’ compensation, SB-2 and Family Leave, electricity costs and the lack of a qualified workforce. Bank Sale: Washington Mutual divests its Chatsworth regional headquarters properties in order to boost its bottom line. Chamber Name: The Northridge/Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce changes its name to the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, putting it into conflict with the United Chambers of Commerce. October Welk Group: The Welk Group, mostly owned by descendants of band leader Lawrence Welk buys a Glendale film production studio for about $10 million. Multi Family Homes: Reports show that sales of apartments during the first half of 2004 were lower than the year before, as prices went up. Clinic Grant: The Valley Community Clinic is awarded an additional $650,000 annually to expand its services to more of the Valley’s uninsured population. Northridge Doctors: Doctors at Northridge Hospital Medical Center Sherman Way campus attempt to buy the hospital. Owners Catholic Healthcare West say that a deal to sell the hospital’s equipment to Valley Presbyterian and the real estate to a private developer are both done deals. Politicians’ efforts to keep the hospital open are unsuccessful. November Election: The business community is pleased with the result of most state proposition votes. Companies with over fifty employees are no longer required by the state to provide health coverage to its workers, business communities said that some companies would have gone out of business complying with strict state guidelines. A telephone tax to fund emergency rooms was defeated, and a proposition that limits lawsuits against businesses was passed. Toys: Mattel sues a former employee who joined North Hills-based MGA Entertainment, saying the employee took company secrets when he left. The two companies are arch-rival toy manufacturers. Save the World: Local attorney Ed Masry and Erin Brockovich launch a company, Save the World Air Inc., which is developing devices to reduce toxic emissions caused by motor vehicle engines. Biz Tax: After years of debate in the city, significant business tax reform is finally passed as the Greuel-Garcetti bill unanimously passes the city council. It reduces the number of taxpayer categories from 75 to seven, and offered specific relief for the entertainment industry, and gives a 15 percent across the board tax cut to all businesses. Adelstein Resigns: After serving less than five months in the position, Wayne Adelstein resigns as chairman of the Valley Economic Development Center. December Panel opposes housing plans: The North Valley Area Planning Commission writes to city officials saying it opposed an inclusionary housing ordinance scheduled to go to committee next year. The commission said the ordinance would upset the character of neighborhoods and interfere with development guidelines. Valley IPO: American Reprographics, Co., one of the largest privately held companies in the San Fernando Valley, files for an initial public offering. The company hopes to raise $230 million which it would use for debt repayment and expansion. Bottom Line: Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, requiring companies with a market capitalization of $75 million or more to comply with a host of new reporting requirements, takes effect.

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