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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

Valley Edit

valleyedit///lacter///june/mike1st/jc2nd Hed — Adieu, Great Western The San Fernando Valley is about to lose one of its largest companies. But it’s not the end of the world just a reflection of how this business community is evolving. For months, Chatsworth-based Great Western Financial Corp. has been the target of an intense takeover battle, pitting two suitors: Irwindale-based H.F. Ahmanson & Co., parent company of Home Savings, and Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc. A shareholders vote is scheduled for June 13. As of this writing, the betting is on Washington Mutual, but no matter which side prevails, Great Western is about to be gobbled up and with it, the company’s 4,473 Valley workers. Layoffs clearly are a possibility; dislocations all but assured. In recent years, the Valley has lost a few large, nationally known companies to mergers or relocations Lockheed being about the most obvious, recent example. But unlike downtown L.A., which has lost First Interstate, Unocal and Carter Hawley Hale in just the last few years, the Valley never has been a stronghold for Fortune 500 companies. Yes, there is Burbank-based Walt Disney Co., with 1996 revenues of $18.7 billion. But as is seen in our list of Valley public companies (page 17), the numbers drop off sharply. In the second position is WellPoint Health Networks Inc. ($4.7 billion), followed by Dole Food Co. Inc. ($3.8 billion). Even those numbers are deceiving. WellPoint, along with other major Valley-based HMOs, threaten to leave town because L.A. taxes are too high; and most of Dole’s operations are outside the Valley (only 200 Valley employees out of a total work force of 46,000). The point is that while the Valley remains a major business center for Southern California, it will never be the center of mega-corporations as with New York and Chicago. Nor should that kind of status be sought after it’s not the Valley’s strength. What this community does best is provide an environment for success: An educated labor pool, ample space for offices and manufacturing, a respected state university, and an accessible place to do business. It’s an area that’s ideal for entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses not multinational behemoths. No. 25 on this month’s list is On Assignment Inc., a fast-growing temp agency for scientific professionals, with revenues of $88.2 million. It’s a perfect Valley success story. So is Natrol Inc., a privately held manufacturer and distributor of dietary supplements that’s profiled in this month’s issue (page 8). Starting in 1981 as a one-person shop and sales of $200,000, Natrol now has 120 employees and 1996 sales of about $40 million. It will be too bad to see the dissolving of Great Western. But more important to the Valley’s business lifeblood are the On Assignments and Natrols. For us, that’s where the action is and will continue to be.

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