Stories for December 2004

Monday, December 20

Unemployment Predicted To Drop Even Further

San Diego's unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level in about three years in November, at 3.4 percent, with the prospect of dropping even lower this month. "December is usually the lowest month for the year," said Cheryl Mason, labor market analyst

Legal Officers Tackle Tough Issues

Efficiency, cost control and compliance are among the top priorities facing the nation's chief legal officers, according to a new survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel and Altman Weil, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based management consultant to the legal

Proper Printed Materials Can Spark a Business

Question: I just opened a business and I want to make sure I look professional. How important is having printed material with my company logo? Answer: All your company's printed pieces should be consistent in appearance and theme. A successful company i

Port Tenants To Get to Meet Mayor's Pick For Panel

A reporter's job is to chronicle events. Or in some cases, nonevents, such as why Mayor Dick Murphy hadn't consulted with the San Diego Port Tenants Association before recommending Kourosh Hangafarin to replace San Diego Unified Port District Commissioner

Aguirre Orders Pension Shake-up

Some prominent San Diegans aren't surprised that newly elected City Attorney Michael Aguirre is wasting no time in shaking things up at San Diego City Hall.

Carlsbad Company Uses Aggressive Growth Strategy

Carlsbad-based research kit producer Invitrogen Corp., which has grown tremendously through a strategy of aggressive buyouts of technology and companies, has done it again. On Dec. 8, Invitrogen said it will pay up to $8 million to buy Bio Asia, a leadi

Nurses Union: Order Is 'Abuse of the Law'

A spokesman for the California Nurses Association said their union plans to fight an executive order by the Schwarzenegger administration to delay new rules for patient-to-staffing ratios.

Odd Coupling Reveals Cubic's Success Tactics

A formidable image of military hardware and a less-than-formidable image , a red double-decker bus , appear on the Web site of San Diego-based Cubic Corp. Better than anything, that odd couple shows the unique way the tech company splits its business. T

Burnham Teams Up With Investment Brokerage

To expand its reach in the arena of apartment investment, San Diego-based Burnham Real Estate has aligned itself with Apartment Realty Advisors, a national multifamily-only investment brokerage. Burnham President and Chief Executive Officer Stath Karras

Fueling the Future

Meltdowns by motorists at San Diego's gas pumps may never be totally eliminated, but alternative fuels may ease the gas pains one day, and hydrogen fuel could be among the pain relievers. That's the hope of those on the forefront of developing this rene

Chula Vista Looks to Redevelop West Side

Chula Vista is in the process of producing a catalyst for urban redevelopment in the western half of the county's second largest city. The private, nonprofit corporation will be similar to the Centre City Development Corp., the planning and development

Smaller Can Be Better For S.D. Homeowners

One of the latest sacrifices San Diego County consumers are willing to make to purchase their own home has to do with the amount of space they're willing to inhabit. Builders are constructing smaller and smaller units and they're selling as well , maybe

Progress Report

Sales and Leases

Main Street California's Cleanup Is a Work in Progress

Where does the California economy find itself at year's end, and what does it portend for 2005? Three exhaustive studies do not paint a very pretty picture. In its annual rankings of small-business-friendly states, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Coun

2 Locals Named to Stem Cell Research Panel

The embryonic stem cell research committee was finalized Dec. 14, just in time for the board's first meeting. Last week, 16 new members, including two San Diegans, were named to the 29-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the group that wil

S.D. Manufacturer Gets Innovative to Reach Its Goal

Maxwell Technologies, Inc., a San Diego-based developer and manufacturer of innovative energy storage and power delivery solutions, has a goal: to be "a pod of whales in a big ocean, instead of minnows in a tub." And Richard Smith, the executive vice pr

Sprint-Nextel Deal a Boon to Qualcomm

Wireless technology supplier Qualcomm Inc. may benefit from a merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications, Inc. if their $35 billion deal closes as planned. The wireless telecom carriers made it official last week, saying they would form a new company ca

Small Business Spotlight

A national and international force in the telescope industry, Oceanside Photo & Telescope Inc. has been servicing San Diego enthusiasts and professionals since 1974. The largest single-store telescope retailer in the nation, Oceanside-based OPT sells ph

Construction Journal

Construction Journal

Business Flowing as Owners Revitalize Water Firm

Now operating at less than half capacity, the new owners of Palomar Mountain Spring Water, Inc. hope to double sales next year, and build the once-bankrupt water supply company back to its previous size. "We'll do about $3 million in sales this year, bu

Pols' Staffs Rely on Voters for Security

Thanks to San Diego voters, Clifton Williams can keep his job for four more years. Williams, the chief of staff for 1st District San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters, would have lost his job had Peters not won his re-election bid against local busines

Clear Channel Radio Hopes to Gain More From Less

While Clear Channel Radio's companywide initiative to decrease the number of commercial minutes per hour seems to be a step toward more commercial-free, listener-friendly radio, local advertising executives say the initiative may hurt the industry more th

Executive Profile

Starting as a management trainee and working his way up the ladder, Ted Kanatas, an Ohio native and one-time stockbroker, has held jobs at 10 Hyatt hotels. His career path has taken him to such cities as Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., Los Angel

Builder to Open Downtown Condo Sales Office

Dallas-based Centex Homes, one of the nation's largest home builders, is set to open a Downtown San Diego sales office in January. Sales staff in the 2,500-square-foot office at 950 Market St. will market the builder's current and future Downtown projec

Students Look to Master Sports Management

Interest in San Diego State University's master's degree program in sports business management , the first to be offered in the country , has exceeded expectations in its first semester. From 300 inquiries and 60 applicants, 36 students , six more than

Hope for Float Sinks as Banks Implement Check 21

A new way of processing checks, allowing banks to clear the items electronically instead of doing so with the original paper document, hasn't generated any noticeable problems for banks or their customers, say local bankers. Called Check 21, the federal


Letter to the Editor

Bush Provides Help for Small Businesses

President Bush gave a boost to small businesses this past week, signing legislation that will ensure more than $21 billion in small-business loans. The passing of the Omnibus bill means that more small businesses will have access to loans, according to

Middle Ground in China Debate Not Easy to Find

This will teach the Chinese who's boss! The New York Times, one of the world's great papers, ran a series of negative articles about China. These negative stories were appearing above the fold on the front page , the newspaper's most prominent spot.

Monday, December 13

Christmas Tree Lots Sprout Across S.D. County

The smell of pine trees, the sounds of Christmas music and the abundance of twinkling lights bring a smile to many during the holiday season.


Sales and Leases

Private Investors Looking Outside San Diego's Box

As commercial real estate prices continue to climb across the county, private investors are increasingly cashing out and placing the capital in markets outside the area, and often not even in California.

Marketing, Weak Dollar Help L.A. Hospitality Biz

The hotel business in downtown Los Angeles has staged a strong comeback from the alarmingly low occupancy levels following the terrorist attacks of three years ago, far outpacing the regionwide rebound.

City's Fiscal Crisis Delays Public Works

Because of its inability to sell bonds that pay for water and sewer projects, San Diego city officials are delaying plans to seek bids for $267.5 million worth of construction contracts through the end of 2005. In a memo to Mayor Dick Murphy and the San

VCs Plant More Money Into Sequoia

Sequoia Communications, a Rancho Bernardo company that makes semiconductors for wireless devices, has closed its Series D financing round, securing $15 million from five sources.

Globetrotting Guidance

Here's a quiz for savvy frequent corporate travelers: Which place in New York touts the world's thinnest pizza? Which hotel in New Delhi airs CNN during exercise? Which hotel in Cancun boasts 10 swimming pools, an amphitheater, free Internet access,

Brief Shutdown Doesn't Slow SBA Lending in 2004

It may have started off a bit strange, with Congress playing games with its budget and causing a temporary shutdown of the loan program, but last fiscal year was a record-breaker for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

9-11 Changed Travel Habits for Business Executives

When Joseph Panetta embarks on an international flight these days, he tends to avoid one airport in particular , San Diego's Lindbergh Field. He opts instead for the longer drive to John Wayne Airport in Orange County or even to the tiny McClellan-Palom

Computer Lab Is Not Just Playing Games

Though they both deal in video games, the people working at Sammy Studios, Inc. and at UC San Diego's Experimental Game Lab may as well operate on different planets.

Quantum Likely Won't Feel InVision Deal Effects

Bribery allegations involving cash payments to obtain business contracts may have scuttled the sale of Titan Corp. to Lockheed Martin Corp. this year, but weren't sufficient to stop General Electric's acquisition of a Bay Area company that owns Quantum Ma

Construction Journal

Construction Journal

Holiday Bowl Colored Gold, Red , and Green

San Diego's heavy rains of late haven't put a damper on the upcoming Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.

New D.A. Commander Has Tall Texas Tales

Debbie Conkin, 53, the first woman to achieve the rank of commander in the district attorney's Bureau of Investigation, has come a long way , geographically and professionally.

Getting It Right , It's Only Fair

Mayor Dick Murphy raised his right hand and took the oath of office last week, but questions about the validity of the vote still linger. The issue over how many votes were actually cast for write-in candidate Donna

Local Colleges Getting the Business From Students

Enrollment in the business college at the county's largest university has increased in the last few years, and if applications for undergraduate admission are any indication, the trend will continue.

New Harrah's Rincon Tower Reaches for the Sky

The tallest building in North County is not in Oceanside or Escondido. It's on the Rincon Indian reservation in Valley Center. Harrah's Rincon Casino and Resort has opened its 21-story hotel tower and resort addition and is working toward an official open

LAvish LAttes LAnd in LA Jolla as New Ad Scheme

A La Jolla merchants group has retained the advertising agency used by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau to help put some ooh-la-la in La Jolla tourism. The $250,000 campaign, designed by Di Zinno Thompson advertising, is sponsored by Promote L

New Mustang Has Plenty of Ponies

Of the many things Ford got right with its all-new and brilliantly reborn 2005 Mustang GT, it got the single most important element dead on: The car's fundamental Mustang-ness. The 2005 Mustang GT feels right. It looks right. It sounds right. It perform

Airlines Teetering on Bankruptcy Comes as No Surprise

The American Automobile Association estimates that airline travel will return to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels this holiday season. I wonder why? It's easy to see why national airline after national airline is going broke , the thrill is gone, and the c

Executive Profile

Edward Wylie, the president of San Diego-based C.E. Wylie Construction Co., said there was no master plan for him to inherit the reins of the family business.

Week in Review

Top Business News: Dec. 3-9

San Diego Firms To Feel Energy Crunch in 2005

San Diego businesses , stunned by a $733 million cost shift to San Diego Gas & Electric Co. by the California Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 2 , are trying to gauge the financial hit they are likely to take from the action.

Paws-abilities Are Endless For Family

When Jamie Getzwiller decided to help her mother shoot a yoga workout video, she also wanted to help her father show off his Navajo rugs, which the yoga participants in the video would be practicing their yoga on. Instead of having the participants use

Small Business Spotlight

Four hours of sleep a day has become the norm for Andrew Simmons. The president and chief executive officer of Mosaic Tile Group, an Internet-based seller of mosaic tiles and mosaic tile design software programs, Simmons works 30 hours a week on his compa

Future of S.D. Mayor's Seat Still in Some Doubt

San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye , whose write-in candidacy for mayor continues to generate fireworks some six weeks after the Nov. 2 election , is still weighing her options. "I don't rule anything out anymore," she said in a Dec. 9 phone convers

Conventional Wisdom

A business forecast for the San Diego Convention Center shows that event-related hotel bookings have increased since the it's in-house staff took over marketing the under-utilized facility in the summer. According to a projection last week by Fred Sain

2 Experimental Drugs Make News at Major Meeting

News of two experimental drugs that showed strong early results in treating patients with a blood cancer that has grown resistant to the wonder drug Gleevec dominated the headlines coming out of last week's American Society of Hematology meeting in San Di

Owner Draws Experience From Franchise Plan

For 15 years, Edwin Merced helped run 22 Little Caesars pizza stores in San Diego County. As regional operations director for the corporation, Merced was the one who kept the stores running, turning out nearly 3,000 pizzas a day at certain locations an

Sockers Post a New Goal , Avoiding Collapse

The San Diego Sockers, the storied professional indoor soccer team that owns 10 league championships in its quarter-century of play, is facing financial collapse. New owner Raj Kalra, who acquired 80 percent of the team in a deal approved in October by

Home Builder Turning Spotlight on Broadway

Carlsbad-based Concordia Homes continues to expand into urban housing development with its latest project in Chula Vista. In its first project in the South Bay city, the builder is constructing Spotlight on Broadway in the downtown area. It will have 40

Monday, December 6

Feds Give More Than $12M to Scientists at Scripps

A group of scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla recently won more than $12 million in federal grant money to find ways to predict how patients will respond to immunosuppressive drugs following kidney transplants.

Wall Street Is Buying Into Public Storage Inc.'s Philosophy

After building up a huge cash stockpile for much of this year, Public Storage Inc. has become a buyer of new properties in key markets , and Wall Street, in turn, is buying its stock.

SAIC Lands Firm to Aid Logistics Unit

San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp. has completed its acquisition of ProcureNet Holdings Inc. of Fairfield, N.J.

Plans for Business Park in Carlsbad Moving Forward

Planning to capitalize on North County's growing residential population, San Diego-based rock quarry operator turned real estate developer H.G. Fenton Co. is moving forward with its Carlsbad Raceway Business Park.

Looking to Expand Real Estate Firm? Here's How

Question: I am looking to expand my real estate business. How do I build a successful team to help me reach my goals?

Small Business

An author of six books in the fields of leadership and negotiation, Peter Barron Stark knows how to lead a company. The president of Peter Barron Stark & Associates, Inc., Stark helps companies reach the type of corporate atmosphere that would most benefi

Schooling Could Help Bend H-1B Visa Rules

Companies courting a scientist or engineer from overseas may soon have a better chance of hiring that person. It all depends on where that person went to school.

Firm Offers Toll-Free Real Estate Service

Freedom Voice Systems, an Encinitas-based company that develops and markets feature-rich voice messaging systems and services, has launched version 2.0 of the AdTrakker toll-free service.

Battle for Country Radio Supremacy Is Heating Up

The competition between the two local country radio stations may not be considered an all-out brawl, but the two stations are putting up a good fight.

Executive Profile

Randy Mendioroz, principal and founder of Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, knows how to make water fast , in a matter of speaking.

Couple Aren't Wine-ing About Shark's Reputation

Combining their two passions in life, great white sharks and wine, husband and wife team Mark Horton and Melanie Marks have embarked on a journey that they hope will change the image of sharks throughout the world.

Kyocera Begins Solar Panel Production in Tijuana

Troy Strand's solar panel installation business in San Marcos is looking brighter every day. As energy prices continue to climb, more homeowners and businesses are turning to alternate power sources and finding a dependable one right overhead.

A Market for Merging

Local firms specializing in advising businesses on the sale or purchase of another company say merger activity is on the rise, and it's a seller's market.

Some Shoppers Shut Out the Day After Thanksgiving

Shoppers who were able to get to their favorite stores on "Black Friday" , the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year and the official start to the holiday shopping season , found that retailers were very busy Nov. 26.

Emax Realty Files Counterclaim Against Re/Max

Del Mar-based Emax Realty International claims there is no way consumers could confuse the local firm with national residential real estate sales giant Re/Max International.

San Diego People

Awards & recognition

Vision Clear as Sola International Acquires New Firm

Sola International Inc., a San Diego maker and distributor of eyeglass lenses, announced it acquired Vision Systems Inc., with two prescription laboratories in Georgia and Virginia, for $2.6 million in cash plus the assumption of $1.2 million in debt.

Company to Broaden By Buying, Investing

ICU Medical Inc. is looking to branch out after years of relying on a single, dominant product.

Commentary Other Viewpoints

There are two major problems with the world economy right now. Their names are Japan and the United States.

Despite Sale Talk, Legoland Commits to New Ride

Despite being up for sale, Legoland California is continuing to make major investments in capital improvements that are expected to drive up its gate count.

PUC Offers No Breaks for San Diego Businesses

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a permanent cost-allocation plan among the three investor-owned utilities that, in 2007, could cost the typical San Diego industrial customer as much as $100,000 a year more on its electric bill.

San Diego Firm Develops Lab E-Notebook

Chris Coppin was tired of sifting through stacks of handwritten and hard-to-read paper notebooks from his scientific team.

Strict Sex-Harassment Training Rules on the Horizon

Human resource directors take heed: Come 2006, you will be required to comply with beefed-up training requirements to prevent , or deal with , sexual harassment in your shops.

Major Events Aren't Complete Without Elite's Services

Go to the San Diego State University library and they're there, keeping an eye on the all-night study sessions.

Some Companies Seeing Workers' Comp Relief

With the passage of legislative reforms, California employers hoped to see big savings on their workers' compensation bills this year.

Work Commences on $2.5M Transitional Housing Project

Construction is under way on the $2.5 million Serenity Village for the North County Serenity House in Escondido.

Local Firm Builds Brain Trust Through Acquisitions

When Kintera Inc. acquired American Fundware Inc. last month, it was the seventh purchase this year by the San Diego-based company that makes software that helps nonprofit organizations manage their fund-raising activities.

Cargo Business Climbs as New Ship Bases Its Operations Here

The first cargo ship to make San Diego a home port in more than a decade represents a significant increase in revenue for the agency overseeing the county's maritime business and more jobs for the local economy.




With the ouster of California Public Employees' Retirement System President Sean Harrigan, the nation's largest public pension fund can put its lobbying efforts behind it and focus on governing its money.

San Diegans Filling Up Their Online Shopping Carts

Even in December, San Diegans shop in the sunshine, walking from store to store in our open-air malls. Yet a new poll from America Online reveals San Diegans are basking in the rays of their computer screens.

Middle Eastern Execs Participate in UCSD Program

Thirty-two executives and business owners from 15 Middle East nations arrived in San Diego last week to participate in a federally sponsored training and networking program conducted at the Beyster Institute at the Rady School at UC San Diego.

Sales Likely to Soar For New MS Drug

After initially predicting revenue of more than $2 billion, analysts now believe that Elan Corp. and Biogen Idec Inc.'s newly approved multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri could generate top sales of $3.5 billion annually.



Hispanic Marketing Missing Mark

While Hispanics represent more than one-quarter of the population in San Diego County, the amount of money spent on marketing to the Hispanic community is minimal, according to several local advertising executives.

Restaurant Group Rebuilding Coco's and Carrows Name

Industry analysts are predicting that revenues for eateries will be up nationwide by 6 percent for 2004, and the Catalina Restaurant Group wants to get a bigger piece of the pie.

The $400 Million (Young) Man

After several years of working in financial analysis and acquisitions for large-scale real estate projects, Jon Hammer was ready to start his own real estate development company -- at the ripe old age of 25.