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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JOB MARKET: WORKING INTO THE NEXT CENTURY : MID-CAREER CRUNCH : REACHING THE TOP ISN'T EVERYTHING : Businessman Derives Motivation to Keep Doing His Best From Incentives Tied to Performance

May 15, 1988|JOHN CHARLES TIGHE

When the company president is five years younger than you are, getting to the top may be out of the question.

"If you're going to stay, you better find something else other than his job to drive you," said 43-year-old Harvey Brate, vice president of Fastframe California, an Agoura Hills-based firm that operates 19 custom frame shops in four states.

For Brate, part of the motivation comes from getting a financial reward that is directly tied to his performance.

"The whole generation is a lot like that. We don't want to be paid for showing up. We want to perform. And we don't care about having some defined duties that fit under a certain title."

"The ideal motivation comes when my pay is tied to my performance and to the performance of the company," Brate said. "If my employer does well, maybe half my pay will be what my W-2 shows. The rest is from incentives and stock options and bonuses. That's what pushes me."

He was in a similar pay-for-performance position several years ago at Roseland, N.J.-based Automatic Data Processing, then a small, rapidly growing payroll processor, and now a billion-dollar firm.

Brate held nearly a dozen titles at the company, including corporate controller, but he said he was more concerned about the growth of the company than the title he was wearing at the moment. "The company was growing 25% to 30% a year. My responsibilities kept increasing. There was no time to stop producing or to get frustrated," he said.

Because growth was potentially even greater in the technology industry, Brate left ADP for a job with a computer maker in California. The firm, which was the victim of a shakeout in the computer industry, failed and Brate started to work as a consultant to computer companies.

"The places I liked could no longer afford to have me on their payroll, but I wasn't very interested in being part of a company any more," said Brate. "I think a lot of baby boomers are very choosy because they want the best. And that's fine. I know I've been choosy with the companies I've worked for.

"I have to like a firm an awful lot to want to be there. That might not mean the company is without risk, but it has the potential for a bright future."

Brate, who joined Fastframe in December, was attracted to it because he said it is well-capitalized and operates in a niche industry that is not already dominated by one firm.

"There are very few places like this," he said. "This is a lot like ADP. As the company grows, so will my responsibilities. Someday I might want to be president of a company. But not now."

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