In addition to talking to four business leaders about prospects for Valley businesses as a whole this year, The Times asked 10 people at companies large and small to share their outlook for their individual businesses. Here's what they told staff writer Maggie Barnett:
President, Garcia Research, Burbank-based market research firm
We had 43% growth this fiscal year, from $1.4 million last year to $2 million. We could easily expect the same revenue growth next year. From a growth management standpoint, I hope we don't grow this much next year, because it's so stressful, it's so hard to manage.
We're kind of a risk-reduction business, when people are being careful about spending on marketing, they spend on research. When people have money there's a lot going on. There are certain projects that don't happen in hard times but everybody needs to stay in touch with their market.
Our clients are in Chicago, New York, Dallas, other major cities. We don't have a single client in the Valley. We chose the Valley for (our headquarters because of)the phenomenal labor pool, Burbank for the low business taxes. Transportation is easy. Our location is well-served by buses. We're close to the airport so I can fly out. It's easier to get to Sacramento than it is to Irvine.
Chairman and CEO, GenesisIntermedia Inc., Van Nuys company that acquires and develops Internet companies and technologies
We're definitely going to grow. There are opportunities for acquisitions. Basically we acquire strong brick and mortar companies whose business gets enhanced with the Internet. The Internet is just another channel like radio to deliver information.
We'll definitely be expanding our divisions, hiring more staff. We moved here from Florida in 1995. We like the Valley. It seems to be attracting a lot of people. The work force is readily available here and we bring a lot of talent.
We are not worried about the economy. This thing with the market and the election, this will change. There's too much money sitting on the sidelines.
Chairman and CEO, Larwin Co., Encino-based developer
We build upscale homes in San Jose, Monterey and Sonoma. Those are very exciting, very hot markets. In Southern California we have developments in Simi Valley and Santa Clarita where supply and demand are more in balance.
Consumer confidence is probably the most significant factor. If the market makes a precipitous drop, people will not feel rich and may not want to spend a lot of money on a new home.
We have projects in the works if the market stays up.
I think it will be a good year for our company. If we can build homes we can sell them.
It's difficult to find qualified and trained employees: purchasing agents, project managers and superintendents. We build higher-end homes so we need better-trained plumbers, framers. We have to compete for them. There aren't enough to go around.
A few years ago we used to build 100 to 150 homes a year. We build fewer homes today. Projects get delayed by the tremendous layers of permits and inspections that are required by local government and state and federal agencies.
President, Alper, Alper & Lopez, Woodland Hills advertising firm
We've got a great year ahead of us. One of our companies is a niche industry leader in information technology. The services we provide for them will be up 30%. We expect big growth in the type of media they'll be using next year. We started with them nine years ago. They've become a big company. They've helped us grow and we've helped them grow.
It depends on which pundit you talk to (whether or not we'll have a recession). Because our niche is tech companies, I tend to be very myopic in my view. Our pension and profit-sharing plan is heavily invested in tech stocks and we've done very well, really--we call them the Lopez picks around here.
The Valley is a perfect location for us. We're dead center (within) the high-tech corridor from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Robert G. Funari
President and chief executive officer, Syncor International Corp., Woodland Hills-based radiopharmaceutical and imaging services company
Very definitely we will be expanding here in Woodland Hills and probably doing some additions to staff next year.
Because we are in health care, we are not as concerned as others (over a slowdown in the economy). We have some concerns for the tightness of the labor market. We may experience some salary inflation. I think we will experience some inflation in health care costs next year. We have about 4,000 people in the company that we provide health care for.
The whole field of health care is going through a very exciting time right now. The mapping of the human genome creates some very exciting opportunities for our company.
Michael L. Dingman
Senior VP, Environmental Golf, Calabasas golf course maintenance and development company