Congratulations to the 2013 Award Recipients!
Janice Bryant Howroyd
Just two years after arriving in California with a few hundred dollars to her name, Janice Bryant Howroyd founded the Act 1 Group. Today, the company provides staffing, human resources, and management solutions to both small organizations and members of the Fortune 500.
The company consists of Agile 1 Workforce Solutions, AppleOne Employment Services, and Business Services Solutions. The Act 1 Group is one of the country’s largest workforce management firms, and its clients are in such industries as entertainment, technology, finance, and biotech.
Bryant Howroyd created the company in 1978 and is the chairman and CEO. She says her goal is to establish client-for-life relationships with client companies. To accomplish this, she strives to understand the challenges faced by global workers and business owners alike, prior to offering solutions that meet her customers’ needs.
For example, during the recent recession, companies were not hiring as many people as they usually did. So Bryant Howroyd helped her client companies to increase their operational efficiency by utilizing the most efficient human resource strategies possible.
Bryant Howroyd creates events for both vendors and customers to identify needs in the market. She says that she stays passionate about her business because she knows that her work is affecting people’s lives.
Clarence Daniels Jr.
Many people think they have a long commute to work. But few can top Clarence Daniels Jr., the chairman and CEO of Concession Management Services (CMS). For the first year of the company, Daniels commuted weekly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
Daniels undertook the long weekly journey because he was convinced that he had a winning idea in CMS. Today the organization runs a variety of food and beverage concessions at several American airports, including LAX.
Daniels founded the company in 1992, and it has displayed steady growth, even managing to stay profitable after the 9/11 attacks, which had a huge impact on airline travel. Daniels says that although the organization often bids against much larger companies for airport concessions, CMS differentiates itself through innovation. For example, the company was one of the first to introduce an all-organic restaurant in airports.
Airport concessions are heavily regulated, due to legal and security concerns. For example, it takes the FBI an average of three weeks just to issue a security badge to a new airport concessions employee. But Daniels says that CMS is able to thrive under such tough conditions because it uses its knowledge of the industry to establish partnerships with national, regional, and local restaurant brands that want to gain entry into the market.
Conventional wisdom is that the customer is the top priority. But Sam Naficy, the president and CEO of DTT, says that in his organization, customers come second, and that employees are the most important constituency. Naficy believes that employees will stick with an organization if they see their efforts directly contribute to the growth of the company.
That philosophy has worked for DTT, which provides surveillance-system solutions to the restaurant and hospitality industries. The organization provides its customers with protection against theft by offering a virtual management presence and by recording any suspicious activity. The company’s software allows digital recording, local and remote viewing, simultaneous remote monitoring of multiple locations, and more. DTT has recently branched out to offer tools that facilitate customer feedback.
Naficy founded the company in 1999. Since that time, DTT has had many competitors enter the industry, but virtually all of them are gone now. Naficy says that DTT has outlasted the competition by continuing to deliver cutting-edge services and technology to its clients. DTT has supplied services to more than 27,000 customer locations for such well known brands as McDonald’s, Subway, and the Peninsula Hotel.
Naficy’s stated goal is to double the company’s business every two years. He points out that DTT currently serves about 3% of the hospitality industry, leaving a huge potential for expansion.
It’s a challenge when potential clients have the mistaken impression that your services are free. But Jeff Stibel has managed to overcome this problem without alienating new customers.
Stibel is the chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation (DBCC), which provides credit building and credibility solutions for businesses. The organization helps businesses establish their credit with a D&B DUNS® Number, a unique nine-digit identification sequence that is often required by global corporations, governments, and trade associations. The company also tracks the credit and creditworthiness of the companies with which its clients do business.
Stibel founded the company in 2010 when he acquired the rights to certain assets from Dun & Bradstreet. He then quickly shut down the existing business and recreated it under his plan.
The new entity had to contend with the inaccurate perception that it was a government agency and that credit services should be free. Stibel made it a priority to prove the value of what the company offered, and he provided a full refund if the customer was not fully satisfied. In addition, DBCC provided free credit reports and complementary services for newly formed companies. As a result, Stibel formed positive relationships with many customers, which in turn became long-term clients.
Family Business Award of Excellence
The An Family
The An family fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and successfully reestablished their lives in America, eventually building a food and hospitality conglomerate, the House of An. Today, Helene An and her five daughters own and operate five restaurants and a catering division.
In 1971, Helene An and her mother-in-law, Diane An, bought a small Italian deli in San Francisco. The deli soon became the first Vietnamese restaurant in the city. Among the company’s current restaurants are Crustacean Beverly Hills, well known for its celebrity cachet, and Tiato in Santa Monica, which is built around the concept of sustainability and “eco-chic.”
Helene An is the company’s executive chef and oversees the culinary aspects at all five of the restaurants. Elizabeth An oversees the business development and marketing tactics for House of An’s expansion plans, and she runs the AnQi restaurant. Hannah An works very closely with management and oversees the operations for the company’s Southern California restaurants. Monique An oversees the operations for the Thanh Long and Crustacean San Francisco restaurants. Jacky An consults on all financial aspects of the company. Catherine An spearheads the family’s catering division and was the brain behind House of An’s newest Tiato Kitchen Bar Garden + Venue.
The An Family is credited with introducing Vietnamese cuisine to mainstream America. In the future, this fourth generation family owned business plans to expand into the boutique hotel market and to open gourmet noodle bars.
The investment philosophy of Bob Sinnott is built upon the idea of establishing partnerships. He says that this means “doing the right thing” in all aspects of business, and he views every relationship with investors, employees, and even investments themselves as a partnership.
Sinnott is the president, CEO, and chief investment officer of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, an alternative investment firm. The company, which was founded in 1984, pursues investment opportunities that offer sustainable returns with moderate levels of risk. The company specializes in such fields as energy marketable securities, real estate private equity, middle market credit, and municipal opportunities.
Among Sinnott’s innovations was assembling dedicated investment teams, made up of top analysts in their respective industries. Sinnott says that he works hard to ensure that each investment group complements the work of the others.
Many of the firm’s investment opportunities are unique and a bit more complex than the norm, but Sinnott says that the company’s efforts produce more stable, long-term results. He cites the student housing market and the distressed municipal credit market as examples of niche areas that require a great deal of analysis, but that have great potential. He adds that the company’s reputation and business philosophy inspires confidence among investors and portfolio companies.
The vision for Moctesuma Esparza’s business came directly from his childhood. Esparza, the CEO of Maya Cinemas North America, says that his goal is to transform movie-going back into the family event that it was for him as a young boy.
Maya Cinemas North America is a multiplex theater chain that provides high-quality movie-going experiences by incorporating state-of-the-art audio and visual technology, luxurious stadium seating, and wall-to-wall projection screens. The company’s theaters are located in working-class neighborhoods with a strong Latino presence.
Esparza, who founded the company in 2001, says that he treats each new multiplex as a start-up. The company currently operates three theaters and has two additional sites that are in the final stages of development. Furthermore, Esparza has another 20 sites that he is monitoring or exploring for potential expansion.
Esparza says that he is not as interested in handling long-term, day-to-day management himself. So he has to find people who can provide this essential service but stay true to his overall vision. As such, he gives his managers freedom to perform their jobs as they see fit, but he advocates for his employees to connect with their respective communities and build customer loyalty. Among Esparza’s long-term goals for growing the organization are to continue to expand into different states and to acquire competing companies.