Stories in this week’s Orange County Business Journal

TOP STORIES

Jonas Bevacqua, the 33-year-old cofounder of Irvine-based clothing maker Lifted Research Group Inc., died May 30 at his home in Laguna Beach. An autopsy last week failed to determine a cause of death. Medical examiners now are awaiting results of blood and toxicological tests, which could take six to eight weeks. Investigators have ruled out homicide. Bevacqua started LRG with Robert Wright and Charlie Moothart in 1999. The company has estimated yearly sales of about $200 million and makes clothes inspired by hip-hop music, urban fashion and skateboarding. LRG has strong ties to hip-hop music and sports, with a number of stars serving as models. Bevacqua was known for flashy clothes, hats and oversized jewelry. In 2007, LRG was honored by the Business Journal as one of the county’s fast-growing private companies, with Bevacqua impressing the crowd of businesspeople with his eloquence and flare. He was of Vietnamese descent and grew up one of eight children, seven of whom were adopted, all of different ethnicities. LRG designs and markets its clothes from a 110,000-square-foot facility in Irvine.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority elected Tom Umberg to replace former Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle as its chairman. The board oversees development of a publicly financed 800-mile high-speed system that’s expected to connect Anaheim, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Fresno and San Diego. Umberg is a former state assemblyman who represented areas of North Orange County for three terms as a Democrat. He defeated Pringle in his first race for the Assembly in 1990. Umberg has been a member of the rail board since 2008 and works as a lawyer for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP’s office in Costa Mesa.

ECONOMIC INDICATOR

UP: Hiring plans among executives here, according to the Orange County Business Leaders Survey by the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine, and Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP. Two-thirds of 130 respondents said their companies plan to add jobs this year, with one in five indicating an increase of 10% or more.

REAL ESTATE

Santa Ana-based real estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis Co. plans to continue to seek suitors on a possible a sale after a 60-day exclusivity pact with an investor passed last week. Grubb got $18 million in financing from Los Angeles-based hedge fund manager Colony Capital LLC in March. The deal gave Colony—led by billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack—60 days to consider a larger investment in Grubb, whose stock has been battered by the commercial real estate downturn as well as an ill-fated combination with Santa Ana-based NNN Realty Advisors in 2007. Grubb said it has made “significant progress” in the potential sale of Daymark Realty Advisors, a recently formed subsidiary that runs its tenant-in-common portfolio of about 30 million square feet.

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