Orange County Business Journal


ABOUT THE LISTS: Click on a headline for a summary and analysis of a weekly List (each story includes a FREE download for paid subscribers)

Biggest Employers Pick Up Pace on New Hires

ECONOMY: 3.4% hike to 267,243 jobs; Disney keeps No. 1 spot

Orange County’s biggest employers grew their combined work force at the fastest rate in years.


Regulations, while they remain a common key challenge for all financial institutions, aren’t the only burden on bankers’ minds. There are other concerns that may be specific to a bank or credit union, including its size, customer base, and other factors. The Business Journal’s Jane Yu asked local bank and credit union executives to discuss their current concerns other than regulations. Their responses touch upon a variety of topics, ranging from data security and competition from online lenders to finding skilled talent and catering to younger generations. Here are edited excerpts of their responses:

Commercial Bank Assets’ Biggest Jump in Decade-Plus

20 Institutions Based Here See 38% Increase to $24.2 Billion

Orange County-based commercial banks have recorded the biggest year-over-year increase in assets in more than 10 years.

Credit Unions Grow Assets Faster in Recent Fiscal Year

25 Biggest Combine For 8% Increase to $18 Billion

The biggest local credit unions have picked up the pace of growth, notching an 8% increase in combined assets to $18 billion.

Fastest-Growing Public Companies Get Faster

Revenue Up 41%, Local Hires Double Overall Economy

Orange County’s fastest-growing public companies got faster this year.

Homebuilder Tops List After 2 Years Back in Public Market

Industry Watchers Speculate It Could Be Ripe for Consolidation Trend

Improving fortunes in the housing market and a disciplined operating plan have provided a boost to the fortunes of William Lyon Homes Inc. during its return to the public markets.


Banc of California Focuses on Service In SoCal for 176% Revenue Growth

Fast growth continues for Banc of California Inc.

Pot Products Maker Grows Like a Weed

Terra Tech Sales Up 754%, Largely On Cannabis Demand Surge

Terra Tech Corp.’s crops of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and lettuce are a steady line of business, but the Newport Beach-based company’s newer line of products derived from another leafy green is the big growth driver.

Big Data Becomes Big Initiative at Local Campuses

Programs, Research Added to Meet Increased Demand

Orange County colleges and universities are launching and expanding programs in big data to train students to capture and analyze the reams of information that’s become available in an age when data storage capacity has ballooned.

Grant, Dolls and Gaming Link Commerce, Creativity

Schools Teach Students To Turn Inspiration Into Work

Chapman University plans to open a business incubator for arts and culture-based enterprises at the end of a two-year, $200,000 grant the European Union awarded the school last month.

MBA Programs’ Numbers Down in Strong Economy

Specialization, Speed Enhance Schools’ Efforts

Numbers are down in the Business Journal’s annual survey of MBA programs that serve Orange County—and that’s a good thing.

Insurance Brokers Continue Revenue Gains for 5th Year

Biggest Firms Combine For $570M, Up 13%

Orange County’s insurance brokers grew for the fifth straight year, notching a 13% increase in combined revenue last year.

Architecture Firms Ramp Up With 9% Billings Increase

40 Biggest Combine For $474M in Local Work

Orange County’s architecture firms combined for a 9.1% increase in local billings this year following a modest 1.6% increase in local billings last year, and are on track to return to the 13% surge they had in 2013.

Engineering Firms Reverse Last Year’s Billings Drop

Increase Total By 1.7% Following 1.5% Decrease

Orange County’s top engineering firms with headquarters or significant operations here have recovered from a 1.5% drop in billings last year, posting a 1.7% increase in local billings during the 12-month period ended June 30.

Electronics Makers See Flat Employment Pace

18 Biggest Companies Add Just Nine Employees

Employment at the county’s largest contract electronics makers was flat over the past 12 months, despite steady sales growth in the industry worldwide.

Hyundai Capital Sets Sights on Makeover on MacArthur

Firm Uniquely Emphasizes Office Design, Worker Space

Hyundai Capital America is often identified locally in connection with the large, transparent building next to the San Diego (405) Freeway in Irvine known as The Michelson.

Tenant-Improvement Contractors’ Work Gains Slow

Dollar Value Up 16.2% After 29%, 20% Increases

Orange County’s largest tenant-improvement contractors continued their growth trend last year but slowed in all aspects, including local revenue and number of employees.


A diversity of business sectors, ample capital held by investor groups, and demographic factors are some key drivers behind a robust mergers-and-acquisitions scene in Orange County. The fast pace of M&A activity means professional services providers, such as accountants, are in high demand to carry out sound due-diligence procedures and provide guidance. The Business Journal’s Jane Yu asked local accounting firm executives to share their thoughts on M&A activity in Orange County, as well as to discuss expectations for future trends and client concerns. Here are edited excerpts of their responses:

Accounting Firms Notch 4th Year of Workforce Gains

Employment Up 4.4%, Top Spots Unchanged

Orange County’s largest accounting firms combined to grow the sector’s local workforce by about 4% over the past year, marking the fourth straight year of modest gains.

Management Consultant Gains Slow As Biggest Shrink

27 Firms Eke Out 1% Gain to 1,551 Jobs Here

The pace of employment growth at Orange County’s top management consulting firms slowed over the past year, driven primarily by job cuts at the biggest.

Ranks of Biggest Women-Owned Businesses Swell to 100-Strong

Orange County’s biggest women-owned businesses generated $3.5 billion in revenue last year, notching a 5.6% increase and extending a streak of gains to five years.

Bundles Make Big Business for Maker of Security Systems

More Than $70M in Sales To A-List Customers

Priti Sharma moved to Chicago from India at age 16 and at the time had no idea that she would one day own a multimillion-dollar company.

PE Firms Establish Niches in Quest for Portfolio Growth

At least 8 Active OC Firms Chart Their Own Courses

Orange County’s private equity scene covers a wide range of industries and market segments, a reflection of the diversity in characteristics and specialties of the investment firms here.

More Deals, Smaller Checks on Local VC Landscape

100% Hike in Dollar Volume, 60% Increase Last Year

The biggest venture capital firms in Orange County continued to increase their investments in local companies, though the pace of growth slowed compared with a year earlier.

Tease photo

Women-Owned Businesses Wanted for Annual List

Special Report: Centerpiece of July 6 edition

Is your company women-owned? The Business Journal wants to hear from you.

SBA Loans Jump, National Lenders Lead Way

FINANCE: Value rises 52%; number of loans up 35%

Small-business lending in Orange County rose substantially in recent months, according to this week’s Business Journal lists based on information from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Software Makers Grow Employment 4th Year Straight

Biggest Here Eke Out Modest Gain, Employ 7,991

The largest software makers in Orange County added jobs for the fourth straight year, albeit at a slower clip.

Security Bigger Part of CFO Role as Big Data Grows

Trend Affects Company Image, Viability, Execs Say

Chief financial officers are increasingly becoming an essential part of the conversation about data security, a topic much discussed today as businesses rely more on collection and analysis of “big data” for various aspects of their operations.

Ups, Downs Even Out as Aerospace Holds Steady on Jobs

THE LIST: IFE sector offsets cuts at top-ranked Boeing

Employment at Orange County’s largest aerospace and defense contractors was roughly flat for the third straight year.

Private Companies Wanted for Annual List

Special Issue: List will be centerpiece of June 22 edition

The Business Journal is preparing its annual list of privately owned companies for publication in June.

Panel’s Prediction: Predictive on Rise

Industry Execs Caution on Trade-Off of Privacy

The chief marketing officer of the future could look more like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk than the guys from the “Mad Men” show.

Ad Agencies Top $1 Billion, Led by Gains at Top

Newcomers Help Boost List’s Total, Account for 40%

Orange County’s largest advertising agencies posted an estimated 9% gain in revenue last year, enough to push the group over the $1 billion benchmark.

Printers Reach Beyond Paper, Ink for Revenue Gains

Use of Data to Help Clients Refine Targets One Key

The largest commercial printers based in Orange County combined for $585 million in revenue last year, a 7.5% increase from their total in 2013.

Public Companies Pass $200B on Allergan Effect

Drugmaker’s Sale Brings Much of Big Lift; Edwards, Broadcom Chip In; HCP Moves In

Orange County’s 100 biggest public companies combine for more than $207 billion in market capitalization, a gain of 62% from a year earlier.

Environmental Firms’ Work Rose 8% Last Year

Grow on Economy, Buys, Expanding Services, Goats

The largest environmental consultants with offices in Orange County billed $602 million in 2014, an 8% jump over last year’s $556 million.

Allergan Purchase Pushes M&A Past $90B in 2014

Value Doubled, Even Without $70B+ Sale of Drugmaker

Orange County-based companies were buyers and sellers in 303 corporate mergers and acquisitions in 2014, a year of robust local deal activity that involved slightly fewer deals and many more dollars.

Upscale Bars Offer Comfort, Sociable Dining Alternative

Claim Center Stage With Inviting Decor, Food, Drink

Having a glass of wine with friends is no longer the cutting-edge trend. We are now having cocktails.

Mastering the Plan: Share Sales Rise for OC’s Big Three

Irvine Ranch, Pavilion Park, RMV Counter Nat’l Trend

Sales at Orange County’s best-selling masterplanned residential developments showed no signs of slowing last year and are poised for more growth this year, despite a cooling trend across much of the country.

Infill Projects Keep Big and Small Builders Busy

Less Risk, Fast Sales Appeal to Publicly Traded Firms

Orange County’s largest masterplanned developments are driving a bulk of the recent new-home sales in the region, but plenty of builders are also finding success buying land for residential projects off the beaten path.


Healthcare is more often being delivered outside of traditional hospital walls, a trend that has been driven to some degree by the Affordable Care Act, as well as by technological improvements. Orange County hospitals are no stranger to the shift. The Business Journal’s Vita Reed talked to several hospital executives to discuss outpatient offerings and their purposes. Edited excerpts of their answers follow.

Big Hospitals’ Profits Drop 21% in Year Through Sept.

28 on List Have Second Down Year in a Row

Pretax profits dropped steeply at Orange County’s largest hospitals during the past year.

Community Benefits a Must for Private Nonprofits

Law Requires the Hospitals To Assume Social Obligation

More than a few of Orange County’s prominent hospital operators deliver something in addition to their standard healthcare: “community benefits.”

Banks, Thrift Expand Orange County Deposits by 8%

43 Combine for $84.1 Billion, Mirroring Year-Earlier Rise

Commercial banks in Orange County continued to grow local deposits, notching another 8% increase over the year through June for a total of $84.1 billion.

Legal Pros Focus on Fine Arts, Plan UCI Collaboration

Attorneys Work With UCI Program to Boost Fine Arts

Put together a few attorneys sharing a passion for the arts and a local university that fosters artistic talent, throw in some creative thinking and readiness to provide support, and you’ll get Off-Center, a collective launched by a committee of local lawyers and educators in concert with University of California-Irvine’s art department.

Law Firms Add Attorneys After Two Years of Cuts

Headcount Up 3.2%; More Make List Due to Growth

The biggest law firms in Orange County grew their workforces in 2014, breaking a two-year streak of cuts in attorney headcount.

New Yorker’s OC Junket Puts Jannard in YouTube Picture

Much of this week’s issue is dedicated to a look back at 2014, which has proved to be a remarkable year in many respects for the community of business in Orange County (see overview, page 1; coverage by industry, pages 5 through 18).

El Sol’s Sunny Mission

Plenty of Business Backers for Santa Ana School’s Focus on Arts, Academics, Dual Immersion

The idea of charter schools was little-known concept in Orange County in 1999, recalls Susan Mas.

Orange County Nonprofit Groups Have Year of Growth

Every Category Is Higher, Including Costs, Clients

More people needed a lift last year, and local donors and charitable organizations responded with more money and more people to offer help.

How South Coast Repertory Works Neighborhoods

NONPROFITS: Program adapts to schools’ needs

She was about 10 years old, a painfully shy girl with huge brown eyes and a mop of shiny brown hair. She had a nice smile—when it could be coaxed to appear.

Caritas Turns Mobile Homes Into Upward Mobility

NONPROFITS: Operates 20 parks in region, three in OC

It could be hard to imagine what it must be like to escape one terrible situation, only to be trapped in a nearly identical situation a short time later.

Sales Up 2.3% at Biggest OC Shopping Centers

RETAIL: 32 biggest combine for $7.3 billion

Taxable sales at the top 32 shopping centers in Orange County grew for the fifth straight year, but at a slower pace, according to this week’s Business Journal list.

Auto Dealers Sales Stay Hot; Near $5B on 6.3% Increase

Fletcher Jones No. 1 Again; Several Dealerships Sold

Orange County’s car culture continues to keep pace with the revved-up national market.

Automakers Ride Strong Sales, Boost Jobs by 3.2%

6 With U.S. Headquarters Here Combine to Employ 2,279

The six automakers with U.S. operations based in Orange County combined to employ 2,279 workers here, 3.2% more than a year earlier, according to this week’s Business Journal list. 

Biggest Employers Churn Out Another Modest Increase

ECONOMY: Top 79 combine for 258,796 jobs, 17% of county’s total

Orange County’s biggest employers grew their combined workforce by 1% in the past year, a modest but steady pace of growth for the fourth straight year.

Banks Post Biggest Jump in Assets Since Predownturn

23 Together See 35% Rise To $18.5 Billion In Year

Orange County-based commercial banks have notched the biggest year-over-year asset growth in the ongoing economic recovery and even since the few years prior to the recession.

Biggest Credit Unions Account for Bulk of Growth

Group’s Assets to $16.9B, Despite Declines for Most

Orange County’s credit unions built assets at a faster clip over the past year, when the biggest of the group pulled most of the gains.

Mixed Backdrop as Chipmakers Cut Local Jobs by 2.5%

Biggest Here Combine for 4,735 Positions

The largest chipmakers in Orange County cut jobs in the past year as a major restructuring, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and two sales stunted growth.

Fastest Growers Keep Pace

Public Cos. Combine for 24% Hike to $83B in Sales

The latest batch of Orange County’s fastest-growing public companies kept pace with last year’s mix, combining for a 24% growth rate on revenue.

Need for Speed

Why Fast-Growing Companies Matter to Local Economy

Fast growth matters. Having a deep pool of fast-growing public companies is a plus on many fronts for Orange County’s economy and community.

Much Bigger Homebuilder

TRI Pointe’s Revenue Jumps 1,621%—Before Big Buy From Weyerhaeuser

If you think TRI Pointe Homes Inc.’s revenue growth over the past 24 months is eye-opening, just wait until next year.

Cold Heat

Cryoport Gets Goods There Cold, Grows Revenue by Nearly 400%

Cryoport Inc.’s chilly business is fueling red-hot sales growth.

Financial Firms Add Advisers, Cut Total Workforces

Reps Jump 3.4%, Overall Staff Down 5% at Top 23

Orange County’s financial advisory firms combined to deepen the pool of registered advisers here while reducing the size of their overall employment bases.

MBA Programs Combine To Post 11% Decrease

Trend Comes With Economic Recovery

Enrollment in master of business administration programs serving Orange County fell 11% over the past year while the number of graduations was up at some schools.

OC Insurance Brokers Aim for Middle to Offset Corporate Migration

Credit some of Orange County’s biggest insurance brokers with quick adjustments to shifts in California’s corporate landscape.

Rebranding Puts Consulting Firm on Path of Growth

Says Unique Identity Makes It Stand Out From Crowd

Stantec Consulting Services Inc. was able to put its best foot forward when competing for business this year, thanks to a major rebranding effort initiated by its parent, Stantec Inc. in Edmonton, Canada.

Focus on Wireless Networks Looks Like Good Call

Rome & Associates Built On Telecommunications Work

Jeffrey Rome never thought when he got his degree in architecture that he’d spend most of his time designing wireless networks. Now, some 24 years later, 90% of billings at his Jeffrey Rome & Associates Inc. firm come from projects for major telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Crown Castle International Corp. and Verizon.

Architecture Firms’ Billings Up, Jobs About Flat

Combine For 1% Jump To $417 Million Locally

Orange County’s architecture firms combined for a 1.6% increase in local billings, modest growth after last year’s 13% surge.

Engineering Firms’ Revenues Drop After 3-Year Jump

39 Bring in $2.8 Billion In OC-Generated Billings

The top engineering firms with headquarters or significant operations in Orange County ended a three-year streak of gains with a 1.5% drop in local billings during the 12-month period ending June 30.

How Fast Is $18.7 Billion?

$5.5B Gain in 2 Years for 174 Fastest Growers Based in OC

There’s no shortage of numbers available to put some punch into this week’s coverage of the fastest-growing private companies based in Orange County.

Conditions Drove Contractor’s Meteoric Trajectory

Driver Urban’s Revenue Jumped 25,402% to $131.3M

Driver Urban had three things working for it in 2012 when it spun off from a large construction company—it entered the marketplace at the right time, at the right price, and with the right expertise.

Little Big List

$4.3B Revenue Increase Spread Over 13 Largest Fast Growers

Far fewer but much bigger. That’s one way to sum up the biggest of the fastest-growing private companies based in Orange County—13 companies that combined for $16.1 billion in revenue, a 37% jump.

Midmarket Movers

73 Companies Combine for $2.2 Billion in Revenue

The 73 fastest-growing private companies in Orange County with revenues between $10 million and $100 million collectively grew their combined top line by 76.1% over the past two years to $2.2 billion.

Double Time

Companies Under $10M Mark on Revenue Combine for 100% Jump

The fastest-growing companies in Orange County with revenues of less than $10 million combined to nearly double their sales over the past two years to $399 million.

OC Medical Device Makers Rank High for New Hires

Edwards, Endologix Among Big Gainers on Consultant List

Irvine-based medical device makers Edwards Lifesciences Corp. and Endologix Inc. are vastly different when it comes to revenue and profit, but they both rank among the top 10 hirers in the medical technology field over the past five years, according to a recently released report.

10 Biggest Drugmakers Combine for 1% Job Growth

Allergan Leads the Way With 2,400 Local Workers

Irvine-based Allergan Inc. is the runaway leader on the Business Journal’s annual list of drugmakers based in Orange County or with sizable local operations.

Contract Electronics Makers’ Job Count Flat Again

Biggest Here Combine For Workforce of 2,728

Local employment growth has evaded Orange County’s largest contract electronics makers for another year, despite a boost in global sales for the industry.

Private Foundation Giving Up Overall, Down in OC

40 Give $33M Locally Last Year, Down 9.3% From ’12

Private foundations based in Orange County gave $156.2 million overall based on their most recent data compared to $128.7 million a year ago—21.4% higher—but their local giving was down, according to data compiled by the Business Journal.

Corporate Giving Generally Up Fourth Year Running

Foundations, Firms’ Charity Arms Give 3.1% More OC Cash

Total cash giving by 35 corporate foundations and company charitable arms active in Orange County dropped 6.4% from a year ago. But discounting two major, one-time giving efforts in 2012 from the largest giver on that year’s list, Wells Fargo & Co. there was a fractional boost for the year—the fourth straight of positive increases, the Business Journal’s list shows.

OC Cities Post Population Growth, Irvine Up Nearly 5%

Combine for 1% Increase To About 3 Million Residents

Orange County cities continued growing last year, combining for a net 1% increase in population to about 3 million.

Telecoms Drop Employment After 2 Years of Gains

630 Jobs Lost As Verizon, Time Warner Cut Costs

Two cost-cutting moves fueled a significant drop in local employment among Orange County’s largest telecommunications companies in the past year.

HMOs’ Membership Up, PPOs’ Numbers Down 3%

Kaiser Leads HMOs List, Anthem OC’s Biggest PPO

Health maintenance organizations had a year of growth in Orange County.

Dental HMO, PPO Memberships Drop 1% to 2M-Plus

Delta Dental Plans Still At Top of List of 13 Plans

Managed dental care plans saw a slight drop in their Orange County membership during the past year.

Public Relations Firms Combine for 7.5% Jobs Increase

MEDIA: New clients, more social media work drive gain

The biggest public relations firms based in Orange County combined to employ 416 staffers as of July, a 7.5% year-over-year increase.

OC’s Wealthiest

Orange County’s wealthiest person has been putting a fair amount of his fortune back into his business over the past year—but we’re figuring that he’s still likely to have seen a boost to his bottom line of about $1 billion.

No Summer Swoon for Wealthiest

Markets Cooperate as Entries Tally $54B

All the ingredients pointed to another good year for the richest residents of Orange County: an extraordinarily strong run in stocks, continued briskness in the commercial and residential real estate sectors, and some surprising resilience in the bond market.

Best Companies Rise to Top With Closer Look

Annual Survey Delved Deeper With Employers, Workers

The latest batch of Orange County’s best places to work earned the distinction after a heightened research process.

Hotels Get Creative With Modern Looks for Lobbies

Renovations, New Construction Emphasize Open Design

Look to the lobbies of Orange County’s newest and most recently redesigned hotels to see the hospitality industry’s latest generation of interior design on display.

Tenant-Improvement Firms Ride Upturn for 29% Jump

26 Firms Combine for $677 Million in Revenue Last Year

Orange County’s tenant-improvement industry posted its strongest year in more than a decade last year, buoyed by a spate of new construction work in addition to plenty of renovations at existing properties.

Accounting Firms Tally Up 4% in OC Staff Increases

Gains Represent Third Year of Local Staff Jumps

Orange County’s top accounting firms combined to grow their local offices by 4%, continuing a run of employment gains for the third straight year.

Management Consultants Grow OC Workforces 25%

Regulatory Changes, Plus Acquisition Fuel Increase

Orange County’s top management consulting firms grew their local offices by 25% over the past year, the highest rate since a recovery in hiring began in 2011.

Tease photo

Report: Yard House Tabbed For Growth

Yard House USA Inc. is the second-fastest growing restaurant chain in the country, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Tease photo

Fastest-Growing Private Companies Wanted for Annual List

The Business Journal is looking for Orange County-based companies that have seen their yearly sales grow rapidly from mid-2012 to mid-2014 for our annual list of fastest-growing privately held companies.

Women’s Work: Revenue Growth, New Hires

Female-Owned Businesses Top $3B, 26,000 Jobs

Orange County’s biggest women-owned businesses combined to grow revenue by 7% last year, notching a fourth-straight year of top-line gains for a total of $3.1 billion.

Business Still Warm for Restaurant Chains

DINING: Biggest based here top $14 billion in sales

Orange County’s 30 largest restaurant chains grew sales 3.4% to surpass $14 billion in systemwide sales last year, reflecting an industry trend of modest overall improvements as the economic recovery continues.

Private Companies Plow Ahead

Biggest Here Notch 7% Revenue Gain to $71B

Orange County’s biggest private companies got bigger in a continued run of revenue and employment gains.

Biggest Here Notch 7% Revenue Gain to $71B

Private Companies Plow Ahead

Orange County’s biggest private companies got bigger in a continued run of revenue and employment gains.

Developers Exceed Post- Recession Mark for First Time

Six Firms Finish 1.6M SF, More Than Double Last Year

The opening of new headquarters for two of Orange County’s better-known companies helped the area’s commercial development sector top a square footage mark not seen in six years.

Backlogs Yet to Boost Construction Firms’ Top Lines

Revenue of 27 Biggest Decreases About 11%

A significant increase in the backlogs of Orange County’s largest commercial construction companies didn’t immediately translate into more work for them last year.

Versant Leads 60% Jump in Local VC Investments

Field’s OC Deals Would Have Dropped Without It

Orange County’s top venture capital firms combined to invest $79 million in local companies last year, a 60% increase from a year earlier.

Apparel Makers Grow Sales, Local Workforce Flat

Largest Based Here Bring In About $9B in Revenue

The 49 largest apparel companies based in Orange County raked in roughly $9 billion in sales, a 9.2% increase from a year ago, according to this week’s Business Journal list.