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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022


Corporate Surgery

In his no-holds-barred memoir “Tell Me Why I Can’t,” released last year, Newport Beach entrepreneur Ron Simon recounted how American Woodmark, the Virginia-based firm that bought his RSI Home Products in a deal that valued the cabinetmaker around $1B, made a series of strategic missteps after that late-2017 acquisition, including, in his opinion, an executive move.

When he learned the board of American Woodmark had elevated its CFO to the CEO role, Simon quipped “I’m glad these directors do not sit on a hospital board. They would probably make one of the accountants chief of surgery.”

There are local examples that the CFO-to-CEO move can work. Frank Martell’s efforts at Irvine’s CoreLogic brought about a big boost in valuation for the real estate data firm; see the front page for more on his latest CEO role at mortgage lender loanDepot (NYSE: LDI).

At Sunstone Hotel Investors (NYSE: SHO), former CFO Bryan Giglia has made his first acquisition since taking over as CEO for the $2.5B-valued Irvine REIT in March; see this page for more on the nearly $300M investment in Miami Beach.

Both Martell (2014) and Giglia (2015) earned CFO of the Year Award honors from the Business Journal, in the public company category; see this week’s edition for more on the 2022 winners (and future CEO candidates).

When Chapman University President Emeritus Jim Doti and fellow baseball lover and OCBJ Editor-at-Large Rick Reiff submitted their statistics-filled Leader Board, they suggested the Angels would have posted a 52.8% win record last year if their stars had been healthy instead of the 47.5% record that the team actually recorded. The implication is that the Angels will have a much better season this year if prior league MVPs Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and others, stay healthy.

At the time of their submission, April 18, the Halos stood at 11 and 6, a 65%-win record, which was solid but hardly a large enough sample size to warrant dreams of playoff glory.

Since then, the team’s continued to play lights out, leading the AL West going into the weekend. Last week included a no-hitter from rookie Reid Detmers, and the first pro grand slam for Ohtani (served up by former UCI pitcher Calvin Faucher, making his major league debut). The team now has a 66% win record.

See their Leader Board analysis on page 65.

The Anaheim Ducks didn’t make the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, but team owner Henry Samueli says he and wife, Susan, are in it for the long haul with the team, noting their recently struck 50-year lease renewal for the Honda Center, in an area being readied for a major overhaul that they are backing.

Of their $4B OCVibe mixed-use project being overseen by ex-Irvine Co. exec Dan Young, Samueli—speaking during a May 5 event co-hosted by the CEO Leadership Alliance Orange County and Octane, and held at the HQ of Edwards Lifesciences—said the goal is “to create a magnet, so people stay here,” rather than leave OC for other metro areas considered more exciting by younger workers.

The exec-heavy event highlighted efforts to build OC’s base of high-paying jobs. Broadcom co-founder Samueli said OCVibe will ensure “there’s a great life behind (those) jobs.”

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.

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