Findings & Tips for Region’s Business Owners
By: Chris Porro, Small Business Banking for Inland Empire, Bank of America
As counties continue to open up with help from vaccinations and declining COVID-19 rates, small business owners in the Inland Empire are slowly but surely regaining their footing after a uniquely challenging year. In fact, in the past year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent report by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) found San Bernardino County reclaimed 70 percent of jobs lost since last spring when the state ordered the closure of many business sectors, and that the Inland Empire have since reclaimed a higher percentage of jobs than Orange County, Los Angeles County and California as a whole.
New research from Bank of America shows business owners’ economic confidence and revenue expectations have bounced back significantly since last fall. We found that 60% of small businesses expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, and one-in-five business owners plan to hire. Nearly 80% attribute the confidence to increasing availability of covid vaccines.
While these signs of progress are encouraging, we know that the journey to full recovery can be a long one. Below, are some key insights and tips to help business owners navigate the path forward as businesses head for a full reopening on June 15.
Hiring New Talent
Last year, businesses were forced to reevaluate their budgets and make tough decisions around employee headcount. However, as the summer season approaches, more businesses across America are reopening. Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure your business is attractive for top talent.
- Create an application that is easy to navigate. As businesses begin to reopen more job opportunities are expected to become available. Create an application process that is quick and easy, but still screens for the experience level you’re looking for. Make your application mobile-friendly, too.
- Get everyone to recruit. Tapping into your current employee base can be one of the most powerful and cost-efficient strategies to find and recruit talent. Your current employees have familiarity with your company culture and the necessary skillset to thrive at your organization. Consider offering bonuses to staff who successfully refer new employees.
Reevaluate Short and Long-term Goals
Business owners took advantage of many resources and programs throughout the last year to navigate the pandemic, from leaning on friends and family to one-quarter applying for a business loan or line of credit over the past year. While only 16% say they will seek financing in 2021, consider these strategies:
- Prioritize your business plan. Sit down with your small business banker to take stock of your business’ current situation and business plan. Your small business banker can help you set realistic goals as your business’ recovery continues.
- Explore available resources to meet your goals. The Bank of America team wants to ensure small business owners have access to the tools and resources needed to secure needed funding based on what new goals require additional financing? Are you looking to boost your headcount? Do you anticipate structural or technological enhancements? Bankers can also help connect business owners who may not qualify for traditional bank financing to local CDFI partners.
Business owners adapted their business for the health and safety of their employees last year. As the economy begins to reopen, 62% anticipate that the operational changes they made in response to the coronavirus – enhancing their sanitation practices, reevaluated community impact and building a digital sales strategy – will continue beyond the pandemic.
- Consider a digital transition. Businesses across the country have adjusted aspects of their operations, changing primary revenue streams and shifting to online sales. As we continue to adjust, consider digital banking to limit in-person interactions and greater client convenience.
- Proceed with purpose. If you are a part of the 53% of business owners who indicated they are committed to advocating for social change through their business, be sure to set clear and attainable goals. Consumers are sharp, and will be able to tell the difference between platitudes and substance.
Overall, we’re seeing encouraging progress for the small business community across the Inland Empire and we’re looking forward to helping business owners thrive as the economy safely reopens in 2021 and beyond.
San Bernardino’s Chem-Pak Ushers in New Era: A Legacy Continues with Fresh Leadership
Under new ownership by Eric L. Goodman, San Bernardino’s long-standing Chem-Pak embarks on an expansive journey, building upon its 36-year legacy of community and industry service.
Terry Goodman, owner of Chem-Pak, recently announced his retirement, marking the end of a remarkable journey in the industrial supply industry. Starting as a one-man operation 36 years ago, Goodman transformed Chem-Pak into a business with multiple offices and approximately 15 employees.
In the late 1980s, Goodman was a sales representative for Easterday Janitorial Supply Company near Norton Air Force Base. When the company shut down its San Bernardino office, Goodman, a Highland resident, opted to start his venture rather than commute to Los Angeles. He sought support from his customers, laying the foundation for what Chem-Pak is today.
“I never aspired to have numerous employees. My goal was to build a team that enjoyed a good living without feeling drained at day’s end,” Goodman explained. “Having experienced ‘Corporate America,’ where successful territories are often split to limit earnings or, conversely, underperformers are let go, I wanted to follow a different path.”
Many of Chem-Pak’s team members have been with the company for 20 to 30 years, a testament to the familial and collaborative environment Goodman cultivated. “I’ve always viewed my team not just as employees but as equal partners in this journey. There’s nothing in this company that I haven’t done myself. When a few team members were out with COVID recently, I didn’t hesitate to help with deliveries. Our customers’ needs come first,” he said.
Pablo Carbajal, manager of the San Bernardino store for 22 years, shares his commitment to Chem-Pak. “Despite numerous job offers over the years, this is where I belong. Goodman’s mentorship taught me everything from equipment knowledge to customer service, shaping my understanding of the business world,” Carbajal expressed.
Richard Bowman, a contract employee for about 30 years, also praised the company’s ethos. “Working for Chem-Pak has been empowering. It’s akin to finding a golden opportunity.”
Goodman recalls landing major accounts, including Carl’s Jr. and Stater Bros, as career highlights. However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges. “During the pandemic, our business boomed, particularly for hand sanitizer and toilet paper. We had to adapt quickly to the surging demand and the evolving ‘new normal’ of a post-pandemic economy,” he recounted.
Goodman’s work ethic dates back to his teenage years, starting with a part-time job at a gas station and later at McMahan’s furniture warehouse. He emphasizes the importance of networking and real-world experience for young people. “I often speak at career days in San Bernardino schools to offer students firsthand insights into the workforce, beyond what they hear from peers or parents,” he said.
Looking forward, Goodman plans to travel and engage in volunteer work, confident in leaving Chem-Pak in capable hands with family members and experienced employees at the helm.
Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Hawaii Chamber as Honorary Global Member
Empowering Future Generations: IERCC and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii Forge Partnership for Youth Development
In a landmark meeting that signifies the growing collaboration between regional chambers of commerce, the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) proudly welcomed the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii as an Honorary Global Member. This momentous occasion was marked by a ceremonial presentation led by Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICE, a distinguished member and Chair of the Education and Youth Skills Development Liaison at IERCC.
Eddy Sumar, renowned for his passionate advocacy for youth education and skill development, met with Sherry Menor-McNamara, CCE, President & CEO, and Tyler Hunt, Associate Vice President of Membership Services, of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. The meeting was not just a formal presentation but also an opportunity to share the innovative approaches IERCC is employing to champion youth development.
In a unique and inspiring gesture, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii representatives were introduced to IERCC’s youth initiatives through a trilogy of educational books authored by Eddy Sumar himself. These books – “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS,” “The Hidden Dreams,” and “The Cutting Edge” – are a testament to Sumar’s dedication to empowering the youth. Each book addresses critical areas of youth development:
- “A Treasure Hunt With OTIS” provides wisdom to guide young lives.
- “The Hidden Dreams” unlocks the potential of identifying and pursuing youthful aspirations.
- “The Cutting Edge” offers vital insights into understanding credit and financial literacy.
Edward Ornelas, Jr., President & CEO of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, expressed his enthusiasm for this new partnership, stating, “This collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to foster the leaders of tomorrow. By combining our resources and expertise, we can more effectively prepare our youth for the dynamic world they will inherit. Our shared vision for youth development and education is the cornerstone of this partnership.”
The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii expressed its enthusiasm for the collaboration, recognizing the value of the resources provided by IERCC. This partnership is a significant step towards a shared goal of fostering a brighter future for youth through education, skill development, and empowerment.
The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce is enthusiastically developing plans to launch a summer internship program exclusively for students from the Inland Empire, offering them the opportunity to travel to Hawaii for this enriching experience. This initiative, which stems from the IERCC’s recent collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, is focused on providing Inland Empire students with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse business and cultural environment of Hawaii. The program aims to equip these students with invaluable hands-on experience in various industries, enhancing their skills and broadening their perspectives. This visionary approach underscores the IERCC’s dedication to fostering the professional and personal growth of its youth, preparing them for successful careers in an increasingly interconnected world.
The IERCC is committed to continuing these collaborative efforts and looks forward to a fruitful and impactful partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, collectively striving to nurture the leaders of tomorrow.
Corona Factory Files Landmark Trade Secret Lawsuit in New Hampshire Federal Court
Leading Private Label Company Alleges Massive Data Breach by SGS North America, Inc., Threatening Millions in Investment and Profits
Amid a surge of corporate theft nationwide, U.S. Continental Marketing, Inc. has initiated trade secret litigation against SGS North America, Inc. alleging misappropriation of proprietary and confidential chemical formulations that may cost U.S. Continental millions of dollars.
The largest private label leather and fabric care company in the world, U.S. Continental operates out of a 100,000 square foot factory in Corona, California, and partners with popular footwear, fashion, and furniture brands such as Birkenstock, Timberland, and Michael Kors to develop a range of products. The company provides commercial packaging solutions as well.
In its complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, U.S. Continental alleges that earlier this year, it spent millions to develop five unique and secret chemical formulations for an unnamed customer for use on branded textiles. Those formulas were sent to SGS North America for independent testing. David Williams, U.S. Continental’s President, explains, “Leading up to its testing, we made very clear to SGS that the confidentiality of any and all information about our formulations was critical. Third parties, and even our customers, could not be privy to our proprietary data and SGS knew that.”
Williams added, “To put a finer point on the sensitivity of the formulations in question, we negotiated an ironclad NDA with SGS, which it signed, promising not to disclose confidential information related to our formulations to anyone without written approval.”
U.S. Continental’s complaint alleges that despite its assurances, SGS twice sent detailed, unredacted testing reports directly to the customer in August, revealing specifics about the chemical formulations SGS promised to keep under wraps.
According to Williams, “By virtue of SGS’s indiscretion, which one of its Vice Presidents cavalierly claimed was a ‘mistake,’ our customer was sent all the information it needed to manufacture essential chemical formulations on its own. That puts at risk the $2 million we invested in R&D, along with another $20 million or so in profits from our manufacturing agreement with the customer. It only gets worse from there if SGS discloses our proprietary information—which it refuses to return—to any others.”
Jeffrey Farrow, a partner at Michelman & Robinson, LLP, which represents U.S. Continental along with local counsel in New Hampshire, says, “It’s beyond crucial that trade secrets, like my client’s chemical formulations, be carefully safeguarded. By failing to do so, SGS breached its NDA—a breach that continues given that the data at issue has yet to be returned despite multiple requests from U.S. Continental. This is simply unacceptable and through this lawsuit, we want SGS to know that its unlawful disclosure of trade secrets, and unlawful retention of them, won’t go unchecked.”
The lawsuit is currently pending and U.S. Continental is awaiting a response from SGS.
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