Archive for the ‘Leaving California’ category

To Business Owners: Keep a Low Profile When Leaving California

January 25, 2017

Time and again I’ve encouraged smaller companies planning to escape California’s business-hostile environment to avoid publicly discussing their move. What follows is the story of an honest business owner expressing his legitimate concerns about operating in the state – and the unfortunate blowback that resulted.

city-of-los-angeles-sealHouman Salem, who owns a small apparel design and manufacturing business, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that higher labor costs are forcing him to leave California for Nevada. His article contained common sense, non-incendiary views:

“The biggest reason [to relocate] is the minimum wage, which will rise to $15 by 2021 in the county and by 2022 statewide. I write with some hesitancy, because I’m in no way an opponent of higher pay. When you have a company with fewer than 50 employees, you get to know them pretty well and have a genuine concern for them as individuals. But that has to be balanced with concern for keeping your clients, who can always take their business to other countries or states.”

He added, “When the $15 minimum wage is fully phased in, my company would be losing in excess of $200,000 a year (and far more if my workforce grows as anticipated). That may be a drop in the bucket for large corporations, but a small business cannot absorb such losses. I could try to charge more to offset that cost, but my customers – the companies that are looking for someone to produce their clothing line – wouldn’t pay it. The result would be layoffs.”

The reaction on social media was one of rage rather than reflection, according to Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute, writing in the Orange County Register:

“Good riddance,’ said one of the top comments on Facebook. ‘If you can’t pay your employees a living wage, you don’t have my sympathy,’ said another. Other comments accused Salem of being a bad businessman, of keeping too much money for himself and of exploiting his employees. Some readers even left negative reviews of his business online – even though they’d never met him or done business with him.”

Salem, the founder and CEO of ARGYLE Haus of Apparel, said he fears that the outraged reaction will discourage other affected businesses from speaking out and telling their own story.

He is correct. As a consultant who helps companies find business-friendly locations in which to locate, I encourage clients to keep a low profile. Otherwise, they will be hammered without mercy from an uninformed public and sometimes from public officials who know little about what it takes to run a business.

Publicly held corporations must divulge a relocation because that is considered a “material” event.  That is why within just a few years we’ve seen media coverage of many companies moving jobs out of Los Angeles County to out-of-state locations. Examples: Toyota, Hilton Hotels, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Occidental Petroleum, Northrop Grumman and Walt Disney Co.

Salem also said he is “contacted on an almost daily basis by other L.A.-based companies in my industry who are scared about the future. They are looking to me for leadership, and want to talk about my decision to leave the state.”

He added that “When politicians talk about an ‘economy working for everyone’ – let me tell you, it’s not working for the small business owner.”

Salem chafed at critics who suggested he’s taking advantage of his employees. He has always paid above minimum wage even though doing so causes increases in payroll taxes and workers compensation.

Saltsman wrote: “Despite the challenges of doing business in California, Salem (unlike some of his competitors) is still committed to making his products domestically. ‘I’m an American – I want this country to do well, to succeed….’ He told me he’s not opposed to raising wages – but that the entire burden can’t rest on small business owners. ‘I need the government to meet me halfway. In California, unfortunately, that kind of compromise doesn’t exist.’”

Other businesses have cited the minimum wage increase while loading moving vans, namely: California Composites of Santa Fe Springs when shifting work to Texas (the company owner said if he were to stay “it would probably make me a nonprofit within a couple years or so”); Competitive Edge Research & Communications that relocated from San Diego to Texas; and Woof & Poof of Chico, which makes handcrafted pillows and stuffed figures, when transferring work to North Carolina.

I noticed something about this event that adds insult to injury. Salem’s website states, “Based in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, ARGYLE Haus is a founding member (emphasis added) of the L.A. Mayor’s Fashion Council, an organization dedicated to building and reinforcing the vibrant fashion and apparel industry in the greater Los Angeles area.”

A founding member? Have public officials shown any gratitude? Well, not that I know of from politicians like Gov. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti or any member of city council. I wonder if any of them think they could run ARGYLE Haus better than Mr. Salem has.

It’s hardly surprising that Salem concluded, “We need more stable, blue-collar jobs in places like the San Fernando Valley – the kind I thought I was helping create. California, however, has put up a giant ‘Go Away’ sign.’”

Mr. Saltsman’s Orange County Register column is here: “Los Angeles’ ungracious response to minimum wage consequences.”

Mr. Salem’s Los Angeles Times opinion column is here: “Leaving for Las Vegas: California’s minimum wage law leaves businesses no choice.”

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment, as described in the study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, (PDF) updated Jan. 14, 2016.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

Uber Regulations Mean San Francisco Loses While Phoenix and Pittsburgh Win

December 23, 2016

Any business person who has dealt with California’s frustrating laws, regulations and bureaucrats was nonetheless surprised to see a story with the headline, “Uber Ships Self-Driving Cars to Arizona After California Ban.”

uber-cars-on-flatbed-truckReally? A state ban on Uber? The poster child of the billion-dollar-plus startup, tech-guru, market-disruptor club? Why would Sacramento give Uber, of all people, a bad time?

Reuters said Uber Technologies Inc. pulled its fleet of self-driving cars from the streets of San Francisco and sent them to Arizona’s friendlier territory:

The California Department of Motor Vehicles banned Uber’s self-driving cars from San Francisco just days after they first deployed. In response, Uber picked up and moved out. “Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck, Uber said… . We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor Ducey.”

Gov. Doug Ducey wooed Uber on social media the evening when the ride-hailing company pulled its self-driving test from San Francisco. “California may not want you; but AZ does!” he wrote on Twitter. The next morning, Uber’s fleet was headed his state’s way.

California moved to revoke registrations for Uber’s automobiles, but Uber said its vehicles require oversight by a human driver and shouldn’t qualify under California’s autonomous-driving rules. Nonetheless, the state Attorney General and soon-to-be Senator, Kamala Harris (loyal to unions and hostile to business interests), threatened legal action if the company continued operating automobiles without a permit.

Uber in Arizona

Gov. Ducey’s full statement reads:

Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads. While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses. In 2015, I signed an executive order supporting the testing and operation of self-driving cars in Arizona with an emphasis on innovation, economic growth, and most importantly, public safety. This is about economic development, but it’s also about changing the way we live and work. Arizona is proud to be open for business. California may not want you, but we do.

Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, argued that because the company’s self-driving system is an early prototype and requires test drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. It’s no different from driver-assist systems already on the market — and those are exempt from the requirement for a California permit.

Levandowski said that it isn’t clear why the DMV is requiring a permit now when they’ve known that Ubers have been on the streets of San Francisco over a month and have been operating safely for months in Pittsburgh, “where policymakers and regulators are supportive of our efforts.”

Last year, Uber opened its Center for Excellence in Phoenix, where it serves U.S. customers and Uber users worldwide. Now, it seems that more development work will occur in Phoenix. That’s what happens when a state is friendly to business interests.

Uber in Pittsburgh

Uber has been successfully testing autonomous-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh for some time. An extensive Wall Street Journal story in September — Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Debut in Pittsburgh — described how Uber is turning the city into an “experimental lab” where it will have as many as 100 specially equipped Volvo XC90s operating. Also, reported the WSJ, the city has its quirks — like the “Pittsburgh left turn” — which makes it a great location for testing autonomous vehicles.

It is customary for the first driver at a stoplight who is signaling a left turn to have priority over oncoming traffic when the light turns green. People in the oncoming lanes generally allow that leftward dash and are puzzled or even angry if it doesn’t occur. Uber has programmed its cars to allow other cars to make the ‘Pittsburgh left’ but not to make it themselves. The city is also notoriously difficult to drive through with steep hills and three rivers that make streets twist and turn unpredictably… . “If you can drive successfully in Pittsburgh, you’re pretty much done,” said Ragunathan Rajkumar, a professor at [Carnegie Mellon University] who specializes in autonomous vehicles.

Last year Uber opened an Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh and this year is developing its second research facility there as part of a massive brownfield redevelopment site. Uber says it likes Pittsburgh’s “world-class research universities and engineers and a thriving technology community.”

Uber entered into a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to help create its new technology center and also to rely on the university’s National Robotics Engineering Center to do R&D in mapping, vehicle safety and autonomy technology. Safety is one of Uber’s major concerns.

Uber also selected Pittsburgh because of the clustering of robotics companies such as Carnegie Robotics and RedZone Robotics.

Although California prides itself on the pool of technical talent found in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Uber has found justification to praise Phoenix and Pittsburgh for the the talent available from local universities and the community support of technology and innovation.

Uber’s experience in San Francisco shows that venture capitalists, Ph.Ds in robotics and software engineers are no match for an all-knowing California bureaucracy.

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment, as described in the study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, (PDF) updated Jan. 14, 2016.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

 

US Labor Secretary-Nominee Exits California’s Harsh Business Climate

December 10, 2016
By Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the California Small Business Action Committee

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee as Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, heads a California company that decided to move headquarters to Tennessee. His reasoning: California’s suffocating regulatory business climate.

dept-of-labor-logoLabor and union supporters immediately attacked Puzder, head of CKE Restaurants that operates Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, when news of the pending appointment became public. Pudzer opposed California’s $15 minimum wage and has predicted that iPads and robots would soon take over some restaurant jobs.

However, Puzder has defended his statements in the past declaring that it is government policies that drive up the cost of labor to a point that employers must turn to automation to maintain the thin profit margins restaurants offer.

Puzder argues that government mandates are hurting the populations that those who pass the regulations are trying to protect. In his personal blog, Pudzer told of his interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show after California passed the $15 minimum wage. “Jobs will disappear when minimum wage increases make the cost of hiring employees exceed productivity. I also told (“Squawk Box” Co-Anchor Becky) Quick that raising wages so drastically will price entry-level workers out of jobs and force businesses to automate.”

Puzder is not opposed to minimum wage increases but he said he wants them to be “rational” so as to have minimal impact to help preserve jobs. He favors earned-income tax credits to help low paid workers.

He also argues that government policies especially in California stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants and minorities who would move up to management and ownership of fast food restaurants.

When Pudzer announced the company’s headquarters’ move from Santa Barbara County to Nashville, Tennessee this past March he said the location of headquarters was unimportant. Where restaurants were building franchises and facilities is important and California presented too many business obstacles.

In a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Pudzer said, “California is not interested in having businesses grow.” He cited as example that it takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia for one of CKE’s restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. But in Los Angeles it takes 285 days. Pudzer said, “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California,” a street named for Carl’s Jr. chain’s founder.

Beyond the difficult permitting process, Pudzer complained about labor regulations often required the company to battle class-action lawsuits in the state. He said over the previous eight years his company paid $20 million in damages and attorney fees fighting the lawsuits.

In discussing the debate over minimum wage, Pudzer said he is not a fan of automation at restaurants.

“There’s a personal element that you don’t get from machines, and I think you’re going to lose that.” Fast food is a “great level of job for people to enter the labor force. A high percentage of our employees, particularly in California, are immigrants.”

In a September Wall Street Journal piece Pudzer wrote, “At restaurant-industry meetings, my colleagues typically voice concerns about government mandates. I’d much prefer to hear them complain that labor costs are rising because companies are hiring and the growing market has made competition for workers stiff. A freer market would do much more to improve worker’s lives than the Labor Department’s new regulation.”

Puzder is the co-author of a 2010 book, “Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.”

If he gets the Labor job he can do something about it.

This column appeared on Dec. 9, 2016 in Fox & Hounds Daily, which gave permission to republish, and can be found here.

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment, as described in the study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, (PDF) updated Jan. 14, 2016.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

 

Los Angeles KTTV Editorial – ‘California Losing Companies & Jobs’

October 7, 2016

Now here is an editorial that gets to the point about California’s business departures, saying, “Governor Brown: Your attitude needs to change…. Creating a climate that is business friendly should come from the top and be a priority.”

ch-11-point-of-view-calif-losing-jobsThe piece runs a lengthy news crawl at the bottom of the screen that shows the names of some of the companies that have relocated in full or in part out of California.

The commentary cites my study issued in January, entitled, “California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015.”

The views expressed by the station’s Vice President and General Manager, Bob Cook, are in concert with the assessments held by business leaders throughout the state.

See KTTV’s “Point of View: California Losing Jobs.”

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s difficult business environment, which is worsening under the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown and his friends in the legislature and bureaucracy.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. Also, Joe has been a Keynote Speaker for more than 20 years – see A Speaker Throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

Inspirational Californian Must Relocate – Here Is Why He’s Moving to Georgia

June 28, 2016

This is the most touching “relocation story” ever to appear on this blog.

First – it’s been said time and again that California’s housing is so unaffordable that poor people are the ones who are hurt the most, a situation aggravated by the state’s land-use regulations and tax policies.

Marty TurciosThis is an account of a challenged couple, Marty Turcios and his girlfriend Melody Lacy, who are planning to leave the state because of high housing costs. They expect to move to Georgia by late September or early October and do so in a way that allows them to keep helping disadvantaged people.

Marty is leading a full life giving golf lessons to many types of limited-ability people every year, which he does cheerfully despite having cerebral palsy.

A Golf Channel special shows Marty giving golf instructions to high school students, to people with developmental disabilities and to disabled veterans, many of whom have post traumatic stress disorders. “I treat them like golfers and not like people with disabilities,” he said. His teaching includes instructing people in wheelchairs how to putt. See the remarkable video “Golf in America: Marty’s Story.”

With a Masters degree in Recreational Therapy, Marty was a coach at the University of California at Berkeley and at a local high school. Also, he created the Marty Turcios Therapeutic Golf Foundation based in Richmond, about 20 miles from San Francisco.

Now he and Melody want to move to Augusta, Georgia. Why? Well, besides it being the Home of the Masters and a place brimming with golf courses, here is what Marty said to his Facebook followers about housing:

“We will miss you and our students so much. We, as a disabled couple, have spent five years trying to figure out how to stay in the Bay Area. We have tried everything to find affordable rental, to no avail, we tried to figure out how to buy a home around here, which is cheaper than renting, to no avail. We tried to build a container home on friends’ land, but due to the restrictive building codes and lack of water that did not work out either. We finally gave up . . . and looked at moving to Augusta. This has been a long, hard decision and now we are under a deadline to move out so we are hoping for a little help from our donors to relocate the program. Augusta has a huge veterans center and a large disabled population. Please accept our sincere apologies for having to leave and try to wish us well.”

While visiting their potential new turf, he met with Augusta University Athletic Director Clint Bryant and looked at housing. Here is what they posted about their visit:

We just found a home in Augusta for less than $25k that is perfect for us but it might go soon at that price in that lovely neighborhood. We need to raise the money to put down on this house right away!”

“We are finally back from Augusta, but we are not feeling nearly as ‘at home’ as we felt in Georgia! We have so much to tell you all about Marty’s multi-level work with Augusta University and Marty’s up-and-coming programs with Wedges and Woods! The home we chose is only blocks from the athletic and sports offices on the beautiful Forest Hills Golf Course.

Think of it – an inexpensive home near Forest Hills, which Augusta Magazine repeatedly names the city’s “Best Public Golf Course.”

Here is a summary of the appeal to help finance the move:

For more than a decade Marty Turcios, who was born with cerebral palsy, has taught golf lessons to disabled people throughout the Bay Area including veterans with traumatic brain injuries, teens and adults with autism, Down’s syndrome and other severe disabilities including amputees and stroke survivors. “Our home in Richmond is being sold and we are moving to Augusta, Georgia where there is a huge veterans center and affordable housing among eight golf courses. We have to go due to the cost of housing in the Bay Area and we will continue to teach golf, as therapy, to over a hundred separate individual disabled people every year. We are sad to go. Please send us off with enough money to get set up in Augusta in celebration of Marty Turcios’s service to the Bay Area and particularly Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. We will use the money to rent a truck ($2,771), down payment on a house ($2,250), send out a mailing with the new address ($350), for a grand total of $6,371 dollars. This move means housing security to us, which we, at age 56 and 60, have never yet known. We will be so thankful to everyone that helps and remember that every donation is totally tax deductible because we are a public charity under the 501(c)3 laws of the Federal Government. We have served the Bay Area at no cost to the disabled participants at all for over a decade. Now we need to move and we are sorry to leave you all.”

CerebralPalsy.org has a remarkable story about Marty – “Golfer swings past physical challenges.”

It appears that Augusta already has begun giving Marty and Melody a warm welcome based on WRDW-TV coverage: “Therapeutic Golf Foundation relocating from California to Augusta to rehabilitate those with disabilities.”

Note: Contributions can be made through PayPal on this page at the Marty Turcios Therapeutic Golf Foundation’s website.

Another Firm Says ‘Bye’ to California: Moves Silicon Valley Headquarters to Indiana

June 16, 2016

Determine, Inc., a software company, will relocate its headquarters to Carmel, Indiana, about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. The company’s announcement said the new headquarters will provide a home base as of this month (June) for its worldwide business, which includes offices in California, Georgia, France and the United Kingdom.

Indiana-StateSeal.svg“It was a big decision to leave Silicon Valley,” said Patrick Stakenas, Determine’s president and CEO. “Locating in Carmel offers us an extremely solid business environment and a quality of life that will allow us to attract and retain talented employees. Due to these key points, the bulk of our future U.S.-based growth will be in Indiana.”

Note the reference to attract and retain employees. While I’m not privy to the company’s retention rate, it’s well known that employees in Silicon Valley and San Francisco are job hoppers extraordinaire.

Gov. Mike Pence said, “In Indiana, we maintain a balanced budget and have cut costs and taxes, creating a fiscally predictable environment that allows entrepreneurs and job creators to invest in what matters most – their business and their employees.”

The company’s enterprise customers include AOL, Cushman & Wakefield, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Nordstrom, and Sony Music Entertainment.

The Indianapolis Star reported that Determine Inc. has been based in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Mateo.

Inside Indiana Business said Determine is hiring for customer support, professional services, software development and financial positions. The company was founded in 1996 under the name Selectica.

A study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, published this January, included a sampling of other California-to-Indianapolis moves.

For example, Memory Ventures, in looking for a location for the growing company’s new headquarters, avoided Los Angeles. “The business environment in California is very challenging,” CEO Anderson Schoenrock said, citing the tax structure, government regulation and the high cost of living. “Over time, that grinds on you and your employees.” The company was founded in 2007 with its first brand, ScanDigital, and has been featured on the Inc. 500 and Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 lists.

Last year, Emarsys, a Vienna, Austria-based digital technology company, located its North American headquarters in Indianapolis. Emarsys has a handful of employees in California, and decided to settle in Indianapolis after considering San Francisco.

Finally, Appirio Inc., another software company, moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Indianapolis.

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One focus of this blog has been to address California’s hostility toward business, as addressed in the new study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, (PDF) updated Jan. 14, 2016.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow.

Orange County Register editorial: California stoking job growth – in the moving industry

May 29, 2016

Californiaocr R has earned quite a reputation for being openly hostile to business, as confirmed by numerous studies and surveys. Its plethora of taxes and regulations are driving away legions of entrepreneurs and workers, but they are doing wonders for one segment of the economy: the moving industry. It is almost as though that industry is secretly lobbying the state Legislature for its anti-business policies.

Joe Vranich, as president of Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine business relocation consulting firm, knows all about what drives businesses’ decisions to give up and leave for greener pastures.

See more of the editorial, which contains quotes from company CEO’s, here.

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s hostility toward business, as addressed in the new study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, (PDF) updated Jan. 14, 2016. Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions


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