Business Spotlight: GAR Laboratories, Inc.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

GAR Labs is a custom private label cosmetic hair care and skin care manufacturer developing products for multi-national corporations. The company was established in 1982 by CEO Tom Raffy and now employs over 150 people in a 133,000 square foot facility.

The facility includes a product development lab fully staffed with onsite chemists and technicians.  With an extensive catalog of prototype formulas on file, GAR can design skin and hair care lines to the exact performance, scent and texture their customers desire and provide finished samples for customers to test and market. GAR Labs has a wide range of manufacturing equipment including steam jacketed mixing tanks of various sizes, a vacuum pump, water purification system and specialized filling equipment to fill and label any size tube, bottle or jar. 

GAR Labs has also taken advantage of the rebate programs offered through Riverside Public Utilities and now operates with a 165,000 watt solar system on the roof of the facility. To learn more about their efforts to conserve energy, watch the video below: 


To learn more about GAR Laboratories, click here.

Stronghold Engineering Receives Awards for Municipal Auditorium Renovation

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Local contractor, Stronghold Engineering’s work on the Riverside Municipal Auditorium and Soldier’s Memorial Renovation Project in Downtown Riverside, has earned the company another two awards.  Stronghold’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Bailey, accepted, on behalf of the entire project team, an Engineering News-Record (ENR) Best Small Project Award as well as the Excellence in Safety Best Project for all of Southern California on December 5, 2013.

 Stronghold’s President and CEO Beverly Bailey stated, “Our Stronghold team was honored to have the opportunity to renovate this historical building in our backyard of Riverside.  To be recognized as the State of California’s best project under 10M is not only a blessing but also continues to motivate us towards Building Construction Excellence.” 

The ENR Best Projects is an annual award program and competition developed to recognize excellence.  It is dedicated to honoring the best construction projects and the companies that designed and built them in the U.S. and Puerto Rico Projects compete in 20 specialized categories, ranging from airports to sports/entertainment.  Independent juries of industry leaders in design and construction judged hundreds of entries detailing regional projects.  All were evaluated using five criteria, including safety, innovation, and teamwork. 

To read the full press release from Stronghold Engineering, click here.

Business Spotlight: WaitLess, Inc.

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Riverside-based economist Patrick Edgett and his co-founder David Langley are the creators of a new app that hopes to solve the annoying problem of arriving somewhere only to have to wait in a long line.

Edgett’s company, WaitLess, Inc.  was recently featured in an article by Pando Daily, a blog focused on the tech startup community. The following includes excerpts from the article, which can be read in it’s entirety here

The idea for WaitLess came to Edgett while he was visiting San Francisco with his wife late in 2012. He says they pulled up at a restaurant to meet friends and saw a long line. He remembers his heart sank thinking of how impatient his friend was and how annoying he would be. “I found myself really dreading it,” he says. Eighteen months later, Edgett is launching WaitLess with his co-founder David Langley. The company has four full time staff, and three interns. It has spent just $4,500 getting its product out. “We’ve really learned how to stretch a buck,” Edgett says.

The recently launched app, which is focused initially on the wider Inland Southern California, is a workable solution to the problem of dodging real world lines. Through a simple, map-based interface a user can see the wait times for service at participating places in their surrounding area. The service has three separate “legs” to it as Edgett describes. There is crowd sourced data, where I can enter in the wait time myself or report back on how accurate the described wait time is. There is host data, where companies can input their own sales and trends information. And there is a company-built algorithm, which combines the first two inputs to produce an estimate for how long the wait may be at a time in the future.

“If this goes well and we get the right data coming in, we’ll have analytics to help us know so much about, who, when and why people wait,” Edgett says. The company is individually recruiting 100 participating companies in the Inland Southern California region before it will let stores sign up independently. Edgett hopes each of those companies will bring in 100 users separately. The second part of the equation is compelling users to take part. 

The app is available for download on iPhone and Android and ready for users to begin entering their wait times and building the network to avoid the dreaded lines that come with visiting a community’s most popular venues. To learn more about WaitLess, Inc. and download the app, click here.

Riverside County to Host 2014 College of Foreign Trade

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

The Riverside County Economic Development Agency, College of Foreign Trade, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. Commercial Service and City of Riverside will present the first of two no cost seminars in the 2014 College of Foreign Trade on Wednesday, March 5.

The College of Foreign Trade is a unique opportunity for businesses to participate in an exclusive training program designed to develop business strategies, insights, and networks of contacts necessary to successfully expand sales globally. Participants will learn about the financing export trade options and marketing assistance currently available through state and federal agencies.

The first seminar will cover the following topics:

  • Writing an international business plan
  • market entry strategies
  • legal aspects of foreign trade
  • finance and methods of payments
  • logistics and shipping

The second seminar will be held Wednesday, April 16 and will cover ways to build your website to do international trade, international marketing using the Internet, legal questions related to internet marketing and internet shipping and pay policies that work best. To learn more about the College of Trade, click here.

The City of Riverside’s sponsorship of the College of Foreign Trade is directly aligned with the Office of Economic Development’s Foreign Trade and Investment Strategy. To learn more about the strategy, click here

Riverside Convention Center Grand Opening March 1

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Riverside Convention Center will officially re-open on Saturday, March 1 with a ceremony, ribbon cutting and tours of the center to celebrate the completion of the $43.6 million renovation.

The new Riverside Convention Center offers 21 rooms with over 65,000 square feet of flexible space and can accommodate groups ranging from 25 to 3,000 for conventions, meetings, trade shows, and competitions. There is also over 20,000 square feet of beautiful and expansive open-air plaza, lawn and garden space which offer a respite from convention business as well as an outdoor meeting venue under the stars, taking advantage of Riverside’s mild temperatures year round.

With the opening of the convention center Riversiders can take full advantage of the beautiful amenities for community and business event needs. The “Bring It Home!” campaign encourages locals to help secure meetings and events for our hometown.  These local referrals helped the Riverside CVB book an additional 15,000 hotel room nights last year alone— resulting in over $1 million in economic impact to our city. When groups visit Riverside, transient occupancy tax revenues (paid by hotel guests) and sales tax revenues contribute to Riverside’s general fund which pays a portion of  city services like police and fire. Plus, visitors support local businesses! To learn more about the Bring It Home! campaign and to refer someone, click here.

For more information about the Convention Center re-opening, click here.

Business Spotlight: SouthTech Systems

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

SouthTech Systems is an eGoverment and eBusiness software development company specializing in the analysis, design, implementation, training, support and maintenance of enterprise-wide software solutions, as well as application development for public agencies and the private sector. SouthTech Systems grew from its founding as a sole proprietorship in 1992 to its current form under the leadership of Jose Dominguez and Grant Gyulnazaryan.

One of the many notable examples of the company’s success as a leader in the industry is there software to automate the marriage license application process which was the first of its kind and is now in use by County Clerks throughout the state of California. SouthTech Systems was also the first in the nation to develop an internet-based electronic recording system for public documents called Summit™. The system allows for streamlined communication and record sharing between counties and the cost of couriers, special delivery and postage are eliminated for both Counties and title companies.

Their most recent success has been the development of Form 700 Automation program called eDisclosure. The eDisclosure™ solution provides a streamlined, simplified method for filers to complete their forms online, as well as for Filing Officials to assist in managing departments and Biennial Reviews. The solution is currently being used by over 30,000 government employees.

SouthTech Systems is committed to the efforts of business’s in creating and maintaining a paperless office. The company aims to provide efficient, eco-friendly and highly cost effective, electronic forms that will transform and simplify the way both government and private sector do business. SouthTech also provides solutions to streamline and automate business processes so businesses can run more efficiently.

To learn more about SouthTech Systems, click here.

TriTech SBDC Receives $50,000 Wells Fargo Grant

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

TriTech Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo to provide small business financial management assistance. TriTech is an incredible asset to the business community for their efforts to bring together the necessary resources and service providers to accelerate an enterprise’s growth and profitability resulting in entrepreneurial success, technology commercialization, and economic growth.

This Wells Fargo grant will fund Advanced Small Business Financial Management workshops to help small business owners understand their financial situation and prepare themselves for growth and expansion. The workshops will help participants become more sophisticated borrowers, become loan-ready small business owners and increase the number of small business owners who have access to capital, thus improving the area’s economic climate through job creation. In addition to the workshops, small business owners will also have access to one-on-one business consulting services and comparative financial analysis of their small business offered by the expert service provides at TriTech SBDC.

The grant will be presented to TriTech Friday, Feb. 28 before the “Access to Capital Workshop” at 10 a.m. in the Mayor’s Ceremonial Room on the 7th floor of City Hall. To learn more about the workshop and register, click here.

About TriTech SBDC:
TriTech Small Business Development Center is part of the Orange County / Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Network and since 2003 network has been providing small businesses with the information and tools they need to thrive and prosper. TriTech SBDC works with high technology, rapid growth companies and offers consulting in areas such as identifying capital resources, commercializing new technologies, marketing products and services, and becoming investor ready.

Business Spotlight: Flexsteel Industries, Inc.

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Having been in business for over 118 years, Flexsteel Industries, Inc. has established itself as an icon in the furniture world. Known best for its quality home furnishings, the company is now a major supplier of recreational vehicle and office seating as well. The Riverside location is one of five Flexsteel manufacturing facilities nationwide and produces an average of 150 pieces of furniture every day.

Flexsteel is a global company shipping to countries all over the world including Israel, Australia, Canada, Indonesia and many others. Their global reach is made even more profitable because Flexsteel benefits from the expansion of Foreign Trade Zone #244, which covers all of the City of Riverside offers a significant competitive advantage for manufacturing and export businesses. For merchandise that is manufactured in a FTZ with permission of the FTZs Board, the importer may elect to pay Customs duty at the lower rate of either the finished product or its foreign components. In this manner, use of a FTZ zone can result in the reduction of Customs duty owed by companies that manufacture products in an FTZ.

To learn more about Flexsteel Industries and gain an inside look into their product process, watch the video below:

February Innovation Award Recognizes La Sierra University’s John Thomas

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Mayor Bailey recognized John Thomas, Dean of the Tom & Vi Zapara School of Business and Bashir Hasso Professor of Entrepreneurship at La Sierra University as the February Innovation Honoree on Tuesday Feb. 11.

A creative thinker committed to integrity, compassion, and social entrepreneurship, Thomas has led La Sierra University’s Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business in radically redefining its mission to incorporate a focus on global service and entrepreneurial creativity and identifying distinctive market niches ideally suited to its traditions, commitments, and capacities. He is an effective administrator, teacher, and scholar who has spearheaded ambitious fundraising efforts, including ones en­a­bling the School of Business to move toward the completion of an innovative, 60,000-square-foot business education center, and has championed innovative academic and co-curricular programs—including centers for philanthropy, conflict resolution, and financial literacy and en­tre­pre­neur­ship—with the potential to enrich the university academically and dramatically expand its student base.

Thomas holds a doctorate in political economy from Claremont Graduate University and master’s degrees in marketing, finance, and political economy. A member of La Sierra University’s business faculty since 1988, he has taught courses in entrepreneurship, management, economics, and finance. Thomas journey of entrepreneurship started when he took over the management of a losing a local drive thru business and turned it around allowing him to graduate debt free. From selling groceries to selling ideas, Thomas is interested in anything creative. And is a strong advocate of encouraging students to become more creative. He serves on the board of numerous for profit and not for profit companies including Genelux, Architron Systems Inc., Family Services of Riverside, LLBN and KSGN among others. He enjoys working with start-ups and is passionate advocate of property rights.  

To learn more about the La Sierra Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, click here.

Riverside Committed to Promoting Foreign Trade & Attracting International Investment

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The Office of Economic Development presented to the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 11 to provide an update on the City’s Foreign Trade and Investment Strategy and key partnerships with multiple city, county and regional agencies in an effort to increase exports from our local businesses, attract foreign direct investment for local projects and facilitate intergovernmental cooperation and trade partners with cities around the world.  These partners include the Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade (OFT) , March Joint Powers Authority (JPA) the Office of the Mayor.

Economic development staff work closely with the OFT in their efforts to assist business owners, corporate officers, investors, and entrepreneurs with export and import assistance with the objective of creating new jobs and investment within the county. The City of Riverside sponsors the OFT’s annual College of Foreign Trade which will be held this spring to educate existing businesses on the exporting process.


The City is also an integral part of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and has two seats on the governing board. The JPA sought the approval of a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which was granted in August 2000, not only for the benefit of the businesses located on land controlled by the JPA, but for Riverside businesses as well such as Flexsteel who participate in foreign trade and benefit from being included in the FTZ. In an expanding global economy there is increased competition among nations for jobs, industry and capital and the FTZ program encourages U.S.-based operations by removing certain disincentives associated with manufacturing in the United States.

The Sister City Program is another component of our foreign trade program. Riverside’s international ties predate President Dwight Eisenhower’s concept of sister cities to 1951. The first Sister City agreement was made with Sendai, Japan in 1957. Since then, Riverside has entered into seven other Sister City relationships: Cuautla (1968) and Ensenada (1976), Mexico; Jiangmen, China (1996); Gangnam, Republic of Korea (1999); Hyderabad, India (2000); Obuasi, Ghana (2008); and Erlangen, Germany (2011).  The City budgets an average of $10,000 annually for Sister City activities.  The Office of the Mayor has estimated the economic impact of the Sister City Program at over $112 million.

As discussed in the Office of Economic Development Foreign Trade and Investment strategy, the National Export Initiative (NEI) has set a national strategy for exports and is facilitating growth by providing US businesses opportunities for training, financing, and trade missions. NEI indicates that the three primary areas of recent export growth are in the motor vehicle industry, agricultural products, and the travel and tourism sector. Riverside is in a position to capitalize on each of these growing sectors with automotive component businesses such as Bourn’s and K&N Filters, the Green Belt and local food movement, and our abundant sunshine, historical assets, convention center, universities, and tourist destinations in the City and region.

In order to compete in a global economy, local businesses need specialized tools and training relative to export regulations, export financing, foreign currency exchange, trade tariffs, foreign direct investment, and market research. The City of Riverside is ready to assist in growing our local economy by assisting our employers in these specific areas.

To learn more about the Office of Economic Development Foreign Trade and Investment Strategy, click here.