Profiles of Outstanding CEO's
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Althea Technologies, Inc.
Magda Marquet and François Ferré
Each armed with a suitcase and a Ph.D., Magda Marquet and François Ferré came to the U.S. 17 years ago without knowing a single soul. It didn’t take long for the husband-and-wife team to become highly regarded in the biotech community for their pioneering work in the fields of plasmid DNA production and gene quantification. In 1998, they founded Althea Technologies with the mission of accelerating drug development by providing reliable, high-quality services to the biopharmaceutical industry. They currently serve as co-president and co-CEO.
Today, Althea Technologies is enjoying prosperity and growth. In 2003, the company was included in the San Diego Business Journal’s Top 10 Fastest Growing Private Companies in San Diego, and Magda and François were finalists for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. Other recent successes included moving into a custom-designed new facility in Sorrento Valley and entering into several major collaborative agreements with government agencies and large pharmaceutical companies.
“About 10 years ago the industry began to realize that it was more cost-effective and more efficient to outsource development needs,” says Dr. Ferré, who has more than 20 years of experience in cancer research and HIV clinical development. “It gives companies tremendous flexibility. It’s like having an extra R&D group when you need it.”
He says Althea’s competitive edge is in providing significant innovation to its customers. “We’ve been very good at looking at technology at the research level and seeing a potential application in the development world,” says Ferré, who received a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from the Pasteur Institute.M
Marquet—who holds a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering and has more than 20 years of experience in the development of biopharmaceuticals—says part of Althea’s success comes from the company culture of rewarding risk takers and creative thinking. She says Althea Technologies is positioned to help transform and improve the way therapies are created and delivered. “We are very proud of Althea,” she says, “and we are excited to make a significant contribution to the development of more efficacious and safer therapeutics.”
Barney & Barney LLC
In 1962, Larry Shea, armed with a math degree from the University of San Diego, was prepared to enter the aerospace industry. But a depressed economy diverted him into the insurance business. Decades later, Shea, managing principal of San Diego–based Barney & Barney LLC, is leading one of the top 40 privately owned insurance brokerage firms in the United States.
Shea, who began as a sales associate at Barney & Barney in 1968, says the company has managed to grow steadily in a changing and challenging market. The firm—which won the Better Business Bureau Torch Award in 1998 for marketplace excellence—has grown from 140 employees to 192 employees over the past four years while boosting its revenues from $17 million to $34 million during the same time.
Barney & Barney, in business since 1909, specializes in risk management, consulting, insurance brokering and underwriting, and loss control. The company also helps its clients develop strategies to reduce workplace injury and to retain top-notch employees. Barney & Barney has established a subsidiary called Risk and Loss Advisors, which assists clients in effectively handling insurance claims, such as workers’ comp. In response to dramatic changes in Corporate America, Barney & Barney has also invested time and resources to develop liability insurance for directors and officers of companies.
“Today it’s critical that claims be analyzed and reserves be set at a proper amount,” says the 64-year-old Shea, who began his insurance career in 1962 as a casualty underwriter for the Insurance Company of North America.
Shea touts Barney & Barney’s motto, “We listen to insure your success.” He says part of Barney & Barney’s success comes from investing in the company’s employees, including additional training and hiring.
Although the current insurance market is a little volatile, Shea looks to the future with confidence.
“The insurance market will be competitive again,” he says. “We’ve set in motion a plan that will allow us to grow the company and be successful in the future without having to sell out to a larger company.”
Beatrice L. Snider, APC
When Beatrice Snider moved to Berkeley, California from Gothenburg, Sweden, when she was 10, the school district gave her a vocational aptitude test that determined she should become a forest ranger or a lawyer.
Years later, Snider—whose mother’s strong beliefs in truth, justice and the American way brought the family to the States—runs the largest family law firm south of Los Angeles. Snider’s firm is known for its expertise in business division in divorce, which includes characterizing the business as community or separate property, valuation of the business and division of the business. The current local rule for division of business in divorce, which has been touted by the CPA Association across California, came out of the Certified Family Law Specialist committee that Snider chaired.
“Lawyers should be experts at bringing order to chaos during a divorce,” says Snider, who has owned her own firm since 1974. “It’s nobody’s fault their life, family and finances are in chaos. They need competent counsel leading them through this chaos.”
Snider and her team of eight lawyers and total staff of 26 have become advocates for the whole family during a divorce, especially the children.
“I’m concerned about the kids who are in their teens when child support ends at age 18,” says Snider, who was in the first graduating class of attorneys certified by the State Bar in family law. “What kid can support themselves at age 18 in this society?”
Snider’s firm also recommends vocational evaluation services to help women going through a divorce reenter the modern job market.
“At least you have an analysis of your aptitudes and interests,” Snider says. “Your likelihood of success in a career is going to be much better.”
Snider, who earned her law degree from California Western School of Law, says family law is so important she isn’t even thinking about retirement.
“It’s not the money; it’s the sense of making a difference and filling a need. Law is a wonderful method of running a society. Look at what we’re learning in Iraq. Without a fair and functional legal system, a society doesn’t work.”
Chicken of the Sea International
Successful fishermen will tell you their secret is simple—to always be prepared. And no other fisherman is more prepared to succeed in 2004 than Dennis Mussell, the president and CEO of Chicken of the Sea International.
His business philosophy revolves around honesty: “If you deal with your employees, customers, suppliers and bankers in an honest, straightforward manner, you build long-term relationships and you get treated accordingly. It’s such an easy philosophy, and it’s easy to be continuous and adhere to it strictly,” says Mussell.
The company is riding a successful wave of publicity that began when pop newlywed Jessica Simpson uttered the immortal question, “Is this chicken or tuna?” on her MTV reality show. The ensuing media coverage brought the 90-year-old company back into the spotlight and also helped reintroduce the public to a fresher, more contemporary Chicken of the Sea mermaid. The recently redesigned famous icon, a part of American pop culture since her introduction in the 1950s, even bears a striking resemblance to Simpson.
Mussell also faces some daunting challenges this year as the seafood industry fights claims that some fish, including canned tuna, contain mercury.
“The whole truth isn’t out there, and on this issue it’s critical that the truth be known. In the past the tuna industry would just kind of lay low, but we’re through with that,” he says. “We’re going to run full-page ads and lay the real science-based facts on the table explaining why it’s safe and why canned tuna should be in everyone’s diet.”
The FDA recently weighed in on the issue with a government advisory draft that recommends that tuna can safely be included in consumers’ diets.
Chicken of the Sea, which commands more than 20% of the U.S. tuna industry, reeled in nearly $600 million in revenue in the competitive U.S. seafood market last year, thanks in part to its newly acquired sister company, Empress International, an importer and distributor of frozen seafood.
For 2004, Mussell also promises more exposure for the legendary Chicken of the Sea brand with a massive advertising campaign intended to highlight some of their most popular products as well as what he claims is “the best tuna” on the market.