Professional Group Has Long History Of Business Exchange
By Sean Belk - Staff Writer
September 27 - They’re called the “execs” and they’re mission is simple: to help each other stay profitable by exchanging business referrals, networking and giving each other a chance to bid on potential work.
The Executives Association of Long Beach (EALB) is an “exclusive and highly selective” association of business decision-makers and representatives of professional services. With nearly 85 members, the association is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2012, carrying on a long history of business partnerships.
Members of the group uphold the highest business and professional standards and are referred for their “competence, reliability and dependability,” according to the association. The goal is to establish a select community of licensed and certified business professionals, working together toward profitability, rather than competing with each other, while maintaining the ability to expand membership.
“It’s a good group of people and we don’t have any flakes in here,” said Bob Hegedus, EALB president, who covers electrical contracting services as the owner of H&H Electrical. “We’re the best kept secret in Long Beach.”
Based on a model from the International Executives Association, the EALB requires that each member represent a specific “classification” within an industry, such as residential real estate or automotive tires. Each Monday, from noon to 1:15 p.m., during EALB’s weekly luncheon meetings at The Grand banquet room, one member shares aspects about his or her business specialty, success with potential leads and other aspects. The association also holds meetings at members’ business locations, in addition to trips and holiday events. The latest scheduled event is a golf tournament followed by dinner at Lasher’s restaurant on October 10.
Jerry Bloeser, owner of John Bloeser Carpet One, who serves as EALB vice president, treasurer and promotions director, said when companies join the association, sometimes classifications are reworked or created to allow for new members.
In addition to existing classifications, the association has more than 100 available classifications for potential new members. The EALB also encourages new and innovative companies to create entirely new classifications.
“It’s really well thought out,” said Bloeser, a member for close to 25 years. “It’s been going on a long time and everybody seems to be happy. We have women and men. It’s a great way to promote your business, get business and promote others.”
While companies may offer a wide variety of services, business owners and executives are required to stick to their classification, which is sometimes more narrowly defined depending on the industry. For instance, originally Bloeser was the only floor-covering business in the group, but is now limited primarily to carpets since wood and ceramic flooring companies have joined the pack.
A fourth generation owner of “the oldest floor covering business in California,” established in 1879 in Los Angeles, Bloeser said referrals generate a significant portion of his business through its work with both general contractors, businesses and homeowners. He said referral business, especially in today’s economic climate, is invaluable, whether it’s from customers or association members.
“Our goal is that in each and every job we strive for our customer to be 100 percent happy, and that’s a challenge today,” he said. “We try to get the best of the best businesses in [EALB] to promote their businesses and provide great services, not only to the individual members themselves, but being able to refer these businesses to our friends and business acquaintances.”
Kellie Sherrill, president and founder of Web Design firm Knightling, Inc., and a member since 2008, said the association has “heavily contributed” to recent work through referrals for business, including putting together the EALB Web site. She added the best part is the relationships and advice from other members. “It’s a great way to hold each other accountable, and get leads,” she said. “It’s like instantly having 50 mentors that you can call for advice.”
Craig Kotani, CPA and partner at Sawin & Kotani Accountancy Corporation, echoed the sentiment and said he has received about 50 leads since joining the group in 2002. “It’s helped us expand our business and meet other small business people in the community,” said Kotani, who serves as a member of the association’s board of directors. “You’re able to use services, referrals and also give back.”
Bob Littrell, owner of Shoreline Fabricators, specializing in sheet metal, said he has also received numerous projects, both large and small, through EALB referrals. In a time when businesses are figuring out “price points,” Littrell said the association is a great place to get advice. “[One] of the good things [about] this group is you can ask questions and get quick, quality answers,” he said.
Information about each member can be found in the association’s “Buyer’s Guide,” visiting www.longbeachexecs.com or by calling Peggy Holloway, EALB executive director, at (562) 233-5793.