Feghali Honored as Top Business Leader Under 40

Andrew Feghali, CEO of AMF Foods and a Sage Executive Group coach, has been honored as one of San Diego’s NEXT Top Business Leaders Under 40 by the San Diego Business Journal.

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Andrew Feghali, AMF Foods CEO

In its second year, the journal established the awards program to recognize the contributions of San Diego’s young business and community leaders. Judges selected 40 winners from 400 initial nominations and 127 finalists. They were selected based on their accomplishments, community involvement, and career achievements.

Feghali is the founder of AMF Foods, a restaurant holding company that operates 14 Little Caesars restaurants. It has experienced annual sales growth from $1.5 million in 2009 to projected $13 million this year. Little Caesars corporate recently awarded Feghali the 2019 Operational Excellence Award for a 10-plus restaurant domestic operator. In addition to his Little Caesars accomplishments, Feghali co-facilitates three Sage Executive Group forums and continues to work on his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego.

“It’s truly a great honor to be recognized by the San Diego Business Journal,” said Feghali. “The award is a testament to Little Caesars corporate support, my family, my advisors and mentors, and my employees—for, without them, my success would not be possible. Thank you!”

Sage Executive Group CEO Jerry Rollins, who nominated Feghali, said: “With experience and achievements beyond his years, at 33, Andrew is an outstanding young business leader…. His is an inspiring success story, one that ambitious 20 to 30-year old individuals need to hear, so they too can see it’s possible to set their sights on creating a brilliant future as a successful entrepreneur.”

In a letter of support, Thomas Deverell, CEO of Esteemed Consulting Inc. said, “Finding business leaders that live to the letter of the character, integrity, and commitment they profess is hard to find. Andrew lives his business and personal life to these standards each and every day. I am impressed by this young man! He is certainly deserving of this recognition.”

Feghali’s 15-plus years of food industry experience dates to his years as one of the youngest District Managers for PepsiCo – Frito Lay, Inc. Southern California. At 21 he oversaw 20 route sales reps as direct reports and 150 accounts with more than $9 million in annual sales. He led the district to three record-breaking quarters in 2008 during the height of the Great Recession.

Feghali received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from California State University, Fullerton in 2007

HM Electronics Wins Manufacturing Award

Carlsbad-based HM Electronics, a global leader in specialized communications, has received the 2019 AME Excellence Award presented by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

The award recognizes continuous improvement, best practices, creativity and innovation.

Founded in 1971, HME is a diverse group of companies that design, manufacture, sell and service communications, audio and software solutions for niche markets in over 140 countries worldwide

Company CEO Chuck Miyahira is a member of Sage Executive Group, a San Diego-based peer advisory organization for top business leaders.

The AME award highlighted HME’s employee engagement in creating a lean culture, facility design, employee training resources and topics, systems for scheduling and managing workflow, and strong cross-functional collaboration. “At HME, we saw well-integrated, high-functioning teams that produced among the best cross-functional processes, culture, and results we have seen anywhere,” said the AME assessment team.

McKinney Advisory Group Acquired


McKinney Capital & Advisory, founded by long-time Sage Executive Group member Damian McKinney, has been acquired by commercial real estate services firm Avison Young of Toronto.

The purchase represents Avison Young’s first acquisition in San Diego and expands the company’s full-service platform across Southern California.

Founded in 2010, McKinney Capital & Advisory is one of San Diego’s best-known real estate brokerage and property management firms. Since its inception, the company has represented a variety of local, national and international organizations, ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms.

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McKinney Capital & Advisory, founded by long-time Sage Executive Group member Damian McKinney, has been acquired by commercial real estate services firm Avison Young of Toronto.

The company is rebranded as Avison Young, and McKinney becomes a Principal of Avison Young and Managing Director of the company’s San Diego office, according to an Oct. 7 news release from Avison Young .

“The opportunity to join a privately held, principal-led company that offers local decision-making autonomy – versus a publicly traded firm with many decision-making layers – was a key motivation in our decision to join Avison Young,” says McKinney. “Avison Young’s resources and international capabilities will allow us to grow our business and serve our clients more effectively and with a greater reach in the industry. Essentially, we keep the same collaborative  family and servant-leadership culture and local independence, but have access to a plethora of resources spanning not just Southern California, but the rest of the U.S. and the globe.”

Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, said: “We’re thrilled that Damian and his highly regarded team have chosen to join the Avison Young family in our rapidly growing San Diego market. Damian is well-respected in the Southern California and national real estate communities, and this team brings to Avison Young and to our clients a robust and best-in-class platform. Our depth in the market has just significantly increased.”

Avison Young entered the San Diego market in 2013 through the opening of a newly formed office. The McKinney team members will relocate to Avison Young’s existing San Diego office at 4655 Executive Drive. Avison Young has six offices throughout Southern California.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Sage CEOs Predict Profit/Job Growth for 2019

Confidence in reaching profit growth this year is so high for top San Diego-area executives that no layoffs are planned, most plan to hire and their biggest concern is recruiting and retaining talent. At the same time, they express little concern about the controversial immigration and tariff policies of the Trump presidency.

These are key findings of a comprehensive survey of 67 Chief Executive Officers whose companies in San Diego and Orange counties employ more than 8,000 workers and generate more than $5 billion in annual revenue. The survey, which is a key barometer of the health of the Southern California economy, was commissioned by Sage Executive Group, a peer advisory organization for business leaders. The CEOs, who are Sage members, run a wide swath of businesses in technology, real estate, insurance, law, wealth management and hospitality.

“I am pleased to note that Sage member CEOs are focused on profitability as compared to revenue growth, said Sage Executive Group CEO Jerry Rollins. “Too many companies these days think top-line growth is the most important factor, but Thomas J Watson, the founder of IBM, stated, “business is built on net income” and those principles are true nearly 100 years later.

The survey found that two-thirds of the CEOs polled are highly confident of achieving profit growth this year, and the remainder are moderately confident. For eight out of 10, “creating a success-driven company culture” is a top priority, but only half express confidence in being able to achieve this goal.

Ninety percent of the CEOs indicated that increasing profitable sales is still their most important challenge and fewer than half were confident they could achieve profit expectations. They said their major obstacles are recruiting, cultivating, and retaining leadership talent and raising the capital needed for expansion.

Only 12 percent of those polled said the last year’s federal tax overhaul was “extremely” beneficial to their business and a large majority, 70 percent, rated it as “moderately” beneficial.

Two of the least important issues were immigration and new tariffs. Almost three-quarters of the CEOs consider “navigating new immigration regulations” as their least important concern, and almost that many rate “navigating increases in tariffs” as a less-important concern.

Sage Executive Group provides top executives in the San Diego and Orange County areas an opportunity to meet monthly in peer advisory groups to address and solve the most critical issues impacting their business and personal lives.

For more information, contact Sage Executive Group at (800) 648-1063 or visit www.sageexecutivegroup.com.

Introduction to Augmented AI

Bates Artificial Intelligence
Alex Bates, a ground-breaking entrepreneur in Artificial Intelligence, spoke to Sage Executive Group about the “augmented mind.”

Alex Bates poised a provocative question about the relative value of machine-driven Artificial Intelligence and human-inspired intuition in a Learning Event talk sponsored by Sage Executive Group on June 5.

Bates, a serial Artificial Intelligence entrepreneur who has written a book titled “Augmented Mind,” cited the famous chess match between world champion Garry Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue in 1996. Almost as expected, the AI machine won. But what was unexpected was the outcome of matches pairing a human-supercomputer team against another AI computer or another grand master.  The augmented team prevailed, and Bates said that is an example of how Artificial Intelligence will augment human performance.

As new AI applications are invented, including the idea of “creating a world that doesn’t break down,” Bates said that bold and brave initiatives will need to be taken. “If fear guides what you build, you will build it with that perspective,” he said, citing construction of the Empire State Building using new techniques employed to this day for skyscrapers.

His book explores the creation of a global mastermind network of AI technologists and researchers, with membership from UCSD, Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, USC, and other leading institutions and companies.

In 2006, Bates co-founded Mtell to harness the onslaught of sensor data in the industrial Internet of Things. The company’s machine-learning platform is used to monitor industrial facilities to anticipate problems and protect equipment and personnel. Mtell was acquired in 2016 by AspenTech, the global leader in process optimization software.

Bates is currently Technology Chair at an AI accelerator called Sandbox in San Diego and Director at Neocortex Ventures, helping launch AI startups from synthetic biology to music & entertainment.

In his concluding remarks to the business leaders who attended the event, sponsored by Sage Executive Group, a peer advisory organization based in San Diego, Bates said: “Start to embrace the concept of augmentation and how AI can help you.”


Sage Members Experience Wim Hof Method

Everage, JeffAs a Navy Seal and trainer in the Wim Hof method, Jeff Everage found a receptive audience in the group of Sage Executive Group members who gathered for a quarterly learning event on April 19.

Everage, wearing jeans and a black polo shirt, led members through breathing techniques used by Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand extreme cold. The ultimate goal, Everage explained, is to confront the physical and mental challenges of climbing into a tub of ice and to learn breathing control as a pathway to better health.

“Breathing gets you there,” Everage said. “Ice REALLY gets you there.” The method, he explained, pushes you to what you think is your limit an beyond, bringing greater awareness that leads to “relaxing into stress, modeling for others and knowing you got this.”

Everage also runs a business, Trident Proposal Management, that specializes in consulting for  government contracts.

The breakfast event was held at the Corporate Alliance business hub in San Diego.

 

Kourie Listed as Top 10 Industry Leader

Kourie, LawranceLawrence Kourie, a Sage Executive Group member and San Diego-based entrepreneur, was named one of the Top 10 Industry Leaders to Watch in Yahoo!Finance.

The story distributed in April by the AccessWire news service cited Kourie for his multiple ventures::

“A franchisee and owner of eight gas stations, car washes, and convenience stores, he’ll be launching the first Kangaroo Convenience store in California. Kourie currently generates more than $70 million in revenue per year and is also a principal in a leading Crypto Hedge Fund. If that wasn’t enough, in his ”spare” time he is helming a stealth health food QSR project and has plans to expand globally in March.

Spreading his bets among different enterprises has helped Kourie generate the resources necessary to expand into other ventures. The quintessential evolution from employee to entrepreneur evident in the way he has moved from gas stations to finance, but Kourie is more than a hard worker. He has strategized and leveraged his resources so that he is involved in both stable as well as high-growth industries, which is a great position for success given the uncertainties of 2018 and its shadow into 2019.

Grainger’s Mavenlink Raises $48 million

Grainger, RayRay Grainger, CEO of software maker Mavenlink and a member of Sage Executive Group in Orange County, received press attention in the Orange County Business Journal for raising $48 million in a Series E financing round.

Mavenlink makes cloud-based software to help service companies manage projects. Grainger  told the Business Journal in September that the company plans to nearly double employment within 18 months to more than 320 workers at its Irvine headquarters.

Mavenlink has raised $112 million since its 2008 inception.

CEO: The Evolution of Stone Brewing

When Dominic Engels came to Stone Brewing in 2016 as its new CEO, he encountered a changing beer industry with “a lot of tumult in the craft beer world to come.”

engels1The “whole category was changing,” he said in a talk with members of Sage Executive Group in March at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. In rapid fashion, Stone opened a brewery in Berlin, Germany, another in Richmond, Virginia, a tap room in Shanghai, China and another in the Berlin city center, plus a brewery and restaurant in Napa.

His job now is to sustain Stone’s position as the ninth-largest brewery in the United States and to chart its future, which includes “continued growth” and continued innovations on the craft brew front.

Engels succeeded the brewery’s founding CEO, Greg Koch, and works closely with Stone’s co-founder and President Steve Wagner, who is a long-time Sage member. When Engels was hired, Wagner said he was the best ‘cultural fit’ for an iconic craft brewer that has grown from a small warehouse operation in San Marcos in 1996.

Engels detailed how his interest in beer and corporate management developed for the Sage group of about 50 CEOs and other top San Diego-area executives. He recounted his beer “intervention” while at Dartmouth College when he was introduced to craft beer. And described  how he honed his palate and understanding of beer-making while spending four years in Belgium as General Manager for the Wonderful Company with responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Before coming to Stone, Engels was president of POM Wonderful, responsible for leading the pomegranate business on a global, billion-dollar scale. It was the culmination of working for 11-and-a-half years with Stuart and Linda Reznick of Los Angeles, the “largest working land owners in California.” The pomegranate business evolved from pomegranate grown on their Central Valley almond farms.

In experiencing the challenges of running those businesses and charting new directions for Stone, Engels puts a premium on understanding the big picture while remaining an active, day-to-day presence. “My job is to really make sure I understand the plate tectonics of the world,” he said. “I think about patterns and play back things I heard during the day,” he said. At the same time, “If I’m along in my office, It’s probably a bad thing,” he said.

engels2As for his tenure at Stone, he said he has reached a point where he is prepared to look forward with a fully formed management team in place and he fully realizes his high-profile role at one of the most-watched beer companies in America. “I’m good at being calm on the ball,” he said, using a sports metaphor. “The eyes of the world are on you.”

The event was moderated by Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group, which operates peer advisory groups for CEOs, presidents, and partners, as well as for C-level executives in finance, operations and sales. The Sage process has been developed by leaders who have over 45 years of collective experience with peer advisory groups.