Category Archives: Business

O.C. ranked as top spot for new construction jobs

Laguna Hills, CA – 

Orange County is the nation’s construction hot spot, at least by job-growth figures.

Analysis of federal jobs data by the Associated General Contractors of America shows Orange County construction bosses added 12,500 jobs in the 12 months ended in February, a 15 percent jump. That topped the national ranking for new jobs followed by New York City (up 11,900 jobs, or 9 percent); Westchester, N.Y. (up 7,800 jobs, or 23 percent); and Orlando (up 7,500 jobs, 13 percent).

While real estate was slow to recover from a painful recession, the extended economic rebound has filled various types of real estate niches, locally and nationwide, from housing to lodging to office space to factories and warehouses. The demand created a push to build new supply in many parts of the nation and make construction workers hot properties.

Construction is hugely important to Orange County, where the building industry’s $5.8 billion annual payroll ranks third among all U.S. counties. The local construction hiring spree pushed local building trades employment to 97,700 workers in February. That’s up 49 percent from the 2010 low to the highest level since December 2007.

But it’s not a trend only in Orange County: Job counts in construction grew in the past year in 234 of 358 metro areas tracked by the contractor association. Los Angeles added 6,100 jobs, or 5 percent. Inland Empire employment grew by 6,900 workers, or 9 percent.

“Many parts of the country continue to see robust construction job growth as demand for projects rises,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction employment in many energy-producing areas, however, appears to be suffering as lower prices for products like coal, oil and natural gas cut into demand for construction services.”

Cheap oil might help your household budget, but it has also axed the need to develop more energy-exploration projects. Just look where construction lost the most jobs in the past year: Texas!

Fort Worth was the worst market for construction workers – down 4,100 jobs, or 6 percent, in the 12 months ended in February. Midland was down 3,200 jobs, or 12 percent, for the third-biggest dip; followed by Odessa, down 3,000 building jobs, or 15 percent.

At the state level, California was the largest construction-job creator in a building-trades expansion that saw 43 states and the District of Columbia boost construction employment in the 12 months ended in February.

California added 53,800 jobs, or 7.6 percent, in the year; Florida added 25,800 jobs, or 6.2 percent; New York added 19,100 jobs, or 5.5 percent; and Massachusetts added 14,600 jobs, or 11 percent. Conversely, energy-heavy North Dakota lost the most construction jobs in a year: 5,300 positions or 14.5 percent.

Nationwide, energy’s woes couldn’t dull a broad-based building boom. Construction firms added 253,000 workers in the 12 months ended in February – a 4 percent jump – to 6.63 million workers, the highest since December 2008. February’s unemployment rate for construction workers was 8.6 percent, a 10-year low for the month.

The heavy hiring comes with another benefit for construction workers: raises!

Average hourly earnings in construction rose by 2.4 percent in the 12 months ended in February versus 1.3 percent in the previous year, the contractor association reported. Another pay metric, average weekly wages, showed Orange County construction pay was up at a 4.6 percent annual rate in 2015’s third quarter versus raises at a 2.1 percent annual pace for all local industries.

Construction’s outlook seems rosy as building-industry spending nationwide rises at a healthy pace, according to economist Patrick Newport at IHS Global Insight.

In a recent report, he noted that a key building-expenditure metric – core construction (building of homes, apartments, state and local government projects, and private nonresidential construction) – probably grew at a swift 9 percent annualized rate in the first quarter.

“The outlook for residential construction this year is for further solid gains driven by a pickup in household formation by young adults,” Newport wrote. “Private nonresidential construction has been mixed: manufacturing, communications, and religious are slipping; office, and education and lodging are climbing; and the remaining categories are moving sideways.”

Can this momentum get the building business back to pre-recession heights? Note that Orange County, for example, is still 12,700 jobs short of its 2006 pinnacle in construction jobs.

Contact the writer:


Laguna Niguel, CA – Perched atop a seaside bluff, surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific and the sandy shores of Salt Creek Beach below, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is a coastal haven of new experiences. Located halfway between LA and San Diego, along the coast of Dana Point, the resort awakens the senses with its vibrant beachfront locale and celebrated Five Diamond service. Sprawling shoreline vistas create awe-inspiring memories from the moment of arrival. Dine on Southern California coastal cuisine, explore your surfside surroundings on an eco-adventure, or soothe with a spa escape. The California coast is calling. 

  • Experience The Ultimate Family Beach Vacation
  • 396 guestrooms including 29 spacious suites and 367 guestrooms
  • Located in Dana Point, along seven miles of scenic coastline
  • The Ritz-Carlton Club Level with dedicated concierge
  • Spa with 12 treatment rooms, named among the top 100 spa resorts
  • Eco-Adventure Center for unique eco-excursions and experiences
  • Flexible venues for Meetings, Conferences and Retreats
  • Graceful settings for Weddings, Galas and Celebrations
  • Seasonal overnight packages and day packages
  • Six restaurants, bars and dining lounges
  • AAA Five Diamond status for the 31st consecutive year

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is a Tier 4 property in The Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

Veggie Mama Update – How They’re Doing After Shark Tank

Laguna Niguel, CA - Theresa and Robert Frejo of Laguna Niguel, California, are a mom-and-dad couple who are responsible for founding and owning Veggie Mama. Getting their children to eat healthy has always been a battle, so in order to properly feed their children all the necessary vitamins, they got creative about the recipes they would need to make. Theresa and Robert are both heavily invested in Veggie Mama, having invested every dime of their savings and even going so far as to sell the diamond from Theresa’s wedding band to fund Veggie Mama.

Theresa enters the Shark Tank and introduces herself, saying that she is the Veggie Mama and Robert is the Veggie Papa. They are seeking $75,000 in exchange for a 15% equity. Theresa continues to say that every parent knows it is not easy to get children or husbands to eat their vegetables, but with Veggie Mama, it isVeggie Mama makes healthy, delicious tasting products for children that incorporate foods for picky eaters, like spinacheasy to sneak in those essential nutrients. Picky kids typically want something tasty, which spinach and beets are not – so Veggie Mama has created Garden Pops, which are snacks made with real fruits and vegetables and sweetened only with organic agave nectar – no artificial colors or flavors or preservatives are found in Veggie Mama. Theresa then offers the Sharks a sample, mentioning the flavors she has prepared including a Cucumber Citrus Flavor which she says their children love, and is far healthier than spinach alone. The flavors included in Garden Pops are Carrot Berry, Citrus Cucumber, and Sweet Potato Pie. The sharks are all surprised by the flavor of the pops, as Theresa continues on to says that it is gluten and dairy free, as well as friendly with vegans.

Kevin says that he is surprised by the taste, and he had thought it was just going to taste like crap. The sharks continue to question the details about Veggie Mama. Each package costs around $1.10 to make for 6 pops, and wholesale is at $2.25. Sales are around $30,000 currently, with most of those sales having come through within the last 6 weeks prior to filming the Shark Tank episode. After starting in Whole Foods, they moved on to also include Sprouts Farmer’s Markets. Robert questions the details, wanting to know more about the journey of Veggie Mama. Theresa says that she has been mostly the Mama in Veggie Mama, while Robert dropped out of law school. Mark notes that despite Robert dropping out of law school, there is actually one less lawyer involved in the process, which could save the two some money.1

Robert questions the method of production; how it is made, what is the capacity, and how much room they could add. Theresa says that they have much more room for additional capacity, and that they rented a facility out of Southern California. Mark asks how much money has been invested by the couple in the Veggie Mama business, which Theresa says the total investment has been a total of $140,000 – $30,000 of their own, and $110,000 from an investor friend. At the facility, Robert and Theresa are running the machinery. Theresa works full time, while Robert works part time and has a separate job full time making $67,000 – Kevin says that for the same amount of money, he can buy Robert as a full time employee for the business.

Mark steps in and says that he has had experience with frozen food business, and that to take it nationwide would be a huge effort and cost, and he does not want to scramble for it – he is out immediately. Barbara says that she believes it would be in the best bet of the two to find a partner, and that every partner she has had in a similar business has had the opposite of Veggie Mama’s numbers. $110,000 in sales through $30,000 of investment. Barbara is out as well.

Kevin says that he would invest the $75,000, wanting to make $.50 off every unit, which would then drop to $.25 once he recovers his entire investment. Kevin says that he has had success with this structure in food, namely in cupcakes, and that he has had a monster success in working with this structure. Robert says that there is no other business like this in the United States, and they must go with it; however, his problem is that $75,000 does not seem like enough money to go out and make a proper business of it. Robert offers $75,000 for 25%, and within the next 6 to 12 months, intends to make an additional offer of $75,000 to let Robert come back into the business full time so that it doesn’t even have to come out of the business – this brings the $150,000 investment to a 25% stake.

Lori says that she loved the product, and would also like to make an offer of $75,000 of 20%, and says that if there is the need for more money as the metaphorical ball gets rolling, she can provide it to Veggie Mama. Lori also has connections to numerous stores, and can work on exclusive deals with distribution. Kevin rebuttals, saying that he thinks getting Robert back to working full time is crucial to the success of Veggie Mama; he offers $150,000 at the stipulation of Robert quitting his job upon receipt of the cash, and continuing to give Kevin $.50 of each unit sold until he recoups his $150,000 investment, where it then drops again to $.25 per unit. This essentially sets Kevin as the bank, since he says that he does not believe he needs equity.

Lori says that whenever Kevin would like to spice things up in the Shark Tank, she would as well. She says that she has invited Robert also in on the deal with her. Robert says he would offer $75,000 for 20%, and would offer another $75,000 when Robert is ready to return to the business full time, but along the way, they would want a $.20 royalty since Veggie Mama would be receiving two of the Sharks.

Mark steps in and says that he feels Robert and Theresa have made a big mistake; when you are supposed to walk into the Shark Tank, you look for the sucker. He feels that the new deal Robert made is not as good as his old deal, and since they didn’t take the sucker up on his deal, that the two are actually the suckers – they could have received a lot more money for a lot less, and were unable to get the best out of their negotiation.

Ultimately, Robert and Theresa Frejo of Veggie Mama settled upon a deal with Mark and Barbara for $75,000 for a 20% equity with no royalty. The Sharks almost entered a sort of bidding war, working together with each other to collude out other Sharks.

Where is Veggie Mama Now in 2016 – After Shark Tank Update?

Since appearing on Shark Tank, Veggie Mama has expanded its product line to also include garden jams. Veggie Mama has also begun to move products across the nation, and even has a map of where you can find Veggie Mama products in your local vicinity with a nice map that shows exactly which store carries what type of products. In addition, Veggie Mama also has started an online store where customers can purchase Veggie Mama products for either home use, or commercial-sized for retail and wholesale.