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Looking Back With an Eye on the Future

The San Diego Business Journal surveyed top executives from local, high-profile companies. They represent some of the finest companies across many different industries and many can be found ranking highly on our Lists. We believe their current business success came from an ability to budget, brainstorm and maintain visionary leadership and that, based on this, their predictions may accurately reflect what is to come in San Diego’s business climate for 2005.


Robert Borgman

President, First National Bank

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: Relationships with customers are critical. You must know them well and provide continued service.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: Increase market share during a time of increased competition.

The key/essential factor to success in 2005: Quick response from seasoned bankers along with knowing customers well.

Business New Year’s resolution: Continue to treat each customer with ultimate respect.

Economic outlook for 2005: Somewhat slower growth but continued positive (growth).


Renier Milan

General manager, Hilton Gaslamp Hotel

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: That a write-in vote is very powerful.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: Increasing competition for San Diego as a destination and local proliferation of hotel product.

The key/essential factor to success in 2005: In a crowded marketplace, distinguishing our product from the field will be essential. Not allowing ourselves to become a commodity, but maintaining personal relationships in the face of everyone’s ability to be electronically anonymous.

Business New Year’s resolution: To own our customer’s and employees’ loyalty by creating personal experiences for both.

Economic outlook for 2005: Strong. We expect growth from 2004, despite the increasing number of hotels.

Companies to watch in 2005: The military and its suppliers.


James Robbins

Principal, director of design for Robbins Jorgensen Christopher

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: In architecture, as in business, “good” and “great” are natural enemies.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: Federal deficit spending and a falling dollar increase the risk of inflation and will probably accelerate the rise of interest rates. Meanwhile, local and state budget crises will result in the curtailment of services, the deferral of major capital facilities projects, and the imposition of higher taxes in the form of developer fees.

The key/essential factor to success in 2005: The ability to increase both quality and productivity simultaneously. In our business, the constant pressure to do more with less will force greater reliance on strategic partnerships among architects, engineers and builders to deliver turnkey projects. In the public sector, successful government agencies will respond to the current fiscal crisis by acting more entrepreneurially through public/private partnerships.

Business New Year’s resolution: Understand our passion, stick to what we know and let our abilities rather than our egos guide us in our business development plans.


Michael Pattinson

President, Barratt American

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: Expect the unexpected again. We started the year with no idea that our executive team would have the opportunity to buy our company. But that is what we did.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: Private and public forces hostile to housing.

The key/essential factor to success in 2005: Ecstatic customers, again.

Business New Year’s resolution: Totally eliminate frivolous construction defect lawsuits.

Economic outlook for 2005: Good year, nationally. Locally, demand outstrips supply for the 10th year in a row.

Most likely San Diego merger: Economic ignorance and political opportunism.

Most unlikely San Diego merger: Common sense and local housing practices.


Rick Biben

Director, Computer Sciences Corp.

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: Importance of collaboration with industrial and economic partners.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: Migration of business into new contractual environment.

Key/essential factor to success in 2005: Ability to be flexible, agile and responsive in a constantly evolving business marketplace.

Business New Year’s resolution: Ensure that we continue to provide the best technical work force to meet our future requirements and growth opportunities; provide a workplace environment which will provide the platform for success.

Economic outlook for 2005: Upbeat and very positive about the outlook and challenges of the year ahead.

Most likely San Diego merger: Padres and National League pennant.

Most unlikely San Diego merger: Dick Murphy and Donna Frye.

Companies to watch in 2005: SYS Technologies, Epsilon Systems, Computer Sciences Corp. for business opportunities.


Sheryl Charleston

President and CEO

San Diego Better Business Bureau

Biggest lesson learned in 2004: When challenged, look for the silver lining. The current economic environment is posing unwelcome change on a lot of lives, and it can be an extraordinary challenge to find the silver lining, to find that growth opportunity, to appreciate what it is we are meant to learn.

Biggest challenge to overcome in 2005: The temptation to cite the pressures of the workplace as a reason for unethical business behavior. Companies caught lying, cheating or stealing create ill will among customers and the community , not only toward a particular business firm, but toward business as a whole.

The key/essential factor to success in 2005: To conduct business with integrity and to deliver unprecedented customer service. When a business emphasizes fairness and respect, then a normal byproduct is loyalty and trust from customers.

Economic outlook for 2005: I’m a naturally optimistic person, so I foresee increased consumer spending, greater household wealth creation, job growth and more business investment.

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Other views:


” (S)topping runaway film production, expanding our renewable energy resources, bringing funds earned offshore back home and providing a fairer share of highway transportation funds are crucial to rebuild California’s economy.”


, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger


Press Release from the Office of the Governor 10/07/04

“The capacity of workers, after being displaced, to find a new job that will eventually provide the nearly comparable pay most often depends on the general knowledge of the worker and the ability of that individual to learn new skills.”


, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan


money.cnn.com/2004/02/20/news/economy/fed_greenspan, 2/20/04

“Our underlying premise is that this country will do very well, and it will do very well for businesses. American business really has never let investors down, but investors have done themselves in quite frequently.”


, Berkshire Hathaway shareholder Warren Buffett


money.cnn.com/2004/05/03/pf/buffet_qanda, 5/3/04

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