Company: Hedman Partners, accounting
Born: Bowman, N.D.
Education: University of North Dakota; CSUN, Bachelor’s in business administration, accounting option
Hobbies: Golf, basketball, traveling
Motto: When you’re growing, no one really knows what they’re doing.
Company 1: Eichman and Eichman, tax advisors
Title: Managing Partner
Company 2: Gymnastics Unlimited, youth sports program
Title: Owner and Chief Operating Officer
Born: West Hills, Calif.
Education: CSUN, bachelors of science in business administration-accounting theory and practice
Hobbies: Ocean cruising, boating, paddle boarding, reading and playing with my two shelties, wine tasting with my husband
Motto: For my tax business: The crucial choice for managing wealth
For my gymnastics school: Without you there would be no GU
Calvin Hedman and Lisa Eichman are long-time Santa Clarita residents (he for 40 years, she for 30) who work in different parts of the financial services industry. Hedman founded Hedman Partners, a public accounting firm, in 1994, which serves companies with revenues of $10 million to $150 million. He chairs the executive committee of the SCV Economic Development Corp. Eichman and her husband Craig run a tax advisory service for high net-worth individuals and small businessess. They also own Gymnastics Unlimited, the largest gymnastics school in the Valley. While she is a member of the Santa Clarita Planning Commission, in this interview, Eichman is speaking solely for herself. Hedman and Eichman spoke recently with SCVBJ Editor Patrick Mullen.
SCVBJ: Lisa, how did you get into tax planning?
Eichman: When I was at CSUN, I really loved my upper division tax classes. I didn’t really like accounting much. I knew that you had to take those classes to graduate with an accounting degree but I knew right away that I didn’t like that and the tax and the business law, I was in love with taxes.
Eichman: I like the creativity. I’m a Libra and I like to be creative. At my first job, they put me in the tax department. I had to learn 18,000 pages of tax law my first year of public accounting. I really liked taxes and it was really fun to be part of all of that and the changes.
SCVBJ: Calvin, you’re a CPA. What do you like about it?
Hedman: I decided to get into accounting back in high school. I liked the bookkeeping, accounting. And so I did a report on it and thought, wow, they’re making $14,000 a year. I planned on being an accountant and I’m one of those few people that knew what I wanted to do and did it. I graduated and went to work with Alexander Grant – now Grant Thornton. I was on the audit side. I liked advising business and became an audit partner. Then I decided to work closer to home and start my own practice.
SCVBJ: What is it about this place that keeps you here?
Eichman: When I was getting ready to graduate from CSUN, I knew that if I stayed in the San Fernando Valley, my kids, who I didn’t have yet, were going to have to go to private school. I didn’t like that. So I started looking and I found Valencia and I bought a condo when I was 22.
Hedman: I scoured Southern California to decide where I wanted to live from a business standpoint. Not really, that’s a joke. I moved here because my sister lived here.
SCVBJ: What makes this a good place to do business?
Eichman: We’re a very family-oriented community. When my client who owned Gymnastics Unlimited asked us if we wanted to buy it, we knew with the kids here and the families and the community that we could just kill it. It’s a safe community. We have a lot of people here but it still feels small.
Hedman: The community has a cooperative nature. The Economic Development Corp. was formed from efforts from the Chamber of Commerce. Dianne Van Hook and College of the Canyons have done a great job working with businesses, seeing what their issues are, helping them address that from a workforce standpoint. CoC is a great place to get those first couple years of college done and then go from there.
SCVBJ: Has finding good employees become more difficult over time?
Eichman: I have 25 employees. It’s become more and more difficult. That’s why I don’t expand into the building next door. Applicants come in and say they have qualifications and then we find out that they’re not experienced. They didn’t even research our company when coming in for an interview. That’s shocking. We have an ill-trained workforce out here in certain areas.
SCVBJ: In terms of critical thinking skills?
Eichman: Yes. I’ve noticed in the 11 years that I’ve had Gymnastics Unlimited that if you didn’t go to college, and I don’t care if it’s in underwater basket weaving, you don’t learn critical thinking. I have much more success with those who have those skills. I can’t quantify it except for that college experience.
SCVBJ: Calvin, have you seen some of the same things?
Hedman: Yes. In our case, we’re looking for experienced individuals and as easy as you might think it should be with the Internet, it’s hard to find qualified individuals.
SCVBJ: Why do think that’s the case?
Hedman: I think part of it might start at the high school level. I’ve heard statistics from COC and other schools that applicants have to first go into a preparatory type math class.
Eichman: I have to send most of my staff to classes to learn basic business writing.
SCVBJ: What was the state-of-the art financial technology you used at the gym in 2005 when you started?
Eichman: The old owner had a DOS-based. The system that I have today is cloud based so I can work from my boat in Ventura and at my desk at home. I don’t have to go to the gym and that’s really saved us. For the tax practice I use Lacerte from Intuit. I used CompuTax back in public accounting days.
SCVBJ: What did you use when you were getting started in your career?
Hedman: It was an old Compaq – big as a sewing machine.
Eichman: The size of an auditor’s box. I got my first home computer in 1985. I remember it was $3,000. I had to use a typewriter to do my last year’s projects.
SCVBJ: Let’s talk about California as a place to do business. You both spent your entire careers here. Are we losing jobs because of regulations?
Hedman: Sacramento’s making California a business warzone. It’s impossible for businesses to continue with the traditional regulations, the legal environment and from a worker’s comp and labor standpoint. Every year there are more and more laws that go into the books that make it difficult to do business.
Eichman: Yeah. Poole & Shaffery is my HR department. I have a lot of worker’s comp issues, injuries, things like that and I have to be guided through it. And what they told me a year ago is not the same this year. It is a very litigious state as well. The regulations just get worse.
Hedman: That’s an understatement. It’s why you see companies putting their expansions somewhere else.
SCVBJ: What can be done if anything locally? Is it a matter of lobbying?
Hedman: A few years ago we just had the enterprise zone, which was helpful for a lot of businesses here. And they replaced that with the California Competes credit which is designed for someone who is expanding or growing. They want to encourage them to do that here.
Hedman: I think if it wasn’t for the weather here and the desire to live here, a lot more businesses would be out of here.
SCVBJ: What’s your sense of what the economy’s going to do in the next year or two
Hedman: I think for the next year it’s still strong. On July 1st, we have an increase in the minimum wage. It’s $12 except for in the city of Santa Clarita, which follows state law and doesn’t go up until I think another couple of years. That’s the first increase. We’re going to see the effect in restaurants. Some of them already have it where at the table you order with a device. That’s on the retail side and you’re going to see even more I think on the production side. Companies will look at ways to be more efficient with robotics.
Eichman: The same is true with hostesses and the service industry. What do businesses do? They’ll raise prices but they can’t raise them so much that no one’s going to go there. So we’re going to start getting rid of those positions. You see it at the COC job fair. The higher-age people are unemployed with these amazing résumés. Their jobs have dissolved. It’s really sad. I think it’s just the state.
SCVBJ: Younger entrepreneurs would love to get more mentorship help from established business leaders like both of you. How do you bring new emerging business people together with people who have been in the working world for a while?
Hedman: Some of those older experienced people may not be the best ones to help with the tech stuff. It’s a matter of getting a nucleus here and working together to grow it.
Eichman: Silicon Beach is growing. Tech companies are putting their money there. I don’t see them coming here, at least the big ones. I don’t know if we can do it here unless we offer huge credits that would make them come here and add or expand a building.
Hedman: We can attract the workforce, because now they have families. Where we have a hard time is housing. Also, a lot of businesses here are owned by baby boomers, so we’re going to see a generational transition, whether to younger generations, to another family, or to outside buyers. But when an outside company buys a local company, they’re not tied here.
Eichman: As people move, we lose some of those roots. Baby boomers are going to retire and they’re not going to retire here. It’s too expensive for seniors on limited income to live here if they want to have a nice home. So they leave. A lot of their kids don’t want anything to do with the family business, so then we have new people who don’t have roots here.
SCVBJ: Do you have any other advice for local businesspeople?
Eichman: People always need to stay ahead of their competitors and always be doing research. To stay afloat, always look at what’s next and keep your technology up to speed.
Hedman: A lot of times people start a business without setting up the right structure for what they’re trying to do. The other big issue that they normally run into is cash flow, especially when they’re growing fast. Get the support in line before you grow.
SCVBJ: Thank you both.