WORKING IN PARADISE

Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf, LLP is a big name in accounting and consulting hereabouts; it was founded in 1948 and its big 60th anniversary is just around the corner. Consequently, there are many things you probably already know about BP&W, but one you may not be aware of is that its CEO, Mark Jaffe, is a newcomer to Santa Barbara and is here because of a particularly enticing classified ad he spotted in the regular Tuesday marketing section of The Wall Street Journal.

“The ad read: ‘CEO Wanted To Work In Paradise,’” says the pepper-haired nearly-handsome Jaffe during a conversation with him and BPW’s Chairman of the Board, Terry Farrance, at their downtown Santa Barbara office. “I didn’t know what company the CEO was wanted for,” he continues with a broad smile, “nor did I know where ‘Paradise’ was, but when I found out it was Santa Barbara, I said, ‘Okay, that’s paradise.’”

When he discovered the company was an accounting firm, he told himself that “any accounting firm that could place an ad like this is certainly one I want to be involved with.” He explains further that it implied to him that “they’re aggressive and they’re willing to take risks.”

Which fit right in with his own risk-taking career. Mark graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in communications and received his MBA from USC. “Then I went into advertising in Chicago,” Mark says. But Chicago couldn’t hold him. “I got cold,” he shudders, “and moved back to California. I then went into a passion of mine: music.” He is credited with launching the Children’s Entertainment Division at A&M Records and having signed Raffi as one of its first artists. He left A&M to head up Walt Disney Records “and grew that from a thirty-million-dollar business to a hundred-and-twenty-million-dollar business.” From there, he became Executive Vice-President at Warner Brothers Records of Warner Kids and then Senior Vice-President of Product Development at EMI-Capitol Records, and “ran all the marketing for soundtracks at DreamWorks.”

Mark’s wife, Debra, taught in L.A. Unified School District for seven years; they have two children: 15-year-old Marissa, who “loves volleyball,” and 12-year-old Jason, a “snowboarding fanatic.”

In 1998, Jaffe struck out on his own, launching Ecadia, an enterprise-technology company based in Seattle. Ecadia “developed enterprise-buying decision systems for websites,” he explains, adding that it “had a great business until the whole technology bust happened.” The high-tech collapse of the early 2000s brought Jaffe back to Los Angeles as Executive Vice President for Sales & Marketing at another firm, which is how he found out about BPW’s search for a chief executive, and its intriguing ad about ‘Working In Paradise.’

BPW Chairman Terry Farrance – his name is Terry, not Terrance. “My parents didn’t have the [blankety blank] to call me Terrance Farrance,” he says with a chuckle – admits that he doesn’t recall writing the ad, though wishes he could take credit for it. He defers, instead, to “our marketing people.”

Farrance has been in Santa Barbara since 1979, brought here by Bartlett, Pringle, & Wolf, which hired him as an entry-level accountant after he graduated from Cal Poly in Business Administration (with a concentration in Accounting). He is originally from Los Angeles, lived in Hermosa Beach, and moved to Atascadero to attend Cal Poly. Terry, like Mark, came to BPW along a rather circuitous route: he was an air-traffic controller in the U.S. Army and became a grocery store manager upon leaving the army. “I was what you might call a ‘late bloomer,’ as far as going to school,” he explains. Terry was 33 years old when he started at Cal Poly, having become “fed up” with his work in the grocery store business. He worked at Thrifty Drugs full time while attending school full time. Terry’s wife, Jill Eckersley, is from Torrance. Son Chad lives in Lompoc and son Channing is a Santa Barbara resident who attends SBCC.

Terry recalls that they “had twenty or thirty qualified responses to the [‘Work In Paradise’] ad” and the BPW team narrowed the applicants down to a final four, whom they invited to Santa Barbara for a face-to-face meeting in order to make the final selection. Terry says he was surprised at the quality of the applicants: “one worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, another had been a controller and CPA for one of the big eight accounting firms, and another worked for the state of New Mexico.”

They went with Mark, however, because “he was the best-looking guy,” Terry jokes. “Mark was very interested,” Terry says more seriously, “and gave us some ideas of what he thought he could do for BPW. We liked his approach. We found Mark to be very straightforward, very bright, and very committed. We look for culture fit, because if they don’t fit the culture, we eventually lose them. During the interview process, he seemed to fit the attributes we were looking for.”

Terry, who had been a managing partner for seven years at the time, explains why they went national in their search for a CEO. “In any business, it’s grow or die,” he says. “You have to grow the firm. The reason being, you’re not simply growing revenues, you’re growing opportunities for your people.” At the time, BPW had about 40 employees, 30 of which were accountants. Today, there are more than 50 employees and 40 accountants.

The growth for BPW consists of redesigning the practice to better service the clientele it already has, while attracting the future clientele that it wants. BPW is also looking to “provide different services that maybe we haven’t provided in the past” for smaller companies and high net-worth individuals,” Mark says.

BPW, for example, has worked out a partnership with Mission Wealth Management, so it now offers tax management along with estate and financial planning. Before the merger, BPW would have had to recommend someone outside the firm when asked for that kind of advice.

Both men expect BPW to double in size over the next 10 years. Currently, the company has one office in Santa Barbara and a number of employees that live in Ventura. As BPW grows, Mark says, the firm might consider an office “further south, possibly in Ventura,” to take advantage of some of the staff that already reside there.

In the meantime, about as far south as Mark Jaffe gets these days is to Pierre Lafond in the Upper Village, where he participates in Larry Larsson’s monthly roundtable discussions with a knowledgeable and vocal group of a dozen or more Montecito men who gather there on the second Thursday of every month to discuss current events.

Here’s To The Champ

Robin Howe, director of Human Resources at Progressive Motion in Santa Barbara, informs us that his grandfather, Walter C. Howe, now 93 years old, is “the oldest living Montecito Country Club champ.”

Walter, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara, won the club championship three times: 1955, 1962 and again in 1964. His lifetime hole-in-one record is 7 and he has had two double eagles on a par-5. Perhaps what accounts for his longevity (and durability!) is that he regularly played three rounds (54 holes for you non-golfers) in the same day when he was younger.

Mr. Howe was a “scratch” golfer well into his 60s and would often play a complete round with one club: a 3-iron, which he used for driving off the tee, hitting off the fairway or out of the rough, chipping from off the green, and for putting – just for fun.

Anna & Tony At Elmo

Longtime Montecito resident and recent Westmont College grad Anna Sommermann, daughter of Michael and Emily Sommermann (both of whom teach at Westmont), was married to Anthony Lazzari at El Montecito Presbyterian Church in Montecito on Saturday, August 12. The ceremonial ring bearer, pre-schooler Hunter Gallagher (a cousin of the groom) was resplendent in a specially fitted tuxedo; a highlight of the event was a violin solo performed by Anna’s brother Daniel.

Under A Tuscan Sun

Daryl and John Stegall are hosting this year’s Breast Cancer Resource Center fundraiser “Under the Tuscan Sun 8th Annual Lawn Party” at their Montecito home and have announced that TV’s “Desperate Housewives” star Marcia Cross (she plays Bree Van De Kamp) will be Guest of Honor. Event organizers are seeking three levels of participation: become a “friend” of the Breast Cancer Resource Center by donating up to $499, a “donor” by committing $500 to $999, or an “Angel” by donating $1,000 or more. Larry Crandell heads up the live auction, the Shalandra Jazz Trio will play; food is Al Fresco Italian featuring Wattle Creek Wines; there will also be a Martini Bar and Olive Bar.

Individual tickets for the Saturday, September 16 event (4 pm to 7 pm) are set at an attractive $125 per person. This is generally a popular and well-attended affair, so if you have not received an invitation and wish to attend, call the Breast Cancer Resource Center at 569-9693 or go online www.bcrcsb.org.

Right Foot Madness

The following is from Dana Newquist, who picked it up from the Internet.

1) While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2) Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Stonehouse Open to Guests

The San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse Restaurant, closed for renovations ever since a fire burned down a portion of the building in Easter 2004, is reportedly open again to resort guests. Hotel staff say the restaurant, in addition to its sister eatery, the Plow & Angel, will be available, to the public, possibly, by early October.

For now, the Ranch is offering the following dining services to in-house guests:

Breakfast: Complimentary basket of baked pastries and breads, Ranch-made jams and marmalade, freshly squeezed juice and a pot of coffee delivered to guests’ cottage door each morning.

Lunch: In-room dining available to guests between 11 am and 5 pm daily. The menu features variety of salads and entrees featuring herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in the Ranch’s organic gardens.

Dinner: Open exclusively to resort guests from 6 pm to 10 pm daily.