Entrepreneurs Honored at Business Journal Event

The Orange County Business Journal
By: Courtney Baird
Award | March 19, 2009

The Business Journal honored seven entrepreneurs—six of whom are beating the odds in industries especially hurt by the recession—at its eighth annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards on Wednesday.

William Wang, chief executive of Irvine-based flat-panel TV maker Vizio Inc., gave the keynote speech.

Wang said his insistence on never giving up helped him bounce back from losing millions in a business venture, claw his way out of a burning plane that had crashed and build Vizio from an idea that some competitors laughed at into a company that did $2.3 billion in sales last year.

Wang was the Business Journal’s entrepreneur of the year in 2008.

The 2009 winners:

* JP Gough, founder and chairman of Newport Beach’s Orange County Business Bank. Gough started the bank because he needed a job after “losing his shirt” in politics, he said.

After its IPO in 2002, the bank grew 12 times over during six years and has weathered the recent credit crunch.

* Henrik Fisker, cofounder and chief executive of Irvine-based Fisker Automotive Inc.; Bernhard Koehler, cofounder and chief operating officer of Fisker Automotive; and Alan Niedzwiecki, chief executive of Irvine-based Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc.

The trio has raised $94 million to develop an upscale sedan, the Karma, and a sports car, the Sunset, which both run off a combination electric and rechargeable battery engine.

* Sheldon Razin, founder and chairman of Irvine-based healthcare information technology company Quality Systems Inc.

Razin used a few thousand dollars to build the company into one that had a recent market value of more than a billion dollars.

* Patricia Cinkle, president of Santa Ana-based Alar Staffing Corp.

Cinkle survived an abusive childhood and unemployment as a single mother to create an employment company that does $30 million in yearly sales.

Cinkle also was one of five women honored at the Business Journal’s 14th annual Women in Business awards luncheon last May.

* James Saccacio, chief executive of Irvine-based real estate data provider RealtyTrac Inc.

Saccacio built his company from something that few wanted to invest in to one that is often cited by publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Business Journal.