Published May 15, 2007
Volume 15, Number 5

Personal Experience Inspires Success for PacWest Solutions Chief

By Barbara Lewis
Network Editor

There is no question about it. Edd Ozard was destined for business ownership. As a teen entrepreneur, his first business provided video game vending machines to restaurants. When it closed, he and his brother decided to raise chinchillas. Then, he purchased, restored and sold classic cars, even though he was not a mechanic. Business ownership was in his blood.

“I chose working in lieu of school sports, preferring to have the Corvette and money in my pocket,” Ozard reflects. “After high school, I continued to work, but had no particular direction.  However, I realized that I was a student of management during that time. Of all the jobs I had, from janitorial to distribution warehouse worker, I learned what not to do as a manager. 

“I had the worst bosses imaginable and almost no positive influence to carry me forward. I experienced any number of bad management styles such as inconsistency and violent tempers, including a former Marine drill sergeant who threw things. It all registered and I vowed that, when my management opportunities finally came along, I would do the opposite of everything I’d experienced.”
Those management opportunities came along in 1974 when Edd was hired by a retail waterbed furniture chain and began working his way up to top management. He remembers the time as “Camelot, the best ten years anyone working for someone else could hope for.” During Ozard’s tenure there, the chain grew from two stores to thirteen.

“I reported directly to the three owners, all with distinct backgrounds -- a CPA, an HR/operations expert and a marketing/sales professional.  Their diverse mix of experience gave me insight into all facets of business and I learned everything during those 10 years - computers, marketing, sales and advertising, leasing, setting up stores, distribution.  It was the perfect work hard/play hard environment and I had a ball working 65 hours a week.”

According to Ozard, the most important gain from his retail experience was relationships developed and the knowledge that relationships are a key to success.  He notes, “Many of the people from that time are still friends, some work for me and others are clients. It’s very gratifying, and, in truth, our entire business is relationship driven. We do not do replacement selling. When we make a sale, we grow, because our clients stay.  Why? Because, from the bottom to the top, everyone is treated the same.” 

The “bug to do it myself” led Ozard to start his own delivery business when the opportunity presented itself. His ex-employer, who outsourced delivery to him, became his cornerstone client.
“Then my business had a need for personnel services, which I wanted to outsource, I filled the need and I thought I’d invented third party administration. Was I surprised when I discovered that it was a thriving industry!” Regardless, Ozard went “feet first” into the field of human resources outsourcing and consulting and sold the delivery business.

Today, PacWest Solutions and sister company, Higher Standards, provide personalized services for payroll, workers’ compensation, health benefits and myriad other human resources functions for small to mid-size companies.  Company headquarters, located at 5673 Las Positas Boulevard, Suite 203, serves a wide variety of clients in twelve states and three foreign countries.

“I’m like a Cub Scout on a field trip,” Ozard admits. “I love the variety of clients, from retailers to manufacturers to dentists to powder coaters.   The consulting division offers pragmatic solutions for management training, strategic planning, risk management, finance and general operations. We’ve helped hundreds of client companies increase their productivity and profitability through strong business practices.”

After 23 years in business, personal experience continues to drive professional focus for Ozard.  In 2005, he was inspired by acquaintances who were receiving in-home care and plunged into the home healthcare industry. Today, PacWest and Higher Standards now boasts a roster of for-profit and non-profit direct service providers for the elderly, as well as State-funded companies helping the disabled.  Earlier this month, Ozard traveled to San Diego to deliver the keynote address at the California Supported Living Network conference.

Having learned from his early bosses, Ozard describes his own management style as consistent, decisive, positive and fun.  He enjoys doing “the little things,” like providing breakfast and lunch and Costco cards for his employees, and considers those sound investments. His advice to other business owners? “In my opinion, someone’s management style should not be emotional,” he says. “If an employee can’t do something, I’m going to help in any way possible. If they won’t do it, they’re out. There are good people who will do the work we’ve hired them to do and who need the job. It’s not complicated. It’s not emotional. It’s business. I haven’t raised my voice in 20 years.”

On the business ownership side, Ozard believes that new business owners should have the possibility of making big money. He adds that this is not likely if their expectations for earning personal income immediately are not realistic.  “I went six months without a check when I started. You need the wherewithal (i.e. money), or the ability to do without it, to start a business,” he warns.

According to Ozard, the time investment necessary of a business owner is misunderstood as well. He believes that controlling one’s own schedule is a perk, but expectations of the 9:00 to 5:00 scenario does not exist for them because it takes time to create, survive and thrive.

“What it takes are realistic expectations from planning stage to exit strategy.  A very successful business owner friend of mine told me once that he was controlling growth because he was comfortable with his ability to effectively operate a $20-million company, but was not sure how he’d do with $100 million. I now know exactly what he meant!”

“I’ve seen business owners lose their life savings, their families, relationships, even their souls, all of which could have been avoided with proper planning and a grounding support system. I’m proof of that.  Most definitely, I would not be where I am now without the constant support and understanding of my wife.  We do a fair amount of traveling. I take along significant files, my laptop and my cell phone and it’s okay.”

“What I said earlier about time commitment and income sounds ominous, but the upside is great: the potential for big money, equity, creating a legacy, being in a position to help people. I’d do it all again in an instant.”


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