TRUFF hot sauce co-founders Nick Ajluni and Nick Guillen

TRUFF hot sauce co-founders Nick Ajluni ’15 (left) and Nick Guillen ’15.

In 2017, Cal State Fullerton grads Nick Ajluni ’15 (management) and Nick Guillen ’15 (communications) launched a luxury hot sauce brand, TRUFF, through their Instagram account.

Three years later, the black and white truffle-infused hot sauce is sold at such retailers as Whole Foods, Wegmans, Neiman Marcus and Barney’s, as well as through online outlets.

By early 2019, after raising its first round of capital, the brand was already valued at more than $25 million, and its growing international presence, including in Australia, Kuwait and South Korea, suggests that even greater things are in store for TRUFF. Read More

Workers wear personal protective equipment at an office during the coronavirus pandemicSix months since workplaces around the world shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, academics, business professionals and the public agree that the future of working will be forever changed.

But how exactly will a post-COVID workplace look?

Hybridization and Agility – The Watch Words of the Future

Anticipate a hybrid model of some telecommuting and some work on site, all in line with what works best for company productivity, say Cal State Fullerton management professors Jay Barbuto, Gerard Beenen and Shaun Pichler.

“A realization has emerged amid the pandemic that the traditional ‘work-at-the-office contract’ is not, in all cases, the best mode for productive employee engagement,” says Barbuto, director of the Center for Leadership and professor of management.

Agility will be the name of the game for the foreseeable future, and that means business leaders will have to focus on listening, inclusion and compassion to support the human element of this rapid and unprecedented change.

“The crisis has made clear that a lot of work can be done remotely. Alternative work arrangements were more of a luxury before the pandemic but are going to be the new normal,” says Pichler, who consistently points to research that telecommuting employees are at least as productive as those in the office, notwithstanding the burnout and psychological impact of the pandemic, shutdowns and economic downturn.

Beenen says a likely norm will be one or two days of telecommuting each week, with attendant environmental, energy, societal, economic and work-life benefits, but the actual mix will depend on the performance and achievement goals of each company or organization.

“Business leaders care about increasing productivity and reducing cost. Less time commuting and more freedom to work hours that you want to work can increase productivity,” says Beenen. “Lower cost is achievable as office spaces convert to hoteling models where employees don’t have a permanent office but reserve a virtual one when they need to come in. As long as outcomes are achieved, remote work can be both possible and desirable.”

With telecommuting skeptics becoming firm believers, it will be increasingly necessary for tomorrow’s workers to have experience and success in remote work environments.

Read more about what tomorrow’s workplace may be like in this CSUF News article.

Terry Giles at the harbor

Terry Giles

Cover of "The Fifteen Percent" by Terry GilesCal State Fullerton business students have the opportunity to hear about the successes and friendship of two leading Titan alumni – Terry Giles ’70 (communications) and Joe Moderow ’70 (economics) – at the first of a series of Titans Talk Business events on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The series, moderated by wealth advisor and Cambodian genocide survivor Sathya Chey ’08, will provide CSUF business students insights on leadership and achieving lasting success from industry pros, as well as an opportunity to talk directly with these industry leaders through a Q&A.

Giles will profile his new book, The Fifteen Percent: Overcoming Hardships and Achieving Lasting Success, which examines what sets high achievers apart from others with the aim of opening opportunity to success to all, and how to overcome adversity in business and one’s personal life.

The book has received positive reviews from such experts as psychologist and author Stuart Yudofsky, who said, “Better than a road map, Terry Giles’ book is a veritable GPS for how to achieve self-esteem, self-confidence, and success.  I would prescribe The Fifteen Percent as must reading.”

Terry Giles (left) and Joe Moderow (right) in this early photo. The gentleman in the middle is the Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the LA Rams (1962-1976) and television actor from “Little House on the Prairie” Merlin Olsen.

Terry Giles (left) and Joe Moderow (right) in this early photo. The gentleman in the middle is the Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the LA Rams (1962-1976) and television actor from “Little House on the Prairie” Merlin Olsen.

A Lifelong Relationship Supports Titan Success

Giles, an entrepreneur and president of holding company Giles Enterprises, has had a lifelong friendship with retired UPS senior vice president Moderow that began when the two men were in their senior year of high school and continued during their time as undergrads at Cal State Fullerton.

“Over the years, we have shared wonderful moments in our lives,” Giles recalls. “My two favorites were being there when Joe and Karen were married and being on stage when Joe received the Horatio Alger award. He is the epitome of self-made success, good humor and integrity. It has been my honor to have been friends with Joe for the past 55 years.”

Both men are strong supporters of Cal State Fullerton’s business college, contributing to the construction of the college’s state-of-the-art building and generously supporting the school’s business students.

Reserve Your Spot Today

This Titans Talk Business event will be held virtually through Zoom. All students and alumni with a Zoom account may register today to reserve their space for the free event.

Fountain and Langsdorf Hall on CSUF campusIn August, Money magazine ranked Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics ninth on its list of Best Colleges for Business Majors. The university as a whole was ranked in the top 5% of universities.

The college was the highest ranked in Southern California, second only to San Jose State University in the Golden State and third highest in the U.S. west of the Rocky Mountains.

But that wasn’t the only area where CSUF ranked high on Money’s new listings, which synthesize financial value, diversity and outcomes to look at the best college opportunities for today’s students.

Overall, Cal State Fullerton is in the top 5% nationally – 34th out of 739 colleges – for a combination of average graduation in 4.9 years, low student debt loads and high levels of financial aid, and a world-class education, coupled with robust alumni wages. Among public universities, the university is 22nd nationally.

Once out of college, CSUF business Titans make an average of $49,700, and the low student debt loads combine to make this figure higher, in real terms, than most business colleges across the country.

Cal State Fullerton’s ranking as 13th among the most transformative colleges is a testament to the high levels of diversity across every metric at the business college specifically and the university generally, as well as a majority first-generation student population.

Read more on Cal State Fullerton’s rankings in this CSUF News article.

An empty restaurant From McDonald’s to Subway to service stations and retail outlets, franchises are a major player in the U.S. economy, supporting more than 7.6 million jobs and $674 billion in economic output from the more than 700,000 franchise establishments.

As the economy attempts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, there will continue to be new opportunities to get a taste of entrepreneurship – while benefiting from a prearranged structure and name-brand recognition – through franchising.

In honor of Franchise Appreciation Day this Aug. 29, Greg Bell, a business consultant for the Cal State Fullerton chapter of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), discusses franchising in the 2020s, with a particular emphasis on food-based businesses.

What are some of the benefits of owning a franchise?

I believe the best part of owning a franchise is the shared efforts of promoting the brand. You are not on an island by yourself trying to promote. You are part of a larger family working to promote the family business.

Greg Bell

Greg Bell

What is the most significant trend in franchising right now?

The food industry is going in so many directions, good and bad, during the pandemic. Really the out-of-the-box thinkers are the new trend. Third-party delivery, ghost kitchens [a kitchen designed specifically for delivery without dine-in] and drive-thrus are all areas I have been watching. As existing franchises flex and bend to adapt their operations during and coming out of the pandemic, I believe we will see great ideas we were sorry we didn’t think of. But, with an innovative franchise, you may have the opportunity to jump on board the success.

How can a franchisee [a person operating a franchise location] or potential franchisee succeed in the food industry?

As in any food industry role, the franchisee needs to understand all of their costs and potential for profits. While a franchise is designed to be a turnkey operation from the franchisor [the owner of the franchise], it is important to understand how the key is turned and supported. There are many opportunities out there. I would look for one that has more experience or a larger base of operations. Industry experience is very important on both sides of the franchise. And, it is still location, location, location.

In what ways is the SBDC supportive of franchisees?

Anyone considering a franchise purchase should absolutely use the free services offered at the SBDC office near them. Our team will help them understand the costs and potential in projections and analysis before they take that step. If a franchisee is already in business, the staff at the SBDC can help them understand their position and what is needed to meet their goals. Prior to signing a franchise agreement, you should also check with the California Department of Business Oversight to ensure that the franchise is registered with the state and in good standing.

For More on the SBDC

Cal State Fullerton’s SBDC, which serves Orange County, the Inland Empire, and Southern California mountain and desert communities, is committed to providing instruction, support and connections for entrepreneurs in every field as they seek to launch their concepts, with special resources during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more of our articles on small business development.

Amy Panza sitting amidst fall colors

Amy Panza

When Cal State Fullerton’s business college launched the Executive in Residence program in spring 2020 – which connects student mentees with Southern California professionals, many of them alumni, serving as mentors – little did marketing and management senior Amy Panza ’20 know that the experience would not only provide invaluable personal development for her future, but also launch her post-graduation career.

“The biggest thing I took away from the Executive in Residence program was a new way of looking at things,” she says of her semester under the mentorship of former Toyota executive Mike Groff ’78. “I started to think more long-term about how to improve myself and apply that to my career. I started thinking less about a specific job and more about how it would help my goals. I definitely struggled with these things before meeting Mike, but after our meetings, he opened my eyes to many things.”

Earlier this summer, Panza turned to her mentor to decide between two post-graduation career opportunities and ultimately selected an associate media planner role at Revenue Frontier, a Los Angeles-based marketing agency. Read More

Monica Mercado

Monica Mercado

As a youth in New Jersey, Monica Mercado ’21 (accounting) planned to play volleyball or softball on the varsity level. Recruited to the women’s volleyball team at Rutgers University-Camden in 2017, life brought a change of plans with a season-ending injury during her freshman year.

Reflecting on her favorite childhood summer vacations to the West Coast, Mercado moved to California, where she discovered a passion for coaching while working for the United States Youth Volleyball League. During her first year at Cal State Fullerton after transferring, the Dean’s List honoree served as the treasurer for the women’s volleyball team.

Mercado’s goals have also expanded to a career in accounting. She plans to complete an audit internship with EY next summer.

“I want to be a CPA and pursue a career in public accounting in the audit practice,” she says. “Long-term, I want to be a partner in a major firm or hold a high-ranking accounting-related position in the public sector. I chose accounting because I think it is very logical and straightforward. I took it as an elective in high school and enjoyed it, and it stuck with me.” Read More

Kevin Costner posing near his car

Costner on his annual road trip. Photo from HearHere

While air and train travel is down sharply nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been the summer of the road trip, with 97% of travel this year by car, according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA). That means more opportunities to explore the country and learn about the natural and historical wonders that make each state and city unique and interesting.

Knowing more about the places you drive through just got easier, thanks to Cal State Fullerton marketing alumnus and internationally acclaimed actor Kevin Costner ’78, who has co-founded HearHere, an iPhone app that shares engaging audio tidbits matched with the regions you’re traveling through.

In addition to Costner, the narrators include former Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who discusses points of interest, Native American background, local history and even culinary culture. Read More

Ralph Garcia

Ralph Garcia

According to Harvard Business Review, the U.S. supply chain is tied to 37% of all jobs in the country, or 44 million workers. And those figures were calculated before COVID-19, which has made the supply chain ever more important with rising demand for delivery and distribution.

Ralph Garcia ’83, management lecturer at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics and a specialist in the field, points to undergraduate and graduate programs in supply chain and operations as beneficial paths for Titans.

“The demand for professionals who design, manage, operate and optimize operations continues to grow,” says Garcia, who also holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of La Verne. “This degree option is highly versatile and provides holders the most flexibility in their career options.” Read More

CSUF President Fram Virjee

Fram Virjee

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, Cal State Fullerton took the unprecedented step of going virtual, with very short notice. While there have been significant expenses in this pivot, including ensuring that all Titan students and faculty have access to the necessary technology, the university’s more than 44,000 students and faculty made the transition successfully, with no decline in graduation rates and almost all services running virtually.

“We are going to come out of this, and on the other side, we’ll be better,” CSUF President Fram Virjee told local business leaders at the North Orange County Chamber of Commerce recently.  “The new normal, post-COVID, is going to be a hybrid of working virtually and on-site. That is the experience our students are undergoing right now.”

A Master Plan for CSUF as the Campus Enters a New Era

Coronavirus hasn’t been the only news at Cal State Fullerton in recent months. The university is also celebrating the approval of its master plan, which includes such upgrades as a new events/sports facility and innovation center, and expanded usage of the Fullerton Arboretum, which will stay in place and be used for interdisciplinary research and activities.

Efforts to ease the congestion around campus are also front and center in the master plan, including expanding on-campus housing.

“With this approval, we are now beginning work on the master plan as we speak. Remember, this is a 15-year plan,” said Virjee. “One of the things that might not be so obvious to the community but is quite important, is developing a new flow for traffic on campus. There will be no traffic running through the core of the campus, but it will be diverted in an oval shape around the perimeter of the campus. In fact, we are already beginning to implement that. We are widening the perimeter roads and creating bike/pedestrian paths on campus.”

Read more of Virjee’s remarks, including the campus’ commitment to diversity in this time of social change and how the community can get involved at CSUF, in this CSUF News article.