Elevated exterior view of the full-line Nordstrom department store at the Brea Mall in Orange County, California.

The Nordstrom full-line store at the Brea Mall. Buoyed by its commitment to customer service, Nordstrom has built a reputation throughout North America as a top-of-the-line clothing retailer. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

How can you build a successful startup? Examining the successes of others is a great place to start. This post, the first in an occasional series on trendsetting companies, looks at Nordstrom, which for more than a century has been synonymous with top-of-the-line customer service. Businesses across many industries often speak of being the “Nordstrom” of their respective field. Providing top-notch service is one way entrepreneurs can set their concepts above the competition.

When Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom opened a shoe store in Downtown Seattle in 1901 with business partner Carl Wallin, he probably never dreamed that his upstart business would become a global clothing retail icon. Since 1928, the company has remained in the hands of the Nordstrom family, currently under the direction of fourth-generation company executives. Despite a positive reputation in the Seattle metropolitan area, it was not until 1963 that the company expanded to sell women’s clothing in addition to shoes. In 1978, Nordstrom made company and Orange County history by opening at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, its first venture outside of the Pacific Northwest. Today, Nordstrom has 123 full-line stores and 215 Nordstrom Rack locations, the chain’s off-price retail outlet.

The Customer Service Focus

“Nordstrom has seen consistent success throughout the years because they maintain a high level of focusing on consumers,” says Abbey Doneger, CEO of retail analysis firm the Doneger Group. Robert Spector, the coauthor of the 2012 book, The Nordstrom Way, notes, “Every store talks about customer service, but very few actually get it, so it becomes a cliché to mention it. But Nordstrom actually believes in it.”

Very liberal return policies, empowering employees to address customer concerns, a balanced product assortment including both high-end and more modestly priced clothing, and a contemporary yet classy ambiance are among the concepts that Nordstrom has pioneered for the retail clothing world. Read More

Mihaylo College accounting senior Delaney Gurol poses with her mentor, Mike McKennon, part of the college's Executive Council Mentoring Program.

Delaney Gurol ’17 (left) says her mentor, Mike McKennon ’83 (right) has given her a behind-the-scenes look at the accounting industry as part of the Executive Council Mentoring Program.

Mihaylo’s Executive Council gives students the opportunity to connect with professionals in the college’s network to train the next generation of leaders. The program is currently accepting student applications for spring 2017. Apply online.

Imagine having direct access to a successful businessperson in your field. You can ask any questions you have about their career and the industry, visit them at work and get an inside perspective at how their business operates, gaining valuable insight on your chosen career path. Thanks to the Executive Council Mentoring Program, Mihaylo undergraduate students from the sophomore to senior level have the opportunity to gain individualized attention from members of the Executive Council, which provides funding and industry-specific guidance for the college. The program is designed for students in the Business Honors and Dean’s Scholars programs, as well as students involved in clubs recognized by the Business Inter-Club Council.

Students are matched with mentors based on industry of interest. After an initial meeting, the mentor and mentee are expected to meet in person at least once per month during the semester with additional contact through phone or email.

Reflections of a Student and Mentor

“I enjoy being a mentor because I have the opportunity to interact with bright, young students who are eager to learn in the field of public accounting,” says Mike McKennon ’83 (accounting), owner of dbb McKennon and recipient of the 2016 Executive Council Mentor of the Year award. “For some students, this is their first experience in the accounting profession outside of their classes. It is rewarding to see a mentee grow in their knowledge and passion for their profession. I view this program as a great opportunity to recruit the brightest and the best students that CSUF offers.”

Business Honors Senior Delaney Gurol ’17 (accounting), McKennon’s mentee, has developed herself professionally through the program. “Mike was seriously the best. He invited me to tour his company and to shadow some of his employees at work. I even got to go with staff members to another firm and see how auditing works. I got so much knowledge and first-hand experience from seeing up close what happens at an accounting firm. I am so happy I had the chance to work with an incredible professional who owns a successful business who gave me a chance to learn from him.”

The Executive Council Mentoring Program will have its next cycle during spring 2017. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2017. An application and more information are available online.

Have the experience and interest to be a mentor? Contact Development and Alumni Relations Associate Amanda Leon at amleon@fullerton.edu.

Mihaylo College Cal State Fullerton alumna Tawanda Starms '00 and Frederica Weimer '86, speakers at an event sponsored by the Society of Excellence in Human Resources (SEHR).

Mihaylo Alumnae Tawanda Starms ’00 (left) and Frederica Weimer ’86 (right) will be among the five panelists at the SEHR Human Resources Executive Panel.

A panel discussion open to all Cal State Fullerton students will be held on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by Mihaylo’s Society of Excellence in Human Resources (SEHR), which seeks to equip students for careers in human resources and related fields.

Hoping for a rewarding career in a growing field? Consider human resources, which offers competitive pay, advancement opportunities and good working conditions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources specialists have a median income of $58,350 per year, while human resources managers make $104,440 per year.

SEHR is offering Cal State Fullerton students an introduction to the field with a panel discussion featuring five local professionals: Mark Manion, senior human resources leader for the landing gear and fuel tanks operations of GE Aviation; Karen Meno, director of learning and organizational development for the Irvine Company; Dan Shea, vice president of human resources for TRI Pointe Group; Tawanda Starms ’00 (finance) human resource director of Thales; and Frederica Weimer ’86 (management), vice president of human resources for the Boeing Company.

Students will have the opportunity to ask the panelists questions about human resources employment, their personal backgrounds and industry challenges. Food will be provided. The event, which will be held at SGMH 3230 on Monday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m., is open to all Cal State Fullerton students. Business casual dress is required. Free registration is available online.

SEHR, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), promotes the professional development of Mihaylo students seeking a career in human resources through social events, networking opportunities and volunteerism. For more information, visit their Facebook page or email SEHR.CSUF@gmail.com.

A large and diverse group of shoppers rush through barricades into a store in an outdoor strip mall on Black Friday.

Shoppers rush into a mall early on Black Friday morning in 2013. The day became a major consumer and media event in the 2000s though there are doubts over its future importance. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Americans will turn out by the millions this Friday for the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Here is a look at the key metrics and history of the annual consumer spending spree.

This week, students will relish a week off classes and enjoy family and good food on the Thanksgiving holiday. But most will also spend at least some of their time shopping. Since the Great Depression era, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the holiday season. But in the past two decades, it has developed into an annual ritual for retailers of every stripe.

Here is a synopsis of what could arguably be considered America’s greatest annual celebration of the consumer economy.

From Four-Day Weekend to Shopping Holiday

Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, giving many corporate and government employees a four-day weekend. While traditionally a time to enjoy family and begin decorating for the holiday season, the weekend has developed into a multifaceted retail extravaganza, composed of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Read More

Mihaylo College grad Erin Foate '07, founder of Dachs 2 Danes, a pet care startup, kneels, holding dogs on either side.

“You need to be able to understand and relate to customers on an emotional level to succeed in the pet industry,” says Mihaylo Entrepreneurship Alumna Erin Foate ’07.

Erin Foate ’07 (entrepreneurship) provides a look at her pet-care startup, Dachs 2 Danes Inc., and gives advice on starting your own business, whether it focuses on two- or four-legged clientele.

Pets are big business in today’s economy. According to the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. was expected to spend more than $60 billion on pets in 2015, with $1,641 spent annually on basic expenses for the average dog. As more people view their pets as valuable members of the family, more businesses are being established to provide grooming, training, health care and pampering to pets.

Mihaylo Entrepreneurship Alumna Erin Foate ’07 started a dog day care business in 2014. Her Anaheim-based startup, Dachs 2 Danes Inc., offers dog day care, boarding, grooming and training. The business also offers in-home pet care for North Orange County owners of animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles and horses.

“I was inspired by my dog, Romeo, to start a doggy day care,” says Foate. “I hated leaving him home alone all day, and I thought there must be other people who felt the same way about their dogs. When I got involved with more dogs and their owners, I realized that pet owners had many needs. That eventually led me to provide care for a wide variety of pets in their own home, in addition to providing dog day care and boarding.” Read More

A male student with a backpack writes a message with chalk on the Before I Die Wall in the courtyard of Steven G. Mihaylo Hall at Cal State Fullerton in fall 2016.

From graduation to marriage to career advancement, students share their goals and wishes on the Before I Die wall.

Mihaylo’s Business Honors Program has sponsored the Before I Die wall, which provides CSUF students a place to write their life goals and ambitions. The annual six-foot-tall chalkboard wall is on campus through Thursday. 

Where do you hope to see yourself in the future? Do you want to be a leader in your profession, have a family, travel the world, make a positive impact on society or enjoy your favorite hobby? Cal State Fullerton students are writing down their hopes and dreams on a chalkboard wall at Mihaylo Hall this week. Dubbed the “Before I Die” wall by the Business Honors Program, it is a place for students to reflect on their future.

Started by students in 2013, the wall has become an annual event that has drawn the attention of the campus community and even CSU Chancellor Timothy White.

“The students of the Business Honors Program created the wall to foster community among CSUF students and promote the honors program,” says the program’s Vice President for Public Relations Luc Ceci ’17 (finance). “Through sharing our dreams we inspire one another and often create a few laughs as well.” Read More

Mihaylo College finance grad Bhakti Pavani '11, a research analyst at Euro Pacific Capital.

According to Bhakti Pavani ’11, “strong financial fundamental knowledge, previous experience, communication skills and networking” are necessary for students to succeed in the financial industry.

Financial industry careers may be lucrative and rewarding but landing a job at a leading financial firm can be difficult. Mihaylo MBA – finance alumna Bhakti Pavani ’11 provides some insights on finance career paths and her journey from international student to research analyst.

Six-figure paychecks, a professional work environment and upward mobility are among the reasons the financial industry beckons so many business majors. But how can you break into this competitive and high-stakes field?

Mihaylo MBA – finance alumna Bhakti Pavani ’11 was an international student from India when she began her graduate program at Cal State Fullerton in 2009. After her graduation in 2011, she held analyst positions at C.K. Cooper & Company and B. Riley & Company before beginning her current role as senior research analyst at Euro Pacific Capital in Newport Beach, where she researches companies in the oil and mining industries.

How should students prepare for a career in the financial industry?

Without sugar-coating things, it is a very cut-throat industry with tons of competition. It is certainly rewarding but at the same time very demanding and challenging. Read More

A diverse group of Mihaylo College students outside Warner Bros. Television near Los Angeles on a trip sponsored by the CSUF Behind the Scenes club.

Mihaylo students visit Warner Bros. as part of the Behind the Scenes club, which seeks to prepare students for careers in hospitality and media.

The Mihaylo College Behind the Scenes club hosts networking events, industry tours and panel discussions relating to the tourism, hospitality and entertainment fields. Club President Maureen McLandrich ’18 (entertainment and tourism) discusses the club’s activities and how students can join.

With miles of beaches, theme parks and the world center of the movie industry, entertainment and tourism are major drivers of the Southern California economy. Los Angeles and Orange counties lead the state in related employment.

Behind the Scenes (BTS), a student club related to the Mihaylo Entertainment & Tourism Management concentration, offers business workshops and panels, socials and tours of entertainment companies; the club seeks to provide participants a well-rounded understanding of how the world of entertainment operates.

Building Business Skills

Like many Mihaylo-affiliated clubs, BTS helps students prepare for the work world through résumé development, dress for success and networking workshop events. BTS focuses specifically on the entertainment sector by bringing in industry guest speakers for these events. Read More

Anil Puri, the former dean of Mihaylo College, looks out to a room full of Orange County business executives while delivering the annual Economic Forecast in fall 2016.

CSUF Provost and Former Dean Anil Puri delivers the economic forecast report at the Hotel Irvine on Nov. 2 to an audience of local business professionals, economists and members of the Titan family. Photo by Matt Gush.

Former Mihaylo Dean and CSUF Provost Anil Puri and Mihaylo Associate Professor of Economics Mira Farka presented their annual economic forecast on Nov. 2. They discussed the local, national and global economic outlook in light of structural headwinds and news shocks impacting macroeconomic performance.

From Britain’s vote to leave the European Union to the antiestablishment candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, 2016 has not been business as usual in the Western world. As Director of the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting Anil Puri and Associate Professor of Economics Mira Farka note, “When all is said and done, 2016 will be remembered as the year when wildly unlikely events came to pass… across the western world, a deep sense of resentment, anger, and frustration with the status-quo is reshaping the political discourse.”

Puri and Farka, in delivering the 22nd Annual Economic Forecast Conference to local business leaders and academics on Nov. 2 at the Hotel Irvine, report that the economic situation may not match the political climate, but significant headwinds remain nearly a decade after the start of the Great Recession. They titled their report “World at a Crossroads: Navigating Risks in Pursuit of an Ideal Climate.” Read More

Looking up at the Silver Bullet roller coaster ride at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

The Silver Bullet ride at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. The city’s destination marketer, Jeremy Peterson ’14, says new rides and water slides are planned at Knott’s.

Tourism is a major force in the Orange County economy, employing nearly 200,000 people, according to the latest Orange County Workforce Indicators Report. Destination marketers are at the forefront of representing all that the county has to offer to visitors from around the world. Jeremy Peterson ’14 (marketing) discusses his position as a destination marketer for Visit Buena Park and opportunities in the Orange County hospitality industry.

Southern California residents and international visitors alike know Buena Park as the home of Knott’s Berry Farm. But the city of more than 80,000 has a number of things to see and do, including a scale replica of Independence Hall, a historic district, and Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. Jeremy Peterson ’14 is a leader in representing the city to the traveling public. The Mihaylo marketing alumnus joined the city’s tourism bureau in 2014, following a four-year role as marketing assistant for The Walt Disney Company in Anaheim.

Opportunities in Entertainment and Tourism

When you think of tourism jobs, hotel, restaurant or attraction employment might come to mind. Yet destination marketing is critical for developing and promoting cities, regions, states and countries as a place for visitors, conventions and even motion picture filming. Destination marketers have played a major role in putting Orange County at the forefront of the Southern California visitor experience. Read More