Business
How I Made It

Hollywood's paymaster

The gig: Mark Goldstein, 48, is chief executive and president of Burbank company Entertainment Partners, one of the industry's leading payroll services firms. The company processes residual checks and advises studios through the labyrinth of tax credits and rebates available around the world. Entertainment Partners also owns Central Casting, the principal casting service for background actors known as extras.

Unlikely Hollywood career: Goldstein is a Los Angeles native with a degree in economics from UCLA. He launched his career at accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, where he was a partner in the L.A. office. The certified public accountant never planned on a Hollywood career. That changed when one of his clients, Entertainment Partners, needed help changing from a privately held company to a 100% employee-owned organization. Company founders Robert Draney and Jack Peterson were so impressed with Goldstein's services, they tapped him to run the company in 2003.

Employee culture: Goldstein liked the idea of giving employees a stake in their employer. They not only own shares in their company, but they also have a say in how it is run, offering suggestions through an ESOP committee. "I'm a pretty big believer in making a difference and building a great culture," he said. "When you align culture, empowerment and ownership you can deliver great customer service.... Every time a customer calls, they're talking to an owner of the business."

Management approach: "I've never focused on results," Goldstein said. "A lot of people set financial targets. We put all of our responsibilities into creating a great journey for our employees and our clients. The results will take care of themselves."

Soaring growth: When Goldstein joined Entertainment Partners, the company had 350 employees and three offices. Today, the company has more than 900 employees and 16 offices in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Britain. "As employees became entrepreneurial in their thinking, they came up with new ways to generate business and better ways to serve our clients," Goldstein said. "A great example of that is this whole tax-incentive business. We started seeing a trend with a few states coming on board with incentives to lure production in 2004 and we said, 'Hey, there's potential for this to explode around the U.S. Let's build a business around this.'"

On runaway production: As a leading film tax credit advisor, Entertainment Partners has helped make it easier for studios and producers to use tax credits and rebates that have flourished in other states and countries. Goldstein has been a strong proponent of strengthening film incentives in California so it can better compete with New York, Georgia, Louisiana and other domestic and foreign rivals. State lawmakers are currently reviewing a bill that would expand the state's film tax credit program. "There's a piece of me that looks at what California's losing and wishing California would do more to keep business in the state, but I'm also supportive of job growth in the U.S.," he said.

Best advice: "When you stumble, you don't sit back and ask, 'Why did I stumble?' You get up right away and keep going forward."

richard.verrier@latimes.com

Twitter: @rverrier

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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