Firm Featuring O.C. Stocks Aims to Get Good Word Out

Patrice Apodaca covers economic issues for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-5979 and at

Mark Stewart, a longtime Orange County resident, remembers the days when much of the county had very little commerce. “It’s been amazing for me growing up here and seeing all the activity as far as the entrepreneurship,” he said.

So Stewart, who has worked most of his career as a stockbroker or trader, decided three years ago to open his own brokerage. Today, Irvine-based Silicon Beach Securities, of which Stewart is president, has five brokers and plans to add 10 this year. Although it invests in a wide range of companies, its specialty is Orange County stocks. Its logo: “From Surfwear to Softwear.”

“I thought there was the need for that niche,” he explained. “When we find a company we’re interested in that meets our criteria for a good investment, we go out and meet people and talk to the company. It’s the home-court advantage.”


Stewart has become a big Orange County booster, arguing that local businesses are often overlooked because of the focus on fast-growing Silicon Valley. But in the coming decade, he thinks, the growth and attention will shift to this area as it continues to mature. The biggest challenge, he said, will be filling all the jobs and cultivating more top management talent. He thinks the demand for workers will be partially met when the Eastern tollway, now under construction, is completed and provides a new means for Riverside County residents to commute to jobs in Orange County.

Eventually, Stewart plans to open branch offices in Los Angeles and San Diego, but for now, he said, he has more than enough work right here. A few years ago, he recalled, when living in Houston for a short time, he kept hearing people talk about the Orange County bankruptcy. Now he hopes to get the word out about the county’s healthy business climate. “People need to know that the private sector is going strong.”