Sounding Off: Looking for people who act justly

This day and age it is easy to make corporate America the scapegoat for all our problems. One does not have to look far to see examples of greed and misuse of power. Every once in a while, though, you come across a shining star in the darkness.

Meeting Martin Pickett from Cla-Val was like finding that star. Martin, currently the president and chief executive, has been part of the Cla-Val team for more than 30 years. Martin, the Cla-Val management team, and the owners of Cla-Val are unanimous in their commitment for excellence in their people, their products, their industry worldwide, and the community of Costa Mesa. Their actions speak to that commitment.

Cla-Val was founded in 1936 in South Pasadena and moved to Costa Mesa in 1954. They create and manufacture valves — valves of every kind — for fire protection, water works, navy operations, fueling, you name it. The company employs hundreds of people, many of whom live here in Costa Mesa. They can do that because they are paid a livable wage, and when the company does well and gets a boost, everyone gets a bonus. The Costa Mesa plant is quite an operation, occupying 20 acres that include a foundry and manufacturing operations along with research and development labs. What most people don't know is that Costa Mesa is their international headquarters. They have offices in Switzerland, England and France, to name a few.

As the worldwide headquarters Cla-Val has learned to be quite hospitable, and their hospitality extends beyond their own corporation to our local neighbors and community. Two years ago, Cla-Val opened their house on the back lot to house Mika Community Development Corp.'s offices. Before that they had housed RockHarbor Church's offices for several years. As any small startup knows, having space to operate is a generous gift! Having a partner who believes in your work and prays for you regularly and lives out your same values is beyond what we dreamed.

Mika's partnership with Cla-Val is embodied in my neighbor, Maria del Carmen, who has worked at Cla-Val for years. On her break she comes out to our office in the house in the parking lot and has a Coke with me. We talk about her family and her work. When we first moved in I was always trying to get the scoop on Cla-Val. How did they treat their employees? What was really going on there? And she gave me the scoop. At Cla-Val she feels valued. She works with a team. She has opportunities for bonuses. It is a good place to work. And it is close to her house. Cla-Val is a good neighbor.

That is what really counts for us at Mika. We are on a constant search to find the people and groups in our community who are acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly with God. We want to learn from them and we want to partner with them. We are grateful for Cla-Val and their contributions to our city.

CRISSY BROOKS is executive director and co-founder of Mika Community Development Corp. in Costa Mesa. She lives in Costa Mesa.

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