Ron Chauvel: Managing Partner, Chauvel & Glatt LLP

We asked Ron Chauvel, Partner at Chauvel & Glatt to share with us his life story including people and experiences that have influenced his personal and business philosophies. We also asked him to answer some fun questions. Following are excerpts from that interview.

Business Owner Name: Ron Chauvel

Business Partner: April Glatt

Business Name: Chauvel & Glatt, LLP

Business Location:  San Mateo, CA


What are some significant experiences in your life, and explain what effects they have had on you?

My childhood was pretty good. Grew up in Palo Alto.  Good neighborhood.  Great parents and sister. My parents both worked.  My mother is a musician and still teaches at Stanford.  My Dad worked for Kraft Foods his whole life as a personnel manager in their SF office. Many good class mates all the way through High School. 

Started work in junior high school year and worked at a Retirement home in the kitchen through my senior year in High School.  Benefitted from great public schools and environment. Became a good golfer early and won Santa Clara County junior championship twice (game has deteriorated over the years).  Moved out in High School.  Worked in Hawaii in pineapple plant during summer after my Freshman College year. Worked in Idaho at a cheese plant after my sophomore College year. School at Berkeley during the Vietnam War and free speech movement at Berkeley. Law School at Hastings in SF.  Clerked all three years at a law firm in financial district.  Went to work for that firm after I graduated.  Worked as an attorney in SF for 10 years.

I worked at menial jobs early on in my life with persons not as fortunate as me and learned to think outside the box. Based on my experiences, I believe that pretty much everyone is good but many just did not get the breaks I did.

What are a few things about yourself that make you uniquely you?

I’m pretty well rounded and can usually get along with just about anyone.  Feel comfortable in just about any environment. Try hard to listen well.  I really like unique and positive people. I try to stay up with the changing world.  Have been an avid runner since age 25.  Ran a 2:42 marathon and ran in the Boston Marathon.  Still running with several groups.  Allows me to meet many interesting people.  Started swimming this year and now try to swim at least 4 days a week.  Usually swim or run at 6 am, then to work, and many nights go out with clients or friends. 

What made you decide to start your business in the first place? 

The SF firm I was with dissolved in 1988 and I decided to start my own practice then. 

Tell me about your business: age of company, products/services, geography and types of customers served, etc.,  

Started my own business in 1988.  Clients throughout the greater bay area. We serve a large number of businesses and individuals with transactional and litigation legal services, Estate planning, real property, acquisitions and mergers, entity formation and representation. 

What do you find interesting about your business?

I’m very happy practicing law. We have 7 attorneys.  Most everyone has been with the firm for years.  Lots of senior talent and recently added several junior associates.  My partner April Glatt joined me about 5 years ago and has helped to develop the firm to another level.  She has also become a good friend.  We work well together as a team and enjoy after work events from time to time.   At this point, am not thinking of retirement as work is enjoyable and rewarding.

Why did you choose San Mateo for your office?

The SF firm I was with opened a San Mateo office in 1985.  I moved here from our SF office. Seems like a good area where a small firm can do well. Although I live in Los Altos, I decided to base my office here in San Mateo when I started my own business in 1988 and have been here since then.

As a business owner, the buck stops with you. You are accountable to no one else but yourself. How do you bring accountability to yourself and your business?

I work hard and set a good pace.  I try very hard to treat our workers fairly and with respect. Always try to remember how I felt when I worked for others. People work better when they are happy and like what they do. Management must create that environment.

What is the single most critical talent you possess in your role as a business owner?

Delegation skills. I have great people around me and trust them.

What gives you the most satisfaction in running your own business?

Seeing people work together as a team in a friendly and successful environment.

How do you define success as a business owner?

When you can come to work and enjoy your job and the people you work with.

What has changed the most in the business environment since you started your business? 

Technology and the need to be productive all day. 

If you had to do over again, what would you do and/or how would you do it?

I would have concentrated more on my legal practice earlier on in my career rather than building homes, running and other outside activities.  Would have worked harder at relationship building and social skills.

How did you overcome the 2008 economic crisis?

It was tough.  We cut staff and costs and made it through.  When times are tough you have to avoid panicking or fretting.  Take it one day at a time, stay positive and keep the business you have and try to add new business. 

What do you find most challenging about running a business in 2015?

Trying to stay productive and keep up to date at advanced age.

What would you recommend to a small/medium business owner to help enhance the valuation of their business?

Concentrate less on cost cutting and more on generating new and profitable business

What do you foresee as some opportunities and challenges for small/medium business owners? 

Serving many of the new immigrants that have moved into the greater bay area. 

What would you like to tell people who want to start a business in your field?

Get some good experience behind you at a good firm.  Always strive to build your own clientele. Provide good service and build relations. Associate with positive and skilled persons.

What are some of your life philosophies or life views that you would share with others?

Work hard.  Treat others well.  Be positive. Be generous.

What are some of the personal values that are very important to you?

Fairness, honesty, humility, and generosity.

If someone gave you $100,000 and told you that you could NOT give it to any of your friends, family members or use it yourself, what would you do with it?

Find a good charity that helps persons in need.

What are a few things that you are grateful for?

My parents.  Where I grew up.  My public school education.  My wife and 3 children.  My wife is from Hawaii and tries to slow me down and keep me grounded.  Some excellent attorneys in SF who helped me develop as an attorney over my 1st 10 years of practice. Family and friends that have always been around me that have helped me grow.

What are you most proud of?

My family, work and friends.

How and what do you want to be remembered for?

I’m not interested in a legacy.  Just trying to enjoy life and the people I work with. 

What are some of the things you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Run, swim, golf, travel, and entertain.

What are the items on your Bucket List?

Travel.  Swim Alcatraz, enjoy family and grandchildren.   

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Ramon Canova

Marque Foods, Inc.

I initially joined TAB to learn how to better deal with ‘me.’ I perceived myself as a primary obstacle to growth. With TAB, I got plenty of ideas on how to view myself and the business differently and this has definitely improved my business. I learned that my business plan is a living document and track it periodically using the monthly progress report. In short, TAB has helped me design business processes that are more systematic, efficient and get results.

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C Kell-Smith & Associates

Being in business for the last 25 years and then joining my TAB board, I’ve seen such an improvement in my management style and effectiveness. TAB is a great resource for me, the information and the experience with small businesses as well as the insights shared.

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For us, it’s all about generating clients. And how we’ve gone about generating those clients with the help of TAB has really been key to our ongoing success. I knew that I needed a sounding board, needed some outside expertise. And that’s exactly what TAB brings to the table. And it also holds my feet to the fire and keeps me accountable.Kalar is a patient and inquisitive listener who seeks a thorough understanding of the root origins and causes of issues before collaborating on potential solutions. He also helps me to consider "out of the box" type solutions and opportunities that invariably expand my thinking. With his help and guidance, we have resolved numerous tactical and strategic issues and positioned our company for significant growth.

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TAB helps you recognize that pretty much everybody has the same type of issues with their business. It clears your head and it re-energizes you. When I leave a tab board meeting I’m re-energized to conquer not only that day, but the next year. TAB helps us focus on ourselves and the other TAB members…the answer is sometimes written on your forehead and you just need a mirror to be able to read that answer.

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