05/05/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT
James Lack, founder and president of the Mayflower Fund, is at 28 probably the nation's youngest mutual fund president. The Boston-born whiz kid, whose father is a judge and mother a real estate broker, got hooked on investing for friends when he was still a junior at Harvard. After graduation he put in two years as a financial consultant. Then, as a graduate student at Harvard Business School, he wrote a thesis that became his investing principle. The gist: A lesser-known stock with a low price-earnings ratio often does better over the long term than the traditional glamor issues like IBM, Xerox and Polaroid. Lack got a chance to prove it in December 1978, when he launched the Mayflower Fund with $300,000 supplied by one investor as a vote of confidence. The fund now boasts several millions in assets and handles some 580 shareholders in 47 states, Europe, Asia and Africa—not bad in view of the recent Wall Street slump. Lack, a bachelor, dates a stockbroker and teaches financial management part-time at Northeastern University. Though anticipating "a rather severe recession" in 1980, he insists that stocks will replace real estate as the best hedge against inflation. Lack does not rely on Wall Street brokerage houses for his information. "We do our own research," he says. "We find a small company and we'll look at it ourselves. We keep away from the crowd."
Sandi Batt (left), a 28-year-old aspiring actress, first came up with the idea for an all-girl parking service when the L.A. restaurant where she was parking cars folded two years ago. She called two friends—Sheila Taylor (center), now 29, a onetime TWA stewardess from Pensacola, Florida, and Maureen Sullivan, 28, a former wholesale furrier from Marion, Indiana—and over drinks they formed Valette Parking, Ltd. with initial capitalization of only $2,000. Within months they were de rigueur on the Beverly Hills party circuit—showing up for jobs in matching tight pants worn with satin tuxedo vests and black bow ties, and presenting guests with a long-stemmed rose when they got into their cars to leave. "VIP service," proclaims the Milwaukee-born Sandi, "is our thing." They handled the parking for David Frost's 40th-birthday party, for Barbi Benton's wedding and 30th birthday and for a Jerry Brown fund raiser. Now Valette's three owners employ 40 walkie-talkie-toting women (at $11 per hour each), rent a shuttle bus for large affairs and are thinking of opening a branch in Dallas. Still, there are drawbacks. "We work at nights, so we have daytimes free," allows Sheila. "But we also work on weekends. And that," she sighs, "puts a crimp in our social lives."