Spirit of Enterprise

ASU Honors Small Businesses

Five small businesses were recognized at the 14th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards, presented by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The awards are given out to small businesses that exemplify the best in ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

“Finding a niche and starting a business is a daunting task,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center W.P. Carey. “Growing and sustaining that business — and coming up with innovations to keep it competitive — is an even greater challenge. The common thread among our 2010 winners is that they all had the tenacity to make the critical adjustments needed to power through to the next level.”

The winners are:

Overcoming Adversity Award: Arizona Air Boutique

The company started as a home-based balloon bouquet business, then diversified its offerings to become one of the largest helium distributors in Phoenix, and one of the largest nonflammable gas distributors in Arizona.

Emerging Entrepreneur Award: China Mist Brands

China Mist is the first tea company to offer fresh-brewed iced green, flavored, Fair Trade, organic and herbal teas to food service companies. A co-founder is working toward a sustainability degree to influence all of the company’s offerings.

Spirit of Enterprise Entrepreneurial Leadership Award: Elontec

Elontec specializes in technology, telecommunications and commercial relocation. It has a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate, extensive community involvement and a track record that includes tripling its gross revenues in one year.

Spirit of Enterprise Survivor/Innovator Award: International Cruise and Excursions

International Cruise and Excursions changed the landscape of the travel industry with its “barter-for-travel” initiative, offering cruises in exchange for timeshares, airline miles, credit card loyalty points and other alternative currencies. It is now among the top five cruise providers in the world.

Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award: Maintenance Mart

This is a family-owned janitorial and facility supply service with a heavy emphasis on recycling and the use of environmentally friendly products. The minority-owned business also has a very high employee retention rate and a focus on maintaining long-term customer relationships.

The awards ceremony was held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.