As Arizona moves along the road to economic recovery, many impressive local businesses are helping to vault us forward with job creation and growth. Today, 10 of the state’s best businesses are being recognized as finalists for the prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
The awards honor firms for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. Past winners include well-known names like Cold Stone Creamery, Ollie the Trolley and China Mist, as well as rapidly growing businesses, such as GlobalMed and WebPT. Finalists are noted for creating a positive culture both internally and in the community as a whole.
“One key aspect about this outstanding group of companies is that they were started by local entrepreneurs who saw that classic ‘hole in the market’ and knew they could deliver a superior product or service,” explains Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business.
The 17th annual Spirit of Enterprise Award finalists are:
* Bluemedia, a national signage and graphics producer that was founded by two high school friends, grew almost 30 percent during the recession, and landed on the Inc. 5000, with clients including the National Football League and Major League Baseball.
* ComTrans, one of the largest specialty transportation companies in the region, which provides solutions for special needs children and adults with behavioral and health challenges, and donates to several local nonprofits.
* GPS Insight, a leading provider of GPS fleet and asset-tracking software, which has made the Inc. 500, has just half the client churn rate of typical industry counterparts, and offers 24/7 support availability.
* Laura’s Gourmet, a chef-owned maker of all-natural granola products available in local stores and through national distributors, which has shown 45-percent year-over-year growth and donates to charities, including Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.
* Melrose Pharmacy, a locally and minority-owned, independent pharmacy that offers fast, personalized service and achieved $2.7 million in sales by its third year in business.
* Mountainside Fitness, a state-of-the-art health and fitness company started by one college student/entrepreneur in 1991 that now has 1,000 employees, 10 locations and about 44,000 members, as well as participation in charity and community efforts.
* Real Property Management East Valley, a family-owned, full-service residential property management company that grew to a multimillion-dollar business in less than five years largely due to positive client referrals and community involvement.
* Symmetry Software, a subscription-based, payroll withholding-tax software company that has a 96-percent renewal rate and an internal customer-service program that has led to an amazing 0-percent turnover in the last three years.
* Valley Sleep Center, an award-winning, nationally accredited sleep-disorder testing and treatment company with five clinics that offer a home-like atmosphere, as well as heavy community involvement and 80-percent of its new growth from referrals.
* Vantage Retirement Plans, a minority-owned, self-directed retirement-plan administration company focused on offering a wide variety of alternative investment options and managing more than $700 million in retirement assets after less than nine years in business.
Hundreds of Valley business and community leaders and others will attend the annual awards luncheon when the winners are announced Nov. 22 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix.
These awards are just one focus of ASU’s Spirit of Enterprise Center, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business experience. Firms can also use the W. P. Carey School of Business center to access other ASU business resources. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers to sustain its activities.
For more information on the Spirit of Enterprise Center, visit www.spiritofenterprise.org. For sponsorship opportunities or awards luncheon reservations, please call (480) 965-0474, e-mail SpiritofEnterprise@asu.edu, or go to www.spiritofenterprise.org.