Author Archives: Nicole Klauss

Nicole Klauss

About Nicole Klauss

Nicole Klauss is a recent graduate from Arizona State University. She has a degree in print journalism with an emphasis in business journalism.

Transform Your Bathroom — Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Transform Your Bathroom With A Lot Of Imagination And Little Money

From boring to breathtaking: All it takes is a lot of imagination and a little money to transform your bathroom into a relaxing space

Transform Your BathroomSpending time de-stressing at spas can get expensive. Luckily, you don’t need to travel to a resort to unwind and relax.

There are several ways that homeowners can turn their lifeless bathrooms into a relaxing refuge, so they can stay stress-free for a fraction of the price of a trip to the spa.

One amenity that is seen in hotels and spas, but rarely in homes, is a television in the bathroom. With all of the technology available today, it is easy for a homeowner to install a television in the bathroom. This simple addition instantly makes the bathroom modern and user-friendly because homeowners can watch the news in the morning while getting ready for work, or watch a favorite TV show while taking a long soak in the tub.

For homeowners that don’t like to waste time with baths, but still want a relaxing experience, try expanding the shower. A larger shower creates a feeling of openness, similar to a spa.

Mary Wild from Wild Development in Scottsdale has seen an increasing number of homeowners doing away with the bathtub completely. “The elimination of the bathtub allows for a larger shower space,” she says. “More people want to have a nice big shower and are willing to sacrifice a tub they never use.”

Expanding the shower also provides space to install multiple shower heads. Wild recommends installing several bathroom add-ons that are unique to women. A small corner bench is a useful addition to a shower. It spruces up the look of the shower and also allows women to more easily shave their legs.

“It’s a simple thing that makes life so much easier,” Wild says.

Keeping the bathroom organized is key to creating a spa-like feeling. Adding recessed niches in the shower walls for shampoos and soap can clear clutter. Homeowners can also install outlets in the cabinets so the hair appliances can stay plugged in all the time, but be out of sight.

To have the same freshness that spas have, install heated towel bars or warming drawers for your towels to ensure you always have fresh, warm towels after stepping out of the bath.

While some installations – like having dryers in the shower to air-dry – may seem over the top, other types of installations, including a refrigerated drawer for makeup or additional lighting, may give your bathroom the unique personalized touch that turns your bathroom into a sanctuary for relaxation.

For more information about how you can transform your bathroom, call Wild Development at (480) 227-3813 or visit

Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Personalized Remodels - Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Homeowners Opt For A Personalized Remodel To Enjoy For Years

Investing thousands of dollars into sprucing up a room or two in a home may seem fruitless when the housing market is down and people aren’t buying. However, homeowners are continuing to remodel their homes, but for different reasons than in the past.

Personalized RemodelA personalized remodel can create a home people will love and enjoy for years to come. Whether it is a total redo of the kitchen or expanding and updating the master bathroom, homeowners at all ends of the economic spectrum are opting to remodel, local home builders and remodelers say.

“Several years ago, people felt like they could put money into their homes and get it back out easily,” says Michael Daniel, president of Legacy Design Build Remodeling. “Today … they don’t care if they’re going to get their money back. People that are remodeling now have the need for it or have been saving and have the money for what they want.”

Most people who decide to complete a remodel expect to live in their home for many years to come. They want to enjoy the remodel, so they design the room or entire home of their dreams. Daniel says the most popular rooms to get remodeled are the rooms that get the most use: kitchens and bathrooms. “It’s the time-tested, proven things of the past that people are doing,” Daniel says. In their kitchens, homeowners are focused on the cabinets, counter tops and appliances.

What’s trending? Hiding appliances is a new trend that has become popular with homeowners. “They think there is too much clutter,” Daniel says. “People like to have pretty things on the counter tops, and appliances are clutter.” Legacy recently completed a kitchen where the homeowner didn’t want the refrigerator seen. Daniel and his team eliminated the main refrigerator and installed smaller refrigerators disguised as cabinets. The dishwasher and microwave were also hidden as cabinets.

Another popular kitchen trend is making the island the focus of the kitchen.

Personalized Remodel“Kitchens are a place for entertaining, so the island is really important,” Daniel says. Legacy completed a kitchen remodel for a chef who installed a 9-by-9-foot island in her home, so it could accommodate 16 students for her home-based cooking classes.

For bathroom remodeling, many people choose to remove the bathtub and install a larger shower or add storage space.

As for counter tops, Daniel says homeowners are using onyx, a translucent material that allows light to shine through it. Different backlighting, such as LED lights, can change the look or effect of the counter top.

Homeowners looking to create extra space in rooms can install pocket sliding doors. When opened, they slide into a deep pocket in the wall, creating a more polished look.

Heading outdoors. Homeowners aren’t limiting themselves to the inside of the house. “Exterior projects are normally popular,” Daniel says. “Some of the whole house remodels do a lot outside.”

Pools, grills, gazebos and fireplaces are common installations in backyards.

Legacy is working on a home remodel on Moon Mountain that adds a guesthouse, fire pit, barbecue, garage extension, and gazebo. The designers are remodeling both the pool and the landscape, which will include a pit for the children’s trampoline.

Legacy Design Build Remodeling
7750 E. Gelding Drive, Ste. 4
(480) 991-1993

Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Kitchen Remodel - Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Easy Kitchen Remodel With Details In Mind

It doesn’t take a lot for a family-friendly kitchen upgrade; keep these improvements in mind.

The kitchen has always been a focal point for connecting with your family, so it’s important to transform your kitchen into a food- and family-friendly haven. But this doesn’t mean you have to completely remodel the room.

There are a variety of easy options to consider. The first and easiest way to upgrade is changing the hardware and knobs. It is very simple and inexpensive to replace the cabinet jewelry to create an updated look. Replacing the knobs can also enhance other changes or additions that are made to other areas in the kitchen.

Paint is another effective way to revive a kitchen. Layer a new coat of paint to freshen the room, or try out a new color to change the kitchen’s style completely.

If you want to stay away from paint, add a tile backsplash on a wall. Kym Davis, senior interior designer from Premier Kitchen & Bath in Scottsdale, recommends backsplash for homeowners who aren’t interested in a complete kitchen remodel. This is a unique way to enhance the color schemes already in existence.

“If the intent is that they just want to dress the kitchen up and aren’t planning to change anything else, then tile is a nice backsplash,” Davis says.

There are a variety of tile types to choose from, including glass, glass mixed with stone, mosaics and linear tiles.

As for cabinets, those looking to for a change without installing new cabinets can consider refacing the existing cabinets. Use paint to change the outside of cabinets or remove cabinet panels on the cupboard doors and replace them with glass for an updated look.

Ultimately, you want to personalize your kitchen to make it meet your family’s need and fit your family’s style. One unique trend Davis has seen surface recently is departmentalizing the kitchen. For some people, this means having a special section of the kitchen dedicated for food preparation or having sections designated for kids only.

One kitchen Davis worked on included a special breakfast area for kids ages 5 to 8. The kids routinely made their own breakfast in the morning, so Davis worked to make a section of the kitchen kid-friendly.

The breakfast area was in a space that was reachable for the children and included a mini refrigerator under the kitchen counter that contained milk and juice. The toaster and microwave were also in the designated area.

“It worked because the kids could make their own breakfast or mess in one area,” Davis says.

Rearranging appliances and making simple upgrades can also dress up an aged kitchen and make it a more inviting room.

For more information about Premier Kitchen & Bath:
4856 E. Baseline Road, Suite 108
Mesa, Arizona 85206

Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2011

Law Firms Report Stability In Financial Industry

Law Firms, Lawyers See Stability in Financial Industry

As Arizona struggles to recover from a struggling economy, law firms are seeing a rise in the number of complaints filed in relation to banks and loans.

Arizona lawyers have specifically seen an increasing number of claims involving commercial real estate and foreclosures.

This indicates to lawyers that banks are stable and will maintain stability if they continue to stay on top of these loans and claims.

Brad Vynalek, partner at Quarles & Brady, says that banking cases are trending upward in number, and have become extremely common in most practices.

If law firms didn’t have financial loan departments in the past, they do now. Small and mid-size firms are expanding to include departments to handle loans.

Vynalek routinely deals with financial cases, and represents banks in various aspects of the litigation process, either as the defendant or plaintiff. He has represented banks in enforcement actions against borrowers and guarantors, lender liability defense, fair market value hearings and trustee’s sales.

About 50 percent of the cases Quarles & Brady takes on involve financial institutions in some way.

“It’s purely a function and a reflection of the market,” Vynalek says. “We’ve seen more cases involving banks than we have over the last five years and will continue to see an increase.”

Some of the most common banking cases that are popping up are cases involving loans against borrowers on large commercial properties.

Often, the people and companies who have defaulted just don’t have the resources to pay the loans back. For commercial properties that had many tenants and now have very few, it can be difficult to come up with the money to pay the lender back.

Law firms are also seeing a growth in the number of counterclaims that borrowers are filing. The counterclaims are usually geared towards dragging out litigations.

Banks are stable because they are staying firm on settling loan delinquencies. Banks want to be able to give out loans to help stimulate the economy, but in order to do that they have to follow up with the loans in default.

“Consumers should know that banks are committed to trying to make this a better economic climate,” Vynalek says. “Banks have to enforce the loans in their books, and banks will do better as the economy does better.”

Banks will continue to play a key role in the economy as they begin to sell the commercial real estate they have obtained through foreclosures.

“I think that there are a lot of banks with significant portfolios of foreclosed properties that haven’t even hit the real estate market yet,” Vynalek says. “They’ve got to sell the inventory of foreclosed homes and commercial real estate properties.”

Jennifer Dioguardi, partner at Snell & Wilmer, has also seen a significant increase in banking cases involving commercial properties.

“A lot of commercial real estate properties are under water,” Dioguardi says. “They have a high vacancy rate, which means they’re not generating enough cash flow to pay the note.”

In cases involving commercial real estate and delinquent loans, lawyers work to help the bank achieve an agreement, either by pursuing payments or working out other options with the borrowers behind closed doors.

Dioguardi regularly handles litigation involving the representation of national and local banks, mortgage lenders, and credit card issuers. She has an emphasis on banking, commercial, financial services and securities litigation.

Specifically, Snell & Wilmer has seen an increase in litigation matters brought against mortgage lenders and services by homeowners.

In these cases, the homeowners file documents to challenge the various aspect of loans or the foreclosure process in order to have their homes avoid being foreclosed upon.

Many of the documents being filed by homeowners are loan modifications or restraining orders to stop trustee’s sales, and oftentimes the allegations in the complaint do not have legal value; however, when loan modifications are appropriate, banks are taking care of them.

According to Dioguardi, it has become common for homeowners to go online, gather information and represent themselves. Many of the arguments posed online don’t have any actual legal merit, so homeowners fail to stop the foreclosures.

Banks are forced to follow up on loans in default to ensure the industry stay stable. If banks don’t take ownership of their finances, the result of many delinquent loans can be detrimental to the bank itself.

If banks aren’t making money or receiving money back from loans, they can fail and be closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Arizona had 11 failed banks from 2009 to 2011, according to the FDIC failed bank list.
Dioguardi isn’t expecting that number to skyrocket over the next year.

“We can anticipate some additional bank failures in the next year or so, but I think the vast majority will weather the crisis,” Dioguardi says. “There will always be a need for banking services.”

Despite increasing regulation, banks have continued to remain a working part of the economy, and are focused on helping borrowers to their fullest extent.

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For more information about the law firms mentioned in this story, visit:



Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011


Business Lending - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

Now Is The Right Time For Business Lending, Financial Banking

Now is the Right Time for Business Lending, Financial Banking

Now might be the right time for businesses looking for financial backing to reach out to banks to help with plans for expansion and growth.

“When small businesses are given the tools to grow, that means growth for the economy,” says Craig P. Doyle, Arizona regional president of Comerica Bank. “We have the ability to provide capital to those businesses that can grow.”

The status of business lending in Arizona has been in question during a tough economy, but the reaction from Arizona banking representatives has been similar across the board: banks are lending, and the number of loans issued has increased over the past year.

Most banks in Arizona have weathered the economic crisis fairly well, and have had the ability to continue to make loans.

Dean Rennell, a regional president at Wells Fargo Bank says he has seen a steady improvement in business lending over the past year.

During that period Wells Fargo extended approximately $14.9 billion in loans to small businesses nationwide, a 13 percent increase over the year before.

In Arizona alone, Rennell says he has seen Wells Fargo’s lending increase 15 percent over the past year.

“Borrowers are showing improved financial performance,” Rennell says. “That means they’ve adjusted to what people are calling the ‘new normal,’ and they’ve diversified and become more efficient.”

Rennell is seeing a significant amount of loans from small businesses looking to buy competitors or real estate, or expand the company.

Companies that had cut back on expenses are now starting to invest in new equipment and technology that they had refrained from purchasing in the past.

“We’re seeing expansion requests and some businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities they see in the marketplace,” Rennell says.

Arizona banks have been able to lend during the recession because Arizona has a large number of companies that are well managed and credit-worthy, experts say.

“Most banks in Arizona are capitalized and have enough liquidity and capacity to make loans,” says Curt Hansen, executive vice president of the National Bank of Arizona. “There are a lot of well-run large and small banks, and Arizona is a good market long-term.”

When looking at possible loans, banks still desire the same qualifications they have in the past, such as a good track record, a strong management team and an ability to weather tough times.

The biggest difference now is that banks are paying more attention to the actual documents required for the loan.

“Bankers are looking at borrower’s ability to withstand short-term shocks and the borrower’s ability to repay the loans requesting,” Hansen says.

Lynne Herndon, city president at BBVA Compass, has seen an increasing number of loan requests coming from the small business segment.

“Almost 70 percent of business owners in Arizona belong to the smaller business segment, and that’s the segment where we’re seeing growth,” Herndon says. “Those entrepreneurs and business owners were cautious before and are beginning to venture out more.”

Most businesses large or small have some form of lending, whether it is a line of credit, equipment loan or real estate loan. Lines of credit are necessary for companies to continue to operate, and many companies are renewing the lines of credit they already have.

BBVA Compass Phoenix saw double-digit loan growth in 2010 of about 12 percent, and has seen about a 15 percent increase in 2011.

The only area where Herndon says he doesn’t see as many loans being issued is in real estate lending.

According to Herndon, the uncertainty in the Arizona housing market plays a huge role in the decline of real estate lending. People are still wondering if values have hit bottom.

“The economy is still a concern, and the political climate,” Herndon says. “Most of the companies and businesses here need a banking relationship in order to maintain and grow their company. The demand for loans is definitely increasing and I’m hopeful this trend will continue to improve.”

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For more information about business lending and financial backing, visit:


Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011


Arizona Bankers Association, Bankers Give Back - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Bankers Association Impacts State’s Economy, Communities

Arizona Bankers Association Impacts State’s Economy, Communities

Ryan Suchala, Bank of Arizona, Arizona Bankers AssociationBank of Arizona President Ryan Suchala recognizes the importance of community.

“This is where we live, work and play and in many cases the city where we are shaping our families,” Suchala says. “As a father of three I give my time to better our community because this is where my boys will become men. Last year, Bank of Arizona employees spent close to 450 hours working in our community and I personally became a board member at Arizona Women Education and Employment.”

To show the Arizona banking industry’s impact on its communities, the Arizona Bankers Association (AzBA) produced a brochure titled “Arizona Banks Give Back.” The report provides a picture of the economic and charitable support the banking industry gives back to the communities it serves, and shows the influence banks have on Arizona’s economy.

Arizona Bankers Association is an organization with more than 70 members that works to create a unified voice and engage members in issues that affect the banking industry.

Lynne Herndon, city president at BBVA Compass“It’s clear the banking industry has been under a microscope the last few years,” says Lynne Herndon, city president of BBVA Compass. “We wanted to pull our information and be treated collectively as an industry to say we are looking to work with companies to help them with their financial needs.”

Arizona Bankers Association created the “Arizona Banks Give Back” survey in November 2010 to collect a variety of data from Arizona banks. The results were released in February 2011. The 12-page brochure includes statistical data that shows how banks provide financial and social stability in Arizona.

The banks that chose to participate in the survey felt that it provided a good opportunity to change the way people currently view banks. The biggest surprise to Paul Hickman, president and CEO of Arizona Bankers Association, was how high bank lending was in Arizona in 2010.

According to the survey results, Arizona banks lent $5.9 billion in new and renewed commercial loans, and more than $11 billion in new and renewed consumer loans in 2010.

“A lot of the feedback we’ve been getting is ‘Wow, I didn’t realize the volume of lending was that great in this economy,’” Hickman says.

The number is likely higher as only 35 AzBA-member institutions responded to the survey, which only represents 63 percent of the organization’s membership, and does not include information from non-member banks.

In today’s economy, banks are more cautious about lending, but the data proves that Arizona banks are continuing to lend to commercial businesses and consumers.

“We keep hearing banks won’t lend,” Hickman says. “But banks don’t make money if they don’t lend.”

Banks want to lend so they can pump money into Arizona’s economy.

Arizona banks provide direct loans to help the state government finance public improvements by improving water, sewer and public health facilities and by helping build schools.

Banks pay income tax to help support local communities as opposed to credit unions, which don’t pay federal income tax.

Arizona banks are also putting money into the economy by being a leading employer of local residents. Banks bring high-wage jobs to the local community, and employ more than 42,000 Arizonans.

Wells Fargo Bank was the fifth largest employer of Arizonans in 2010, and the average salary for an employee working at a bank was around $66,625 in 2010.

By providing jobs, banks provide a ripple effect in the community, because employees pay state taxes and are also consumers that put money back into local businesses.

Arizona banks are also doing more than just putting money into the economy. Members of Arizona banks are striving to aid their community through service.

According to the results from the Arizona Banks Give Back survey, bank employees donated 211,615 volunteer hours to community service in 2010, and donated $15.5 million to charitable and cultural organizations.

“Actions speak louder than words,” says Craig P. Doyle, Arizona regional president of Comerica Bank. “We get out and are active in making a difference in our communities. It’s better than just handing money out.”

To show their commitment to the communities they serve, Comerica employees work with nonprofits like Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Homeward Bound, Junior Achievement, Sojourner Women’s Shelter, United Food Bank, Central AZ Shelter Services and many others.

An effort from Suchala and the Bank of Arizona helped improve literacy across the Valley.

“Last year, we hosted our annual Caring for Kids Book Drive and collected over 14,000 books for children and adults in our community,” Suchala says. “We educate with multiple employees teaching Junior Achievement programs and with educational programs to local school children. Our employees have worked together this past year sorting school supplies at the annual Salvation Army Pack to School Drive, serving food alongside Alice Cooper for the Cooperstown Christmas for Kids event and pounded nails at two Habitat for Humanity events.”

“These are good members of the community,” Hickman says. “These are people that are donating their money and time at philanthropies around the state and they’re trying hard to impart their discipline.”

Arizona banks participate in programs such as neighborhood revitalization, financial education and assistance for the underprivileged.

In 2008, Mohave State Bank created a program called “Junior Bankers.” Three years later, Mohave State bankers are still training children at Jamaica Elementary School in Lake Havasu about balancing accounts, taking deposits and bank rules. Volunteers meet each week with students before school. The program has expanded to three other elementary schools.

In 2010, the National Bank of Arizona donated one of its foreclosed homes in Glendale to Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona. The bank partnered with the organization to help renovate the property, and 118 people worked to build walls, paint and landscape the property.

Arizona banks are committed to helping the community both financially and through service, Hickman says.
“This industry is like the cardiovascular system of our economy and it needs to be robust and healthy,” Hickman says. “We don’t grow or recover without this industry.”

For more information about the Arizona Bankers Association, visit

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Arizona Gives Back: By the Numbers

  • More than $5.9 billion distributed in commercial loans (new and renewed) in 2010
  • More than $11 billion distributed in consumer loans (new and renewed) in 2010
  • More than 1,300 banking center locations in Arizona
  • More than 42,000 people work for Arizona banks
  • $66,625 is the average bank employee salary


Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011


Leticia Ortiz, Mi Escuela Spanish Academy

Leticia Ortiz, CEO, Mi Escuela Spanish Academy

Small Biz: Mi Escuela Spanish Academy

Shortly after moving to the United States three years ago, Leticia Ortiz opened a business with her husband called Family Time. Family Time was an indoor playground for children designed to keep them from spending all of their time on electronic gadgets.

Due to the tough economy, Family Time closed in mid 2011.

Ortiz immediately decided to start another business venture and fulfill her dream of teaching Spanish to children.

Teaching has been a part of Ortiz’s life for years. She is attending Arizona State University to pursue a master’s degree in bilingual education, and when she lived in Mexico, Ortiz taught English to children.

Ortiz’s company, Mi Escuela Spanish Academy, is a school for 3- and 4-year-olds that teaches them the basics of Spanish by surrounding them with the language.

“In my experience, one hour a week is not enough to learn a language,” Ortiz says. “We are offering a full-immersion program three hours a day.”

Parents have the option to send their children two, three or five days a week and tuition corresponds to the number of days enrolled.

Ortiz teaches her students Spanish with interactive learning tools including: stories, games, circle time, and arts and crafts.

During the first few weeks of class, Ortiz uses English as a support for students who have never been around Spanish. After students develop a comfort level with the teachers and students, the classes are conducted entirely in Spanish.

Ortiz says she believes there are numerous benefits to teaching a child another language at a young age, and is working to educate parents.

“The big challenge is making people understand that giving their kids the opportunity to learn another language is not something bad or something they don’t need,” Ortiz says.

Bilingual children develop strong social skills and an appreciation of other cultures, and they are able to get better jobs as adults.

Ortiz said she plans to have 15 students in her class the first year, and has one assistant to help her teach the students. The school runs on the same calendar as the Gilbert school district.

If the business does well, Ortiz says she plans to open more facilities around the Valley.

“I’m not looking to open up one big school because if you open a school in one location, people from different places won’t be able to come,” Ortiz says. “I want to teach Spanish to everybody.”

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Mi Escuela Spanish Academy

202 S. Gilbert Rd.
(480) 280-6629
Mi Escuela Spanish Academy Facebook Page



Bikram Yoga - Scottsdale Living July/August 2011

Bikram Yoga Works Every Part Of The Body, In A 100-Degree Room

Bikram yoga works every part of the body and increases one’s health — all while in a 100-degree room

Yoga reshapes and constructs the body from the inside out. Therefore, the body needs to be heated to be more flexible so it can be reshaped.

And Bikram yoga does just that, unlike any other form of yoga out there.

Bikram yoga, created by Bikram Choudhury, consists of 26 different postures with two sets of each. It is performed in a heated room for 90 minutes and is said to improve emotional, physical and mental health.

The most noticeable difference between Bikram and other forms of yoga is the temperature. Bikram yoga is always performed in a room heated at between 104 and 110 degrees with 40 percent humidity.

The beauty of Bikram is that the order of the 26 postures is universal. No matter what class you go to, you will always spend the first 45 minutes in the standing position working on your heart rate, cardio, balance and strength. The second 45 minutes will be spent in postures that work on your spine and nervous system.

Bikram is designed to help work every part of the body, including muscles, bones, joints, tendons, glands, ligaments and organs.

The order of the positions is especially designed so the body eases into each position and is ready for the different muscles the position works.

“You’re not just thrown into some crazy posture that you’re not warmed up to,” says Andrea Griego, owner of the Bikram Yoga Institute in Scottsdale. “You always know what to expect.”

Bikram is one of the safest yoga practices because of the intense training instructors must go through, which includes completing a nine-week training that requires more than 500 hours of study with Choudhury in order to ensure his methods are properly taught.

During a class, instructors move about the room to make sure students are in the proper form in order to prevent injuries.

While the demographic of Bikram devotees 10 years ago was mostly women, Griego’s school now sees an almost even ratio of men to women.

According to Griego, there are more and more men doing Bikram as more athletes are learning its benefits.

“Athletes are coming in and realizing it helps the longevity of performance in whatever they are doing,” Griego says.

Aside from getting in shape, Bikram has additional health benefits. Bikram helps cure chronic ailments and relieve high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, back pain, diabetes, herniated disc, scoliosis, insomnia, stress, migraines, depression and anxiety.

For those who have never tried Bikram before, the Bikram Yoga Institute welcomes students of all levels to learn and benefit from this form of yoga. The majority of the school’s students range between 30 to 50 years old, but as more athletes are getting into Bikram, there is an increasing number of younger people starting to join.

There are many different reasons why people start Bikram, but everyone benefits from it.

“If they are consistent with their practice they will receive a benefit,” Griego says. “We want people to come in and do their best and have fun with it.”

For those interested in taking a class, the Bikram Yoga Institute has several different rates. The best deal for starters is the $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga. Classes can also be purchased per class at $17, or you can purchase unlimited month passes starting at $155.

For more information about Bikram Yoga Institute’s schedules and rates, visit or call (480) 946-2116.

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Bikram Yoga Institute

7620 East Indian School Road, #115
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 946-2116


20 Lounge, Scottsdale, Ariz.

20 Lounge, Beauty Bars Make Fashionable More Financially Friendly

20 Lounge, Beauty Bars Make Fashionable More Financially Friendly

When forced to make tough financial decisions in this tough economy, some women may be sacrificing routine beauty regimens to save money.

But staying fashionable and getting pampered doesn’t have to be something that gets cut from the budget.

Beauty bars are making it possible for women to save money and still get the beauty treatment they crave.

The concept of beauty bars is one that has recently spread from California to Arizona. Beauty bars specialize, excel, and focus on just a few services, rather than having a full spa and salon.

Valerie Griggs, CEO of 20 Lounge, went to typical corner nail salons because they were affordable. There was no upscale option for her to go to without paying a fortune.

Griggs realized that there was a huge market for high-quality, affordable nail services, and founded 20 Lounge, a stylish nail salon named for 10 toes and 10 fingers.

Griggs wanted her nail salons to be chic and hip, while providing great services at a reasonable price.

“We decided that in order to have our experience be a better experience, it had to be a lounge environment,” Griggs said. “People can get a great service at a value.”

20 Lounge focuses on giving people an unforgettable experience that can’t be found at a typical nail salon, Griggs said.

Walk through the doors of 20 Lounge, and you’re greeted by a space that is bright, sleek and trendy.

You’re either taken to the white, high-top bar to get a manicure or to a luxurious white-leather lounger for a pedicure. You’re offered a goblet of iced cucumber water, which will be champagne or wine when 20 Lounge is approved to serve alcohol.

The walls are decorated by inspirational quotes and several flat-screen televisions that play music videos that will undoubtedly get your polished fingers and toes tapping.

With creatively named manicures and pedicures such as “The Standard,” named after The Standard Hotel & Bar; “The Ritz,” named after the bar at the Ritz-Carlton; and “The Roxy,” a dry manicure named after the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood, women will truly feel like they are getting celebrity treatment.

For women looking to take their daughters out for a girls’ day, the “Little Lounger” is the perfect manicure or pedicure for petite hands or toes.

20 Lounge also offers facials and waxing, and a special menu of manly choices including a Man-i-cure or Man-i-ped.

Griggs opened the first 20 Lounge in November 2009 in Scottsdale and quickly followed with two others, a second one in Scottsdale and one in San Diego, where she lives.

She plans to open four more by the end of 2011, and is in the process of raising $3 million to infuse capital into the brand so she can start the 20 Lounge franchise program.

“We want to have a 20 Lounge on every corner, like Starbucks,” Griggs said. “We’re trying to be a really great nail bar.”

20 Lounge isn’t the only beauty bar that has sprouted up in Arizona.

Drybar, located at the Scottsdale Quarter, is a beauty bar that offers blowouts instead of pedicures.

Drybar’s menu is simple, offering traditional blowouts for $35 and several upgrades including hair shots and scalp massages for small added fees.

According to Griggs, 20 Lounge and Drybar have talked about opening locations next to each other in order to provide women with the convenience to get their hair and nails done all in one day at affordable prices.

Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar in Phoenix offers several services for $3,5 including the traditional blowout, a spray tan, makeup application or mini facial.

Each Valley beauty bar also offers special memberships where people pay a monthly membership fee and receive a set amount of services per month, along with discounts and incentives for continuing membership.

Whether you’re looking for something to do for a girls’ night out or just wanting a change from your traditional nail or hair salon, beauty bars provide an experience that will leave you feeling stylish, refreshed, and with a little more money in your purse than you’d have if you’d gone to a spa.

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20 Lounge

7001 N. Scottsdale Road
(480) 699-8900[/stextbox]

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15147 N. Scottsdale Road, #115
(480) 607-5064


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Park Avenue Blow Dry and Beauty Bar

4801 E. Indian School Rd.
(480) 321-7780



Michelle De Blasi Partner, Quarles & Brady

Michelle De Blasi’s Passion For The Environment Carries Through All Her Work

Michelle De Blasi
Partner, Quarles & Brady

Attorney Michelle De Blasi is passionate about the work she does on issues concerning the environment.

After completing her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, De Blasi attended law school at the University of  Washington and worked for the federal government for six years on oil spills and other environmental cases. She returned to Arizona, and worked for the attorney general’s office for one year in the environmental section.

In 2004, De Blasi joined Quarles & Brady. As a partner with the law firm she  practices in the area of environmental and natural resources law. She assists clients in getting permits, navigating enforcement actions and does renewable energy work.

De Blasi became the firm’s Valley Forward representative in 2007. She jumped right in as a board and executive committee member. De Blasi works on the entries committee for Valley Forward’s signature fall event, the Environmental Excellence Awards. Last year, she served her second term as chair of the energy committee, a new endeavor responsible for organizing meetings and events, building membership and planning educational field trips for members.

“We are involved because it (Valley Forward) provides great networking opportunities with nature business leaders in the community,” De Blasi says. “As a firm we have many clients that are members as well, and we can interact with them on a different level.”

De Blasi says the organization serves as an educational source. Valley Forward tries to take a neutral stance on environmental policies because it has such a diverse membership. Rather than take sides, Valley Forward holds educational forums where it explains what the policies are about.

“Valley Forward is such a great way to stay on top of the issues that are happening out there,” De Blasi explains.

The energy committee planned a debate in the fall with the candidates for state corporation commission. Members of Valley Forward met the candidates and talked about renewable energy credits.

“(Valley Forward) brings the most value to be able to do things I love doing, and interact with things I really like on issues I care about the most,” De Blasi says.

De Blasi adds the biggest challenge for Valley Forward is maintaining membership. When companies are faced with smaller budgets, outside memberships are usually the first thing to get cut. Despite companies cutting ties with the organization, some individuals have chosen to stay on as members because they have a passion for the organization, and believe it is important.

“Valley Forward is rare in the audience it serves, being so wide and large,” De Blasi says. “It is a great organization, and is run very well.”

Green Law - Valley Forward’s Goals Are Important To Dan Litteral’s Company, Apollo Group

Valley Forward’s Goals Are Important To Dan Litteral’s Company, Apollo Group

Dan Litteral
Vice President/Legal & Associate General Counsel
Apollo Group/University of Phoenix

Dan Litteral has been in higher education and has practiced regulatory law for more than 20 years, and that experience has enhanced his involvement with Valley Forward.

Litteral joined Valley Forward in 2007 through Apollo Group and the University of Phoenix, which have both been longstanding members and supporters of the organization.

“It became apparent to me that Valley Forward was an almost uniquely positioned organization for a metropolitan area that was really committed to public dialogue between organizations and civic leaders,  to promote environmentally sensible development,” Litteral says.

Before working for the University of Phoenix and Apollo Group, Litteral spent 20 years practicing law in the Washington D.C., area. He helped build the in-house legal department at the University of Phoenix and was University of Phoenix general counsel from 2003-2007. Litteral then was moved up to the Apollo Group where he currently runs a practice group for Apollo that provides education and regulatory law services.

Litteral says Valley Forward is staying fresh and relevant, and is important to Apollo Group because it has aligned goals. Apollo Group has focused on sustainability and appropriate environmental usages.

Since 2008, Litteral has sat on the Valley Forward board of directors and executive committee. He was also chair of Valley Forward’s Earthfest Educators Night, an annual event that invites between 300 and 500 teachers from around the Valley to learn about environmental education so they can share the information with their students.

Litteral wants to see a focus on continued relevance from Valley Forward. He says that as the economy turns around and the organization grows, it is important to improve the issues that revolve around sustainability.

“Valley Forward clearly wants to be the environmental go-to organization in the Valley in terms of balancing the need for growth, development an stability,” Litteral says. “By undertaking events and continuing to engage leaders in corporations and the business world, it will fulfill that mission.”

Valley Forward works with organizations such as Apollo Group to educate the community and businesses on how to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Valley Forward provides an opportunity for public dialogue of discussing how to move forward with environmental considerations.

“Valley Forward has a long track record of making the Valley a good place to live and work, while understanding we need to continue to develop and grow, and to do so in an environmentally friendly way,” Litteral says.

Adrienne Howell Southwest Gas

Valley Forward Profiles Adrienne Howell Of Southwest Gas

Adrienne Howell
Southwest Gas
Administrator/Community and Consumer Affairs

Adrienne Howell has a diverse background that allows her to excel in her current position at Southwest Gas. During her career, Howell has worked in human relations, communications, management, marketing and sales.

As community and consumer affairs administrator, her responsibilities include developing and nurturing partnerships that strengthen communities. It is a position that requires Howell to be out in the community and active in organizations.

Southwest Gas has been a member of Valley Forward for about 18 years. Howell joined in 2009. In her first year as a new member, she was eager to get involved and helped make sponsorship calls.

Howell currently serves on the energy committee and the marketing committee for the Environmental Excellence Awards. She will serve as vice chair for next year’s Livability Summit, and in 2012 she will become the chair.

Howell and Southwest Gas wanted to be part of the conversations on how to improve the environment and create livability in the community.

“The only way to really know how you can make a difference is to get involved,” Howell says. “You can’t do that from the sidelines. You can’t do that from reading a project description. You have to raise your hand and say,  ‘I’ll help.’”

Southwest Gas and Valley Forward have similar goals. Southwest Gas dedicates itself to making communities a great place to call home. The company focuses on ways to emphasize safety, and serve its customers and communities. One priority of Southwest Gas is to save money and use energy wisely, a common goal with Valley Forward.

“Organizations like Valley Forward, because of its long-standing presence in the Valley and because of its local mission, are important to help us further our goal of offering customers smarter, greener energy sources for their homes and businesses,” Howell says.

Howell realizes that these are challenging economic times for organizations and companies, and people have to closely evaluate every dollar they spend. However, Southwest Gas believes that Valley Forward is an important and necessary partnership to have, which is why even through these challenging times it has remained an active member.

Howell says that to retain and keep membership, Valley Forward will have to get input from stakeholders to find out what value it can give to members.

Misgana Kebede Company - Accent Transportation Services - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

A Dream Becomes A Reality for Ethiopian-Born Small Business Owner Misgana Kebede

Misgana Kebede
Company: Accent Transportation Services
Title: Owner | Est.: 2008

In May 2008, during the roughest stretch of the recession, a husband-and-wife team made a bold decision to start their own transportation business. Misgana Kebede and his wife, Bilen, started Accent Transportation Services, which specializes in executive car service around the Phoenix area.

Kebede moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia and was drawn to the tourism industry early on. In fact, he worked at various hotels and theme parks after high school and during college. Kebede eventually earned degrees in finance and logistics, transportation and supply chain management.

Prior to the creation of Accent Transportation Services, Kebede was working for Honeywell Aerospace in the supply chain department. Although he was learning a lot about the business, Kebede realized he wanted something more than to work in a cubicle.

“I had the dream of becoming a business owner, and a desire to serve others from the heart,” Kebede says.

When Kebede first started his business, the transportation industry was being hit hard by the economic downturn.
Companies were cutting down on travel costs, and car and limo services weren’t in demand. Despite the challenges, Accent Transportation managed to stand out to clients. Accent Transportation gains most of its business from repeat customers, and has grown from one vehicle to a seven-vehicle fleet within two years.

“Building a repeat customer base tells us we’re doing something right,” Kebede says. “Seventy to 75 percent of our business is repeat customers.”

Accent Transportation retains its customers because it continually focuses on improving the level of service it provides. It offers easy, online registration and account management. Customers can choose from Lincoln sedans, SUVs, stretch limos and a mini-coach. Kebede also emphasizes the importance of being on time.

Another major part of customer retention is that Kebede’s employees have excellent customer service skills. When looking to hire new employees, Kebede looks for people who already have spent time working in the hospitality business.

“If you know how to serve people, anything else can be learned,” Kebede says.

Kebede knows that building a business from the ground up is especially hard right now, but he is committed to his work.

“The first and foremost thing is to have a passion for what you do,” Kebede says. “Plan your days, weeks and months. Think about what will grow your business, not just what will help you get by.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

David Rosenbaum - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

With 35 Years In The Resort Industry, David G. Rosenbaum And MPI Are Perfect Fit

David G. Rosenbaum, CHME
Director of Sales and Marketing
Fiesta Resort Conference Center

When David Rosenbaum first joined the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI 10 years ago, he was looking to take advantage of the group’s business and networking opportunities, and gain exposure to various meeting planners around the state.

As he became more involved in MPI, his career also jumped, and today, Rosenbaum is director of sales and marketing at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe.

Rosenbaum grew up in the resort industry. He started 35 years ago in operations, working behind the front desk and parking cars. He was then given the opportunity to work a different angle of the business.

“I came out of operations and I thought I’d be in sales for two or three years, and then I’d get back into operations,” says Rosenbaum, who adds he has been in sales for 25 years.

Although he is not currently on any local MPI committees, Rosenbaum has participated in the student relations and programs committee, and has helped with planning various galas and events the chapter hosts. He remains involved with MPI by supporting the many people on his sales team who also are members of the chapter. Rosenbaum makes sure his employees get the time they need to become active members of MPI.

He says MPI is facing several challenges because of the down economy, namely a drop in membership. That, he says, is preventing the local chapter from meeting its full potential.

“The people that are supporting the membership are stretched thin, and are not as productive as they otherwise could be,” Rosenbaum says.

He says the solution to keep membership increasing is to provide more value to AzMPI.

“The more members we have, the more support, the more talent, the more creative ideas and the more successful our chapter will be,” Rosenbaum says.

Although many people join MPI for the business opportunities and networking, Rosenbaum says the most important thing he gets back from the organization is education. He enjoys just sitting down with other members and learning from them.

In the next year, Rosenbaum wants to see the local MPI add more educational programs, such as the ones he attended on surviving in this economy and keeping up to date with technology.

“Basically any education that makes us better prepared as professionals, that is where the value and the ROI is,” Rosenbaum says.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Rona Curphy - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Rona Curphy, President And CEO Of Casa Grande Regional Medical Center

Rona Curphy
President And CEO
Casa Grande Regional Medical Center

As president and CEO of Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, Rona Curphy has moved to the top of the medical field thanks to her years of dedication.

From 2002 to 2009, Curphy served as the chief nursing officer at the nonprofit community-based hospital in Casa Grande. When she was asked to be interim CEO in February 2009, she jumped at the new experience. Curphy saw it as an opportunity to grow in her profession and to learn new skills. About five months later, Curphy was named Casa Grande Regional Medical Center’s official president and CEO.

As president and CEO, Curphy works to ensure that the hospital implements the strategic plans adopted by the board of directors.

“My duties are making sure we meet our mission, our vision of organization, making sure people are on top of strategic goals, engaging partners, providing the best quality health care environment for them to practice in, and making sure the staff has a great environment to work in,” Curphy says.

Curphy emphasizes that in her role she tries to be a visible and active community member. She sits on the chambers of different cities, on an economic development board and attends events so the hospital will be viewed as a part of the community.

Although Curphy currently does not hold a position on the Arizona Hospital and Health Care Association’s (AzHHA) board or committees, she has been very active with the organization in the past. While serving on the patient safety committee, Curphy looked at new patient initiatives throughout the state.

“I had to look at everybody’s concerns and issues as we made decisions going forward,” Curphy says.

She also served on the Campaign for Caring committee, where she ended up chairing one of four task forces. On the government affairs committee, Curphy helped give legislators ideas on what stands the hospital and health care community wanted them to take on issues. She points out that AzHHA is an important organization to the community and to hospitals.

“AzHHA is our voice across Arizona,” Curphy says. “Having one voice where lots of members can give ideas, gives us opportunities to work with the Legislature to get things done.”

Curphy says another key benefit of AzHHA is that it offers the opportunity to network nationwide. But Curphy adds, a big challenge AzHHA faces is being able to successfully manage networking events during a very busy time in the health care industry. With all of the new legislation on health care being written and passed, it is easy to get caught up in focusing solely on the issues, rather than the networking aspect of the organization, she says.

Curphy wants to see more members take advantage of the opportunities that AzHHA presents, and to get involved in the events the organization hosts. In addition, Curphy says AzHHA has to focus on maintaining and recruiting new members, “… and making sure (the organization is) not too costly for members, or difficult for members to participate. If they make the cost too much, there will only be a few members, and the end result doesn’t allow for great networking.

“I think it is up to (AzHHA) to get out to member hospitals, to get people out there to say, ‘Get involved,’” Curphy says.

arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010


Olympic Athletes Train Phoenicians To Become Triathletes

Want to become a triathlete? The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain has a program for you.

From now until May 16, the Sanctuary will be offering a series of three-day training programs that allow people to train with Olympic-caliber athletes.

“We can train the well-conditioned athlete or someone who is a beginner and wants to get involved with triathlons for the first time,” Sanctuary fitness director Kara Thomas says.

The package includes room accommodations, power breakfasts and spa treatments in addition to the training. The package offers three different types of massages: a sports massage that is geared towards enhancing athletic performance, a Thai massage that works the muscles, and a reflexology massage that stimulates the flow of energy.

“We are hoping to draw locals as well as people from around the country,” Thomas says. “We can work with individuals or groups.”
The roster of athletes involved in the program is impressive.

Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman of Phoenix will be assisting with the swimming portion of the training. Hyman will be focusing on helping athletes learn to swim straight, match intervals to get faster and make swimming easier by changing posture. Hyman joined the Sanctuary last year.

Distance runner Mike Schneider qualified for the 1996 Olympics in the 5,000-meter race. Schneider will be assisting with the running part of the training. He is currently the Sanctuary’s trainer for both running and hiking.

Additional trainers include Melissa Branta, a cyclist who has raced at the semi-professional level for 6 1/2 years, and Mike Masood, who focuses on evaluating the muscles to find imbalances and enhance training.

“Because of our background and our location and reputation, we get people that apply for different positions here,” Thomas says. “Our staff has a wonderful background in sports conditioning and training.”

One day will be spent concentrating on each discipline – swimming, cycling and running – with core training emphasized. The spa treatments are part of the program because the training is intense and muscles need to relax after each workout.

The package runs about $2,000. For more information, call (480) 948-2100 or visit

Mark Wilhelm Lifetime Achievement Az Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Lifetime Achievement

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Mark Wilhelm, LEED AP
Co-founder, Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants

Mark Wilhelm has a long-standing commitment to the green movement, and over the years he has given countless hours toward improving the earth.

Wilhelm realized in 1973 that he wanted to create ways to make the U.S. a sustainable place to live. He focused on solar energy technology, building energy simulation, and designing energy-efficient buildings. After earning his master’s in environmental planning from Arizona State University, Wilhelm worked for APS for 13 years, where he headed the development of the APS Environmental Showcase Home (ESH). The home is designed to use 60 percent less water and 85 percent less energy than a regular home and displayed new sustainable technologies, materials and procedures.

In 1994, Wilhelm created the firm Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants with his colleague, Charlie Popeck, to promote green building. He also volunteers to teach sustainability to ASU students and community organizations throughout the Valley.

Wilhelm is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Arizona Chapter, and served as chapter chairman in 2006. In 2007, Wilhelm successfully lobbied to have the Arizona chapter host the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. He also helped to choose the LEED Silver certified Phoenix Convention Center as the site of the conference. To recognize Wilhelm for his hard work and passion, he was named chairman of the Greenbuild Host Committee. The 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo truly engaged the greater Phoenix community and attracted more than 27,000 attendees from around the world.

Finalist: Edwards Design Group

The Edwards Design Group is the pioneer of building environmentally sound, energy efficient homes in Scottsdale, Ariz. Brothers Kevin Edwards and Doug Edwards have been creating environmentally friendly homes for customers for thirty years. The company’s green approach protects the earth, conserves energy and saves homeowners money.

The Edwards Design Group was the first construction group to create and build a house using straw bale and autoclave aerated concrete, an insulated building block that doesn’t need to be as replaced as often as regular concrete. The Edwards Design Group also set up recycling processes on site during construction, saving one owner over $25,000.

The Edwards Design Group helped the City of Scottsdale increase its awareness on environmentally friendly and safe building techniques and materials. The company works closely with the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program, and has participated in the annual “Green Building Expo.” Kevin and Doug both host a TV show called “Sustainable Scottsdale.”

Finalist: Richard Franz-Under, RA, LEED AP
Pima County Development Services

Richard Franz-Under made history in Arizona when he received the first LEED certification for a building in the state. The Desert Vista Campus Plaza Building at Pima Community College was also the 31st building in the world to achieve LEED certification. In 1997, while working at Pima Community College, he developed the first green building program and is the state’s leading expert in designing buildings to meet LEED certification.

His dedication to sustainability doesn’t end there. Franz-Under commutes 20 miles round trip to work on a bicycle and provides community outreach for sustainable construction practices and affordable housing. He also manages a LEED for Homes Provider program — the only one in the nation — and is currently supervising the certification process of one remodel, 94 multifamily units and 62 new homes.

Franz-Under has served as a consultant for several different LEED projects in Arizona and speaks to the community throughout the year, educating people about the importance of green building practices.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Green Innovation SRP Earthwise - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Green Innovation

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: SRP EarthWise

SRP has a wide variety of sustainable solutions that allow customers to reduce their carbon footprint and do their part to help save the environment. The SRP EarthWise programs are the first step in this process.

One program, EarthWise Energy, produces electricity from renewable resources like the sun, wind and water. Once the electricity is produced, it is sent to the SRP electric system for all customers to use. By using renewable power, there is less need to use fossil fuels. This program is offered to customers for an extra $3 per month. So far, EarthWise Energy has about 5,300 people participating.

Another SRP EarthWise program, EarthWise Solar Energy, allows customers to install solar electric or solar water systems in their homes or businesses for a reduced price. Businesses also can offset electricity usage with natural sources by joining the EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits program. SRP customers also are given the option to support reforestation through Trees for Change.

SRP EarthWise has several other programs that help the community take an active part in the movement to save energy. These programs include: EarthWise Solar for Schools; EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits; EarthWise Trees for Change; EarthWise Mowing Down Pollution; and EarthWise Powering Our Future.

Finalist: Burgis Envirolutions

Burgis Envirolutions is redefining the traditional composting process, and allowing food operators to effectively manage food waste with innovative green technology.

The Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative is a technology that converts food into a water waste that can be discharged or treated and reused in irrigation. The ORCA uses natural microorganisms and biochips to process and break down food on site.

The ORCA allows businesses to save time and money, while reducing their carbon footprint. Businesses will not have to pay for hauling fees or labor costs that come from disposing their food waste at compost locations. By making less trips hauling food, carbon emissions will be lowered.

The ORCA is offered in six sizes. It requires very little power and uses only a small amount of water, from 40 to 200 gallons depending on the machine size.

Burgis Envirolutions was awarded the 2009 Valley Forward/SRP Crescordia Award in Green Technology.

Finalist: Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is changing the way hospitals approach their responsibilities to the environment and their patients.

The Hospital recently spent $588 million to build an additional 11-story tower for patients. During construction the hospital was conscious of the design, construction and operations practices it used, and as a result the new building will use 20 percent less energy.

Phoenix Children’s most recognizable sustainability effort is the Central Energy Plant (CEP) that powers the hospital’s 34 acres. The CEP uses an 800-ton water-to-water heat pump chiller that saves 5.6 million gallons of water each year, and over the next 15 years the CEP is expected to save the hospital $11 million in energy and operating costs.

The hospital maintains a paperless policy, and sends materials to subcontractors through online distribution. Recycling is heavily emphasized and throughout the construction process more than 70 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Omaha Steakhouse Offers Its Signature Steak - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Omaha Steakhouse Offers Its Signature Steaks And A Little Extra

Tucked away inside the Embassy Suites Phoenix – Biltmore, Omaha Steakhouse is a great place to sit down and enjoy a mid-town steak in a comfortable atmosphere.

Omaha Steaks is known for the finest beef available. Since 1917, people have turned to the family-owned business for meat that they could trust. In 1966, the company took the name Omaha Steaks International. The company experienced explosive growth in the 1980s and 1990s that led it to an important decision that changed dining. In 2000, Omaha Steaks opened the doors to its first restaurant, the Omaha Steakhouse.

The Omaha Steakhouse offers a comfortable setting that allows for a pleasant dining experience. The décor, soft lighting and friendly service communicate authenticity, and create a memorable dining experience. The bar has an extensive wine selection, and the traditional dining area offers an enjoyable view of the hotel’s pool.

When my dining companions and I glanced at the menu, we knew we were going to be enjoying a great meal. Omaha Steakhouse offers a variety of seafood and steak platters.

Omaha Steakhouse serves the well-known Omaha steaks that people have mail-ordered for decades. The restaurant takes pride in the steaks it serves, offering its own private reserve selection, which includes top sirloin, filet mignon, bone-in rib eye and New York strip steak.

For starters you can order the jumbo shrimp cocktail or scampi with bruschetta. Of the appetizers we decided to sample, the table favorite was the crispy blue cheese potato chips. Topped with finely chopped tomatoes and drizzled with blue cheese, the chips were quite a treat, and the plate quickly emptied.

Our attention was soon diverted when our server brought us Omaha’s signature onion bread topped with garlic sauce and onions. Shortly after, our shrimp bisque arrived along with a steakhouse wedge salad made of iceberg lettuce and topped with blue cheese, bacon bits, cucumbers, red tomatoes and blue cheese dressing. If you’re trying to save room for the main entrée, a good choice is the tomato, red onion and mozzarella platter. The dish is just enough to hold you over until the entrée arrives.

For entrees you can pick the traditional choice of steak, or you can venture out and try one of Omaha’s various seafood selections or house specialties. Seafood selections range from salmon fillets to stuffed shrimp.

The house specialties consist of roasted Maryland crab cakes and double cut pork chops topped with a glistening maple mustard glaze and served with Fuji apples, among others.

The entrée Omaha is best known for is the fillet and stuffed shrimp grilled combination platter. The fillet was excellent, grilled with butter and Omaha Steak seasoning. For an enhanced steak experience, make sure to “Oscar” your fillet and have it topped with asparagus, crab cakes and a creamy béarnaise sauce.

Each entrée is accompanied by delicious Yukon gold mashed potatoes. For additional taste bud pleasures, be sure to order the asparagus topped in béarnaise sauce, sautéed mushrooms and a mac & cheese dish that has a little extra kick to it.

Finally, it was time to dive into dessert. Although Omaha’s crowning glory is steak, Omaha doesn’t skimp on the desserts. The must-haves include a sweet and tart Key Lime pie, a crème brulee served with strawberries and a chocolate cake that lives up to its name – Obscenely Chocolate Cake. Layers of chocolate and fudge made up the rich creation, which easily became the favorite treat of the night.

So next time you’re shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park and searching for a quiet, relaxed place to enjoy a delicious meal, stop by Omaha Steakhouse. You won’t leave disappointed.

    If You Go:

  • Omaha Steakhouse
  • 2630 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
  • (602) 956-6626

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Amy Stephens Volunteer Of The Year - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Volunteer Of The Year

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Amy Stephens, Co-Founder · Stephens ID & Associates

Amy Stephens volunteers her time, creativity and energy to the advancement of the sustainability movement across the state. She also has played an integral role in the growth of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Stephens joined the Arizona chapter in 2006, when she also became a member of the national USGBC. She has dedicated countless hours and effort to the local chapter. She has been a member of the education committee since 2006, and has been the co-chair of that committee since 2008. In 2009, she sat on the host committee and the greening committee for the national USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo when it was held in Phoenix.

Stephens shows the same passion she has for the USGBC in her own design company, Stephens ID & Associates. Stephens graduated from William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., in 1997 with a BFA in interior design, and has been designing balanced environments for people to live in ever since.

Her company focuses on interior design, interior repurposing, feng shui and green design. She assists her clients in going green by repurposing existing furniture with a goal toward creating healthier living spaces.
Stephens also teaches green building education classes, and is the vice president and a founding board member of the Green Meeting Industry Council Arizona chapter.

Among her future goals is to work with local elementary schools to teach students how to plant and grow food, so they will understand the importance of the Earth and where their food comes from. These plans are just several of many as Stephens forges ahead with her various sustainability endeavors.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

First annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Alternative Mobility

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: ECOtality

For more than 20 years, ECOtality has been designing revolutionary, fast-charge products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, making alternative transportation easier and more accessible to the public.

Since 1989, ECOtality has had the opportunity to become involved in important North American electric vehicle (EV) initiatives, thanks to its subsidiary eTec (Electric Engineering Transportation Engineering Corporation). ECOtality also has been leading the way in the EV industry.

ECOtality was named lead grantee in August 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy, and was awarded a $99.8 million grant for the EV Project, which will create and produce several thousand electric cars.

ECOtality’s EV Project will reach 11 major cities in Arizona, Oregon, Washington, California and Tennessee. There will be approximately 4,700 of Nissan’s electric cars, LEAFS, in the five states. There also will be 11,000 charge stations across the country to allow drivers to recharge their zero-emission battery electric cars.

Each LEAF is expected to save approximately 436 gallons of gasoline per year. Combined, that’s a savings of more than 2 million gallons of gasoline for all LEAFS. The EV Project is projected to generate more than 750 new jobs by 2012; and by 2017, ECOtality expects to have more than 5,500 new positions across the country.

ECOtality also has created the Minit-Charger, a battery-charge system that works as quickly and efficiently as possible by using proprietary algorithms to charge a battery. This system eliminates the potential for batteries to overcharge or overheat, and prolongs battery life.

Clean Air Cab

Clean Air Cab is Arizona’s first completely green taxicab service that gives people the opportunity to go green just by riding with them.  The company offers green cabs at an affordable rate.

Clean Air Cab is composed of 26 Toyota Priuses, which are currently the most fuel-efficient cars available. The Toyota Prius saves 33 miles per gallon of gas, which saves about 1,000 miles per gallon among all of the company’s cars combined.

Aside from driving green cars, the company supports global reforestation by planting 10 rainforest trees each month for each cab that is in service. In the first quarter of operations, Clean Air Cab planted 780 trees.

“We believe that going green isn’t something you do- it is something you are,” said Steve Lopez, founder of Clean Air Cab. “Our intention is to take the trendy out of ‘going green’ and deliver a product that allows consumers to be green just by participating.”

Valley Metro RPTA

The Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority is already helping thousands commute in a sustainable way. With the introduction of a new program called “ShareTheRide” Valley Metro RPTA is furthering their efforts by helping commuters choose the best transit options based on their time and route. The program’s goal is to educate the public about alternative methods of transportation, while reducing cost and pollution.

ShareTheRide is a free service accessible through Valley Metro’s website. When commuters enter alternative transportation information into the Commute Tracker they can earn points for incentives around the Valley. To support businesses, the program also includes customizable sub sites, where employers could promote the program and offer special incentives to their employees when they login to sub sites with a company e-mail address.

From data collected between April 22, 2009 and January 13, 2010, ShareTheRide resulted in 3,485,069 pounds of greenhouse gas savings and 34,706 pounds of carbon monoxide savings from a grand total of 178,842 round-trip commutes. The RPTA successfully created a service that Valley commuters needed to make traveling to work easier on the commuter and the environment.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010