Staying Innovative as a One Man Operation

Arizona Businesses Win Spirit of Enterprise Awards

We’re seeing signs of improvement in Arizona’s economy, and we can thank small and growing businesses for much of the recovery. Today, six of the state’s best businesses were honored for creating jobs, contributing to charities and introducing innovation. They’re the winners of the 17th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“The distinguishing trait of all of our 2013 honorees is the great story behind their products and services,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Hard work and unwavering determination to succeed are key facets of these new Spirit alumni.”

Hundreds of Valley business and community leaders attended today’s awards luncheon at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where the winners were announced. The finalists’ impressive and sometimes emotional stories were shown on video, as the firms were recognized for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

The 2013 Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are:

> Bluemedia – U.S. Bank Emerging Entrepreneur Award. This national signage and graphics producer 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 – The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. One of the largest specialty transportation companies in the region, ComTrans provides solutions for special needs children and adults with behavioral and health challenges, and donates to several local nonprofits.
> GPS Insight – The Spirit of Enterprise Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This leading provider of GPS fleet and asset-tracking software has made the Inc. 500, has just half the client churn rate of typical industry counterparts, and offers 24/7 support availability.
> Real Property Management East Valley – The Spirit of Enterprise Leadership Award. This family-owned, full-service residential property management company grew to a multimillion-dollar business in less than five years, largely due to positive client referrals and community involvement.
> Valley Sleep Center – The Spirit of Enterprise Overcoming Adversity Award. This award-winning, nationally accredited sleep-disorder testing and treatment company has 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 – Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This minority-owned, self-directed retirement-plan administration company is focused on offering a wide variety of alternative investment options and manages more than $700 million in retirement assets after less than nine years in business.

The other Spirit of Enterprise finalists this year were Laura’s Gourmet Granola, Melrose Pharmacy, Mountainside Fitness and Symmetry Software.

Also this year, a Spirit of Enterprise Student Entrepreneur Award was added. The winner, W. P. Carey School of Business senior Devesh Tuteja, co-founded Devils Connect. The free Web platform helps ASU students connect to find study groups and academic forums that best match their classes and interests, and it may eventually be transformed for use at other universities.

These awards are just one focus of the 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. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers to sustain its activities. For more information, visit spiritofenterprise.org.

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Over the past two-and-a-half decades, Arizona Business Magazine has grown to encompass not just Arizona Business Magazine, but also a whole host of other publications and signature events. Arizona Business Magazine is the state’s leading monthly business publication. Published by AZ Big Media, the magazine covers a wide-range of topics focusing on the Arizona business scene, and is aimed at high-level corporate executives and business owners.