Tag Archives: arizona business magazine

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‘Top Lawyer’ voting opens

Voting is now open for Arizona Business magazine’s “Top Lawyers List.” To vote, simply go here:

Top Lawyers

The 2013 list will run in both the March 2013 issue of Az Business magazine, as well as the 2013 edition of Ranking Arizona. You can vote for attorneys who were nominated in these categories:

BANKING
BANKRUPTCY/REORGANIZATION
BUSINESS/CORPORATE LAW
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION
CONSTRUCTION LITIGATION
EMPLOYMENT/LABOR RELATIONS
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
ESTATE AND TRUST LITIGATION
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
HEALTHCARE
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
REAL ESTATE
RENEWABLE ENERGY
SECURITIES AND CORPORATE FINANCE
TAX

Voting will close Dec. 14, 2012. Those attorneys receiving the most votes will make the 2013 edition of the “Top Lawyers List.”

Arizona Technology Council Upcoming Events

Upcoming Arizona Technology Council Events

The Arizona Technology Council strives to connect all aspects of Arizona’s budding technological and business expansion. Producing over 100 events a year, the Arizona Technology Council is driven by its vicious ambition to network.

Arizona is exponentially getting bigger and better and by hosting a wide array of events all over the state, the Arizona Technology Council’s main goal is to work alongside this growth and connect the state with more opportunities. They offer a member-to-member discount program and assist in creating employee plans including health, dental, vision, disability, property/casualty and business liability.

Some of Arizona Technology Council’s upcoming events include:

Women in the Workforce Committee: The Economics of Sustainability from a Fresh Perspective, presented by Infusionsoft

The Women in the Workforce Committee are hosting this lecture, focusing specifically on the importance of being green in Arizona and how you can do it most effectively. Featured speakers include Kimber Lanning (Founder of LocalFirst Arizona), Vanessa Bechtol (Executive Director of Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance) and Greg Peterson (Founder of Urban Farm).

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/5/2011, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: SkySong
475 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
How much: Free for members; $25 for non-members[/stextbox]

Lunch and Learn: Leadership Development – Dealing with Bad Behavior at Work, presented by Thunderbird Online

Christine Pearson, Ph.D., Professor of Global Leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management and an expert on dysfucntional workplace behavior, will be hosting this event. The event is ideal for business professionals who are currently managing employees and/or are looking to enhance their leadership skills in the future. Professor Pearson will also be giving away two copies of her recent book, “The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It.”

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/11/2011, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: SkySong
1475 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
How much: Free for members; $15 for non-members[/stextbox]

Lunch and Learn: Leadership Development – Dealing with Bad Behavior at Work, presented by Thunderbird Online

Christine Pearson, Ph.D., Professor of Global Leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management and an expert on dysfucntional workplace behavior, will be hosting this event. The event is ideal for business professionals who are currently managing employees and/or are looking to enhance their leadership skills in the future. Professor Pearson will also be giving away two copies of her recent book, “The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It.”

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/11/2011, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: SkySong
1475 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
How much: Free for members; $15 for non-members[/stextbox]

Council Connect: Brand Your Business Like Your Favorite Restaurant, presented by Miss Details Design

Miss Details Design, the leading sensory design firm for service-related businesses with an emphasis in the hospitality industry, has assembled a panel of branding experts to share their secrets on how to create an engaging brand.

The lecture will feature panelists Paul Shashaty, marketing and brand manager of Desert Island Restaurants and Kate Unger, senior marketing VP of Kahala, the franchising company that owns Cold Stone Creamery, Blimpie, and more. Marketing directors, restaurant professionals and business owners looking to up their brand should attend this event.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/19/2011, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Seasons 52
2502 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016
How much: $25 for members; $45 for non-members[/stextbox]

VIP Networking Event: Presented by Microsoft Corporation

The Arizona Technology Council and the Microsoft Corperation are hosting the quarterly VIP Networking Event. The VIP Networking Reception will include opening remarks by AZTC President & CEO Steven Zylstra followed by a welcome from the Microsoft Corporation.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/20/11, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: Microsoft Corporation
60 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., 12th Floor
Tempe, AZ 85281
How much: $15 for members; $25 for non-members[/stextbox]

Lunch and Learn: How to Secure Your Mobile Devices, presented by Verizon Business

Learn about industry trends, followed by a personal perspective of mobile security as well as an enterprise perspective.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 10/25/2011, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: ITT Technical Institute
5005 S. Wendler Dr.
Tempe, Arizona 85282
How much: Free for members; $15 for non-members[/stextbox]

Council Connect: How to Use QR Codes and SMS to Increase Your Sales, presented by GottyCode

This event will teach you how to implement SMS messaging and QR codes into marketing tactics of your business.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 11/2/2011, 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Where: SkySong
1475 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
How much: $15 for members; $25 for non-members[/stextbox]

2011 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation: Arizona Rising

The Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) is the Arizona Technology Council’s annual awards gala that honors technology leaders and innovators from across the state. The event attracts more than 1,000 attendees each year for a night of networking, food and entertainment. For 2011, the awards portion of the event will be a theater-style presentation, followed by a sit down and plated dinner.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 11/17/2011, 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Where: Phoenix Convention Center, North Building, 100 Level
100 N. Third St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
How much: $15 for members; $25 for non-members[/stextbox]

1st Annual Requirements Conference for Arizona’s Aerospace, Aviation & Defense Community

AA&D industry primes to discuss requirements for their business success, collaboration between Arizona industry stakeholders, and advancing innovation and technology through the SBIR/STTR opportunities.

[stextbox id="grey"]When: 1/25/12 (Networking/Exhibition) – 1/26/11 (Main Conference), Time TBD
How much: $35/75 for members; $45/100 for non-members[/stextbox]


Visit the Arizona Technology Council’s website
for more information. In order to attend an event, you must register.

 

[tubepress mode="tag" tagValue="Arizona Technology Council"]

 

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories And Tips

Troy Hazard, author of the best-selling book “Future-Proofing Your Business”, offers these 10 tips for great customer service:

1. THE ANGRY CUSTOMER: In an argumentative situation, think of how you would feel in your customer’s shoes. Take time to consider his or her personality and position. The faster you start talking in your customer’s language, the quicker the route to an amicable result.

2. WHEN SERVICE GOES WRONG: Try these customer service tips practiced by an airline with flight problems: Acknowledge the problem and take time for face-to-face when possible. Anticipate the needs of the customer and make the customer comfortable. Communicate the solution and offer as much information as you can.

3. PERSONAL TOUCH: After buying a car, the salesman, would send information about things I was personally interested in. The salesman ended up selling $1.5 million to my friends through endorsement or referral.

4. TRUE CUSTOMER APPRECIATION: Sometimes we think we are rewarding our loyal customers when really we are offering them a bribe. A random thank you note that says, “Thanks for being a great customer, please accept this voucher as a sign of our appreciation” is a reward.

5. KEEPING IT REAL: When I owned an advertising business, I did not try to be what I was not. I did not make promises I could not keep. And it got me the client.

6. PROVE YOUR WORTH: Instead of trying to convince potential customers that you can do the job better than your competitor, simply demonstrate to them a service that your competitors simply won’t do.

7. THREE QUESTIONS OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS: Two of the most important aspects of building customer relationships are communication and consistency. Ask yourself:

* How often are you reaching out to your customers outside of the times they come to you?
* How often do you offer them something that is good for them, which has nothing to do with you selling them another product or service?
* How often do you train or retrain your staff on how to build better customer relationships?

8. INFORMATION OVER BRICKS AND MORTAR: There is only one way to truly build solid customer relationships — understand their needs and do not assume their expectations. Ask them why they purchase from you and how that purchase affects their lives. You can then use that data to develop a significant emotional connection.

9. ANTICIPATE EXPECTATIONS: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and think about what they will want tomorrow — and deliver that product or service today.

10. BE SOCIAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA: As you launch your business into the world of social media marketing, remember that it is just that — social. It’s a means for your customers to praise or punish you.

[stextbox id="grey"]For more information by Troy Hazard about good customer service, visit his website at www.troyhazard.com.[/stextbox]

 Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011

 

Dave Forman, Owner, PourMasters Professional Bartending Service - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Dave Forman, Owner, PourMasters Professional Bartending Service

[stextbox id="grey"]COMPANY: PourMasters
TITLE: Owner
WEB: www.pourmasters.com[/stextbox]

Dave Forman had a whopping two weeks of experience in bartending when he decided to launch his own professional bartending service, PourMasters, in January 1992.

He had been working in management and sales, but after taking a two-week course in bartending, Forman was hooked.  “Bartending seemed like a fun, great job,” says Forman, a native of Michigan. “I’m a people-person, and I just had a blast.”

PourMasters provides clients with bartenders and portable bars. The service also provides the actual beverages, including the alcohol, sodas and mixers. Bartenders employed by PourMasters must be familiar with Arizona alcohol laws and certified with the proper credentials.

Forman started PourMasters with two friends in the Valley, but by the end of the first month, the partnership dissolved. This left Forman alone to handle the challenges that come with starting a new business.

“One challenge I experienced early on was learning what clients want from a bartending service in the first place. The biggest challenge, though, was hiring bartenders with the right personality.”

Another challenge Forman faced — and he was not alone — was the 2008 recession. Luckily, Forman had built a strong relationship with catering businesses in Arizona, and that helped him to stay afloat.  “I’m proud of staying in business for this long in this economy,” he said.

As for the future, Forman says he hopes to expand into other cities, and maybe even write a book about his experiences.
He has this advice for other small business owners: “If you’re not having fun, find something else to do because if you’re not having fun, it’s just not worth it.”

 

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Trilogy at Vistancia, solar homes - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

New Master Planned Communities Seek To Bring Back Customers

With the residential market suffering through the Tepid Economic Recovery, homebuilders are devising ways to bring customers back to their new Master Planned Communities. These days, the magic word Is “Green,” as in sustainable. But it also represents energy and money savings for homebuyers.

In the Valley, Shea Homes launched its green initiative (Shea Green Certified) in the fall of 2007. Trilogy homes at Vistancia (601 sold to date) and Encanterra (285 sold) are built according to those standards, which means all homes come standard with more than 20 green energy and cost saving features. American Solar Electric, Arizona’s largest residential solar integrator, has partnered with Trilogy to provide solar roof tiles to all its homes that are built with the Shea Green Certified — Ultra Package.

Meritage Homes is selling residences at two of its communities — Lyon’s Gate in Gilbert and Weston Ranch in Glendale — that include a high-tech package of sustainable features included in the base price of the home.  The future of new homebuilding, with respect to energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainability and green building practices, appears to be a national trend, and even more so in Metro Phoenix.

“In addition to Meritage Homes, Joseph Carl Homes has really distinguished itself with its green and solar features being offered at the CantaMia development in Goodyear,” says Dustin C. Jones, a Phoenix lawyer who publishes the Livability Law Blog. “It has seen a record number of individuals visit the active adult community since its grand opening. I believe that local homebuilders are seeing the need to distinguish themselves from the glut of foreclosed homes in the market and ‘greening up’ is one way to do so.”

Some of Meritage’s features include ECHO Solar Electric/Thermal Systems, spray foam insulation, super high-performance windows, energy-efficient lighting, weather-sensing irrigation, high-performance plumbing fixtures, and a 14 Seer air conditioning unit. All of these features are included in homes from about 1,640 square feet to 3,062 square feet and starting in the $170,000s.

“We spent the last two years working with the EPA, DOA (Department of Agriculture), and building science experts to revolutionize the functionality of a home, while maintaining its price competitiveness,” says C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Meritage Homes. “But at the same time, ‘green’ has become a marketing gimmick for everything from soap to homes; that has confused and jaded a lot of consumers. The real work is in allowing consumers to make a more informed decision.”

With the move to green master planned communities, homebuilders and homebuyers both benefit from cost savings. Some homebuilders, such as Arizona-based Robson Communities, are partnering with companies that produce energy-saving products.

Robson also has partnered with American Solar to offer solar electric systems at two of its popular active adult communities, Pebble Creek in Goodyear and Quail Creek in Sahuarita. New homebuyers are also able to select either a 2.5- or 4-kilowatt grid-connected solar electric system at the time they purchase their homes. These systems save $600 and $950 a year, respectively.

“Building green master planned communities is a win-win for everyone,” Jones says. “Not only does the consumer benefit, but the community as a whole. Oftentimes, one can lose sight of the greater good by building sustainable master planned communities.

“This is why the U.S. Green Building Council launched its LEED-Neighborhood Development (ND) designation for such communities. It is important to look at the overall benefit to a community, rather than just doing a zero-sum analysis between builder and homeowner.”
In a special report, “A Green Recovery for America’s Homebuilders?”, Calvert Investments, which advocates for sustainable and responsible investing, updated its 2008 Green Homebuilder rankings based on the environmental and sustainability practices of America’s 10 largest publicly traded homebuilders.

While all 10 have improved their policies and practices relating to the environment and resources, much progress remains to be achieved, according to the report. The homebuilding industry was one of the earliest and most visibly affected segments of the U.S. economy during the recent financial crisis. While new residential building projects are only a quarter of what they were five years ago, the trend in the first half of 2010 is moving upward.  Green building, which is gaining momentum, offers an opportunity to the industry as it focuses on rebuilding its market and restoring financial profitability. Estimated at $36 billion to $49 billion, the green building market is considerable and expected to double by 2013.

In the green building market there is likely a first-mover advantage: companies that make a concerted national effort to integrate sustainability into project siting, construction materials, and construction processes, as well as provide energy, water, and habitat conservation options in new homes will be able to build a brand image as the environmental choice for home construction.

“New green residential construction is much more viable financially (than retro-fitting existing homes),” says Robson Communities spokesman Ross Novotny. “Being able to offer green features to new homeowners allows for costs to be wrapped into a mortgage and is more resource efficient, because older, less efficient products do not need to be discarded in the process.”

The government’s role in the move to more green master planned communities is crucial, experts say. The Obama administration has been supportive of domestically produced energy through tax credits and research money for advancements in green industries.

“An upcoming trend in new home construction may tie in the introduction of electric cars into the mainstream market and installing a solar system on each new home, which can serve as the at-home ‘fuel station’ for the next generation of homeowners,” says American Solar spokesman Matt Neils.
Adds Jones, “The most significant thing that the Obama administration has done to promote green master planned communities is announce the Partnership for Sustainable Housing and Communities, which includes the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Prior to the partnership, these federal agencies operated as silos, in isolation from one another,” Jones continues. “The Obama administration’s appointees recognized that from a sustainability perspective, these departments were inextricably linked. The three departments came together and the Six Livability Principles were announced.

Adds Herro of Meritage Homes: “We couldn’t have achieved this unprecedented accomplishment in energy efficient and sustainable communities without significant partnerships with the EPA, utilities, municipalities, suppliers and trades.”

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Arizona Places to Visit - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2011

Arizona Places To See

Places to go 2011

 

1- Arizona Science Center, Phoenix

Get your hands on more than 300 different exhibits, explore the planetarium and check out the latest film on its state-of-the-art, five-story theater screen.

2- Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle

Canyon de Chelly National Monument offers visitors the chance to learn about Southwestern Indian history, from the earliest basketmakers to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here. Cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly include architecture, artifacts and rock imagery.

3- Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

Stroll through the living museum and learn about 20,000 different plant species in Arizona. Specialized tours, events, workshops, family activities, café and gift shop are available.

4- Grand Canyon National Park

Visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. Take a trail ride by mule or the Grand Canyon Railway into the depths of the canyon. Hiking and camping are also available.

5- Hoover Dam, Nevada-Arizona border

The Bureau of Reclamation started conducting tours through the Hoover Dam in 1937. Today, close to 1 million visitors a year take the tour and millions more drive across the dam. Hoover Dam is the highest concrete dam in the U.S.

6- Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson

Kartchner Caverns is a stunning limestone cavern system in southeastern Arizona, discovered in 1974 by two amateur cavers from Tucson. It is host to world-class cave formations considered to be the best of their kind.

7- Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde

An enduring legacy of the prehistoric Sinagua, this multi-storied, 20-room, ancient Indian cliff dwelling was built more than six centuries ago. The stone, timber and adobe dwelling is 80 percent intact, making it one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the U.S.

8- Tucson Studios, Tucson

Old Tucson Studios is Arizona’s Hollywood in the Desert since 1939. This world-famous working film location offers fun for the whole family including guided historical set tours, live stunt shows, gunfights, and saloon musicals plus rides for the kids. While you’re here, enjoy a trail ride in the beautiful Arizona Sonora Desert.

9- Slide Rock State Park, Sedona

The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. Visitors may slide down a slick, natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek.

10- Tombstone

Noted as a National Historic Landmark in 1962, this historic Wild West site is home to the stagecoach, gunfight re-enactments and Wild West legends that made Tombstone famous.

Arizona Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011

Intern Opportunity at AZ Big Media

Internship Opportunity At AZNow.Biz

AZNow.Biz is looking for interns. AZNow.Biz is a web companion to Arizona Business Magazine, Arizona’s largest and most reputable bi-monthly business magazine.

AZ Big Media, AZNow.Biz’s parent company, is expanding rapidly and looking to create several websites in the next few years, which makes it the perfect place to gain priceless experience.

We are looking for interns in several areas:

  • Graphics
  • Editorial
  • Design
  • Website Development

Interns work in a hands-on manner in an open and inviting environment, perfect for fostering learning and creativity. Ideas are not only welcome – they are encouraged.

At AZNow.Biz, we’re creating a top of the line website and are always looking to add more intelligent and diverse content to our website. As an intern you would have many opportunities to be published on AZNow.Biz. We are a lifestyle and business website, which means almost no topic is off limits.

Please submit your resume and portfolio of previous work (if applicable) to AZ Big Media’s assistant Web editor Kristine Cannon at kristine.cannon@azbigmedia.com.

2010 CFO Of The Year Awards

2010 CFO Of The Year Awards

The 4th annual CFO of the Year Awards ceremony took place on Nov. 4, at the Fairmont Scottsdale. The awards recognized 28 CFOs for their outstanding performances in their roles as corporate financial stewards. Four overall winners from the categories of private, small public and large public companies and nonprofit organization were recognized. The Arizona Chapter of Financial Executives International partnered with Arizona Business Magazine to make these awards possible.

CFO Awards recognizing leaders

Joan Brubacher

Gayle Pincus

From left: Jonathan Keyser, Tim Einwechter and Joan Brubacher.

Finalists

From left: Cheryl Green, Joan Brubacher, Ryan Suchala and Mary Jane Rynd of the Virginia G Piper Charitable Trust.

From left: Andrew Ernst, Dan Bacchus, Cheryl Vogt and Joan Brubacher.

From left: Jonas McCormick, David Jackson, Tod Holmes, James Hatfield, Jason Berg and Joan Brubacher.
From left: Jonas McCormich, Tod Holmes and Joan Brubacher.

Arizona's Most Admired Companies Awards

What Is The “Most Admired Companies” Award?

Most Admired Companies Award is presented by Arizona Business Magazine and BestCompaniesAZ LLC!


What is “Most Admired Companies”?

Arizona’s Most Admired Companies is a new statewide awards program designed to recognize the contributions and impact all Arizona employers bring to our great state. This will become the most prestigious awards program in the state, as they will be looking at companies that excel in the following four areas:

1.    Workplace Culture (as voted on by employees)
2.    Leadership Excellence (reputation of leaders in the community creating good will or having a positive economic impact in the community)
3.    Corporate & Social Responsibility (involved in giving back to and/or supporting the community and the environment)
4.    Customer Opinion (Solid reputation for delivering superior customer service as assessed by customers)

What are the benefits of participating?

As this program will be the most prestigious for Arizona, it will provide award-winning companies significant exposure and increased visibility on a statewide and national level as one of Arizona’s Most Admired companies. (see FAQs for additional details on the benefits of such award programs).

Who can participate?

This program will focus on highlighting companies with more than 50 employees across the state. These companies can be for-profit, nonprofit, private, public, subsidiaries or business units, government or state agencies, or charitable organizations. (see FAQs for more details)

Is there a fee?

It’s free to participate! It only requires responding to five open-ended questions.

How will winners be announced?

The winners will be announced annually at an awards reception, and an editorial report published in a fall issue of AZ Business Magazine and online at bestcompaniesaz.com. The next awards ceremony will take place September 6, 2012.

How do we nominate our company?

There’s a 2 step process:

1.    Complete a “Pre-Registration” form – Section 1 of the Application Form here.
2.    Complete Section II and III of the Application Form by June 30, 2010 (access the form at the link above).

Need more information:

If you’d like more information or for complete program details, FAQs and application forms, visit bestcompaniesaz.com or call a member of the BestCompaniesAZ team at 480-545-5151.

 

Most Admired Companies - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

2010 Most Admired Companies Award Winners

Arizona Business Magazine and BestCompaniesAZ are honored to unveil the winners of our inaugural Arizona’s Most Admired Companies Awards.

With 43 winners, we think you’ll agree the awards selection committee has done an outstanding job in determining some of the most admired companies in our state.  Our primary goal in developing this program was to find those organizations that excel in four key areas: workplace culture, leadership excellence, social responsibility and customer opinion.  This list features the most prestigious companies in our state, providing us the opportunity to learn from the best.

Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Headquarters: Minneapolis
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 69
Recent Award: AIA Kemper Goodwin Award – 2009
WEB: www.a-p.com

AlliedBarton Security Services
Headquarters: Conshohocken, Penn.
Year Est.: 1957
No. of Employees in AZ: 1,047
Recent Award: Brandon Hall Research Award for Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management – 2009
WEB: www.alliedbarton.com
Facebook
Twitter

American Express
Headquarters: New York
Year Est.: 1850
No. of Employees in AZ: 7,219
Recent Award: Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies – 2010
WEB: www.americanexpress.com
Facebook
Twitter

Arizona Charter Academy
Headquarters: Surprise
Year Est.: 2001
No. of Employees in AZ: 61
Recent Award: Elks Lodge Community Partner of the Year – 2010
WEB: www.azcharteracademy.com
Twitter

Banner Health
Headquarters: Phoenix
Year Est.: 1999
No. of Employees in AZ: 27,528
Recent Award: Gallup Great Workplace Award – 2009
WEB: www.bannerhealth.com
Facebook
Twitter

BeachFleischman PC
Headquarters: Tucson
Year Est.: 1991
No. of Employees in AZ: 104
Recent Award: Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For – 2009
WEB: www.beachfleischman.com

To buy a print version of the 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies
go to MagCloud.com

Arizona's Most Admired Companies November-December 2010

ron butler in a white shirt with a red tie

CEO Series: Ron Butler

Ron Butler
Arizona Managing Partner
Ernst & Young

What were some of the challenges the professional services industry encountered during the recession and what are the challenges during this recovery period?
Some of the early challenges we had, just like all companies, were reacting to change. And it wasn’t change that was gradual, it was change that so abrupt that you had to take a step back, evaluate the business that you had in front of you, figure out how you were going to respond to market conditions. For us, it was how do we respond to our clients’ needs. Our clients were faced with various forms of adversity, whether it was financing or working capital, cost cutting of their own. How did they contain those costs, what did they do?

For us, we had to find ways to go to market, talk to them about their issues, but be nimble enough and ahead of the curve because they wanted us to be there. It was an opportunity for us to find new and innovative ways to address these opportunities in adversity without any playbook, without a precedent set before. It wasn’t something we could look back five or 10 years ago and say, this is what we do in times like this. For us it was act quickly, respond to our clients’ needs and do it with quality.

What trends do you see in the professional services industry as a result of our changed economy?
As far as trends, having the ability to look to new opportunities within our clients. They have IT costs, optimization, capital management, supply chain (those) are things they are going to focus on. Those are the trends that we are going to have to focus on. It’s not just audit and tax, but it’s also other opportunities that they are going to need today. Audits and tax are required, but the things they need to address in their business aren’t those areas. It’s the things that affect their daily operations. So that’s where we need to focus our attention.

Assess the current differences between the U.S. and global markets in terms of strategic growth.

I think there are more similarities between the U.S. and global today. We in the United States have been serving a marketplace that had been growing tremendously, always looking for opportunities to expand globally. Well, when you take a look at it from the outside in, those opportunities are continuing to grow. How do we in the United States garner some of that share? How do we expand and innovate ourselves so we can take advantage of the billions of people who reside outside of this country. When you think about the companies that have an inflection point that goes from a smaller, mid-market company to a large Fortune 1,000 company, it’s the ability to make that transition from that size company to a global player. And you have to think globally. Ernst and Young is globally diversified. We have the ability to be nimble to each of those geographies around the world and bring service offerings to our clients. Our companies and our clients desire that. They want that. So when you talk about those differences, I see more similarities because you have those global companies that want to come to the United States. They are looking for opportunities outside of their market area because they believe growth is in those geographies. The world is a much smaller place to do business than it once was. It’s one where you ultimately have to spend your time thinking about the global play sheet, not just the domestic one.

How would you assess the climate for such transactions as M&As, project finance, private capital and restructuring?
I took this role over in June of ’08. So, September of ’08 the world changed. All of those activities … came to a screeching halt. Nothing was happening and nothing happened for a period of nine months. People sat back, were paralyzed by the change. Where was the new normal going to land before they moved anything forward? As I look out from this point forward, talking to our clients and companies here in our city, things are happening, things are progressing. Financing is starting to free up. Working capital on their balance sheet is more attractive than ever to utilize to go out and innovate and grow. So we’re starting to see more activity currently in our own local economy. Globally you’re starting to see the IPO markets loosening up. The returns aren’t what they hoped they would be, but people are going to the markets and the markets are opening up to allow them some capital to do things and to grow and to innovate.

I think the earlier stage companies that are venture capital backed will continue to see a little bit slower growth because there are so many other opportunities in the marketplace that are of great value, that money is going to go in that direction first. Private equity is the same. You’ll see longer-term plays, private equity looking for operations that are cash flow positive.

What can companies do in order to position themselves during this recovery in terms of finance, customer service and supply chain management?
Companies need to stay aggressive. They need to continue to look to the marketplace for opportunity. Where to put that money is going to be a long decision process requiring all of senior management to spend time thinking about those opportunities. Stay connected to your customers; stay connected to your clients. Depending on what industry you’re in, it’s going to require more face time, it’s going to require time on planes and in meetings and in cars, making sure you are addressing the needs of your clients and your customers. At the same time, mind the balance sheet. Make sure you continue to be disciplined. Many companies spent the last 18 months acquiring new discipline; what that new normal is, whether it’s cost containment measures, acquisition of products and supplies. Stay disciplined with those things. Times will improve. Things will start to grow again, and as long as you can continue to maintain that same discipline and get back to bare bones business and the blocking and tackling of fundamentals, when times (improve) you’ll be able to take advantage of those.

What skills do C-level executives need in order to succeed in the professional services industry during these tough times?
Patience, No. 1. Have the patience to respond to change. Too many times we react too quickly. There’s a difference between reacting and responding. If you react quickly, you’re going to swing the pendulum — you may swing it past the point of no return. The professional service industry as a whole needs to take a step back, respond to change. It doesn’t mean you’re not quick with it. But you respond with a well-thought out approach and strategy. If you can have that patience to do that, you’ll come through a downturn like this one stronger, better and more qualified and capable to succeed in the next one. This was unprecedented.

    Vital Stats



  • Joined Ernst & Young in Tucson in 1995
  • Moved to the Phoenix office in 2000
  • Appointed Arizona managing partner in June 2008
  • Received bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arizona
  • Member of the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Public Accountants, Greater Phoenix Leadership and Financial Executives International.
  • Board member with ChildHelp International and Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • www.ey.com
People in lab coats working in a wet lab office environment

East Valley Energy: Leaders In Business, Government And Education Are Working To Keep The Region Growing

The East Valley has experienced unprecedented growth since 1980. With nearly 1.7 million residents and more than 54,000 businesses, community and business leaders alike are looking to the future to prepare for greater global competition. They also are working to sustain a strong and vital economy that will protect and preserve the quality of life that exists in the East Valley’s 17 communities. In this East Valley report, Arizona Business Magazine looks at some of the major economic engines powering the region.

Arizona State University
Arizona State University, the largest public research university in the United States, has been contributing to East Valley and state economic development efforts since 1885, when ASU was initially founded. The university’s core focus is training the labor force and turning out college graduates that will stay and work in Arizona.

ASU is also involved in community efforts, such as bringing the Insight Bowl to Tempe. In addition, ASU Gammage is a major driver of people to local restaurants, stores, parks and stadiums. The university’s research and development efforts produce spin-off companies, as well as attract those that want to be near a research university. The perfect example is SkySong. Scottsdale raised $100 million to partner with ASU and create the innovation park that currently has more than 40 small, startup companies from 12 different countries.

“SkySong is a global portal for metropolitan Phoenix, and companies are attracted to it because they want to be near the university,” says Virgil Renzulli, ASU’s vice president of public affairs. “ASU is one of 100 universities in the country that turn out new knowledge.”

At ASU’s Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the university brought in some of the best solar researchers in the country to work in the research lab.They also have alternative energy research programs in place to look at creating energy from light, and creating regular fuel and jet fuel from algae and bacteria.

“Working with East Valley cities and organizations is important because so many things today need a group effort,” Renzulli says. “It’s all part of the modern knowledge economy infrastructure. ASU wants to see things improve. We are good citizens and the majority of the time we look at what’s good for the East Valley, as well as the state.”

The city of Chandler
With companies moving less nowadays, the city of Chandler is planning to grow its own companies in hopes of diversifying and stabilizing the community’s job market, as well as positioning the East Valley in the global marketplace.

Chandler’s new venture is a wet lab incubator called Innovations, and it’s aimed at young, startup science and technology companies seeking move-in-ready lab space. Innovations is located in a 40,000 square foot former Intel building on McClintock Road and Chandler Boulevard. Space will be available for lease starting May 1. Christine Mackay, Chandler’s economic development director, said Innovations would contain everything — soup to nuts — that a young startup company needs to work and succeed.

Chandler City Council approved a 10-year lease on the building in September, along with $5.7 million to renovate the building. “Many young companies start with a grant or on a shoestring budget, so traditional commercial space is too expensive,” Mackay says. “They need a partnership to succeed until they can commercialize on their own. They could find cheap space without us of course, but they wouldn’t have access to things like business managers and attorneys to help them succeed and move forward.”

Studies show that 80 percent of small companies that start up through incubators succeed — four times the average of other small business startups. Although Chandler has yet to market the incubator, it has received a lot of interest from entrepreneurs and is already 25 percent pre-committed. ASU has expressed interest in leasing space, as well, Mackay says.

“Right now, we’re in the process of forming a team of experts with backgrounds in renewable energies, engineering, biosciences, applied materials, etc., to help us pick companies with the ability to succeed,” Mackay says. “Our hope is that those companies stay in Chandler long term.”

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Allegiant Air began offering passenger service at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in 2007, with two aircraft serving eight cities. Today, the airline serves 20 cities with five aircrafts, and this year more than 650,000 passengers are expected to pass through the terminal. In the last two years, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft have both opened maintenance and repair facilities near the airport. Collectively, more than 35 aviation companies operate at the airport, generating more than $251 million in annual economic activity.

“The work we did in 2006 put the wheels in motion for the Phoenix-Gateway area,” says Roc Arnett, president and CEO of East Valley Partnership. “We make things move and shake to improve business and quality of life in the East Valley.”

William Jabjiniak, director of economic development for Mesa, considers EVP a great partner.

“We look to East Valley Partnership for leadership and policy direction that affects positive change for Mesa,” he says. “It’s also important for the East Valley to have a unified voice and that’s what EVP is for us and our neighboring cities.”

Mesa, which is just shy of 500,000 people, is currently focusing its economic development efforts on four key industry segments: health care, education, aerospace and tourism. The city’s economic development team also is working diligently with existing businesses in the community.

“Economic development is based on relationships, which we are trying to grow with existing businesses and the brokerage community,” Jabjiniak said. “About 80 percent of growth in a community comes from existing businesses, so essentially they are the bread and butter.”

One of Mesa’s biggest retention projects over the last several months has been hanging onto the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have been holding spring training in Mesa for more than 50 years and provide the state with an annual economic impact of $52.2 million. In late January, officials with the Cubs announced the team would stay put in Mesa — if a new, multimillion-dollar stadium and practice complex is built.

Outgoing AzHHA Leader John Rivers Talks About The Past, Present And Future Of Health Care In Arizona

After more than 23 years as president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA), John Rivers announced he will be stepping down in January of next year. Arizona Business Magazine asked Rivers about his tenure at AzHHA and the challenges facing the health care system.

How has the Valley and state’s health care industry changed in the 23 years you’ve helmed AzHHA?
Health care in Arizona barely resembles what it looked like 25 years ago when I first arrived. In fact, I think it is better in every respect. Hospitals in particular are more sharply focused on cost-containment strategies, physician integration, patient safety and, of course, providing cutting-edge medical care to their patients. Hospitals have also made giant strides in better management of their human resources, particularly nurses, who are the heart and soul of good hospital care.

How has AzHHA’s mission changed over the years to adapt to the Valley and state’s evolving health care industry?
Our primary mission remains political advocacy, although the complexity and difficulty of doing that well has increased exponentially. The tremendous diversity among types of hospitals, and the even greater diversity of personalities among our CEOs, requires a great deal of adaptability on the part of the association CEO.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing the health care industry today?
All of us in health care are facing tremendous uncertainty about our future. Congress is on the verge of re-writing the book on government’s role in health care, and at the state level we face the greatest budget crisis in our history. With the federal and state government already purchasing about 70 percent of the hospital care in Arizona, our world will no doubt change dramatically. At a minimum, our future will require us to be more accountable, more transparent and more integrated. Also, we’ll see a seismic shift away from the revenue enhancement model to a cost-control model.

What would you say are some of AzHHA’s greatest successes over the past 20 years?
I think we have been very successful in our political advocacy and our record more than speaks for itself in that regard. More than that, I tend to define our success in terms of achieving our mission with competence and integrity — and keeping our focus on what is best for health care in Arizona and what is best for the patients served by our institutions.

Do you plan to stay involved in health care, and how?
I will definitely stay involved in a number of charitable and community service activities in which I currently participate, but I have no plans to remain involved in health care except as a citizen who cares profoundly about all that we do. I’ve spent the past 40 years of my life in health care, 25 of them in Arizona, and it’s time for me to move on and enjoy life in ways that I have not had time to do up until now. There’s more to life than driving to the office each morning and I intend to live my other dreams while I am still in good health and able to do so.

www.azhha.org

Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

Valley Metro Light Rail

Awarding Sustainable Excellence

On Saturday, September 12th Valley Forward held its 29th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Gala. With Fox 10 News’ Troy Hayden as master of ceremonies for the event, there was never a dull moment.

Title sponsor SRP and Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward, put together another spectacular celebration of sustainability. More than 150 nominations came in for this year’s awards — more than any previous year — showing that despite difficult economic times, the public’s commitment to sustainability has not wavered.

METRO Light Rail was the 2009 President’s Award (Best of Show) recipient, further highlighting the achievements of the newest addition to the Valley’s transportation system. METRO Light Rail was also honored with a first-place Crescordia Award in the Livable Communities, Multi-modal Transportation & Connectivity category.

Crescordia is a Greek term that means “to grow in harmony,” and that’s the overall message that came across during this year’s awards. Each acceptance speech reiterated the importance of responsible economic growth, and keeping the environment in mind for a brighter future for our state.

Check out the full list of winners here.

It was a great experience to see all of the amazing projects, and the progress Arizona has made toward a more sustainable future. An added bonus was being able to mingle with a crowd of esteemed professionals, as well as community and business leaders.

Along with the award winners, Brossart announced AZ Big Media / Arizona Business Magazine’s blog partnership with Valley Forward. She will be a guest blogger on the AZ Green Scene once a month, so check back soon as we’ll have some great posts coming our way.

www.valleyforward.org

Photo Credit: www.valleymetro.org

AZ Big Media 25 years

Arizona Business Magazine Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

An important lesson in the launch of any business or new product is to learn everything you can about your target consumer, and that’s exactly what Mike Atkinson did when he bought the Office Guide to Phoenix 25 years ago. He approached leaders in the community in such industries as health care and law, and asked them what they wanted and needed from a local business magazine.

“I took reams of notes and what came out of it was Arizona Business Magazine,” Atkinson says. “The research led me down a path of this is how it should look and read.”

Atkinson was inspired to enter the publishing arena because it presented the chance to exercise his artistic abilities. He wanted to create “a product that was fundamentally art-related and a product that could help inspire, excite and help educate,” he explains. “I’m an artist at heart, so the magazine’s pages were like my mini-canvases.”

Initially, Atkinson was the sole employee of the publication — he wrote the stories, shot the photos and sold the ads. Today, however, the company has increased to nearly 30 employees and publishes an additional six titles, including AZRE: Arizona Commercial Real Estate, Ranking Arizona, Experience AZ, People to Know, Creative Designer and Scottsdale Home & Design. The flagship publication has also undergone many changes over the years, including its frequency, which has gone from quarterly to bimonthly, and in February 2008, to monthly. The company has evolved as well, and last year was re-named AZ Big Media.

Atkinson didn’t limit his creativity to the magazines, however. In 1991, the company launched its first Arizona Home & Building Expo, which is now in its 18th year. AZ Big Media also hosts a series of awards and events that honor various segments of the business community, from health care to finance. In March 2009, the company held its inaugural Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference. AZ Big Media’s newest venture, the Home & Design Idea Center, opens this summer. The company is also building a strong presence online with its new Web site, www.azbigmedia.com, where readers can find many of the stories featured in each magazine.

“If you go to our Web site, you’ll see ‘online’ is where we’re heading in the future,” Atkinson says. He adds that the future will include more home shows when the market is ready for them. He also hints of possibly even adding a radio station.

If he could go back in time and change one thing, Atkinson says, it would involve the company’s interaction with its audience online.

“At the time, we were just learning about the Internet, and I remember one of my editors came in my office and said ‘Guess where I was today? I was on the computer and I was talking to people all the way in Italy!’ and he began to describe how it took him to different places,” he says. “I thought that was pretty cool, but I didn’t have the foresight to say, ‘This computer Web thing just might turn out to be something really big!’ ”

Looking back on the past 25 years, Atkinson says his success is due to two key things: “Hard work and surrounding myself with the right people.”

Here’s to one day cashing in this 25-year silver achievement for gold.

Super-Powered Small Businesses

In This Recession, Small Business Survival Skills are Proving Invaluable

Tattoo Manufacturing Inc., in Tucson is a well-kept secret of success. This company with 95 employees bills itself as the world’s largest manufacturer of temporary tattoos. Indeed, it produces 6 million tattoos a day and has captured more than 90 percent of the temporary-tattoo market in the U.S.

Joyce Sinclair founded the company in 1985, serving fewer than 10 customers out of her garage. She eventually moved into the 40,000-square-foot building the company occupies today. Business exploded four years ago after Sinclair’s father, Jerry Nathanson, signed on and the daughter-father team ramped up production to include both retail-sold tattoos and custom tattoos purchased for promotional purposes by such customers as corporations, nonprofit organizations, sports teams and toy companies.

Steve Tooker and Grayhawk Capital in Scottsdale purchased Tattoo Manufacturing last year, and Tooker was named president and CEO. Although Tattoo Manufacturing produces a variety of specialty items, Tooker says 90 percent of the firm’s business is temporary tattoos. Half are sold at the retail level to Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Toys R Us and other chains. The other half is the custom tattoo side of the business, with more than 60,000 corporate customers. Twenty-five percent of the tattoo business is overseas for customers in 30 countries.

Tattoo Manufacturing had between $2 million and $3 million in sales in 2004. Tooker says sales will exceed $20 million this year, and he expects 25 percent annual sales growth for the next several years. Daily tattoo production likely will reach 7 million this year, and Tooker says that will translate into more hiring and the purchase of additional production equipment.

In this recession, companies like Tattoo Manufacturing are turning on its head the notion in business that bigger is better. Unlike the 800-pound gorillas of Corporate America, smaller companies avoided over-leveraging themselves before the economy tanked, mainly because they stuck to using the resources they had on hand.

“A big business is a legal entity and all its resources are whatever is in its pocket. A small business has the ability to rely on resources that a big business may not have. For example, managing the debt structure in a big business is mind-boggling,” says Bruce Hodgman, deputy director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Phoenix. “On the other hand, a small business owner can draw on savings or dispose of a personal asset in order to lend to his company. These personal resources can be substantial and they can be quickly moved into the business. I think there is a lot of that happening.”

Small business success stories in the midst of this recession come as no surprise to Donna Davis, chief executive officer of the Arizona Small Business Association. She says many of her organization’s 3,400 members are keeping their businesses profitable.

“A good portion of them are hanging in there,” she says. “They are putting much more emphasis on watching unnecessary expenses. They are getting out and networking and outreaching. I’m really hopeful of what I have been witnessing.”

Nextrio is another Tucson success story. An information technology and computer network consulting company, Nextrio started in 2002 during the last recession and provides IT services for small and medium-sized businesses throughout Southern Arizona.

“We maintain computers, servers, networks, netbooks, cell phones and telephones — just about anything that has a plug,” says managing partner Cristie Street. The company also recommends, purchases, installs and configures hardware and software.

Nextrio started with three employees. By 2004, the staff had grown to six and Nextrio purchased the 9,000-square-foot building it shares with its investors. Today, the company has 20 employees. It started with one customer and now has more than 700. The customer base doubled and tripled the last four years after Nextrio invested in business-management software that allowed employees to “work on the business instead of in the business,” Street says.

Revenue has consistently grown between 25 percent and 50 percent annually since Nextrio opened. For the last two years, Nextrio has slowly restructured to create a diverse mix of income, according to Street. For example, 25 percent of the company’s business now comes from managed services in which customers lock in a fixed fee for ongoing IT support. Customers know what their IT expenses will be, and Nextrio knows it will have steady monthly income, Street says.

Income for 2009 is more uncertain because of the recession.

“If our revenue was an hour glass and you flipped it upside down, that would show the change in where our revenue comes from,” Street says.

Hardware sales, previously 40 percent of Nextrio’s business, have plunged as customers opt to squeeze more years out of their existing equipment. Now, service revenues are climbing as Nextrio devotes more time to maintenance, which Street says is more profitable than hardware sales. The company also has seen an uptick in business from bankruptcy litigation, which involves separating data, copying data and itemizing equipment at firms going out of business.

Street attributes Nextrio’s success to its ability to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and keeping employees apprised of the company’s financial condition. She also points to Nextrio’s entrepreneurial culture.

“We have a sense of all being in it together and accountable for each other,” Street says. “You don’t get that in large companies. We know we are all lucky to be working together, and we hold everybody accountable for pulling their fair share.”

Nextrio’s experience is a good example of how small businesses can alter direction and strategies quickly, allowing them to respond rapidly to changes in the marketplace.

“The secret to small businesses successfully riding out a recession is flexibility,” Hodgman says. “Small business owners have the ability to quickly adapt to a situation. A small business owner can gather key employees or family members in a matter of weeks and make a decision.”

Mary Schnack Media Services in Sedona is truly a small business. Owner Mary Schnack has only two employees. Yet, unlike some larger firms, the company’s revenues are growing. Schnack Media Services is a full-service public relations consulting company. A separate division, Communication Bridges, sends Schnack around the world to give presentations on communication topics for small businesses, corporations and nonprofits. Schnack started her public relations business in 1992 in Los Angeles, then moved it to Sedona in 1996, where it occupies the ground floor of her home.

Schnack says public relations revenue dipped a few years ago, then rebounded, with 2008 income doubling over 2007. She attributes the resurgence to a lowering of her fees and hiring full-time help.

“Having full-time employees really made a difference,” Schnack says. “It allowed me to really go out after new business more effectively.”

But the main reason is her customers’ appreciation of the expertise she offers.

“Through this downturn, I don’t see people cutting PR like they have before,” Schnack says. “There is a lot of publicity out there about why now is the time to crank up your PR. There isn’t a lot I have to say. Now people are approaching me.”

Schnack expects 2009 revenue to increase at least 50 percent.

“I think we can keep going on the uphill route,” Schnack says.

She expects small businesses will drive the economy’s recovery.

“Small business is what will bring us out of this recession,” Schnack says. “It will not be the corporations. It’s the small businesses that have fueled my growth.”

BestBill, a Phoenix company that uses technology to relieve its customers of the time-consuming task of generating and delivering invoices, has caught the attention of the SBA, and is its Best Business of the Year for Arizona for 2009.

Dan and Susan Haugland started the company out of their garage in 1999 to help medium- to large-sized businesses improve their cash flow.

“We don’t collect the money,” says CEO Dan Haugland. “We help our customers get their cash faster by taking data they provide to us, generating invoices from that data and delivering them either online or through the mail. We also can generate online payments from the consumer back to our customer.”

Growth has been the touchstone at BestBill since it opened. After occupying space at other locations, BestBill built its own 26,000-square-foot facility and occupied it in 2006. The company grew from 10 employees in 2003 to 33 in 2008. When the Hauglands first started, they generated 5,000 paper invoices a month. In 2008, they produced more than 34 million paper and online invoices, and they expect a 30 percent increase in billing transactions in 2009. BestBill opened for business with three customers. That number has grown to 130 nationwide in such industries as health care, utilities, manufacturing, transportation and property management.

Revenue increased 120 percent from 2005 to 2008. In 2008, gross income jumped 25 percent over the prior year, and the Hauglands expect a 30 percent increase in revenue this year. Net income doubled from 2005 to 2008.

BestBill has not been immune to the recession, however. The Hauglands note that their 2008 net income was flat and they have reduced staffing to 24 as they streamline to better confront the economic downturn. Still, they say they are on the path to continued growth and plan to open a second office in the Midwest in the fourth quarter of this year.

BestBill is a high-performing company because it does not waiver from its core business, Dan Haugland says. Susan Haugland, who is president of the company, attributes BestBill’s success to an emphasis on value.

“Not only do we feel that value, integrity and commitment matter, but we really value the client relationship,” she says. “I think that really matters — having solid client relationships. Those clients are happy to refer us to other clients.”

www.bestbill.com
www.communicationbridges.com
www.nextrio.com
www.prworks.ms
www.tattoosales.com

Globe, International Business Growth in Arizona

New Group Aims To Boost International Business Growth In Arizona

Most Arizona legislators and business leaders now recognize the value of international commerce to the state. It hasn’t always been that way, but today there is broad agreement that exports from Arizona and foreign direct investment into Arizona from around the world create jobs and community growth. After all, 95 percent of the world’s population is outside the U.S., along with 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power. Why not tap into that power?

Arizona has made relatively slow progress with international trade compared to states such as California and Texas. Those states have each made greater per capita investments to encourage local companies to export and foreign companies to invest locally. Arizona is ranked in the bottom of U.S. states for foreign direct investment — No. 31 — according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This creates an excellent opportunity for improvement.

With exports, the picture is a little better. Arizona businesses have done a reasonably good job of selling their products overseas. Exports from Arizona-based companies increased to $19.2 billion in 2007, contributing to good job and tax revenue growth. These figures rank Arizona as the 17th leading state for exports.

People all over the world know about the Grand Canyon, but few know about businesses within Arizona. Exports can help build global awareness of Arizona businesses, making the state a more viable candidate for foreign investment. That’s important because foreign companies investing in Arizona pay higher wages than local companies, and with today’s sputtering economy, the state’s economy needs all the help it can get.

According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), if Arizona could increase foreign direct investment to be the 17th ranked state as it is with exports, it would attract 84,000 more jobs and $12.5 billion more in capital investment. How’s that for an economic shot in the arm?

“We need investment to capture strategic industry growth for Arizona, like Germany-based solar companies,” says Rod Miller, vice president of international economic development for GPEC. “In the current environment, increasing our investment in economic development initiatives will support a quicker and stronger economic recovery.”

Miller’s data shows a return in capital spending and taxes of as much as $110 for every dollar spent attracting companies to Arizona. GPEC is making progress despite Arizona’s low per capita investment. The good news is that many know what’s needed. The bad news is that Arizona, like other states, faces a challenging budget crisis.

It has been against this backdrop of both opportunity and challenge that the Arizona International Growth Group (AZIGG) was founded in 2007. AZIGG was created to provide a place for Arizona-based business owners to gain all the international information and connections they need to be successful overseas. Each of the existing business-support organizations has a piece of the international puzzle, but none has a full view of importing, exporting, international company attraction and international company retention. AZIGG brings it all together, including forums to attract and retain foreign companies.

AZIGG has quickly attracted more than 1,000 members from the Arizona business and business-support community. The group meets monthly to hear international business speakers and discuss ways to help Arizona-based businesses to export or to attract foreign direct investment.

AZIGG encourages cooperation between local international business and cultural groups, including the consulates, the Department of Commerce, GPEC, other city economic development resources, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council of Arizona, financial institutions working with the U.S. Export-Import Bank, trade associations such as the Arizona Technology Council, and international business service providers such as accounting, insurance, marketing and legal firms. AZIGG allows each resource to address the group monthly to keep business owners aware of the most recent ideas, news and opportunities.

In the same spirit of cooperation, the global law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey is stepping forward as the first business sponsor for AZIGG. This month, the firm is hosting the AZIGG International Business Fair at its law offices in Downtown Phoenix in order to make local businesses aware of all the services available for companies to grow internationally. Arizona and Arizona-based businesses need to be especially creative to compete against other states for opportunity dollars.

AZIGG encourages both government and private business actions to grow international development. Monthly meetings feature Arizona-based entrepreneurs such as Lee Knowlton of Kahala Corporation (which owns Cold Stone Creamery), Colin Christie of MX Secure and Omar Sayed of Succeed Corporation, all of whom are pioneers for Arizona in connecting their companies to the global market place. Similarly, global service firms such Squire, Sanders & Dempsey show leadership to help others succeed internationally.

Business owners now have more choices with less risk to grow their businesses internationally. Their success ultimately will result in a more balanced and sustainable economy for Arizona. Besides AZIGG, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Council and foreign consulates are available as resources to Arizona-based business owners. Additional resources are available on the AZIGG Web site, in AZIGG monthly meetings and as part ofthe AZIGG International Business Fair.

Besides international sales growth, there are other initiatives that all residents of Arizona can support to create a more level playing field for companies based in Arizona. They include:

  • More direct international flights to Sky Harbor International Airport.
  • Sending a clear message that Arizona is a state open to legal immigration.
  • Improving education from below average to above average in the U.S.
  • Providing tax incentives to attract capital-intensive industries.
  • Supporting international sales with education and infrastructure to increase exports.


Doug Bruhnke is president and founder of the Arizona International Growth Group (AZIGG) and CEO and founder of Growth Nation. For more information, visit www.azigg.com

Workflow

Work Flow Software Can Maximize Your Company’s Efficiency

About a year ago, Kevin Hinderleider, IT director for the city of Avondale, needed to solve a particular problem. He had more than 20 projects going on at any one time and was looking for a portfolio-management solution to ensure none fell through the cracks.

His research led him to Daptiv, a Seattle-based company that provides on-demand collaborative business software solutions. Hinderleider decided Daptiv was not only the most comprehensive program for his needs, but also was easy to use and reasonably priced. After signing up for the hosted software, he discovered an unexpected bonus.

“What we got out of it was an enhanced kind of workflow that we weren’t really anticipating,” Hinderleider says. “We’ve come to find out that it has the ability for routing of approvals for documents, routing of approvals for projects so someone can initiate a project request and it gets approved based upon the level of complexity of tracking the project, the resources available, staff, money — all that kind of standard stuff.

“We didn’t have a specific need for workflow upfront. What I did have upfront was the necessity to be able to make sure we kept the documents and all the tasks about a project together. What was a benefit in the end was it had that workflow.”

Workflow management is exactly what the term suggests. It’s a process by which work flows through an organization. It’s also something that has caught the attention of major software companies such as IBM, Xerox and Microsoft, as well as a plethora of smaller firms that offer everything from Web-based solutions to industry-specific programs.

Workflow has become an essential part of business software suites, along with document management, project management and other key applications.

Matthew Bather is the Synergy product marketing manager for Exact Software North America, which is headquartered in Andover, Mass., and counts several Arizona companies among its clients. They include Boon Inc. in Chandler, American Beverage Systems in Phoenix and Regenesis Biomedical Inc. in Scottsdale. Bather uses the example of an expense claim to demonstrate how an automated workflow tool simplifies a basic process.

In the past, an employee might have to fill out an expense form, package it with receipts, send it to the accounting department and wait for reimbursement.

“Now the delivery of that mechanism is entirely possible through the application, such as Synergy, where that business process of an expense claim has a certain workflow behind it,” Bather says. “You submit that expense claim and you can see where it is down the stream as it flows through the business process.”

One common misconception is that the more micro-based workflow management and business process management, or BPM, are one and the same.

“Business process management is more holistic in nature,” Bather says. “It strives to improve the performance and efficiency of the organization as it relates to the entire process. … But there is a lot of gray area. Some organizations say workflow when they mean BPM and vice versa.”

Both capabilities are typically included in business suites, as is the case with the Web-based Synergy program.

Dirk Karsten Beth, president of Mission3 in Phoenix, has a life sciences industry-specific suite that helps companies manage their entire product development process. Although workflow is part of Mission3, Beth warns that it can be problematic.

“I’ve implemented all the major workflow systems out there in the past and that was one area where I found that there were a lot of areas for failure if it wasn’t implemented right,” he says. “Which means it’s great for really rigid processes, but once there’s a diversion from that rigid process it can fall apart.

“So if you try to add workflow to every area of your business, it’s going to be really challenging. But if you use it judiciously, especially in areas where it’s required and you have to document everything you’re doing, then it works really well and can add real significant value.”

He’s a proponent of service-based online software solutions because they allow users to work with it, grow with it or transition out of it if it doesn’t meet a company’s needs.

With so many options available, deciding what will work best for your situation can be overwhelming. Pat Sullivan, CEO of Flypaper Studio Inc. in Phoenix, has an impressive track record in business software, starting as the driving force behind such programs as ACT! and SalesLogix. Today, he sits on the boards of three emerging software companies. He offers sound advice for anyone considering a software purchase.

“It’s generally fairly easy to find unbiased reviews from customers who are actually using the product,” he says. “On various forums, on even the vendor’s Web site or related Web sites, you generally are able to read what real people have really said. That is what I look for.”

He also suggests getting demonstrations and visiting businesses that are using the product in question to seek feedback from those actually working with the software. “That’s probably better information than you’re ever going to get from the (software) company’s Web site or the company’s salespeople,” Sullivan says.

For more information about Workflow software visit, exactamerica.com, mission3.com, daptiv.com, or flypaper.com.

AZ Business Magazine September 2008

Open Air Malls Continue To Gain in Popularity, 2008

Open Air Malls Continue To Gain in Popularity

Inside Out

Open air malls continue to gain in popularity

By Melissa Bordow

Open Air malls Continue to gain in popularity, 2008

On an unseasonably cool night in late May, shoppers meander the streetscapes of Scottsdale’s Kierland Commons, strolling among its upscale stores and restaurant patios. When it opened as part of a mixed-use development in 2000, Kierland heralded a new wave in outdoor shopping — the lifestyle center, also known as the urban village.

Sidewalks, curbside access to stores, landscaping and sit-down dining all combined to create an urban vibe, right smack in the middle of the suburbs, in this case, of North Scottsdale.

This scene — people shopping, dining, and relaxing al fresco — now is being played out across the Valley, from Tempe Marketplace at the confluence of the 101 and 202 freeways south to the new San Tan Village in Gilbert.

Open-air shopping, developers and analysts say, will continue to dominate the Valley’s retail landscape, shaping the way consumers shop, eat and spend their entertainment dollars.

“Everybody is wrestling with the exact formula,” says Robert Mayhew, vice president of commercial properties at DMB Associates Inc. “There’s Desert Ridge (Marketplace), the first of its kind with the big box power center and a lifestyle center. There’s Chandler Fashion Center, which is indoors but has an outdoor component. What is the right mix?”

In the past two years, developers have opened five high profile, open-air entertainment and dining retail centers: Vestar Development’s Tempe Marketplace, Westcor’s San Tan Village and the Promenade at Casa Grande, DeRito Partners’ Mesa Riverview, and The Ellman Companies’ The Village at Westgate City Center.

Westcor, a dominant force in Valley retail, is planning open-air environments for its next five developments, although that could change for those not already under construction if market conditions dictate, says Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor.

Although it still embraces the enclosed-mall concept, Newland says Westcor has no plans on the drawing board for one. Westcor opened its last enclosed mall, Chandler Fashion Center, in 2001.

Meanwhile, conventional mall anchors such as Dillard’s, J.C. Penney and Macy’s are continuing to open in outdoor mall environments, typically in Westcor properties.

Some call it the “de-malling of America,” Mayhew says, adding, “Very few enclosed malls are being built any longer. Their days are almost gone.”

Ten years ago, enclosed regional malls represented about 15.5 million square feet of retail space in metro Phoenix, while outdoor power centers and lifestyle centers comprised about 15.1 million square feet, according to figures from Kammrath & Associates, a retail consulting firm in Phoenix. Since then, outdoor shopping mall space has more than doubled to 35.1 million square feet, while indoor space has remained relatively stagnant.

According to Kammrath & Associates, the trend started years ago with the advent of the power center, with its convenient vehicular access. Since then, the trend has only gained steam.

What is driving shoppers outdoors? Quite simply, many shoppers prefer the natural setting of an outdoor environment over the “sterility” of enclosed malls, says David Larcher, executive vice president of development for Vestar, which opened Desert Ridge Marketplace in 2001 and Tempe Marketplace last June.

“People are organic beings,” Larcher says. “They like, even in extreme climates like Arizona and Minnesota, to be outside. They like to see the flowers and smell the flowers, they like to feel the wind blow in their hair.”

Desert Ridge’s and Tempe Marketplace’s comfortable, often cozy gathering areas and their attention to detail create destination spots even for those with no plans to shop. For suburbanites who lack proximity to anything resembling a downtown or city center, this can be very appealing.

“A lot of indoor malls turned their back to the surrounding environment,” says Joe Murray, director of retail design for DAVIS. “Lifestyle centers gesture toward their environment and convey a sense of space and place.”

Outdoor configurations allow developers more flexibility to change a site or try something innovative, says Westcor’s Newland. It is easier and cheaper to add a building to an outdoor grid.

Building exteriors offer more diversity of architectural features, Mayhew says, which in turn provides more opportunity for branding or creating a singular identity.

Retailers like them because they pay 35 to 60 percent less to maintain common areas, Larcher says. These central area maintenance (CAM) costs climb when retailers pay to air condition mall interiors.

But it’s the air conditioning that many shoppers may miss during the Valley’s scorching summer months.

While sales at Westgate showed a slight decline in the summer, it was not a significant drop, says Tim Wright, Ellman’s senior vice president of real estate operations. Providing shoppers adequate protection with shade structures, wide awnings and landscaping seems to help them endure the heat. In addition, interactive water features, fountains and misting systems cool both the environment and shoppers.

“We can control the environment well enough in the summer to where it is comfortable to shop,” says Larcher, whose marketplace buildings are set apart to create maximum shade. He also notes that shopping revenues are seasonal and have their peaks and valleys anyway.

Cover July, 2008

Extensive market research shows that Valley shoppers still want that sense of community and pedestrian-friendly experience they find in outdoor settings, says Ken Himmel, president and CEO of Related Urban Development, which is developing CityNorth along with the Thomas J. Klutznick Company. CityNorth is a mixed-use project in the northeast Valley.

Himmel says “green space” with parks, courtyards and water features, along with covered parking, reduces the “heat island” effect produced in urban centers with vast parking lots and asphalt.

www.westcor.com
www.dmbinc.com
www.vestar.com
www.derito.com
www.ellmanco.com
www.kammrathandassociates.com
www.thedavisexperience.com
www.related.com
www.klutznickcompany.com

AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |
Family-owned businesses share their secrets for success and sanity, 2008

Family-owned businesses share their secrets for success and sanity

All in the Family

Family-owned businesses share their secrets for success and sanity

Family-owned businesses share their secrets for success and sanity, 2008

By Greg and Cori Sexton

At 15, Buddy Stubbs had his first major ride: a 1954, KHK 900cc, two-wheel rocket he proudly roared around the streets of Decatur, Ill. By the early 1960s, Stubbs was on the racing circuit, eventually winning the Daytona 100 in 1963. Stubbs would seek further adventure over the next several decades doing motorcycle stunts in Hollywood.

Still, perhaps his biggest gamble was opening the first Harley-Davidson dealership in the Valley in 1966. Today, Stubbs owns and operates Buddy Stubbs Arizona Harley-Davidson with his two sons, Frank and Jack. For the Stubbs clan, working together with family has been a natural evolution over the years. And surprisingly, the Stubbs family, like

numerous other Arizona businesses run by family members, has found the experience extremely rewarding with little disharmony and one with great success.

So, what’s the key?

“We communicate with each other constantly, not only about business matters, but also personal matters,” Buddy says. “Occasionally business matters will create tension, but we are always able to make the best of any scenario. Family comes first and always will.”

Like many family businesses, the Stubbs’ have a definitive breakdown of responsibilities — which helps define the business while creating boundaries and clear areas of expertise. For Jack, the transition into family and business was natural.

“We grew up around motorcycles, spending a considerable amount of time at the dealership when we were young,” he recalls. “Since we developed the same passion for the business and industry as our father, it only seemed natural to get involved at an early age.”

And when you throw in the cool factor of working with motorcycles, it is a dream job waiting to happen.

“Who wouldn’t want to be involved with such a great brand and company as Harley-Davidson?” Frank asks. “I love working with motorcycles, people and family every day. It’s an exciting, fun and rewarding job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. As a child, my father always seemed to enjoy his job and expressed a passion for motorcycles. We were also taught success does not come for free or without hard work.”

A Green Thumb
Passion and hard work are certainly something Andre Lugo can relate to. Lugo owns and operates The Green Goddess, a nursery and outdoor accessories company that has been around since 1977.

Over the years, Andre has worked with his wife, Claudia, among other family members. Like others, Andre cites “trust and confidence” as key factors propelling the family-operated business.

“You know your backsides are covered,” he laughs.

Andre has also pioneered other successful businesses over the years in the Valley. Still, he notes the challenges and differences family members have had over the years have made every step of the way a learning and growing experience.

“It is a great joy to work with your family,” he says. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A Family’s Best Friend
Ed Marshall started E.D. Marshall Jewelers in 1971, and has since built a solid reputation in the Valley’s highly competitive fine gem industry. Today, Marshall runs his business with his wife and brother. The best part of working with family, Marshall says, is the strong relationship he has with family members.

Marshall says besides working with family, another strategic move his business made was buying and renovating its own building, the Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard location he’s owned since 1995. Again, family played a major role in that decision and family continues to grow the business.

“We all get along well, we understand each other and know the needs of the company,” Marshall says. “Of course, trust is a big thing in any business and it’s good to know that your family won’t stab you in the back.”
Life is Like …

James B. Cerreta gets to work every day with his family at the Cerreta Candy Company in much the same way his father did decades ago, growing the business and passing it along to future generations of the clan.

“It’s like a family picnic at the park every day,” laughs Cerreta, who works with his father, James. J. Cerreta, his sister, Jennifer, and his three brothers, Joe, Jerry and Jonathan. “We enjoy each other and we have for all these years. Of course, there are little things that pop up, but because we love each other and the business, we make it work.”

Much like the Cerreta’s story, which began in Ohio in the 1930s with James’ grandfather, Ben Heggy, making chocolate, a family-owned business starts as a dream — an alluring entrepreneurial concept or idea percolating in some form or another. In Arizona, there are thousands of family-owned businesses toiling away each and every day — at the office and at the home and, sometimes, both.

Cover-July 2008

Ernesto Poza, professor of Global Family Enterprise at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, has worked with family-owned enterprises for more than 30 years. He says families often start businesses with the underlying idea of growing a successful company and passing it down from generation to generation. The first generation, the foundation, is usually easy.

“When the kids join is when it gets complicated,” notes Poza, adding that functions are often assigned (i.e., sales, marketing, business development) to certain sons and daughters tackling certain aspects of the company.

Difficulties often ensue during transition periods, when children might want to change the original focus of the co

mpany, or when a parent has to face the fact that perhaps the designated heir may not be up the challenge of running the family business.

AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |
 
There's more to building an Internet presence than just posting a Web site, 2008

There’s more to building an Internet presence than just posting a Web site

Working the Web

There’s more to building an Internet presence than just posting a Web site

By Don Weiner

When it comes to establishing a presence on the Web, there seem to be as many good reasons as there are sites. The Web offers groups effective ways to communicate their messages.

Politicians and organizations may see it as a fundraising tool. Some are interested in creating opportunities for visitors to socialize or speak their minds. And businesses use it to generate leads, answer frequently asked questions, provide operating manuals and promote products.

The reasons may be varied, but the building blocks of an easy-to-find, well-designed Web site are not.

Miki Dzugan, president and principal consultant of Sedona-based Rapport Online Inc., argues that “the effective Web site starts with the concept of, ‘What do you want to accomplish?’ ”

Once you establish your goals, consider who you want to reach and how you plan to promote your site.

“I can’t think of an instance that it doesn’t include search-engine marketing,” she says. “To me, that’s just basic to being on the Web.”

Outlining a marketing strategy at the outset sets the table for building and designing the site properly. It helps target the most useful keywords, link strategies and tagging needed to make your site search-engine friendly.

Why is this important?

“We find, and the statistics prove it, that right now, regardless of your product or service, someone is searching for you,” says Andy Richter, managing partner and vice president of sales and marketing for Terralever, an interactive marketing agency in Tempe.

Once you decide how to lure visitors, the next step is to hook them. There’s no better way than by creating an attractive, user-friendly site.

“The key element is to have something useful on the Web site for your client,” Dzugan says. “Information is really, still, the primary thing that is sought on the Internet. And so people need to be able to get their information quickly. Web site users are very impatient. Don’t be too subtle. … On the Web, you’ve got just about one second for people to decide whether they’re going to do anything more with your Web site.”

Well-written, up-to-date content helps. So do interactive and visual elements. But there has to be a balance between the written word and Flash-based video or animation.

“There are some excellent, powerful uses for Flash,” Dzugan says, “but the thing that you have to bear in mind is that search engines don’t understand that. So you need to have text on your Web site.”

Considering all this, pitches from providers who say you can get a site up and running for less than $20 a month don’t ring true for everyone.

Although such solutions may work for some, Richter likes to borrow a quote from billionaire businessman and investor Warren Buffett: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

In fact, a one-person online operation may not be the best choice either. Web site design and marketing requires the skill sets of designers, information architects, copywriters and search-engine-optimization specialists, among others.

“Typically, you’re not going to find a well-rounded person that’s great at all those things,” Richter says. “It really takes some level of specificity in all those areas to really put a site out there that’s going to really communicate your unique value proposition to your customers.”

If you decide on getting professional help, you can expect to spend a minimum of four figures. Also, let the experts do their job. Don’t bog them down with an overabundance of your own design ideas.

“The toughest conversation that I have to have with clients,” Richter says, “is to tell them, ‘This is not about you or for you. This is for your customers.’ ”

Professional Web developers are up to date on the latest, most successful trends. For example, Richter points to social media as an area growing in importance.

“When the Internet came to prominence, it was very much a one-way conversation. It was the print and marketing collateral digitized,” he says. “So just from a general communications standpoint, the trend is really around dialogue. It’s really around conversation and not just communicating how great your company is.”

Be aware that nothing ends once the Web site appears on the Internet.

“Launching a site is a singular tactic to an overall marketing strategy,” Richter says. “If you’re truly going to get the return on investment, you can’t just look at launching the site as the panacea to your online marketing needs.”

cover July 2008

There has to be an ongoing effort to measure and analyze a site’s performance, market it, manage its content and improve it.

One of the biggest mistakes firms make, and this includes some major companies, is to allow a Web site to remain idle.

“If it sits for three months, people will see that it’s stagnant and it gives them no reason to come back,”Richter says.

When a company’s product line generates news, its Web site needs to be the prime source for additional information.

“Some large companies that aren’t doing direct selling online kind of lose track of the fact that they need to make sure that their new products are up there,” Dzugan says.

www.roi-web.com
www.terralever.com

 

AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |
The merger between the Arizona Chamber And The AAI Has Given Business A Stronger Voice, 2008

The merger between the Arizona Chamber And The AAI Has Given Business A Stronger Voice

United and Standing

The merger between the Arizona Chamber and the AAI has given business a stronger voice

By Janet Perez

After years of wooing, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry finally succeeded last year in merging with the Arizona Association of Industries (AAI), and the result has been to give a stronger voice to a wider swath of the state’s business community.

“I think the merger has really served to strengthen the business agenda as a whole. (Legislative) policymakers have sometimes been confused in the past about what business needs and what business wants in this state to strengthen the economy, to strengthen the marketplace. I think the merger has allowed us to speak with a more unified voice,” says Eileen Klein, vice chair of public affairs for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and vice president of government relations for UnitedHealthcare of Arizona. “It’s really allowed us to approach the Legislature with more diversity and also with the strength of more business behind our agenda.”
Overtures to merge had been made on-and-off by the chamber to the association for more than a decade, but in the spring of 2007, the talks became serious, says Mark Dobbins, former chairman of the AAI and current vice chairman of manufacturing for the chamber. AAI leaders agreed that by 2007, the chamber had changed to the point it was compatible with the association and they shared almost all of the same concerns.

“When (the AAI) board made the decision that we did not see any distinct differences in our policy positions, that was kind of the point that the wedding happened,” says Dobbins, senior vice president of human resources and general affairs at SUMCO, a manufacturer of electronic-grade silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry.

Not surprisingly, the merger led to a major restructuring of the chamber and its members’ functions. One of the first things the chamber did was restructure its board of directors and executive committee, says Ivan Johnson, chairman of the chamber and vice president of community relations and tele-video at Cox Communications. One major change was to put a board member as the chair of each chamber policy committee.

“And what that has done is that it has involved our board in developing the public policy agenda, which I think gives us a better agenda,” Johnson says.

The merger also brought the AAI’s longtime lobbyist, Jim Norton, who now uses his lobbying skills on behalf of the chamber, Johnson says. The changes have allowed the chamber to craft a more proactive public policy agenda.

“This year, for the first time, once we developed our public policy agenda, we presented that to the Legislature at our Legislative forecast luncheon. Rather than them telling us, which we always invite them to do, we said, ‘Here’s our agenda,’ ” Johnson says. “Those are things we hadn’t done historically.”

In addition, key chamber staff members now regularly attend Legislative hearings that affect the business community, as well as meeting with Legislative leadership and giving Gov. Janet Napolitano briefings every few weeks.

“We are more connected to the process at the capitol, and because of that, we have the opportunity to present the recommendations that come out of the state chamber on behalf of the business community,” Johnson says.

These changes allowed the chamber to accomplish something most said would have been impossible to do this year — make changes to the state’s controversial employer sanctions law. The law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, punishes businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants. The chamber has come out in force against the law and has even joined a lawsuit to get it overturned.

“Most betting people thought it would be impossible this year to make any significant changes to help law-abiding businesses through the Legislative process,” says Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the chamber. “Through a combined effort, and working with other business groups and chambers from across the state, we were able to make some important changes to that law.”

One of those changes was to make the law apply only to employees hired after Jan. 1, 2008, and not retroactively as it had originally stated.

Another significant change to the chamber has been to create a fiscal task force that formulates policy both on how it thinks the Legislature should spend state funds and also how to allocate those increasingly scarce resources.

“We took about a dozen people on this task force through an education process of how the budget process at the state capitol works and what are the levers the Legislature and the governor have to pull to solve these issues,” Hamer says. “And then we came up with some recommendations that we then presented to both the Legislature and to the (governor). Then we started a dialogue between all of those folks and ourselves, which I think was very productive in terms of trying to come up with solutions.”July Cover 2008

While the merger has gone relatively smoothly internally, it did initially cause some confusion within the business community, Klein says. An announcement made in January when the chamber released its Legislative business agenda “really helped to clarify that this is really going to be an entity that is going to speak out on behalf of the statewide business community,” Klein says

Another challenge is to make sure members of the defunct AAI understand they hold a prominent place within the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We wanted to integrate them into the chamber because we believe that together we are stronger. But we also wanted them to continue to maintain an identity within the chamber, which we think makes us all stronger. They are not losing their identity; we are keeping them visible and their point of view very front-and-center in our deliberations in the things that we advocate for,” Johnson says. “I think the merger has been one of the best things for both organizations.”

AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |
Arizona Is Losing Economic Grounds To Other Southwestern States, 2008

Arizona Is Losing Economic Grounds To Other Southwestern States

Back of the Pack

Arizona is losing economic ground to other Southwestern states

By Tom Ellis

It’s no secret — Arizona’s economy has stumbled. Even so, it must still be a shining star of the Southwest, right? Well, no. Two leading Arizona economists have rather unflattering comments about Arizona’s economy as it stacks up against other Southwestern states.

“Arizona is not only one of the weaker states in the Southwest, it is one of the weaker states in the country right now,” says Lee McPheters, economics professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

According to Marshall Vest, an economist at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, Arizona has the dubious distinction of leading the nation into recession.

“Normally, the Arizona economy lags behind,” Vest says. “The national economy enters recession and then a few months later, the Arizona economy also tops out. But this time around, it looks like the nation’s economy peaked in December of last year while Arizona peaked in August. We are leading.”

But Arizona may not be alone. Vest says it’s possible Nevada’s economy crested a couple months before Arizona. Thus, two Southwestern states likely are marching the U.S. into recession, he says. In comparison, other states in the Southwest — such as Colorado, New Mexico and Utah — are doing relatively better. Texas is doing quite well, the economists say.

McPheters and Vest blame the weak Arizona and Nevada economies on housing.

“The states that have suffered the most were the states where the housing bubble got inflated the most,” Vest says. “The run-up in housing prices started in California and then moved east to Las Vegas, then Phoenix, then Tucson and it kept going east.”

In Nevada and Arizona, the construction sector and other related industries were dragged down after housing popped, Vest says. However, Colorado and Utah were not as affected by the depressed housing market, and Texas had no housing bubble at all, he notes.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arizona ranked 51st among all states and the District of Columbia for per capita income growth in 2007. Nevada was 48th, Colorado 46th, New Mexico 25th, Texas 16th and Utah seventh.

The Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast, published by ASU’s school of business, tracks economic activity in 12 Western states. According to the May edition, Nevada ranked 11th for wage-and-salary employment growth in 2007. Arizona was 10th, New Mexico ninth, Colorado seventh, Texas third and Utah first.

And it gets worse.

“Arizona retail sales have been very surprisingly weak. That’s all you can say about it,” McPheters says.

Retail sales were significantly stronger in 2007 in Colorado, Utah and Texas. However, Nevada, Arizona and Utah led Southwestern states in population growth last year.

According to contributing writers for the Blue Chip, Colorado is in better shape than it was in the last recession, and Texas may be better positioned than any other state to weather the current economic downturn.

Economic development experts are more upbeat about Arizona’s economic standings in the Southwest, and they praise the efforts of various organizations to stimulate business growth.

“I think Arizona stacks up pretty well,” says Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “We have dramatically improved our competitive position the last two to three years. California is the technology giant. Utah and Colorado have built technology corridors. But if you look at momentum, Arizona is stronger than the other Southwestern states.”

Broome commends Arizona’s commitment to public infrastructure, but he says it needs to attract more capital and diversify beyond its dependency on construction.

Arizona’s economy is more volatile and cyclical than other Southwestern states because it is driven by population growth, housing and construction, says Laura Shaw, senior vice president of corporate and community affairs for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO). However, she says Southern Arizona is growing its bioscience sector along with Phoenix, and TREO has a long-term economic development strategy that focuses on educational excellence, livable communities, collaboration between public and private sectors, high-skill and high-wage jobs, and urban development.July Cover 2008

Bruce Coomer, executive director of the Arizona Association for Economic Development, says economic development will play a critical role in Arizona’s eventual recovery. With that in mind, he worries about how the state Legislature is addressing Arizona’s budget deficit.

“To solve that, they are cutting programs here, there and everywhere, and some of them being considered are economic development programs,” Coomer says. “Those are the programs that could be a vehicle to help Arizona end the downturn early, because the engine to bringing back a solid, thriving economy is high-wage jobs.”

According to Coomer, the Arizona Department of Commerce’s business attraction group may be dissolved, and some legislators want to eliminate the department entirely.

“(The department does) an excellent job, but they are underfunded and understaffed,” he says. “Doing away with the department would be a huge mistake.”

www.aaed.com
ebr.eller.arizona.edu
www.gpec.org
www.treoaz.org
wpcarey.asu.edu


AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |
Mark Timms, CEO and Owner of Cool Clubs, 2008

Mark Timms, Founder and CEO of Cool Clubs

Mark Timms

Founder and CEO, Cool Clubs
Industry: Golf
Est: 2007

By Noelle Coyle

Passion is an important key to making a business venture successful, and Mark Timms parlayed two of his passions — golf and building — into the creation of his company, Cool Clubs.

Mark Timms, CEO and Founder of Cool Clubs, 2008

After college, Timms began a career in banking, but he says he soon got bored with the industry. In 1990, he opened a golf store in Connecticut. He then moved to Arizona in 2000 and opened Hot Stix Golf, a high-end custom fitting company for golfers. At the end of 2005, he sold his majority interest in the company, left in April 2006, and started Cool Clubs in April 2007. The difference between the

two companies, he explains, is that Cool Clubs utilizes newer technologies.

The concept behind Cool Clubs is to help people play better golf and this is achieved by creating custom golf clubs. Aspects taken into consideration for each club include how fast you swing, whether you slice the ball or hook it, your height, and whether you hit the ball high or low.

“We try to match their swing characteristics to the club that’s going to help them the most, and that varies from person to person,” Timms says. “PING might work better for some people and Callaway’s better for others. … A lot of stuff affects which clubs you look at.”

The fittings available are driver, long game, iron and wedges, putting and gap. Each of the fittings costs $100 and lasts for one hour, except for the iron and wedge fitting, which takes 1 1/2 hours and costs $150.

The facility, which is just under 10,000 square feet, features four private fitting bays where customers’ swing characteristics can be evaluated. There are also two putter fitting studios, which feature eight high-speed video cameras that capture various angles of your swing to help staff create more precise club fittings.

cover, July 2008

Timms has built a strong reputation in the industry, which has helped produce a client list of who’s who in pro golf. Cool Clubs also sees more amateur players, Timms says, explaining that most of his clients are avid golfers, not those who play maybe once a month for recreation.

The company only had three employees when it opened, but it has already grown to 25, and Timms expects to be near 40 by the end of the year. A second location will be opening in July in San Francisco, and an additional two locations will open by the end of the year in undisclosed locations.

“Our mission statement is to play better golf and that’s really what we’re here for,” Timms says. “(We’re) not trying to sell you something you don’t need or something that doesn’t work. Our finished focus is to make them play better and they do.”

www.coolclubs.com

 

AZ Business Magazine July 2008 |