Tag Archives: arizona businesses

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Top Arizona Businesses Win Spirit of Enterprise Awards

As Americans talk about how to improve our economy, we keep hearing how small businesses and entrepreneurs have to lead the way in the recovery. Today, the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University honored five of the state’s best businesses for creating jobs, contributing to charities and introducing innovation. They’re this year’s winners of the prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards.

“What is striking about this year’s group of finalists and winners is that these entrepreneurs have chosen incredibly difficult industries and excelled where others have failed,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “They are recognized today because of their hard work, dedication to the community, and great entrepreneurial stories.”

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

The 16th annual Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are:

180 Degrees Automotive – The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. This woman-owned, full-service auto repair center caters especially to women and minorities. The company has moved to bigger locations four times in six years, provides free car classes to women, hosts an art exhibit, gives free rides home, and leaves a gift in each car with each visit. It also makes a notable commitment to “green” business practices and community causes.

Daphne’s Headcovers – The Spirit of Enterprise Overcoming Adversity Award. This novelty golf-club cover business was started when the owner was just 16 years old, and it had to address major growth issues when business shot up 400 percent in just one quarter. Daphne’s now serves fine resorts and golf shops in 75 countries, despite the recession that’s hit the golf industry hard. The company has covers in the bags of more than 200 touring pro golfers and offers customers a lifetime guarantee to repair or replace its products for free.

GlobalMed – U.S. Bank Emerging Entrepreneur Award. This booming company offers telemedicine solutions like innovative cameras, medical devices and software, so health practitioners can provide care to remote patients via telecommunications or satellite. GlobalMed made Inc. Magazine’s 2012 list of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies. It also made large donations to charity, including the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, the Strike Out Child Abuse Walk and the Migrant Clinicians Network.

LawLogix Group – Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This fast-growing provider of immigration, I-9 and E-Verify software boasts a 96.9-percent client-retention rate, low 3-percent employee turnover, and more than 155,000 organizations as customers, including Fortune 500 companies. The minority-owned business also has a nonprofit practice that offers tools to hundreds of nonprofit and community-based organizations, so they can provide some of the same information as expensive immigration law firms.

Total Transit – The Spirit of Enterprise Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This comprehensive mobility management company runs the Discount Cab brand throughout Arizona. Total Transit has the largest fleet of environmentally friendly Prius cabs in North America and also provides innovative Dial-a-Ride services for Valley Metro and many large Medicaid and Medicare providers. It also introduced a Free Ride Back program to keep drunk drivers off our roads, by offering paying customers a free ride back to their car the next day. The company donates to the community through its charitable Total Transit Foundation.

The other Spirit of Enterprise Award finalists this year were CyberMark International, Hard Dollar, NJOY Electronic Cigarettes, Optimal Performance Training and Real Property Management East Valley.

These awards are just one focus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business experience. One key program, Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP), matches teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students with Valley companies to help tackle real-world challenges and opportunities. Companies can also use the center to access other ASU business resources.

The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers to sustain its activities. For more information, visit www.spiritofenterprise.org.

Biltmore Bank - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

Father-Son Bank On Arizona Business

Family-built Biltmore Bank of Arizona has assets totaling more than $260 million

The Lehmann family has a lot of baggage.

“When I finished grad school back in 1969, I got two job offers,” says Richard J. Lehmann. “One was with Ford Motor Company; the other with Citibank.”

The banking gig, however, meant moving to Europe, which actually sealed the deal.

“I was lucky enough to study abroad — and bum around Europe — while still in school, and both my wife and I are always up for adventure,” Lehmann says.

Over the next seven years, Lehmann’s rapidly growing career took him from Hamburg to Düsseldorf to Frankfurt to Kronberg, where his youngest son, Greg, was born. With two young children and extended family a continent away, the Lehmann family moved back to the U.S. in 1977, with Lehmann still focusing on international banking.

“Talk about a commute,” Lehmann says.

But the move wouldn’t take, just yet, and the family was back on the move in 1985 when Lehmann packed their bags for London to take a position overseeing all Middle East, European and African clients for Citibank.

Arizona, however, would eventually come calling.

The family finally unpacked its bags in Arizona in 1988, when Lehmann became chairman and CEO of Valley National Bank.

But just as the elder Lehmann was unpacking his bags in the Valley, youngest son Greg was picking up and moving to Vermont to study anthology in college.

While there, just as his father did, Greg spent a semester studying overseas (Asia), where he would return after graduation to volunteer with the building of schoolhouses in the developing nation of Nepal. Motivated, but lonely living alone in a small Nepalese village, Greg moved to New York City in the 1990s and took a job in advertising with such brands as Mercedes Benz and MLB, and then one with an Internet company. He even helped re-brand the Cleveland Cavaliers when LeBron James was drafted.

By the early 2000s, with dad retired (and unretired) most recently from Bank One, where he worked as the bank’s president and COO, Greg was busy, too — getting married and starting a family in New York.

And then everything changed.

When Richard hosted his son’s family for Christmas in the early 2000s, he made a singular comment: “So, I am thinking of starting a bank.”

“Floored, my initial reaction was ‘Yeah sure, Dad.’ But as Christmas gave way to the New Year, I saw he was serious — and serious about recruiting me.”

By 2003, Richard and long-time colleague Jeffrey Gaia, with others, began planting the seeds for the Biltmore Bank of Arizona. After a lifetime of servicing some of the biggest businesses across the globe, Lehmann wanted to get personal.

“Truly understanding the needs of Arizona businesses and working with them face-to-face to ensure exceptional client service is our singular focus,” Richard says. “We wanted to be a part of each of our client’s growth — and the growth of the Arizona economy.”

Inspired, Greg packed his family’s bags and moved to the Valley for good in 2004, helping to launch the Biltmore Bank of Arizona with his father.

The father-son team proved a perfect fit. The Biltmore Bank now has two locations, 50 employees and assets totaling more than $260 million. They service hundreds of businesses in Arizona each day through customized loan solutions, SBA lending, treasury management, business checking, and online and mobile banking.

While other banks have closed in recent years due to the sagging economy, Biltmore has flourished, most recently receiving a cash infusion from Grandpoint Financial that will allow them to grow and invest with its current and prospective clients and consider possible acquisitions in the future.

“In order for us to support the continued growth, we need to have a strong balance sheet and a formidable capital position,” Richard says. “Arizona businesses will bounce back, and now we have the capital to help them.”

For more information on Biltmore Bank, visit Biltmore Bank’s website at biltmorebankaz.com.

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2012

Success Awards

Success Awards Recognize 12 Arizona Businesses

Twelve Arizona small businesses and their achievements will be honored at the 2012 Success Awards and Legislative Lunch on March 29.

The event is hosted by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network (AZSBDC) and scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on the House Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Complex, 1700 W. Washington Street in Phoenix. Arizona Capitol Times publisher Ginger Lamb will serve as emcee of the event, which is expected to attract more than 300 guests, including members of the Arizona Legislature and government, business and community leaders from across the state.

Arizona Senate President Steve Pierce, Speaker of the House Andy Tobin and Secretary of State Ken Bennett will all participate in the program, which recognizes the achievements of small businesses across Arizona. The 2012 Success Awards winners include:

Best Finishing, Inc. — Tucson, AZ Master Award Winner

Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair — Phoenix, AZ

Cotton Clouds, Inc. — Safford, AZ

Criollo Latin Kitchen — Flagstaff, AZ

Drug Valet, Inc. — Tempe, AZ

Gutierrez Canales Engineering, PC — Yuma, AZ

K-Bar RV Resort — Show Low, AZ

Kinetic Muscle, Inc. — Tempe, AZ

Kool Treats, LLC — Douglas, AZ

Sierra Seed Company LLLP — Nogales, AZ

Sorellas Elite Fashion — Safford, AZ

Tender Hearts Senior Care, Inc. — Prescott, AZ

The AZSBDC Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible source of assistance for small business, with 28 locations across Arizona, including 11 Service Centers and 17 satellites and/or meeting sites. The Network recently also became the host of the new (March 2012) Arizona Procurement Technical Assistance Center (AZPTAC) network, which is headquartered in Glendale and has satellite locations in Mesa, Tucson and Yuma.

Interview Questions Never To Ask

Seven Questions Employers Should Never Ask During An Interview

As the economy slowly recovers, many Arizona businesses are looking to add to their workforce. While it may be tempting to tailor interview questions to help “weed out” unqualified candidates, be sure you are not setting your company up for potential discrimination claims. Interview questions should be related to the job for which the candidate is being hired, not a means to gather personal information. Below are examples of questions you should avoid:

1. Are you a U.S. citizen?

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating based on citizenship status. To work in the United States, applicants do not need to be U.S. citizens; they only need to be authorized to work in the United States. Be sure this question is worded correctly to avoid potential issues.

2. How long do you plan to work before retiring?

Employers may not discriminate based on age. Candidates may see this question as an alternative way to ask how old they are.

3. What is your native language?

Employers may not discriminate based on national origin. Even asking because you are “curious about the interesting accent” may be construed by an unsuccessful applicant as discrimination and used against the employer.

4. Which religious holidays will you want off?

Employers may not discriminate based on religion.

5. Do you have or plan to have children?

Employers may not discriminate based on gender or pregnancy. This particular question can be argued to be disproportionately adverse toward women. Again, keep the questions focused on job responsibilities, not on personal information.

6. Have you ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?

Employers may not discriminate based on disabilities. Do not include medical-related questions prior to extending an offer.

7. Have you had a recent illnesses or operation?

As stated above, employers may not discriminate based on disabilities. Avoid all medical-related questions during the interview.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid questions potentially related to race, gender, religion, marital status, age, disabilities and ethnic background. The best plan of action is to tailor interview questions to reflect the skills and experience required for the position. When in doubt, call your attorney.

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 |