Tag Archives: CEO

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Apple Now Worth Over $300 Billion

As of January 3, Apple’s market capitalization passed $300 billion, making them the second most valuable company in the world (just behind Exxon Mobil).  Since the bump that put them over the $300 billion mark, Apple’s value took a slight dip with the news that Steve Jobs, CEO and public face of the company, would be going on medical leave. However, the company is holding on to its second place position for now.  Check out the infographic below for more information.

Apple Worth $300 Billion

Aaron Matos is the founder and CEO of Jobing.com. - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Jobing.com’s Aaron Matos Talks About His First Job

Aaron Matos
Title: Founder/CEO
Company: Jobing.com

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I was a bike mechanic at Swiss American Bicycles. I learned how to work for a boss who was demanding about service quality, timeliness and doing things right. When I was 14, I thought he was overbearing and too hard on me and others. Now, 24 years later, I realize he helped feed an insatiable desire to do excellent work.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I was a personnel manager at El Dorado of Sun City. I learned that HR and managers can have too many rules, and that if management creates a culture where people are empowered they can accomplish great things.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
(Swiss American Bicycles) $3.35 an hour; (El Dorado of Sun City) $21,500 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
Chris Gaffney, the current lead investor at Great Hill Partners. He has supported and pushed me as CEO … He has taught me that business and life have a long arc, and that you’ve got to keep your eye always focused on building a great business for your customers first and foremost.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Focus on getting things done and accomplishing things. I always traded responsibility for pay, knowing pay would come. Too many people focus on “promotions” or “job titles.” Work to take on big projects and accomplish big important goals for your company. Not only will you learn and grow faster, but others will notice and you’ll get those promotions because you earned it.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I don’t spend energy thinking about what you could be doing instead. Too many people don’t succeed because they have their eye on another ball in a different game. Be passionate about what you’re currently doing.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Rommie Flammer President and CEO China Mist Tea Brands - AZ - Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

China Mist’s Rommie Flammer Talks About Her First Job

Rommie Flammer
Title: President and CEO
Company: China Mist Tea Brands

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
At 12 years old, a friend and I got together a bucket, soap and a sponge, then went door to door asking if we could wash our neighbors’ cars. When they would ask “how much,” we would say “whatever you want to pay us.” I quickly learned my first business lesson, which is have an idea of what your service is worth before heading out. This job was short lived after we knocked on the door of Vern and Claudia Lipp, who bred and showed Himalayan cats. When we asked if we could wash her car she replied, “No, but I have a bunch of litter boxes that need cleaning and cats that need grooming.” …  For the next three years I cleaned and groomed cats, a job that could have definitely earned a spot on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe!”

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first industry job was at China Mist right around the time I turned 16 years old. Over the course of 26 years, I have learned an incredible number of lessons and I still learn something everyday. … The most important lesson is to surround yourself with truly great people because your team is your greatest asset. Average employees don’t last long at China Mist. Next, is to always challenge the norms of your industry. … Indeed, it is the people who continually strive for a better product, better process, etc., who set themselves and their companies apart from the rest. Finally, focus on what you do best.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
When I started at China Mist, I earned minimum wage, which was around $3.35 per hour at the time. I cannot recall my hourly wage at Hotlipps Cattery, but the memories are priceless.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I have had many mentors along the way, but would have to say that Mignon Latimer has been the biggest in my career. Mignon is the wife of a consultant hired by China Mist some years ago. I was an 18-year-old general manager at the time I started working with her. She taught me how to read and interpret financial details important to the company and precisely why they mattered. She gave me a truly sound financial base from which to build.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
While the barrier to entry is quite low, the competition is strong, so be sure you have a strong point of differentiation.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

I really cannot imagine doing anything else, but if I had to pick a new industry it would be something in real estate.

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Jerry Colangelo discusses Arizona's economic future and more. - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

CEO Series: Jerry Colangelo

Local businessman Jerry Colangelo talks basketball, Arizona Commerce Authority, the recession and more.

Jerry Colangelo
Title: Principal Partner
Company: JDM Partners

Did you always aspire to be in business or was it circumstances that put you on this path?
I transferred universities for basketball reasons, originally. I went to (University of) Kansas for a semester to play with Wilt Chamberlain. When he transferred — when he quit school — I transferred to (University of) Illinois. I had taken business courses in Kansas and when I transferred I brought those credits with me. But then I went into education. I thought I would teach and coach. But I had some business background and I was always a little bit of an entrepreneur, in terms of trying to make a dollar as a young kid, little businesses, etc. So it all kind of came together and I ended up being in the sports business, which means that I was being prepared all along.

How would describe the Valley’s business environment for entrepreneurs?
I think it is a good place, but it has evolved. I came to the Valley 40-plus years ago, when things were kind of wide open and there were many more opportunities, at least from my perspective. You had the ability to get things done because it was still a small town, to some degree. I’ve seen it quintuple in size, if you will, and we’ve had our ups and our downs in the Valley, but we’re trying to re-identify who we are and what our future holds. But there will always be room for entrepreneurs. There’s no question about that. I still believe in the Valley and the business climate, and it’s going to get better as our economy gets better, so there’s room.

How will the new Arizona Commerce Authority help the state’s economy?
I think the Commerce Authority is coming at exactly the right time. We have the opportunity to re-do how we do business in this state. It’s very important to retain the businesses that we have and it’s very competitive out there. The states are competing for big business and small business. We need to create a climate that is truly conducive for small and big business to come to Arizona. I think that with the people, the manpower that we will have on this authority, we have a chance to make that happen.

I’ve been a little outspoken about the fact that we need the Legislature to help with the funding — there’s no question about that — but at that point they need the business community to conduct the business of commerce. That’s what they know best. And if we can kind of separate that, we have a great opportunity to go out and be competitive. We’re going to need some things from the Legislature. Incentives — that seems to be a dirty word to some people, but it’s reality. That’s what’s happening in other states. That’s why they’ve had so much success. We have the models to look at.

For me, coming from the world of sports and every day you’re competing, it’s another game, it’s going for another win. This is a classic example of taking something that needed to be restructured, a little like my USA Basketball experience of late, when I took over the program and it was back on its heels. Today, we’re the defending gold medalists in every category, men’s and women’s, every age bracket. We have a chance with the Commerce Authority to basically do the same thing. We need to win a gold medal. We need to go out and compete with all the other states, because we have a lot to offer in this state. We just need some incentives. We need to look people eyeball-to-eyeball and sell them on why it’s important to come here, why they will enjoy not just the quality of life. We need to improve our education, we need to make it a better community in which it is conducive to do business here. If you get people jumping on the bandwagon, we have a chance.

How did the recession affect the sports industry in general and in the Valley in particular?

The recession has hit everyone and every segment of the marketplace. It’s interesting; when things are really bad economically, people still want to be entertained. … Vicariously, people follow sports teams because they once played, they have some affiliation, they love the association when their teams are winning. When teams are losing, that’s when they jump off the bandwagon. … We took a hit here in the Valley big time. Because we have so much emphasis on the construction industry, we were hit harder than other parts of the country — in the Southwest. No. 2, we are saturated right now with sports teams — no question about that. Everyone was affected. If we had continued with our growth, because we were on an incredible growth curve, we would have grown into maturity with all of our sports teams. What we have gone through have been some real challenges. But the good news is that the sports franchises have adjusted. They’ve had to adjust their policies, their attitudes toward discounts, etc. And that’s one of the things I’ve noticed in sports in the last two years is that they’ve made adjustments to deal with what’s taken place with the recession.

You are still involved in sports, but you’ve also moved on to real estate development. Some would say that’s a risky move. How do you respond to that?
People say when you make money in real estate is when you buy appropriately. There are a lot of deals out there to buy in — they say cash is king. Well, there are a lot of financial institutions sitting on a lot of cash, but they’re not really willing to let the consumer have that cash. So everyone is very hesitant right now. There is great opportunity in real estate. You have to be more specific about residential, commercial. My partners and I are involved in some iconic properties: the (Arizona Biltmore Golf & Country Club), the (Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa). In taking that step with distressed properties, we were able to take these properties out of bankruptcy. We believe we made a good buy at the time. We are making an investment in those properties, because we believe in the future. We believe things will get better over a period of time and that the real estate marketplace will continue to get better over a period of time. We’re sitting on 37,000 acres of property on the west side of Phoenix that have the ability and the approval to build a city of over 300,000 people. But this isn’t the time to start that project — that’s in Buckeye, Ariz. Do I think someday that will happen? Maybe in some way, shape or form; maybe not the way it was visualized five years ago, but are people going to continue to come here? I believe so. But back to the Commerce Authority; we have to bring jobs to Arizona. So by being creative and being aggressive going out to bring companies here — with high-paying jobs, not just service jobs — then we will continue with the growth pattern, because we have so many wonderful things to offer in terms of quality of life out here in the Southwest.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are ready to take their companies to the next level?
Don’t be afraid to fail. … You have to take calculated risks. You have to be willing to step out on that board knowing you might get pushed, fall off. The worst thing that could happen is you do — you get up and you start over again. One of the things that has probably marked my career is that I started with nothing and I was never afraid to go back to nothing, but I was going to enjoy the ride. And so as it relates to my mix of experiences. Being competitive as an athlete prepared me for the business world, which was another competition. No one has batted 1,000 percent. Hall of Famers hit .300 — that’s only three out of 10. So why is it any different in business? You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to learn from your mistakes. You can’t be afraid to fail, you have to be willing to take that kind of calculated risk. I’ve seen so many people, again in my lifetime, who have complained and whined about never getting an opportunity. And I would say to them, “Opportunity walked by you three or four times, but you never recognized it, because you’re so busy whining.” Get out there, don’t be afraid to compete and believe in yourself.

    Vital Stats




  • Became general manager of the new NBA franchise Phoenix Suns in 1968
  • Coached the Suns in the 1969-1970 and 1972-1973 seasons
  • Purchased the Suns for $44.5 million in 1987
  • Founder and owner of the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers from 1992-2005
  • Played a key part in moving the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to Arizona in 1996
  • Launched the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in 1997
  • Launched the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998
  • Served as chairman and CEO of the 2001 World Champion Diamondbacks
  • Chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors from 2001-2005
  • Sold the Suns, Mercury and Rattlers to an investment group headed by Robert Sarver in 2004
  • Sold his controlling interest in the Diamondbacks to a group of investors in 2004
  • Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004
  • March 26, 2004 proclaimed Jerry Colangelo Day in Phoenix
  • Named director of USA Basketball in 2005
  • Received the Spirit of Caring award in 2005 from the Valley of the Sun United Way
  • Inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor in 2007

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

woman sitting on a red chair on stage - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

Q&A With Laura Scheller, President Of Arizona Sunbelt Chapter MPI

Laura Scheller, CMP
President of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI
President and CEO, Solomonte Hospitality

How has MPI responded to the economic downturn?
It has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry. Not only have we had to overcome the poor economy and negative media, but here in Arizona we also added controversial politics. The MPI Foundation is focusing on research that provides hard facts about the return on meetings. For instance, for every dollar spent in business travel, companies realize $12.50 in incremental revenue.

MPI as an organization is working to educate local and national business, politicians and media about the positive impact strategic meeting management makes on the economy, not just statewide, but nationally. Obviously the whole issue of SB 1070 is extremely frustrating. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, boycotting meetings is not the answer. This is affecting 300,000 employees whose families’ lives are dependent on our industry jobs — many of whom are immigrants whose only goal is to work hard and provide excellent service. … Certainly, we as a chapter are encouraged to hear that the governor is looking into creating an ad campaign in support of travel to the state.

What are your members experiencing?

Our membership is down. The hotels and resorts are cutting staff in response to lower operating budgets. Meeting planners are being laid off as companies minimize the number, size and scope of their meetings and events. On the positive side, the relationships created by our fellow MPI members are more critical than ever in securing business and jobs. The chapter’s Career Connections is an active job bank completely free to our members.

Is MPI working with other organizations?
One of our goals as a chapter this year is to bring an elevated level to our membership. We hope to work more closely with the Fiesta Bowl Committee and the Arizona Tourism Alliance to create more opportunities for our local members. We have some outstanding talent and expertise, yet often, when large events such as the Super Bowl come to town, outside companies are brought in rather than utilizing local products and services.

How is MPI helping its members?

One of the programs we are very proud of is the Global Community Challenge. … The challenge, developed from the expressed needs of chapter members, encourages members to use their MPI connections to supplement their current business. Through the program, over 286 business-to-business meetings took place, 87 lead referrals were produced and more than $1.3 million in sales was credited to the business relationships developed.

What trends are you seeing?
While some properties are starting to increase rates, others are still focusing on occupancy. Programs are being streamlined. Meeting planners are more accountable to the C-suite for budgets and measured results. Also, while room rates remain somewhat level, food and beverage pricing continues to rise. Of particular note are the gratuity fees that are as high as 25 percent at some resorts. That can make a significant impact on a budget.

Any predictions?
What I see is that there has been a pent-up demand for meetings, and thus things are starting to happen again in the industry. However, I also believe the economy will remain stagnant for the next couple of years. I recommend keeping an organization’s booking window as short as possible.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Avnet's Roy Vallee On Leadership

Avnet’s Roy Vallee On Leadership

Thirty-seven years ago Roy Vallee was stocking shelves at a small electronics distribution company in Los Angeles. That small firm has grown up to become Avnet, Inc., a Fortune 500 firm located in Phoenix, Arizona. Avnet is one of the largest distributors of electronic parts, enterprise computing and storage products, and embedded subsystems in the world. And Roy Vallee is the CEO and chairman of the board. One morning recently, marketing professor  Antony Peloso sat down with Mr. Vallee to talk about Avnet, his leadership style, and how to motivate employees — even in a far-flung global operation. Professor Peloso leads the Marketing Professional Sales and Relationship Management Initiative, which fosters strong relationships between students who are headed for careers in sales, marketing faculty members and corporate partners. The goal is to build professional sales capabilities and advance the profile and status of the sales function. And now let’s hear what Mr. Vallee has to say about one the toughest jobs of leadership: motivating employees. (26:42)

The podcast no longer works, please check the wpcarey website for the transcript.

Arizona Business Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Janet Perez

The Buzz on AZNow.Biz – October 18, 2010

This week on AZNow.Biz: Avnet chairman and CEO Roy Vallee talks about leading one of the largest distributors of electronic parts in the world. Green columnist Dustin Jones asks whether sustainable housing is in Arizona’s future, and political columnist Tom Milton looks at the political scene as we close in on next month’s mid-term elections.


AzHHA’s New President And CEO Laurie Liles - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

AzHHA’s New President And CEO Is Ready To Tackle The Industry’s Challenges

A familiar face has been named the new president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA). Laurie Liles assumed her new role on Sept. 7, succeeding John Rivers, who will be available as a consultant until his retirement becomes official in January.

Selected by the AzHHA board of directors on June 3 after an extensive national search, Liles is a natural for the position, having most recently served as senior vice president of public affairs for the organization. In that role, Liles was the association’s chief lobbyist, putting her in charge of legislative and regulatory advocacy, and making her a familiar face at the state Capitol.

In fact, when she joined the association in 1991, Liles already was well known and respected at the Legislature. She was an intern at the Arizona House of Representatives in 1985, and in 1986 joined the House research staff. It was her first real job coming out of college, where she had majored in political science at Northern Arizona University.

The years at AzHHA that Liles spent lobbying lawmakers have given her a solid foundation for the tasks ahead. She also worked closely with the chief executive officers of AzHHA-member hospitals throughout the state.

“My role as chief lobbyist has given me a great deal of exposure to the challenging issues our members face,” Liles says. “It also enabled me to advance their interests with the regulatory entities they interact with.”

While she savors the experience and knowledge she gained as a lobbyist, Liles doesn’t plan on visiting the Capitol on a regular basis anymore.

“As the head of an advocacy organization, I will be ultimately responsible for accomplishing our advocacy goals,” she says, adding she will work closely with her staff and her replacement, who will tend to the day-to-day duties of lobbying.

Myriad challenges lie ahead, but No. 1 on Liles’ list is not unique to hospitals or the health care industry: the economy.

“The recession has been hard on everyone, and hospitals are no exception to that,” Liles says. “Our members continue to provide high-quality care, and the challenge going forward is to maintain that quality as resources become more and more precious.”

Arizona’s fiscal crisis is expected to continue for the next few years, Liles says, and as the state slowly recovers hospitals will be particularly vulnerable to any government-imposed cuts to Medicare and the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The question remains how the state will pay for ever-expanding AHCCCS rolls. Enhanced federal matching funds, which faced some opposition in Congress, would ease the burden.

A close second in priorities is implementation of the new federal health care reform law. Fortunately, Liles has maintained a close working relationship with Arizona’s congressional delegation, particularly staff members who deal with health care issues. In addition to e-mails and phone calls, Liles has made it a practice to meet in Washington, D.C., with congressional members a couple of times a year.

Norm Botsford, chairman of the AzHHA board of directors, cited the federal health care law when he announced Liles’ appointment.

“The state’s health care community and citizens will be well served by Ms. Liles’ leadership as we begin the process of implementing the historic health care reforms signed into law by President Obama.” he stated.

But one of the challenges facing Liles and hospital administrators throughout the state does have a silver lining. Asked what good news hospitals can expect in the year ahead, Liles took a long pause before saying: “The really positive news for health care is the increased coverage that the federal health reform legislation brings. Having 32 million more Americans who previously had no insurance be covered is a positive development, but with it comes challenges of providing care for them.”

http://azbigmedia.com/tag/september-october-2010-2

Pat Walz VP - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Electronic Health Records And Cancer Care Are On Pat Walz’s Radar For Yuma Regional Medical Center

Pat Walz
President and CEO
Yuma Regional Medical Center
www.yumaregional.org

As the new president and CEO of Yuma Regional Medical Center, Pat Walz is looking to the future. Walz, who was named to the top spot at Yuma Regional in June, has several plans to make the hospital a leader in the health care industry, including implementing an electronic health record system throughout the community, creating a residency program and strengthening the hospital’s cancer care.

He says he wants Yuma Regional to “be leading edge for the whole state of Arizona” in 10 years.

“We don’t want our patients to feel like they need to go to Phoenix or Scripps in San Diego or Tucson,” he says. “We want to provide the same level of service in this community.”

Walz, who has been in the health care industry throughout his career, has been with Yuma Regional for five years, adding that he’d like to stay “as long as they let me. I think this is where I’m going to end my career.”

During his time at Yuma Regional, Walz served as chief financial officer, and the financial stability he attained for the hospital is one of his proudest career achievements.

“We have a very healthy balance sheet, a double-A bond rating and a lot of financial support that makes us able to invest in technology,” which allows Yuma Regional to provide the best health care to the community, Walz says.

In addition to providing a stepping stone to his current position, Walz says one thing he has learned from his background in finance is to always speak the truth.

“From a finance standpoint, one thing I’ve always prided myself (on) is providing accurate information,” he says. “I think when you establish that with physicians, staff, community — anybody — then when you talk people believe you.”

Another way the hospital serves the community is by being a member of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA).
“I think having that connection is really important,” Walz says. “It’s kind of a venue (for) when we have issues out in the rural areas.”

Speaking to the Legislature with AzHHA’s backing gives rural communities a louder voice that can compete with urban areas, he adds.

“(My job is) exciting to me in that we have a good medical staff, an excellent leadership team and some really committed employees,” Walz says. “(Yuma Regional) commits to the employees as well. We have a very good benefit plan. We stay competitive with the areas we have to recruit from … It’s a pretty exciting place to be and the board has a commitment to quality and patient safety.”

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Rona Curphy - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

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

Rona Curphy
President And CEO
Casa Grande Regional Medical Center
www.casagrandehospital.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Jim Dickson Copper Queen Community Hospital - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Through Tele-Medicine And Rural Clinics, Jim Dickson Serves Arizona

Jim Dickson
CEO
Copper Queen Community Hospital
www.cqch.org

Having been in the health care field for 40 years, Jim Dickson is well suited for his position as CEO of Bisbee’s Copper Queen Community Hospital. Dickson has worked in hospitals of all sizes, from large ones with 440 beds to smaller hospitals, such as Copper Queen, with just 15 beds.

Dickson says he prefers rural, smaller hospitals because of the “strong intrinsic reward to working in rural areas.”

Copper Queen’s main challenge is serving a small number of people scattered over a large area, Dickson says. In his 12 years as CEO of Copper Queen, Dickson has put in place several programs to better serve Bisbee’s rural population.

“We’re bringing care where it was not there,” he says. “So, we’re actually really helping people.”

The hospital uses tele-medicine, which allows patients to see specialists across the state through video conferencing. Dickson’s strong commitment to tele-medicine has brought about tele-stroke, -dermatology, -cardiology and -trauma units. Copper Queen collaborates with Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, University Medical Center in Tucson, the University of Arizona’s tele-medicine program and the Carondelet Health System for its tele-medicine consultations.

He says tele-medicine is the way to solve the problem of physician shortages in various parts of the state, which puts rural communities at a disadvantage.

Dickson says he enjoys launching and employing new technologies and hopes Copper Queen will be the first virtual hospital in the United States. Becoming a virtual hospital will “eliminate the disparities of care between rural and city” hospitals, adds Dickson, who also chairs the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association’s (AzHHA) small hospital committee.

AzHHA, Dickson says, has helped Copper Queen affect legislation at the state level. Currently, Dickson, Copper Queen and AzHHA are lobbying the state Legislature to pass a law that will ensure Arizona’s health insurance companies cover tele-medicine. With AzHHA’s backing and advocacy, he says this legislation will guarantee that people in rural areas receive better health care.

Dickson says he is pushing “to ensure that all the people in the communities we serve receive the care they deserve as American citizens.”

Another way Copper Queen serves its patients is by operating the state’s three largest rural health care clinics. Through these clinics and tele-medicine, Copper Queen not only has begun to serve its patients better, but also save money. The hospital has grown by 30 percent each of the past three years.

During his time at Copper Queen, Dickson has used his experience to bring quality health care to the people of Bisbee and its surrounding communities.

“They needed it,” he says. “In Bisbee, you can really make a difference.”

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

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Greater Phoenix Economic Forecast 2011: “Painfully Slow”

The economy may be better in 2011 than it was in 2010, but the road to full recovery will remain long and full of potholes. But hey, it could be worse. It could be 2009.

That’s according to economist Elliott D. Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack & Company. Pollack was speaking at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Outlook 2011 breakfast today at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Pollack said population growth in the Valley should settle at 1 percent this year and rise to 2 percent in 2011. Net job growth will contract by 1 percent in 2010 and climb by 2 percent in 2011. Retail sales will increase 1 percent this year and rise by 8 percent next year. Building permits will increase by 20 percent in 2010 before jumping 50 percent in 2011.

In summarizing his 2011 forecast for the Valley, Pollack read a laundry list of good news and bad news:

  • The housing market is at or past bottom, but there are many negatives still trumping a full recovery, most notably slower migration flows.
  • The commercial real estate market is at or past bottom, but recovery will be slow and “take a long time.”
  • Sales tax revenues are no longer falling, but they aren’t growing quickly enough to fix the state’s battered budget.
  • Retail sales have past bottom and there is pent-up demand among consumers, however, those same consumers are still so worried about personal debt that they will continue to curb spending, thus thwarting a big recovery.

While Pollack said the Valley’s economic recovery will be “painfully slow,” he points out that a recovery is indeed underway. For example, the state’s standing in employment growth compared to the rest of the nation is gradually improving — but only after a precipitous decline. In 2006, Arizona ranked second in the nation in job growth; that dropped to 22nd in 2007; 47th in 2008; and 49th in 2009. Up to July of this year, the state had moved up to 42nd in job growth.

Another indication that the Valley’s economy is showing improvement is in the number of economic sectors that have shown net job gains. Of the state’s 12 major economic sectors, five have shown net job gains so far this year (education and health services; trade; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; other services). That compares to the same time last year, when no economic sectors reported net job gains.

But, Pollack pointed out again, the Valley and state can’t expect the robust and recoveries that have accompanied past recessions.

He says the Valley’s housing market continues to be weighed down by:

  • Weak job growth
  • Tough underwriting standards
  • Negative home equity
  • Loan modification failures
  • High foreclosures
  • Option ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) peaking in 2011

In terms of equity, 51 percent of houses in the state have negative equity. The national average is 23 percent. Such negative equity severely curtails people’s ability to buy and sell homes. In addition, supply still outstrips demand in the single-family home market, with an excess inventory of houses somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 units, Pollack said. A balance between supply and demand will not be fully achieved until about 2014, he added.

The picture is bleaker for the commercial real estate market, with delinquencies on loans still very high. In the office market, Pollack cited forecasts from CB Richard Ellis that said vacancy rates would peak at 25.6 percent in 2010 before dropping to 23.9 percent in 2011. As Pollack pointed out, there currently is no multi-tenant office space under construction in the Valley. In fact, he expects “no significant office building in Greater Phoenix for the next five years.”

Industrial space vacancy rates are faring only slightly better, with CB Richard Ellis predicting year-end vacancy rates of 16.4 percent for 2010 before falling to 15.2 percent in 2011. As for the retail market, the vacancy rate will rise to 12.3 percent in 2010 and hit 12.9 percent in 2011.

For office, industrial and retail commercial real estate, Pollack said he did not expect vacancy rates to reach normal levels until 2014-2015.

Still, Pollack maintained that the economic outlook for the Valley “remains favorable,” thanks to the recovering national economy, increased affordable housing in the Valley, a rise in single-family home building permits, unemployment bottoming out, consumer spending improving and continued problems in California.

Doug Fulton CEO, Fulton Homes - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

CEO Series: Doug Fulton

Doug Fulton
CEO, Fulton Homes

How would you assess the current state of the home building industry?
Today, I would say it’s in recovery. I would definitely say we have hit the bottom and we are experiencing the trough here. … From this point, things can only get better … This is our fourth year (dealing with the downturn). It’s a very, very tough cycle. This is a cyclical business, it always has been. I was here in the ’80s and ’90s when it cycled then, with the Keating, Lincoln Savings (& Loan) RTC days. It cycles. This one has been a vicious, tough, tough cycle where we’re paying for the run-up and the escalation — and the runaway inflation in the homebuilding industry is really what we had. Now, we’re paying for it.

Foreclosures are expected to be higher in 2010 than they were in 2009. How will that affect the home building industry?
Luckily, the banks aren’t fire-selling these properties, which is a good thing in two ways. One, is that it’s keeping the values somewhat stable, not letting them fall through the floor. And second, it’s very frustrating for people to buy a foreclosed home or a home that is in the short-sale mode. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy, so I have an entire group out there that is very frustrated about the whole process. And guess what? I can give you an answer (on buying a new home) in 24 hours.

What strategies has Fulton developed to cope with the collapse of the housing market?
We have targeted foreclosures — that’s what we’ve done. We’ve gone after them, talked about them, we do the little tongue-in-cheek “lipstick on a pig equals foreclosure.” We have the foreclosure-cost calculator. … You can actually go onto our website … and you can punch in cabinets, countertops, flooring, paint … and it shows what you are really going to pay for this (foreclosed) house when it is all said and done and you have it all fixed up to the level where you want to live in this thing. And then there is a button off to the side of that … that goes out to our quick delivery inventory homes and finds homes $5,000 up or down of what you’re going to pay for a home that you are basically (going to have to renovate). … That’s how we’re combating the current market status.

What lessons can the home building industry take away from the economic downturn?
First and foremost, it’s a cyclical business. It always has been and it always will be. Some are going to be tougher than others. This has been the toughest one in over 30 years that I’ve experienced. Going back to quality construction, treating your people with respect. … When times get tough, people want a safe harbor. … Consumer confidence is at all time, historical lows, so if they are going to make that decision (to buy a home), they are going to go to somebody they feel comfortable with, someone they know, that their neighbors brag about — word of mouth. Obviously, word of mouth is an important way to advertise. We earn that by delivering a quality product and treating our customers (well).

What is the role of a C-level executive working in the home building industry today?

I have lots of hats. We don’t have anyone here with executive-itis. … We don’t have anyone here with their mahogany playpen at the end of the hall barking out orders to secretaries. There’s never been a secretary at Fulton Homes and there never will be. Never happen. If your garbage is full — empty it. If you want a cup of coffee — the break room is over there. We are very hands-on. So when you say “the role,” I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t do it all, not even close. I don’t want to give that impression. I hire people that I don’t have to go around wiping their nose. … I make it very clear to everyone that this is where we’re going, get them to buy into it, to understand it, and treat them with respect.

    Vital Stats





  • Joined Fulton Homes in 1981
  • Served as vice president of marketing and president at the company
  • Attended Pierce College, Utah State University and Arizona State University
  • Is a special deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, a member of the Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association and an honorary commander at Luke Air Force Base
  • www.fultonhomes.com

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

Marinello standing in front of a building

CEO Series: Anthony Marinello

Anthony Marinello
CEO, Mountain Vista Medical Center/IASIS Healthcare

What will be the impact of Arizona’s budget cuts on hospitals in particular and the health care industry in general?

All hospitals are going to feel the impact. There are several areas: education, economy, jobs, general medical education; and it’s just going to take a big effect on us. It’s really going to change the way we do things. But we are still going to be here to take care of our patients and give them high quality of care. The cuts this year, that just occurred in March, are going to cost several millions of dollars, which will drastically impact patient care and patient’s ability to come there. But, like we say, we’ll be open and still take care of our patients.

What will be the effect of the recently signed federal health care reform?

I think everybody agrees that we need health care reform. There’s no doubt about it. The key with this will be to continue to build and strengthen relationships with our physicians, who ultimately have the relationships with the patients. It’s so new right now, that I think everybody is trying to grab it and grasp onto what the effects are going to be. You have physicians that are nervous; you have hospitals trying to figure out what (it will mean to them). It’s going to be interesting. The key part we all really agree on is the electronic medical records, which is good for the transparency and being able to avoid duplications of testing and things like that. We are currently, at Mountain Vista, way ahead of the curve on our electronic medical records, and physicians like that. It’s a very good tool to be able to see the records from the hospital or even your office, because it’s Internet based. So it’s been very, very good for us.

We’ve heard much about the nursing shortage in Arizona. Has there been any improvement in that situation?

There will always be a need for nursing. Per se, we haven’t really seen much of a shortage here. We’ve been able to attract a lot of the new graduates coming out. IASIS as a company, since 2005, has been engaged with schools and several universities. We’ve seen about 350 students coming through, which we work with them and eventually employ them, so we have been very, very fortunate in that part. We always have people looking to become a nurse. You have certified nursing assistants that want to go to the next level, so that ability is there where we provide assistance for them.

What are the areas where Arizona’s health care industry is really excelling?

In the short time I’ve been in Arizona, where I’ve seen (the health care industry is excelling in) is education. (Arizona State University) has a health school, (University of Arizona), (NAU), A.T. Still (University), Midwestern University. And actually our facility is partnered up with Midwestern University for the medical student program for physicians, and we’re looking at what the future can be to keep education and future physicians in this area. So we are really proud to be partners with them and just continuing to grow. We just engaged in this last July, so it’s very new to us.

In these changing times, what does a C-level executive need to succeed in the health care industry?

You have to build strong relationships. You have to be a good communicator. You have to be honest. You have to be up front. If something can’t be done, you’ve got to tell it. You can’t just leave things alone. You have to be visible, high visibility. You have to be able to talk to all staff, from your environmental services person to the president of your company to every physician. It’s just very, very important to think outside the box, to listen to what people have to say, because there are a lot of people with good ideas out there. That’s something I’ve prided myself on and the team I work with and our C-level here that our doors are open, we’re always there, we want to hear, we want to listen. The relationship building has been a strength for us here.

Vital Stats: Anthony Marinello

  • Named CEO of Mountain Vista Medical Center in Mesa in 2008
  • Served as CEO of IASIS’ North Vista Hospital in North Las Vegas from 2005 to 2008
  • Served as hospital administrator for Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas
  • Began career in 1979 as a hospital laboratory manager
  • Received MBA from the University of Phoenix
  • Member of the American College of Healthcare Executives
  • www.mvmedicalcenter.com
Man sitting at desk working on laptop.

CEO Series: Harry Curtin

Harry Curtin
Founder and CEO, BestIT

How did the recession affect the IT industry?
I think it really hurt IT. It really did, especially with larger corporations, I saw. It was almost like within a couple of month period that companies just shut everything off — especially large, multinational, Fortune 100 companies. You could talk to each one of them and they all had the same kind of story where “we have to cut it off,” and if they had a program they had been working on for a year, they just shut it down. I think there was a lot of fear, absolutely. The small- and mid-sized (companies), I think, really kept it up more than the large, to me. I think they felt a little bit more nimble. They stayed a little more positive, frankly. They were fighting through it more than the large companies. I think decisions from the top kind of cut everything off all the way down. It really hurt (IT) companies that were focused with larger companies, major projects. It changed them. It changed things a lot.

What signs of recovery are you seeing in your industry?
What I’m seeing right now is mostly that companies are taking a deep breath after everything and they’re looking at, “OK, maybe I’m not ready to do something today, but what should I be doing tomorrow?” They’re starting to plan for later this year, next year; (they) don’t want to let things get to the point where things are just falling apart. (They) want to stay on top of it, but what’s (their) next step? So they are really in the planning phase in my book, and they are opening up their ears and thinking about what they need to do next. Even though they may not be ready today, they are taking those initiatives to move in the right direction.

What are the benefits of IT outsourcing?
It allows you to focus on your core business. It can reduce costs greatly, if it’s done right. It can also create more of an efficiency in your business, because you aren’t focusing on an area that you aren’t an expert in. You can stay focused on what you’re really good at and just do it that much better, rather than being distracted by an area that’s not really a core. Our company, we outsource areas where it’s not our competency or something we want to do long term.

In terms of image, does the outsourcing of services still face challenges?
I think so. I think people in the late ’90s and early-2000s got a view of outsourcing that it’s shipping a job or a service overseas, which is not the case. That’s a piece of it, but lots of companies — I’ll use manufacturing as an example. You may manufacture a whole component, but maybe a piece of that is something you’ve never been able to manufacture correctly, you haven’t gotten the quality you wanted, you haven’t gotten the pricing right, and you essentially outsource that piece. Maybe it’s a local company down the street that does it … I think that if (people) are just looking at it as (work) goes overseas, that is not the right way. I think you need to look at what the solution is. (BestIT) is a U.S.-based organization; essentially when a company signs on with us, if it’s an extensive enough contract, we’re going to need to hire here. AZ Business Magazine March 2010So we’re going to be creating jobs, as well as they are going to be creating jobs for themselves, because now we’ve reduced what their costs are and they can hire in sales or project management — wherever they feel the gaps are in their business.If (people) look deep enough, they’ll find organizations that offer outsourcing that may not be what the typical outsourcing is.

What does an IT professional need in order to be considered part of the C-level team?
(There needs to be) a lot of hard work, a lot of focus, a great attitude — people that are really committed to helping support the business. And not taking this (job) as a nine-to-five, but also thinking out-of-the-box in terms of where can you take the business up to the next level, or what you can do yourself to help the business.

    Vital Stats



  • CEO of BestIT
  • Founded BestIT in 2004
  • Owned an investor relations firm with a focus on small-cap technology firms
  • Worked as an investment adviser at Charles Schwab
  • Worked at Oracle Direct Sales for Oracle Corporation
  • Attended Buffalo State College
  • www.bestit.com
2010 Health Care Leadership Awards

2010 HCLA – Insurance Executive

Honoree: Richard Boals

Richard Boals
President and CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Richard Boals, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of ArizonaAs president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) since 2003, Richard Boals is dedicated to ensuring that the health care needs of 1.3 million beneficiaries are met and exceeded.

He leads a team of managers and staff totaling 1,500 in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Tempe. He joined BCBSAZ in 1971, and has served in a variety of capacities.

Among his initiatives, Boals pioneered a proactive program to provide health and wellness information to plan members, as well as the community. Under his guidance, BCBSAZ introduced a free online resource that provides access to certain HealthyBlue resources, including tools and services that can help individuals make better health decisions.

Boals’ trusted and effective leadership has established BCBSAZ as a health insurance leader in Arizona. He is committed to providing improved quality of life to Arizonans by delivering a variety of health insurance products and services to individuals, families, and small and large businesses.

In 2005, Boals introduced the Walk On! Challenge, a free, annual 28-day exercise challenge in February designed to motivate Arizona fifth-graders to include exercise in their daily routines. Participation in the program has increased each year by an average of 20 percent, with more than 45,000 participants in the 2009 Challenge. Since its inception, BCBSAZ has registered more than 130,000 students from 474 Arizona schools.

Boals regularly supports the fundraising efforts of nonprofits that provide programs and services to the military and their families.

[stextbox id="grey" image="www.azblue.com"]www.azblue.com[/stextbox]



Finalist: Robert Beauchamp, MD

Senior Medical Director
UnitedHealthcare of Arizona

Dr. Robert Beauchamp, senior medical director for UnitedHealthcare of Arizona, is a member of the health plan’s senior leadership team and is its top clinician in Arizona. A major goal is to improve care while holding down costs. Robert Beauchamp, MD Senior Medical Director UnitedHealthcare of Arizona

His responsibilities include patient care, staff supervision and physician relations. He focuses on ensuring the appropriate use of medical services and improving clinical quality, efforts that promote positive patient outcomes and lower costs. He oversees three local medical directors and a team of nurses who serve patients in Arizona and Utah. Beauchamp makes weekly stops at three hospitals — Banner Good Samaritan, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and John C. Lincoln North Mountain — to review patient cases and meet with nurses and physicians.

Through his efforts, he has helped to improve patient care and limit patient readmissions. This enables patients to return home as soon as they are healthy, reuniting with family and friends.

[stextbox id="grey" image="www.uhc.com"]www.uhc.com[/stextbox]


Finalist: Robert Flores, MD

Medical Director, Population Health Management
CIGNA HealthCare of Arizona

Robert Flores, MD Medical Director, Population Health Management CIGNA HealthCare of ArizonaAs medical director of population health management for Cigna Medical Group, Dr. Robert Flores has direct oversight of CIGNA HealthCare of Arizona’s Chronic Health Improvement Program (CHIP).

Flores and his team developed CHIP in 2007, after observing that patients with chronic conditions — especially those with certain combinations — often received fragmented care, were more likely to be seen in the emergency room, and were often hospitalized. As a result of Flores’ efforts, approximately 1,000 patients currently are enrolled in CHIP. Outcomes studies show that CHIP members have reduced their hospital admissions and bed days by about 55 percent. Flores has been working in his current position since 2001, and full time in the health care industry since 1999.

At Cigna Medical Group, his department is responsible for quality initiatives across 28 locations and more than 200 practicing doctors, nurses or health care professionals.

[stextbox id="grey" image="www.cigna.com"]www.cigna.com[/stextbox]

Mel Sauder, President And CEO Of Microblend, Wants To Bring Paint Into The 21st Century

Mel Sauder
Microblend
Title: President and CEO
Est: 1998 | www.microblendtechnologies.com

“We plan to bring the painting industry into the 21st century like cell phones did for communications and digital cameras did for picture taking.  We plan to improve the painting experience like Starbucks did for coffee.” – Mel Sauder, President and CEO of Microblend

There’s more to Microblend than just a bucket of paint. A lot more as a matter of fact. Although founder Danny McClain died after a protracted illness, his legacy lives on through his revolutionary way of making paint.

The company makes, installs, supplies and supports the Automated Paint Machine (APM), which uses six liquid components to get customers exactly the color and type of paint they need. The APM saves retailers from purchasing hundreds of different cans, because they only need to use the six liquid components that are delivered directly to the point of sale or production.

“This was the ‘Holy Grail’ of the paint industry to be able to create all these paints at the point of sale or production instead of in factories 1,000 miles away,” says David Philbrook, vice president of training and development at Microblend. “We can now create the full line of architectural paints in virtually any color in the spectrum, match any competitor color and offer our own color palette.”

The process is also greener than traditional paint production because it uses fewer raw materials, less energy during production, comes in reusable pails and more. The company’s efforts at sustainability were recognized during the annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation when it was named one of the Green Innovators of the Year.

But the road to success hasn’t been an easy one and Microblend has surpassed numerous challenges to get to where it is today.

“Our single greatest challenge has been gaining market acceptance,” says Mel Sauder, CEO of Microblend. “We are a small company and we intend to change the paint industry the way digital photography changed the photo industry landscape and cell phones altered the communication industry.”

Microblend’s revolutionary way of making paint proved a hurdle and a blessing on the company’s path to success. Since the industry hadn’t seen a “major change since the introduction of water-based paint (latex) decades ago” Microblend’s revolutionary, and in Sauder’s own words, “disruptive innovation” wasn’t immediately welcomed by industry peers.

However, it’s this rogue mentality that set Microblend apart and has been integral in pushing the company to success. The Gilbert-based company’s products are currently featured in a few Costco, Home Depot and Sears locations, along with independent paint dealers. Still warming up to residential users, Microblend already is a hit with paint contractors who use it to work on major projects.

“The system is so efficient and so small it offers tons of advantages to non-traditional retailers,” Philbrook says. “We feel this is the future of paint. We are comfortable and confident that retailers will take the green advantage.”

Despite the economic climate, Microblend’s system is catching on judging by the 60 percent to 70 percent revenue increase Sauder is anticipating for 2009. Sales in mass market locations increased significantly over the previous year, and Sauder hopes that with more distribution in the future, sales will continue to grow.

“Don’t underestimate the effort, sacrifice and time it will take to achieve success,” he says. “And I believe most importantly, long-term success is dependent on an everyday trust/integrity, commitment to customers, vendors and staff alike.”


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

Sharon Harper, president and CEO, Plaza Companies - AZ Business Magazine February 2010

CEO Series: Sharon Harper

CEO Series: Sharon Harper


Sharon Harper
President and CEO, Plaza Companies


Assess the current state of commercial real estate development in the Valley.
The commercial office sector is being impacted significantly. Vacancies are on the rise, rental rates are going down. In addition to all those statistics there is also kind of a shadow vacancy factor in place, in that companies are downsizing and subleasing their space or not occupying that space. And so all of that does have impact. There’s been negative absorption for some seven quarters in our region and probably more to come. So it has forced the industry to do a number of things. First and foremost, there’s no new construction really underway, so that’s going to have some impact. Secondly, building and business owners have had to adjust the way that they do business, and certainly in the case of Plaza Companies we have so that we can maintain a competitive edge for our buildings, for our tenants, for our investors. An example of this is that we are very focused on maintaining our buildings; we want them to be in excellent condition. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to make our buildings competitive. We’re working with our tenants, making sure that the buildings are clean and safe and accessible and beautiful and wayfinding is well-organized, and doing what we can to enhance their businesses. We are an owner and a property manager who is so hands-on, really thinking about the tenant, how their business is doing, how they are faring, as well as how we are performing for our investors and our owners and the facility itself. That makes a difference. There’s a concerted focus and effort and it’s my thought with our company we go above and beyond in every way we can, and it’s made a difference. Our buildings are doing quite well because of it.

What do you foresee for commercial real estate in 2010?
I think 2010 is going to be another year of flat rates, if not a reduction in rental rates. I think there will be increased vacancies. I think that a number of building owners are having difficulties with their financing and with their loans. As these shorter-term loans come due, it’s going to have an impact on the marketplace. And finally and most important in this marketplace is the owner’s ability to provide tenant improvement dollars to attract a tenant. Many owners cannot do that. And so tenants are, I think for the first time in my history in this industry, tenants are looking to the credibility and the substance of the building owner. Can they keep the buildings up? Can they provide the tenant improvements? Can they keep the promises? Can they keep the lights on? Tenants care about that. And that’s very important right now, more so than ever … and the second part of it is that some substantial companies have had problems performing on their loans and on their buildings and that’s been very unnerving for tenants. They want to know that there are building owners and managers that have credibility, integrity and are going to see the project through, and that gives a competitive advantage and we’ve certainly seen that here at Plaza.
Plaza Companies specializes in health care construction.

What difference did that make during the recession when compared to other commercial real estate developers?
Plaza Companies actually is focused on three specific areas of business. One is medical office/health care, the other is seniors housing and the third is bioscience and biotechnology. And it was in 2005, in a company retreat with the top leaders here at Plaza, that we made a concerted effort to broaden the base of where we are involved in business. We wanted to have certain unique sectors that are related to one another, yet provide it a bit of diversification for us. In addition to that, on our service lines we have grown our facilities’ property-asset management divisions, our leasing department, and our construction division. So we have diversification at that line, as well. And I can tell you that diversification has made a significant difference, and I am most appreciative that several years ago, when no one would have projected what is going on now, our company set the stage for sustainability during these difficult times. And that has made a difference.
Secondly, the sectors that we are involved in have ridden the storm a little bit better than others. They’re very dependent upon demographics, and not just the growth of demographics but aging, as well, and also the whole notion of innovation, research and science. All of that ties together and these are growth, with a small ‘g,’ industries right now.

What strategies did Plaza Companies implement to ride out the recession and how is it repositioning itself for the recovery?

Once again, we readjusted and repositioned our company in 2005, and started to grow foundationally a diversification program and that has paid off significantly for the company. I think that our strategy has stayed the same, our focus is the same; we’ve never deviated from the core principles of our business. But we’ve all worked harder in this company, as well. People are stepping up in all of the divisions here at Plaza Companies, doing what they can because it is more difficult and it is harder to achieve the same goal than it was just a couple of years ago. And so we’re focused, we’re diligent, we’re careful, we’re all working harder, and we are in sync here jointly with the management and all of the employees of the company.

What skills do C-level executives in commercial real estate development need to acquire or cultivate in order to succeed in these difficult times?
I think the traits that a CEO needs to have in difficult times are the very same traits in all times. I think that it’s important to have a vision and to be able to articulate that vision and to inspire and excite people that are going to help carry that vision out, and that’s really what I’ve tried to do here at Plaza. And it’s not just me, but it’s other senior managers here at Plaza.We understand what we’re trying to accomplish. We are so committed to carry through and being accountable for what we commit to do, and we need to be inspired and we need to inspire others to do that.And we also need to be very realistic about the realities of the world, and we have to have high expectations for performance and for people. And more so than ever, the core values of the company need to be part and parcel to everything that we do.

Vital Stats

  • Co-founded the company in 1982 with Dr. Harold Gries
  • Recipient of the 2007 Sandra Day and John O’Connor Award for outstanding community service
  • Is a member of the board of trustees of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the board of directors of the Arizona Community Foundation and the Banner Health Foundation, and past chairman of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)
  • Served on the finance committee of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign
  • Received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism from Creighton University in Omaha
  • www.theplazaco.com

 

Arizona Business Magazine February 2010

GPEC Profile: Candace Wiest, President And CEO Of West Valley National Bank

Candace Wiest
President and CEO, West Valley National Bank

Even before West Valley National Bank opened its doors on Dec. 23, 2006, a decision was made to join the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Becoming an active member of GPEC made good business sense.

“What I like about GPEC is its economic development focus,” says Candace Wiest, president and CEO of the community bank. “It goes to the heart of what community banks do. I’m a firm believer in the saying that a rising tide lifts all ships.”

One of the first benefits Wiest saw for her bank was how GPEC helped attract the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to the West Valley. The nation’s fourth Cancer Treatment Centers of America, located in Goodyear, opened on Dec. 29, 2008, bringing with it quality care for cancer patients and 200 high-paying jobs. But there’s more.

“It certainly helped with some of the housing issues in the West Valley, created a lot of options in terms of health care, and gave the area national recognition,” Wiest says. “I couldn’t bank the hospital itself, maybe, but I certainly can be the banker for a lot of the people out there.”

GPEC efforts benefit the Greater Phoenix’s economy on a macro level, Wiest says, as well as on a micro level helping its individual members.

She enjoys serving on GPEC Next, which is an advisory group through which some of the newer ideas flow before being submitted to GPEC’s board of directors. She applauds GPEC’s role in supporting solar energy, which produces a benefit for her bank.

“I certainly cannot finance any big solar companies,” Wiest says, “but we have launched a program to finance construction for businesses that want to convert to solar.”

The solid relationship between West Valley National Bank and GPEC is ongoing. Wiest is on the board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, maintaining a link between the cancer facility and GPEC; and she is a trustee of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce University, named after the 14th U.S. president. The university already holds some classes in Goodyear and is considering an expansion, Wiest says, adding that GPEC is playing a role in that project.

Wiest says GPEC has done wonders to enhance the Valley’s image. While serving a pair of three-year terms as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, she heard numerous negative comments about the Phoenix area.

“GPEC has helped to debunk some of those myths,” Wiest says.

www.wvnb.net


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

GPEC Profile: Mike Tully, President And CEO Of AAA Arizona

Mike Tully
President and CEO, AAA Arizona

As president and CEO of AAA Arizona, Mike Tully has a keen interest in getting the state back on the road to prosperity. That probably explains why for the past seven years Tully, who joined AAA Arizona in 1998 as chief financial officer, has been a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s Finance Committee.

“GPEC’s role in our community is critical,” Tully says. “Attracting high-quality jobs to our state improves our health and economic performance, and makes the state a more attractive place for residents, as well as people moving to our beautiful state. As a membership organization representing nearly 800,000 people, AAA has a vested interest in the livelihood of Arizona.”

In addition to Tully’s position on the Finance Committee, AAA Arizona has a representative on the GPEC board of directors. That’s just part of the relationship.

“From a business perspective, we have used GPEC as a resource when we evaluated expansion opportunities, moving a large portion of our California operations to Arizona,” Tully says. “GPEC was invaluable in our ultimate decision, which resulted in nearly 800 new jobs being brought to our state.”
GPEC’s mission to create a competitive, vibrant, diverse and self-sustaining regional economy is critical to all of Arizona’s industries, Tully says.

“Ensuring that Arizona continues to improve the diversity of high-paying quality jobs is more obvious than ever, as seen by our recent recession,” he says. “Our precipitous decline as the No. 1 job growth state to No. 50 is symptomatic of our lack of industry diversity.”

Tully has been instrumental in driving the tremendous growth of AAA over the past decade, including expansion of its membership, financial services, insurance and travel operations. Prior to joining AAA, Tully owned an export finance company that arranged structured trade finance transactions for exporters throughout the United States.

The AAA executive has deep Arizona roots, having earned his Bachelor of Science degree in finance in 1987, and a master’s in business administration in 1991, both from Arizona State University. In 2007, he graduated from the advanced management program at Harvard Business School. Tully also holds a CPA certification.

As for travel trends in Arizona, Tully says the future remains murky.

“Our short-term forecast is flat, although shorter trips and drive trips continue to be popular,” he says. “While business travel is picking up in many areas of the country, it has yet to rebound in the Southwest.”

Likewise, international travel to Arizona continues to be weak, which hurts even more because international travelers generally spend four to five times the amount of money as domestic visitors.

www.aaaaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

GPEC Profile: Steve Cowman, CEO Of Stirling Energy Systems Inc.

Steve Cowman
CEO, Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (SES)

With more than a hint of an Irish brogue, Steve Cowman sounds like he has found a home in what he calls the solar capital of the Southwest.

The CEO of Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (SES) is enthused about the prospects for an expanding solar energy industry, the strategic access to his market that Phoenix provides, and the proactive reputation of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. SES is a pioneer in the design and development of Concentrated Solar Power solutions.

Cowman joined the company in May 2008, after having worked for General Electric for 10 years, including eight in the United States. He’s been living in the U.S., mostly on the East Coast, for 12 of the past 20 years.

Barely a year after taking the helm of Stirling, and choosing Phoenix for its corporate headquarters, Cowman joined GPEC and sits on the economic development organization’s executive committee. Though a relative newcomer to the Valley, Cowman, who has a background in semiconductor engineering, had a longtime involvement with Intel, Motorola and Arizona State University.

With Stirling targeting markets in Nevada, New Mexico, California, Texas, and of course, Arizona, Cowman says of Phoenix, “I liked the location and the infrastructure.”

While Cowman was working in Dublin, GPEC dispatched a representative to his company to reinforce the story about what Phoenix offers.

“I was impressed with the people and with the vision they have to reverse the trend of losing engineering and manufacturing-intensive businesses in the Valley,” Cowman says. “I like GPEC, and I want to stay here and grow here.”

Cowman applauds the efforts of GPEC to attract more solar energy businesses.

“A number of companies are looking to relocate their design or manufacturing operations to the Phoenix area,” he says. “The larger solar infrastructure we build in the Valley, the better it is for companies like Stirling. It improves the gene pool we can all draw from and helps with collaborative programs.”
In addition to marketing and promoting the Phoenix area from coast to coast, GPEC also gets into what Cowan refers to the “hard stuff,” pushing legislation that helps the solar industry.

On the lost manufacturing jobs, Cowman says, “These jobs are not going overseas. A lot of them are going to places like Nevada and New Mexico.
Arizona has some catching up to do, and GPEC is doing that. GPEC is trying to make the Valley look more attractive, and state officials need to wake up to the reality that we have a competitive disadvantage.”

www.stirlingenergy.com

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

First Job: Steven G. Zylstra, President And CEO Of Arizona Technology Council

Steven G. Zylstra
President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I picked blueberries at Pottegetter’s Blueberry Farm in Allendale, Mich., with my parents when I was about 10 years old. It was hard work for a 10-year-old, but I learned that with hard work you could earn good money and buy the things you wanted in life. I earned enough money to buy an eight-transistor radio. The first song I remember listening to on my transistor radio was “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits, which was popular at the time.

I had dozens of jobs as a kid: topping onions, cutting celery, weeding pickles, butchering chickens, cleaning exotic bird cages, shoveling snow, inspecting eggs, selling seeds, delivering Grit newspaper, bus boy. I was a truck driver in my late teens. All of these opportunities taught me the value of hard work and ultimately helped me realize I could do more with a good education.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job out of college was as a design engineer at the Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich. I had the opportunity to participate in a two-year graduate training program at Ford that was originated by Henry Ford. I had eight, three-month stints across the company in areas such as development, engine engineering, the Dearborn stamping and assembly plants at the Rouge, and body engineering. I even did a stint in product planning and had an office next to William Clay Ford Jr., the future chairman and CEO of Ford.

I learned the value of going above and beyond and trying to always exceed expectations. As a consequence of positive performance reviews while in the program, our vice president of advanced vehicle development recommended me for positions at Ford Aerospace and Communications Corp. in California at the time things got rough in the auto industry in the early ‘80s. That led me to spend the next 20 years of my career in the aerospace and defense industry.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Picking blueberries in 1964 paid 5 cents a pound. In my first job at Ford in 1978, I made $18,000 a year — more than my Dad, who grew up on a farm and attended school through eighth-grade had earned in any year prior to that.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I never really had a mentor per se, just role models. My father was a role model. He is still the hardest-working person I have known. I got my work ethic from my Dad. I had a high school girlfriend whose father was a role model. Beyond that, what pushes me is an internal drive to excel at whatever I do.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
After getting a great education, do what you love. People are always better at things they enjoy doing. I have always enjoyed going to work. I find it rewarding, invigorating. Always be honest and ethical. Don’t ever accept mediocre; pursue excellence. Always exceed everyone’s expectations — yourboss’, your colleagues’, your customers’, everyone. It will serve you well. Have fun!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I have always wanted to own a Harley-Davidson dealership (maybe a good retirement gig!). While often a lonely place, I like the challenges and rewards of having the top leadership position in an organization. I would enjoy serving as the CEO of many things, especially private companies, not-for-profits and trade associations. I would love to be a golf pro on the tour … if only I had the skill.


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

First Job: Donald A. Smith Jr., President And CEO, SCF Arizona

Donald A. Smith, Jr.
President and CEO, SCF Arizona

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was my newspaper route delivering the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. The most important lesson I learned was the importance of being diligent and responsible. The news agency would put written complaints on my bundle of papers for a number of reasons (such as a wet paper, not bagged properly, a paper left in an inappropriate place or a missing paper). It really bothered me on the rare occasions when I received a complaint, not because I would get in trouble, but because I’d let someone down. I knew from my own parents how important that morning paper was to people.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I was hired as a personal lines underwriter trainee in 1975. I had no idea what this job entailed but it was a tough time in the economy (much worse than today, I believe) and I needed to work! The job involved deciding whether to insure people for automobile and/or homeowners insurance, and what price we would charge them. From this job I learned an important skill: communication. I learned that the way you communicate is as important as what is communicated, and the tougher the message, the more thoughtful one must be. It was here that I learned to deliver the most difficult decisions in person or at least by phone, and not in writing. I find many others today have not learned this lesson.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
For my paper route it depended on the number of papers I delivered. I think I was paid two pennies a paper for the daily and a nickel a paper for the Sunday paper. I usually had about 35 dailies and 70 Sundays, so that was about $8 a week. For my job as an underwriter, I made a salary of $8,200 a year and no bonus. Try living on that today!

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I had many mentors, but the one that influenced me most was Dan Smith (Do you believe it? Don Smith working for Dan Smith!).

Dan was the western region personal lines VP for our company. Dan taught me two important things: tenacity and straightforward honesty. I give him credit for pushing me to a level of accomplishment I myself didn’t believe could be done, and doing it with a direct, honest approach. Dan was not one for mincing words and this made everyone clear as to expectations. Most importantly, those expectations while a stretch, were never an impossibility. And he knew that to be the case.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I would tell them that the opportunities are significant (there is already a shortage of qualified young professionals in the property and casualty business), but you must distinguish yourself from the pack, nonetheless. First, demonstrate good work habits; second, seek out educational opportunity (advanced degrees or at least certifications like the Chartered Property Casualty Professional designation); third, speak out and offer ideas and solutions when the opportunity presents itself; and finally, make sacrifices and don’t be afraid to take on the tough assignments that are offered or are available to you. Remember, your career advancement depends upon what you can do for your company, not what your company can do for you.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I love working with people and I love history. Almost all my leisure reading is dedicated to historic events or people. I would love to be a history teacher!


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

Bob_Moran

CEO Series: Robert F. Moran

Robert F. Moran
President and Chief Executive Officer, PetSmart

How does the pet retail industry differ from the human retail industry?
First of all — passion. I’ve been in retail for 38 years and prior to coming to PetSmart, we use in retailing passion for the customer. But how can you be passionate about a shirt or a suit or a new coat? … I didn’t really discover passion in retailing until I came to PetSmart. … One of the things we focus on is how do we help pet parents help their pets, who have become members of the family, live long, happy and healthy lives? How can you not get behind that? … We’ve converted our environment not into, “How can I help you sir or help you ma’am,” but “Who are you shopping for today? I’m shopping for Buffy. Well, tell me about Buffy.” … All of a sudden you’re getting a life story and the conversation can go in a million different ways. Through that we’ve asked our store associates to be, pet detectives; find out how we can help, either aspirationally or inspirationally, to take care of some unfulfilled need they may have about a pet who has become a member of the family. … The other side of it is that we have enjoyed over the last 10 years within the pet retailing industry a growth of 5 to 6 percent. Probably the only sector in retailing that has been at that level has been electronics. Even in this recession we’re seeing it dip to 3 to 4 percent. So it’s a great growth industry. … This humanization of pets has really created this growth vehicle, not only for our industry, but for our company. We believe this will go on until about 2020. It’s a great industry to be in. I love the passion and it’s a great place to work …

Has the pet retail industry been able to weather this economic downturn better than the traditional retail industry, and why?
I think what has happened in this recession, which is the worst since the 1930s, is very similar to what happened after 9/11. What I mean by that is that people were sticking closer to home — we call it neighborhooding — they took staycations or no vacations at all, they found ways of not spending money but still having a good time. Pets played a role in that. The only way we suffered was in the housing side. What I mean by that is that there is a high correlation between pet acquisition and new houses. When that went into decline over the past two years that affected our industry. We have not been without problems. Within our industry, the hard goods side, the discretionary goods, the extra toy, the extra bed, the extra collar or leash has been deferred. So we had to find new ways to address the customer needs. I think we’ve been able to do that because of the humanization of pets, because of the neighborhooding, pets becoming, let’s call it, an affordable luxury in a roundabout way. … You’ll find ways to feed the dog, you’ll find ways to feed the cat because they’re members of the family. That’s probably why we’ve been more resilient than the human side.

PetSmart had to make some hard decisions last year in terms of the recession. What were those decisions and how have they helped the company?
Business is very dynamic and it’s always about gaining market share during good times and bad. We made a decision in the recession that cash was king; we had to watch our piggy bank, in a sense. What we ended up doing, because customers were not going to shop as much, we slowed down the number of stores, the number of pet hotels we were building. We also put an intense focus on expense management. … The other thing we did is we invested in the customer experience. A lot of companies didn’t do that. We increased payroll, we put an intense focus on customer satisfaction — the relationship with the customer — because we felt if we did that, as we emerged from this, we would be able to gain and pickup market share. … If you really look at other retailers during this time they cut back on payroll, they cut back on 401ks, they cut back on the quality of the associate life — they actually cut back on the customer quality of life inside a store. We didn’t do that at all.

Going forward, what does PetSmart see in terms of growth within its industry in general and what plans does the company have for the future?
We’re blessed to be in a great industry. We’re in an industry that will probably grow 3 to 4 percent. How do we take advantage of that? Not only can we bring in new customers, but we can also gain market share from some of our competitors. I do see that there will probably be a slow recovery. Now it’s anticipated that we won’t see the spending levels approaching the 2007 level until 2013 to 2014. But there will be a gradual recovery. Within there are opportunities to take advantage of. Customers are always looking for new things — innovation, services that in a sense fulfill some of their unfulfilled needs. … you can create points of differentiation. What frustrates me about retailers is that they don’t look at their point of differentiation for their business. They try to do a lot of “me too, me too,” and sometimes you don’t recognize the industry anymore because everybody is trying to do the same thing.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow the career path you made?
I have two things. One is don’t actually map out a career path. Seek out the knowledge and experience and the jobs you really need to work on so you can demonstrate accomplishments. If you do that the career path comes to you, especially if you are successful and are willing to make certain sacrifices along the way, it will come to you. My secondpiece of advice is, and it’s going to sound trite, treat your office as a prison and escape it as much as possible, because not everything is happening here. Everything is happening out there. The more you can roam, the more you can find out what’s going on, the more people you get to know. Early in your career you call it networking, but in networking you find opportunities. You can turn some of your knowledge and experience toward those opportunities. As you get older and start getting accomplishments and you get titles along with it, you find what’s going on and where you can prioritize the needs of the company and the resources of the company, and that becomes very important.

Vital Stats

  • Joined PetSmart in 1999 as president of North American stores.
  • Appointed president and chief operating officer of in 2001.
  • Named president and CEO in June 2009.
  • Former president of Toys R Us, Canada.
  • Spent 20 years with Sears, Roebuck and Company.
  • www.petsmart.com

Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010