Tag Archives: CEO


Credit unions grow membership, revenue

Like many other industries, credit unions in Arizona are bouncing back from the economic downturn.

Credit unions, which are similar to banks in the products and services that they offer except at a slightly lower cost, are taking advantage of consumer disenchantment with big banks to attract new members. According to a recent National Credit Union Administration report, through the first quarter of 2012, credit unions around the country combined for a record 92.5 million members.

“As local, member-owned financial institutions, credit unions are simply doing what they have always been good at,” said Scott Earl, CEO of Mountain West Credit Union Association, a trade organization of credit unions across Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. “They have a long history and reputation for providing excellent member service, financial education and a wide variety of financial services to fit their members needs. The recent increased recognition of these qualities and the progress credit unions have made is establishing their success as an industry.”

Nationally, credit unions generated $2.1 billion in profits and added 667,000 new members in the first quarter of 2012, a 25 percent spike in profits compared with a year earlier. Most large Arizona credit unions — including Desert Schools, TruWest, Arizona State, Credit Union West and Arizona Federal — saw profits roughly double in the first quarter of 2012, compared with earnings from a year earlier.

“The word ‘profit’ is a bit of a misnomer,” said Paul Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand for Arizona State Credit Union. “Credit unions do have net income. However, all credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives. The net income or funds available after expenses are paid become part of a credit union’s capital or are used to build new branches, purchase new technology or offer additional services.”

Something that Arizona State Credit Union added recently were construction loans to its home loan portfolio in anticipation of an improving economy, as evidenced by the 27 percent growth of new home sales in the first quarter, compared to the prior year.

The construction loan program allows members the opportunity to lock in their mortgage rate early and avoid the possibility of fluctuating rates during the construction phase. Additional perks to this all-in-one loan include needing to only qualify once, signing one set of loan documents and paying one set of loan fees for both the construction-phase financing and permanent mortgage.

“As a local financial cooperative, the Credit Union is proud to offer low rates and flexible terms on a product that few financial institutions are offering,” said David E. Doss, president and CEO of Arizona State Credit Union. “We are excited to add construction loans to our home loan options as it is one more way we can assist members residing in the Arizona communities we serve.”

A J.D. Power and Associates study this year showed that consumer backlash against fees and the perception of poor customer service from some of the bigger banks have caused some consumers to switch to credit unions, whichunlike banks, which are run as private businesses seeking profits, operate as nonprofit entities and are technically owned by their members.

“Generally credit unions offer lower fees and better interest rates than banks,” Stull said. “This is one reason consumers may come to a credit union. We also see many people that switch because they want to do business with a local financial institution that is based in Arizona. Our deposits are returned to the community in the form of loans than in turn grow jobs and economic development in the communities we serve. Many consumers have made a choice to support local businesses, and credit unions are a great example of that.”

While credit unions never issue subprime mortgages, which many experts blame for helping lead the nation into the recession, credit unions did get hit with the impact of the failing economy. One lesson Earl said they learned: Innovation.

“Learning to manage resources while providing increased quality of services through the recession has challenged the way credit unions approach problems,” he said. “Increased creativity and credit union technology are some of more positive lessons for the long term.”
In addition to lower fees and increasing efficiency that is resulting from lessons learned in the wake of the recession, Stull said credit unions offer free financial counseling, will help members create a budget to manage their funds, and Arizona State Credit Union’s Home Affordable Refinance Program has allowed homeowners who owe more than the house is worth to refinance and reduce their payments.

“Choosing a credit union is a win-win situation for consumers,” Stull said. “They can get a better rate or lower fees to help them stretch their budgets, and they can benefit their community by doing business with a local financial cooperative that helps create jobs and grow the local economy. You get a good deal and you can feel good about helping your community, too.”

Superstorm Sandy

Hunter Douglas creates fund to help storm victims

In immediate response to the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast and particularly in the New York tri-state area, Hunter Douglas, the leading manufacturer and marketer of custom window fashions in North America, announced today that it has created the Hunter Douglas Hurricane Sandy Relief & Recovery Fund.  The Company will make an initial donation of $100,000 and, in addition to that $100,000, will match every employee donation on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to $250,000.

The Hunter Douglas Horizontal Blinds Division and Custom Shutters Division are located in Gilbert with a plant in Phoenix.  Comfortex Window Fashions, a Hunter Douglas company, also has a facility in Phoenix.

“All of us at Hunter Douglas are deeply saddened by the devastating effect of Hurricane Sandy on the lives of so many of our fellow Americans.  We want to do what we can to help those who are suffering and most in need of support,” said Marv Hopkins, Hunter Douglas North America President and CEO.

The monies are being donated to two highly efficient and effective nonprofits: The New York Times Neediest Cases Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort and Team Rubicon.

Managed by The New York Times Company, which absorbs all administrative costs, The New York Times Neediest Cases Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort is providing direct assistance through key area social service agencies to those people in the tri-state region most severely affected.

Team Rubicon, a veteran service organization that repurposes the ready-made organizational and operational skills of military veterans for disaster relief, has mobilized 1,000 veteran volunteers in the tri-state to assist in the response and recovery process.  Team Rubicon teams are currently working street by street, home by home, for post-disaster damage assessments, debris management and emergency coordination. All resources are devoted to the direct coordination and execution of disaster response and recovery efforts.


George Slessman_CEO_IO

IO CEO Honored by Goldman Sachs for Entrepreneurship

Goldman Sachs recognized IO CEO George Slessman as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs of 2012 at its recent Builders & Innovators Summit in Newport Beach, California.

Goldman Sachs selected Slessman as one of 100 leaders from multiple industries to be honored at the event. Slessman has been an executive in the data center industry for over a decade and a technology leader and entrepreneur for more than 15 years. In this brief period of time, he has founded and successfully exited several technology businesses, inventing and delivering transformational software, hardware and clean energy technologies for the benefit of enterprise, government and service provider customers. In addition to being recognized as a thought leader in the technology industry that solves problems for customers, his companies have organically created over a billion dollars of value for his investors to date.

“I am humbled to be included in this summit,” said Slessman. “This is truly an acknowledgement of the extraordinary people, organizations, and customers that I have had the privilege to learn from and work with in my own professional journey.”

“We are honored to recognize George Slessman as one of the top 100 most innovative entrepreneurs in the technology industry,” said David Solomon, co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs. “This inaugural event brought together emerging entrepreneurs paired with seasoned entrepreneurs from a diverse set of industries to discuss how to build great and enduring companies that reshape industries and the world through innovation.”

For more than 140 years, Goldman Sachs has been advising and financing entrepreneurs as they launch and grow their businesses. In addition to honoring 100 entrepreneurs, the conference included general sessions and clinics led by Goldman Sachs experts and resident scholars.

IO designs, engineers and delivers data center infrastructure for the world’s largest enterprises, governments and service providers. IO owns and operates data centers for hundreds of customers, and has leveraged this experience to build a next-generation Data Center 2.0 cloud enabling technology platform. IO.Anywhere modular data centers provide enterprise-class infrastructure that can be delivered as DCaaS and rapidly deployed as a product to customer sites anywhere in the world. IO developed the first data center infrastructure operating system, IO.OS, to provide the intelligent control needed to maximize utilization, resiliency and energy efficiency. IO is a privately held company headquartered in Phoenix. For more information on IO, please visit us on the web at .io.com


AWEE presents 2012 Faces of Success

A formerly homeless veteran who lost his hearing from an explosion in Vietnam, an ex-offender who chose drugs over her children and today counsels individuals in similar circumstances, and a Baltimore transplant who had to rely on the financial support of family when she couldn’t find a fulltime job despite a steady work history will tell their turnaround stories and be honored at the 18th annual Faces of Success Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 15 at The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

The annual fund-raising luncheon supports Arizona Women’s Education & Employment (AWEE), a workforce development organization using a diverse range of evidence-based training and support services to advance Arizona’s workforce and change the lives of women, men, young adults and special populations through the dignity of work.

Also at the luncheon, Michelle King Robson, who overcame life-threatening health issues to start the widely praised social health website EmpowHER.com for women will receive the Jeanne Lind Herberger Award.

More than 700 people are expected at the luncheon, which is presented by Bank of America.  Registration and reception begin at 11 a.m.   The highly entertaining, rapid-fire program of giveaways, raffles and remarkably moving stories of success will be co-hosted by television personality Tara Hitchcock and Alfredo J. Molina of Molina Fine Jewelers.  Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will make brief congratulatory remarks.

Molina also has donated a stunning pair of 18-karat white gold earrings with .39 carats of brilliant diamonds surrounding black onyx for a raffle.  The earrings are valued at $4,990.  Raffle tickets are $25 each or 6 for $100 and can be purchased at the event or online at www.awee.org.

Individual tickets for the Faces of Success Luncheon are $100 each and also can be purchased online or the day of the event.  Sponsorships are still available.

The highlight of the annual luncheon comes midway through the program when the three Faces of Success take the audience through their personal journeys from rock bottom to steady employment and self sufficiency thanks to AWEE programs, services and support.

The 2012 Faces of Success are:

• Craig Leighton, a U.S. Marine Corp photographer whose life fell apart after returning from Vietnam in 1974 deaf and angry.  Leighton eventually found himself battling alcohol and drug addiction, homeless and in jail.  “I needed help,” he said.  “Coming out of prison, you have a choice:  Go back to your old behavior or start over.  AWEE is what saved my life.”

• Vicki Rainey, the mother of two children who grew up in Phoenix living a “wonderful childhood” until the family moved to a new neighborhood.  That’s when she started making a series of bad choices with alcohol, drugs and criminal behavior and wound up homeless and in and out of prison.  Prison let her come out of the meth-induced fog she had lived in for months when she chose the drug over her kids.  She learned about AWEE in prison workshops and classes, rebuilt her self-esteem and her life and is now the marketing manager at Recovery Opportunity Center.  “The simple fact is, I wouldn’t be where I am today without AWEE.”

• Tanya Smith moved to Phoenix from Baltimore after her mother died.  Smith wanted warmth and sunshine.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t find permanent work and ran out of money between assignments through a temporary agency, needing help from family members.  Surgery complicated matters.   After getting on AHCCCS, she was referred to AWEE where resume writing and interview training keyed her turnaround.  Today, she’s working fulltime in the Home Modification Division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Jeanne Lind Herberger honoree Robson combines a successful track record as a businesswoman and entrepreneur with nearly two decades of civic and community leadership to lead one of the fastest-growing social health companies on the Web.  She started EmpowHER following her own personal struggle with a debilitating health issue and the challenges she experienced in finding the health resources she needed.  “I thought ‘If this happened to me, what is happening to women all over the world?’  At that moment, I decided I would dedicate my life to making sure no other woman would suffer as I had by creating the resources I wish I had when I was sick.”

Kathey Wagner, CEO, B-On The Obvious and Nicole Spracale, Senior Vice President, Jobing, are co-chairs of the 2012 Faces of Success Luncheon.  Bank of America is the Presenting Sponsor with additional support from: The Herberger Foundation, Bruce T. Halle Familiy Foundation, APS, B-On The Obvious, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Discover Financial Services, Jobing, EmpowHER.com, First Solar, Molina Fine Jewelers, SRP, State Farm, Lewis & Roca, MidFirst Bank, Wells Fargo, Avnet, Comerica Bank and University of Phoenix.

For sponsorship information, contact Chief Development Officer Jamie Craig Dove at jamiecraigdove@awee.org or by calling (602) 223-4333.  For ticket information, visit www.awee.org.


Report: Fulton Homes leads E.V. Home Sales

Fulton Homes’ domination in new home sales continues.   According to the latest KnowledgeBase Market Insights report released by Phoenix-based Belfiore Real Estate consulting, Fulton Homes had three communities ranked among ten of the best-selling Phoenix-area subdivisions over the past two months.  The Tempe-based homebuilder placed Queen Creek’s Paradise at Ironwood Crossing, and both Mediterranean at Freeman Farms and Caribbean at Freeman Farms in Gilbert. Overall, six of the Top 10 Phoenix area subdivisions were in the East Valley, with the remaining four in the West Valley.

“We provide the best, quality-built home in Arizona,” Doug Fulton, Fulton Homes CEO, said. “We are tremendously pleased by the public’s response to all of our East Valley communities. We have an extraordinary team of professionals who every day help people realize their dream of homeownership.”

Fulton Homes is also outpacing the market when it comes to monthly sales in each community.  Belfiore Real Estate Consulting anticipates an average of 3.3 sales per subdivision per month for the year.  Fulton Homes is currently selling more than twice that, on average.

Belfiore Real Estate consulting is a full-service residential market research firm, offering a variety of residential data and analyses.


Social Media Changes Driving Some Marketers Buggy

Social media is the most rapidly changing aspect of communications to begin with. Throw in an IPO (Facebook) and a major overhaul (LinkedIn) and modifications are barreling ahead so fast, even the techies seem unable to keep up.

“I’m a big believer in social media marketing for my business, so when I started having a lot of problems with LinkedIn, I didn’t wait – I sent an email to the Help Center,” says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

“Last week, a ‘customer experience advocate’ finally emailed me back. He wrote, ‘I apologize taking so long to get back to you. We are currently experiencing an unusual high volume of requests due to our recent site enhancements.’ “

Many of the changes were implemented Oct. 16 and, as EMSI’s social media specialist, Jeni Hinojosa, observes, “It’s a great overhaul.”

But, she adds, “It must not have gotten much of a test run because the site has been very buggy.”

Over on Facebook, Friedman says she’s noticed advertisements popping up everywhere – even in her news feed.

“Now that the site has gone public, it’s trying all sorts of new tricks to make money for shareholders, but it’s creating some problems,” she says.

One of her employees got this error message while trying to post to her wall: “The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.”

Hinojosa offered a brief overview of some of the changes and a solution people are turning to – at least in the case of Facebook.

LinkedIn: “One of the new features I like is that you can check for comments and other activity without getting notices sent to your email,” Hinojosa says. “Just go to your LinkedIn page and you’ll see the notifications at the top, just like on Facebook.”

“The bugs I and others have encountered include being unable to check private messages; sporadically unable to get into groups; and being notified that invitations to join others’ networks are waiting – but when I look, I don’t see any,” Hinojosa says. “When we report the problems, the responses we’re getting sound like they’re working on them but they’re overwhelmed.

“Hopefully, they’ll get them worked out soon. The good news is, they’re aware.”

Facebook: “Sadly, I’ve been down this road before – and it didn’t lead to a good place,” Hinojosa says. “Remember MySpace?”

Since its initial public offering in May, Facebook has been making a lot of changes designed to add revenue. The newest of these are a $7 fee for “promoted posts” from your personal page and a $5 to $15 fee to promote posts from your fan page. They’re not yet available to all 166 million U.S. Facebook users, according to tech bloggers, because it’s still experimental.

Now, those with the option will see a “promote” button next to the “like,” “comment” and “share” buttons. Click “promote,” put the appropriate fee on your charge card, and that post will go to the top of your followers’ news feeds a few times in the days ahead. (It will also wear the Scarlet S label of “sponsored post.”) The promise is that more of your followers will see it.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense when applied to personal pages,” Hinojosa says. “How many people will pay to show off their vacation photos? But people using Facebook as a marketing tool may be motivated to pay for more reach.

“Soon, everyone will be scrolling through a bunch of ‘sponsored’ posts before they get to the ‘free’ ones. If you want someone to actually see your post, you’ll have to pay.”

That’s why, she says, people are jumping to …

Google+: “If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+,” Hinojosa says.

This toddler network, which launched in June 2011, combines Facebook’s capabilities for sharing news and photos and Twitter’s searchability.

“It allows you to designate one or more “circles” for your friends,” Hinojosa says. “One co-worker might be ‘business’ and ‘close friends’ while another could be just ‘business.’ So everyone sees what’s appropriate for them based on your relationship.”

“Like Twitter, Google+ uses hashtags to help sort information and allow people to search for posts on particular topics,” she says. “For instance, if you type #cutecats into the search box at the top of your page, you’ll see everything with that hashtag – including comments that incorporate the label.

“What makes me happiest is, Google had its IPO way back in 2004,” Hinojosa says. “So we shouldn’t have to worry about this company suddenly drumming up ways to make us pay for what we previously got for free.”

Shannon Brown

Fulton Homes, Suns Reunite For Three-Point Zone

Twenty-three feet, nine inches is the distance that makes Fulton Homes, the Phoenix Suns and local charities a winner this season.

Tempe-based Fulton Homes is reuniting with the Phoenix Suns to revive the Fulton Homes “Proud to own the Three-Point Zone” program, which in years past has provided tens of thousands of dollars to Phoenix Suns Charities. When a Phoenix Suns player drains a three-pointer this season, Fulton Homes will write a $100 check to Phoenix Suns Charities. This year’s sponsorship includes both home and away games broadcast on Fox Sports Net.  With 80 televised games on the schedule, and a Suns average of 6.7 three-point shots per game last season, Phoenix Suns Charities could slam dunk some serious donations.

“Fulton Homes is really excited to partner again with the Phoenix Suns to benefit Phoenix Suns Charities,” Doug Fulton, CEO of Fulton Homes, said. “If the Suns keep their three-point game up, we could be giving quite a bit to worthy causes.”

Phoenix Suns Charities is the cornerstone of the team’s charitable giving.  The organization offers grants to non-profits that serve children and youth in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, sports, and recreation and rehabilitation.

Derrick Watchman, Bob Winter, Raymond Etticy

Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise CEO Winter Resigns

Bob Winter, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), announced today he will resign from his position effective January 1, 2013.  NNGE Chief Financial Officer Derrick Watchman will be named CEO by the NNGE Board of Directors upon Winter’s transition.

Winter, who has served as CEO since May 2007, decided to leave his position as CEO for the NNGE in order to concentrate his efforts on completing the development and opening of the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.  The Board has asked him to remain and work on the due diligence and planning for the Pinta Road Casino & Travel Center as well as other potential developments on behalf of the NNGE.

“I have had the privilege to work for an extraordinary board of directors, as well as with caring and committed Enterprise staff and casino employees during my time with NNGE,” Winter said. “When I was confirmed as CEO in 2007, I advised members of the Council that it was my goal to mentor a Navajo for the CEO position and I wouldn’t resign until I had found the right person.  Having worked closely with Derrick during my tenure as CEO, I have total confidence in his ability to lead the NNGE and he is, without a doubt, the right person for the job.”

In June 2012, after three years of casino operations, the NNGE Board of Directors authorized the Enterprise’s first distribution of gaming profits to the Navajo Nation Gaming Distribution Fund.  The first distribution to the Navajo Nation was $5 million with future distributions expected to increase over the coming years.

Watchman said, “I learned a great deal from Bob Winter and I am looking forward to applying what I have learned as we continue to grow and strengthen our partnership with the Navajo Nation.  Of course, any good organization is only as good as its’ employees and I happen to believe we have the finest and most dedicated employees around.  Furthermore, I am very positive about NNGE’s future and I am especially excited about the opening of our flagship property Twin Arrows – a unique destination that the Navajo Nation can be proud of.”

“Bob successfully promoted NNGE’s mission to develop a Navajo gaming economy.  Under his leadership NNGE provided thousands of Navajo people with jobs, competitive wages, and the ability to provide for their families,” said Quincy Natay, NNGE Board Chair. “During Bob’s tenure, he consistently advocated that the Navajo Nation has the talent within to make gaming profitable. Under Bob’s leadership he created a strong management team. In particular, Derrick’s commitment to the success of the Enterprise is evident and we have great confidence that he will continue making a difference in the lives of the Navajo people. We are excited about NNGE’s future with Derrick as our CEO.”


Pivotal Group Acquires Majority Stake in Pan Am Education

A Pivotal Group affiliate has acquired the assets of Pan Am Education, expediting the international expansion of the company. Pan Am founding management will maintain a stake in the company and continue day-to-day operations.

Pan Am Education provides online blended learning solutions for students and education companies around the globe.  Pan Am currently distributes its education services in 10 countries, including China, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and the U.S.  Its current distribution network reaches over 5 million students.  The company plans to expand into additional markets as a result of this investment by Pivotal Group.

The transaction is also expected to create new jobs in Arizona and around the U.S. Pan Am hires contract teachers from across the country that work from home, videoconferencing with students to provide online, synchronous instruction around the world.

“Pivotal Group is impressed with Pan Am’s unique interactive, blended-learning model; global platform; capable management team and capacity to make a major impact on how people learn.  This investment reinforces our long-standing commitment to improving the global mindset of students and educators around the world,” said F. Francis Najafi, CEO, Pivotal Group.

“Pan Am and Pivotal Group share the same vision: to improve access to quality, affordable education to students everywhere. This investment represents a mutual commitment to international education and the shared principles of our team,” said Joe Merrill, CEO and co-founder of Pan Am Education.

Angel Chaves, Pan Am Education executive vice president and co-founder adds, “With additional resources and the support of the Pivotal Group, we will change the face of education and create opportunities for students and teachers everywhere.”

Christopher Nyren and Todd Maurer, of Illinois-based Educated Ventures, advised Pan Am Education with respect to the transaction.  The amount of the transaction is not being disclosed.

Founded more than a quarter century ago by CEO F. Francis Najafi, Phoenix-based Pivotal Group is a diversified investment company focused on private equity and real estate, particularly drawn by the unrealized potential of well-managed, middle-market companies with unique assets.  Pivotal Group works in partnership with acquired company management to strengthen the firm’s strategic and financial position through planning, improving operations and creating growth initiatives.  To learn more about the Pivotal Group go online to http://www.pivotalgroup.com.

sandra watson*280

Arizona Commerce Authority gets new CEO

The Arizona Commerce Authority — the state’s economic development organization — is finally getting a new CEO to replace Don Cardon. The ACA is charged with creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy.

The Arizona Commerce Authority board voted unanimously Tuesday to have a board committee negotiate a contract with Sandra Watson, who was chief deputy to former CEO Cardon and has served as interim CEO since July.

Watson has made $218,000 annually as interim CEO. Cardon’s salary was $300,000.

The quasi-private authority took over economic development functions from the now-disbanded state Department of Commerce. The authority gets $35 million of state funding annually, including $25 million for grants to help attract, expand or retain businesses.

Cardon announced in January that he will return to running his businesses.

The authority’s board hired a search firm to help find a new CEO, but Gov. Jan Brewer said no other candidates emerged from that process as a finalist.

“We certainly interviewed and consulted with a lot of people but no one rose to the occasion,” said Brewer, who heads the authority’s board.

The board’s executive committee decided “that Sandra really stepped up in the interim and that she would serve us well as the ACA president moving forward,” the governor said.

Brewer won legislative approval of creation of the authority last year as part of legislation that also included business tax cuts.


Innovative CEO Martz offers advice on being an effective boss

Today is National Boss Day, so it’s the perfect time to get a business owner’s view on what it takes to be a successful and effective boss.

Carrie Martz founded the Martz Agency — the largest female-owned advertising and public relations firm in Arizona — in 1980 after spending a couple of years in the corporate world. Her client roster includes Chateau on Central, Pacific Links International, Mirabel, Yurbuds and dozens more.

Martz is known as a hands-on owner/CEO, a leader, an innovator, and a philanthropist whose Home of Miracles program has helped raise more than $8 million for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and other local charities. So, to celebrate National Boss Day, Az Business magazine asked one of the Valley’s most effective leaders to talk a little bit about being a great boss.

Az Business: What do you think your employees say about your management style behind your back?
Carrie Martz: I would imagine they would say the same to my face.  I am tough but fair and have a good memory for details.

AB: What qualities do you think an effective boss needs to have?
CM: Be upbeat, optimistic, set the tone for the business, be as transparent as you can. Never stop learning and always listen.

AB: Was there a significant lesson you learned early in your career that made you a more effective boss?  
CM: Don’t get too personally involved. Remember this is a business. It isn’t personal. If someone isn’t working out, help them find a better fit.

AB: How is being a boss in a creative industry different from being a boss in a more traditional business?
CM: You have to foster creativity and individualism.  A few more egos to manage and work with, but that comes with the territory. Plus, we must create a working environment that is fun and engaging.

AB: If you could give one piece of advice to women who aspire to be a boss like you, what would it be?
CM: Give up balance in life. You will never be everything to everyone all the time.  Just go for every opportunity you can with all you have. Make sure you have great back up in all aspects of your life.

To learn more about Martz Agency, visit http://www.martzagency.com/.


Science Foundation releases 5-year plan to strengthen STEM education

Ask any leader of a technology company in Arizona what their biggest hurdles are and there is always one common challenge: finding enough homegrown qualified workers to fill their needs.

“Arizona is transitioning to an economy that is increasingly dependent upon a knowledge-based workforce,” said Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip in Chandler. “Out No. 1 challenge is to improve the schools. Arizona high schools are near the bottom and if we don’t improve them soon, it’s really going to impact the future.”

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is doing something to help Sanghi and other business leader. The nonprofit public-private partnership has launched the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward.”

The five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances, including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan’s driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation — which provided $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz’s STEM initiative, announced a new three-year, $2.1 commitment beginning in this year that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. Also providing financial support for the launch were the Helios Education Foundation, Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

“We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant,” said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The STEM Network focuses on four strategic areas:

* Integrating STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts.

* Developing and deploying a predictive analytics system to measure impacts.

* Strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching.

* Creating opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools.

“Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. “The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas.”


Prosperity Project educates businesses about election issues

Last week I talked about jobs – the issue everyone should be talking about, but isn’t.

Jobs and the economy are the number one issues for voters this election season. The majority of voters want to enter the voting booth armed with facts about the candidates on their ballot. They want to know how these candidates plan on getting America back to work. Will the policies they support help lower the country’s too-high unemployment rate?

There is an easy-to-use tool voters can use to find out about the positions held by the individuals on the November ballot, including where candidates stand on jobs and the economy: The Arizona Prosperity Project.

The Arizona Prosperity Project is a non-partisan voter education tool available to all Arizonans. It’s based upon the belief that when Arizona citizens are informed and active in government and elections, our families, our communities and our state benefit.

Visitors to azprosperity.org can access objective information about each of the candidates they’ll see on their ballot. Information includes voting records for incumbents and candidate questionnaires for challenger candidates; everything necessary to make an informed decision when voting by mail or on Election Day.

In addition, azprosperity.org offers an issues section, which outlines topics important to Arizona’s job creators. It’s the go-to location for learning about legislative actions on each topic and how the public can be involved.

VotaAZ.org is another excellent resource for Arizona voters. Developed in partnership with the Arizona Chamber and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, VotaAZ educates Hispanic voters about issues that impact job security, economic competitiveness, wages and benefits.

Similar to azprosperity.org, visitors to VotaAZ.org can access – in Spanish or English – information on the candidates they’ll see on their ballot, along with viewing past election results and guides to the democratic process. VotaAZ also allows users to register to vote, find their local polling place and learn about Arizona’s voter ID Laws.

But the Prosperity Project is more than just an outstanding online education tool. The P2 can be deployed onsite at your business, too, with collateral material that explains to employees where candidates stand on important issues, voter registration drives, and even customizable websites for your company to share non-partisan information with employees about the issues important to your particular business or industry.

As we recover from the Great Recession, we’ve learned that good policy matters. Businesses of all sizes and industries have felt the effects – both good and bad – of decisions made in Washington, D.C, at the state Capitol or City Hall.

Voters have an opportunity to make a difference this election season and influence who will be making decisions in the next Congress, Legislature or city Council. They have the chance to initiate a discussion about jobs and ensure their candidates are offering real solutions to end our over 40-month streak of unemployment over 8 percent. Arizona Prosperity Project and VotaAZ provide a solid foundation for this important discussion.

To learn more about the Arizona Prosperity Project and how it can be put into action at your business, contact Erica Wrublik at (602) 248-9172.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

WEB - Mobile Mini - 2012-12

Mobile Mini CEO Bunger stepping down

Mobile Mini says Chairman, President and CEO Steven Bunger will step down from those posts at the end of the year.

Lead independent director Michael Watts will become chairman once Bunger departs. Watts has served as a board member since 2002 and became lead director in 2005.

The company, which sells and rents moving and storage units and mobile offices, said Tuesday that it has created a search committee to help find Bunger’s successor as CEO, with both internal and external candidates being considered.

Bunger has worked at Mobile Mini since 1983 and served in various roles. He became president and CEO in 1997 and became chairman in 2001.

Heidrick & Struggles has been hired to assist with the search process for a new CEO.

Mobile Mini Inc., which is based in Tempe, Ariz., says a new CEO is expected to be in place when Bunger departs or shortly after that.

Bunger said in a statement that he will help the new CEO over several months to ensure a smooth transition.

Shares of Mobile Mini rose 7 cents to $17.40 in afternoon trading. Its shares have traded in a range of $12.60 in late June to $23.08 in late February.


GPEC announces new Board of Directors

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) announced the appointment of its Board of Directors for the 2013 fiscal year.

Alliance Bank of Arizona CEO James Lundy will lead the Board of Directors as chairman. He previously served as vice chair on GPEC’s Board.

“As the economy starts to rebound, we face new challenges but also many opportunities – making it an exciting time for Greater Phoenix,” Lundy said.  “I look forward to working with my fellow board directors to seize these opportunities to improve the region’s business environment, and most importantly, spur the creation of sustainable, high-wage jobs.”

Rounding out the Board’s leadership is SCF Arizona President and CEO Don Smith as vice chair, APS Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Tammy McLeod as secretary and Bryan Cave, LLP’s R. Neil Irwin as treasurer.

New Board Directors include: David Cavazos, city manager for the City of Phoenix; Hyman Sukiennik, vice president at Cox Communications; Duane Woods, senior vice president at Waste Management; Timothy Bidwill, vice president at Vermilion IDG; George Forristall, director of project development at Mortenson Construction; Dan Henderson, economic development director for the Town of Gilbert; Debra Callicutt, partner at Henry and Horne; the Honorable Linda Kavanagh, mayor of the Town of Fountain Hills; the Honorable Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor of the City of Avondale; Vicki Martin, vice president at AT&T; the Honorable Mark Mitchell, mayor of the City of Tempe; the Honorable Max Wilson, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; Tim Powell, area president, Republic Services; Linda Hunt, senior vice president of operations CEO of Dignity Health Arizona; John Zidich, publisher and president, The Arizona Republic; Ed Novak, managing partner at Polsinelli Shughart; Kal Patel, senior vice president at Walmart; the Honorable Christian Price, mayor of the City of Maricopa; John Welch, managing partner at Squire Sanders; and the Honorable Sharon Wolcott, mayor of the City of Surprise.

“GPEC’s Board of Directors plays an important role in our operations and strong leadership is critical,” GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome said. “I’m confident that this year’s board, led by Jim Lundy, will play a key role in helping us meet our goals with their talent, leadership and support. I look forward to working with them.”

Mayors from GPEC’s member communities and the organization’s Nominating Committee are responsible for nominating and appointing Board Directors. The one-year terms are approved annually during GPEC’s September Board meeting.

GPEC FY 2013 Board of Directors:
* Bold Print Denotes Executive Committee Member

James Lundy – Chairman
Alliance Bank of Arizona

Don Smith – Vice Chair
President and CEO
SCF Arizona

Tammy McLeod – Secretary
Vice President and Chief Customer Officer
Arizona Public Service Company

R. Neil Irwin – Treasurer
Bryan Cave, LLP

William Pepicello, Ph.D. – Immediate Past Chair
University of Phoenix

Barry Broome
President and CEO
Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Richard C. Adkerson
President andCEO
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold

Jason Bagley
Government Affairs Manager

Steve Betts
Former Chief Executive Officer
SunCor Development Company

Ron Butler
Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Don Budinger
Chairman and Founding Director
Rodel Foundation

David Cavazos
City Manager
City of Phoenix

Brian Campbell
Campbell & Mahoney, Chartered

Michael Crow, Ph.D.
Arizona State University

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Midwestern University

Derrick Hall
President and CEO
Arizona Diamondbacks

Sharon Harper
President and CEO
The Plaza Companies

Don Kile
President, Master Planned Communities
The Ellman Companies

Paul Luna
President and CEO
Helios Education Foundation

David Rousseau
Salt River Project

Joseph Stewart
Chairman and CEO
JPMorgan Chase Arizona

Hyman Sukiennik
Vice President
Cox Communications

Gerrit van Huisstede
Regional President Desert Mountain Region
Wells Fargo

Andy Warren
Maracay Homes

Richard B. West, III
Carefree Partners

Duane Woods
Senior Vice President
Waste Management

Chris Zaharis
Executive Vice President
Empire Southwest

John Zidich
Publisher & President
The Arizona Republic

Chuck Allen
Managing Director, Gov’t & Community Relations
US Airways

Jason Barney
Principal and Partner
Landmark Investments

The Honorable Robert Barrett
City of Peoria

Timothy Bidwill
Vice President
Vermilion IDG

Norman Butler
Market Executive
Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Debra Callicutt
Henry and Horne

Jeff Crockett
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Wyatt Decker, M.D.
Mayo Clinic Arizona

George Forristall
Director of Project Development
Mortenson Construction

Rufus Glasper, Ph.D.
Maricopa Community Colleges

Barry Halpern
Snell and Wilmer

G. Todd Hardy
Associate Vice President, Corporate Engagement
Arizona State University

Dan Henderson
Economic Development Director
Town of Gilbert

Lynne Herndon
Phoenix City President
BBVA Compass

Linda Hunt
Senior VP of Operations and President/CEO
Dignity Health Arizona

The Honorable Robert Jackson
City of Casa Grande

The Honorable Linda Kavanagh
Town of Fountain Hills

The Honorable Andy Kunasek
County Supervisor, District 3
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors

The Honorable John Lewis
Town of Gilbert

The Honorable Marie Lopez Rogers
City of Avondale

The Honorable Georgia Lord
City of Goodyear

Jeff Lowe
MidFirst Bank

Paul Magallanez
Economic Development Director
City of Tolleson

Kate Maracas
Vice President

Vicki Martin
Vice President

The Honorable Brian McAchran
Vice Mayor
Town of Buckeye

The Honorable Mark Mitchell
City of Tempe

Ed Novak
Managing Partner
Polsinelli Shughart

Kal Patel
Senior Vice President

Rui Pereira
General Manager
Rancho de Los Caballeros

Tim Powell
Area President
Republic Services

The Honorable Christian Price
City of Maricopa

Craig Robb
Managing Director
Zions Energy Link

The Honorable Jeff Serdy
City of Apache Junction

Steven M. Shope, Ph.D.
Sandia Research Corporation

James T. Swanson
President and CEO
Kitchell Corporation

Karrin Kunasek Taylor
Executive Vice President and Chief Entitlements Officer
DMB Associates, Inc.

Richard J. Thompson
President and CEO

John Welch
Managing Partner
Squire Sanders

The Honorable Jeff Weninger
Vice Mayor
City of Chandler

The Honorable Max Wilson
County Supervisor, District 4
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors

Dan Withers
D.L. Withers Construction

The Honorable Sharon Wolcott
City of Surprise

Bryant Barber
Attorney at Law
Lewis and Roca


9 Arizona Inc. 500 Companies to Speak at SkySong Luncheon

The nine Arizona-based Inc. 500 companies will speak to the business community at an educational luncheon event on Thursday, October 18th from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. These ‘best of Arizona’ company leaders will share insights on their remarkable economic success during challenging economic times.

These 9 local companies were recognized in the September issue of Inc. magazine that highlights the nation’s 500 fastest-growing companies. They hope that executives of other companies in Arizona can learn from their experience and growth techniques.

In aggregate, these nine Arizona companies increased revenues by 1,785 percen, from $4.8 million in 2008 to $90.4 million in 2011. This reflects a 166 percent annual compounded growth rate over this three-year period. What makes this even more remarkable is that this growth was achieved during
severe recessionary economic times as reflected by GDP growth of only 6.1 percent from 2008 to 2011. These companies grew almost 300 times faster than the US economy during this period.

The October 18th lunch event is titled “Arizona Inc. 500: Nine Ways to Grow” and will feature key executives from these nine companies discussing what has worked to achieve their growth.

This special business event will have three moderators: Glenn Hamer, CEO at Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Hank Marshall, Senior Vice President at Arizona Commerce Authority; and Doug Bruhnke, CEO at Growth Nation. Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane will kick off the event. Five of the nine companies are based in Scottsdale. The presentations by company leaders will cover a range of corporate growth and business strategy topics in a panel format.

Arizona’s Inc. 500 Companies: The Joint (national chiropractic clinic franchise); GlobalMed (real-time healthcare delivery systems for telemedicine); Loan Resolution (assists banks in fixing bad loans and selling property); Blue Global Media (operates affiliate Performance Marketing Network); Digital Video Networks (interactive city-directory kiosks and audio video systems); MYTEK Network Solutions (IT services, analytics and help desk support); American Group (freight-shipping services for small and midsized businesses); DreamBrands (natural healthy anti-aging products for 40+ target market); and Citywide Restoration (restores damaged properties and offers related services).

Interested attendees can register by signing up here: http://arizonainc500.eventbrite.com/.

miraval new CEO

Miraval Names New CEO

Miraval, the award-winning destination resort and spa in Tucson, Arizona, is pleased to announce that Michael G. Tompkins has been named  Chief Executive Officer. In his new role, Tompkins’ responsibilities will be multifold, from the oversight of all general resort operations to creating Miraval programming, to managing the overall growth and development of the brand. Most recently, Tompkins served as Miraval’s President and General Manager.

A 15-year veteran of the luxury hospitality industry, Tompkins began his career at Miraval in 2007. During his time with the resort and spa, Tompkins has been instrumental in leading key projects including the newly built Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins, the creation of the Andrew Weil, M.D. Integrated Wellness Center, and completing the development of The Villas at Miraval, one of the fastest selling luxury lifestyle real estate projects in the country.

“We are thrilled to promote Michael to the well-deserved position of Chief Executive Officer,” said Philippe Bourguignon, Chairman of Miraval. “Michael’s hard work and dedication over the past five years have led Miraval to tremendous success, and we look forward to this exciting new chapter.”

Before joining Miraval, Tompkins served as Vice President of Hotel and Spa Operations at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York. During his time with the resort, he was named Executive of the Year by New York State Hospitality Association in 2007. Additionally, Tompkins helped found the New York Spa Promotion Alliance, and served on its board for three years. Prior to Turning Stone, Tompkins was the Associate Managing Director of Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires.

Currently Vice Chairman of the International Spa Association (ISPA) board, Tompkins has spoken extensively as a spa and wellness expert. His leadership skills were documented in 2011 in the novel Kensho: A Modern Awakening, Instigating Change in an Era of Global Renewal by Susan Steinbrecker. Tompkins is also a contributing author to Mindful Eating (Hay House USA, May 2012).

Find out more about Miraval at miravalresorts.com.

Tucson Office Market, Industrial and Retail Sectors

Positive Signs Bolster Tucson Office Market, Retail And Industrial Sectors

Positive signs bolster Tucson office market, as well as the area’s retail and industrial sectors

CBRE has released its third quarter 2011 market analysis of the Tucson area office, industrial and retail sectors. Report highlights include:


•    The Tucson office market reported a stronger third quarter, with 71,209 square feet of positive absorption. This compares to 30,786 square feet of positive absorption in the second quarter and 22,028 square feet of negative absorption in the first quarter.

•    The Tucson office market vacancy rate declined in the third quarter, dropping 80 basis points to 17.1 percent. The area’s lowest vacancy was reported in the North Central and West Central submarkets, which both have rates of 13.6 percent. The highest vacancy rate, 27.4 percent, was found in the Southwest submarket.

•    The average asking lease rate for existing multi-tenant office space decreased for the first time this year, falling to $19.26 per square foot from $19.65 per square foot at the end of the second quarter and $19.43 at the end of the first quarter.

•    There will be no new speculative office construction in the Tucson market until demand picks up and the abundant supply of available space goes down.


•    Vacany among industrial product declined for the first time in 2011, falling to 11 percent from 11.3 percent at mid-year. While only a 30 basis point drop from the previous quarter, this represents a 60 basis point decline in the past 18 months.

•    The industrial market recorded 121,971 square feet of positive absorption in the third quarter. Although a strong showing, this could not completely ease the occupied space lost in the first and second quarters, leaving the market with 26,996 square feet of negative absorption for the year.

•    The average asking industrial lease rate dropped significantly – 17 cents – to end the third quater at $6.25 per square foot. This compares to $6.62 per square foot at the end of the second quarter and $6.64 per square foot at the end of the first quarter.

•    With much of Tucson’s industrial product aging and functionally inefficient, any improvement in the economy will quickly lead to new construction, driving up lease rates and sales prices.


•    Tucson’s shopping center market recorded its second consecutive quarter of positive absorption with 34,629 square feet. This combined with the absorption through mid-year brings the market’s year-to-date total to positive 6,989 square feet.

•    The vacancy rate among shopping centers decreased in the third quarter, albeit modestly, to 12.2 percent from 12.3 percent at the end of the second quarter. Yet, vacany remains unchanged from mid-year 2010 when the rate was also 12.2 percent.

•    The average asking lease rate for shopping center space increased for the third time this year, rising to $18.30 per square foot from $17.71 per square foot in the second quarter and $17.64 per square foot at the end of the first quarter. This hike in the market’s average rental rate has been driven, in part, by an uptick in activity and demand in prime retail hubs.

•    Big box tenants and national retailers continue to vie for premium sites in high-traffic trade areas, while sites on the periphery wane in activity.

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Visit CBRE’s website at www.cbre.com for more information about the 3Q analysis of the Tucson office market, as well as the area’s industrial and retail sectors.



Cloud Space

CX Claims Its Space In The Cloud

CX Inc. has declared its emergence in Cloud Space.

The company, whose initials stand for “cloud experience,” is a consumer-focused cloud computing company backed by TomorrowVentures and Hanna Capital with offices in Phoenix/Scottsdale; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. TomorrowVentures is the venture capital enterprise of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

“The Cloud” is a term that essentially refers to the Internet as a whole. When users access data on the Internet, Cloud Service data centers, managed by a third party, store and access that data. The data is securely stored and becomes available through the Internet itself, independent of what users have stored in their personal computers’ hard drives.

With CX Inc.’s cloud storage and data file management system, users have access to a safe platform in order to backup, synchronize, share and manage documents, photos, music and videos across various devices – including desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and mobile devices.

Brad Robertson, who has had 20 years of experience with technology startups, is the CEO of CX Inc. He says he hopes to offer users the most comprehensive and intuitive cloud management platform “bar none.”

Robertson says social networks, at the center of the digital universe, have irreversibly changed communication and group social dynamics. He says he believes the current model is imperfect, though, because users and files rely on the “Masters of the Universe.”

“At CX we intend to change all that,” said Robertson. He says he believed the future of social networks will be designed so that users are the “master of their own universe” and will dictate how their files are used and shared, taking control away from a “social hub behemoth.”

Apple Banner

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