The 2012 Valley Partnership Roundtable discusses the need to engage and monitor federal issues impacting the development community, which is greater than ever.
Every real estate development company actively manages issues such as water quality, dust control and industry taxation/regulation at the city and state level. However, we must be more vigilant in watching the impact of federal regulation on the real estate industry. Decisions made by the federal agencies and our Congressional delegation have a long-term impact on our businesses.
As a sector, we have a responsibility to advocate for fair and pragmatic regulation that allows the industry to be nimble and grow responsibly. Federal regulation and oversight have expanded over the past few years and some of these expansions in oversight could negatively impact Arizona businesses. Arizona’s climate, employment bases and natural resources pose unique challenges on the federal level, and we must ensure that our delegation is prepared to fight for our state’s future.
As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, Valley Partnership, in conjunction with AZRE magazine, convened a virtual roundtable discussion on the need to engage and monitor federal and state issues that impact the development community. They include:
- Expansion of the Clean Water Act;
- Business taxes/workforce training credits/research and development tax credits
- Military installations, including Luke Air Force Base;
- Solar incentives;
- Aerospace/defense industry, research.
Participants are members of Valley Partnership’s federal and legislative committees, including: Rob Anderson (RA), Fennemore Craig; Paul Hickman (PH), Arizona Bankers Association; Charley Freericks (CF), DMB Associates, Inc.; Rusty Mitchell (RM), Luke AFB; Mary Peters (MP), consultant, former secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; Grady Gammage JR. (GG), Gammage & Burnham; and Michelle de Blasi (MD), Quarles & Brady.
- Karrin Taylor, DMB Associates Inc.
Q: The federal government’s growing regulation of water, environment issues and endangered species has an immediate effect on private property owners and at the state and local levels. In the Western U.S., there can be tremendous unintended consequences to these one-size-fits-all regulations promulgated in Washington. What are the risks and/or potential impacts for the development community?
GG: There are huge risks for Arizona development in ignoring federal issues. We tend to either rail at the Feds, or just hope they’ll go away. The truth is, neither attitude is useful. We need our federal representatives to vigorously engage in explaining things that seem obvious to us: like dry desert washes not being navigable, or the fact that Arizona tends to be dusty. But we need to recognize that there is an appropriate federal role in environmental regulation, rather than behave as though the EPA will go away.
RA: The risks for the development community are three-fold: Increased compliance costs; increased uncertainties associated with securing federal approval (Well will I get my permit? What will my project look like when I do?); and the possibility that the federal requirements will actually block you from developing at all. The first two risks are fairly pervasive in the development world already. The third risk is relatively rare but increasing, particularly in the area of endangered species where there is tremendous pressure to list more species and protect more habitats. We also may see more of this as the first two risks grow and become unmanageable. For example, if I do not know when I can get my permit, and do not know what my project will look like at the end of the permitting process, how can I get financing or raise capital to do the project at all?
Q: What can we (leaders in real estate) do to influence federal regulation and legislation?
MD: Consistency and certainty in policy is crucial to develop and sustain any industry. It is difficult to have certainty without having an energy policy in place. Some immediate initiatives that could provide certainty in the energy industry are: Build out/improve access to transmission; remove redundancy/inefficiencies in permitting; expand production-based incentives; and provide better/quicker access to federal land for project development.
GG: The real estate industry needs to come together with workable solutions on things like dust control of construction, and standards for developing in the desert that recognize circumstances where washes should be preserved or mass grading minimized. Constructive engagement means offering sensible alternatives for some federal involvement, that is climate and geography appropriate for the arid West. There’s a lot of of serious expertise in Arizona in dealing with these issues. The development industry will find that Arizona’s cities are valuable allies in understanding the nature of development here, and why it is different from many other parts of the country.
RA: Follow regulatory developments through agencies of concern (EPA, the Corps of Engineers) and follow legislation through Congress. Do not hesitate to contact your congressman or congresswoman on issues of concern. Be active in trade associations that lobby in Washington D.C.
CF: Real estate industry leaders and everyone in the community have many options for supporting Luke and the effort to secure the F-35 mission. First, participate in the Luke Forward campaign by registering your support (lukeforward.com), submit a letter from your company or community support organization, and spread the word by sending the link for Luke Forward to your colleagues and friends Second, participate in the upcoming public hearings for the F-35 mission Environmental Impact Study (EIS) process. Dates, times and locations will be posted on the website to visibly show your support to the community and government representatives. Finally, write or email your local, state and federal elected officials and state your support for the F-35 mission.
PH: Stay engaged. Coordinate multiple visit to members of Congress and agency officials. Be active on responding to requests for comments on proposed regultions. Create “echo chambers” on issues of vital importance to our state.
Our western state is rich in space, most of which is managed by some form of government (Fed/state/military/tribal). This requires our real estate development industry to engage in public/private partnerships. Our only alternative is not to grow our economy.
Q: There has been significant scrutiny on federal and state incentives of certain industries recently. How do you think those incentives have impacted the Arizona job and real estate markets? Are the incentives needed to jump-start an industry and spur growth? Are they worth the risks?
MP: I am generally opposed to public-funded incentives that tend to distort the market. If a determination is made that public interest is best served by advancing an issue, the better way to proceed is to focus on the desired outcome rather than a specific technology. In terms of developing alternative fuels for vehicles, for example, the outcome might be to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Current policy provides public subsidies as an incentive to produce ethanol, and the subsidies are provided largely to mid-west, corn producing states. The process used by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that encourages competition toward an outcome-based goal is far better than offering specific incentives. Arizona businesses and entrepreneurs could be very competitive in a DARPA-like competition resulting in more Arizona jobs and real estate development.
MD: Incentives are necessary to help spur growth and develop infrastructure that benefits society as a whole, but should be implemented in such a way that they reward success. The incentive provides the carrot, but should not provide the fuel as was the case with Solyndra. Incentives provide the necessary framework to foster economic development — job creation. Just as Arizona was feeling the effects of a downturn in the real estate market, the incentives available to the renewable energy industry helped spur the grow of a burgeoning industry for Arizona. As more projects have come to fruition, the economy has felt the impacts through the transitioning of jobs and the influx of investment in renewable generation and manufacturing. However, as an industry and state, one needs to be careful not to incentivize an industry that will not survive into the future without incentives.
Q: The debate around “earmarks” and “pork” projects continues at the federal level. Some of Arizona’s federal delegation have earned national reputations for their stand against earmarks. What are the benefits or the losses to Arizona on this issue? Should Arizona’s federal delegation work to bring federal dollars back to our community? What kinds of projects does Arizona need?
MP: When members of Congress designate special projects as part of authorizing or appropriation bills powerful committee chairs are able to direct disproportionate amounts of funding to their district or state regardless of the merits of the project. The so-called “Bride to Nowhere” in the 2005 Highway Bill is a prime example. I think, on the whole, Arizona and other states lose in this process, and our delegation is right to take a stand against earmarks. A better way is for Congress to give the states their proportionate share of funding, and let state and local officials working with our Congressional Delegation decide how and where the funds should be spent. Arizona could then use those funds to build transportation in infrastructure to support high-growth areas, such as the north-sout corridor in Pinal County.
GG: We couldn’t live in Central Arizona without federal projects. Both SRP and CAP are examples of using the Treasury of the Unites States to make it possible to live in the arid West. Sky Harbor Airport and the interstate highway system are other examples. We should not oppose the use of federal dollars for these kinds of purposes. The evil of “earmarks” is when ad hoc projects (I think “Bride to Nowhere”) are slipped into unrelated bills without any debate or being part of a comprehensive program. Our senators and congressmen shouldn’t oppose the use of federal funds for worthy projects in Arizona. They should oppose a process that disguises federal spending, that doesn’t invite public scrutiny, or that trades frivolous projects in one district for similar boondoggles elsewhere.
PH: We expect our members of Congress to fight for parochial projects that make sense. What some members of our congressional delegation object to — properly in my view — is skirting the competitive process to do that. The losses incurred by the practice of earmarking redound to us as federal taxpayers, not necessarily Arizonans. When we engage in it we may win projects for our state, but as federal taxpayers we probably paid too much inferior projects or products.
We should be working with out congressional delegation as well as the applicable federal agencies to get out projects included into the agency budgets, authorized by the congressional authorization committees and approved by the members of the appropriations committees. We also need to partner with the global growth sectors of our economy: healthcare, energy, aerospace, and high-tech manufacturing. If this crash of 2008 has taught us anything it is that the residential housing industry can’t drive an economy by itself. It has to have other sectors to support or it collapses.
Q: The Arizona Commerce Authority and local economic development groups such as GPEC have prioritized a number of industries for expansion and growth. Aerospace/defense, technology and the solar industry seem to be major opportunities for Arizona’s future. What role should leaders of the real estate development industry play at the federal level in working to support these business expansion efforts?
MP: The ACA has defined aerospace/defense, solar/renewable energy, science and technology, and Arizona innovation-small businesses and entrepreneurs as our four focus areas. The areas provide the biggest opportunity to attract and retain high paying jobs and sustainable economic development for our state. The real estate development community can help support these focus areas by working together with organizations like ACA and GPEC to let out congressional delegation know when we are competing for federal funds and programs. An example is the funding now available under the Defense Appropriations Act in which the FAA will select sites for testing UAVs. The real estate development community can also assist in redeveloping areas such as the Williams Gateway and in ensuring that growth complements, but does not encroach on, our current military installations such as Luke AFB.
MD: The message has to be clear and provide certainty for foster meaningful industry growth. For the energy sector, the growth plan needs to be inclusive of a portfolio of energy resources. The support for renewable energy at the federal level needs to be based on a broad array of goals: jobs, diversity of energy sources, national security and economic development. The industry leaders should be advocating for production-based or back-end incentives where there are metrics requiring a certain level of project development to better ensure the long-term success of the industry.
Q: Arizona has long enjoyed the benefits of having major military installations, such as Luke Air Force Base, as part of our economic base. These installations create and sustain thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact. What are the potential risks and rewards with selection of Arizona for the F-35 mission?
CF: The rewards are numerous — thousands of highly trained, educated and well-paid employees continue to thrive in the West Valley; billions of dollars in annual economic impact continue to flow into Arizona’s economy; and the community around Luke is bolstered by the consumption of goods and services from this amazing economic engine and the positive community contributions from the people of Luke. The mission for this advanced aircraft will sustain Luke for decades to come.
The risks as minimal, but important to keep in context. The military is subject to the ebbs and flows of federal military investment and resting after securing the F-35 mission would be a critical error. The state, especially those communities closest to Luke, have grown accustomed to, even dependent on, having Luke as a major employer and economic driver. As the West Valley continues to grow and evolve, it is critical to keep the economic development focus on highly-educated, high-income employment and to continue diversifying the number and types of industries represented. The risk of reductions in Luke’s mission are always a factor to be considered; and, the best solution will be a strong and diverse regional economy.
RM: If Luke AFB is selected as the second PTC, it is conceivable that it would remain a valuable national asset and an incomparable economic engine for decades to come.
The most recent study (commissioned by the state of Arizona) of Luke’s economic impact was approximately $2.17B. However, beyond the pure dollars involved, the men and women of Luke AFB are significant contributors to the surrounding community as school and church leaders, business participants as well as stable homeowners for the community. These men and women should be viewed not only as part of the economic engine, but equally as important, quality community participants and leaders.
For more information on Valley Partnership visit, valleypartnership.org
BAE Systems received a $10.8 million award to manufacture Advanced Survivability Seats for Bradley Fighting Vehicles used by the U.S. Army.
These seats, called the Survivor Post Mount 1000 and Survivor Modular Troop 3000, include an energy-absorbing technology that helps protect soldiers from spinal injuries.
“The seat and restraint system are integral components of the overall vehicle survivability capability to protect occupants from blasts and other threats,” said Frank Crispino, director of vehicle protection programs at BAE Systems Support Solutions.
The order, awarded by SSI Technology, Inc., will be carried out at the BAE Systems’ facility in Phoenix, with deliveries beginning this May and will conclude in June 2013.
The facility in Phoenix has been providing occupant safety products for more than 30 years, and the company has produced more than 1,900 Bradley Advanced Survivability Seats since 2009. The most recent upgrades are in association with the Bradley Advanced Survivability Seats–Driver program and will be applied to the Army’s Bradley Urban Survivability Kit program.
BAE Systems provide a range of products and services to meet the needs in readiness and operational support across the land, aviation and maritime domains that support the U.S. Department of Defense and federal agencies.
On March 1, AZRE hosted the 7th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2011 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and a record 116 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. This year, the winner for Best Retail Project was iPic Theater /Tanzy/Salt.
Best Retail Project
iPic Theater /Tanzy/Salt
Developer: iPic Theaters
Contractor: A.R. Mays Construction
Architect: TK Architects
Size: 50,000 SF
Location: 15257 N. Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale
Completed: January, 2011
The iPic Theater $6M retail project, an innovative movie and dining experience, took less than five months to complete at Scottsdale Quarter. The construction team overcame several challenges to produce a unique retail experience: limited scheduling, and weight restrictions involving acoustic concrete slabs. Working with an out-of-state architect and owner on this new prototype also presented challenges for the construction team. Changes were made from the beginning until almost opening day. Amenities include LED lighting around the radius of the shimmer screens, which adds to the theatrical ambiance. At Salt, patrons sit at an oval-shaped bar set before a 28-foot-tall backlit wine bottle display.
Video by Cory Bergquist
American Sports Complex- Retail Center
Developer: City of Avondale
Contractor: Sundt Construction, Inc.
Size: 20,000 SF
Location: 755 N. 114th Ave., Avondale
Completed: September, 2011
Video by Cory Bergquist
P&H Mine Pro Services
New construction within the $11M, 80,700 SF renovation project at P&H Mine Pro Services includes a state-of-the-art welding shop and a 2-story office and administration building. Expected completion is 4Q 2012.
The $44M luxury apartment community in Chandler will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 625-1,400 SF. Luxury amenities will include a resort-style pool and clubhouse. Expected completion is 4Q 2012.
The CFO of the Year Awards are given to professionals for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate financial stewards. This program provides many benefits to the business community by highlighting the important roles that financial executives play within the region. In addition to the awards, we’ll publish a special report that will accompany the November issue of Arizona Business Magazine.
Here are the CFO of the Year 2011 Finalists:
Karen M. Abraham
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Karen Abraham is responsible for providing direction and accountability regarding all financial matters at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. That was evident as she helped the company’s revenue grow from $313 million when she took over as vice president of finance in 1997 to $1.5 billion as CFO today.
In addition to the revenue boost, Abraham provided the vision and leadership to partner with other BCBS plans to decentralize the infrastructure necessary to process transactions, which will save the company millions of dollars.
Along with her many achievements, Abraham was responsible for getting the BCBS Association requirement to obtain a rating from S&P. Because of this rating, Abraham implemented a change in how the organization is managed, specifically providing an additional discipline in the budgeting, forecasting and rating of its products.
Abraham is a member of the Ethics and Compliance Committee that wrote the book for the organization’s policies for the finance and purchasing departments and other parts of the organization. She sits on several community boards, including the YMCA Town Hall Board and the W.P. Carey School Finance Advisory Board.
Chief Financial Officer
Through his role as CFO, Darryl Baker has been instrumental in the revenue growth of iGo, Inc., a technology and consumer products company.
In the past year, Baker has boosted iGo’s product diversity by adding three new product categories, and has been instrumental in the acquisitions of Adapt Mobile and Aerial7, and teaming up with Pure Energy.
Baker is the driving force behind the iGo Code of Business Conduct and Ethics document, which he adheres to. In addition to this code, Baker leads iGo in an ethical manner and ensures that the financial reporting process is carried out smoothly to ensure the safeguarding of company assets.
As CFO, Baker is responsible for safeguarding company assets, maintaining its balance sheet, providing timely and accurate financial and operating performance reporting, implementing cost controls and reducing unnecessary expense, and forecasting and planning to ensure appropriate financing for the company’s business objectives.
Chief Financial Officer
TASER International, Inc.
Since 2004, Dan Behrendt has been revamping TASER International, Inc. in order to ensure success.
Behrendt successfully redesigned TASER’s warranty programs, leading to a $25 million increase in revenue. In addition to this redesign, he created key performance indicators for each company department. This process measures growth and ensures that the company is moving toward its goals.
During a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, Behrendt made the decision to use an open door policy when others were against the idea. Because of his decision, after a 30 percent drop in revenue, TASER witnessed revenue growths of 42 percent and 47 percent the next two years.
In addition to his achievements, Behrendt oversees all aspects of corporate finance to make sure TASER is performing at the highest possible degree for its shareholders. He also runs the information technology department to ensure the company is being provided with the highest level of support and service.
In addition to building the company, Behrendt created the TASER Foundation for Fallen Officers as a way to give back to the community.
Vice President Finance
Fresh Start Women’s Foundation
Karen Bretz relies on her unique ability of blending her analytical and creative mind to financially manage and grow Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.
Bretz refinanced the foundation’s main building, expanded a second site, and developed the thrift store initiative with ease. Since she became CFO, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation has received a clean audit. In addition, Bretz’s financial leadership led to the foundation’s first profitable year from operations since 2003.
She revised the employee handbook to make the company’s policies and practices more clear. Bretz also created an internal grievance committee to implement processes to identify and resolve client complaints and grievances.
Bretz is responsible for the management of foundation finances, along with support for the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors. She manages strategic initiatives, including job placement services, the development of a thrift store, and managing the facilities of both of the Women’s Resource Center buildings.
Thomas R. Castellanos
Chief Financial Officer
Valle del Sol Inc.
In tough times for nonprofits and state-funded service providers, Valle del Sol is lucky to have Thomas Castellanos improving its finances.
By forming a Multiple Employer Welfare Association as a strategic cost reduction, Castellanos saved more than $600,000 in the group’s first year. Castellanos has been a change agent for Valle del Sol in order to achieve its goal of providing services to the underserved community. He focuses on the finance, accounting, facilities, and information technology side of the business. In the past year, four new clinics have opened and become licensed in Maricopa County with Castellanos’ assistance.
Castellanos created the idea of a chair of the board fund to address shortfalls in funding, given Arizona state budget cuts. This would allow services to be provided for AHCCCS recipients for a limited time until they could find coverage.
In addition to these achievements, Castellanos has increased Valle del Sol’s accountability by instituting internal controls within finance.
Mark D. Cavanaugh – Winner, Small Private Company
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Firetrace USA, LLC
It’s been said that “without Mark Cavanaugh, Firetrace would cease to function.”
When Cavanaugh began working at Firetrace in 20005, the aerospace and defense business had $189,000 in revenue. In 2010, that amount rocketed to more than $64 million. Focusing on the industrial commercial markets, Cavanaugh has strategically grown operations to India, Dubai, Singapore, Australia, and, in 2011, Brazil.
Using his public policy efforts, Cavanaugh secured more than $100 million for fuel tank fire suppression and got fire suppression mandated for all military vehicles.
Leading the Firetrace team in the adoption of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act, Cavanaugh is safeguarding the company’s financial assets.
Cavanaugh has been instrumental in the growth of the aerospace and defense team by using the philosophy, “Hire the best people and get out of their way.”
Cavanaugh is active in the community, coaching youth soccer, baseball, softball and basketball.
Thomas B. Fischer
Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac
Thomas Fischer provides leadership and coordination in OnTrac’s financial, business planning, accounting and budgeting efforts.
During Fisher’s tenure, revenues at the overnight package delivery company have increased more than 200 percent, stockholders’ equity has increased 200 percent, and long-term debt has decreased from 75 percent to 10 percent.
Fischer also has played a crucial role in defining and executing the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP.) The ESOP currently is worth more than $15 million for 550 active participants.
Fischer’s aptitude for budgeting, cost control principles and managing resources is critical to the company’s success. His abilities in contracting and negotiating have allowed OnTrac to grow and expand.
Fischer works with the regional management team to foster healthy relationships within the company. He also exhibits leadership by encouraging his team to think critically and promote an enriched personal and work atmosphere.
He is an avid runner and a member of a Tucson running club.
William “Bill” McClung – Winner, Non-Profit
Chief Financial Officer
Southwest Human Development, Inc.
After just three years at Southwest Human Development, Bill McClung has helped the agency grow and improve. In the past three years, the company has seen a positive gain in net assets of more than $1.5 million.
This can be attributed to changes McClung made to budgeting, financial reporting and cost containment systems. In fiscal 2011. Southwest Human Development reported revenue in excess of $45 million. Budgeted revenue for fiscal 2012 is $53 million.
In preparation for the tri-annual federal review of Southwest Human Development’s largest program, Head Start, McClung and his team completely rewrote agency policies and procedures to meet federal requirements.
McClung has developed a top-of-the-line board of directors financial oversight committee and has made technological improvements, acting as the organization’s chief information officer. He has proven to be adept in preparing internal financial statements for management and the board of directors that enable them to better understand and manage finances at all levels.
Under his method of “leading by example,” the company has experienced almost no turnover in staff.
Steven L. Ortega
Chief Financial Officer
Leslie’s Poolmart LLC
For the past six years, Steven Ortega has kept Leslie’s Poolmart functioning swimmingly.
Leading the company through the national economic downturn, Ortega has helped it achieve 47 straight years of sales growth and 47 quarters of consecutive operating profitability.
During Ortega’s tenure, the company has developed a comprehensive five-year strategic growth plan. This plan was created as a roadmap to achieve the company’s goal of growing to $1 billion in annual sales revenues.
Ortega was instrumental in a financial transaction with CVC Capital Partners to invest in the company, which helped provide capital structure. Since 2005, Ortega has opened 172 retail stores, 17 new commercial service centers, relocated 12 retail stores, and remodeled more than 200 stores. In addition, Ortega was a key part in two strategic company acquisitions that led to market growth in both Texas and Arizona.
Ortega provides strategic leadership in which he revamped the new store development process, enhanced the company’s compensation plans, and enhanced the review and approval process for all contracts and agreements.
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Goodwill of Central Arizona
Respected for her leadership, Perry has led Goodwill of Central Arizona to a new level of growth and success.
During her four-year tenure, Goodwill of Central Arizona has grown from 37 retail locations to 46. Along with retail growth, revenue has grown from $60.1 million to a projected $87 million.
Perry has been responsible for the stability, credibility, and overall effectiveness of the financial operations of the organization. Goodwill’s balance sheet has greatly improved, and debt balances have decreased from $22.3 million to $13.9 million.
Perry has created a financial culture that is focused on transparency, credibility (internally and externally), integrity, and a culture that is consultative, synergistic, supportive and advisory.
She was instrumental to the development of an innovative campaign called “Band Together to Spread Goodwill,” which features “Giving Bands” that are being sold at all Goodwill locations. Proceeds benefit nine different charities.
Kellie S. Pruitt
Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary
Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.
Healthcare Trust of America (HTA) has been in business for just four years, and its seasoned leader, Kellie Pruitt, is steering it in the right direction.
During Pruitt’s tenure, the company increased its financial flexibility by obtaining a $575 million unsecured credit facility, and was assigned an investment grade credit rating by Moody’s and S&P. In the past two years, Pruitt and efforts by the management team have led to a $1.6 billion increase in equity. As CFO, Pruitt is responsible for managing HTA’s accounting, tax, and finance, treasury and investor relations functions. She established the company’s corporate headquarters and closed over $1.2 billion of acquisitions has helped hire and train all the company’s employees with the CEO.
Pruitt is involved in all strategic operating and financial decisions, but also actively drives and monitors the results. Her leadership has been essential to leading the company through the recession, always with HTA’s financial health and the best interest of the company’s investors in mind.
Displaying the highest level of ethics, integrity and trust, Pruitt believes in transparency with employees, the board of directors, and investors. She always believes in doing the right thing, even if it isn’t the most popular decision.
Dena L. Richter
Chief Financial Officer
SynCardia Systems, Inc.
By overseeing all financial activities of SynCardia, Dena Richter leads the company that manufactures the Total Artificial Heart that helps people who suffer from heart failure. Her roles as both CFO and HR Director allow her to utilize her talents as a financial director and employee mentor. Financial reporting, cash management and five regulatory audits per year are just a few of Richter’s extensive responsibilities. Her leadership ability resulted in the vertical integration of a supply chain with an $800,000 purchase of a supplier’s Segmented Polyurethane Solution (SPUS) reactor. Trinity Capital Investment’s confidence in Richter led to their approval of an additional leasing capacity of $2 million along with a $1 million investment in SynCardia’s Series E equity round. These are just a few of her financial accomplishments. Her fiscal management of the company has resulted in explosive growth and sales. SynCardia’s success through Richter’s example has increased product manufacturing, allowing a great number of people to receive the care their lives depend on.
Chief Financial Officer/Human Resources Manager
CCS Presentation Systems
Jack Seaver’s fiscal actions help the company provide quality audio and video systems for clients such as Intel, Arizona State University and Ratheon. With 13 years of experience, Seaver plays an essential role in making CCS one of the largest A/V integrators in the United States. His collection policies put the company’s current accounts receivable percentage at 90.4 percent based on approximately $5 million in receivables. Due to his initiation of the American Express “Plum” Credit Card, CCS receives 2 percent cash credit for all payments made accordingly. Seaver’s unparalleled leadership style has the company recognized for having one of the best operational practices in the industry. Known as the “rock” of the company, his generosity always shines through. Whether making a personal donation to a struggling employee or raising money for the Red Cross and local charities, Seaver goes above and beyond his written responsibilities through selfless acts of kindness.
Andrew A. Stevens
Chief Financial Officer
Liberty Distribution Company, LLC
As CFO and board member, Andrew Stevens is responsible for all financial aspects of Liberty Distribution, including financial reporting, treasury and risk management, investor relations, planning and analysis. As a crucial member of the company’s board, Stevens sets the strategic direction of the business while providing valuable feedback to the group. He works with sales to competitively price new account acquisition proposals, and significantly contributed to the acquisition of a competitor’s assets in 2008. Stevens seeks “balance” between risk and reward when analyzing opportunities, and is known by co-workers as both a leader and team player. His dedication to the success of Liberty Distribution does not hinder his commitment to service. Stevens has been an active member of organizations such as Childsplay, the America West Airlines Foundation and the University of Arizona Alumni Association. An active member of the church and the community, Stevens strives to bring people together through his discipline learned as a CPA.
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Apollo Group, Inc.
After previously joining the Apollo Group as vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer in 2007, Brian Swartz was appointed CFO two years later.
Swartz is recognized by the company for his influence on goals and performance. Despite a 40 percent decline in new enrollment, he helped Apollo maintain its fiscal strength. His review of the company’s cost structure resulted in the identification and reduction of more than $100 million in costs through operational initiatives. With the help of colleagues, Swartz spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the governance practices at Apollo after discovering a stock option backdating issue. His oversight of the “Apollo Excellence” program helps ensure business processes are streamlined and cost-efficient. These are just a few ways Swartz continues to contribute his expertise toward the company’s enormous success.
Stevens also is actively involved in the community through serving on the board of directors of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
Chief Financial Officer
CyraCom International, Inc.
As CFO of CyraCom International, a provider of language services for people with limited English proficiency, Susan Sweeney executes an extensive array of financial duties.
During her four-year tenure, Sweeney has accomplished an incredible amount for CyraCom. Under her guidance, the company doubled revenues to $37.4 million, and increased the earnings per share by 180 percent. The company also met all cost and revenue budgets for 41 of the past 42 months, with a staff that expanded from 248 employees to 600. Sweeney’s leadership helped increase CyraCom’s borrowing capacity from $1.5 million to $18 million, enabling its first acquisition. As a result of these successes, CyraCom was honored as the second-fastest growing company in Southern Arizona by the Arizona Daily Star, as well as listed in the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies for 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Sweeney’s grasp of cost-control and decision management has made her an admirable part of CyraCom’s team. Her personal interest in the well-being of employees has them continuing to hold a full suite of benefits.
Dan Urness – Winner, Public Company
Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer
Cavco Industries, Inc.
Dan Urness has led Cavco Industries to financial success.
He is responsible for IT functions, payroll, human resources oversight, corporate development work, as well as all financial affairs. More importantly, he has been highly influential in the company’s growth.
By providing innovative ideas into Fleetwood Homes’ and Palm Harbor Homes’ bid strategies, Cavco changed from a regional manufacturer to the second-largest national supplier, retailer, financier, and insurer of systems-built housing in the U.S.
During the 2008 economic market crisis, Urness demonstrated his valuable leadership by actively managing the company’s excess cash and investments to prevent that loss in value and liquidity that many other companies experienced. This proved critical when funding subsequent expansion.
By recognizing that the implementation of a company-wide enterprise resource planning IT system would be critical to future success, he worked closely with the IT department to identify and retain the chosen provider.
Urness volunteers as a youth leader in his free time.
Chief Financial Officer
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix
With 12 locations and growing, the Boy & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix relies on Dale Wanek to oversee the accounting, information technology, human resources, and facilities functions.
In his role, Wanek has worked with the organization to achieve many milestones. During his tenure, the organization has had yearly clean audits without discrepancies. His vendor negotiations have resulted in savings of $150,000 in the past year. The Boys & Girls Clubs also remodeled existing locations, and has undertaken an expansion plan for a dental clinic that is expected to be completed in 2012.
Wanek’s innovative approach to finance has helped establish new policies, such as fortifying the organization’s reserves to maintain a minimum of 90 days of cash on hand, and strengthening the business relationships in the community to solicit donations.
Wanek also helped secure a $10.8 million new construction loan to build three new clubhouses. The organization recognizes him as both an easygoing and engaging person with whom to work.
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS
Steve Ward serves as both CFO and COO for the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Arizona’s oldest and largest nonprofit AIDS organization.
Ward’s timely and effective tactics regarding finance have helped the agency excel during the economic crisis and beyond. By helping the agency with effective banking arrangements, it continues to have strong months of fundraising.
His ability to submit financial, operational, and qualitative program narrative data directly addresses grantor’s needs. The Southwest Center benefitted from Ward’s financial planning by receiving voter approval for $3.6 million in public funding to establish a community center.
He oversees a clinical trial program which previously lost $300,000 per year, but is now breaking even and growing in revenue thanks to his leadership.
Ward has been called an ambassador of collaborative, creative solutions among community partners. His popular “can-do” attitude and optimism have helped the agency become a critical outlet for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Chief Financial Officer
Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Margaret Wolford has assembled financial reporting systems and procedures that have advanced the Children’s Museum of Phoenix to an unparalleled level.
When her fiscal management began, the organization was staffed with a small operational planning group that oversaw $22 million in multi-year charitable gifts. After her influence and leadership, Wolford converted the museum’s systems to sophisticated management software.
The reporting systems she established advanced the museum to a level of efficiency many mature organizations have not yet seen. As a brand new museum, Wolford increased operational staff members from 12 to 85 in three weeks. The budget also skyrocketed to $3 million.
Aside from her museum duties, she is an activist working on issues of human understanding and world peace. She models both peaceful and humane behavior in the workplace, and embeds the principles of ethical practices into everything she does.
Michael Zimmerman – Winner, Large Private Company
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President
The Go Daddy Group, Inc.
Under the financial supervision of Michael Zimmerman, the Go Daddy Group is the world’s No. 1 domain name registrar and largest Web hosting company.
Responsible for financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, as well as daily financial affairs, Zimmerman has taken the initiative as a true leader over the past 10 years. He was instrumental in managing a financial deal with other investors worth more than $2 billion. Amid the economic recession, Go Daddy earned double-digit growth, thanks to Zimmerman’s relentless approach with financial tracking.
Under his leadership, Go Daddy also increased sales by 21 percent, added a new facility and hired 400 employees. Zimmerman also oversees Go Daddy Cares, which donated more than $4.7 million in 2011, surpassing previous contributions.
After negotiating a partnership with the “.co” domain name that resulted in a Super Bowl commercial, the marketing strategy generated more than a 500 percent spike in domain name sales.
Zimmerman shows commitment to doing the right thing with each decision he makes, and is known as a “down-to-Earth and appreciative person.”
PRESCOTT COLLEGE STUDENT HOUSING
Developer: Prescott College
Prescott College is developing a $7M housing project focused on providing on-campus independent living facilities for students. The project will consist of 3 multi-level townhome style buildings along the banks of Butte Creek. It is targeting a LEED Gold designation upon completion in 3Q 2012.
Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.
Recipient: CarbonFree Technology
CarbonFree Technology campaigns for the use of green energy solutions throughout the United States and North America. The company, which was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Ontario, Canada, is a solar power project developer. It helps businesses and institutional customers develop solar power solutions for their energy needs.
CarbonFree Technology’s 2009 merger with SolEquity allowed it to increase its potential. The company negotiated the first successful implementation of a solar power purchase agreement in Arizona. This deal allowed Arizona State University to create a leadership position in its sustainability programs through the financing of two solar rooftop top installation and one rooftop. These installations create more than 1.5 megawatts of solar power. The ASU solar installations also are a visual reminder of the power of creativity and environmental responsibility that CarbonFree Technology champions.
CarbonFree Technology recommends appropriate solar solutions and securs available government incentives based upon each individual project. The company’s other duties include managing project construction, arranging financing, finding contractors to build the system and arranging monitoring and maintenance for the life of the system.
CarbonFree Technology’s work has a beneficial impact on the environment and the economies of the communities in which it works. In addition to creating solar power, CarbonFree Technology also creates jobs with each solar power installation. Every installation requires workers for everything from installation and arranging permits to painting and maintenance.
Finalist: Green Fuel Technologies
Green Fuel Technologies combined its original vision and market-savvy timing to become a leader in technology development and implementation.
At its inception in 1999, Green Fuel Technologies’ goal was to provide economically and environmentally conscious alternative energy sources to Arizonans. In 2006, CEO John Casey and president Dustin Hamby decided to explore the green building industry.
Now, not only does the company consult on developing technologies like bio fuel, wind and solar thermal, but it also develops unique green power systems for its clients. Green Fuel Technologies works with existing structures as well as conceptual designs to integrate alternative energy sources.
The company is currently partnering with Coulomb Technologies to create a network of 4,000 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Southwestern United States by the end of 2010. This partnership exemplifies Green Fuel Technologies’ key to long-term growth — bringing new energy technologies to the marketplace.
Finalist: Republic Services, Inc.
Republic Services not only provides trash collection services, it also derives useable energy from its landfills. Headquartered in Phoenix with 34,000 employees in 40 states and Puerto Rico, Republic Services has continually striven to be an industry leader since its founding in 1998.
The company has 74 landfill gas-to-energy projects nationwide, in more than one-third of its landfills. Landfill gas is methane produced by organic materials as it decomposes in landfills. After it is captured, the gas can be converted to an alternative fuel source for cars or to generate heat, steam, and electricity, among other things. These landfill gas-to-energy projects combine to produce the equivalent of removing four million cars from the road.
Landfill gas-to-energy projects have economic impacts as well as beneficial environmental impacts. These projects create jobs for professionals from engineers to equipment vendors. Along with the landfill gas conversion, the company continues to research, develop and implement environmentally friendly technologies.