Tag Archives: January – February 2011

truffle

The Dish: Truffles

Truffles are one of the easiest and most decadent things you can make. They lend themselves well to just about any flavor you can dream up, which makes them a versatile and elegant crowd pleaser.

 Truffles

— 2/3 cup heavy cream

— 12-ounce package (about 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips or substitute in any variety of chocolate

— 2 tsp vanilla extract. Substitute almond extract, rose water or orange flower water if desired.

— Add 1 tsp espresso powder, orange or lemon zest, ground-dehydrated raspberries or any other flavoring before adding the chocolate. Try a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne, or cardamom for an exotic, floral flavor.

 

 Coatings

— 1/4 cup cocoa powder or powdered sugar

— 3/4 cup toasted, shredded coconut

— 1/2 cup chopped pistachios or any nut you prefer

 

Bring cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into medium bowl.

Cover; chill until firm, about 3 hours.

Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.

Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Place cocoa, coconut, nuts or any other coatings in separate bowls. Roll truffles between hands into rounds. Roll truffles in coatings.

Cover with plastic; chill until ready to serve.

Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep chilled.

 

Click the image below for a printable recipe card.

truffles.chocolate

 

SimonCRE

SimonCRE, One Stop Voice Relocate to Scottsdale

SimonCRE and One Stop Voice, headed by Scottsdale entrepreneur Joshua Simon, moved into a larger office space this month at a location at Scottsdale and Chaparral roads. The new office space more than doubles the square footage giving some much needed breathing room for the expanding businesses. The purposeful timing of the move capitalizes on market conditions of office rental spaces.

According to recently published data, office vacancy has dropped to 21.4 percent in Phoenix. In large part this is due to overall employment increasing, which has created more jobs within companies that need room for growth. During the first quarter of 2013, office rent per square foot was at a six-year low, then changed direction in the second quarter with a 3.1 percent increase. In the third quarter rental rates are expected to continue to climb. Based on the data, it appears that the worst is in the past and that the market is entering a more Landlord-friendly environment. For Tenants, this means that the timing it good to now lock in rental rates with multi-year contracts.

“We paid particular attention to a couple of major factors before pulling the trigger on a larger office space,” explains Simon on the timing of his recent move. “One of those factors was that we wanted to make sure a larger office space was a prudent fiscal decision for both SimonCRE and One Stop Voice. We had the ability to make a move sooner, but waiting until now was a better answer for us. As importantly, we had a clear physical need for more space and amenities.”

The new office space covers more than 4,000 square feet with significant conveniences built-in. In their former location, community spaces were converted into offices because business growth demanded it. Now, the staff has ample room with dedicated space for both SimonCRE and One Stop Voice. A large reception area welcomes guests and comfortable conference room offers dramatic views of Camelback Mountain. The completely remodeled suite is a professional environment that is well-suited to the growing team.

The new address headquarters both Simon companies: SimonCRE and One Stop Voice. SimonCRE is a commercial real estate development firm that caters to regional brands searching to expand their reach. The firm specializes in shopping center development and redevelopment opportunities, as well as build-to-suit and single tenant projects. They have successfully completed projects across the United States. Cloud-based communications systems company One Stop Voice champions VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol communications for corporate clients. Because of the cutting-edge technology offered, the firm has experienced significant growth.

4222 E Thomas Road

Tucson Law Firm Launches Phoenix Office at Arcadia Gateway Center

hopley greg 5X7 photo

Greg Hopley

Zanes Law, a 10-year highly successful firm in Southern Arizona, selected the 90,000-square-foot Arcadia Gateway Center, 4222 E. Thomas Road in Phoenix, for its first office in the Valley.

Serving personal injury clients, the firm is led by Doug Zanes, an Arizona injury lawyer, and Claudia Zanes, the CEO.

“We chose a location that was central enough to serve all areas of the Phoenix community,” said the firm’s CEO Claudia Zanes (non-attorney). 

Arcadia Gateway Center also is the home of Phoenix Seminary, Center for Arizona Policy, Whiting Turner, Reliance Standard Life Insurance, Hormel Foods and Stealth Solar, among others.

Greg Hopley, executive vice president at Colliers International, served as the landlord’s broker. Zanes Law did not have a broker. 

“The Arcadia Gateway Center looks forward to Zanes Law serving as a dynamic new tenant that will bring additional energy and vibrancy to the business center,” Hopley said.

 

brand_vignette

Kiehl's Since 1851 Arrives in Scottsdale

The Store

Kiehl’s Since 1851, the venerable New York-based purveyor of fine quality skin and hair care preparations, opened its very first retail store in at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Kiehl’s is proud to offer visitors and the Scottsdale community the opportunity to discover the brand’s efficacious skin, hair and body care products, personalized customer service and 162-year-old heritage.

BB Cream_SPF 50“Scottsdale has long been on our wish list for a new store, and our new space at Scottsdale Fashion Square is the ideal location to fully introduce Kiehl’s to Arizona,” said Chris Salgardo, President, Kiehl’s USA. “Our new store allows us to bring Kiehl’s further into the Southwest and share our New York heritage with a whole new community. Each element of our new store, from the design of the fixtures explaining our skin, hair and body formulations, to the historical photographs, mementos and Kiehl’s icons, helps tell the extensive story of our unique company that began as an old-world apothecary at the corner of 13th Street and Third Avenue in New York’s East Village. From design, to customer service, to the high-performing natural ingredients that are the basis of our products, we did everything possible to bring a modern version of our original store to Scottsdale, and I look forward to introducing our new community to our skin care, our customer service and our story.”

Kiehl’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square mirrors the unique ambiance found in the company’s original New York Flagship, which began as a neighborhood apothecary in 1851. The new store brings a modern New York apothecary to Scottsdale, referencing the company’s original East Village roots and blending vintage and antique apothecary fixtures with a modern neon flare. The interior design advances Kiehl’s longtime commitment to the environment with the use of natural, sustainable materials and energy-efficient light fixtures, while enhancing the overall service experience for Kiehl’s patrons.

Kiehl’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square also utilizes natural, sustainable materials and energy efficient light fixtures – and encourages patrons to recycle Kiehl’s packaging with a specially designed recycling bin, promoted through Kiehl’s Recycle and Be Rewarded! program. The program offers customers the opportunity to return empty Kiehl’s jars, bottles and tubes to the store for recycling, in exchange for complimentary products.
Kiehl’s commitment to education through attentive service is accentuated through a dedicated personal consultation area. The enhanced space provides an opportunity for customer representatives and patrons to converse privately about products best suited for the customer’s individual needs. A separate men’s destination offers specialized educationActivatedSun_LotionSpray_SPF50 tailored to the specific concerns of male patrons.  All customers receive the kind of attentive service for which Kiehl’s is known around the world today. In addition, simple, no-frills packaging allows Kiehl’s to formulate its products with high quantities of the most efficacious natural ingredients available.

Generous sampling through Kiehl’s “try before you buy” program offers the complete Kiehl’s line of skin and hair care for men, women, children and babies with a generous offering of its traditional product samples. To assure its customers always find exactly what they need, Kiehl’s offers a 100% money back guarantee on all purchases, and guarantees that customers will see revitalized skin in 28 days or their money back.
Custom gifting 365 days a year allows customers to create personalized gifts year-round. A Kiehl’s Customer Representative will help the customer assemble a personalized, custom gift box, choosing items based on recipient, theme, ingredient or price, from any and all products in the store.

Design

  • A 6-ft table provides patrons a comfortable station for complimentary Healthy Skin Consultations by Kiehl’s Customer Representatives, which helps them determine the formulas best suited for their personal needs.
  • A  space for specialized shaving and grooming education and demonstrations is designed for men. Specially designed accents such as military-style lockers, black subway tile, and props to demonstrate the perfect shave, bring this relaxing stop to life for Kiehl’s male patrons.
  • Black Nero Marquina marble highlights the shop’s exterior façade, honoring the marble exterior of the original Kiehl’s New York Flagship.
  • Carrera marble tables, counters and trim provide a utilitarian, functional approach.
  • Natural, sustainable materials, such as tabletops made from paperstone, a waterproof material made from 100 % post-consumer recycled paper.
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting illuminates Kiehl’s products in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Reclaimed wood floors and exposed brick walls evoke the old-world quality of Kiehl’s East Village neighborhood.
  • A bronze and crystal chandelier is inspired by the crystal chandeliers that have adorned Kiehl’s Flagship store in NYC for years.
  • A custom-painted motorcycle, an icon of Kiehl’s heritage, will be on permanent display, evocative of the passions and adventurous spirit of Kiehl’s founding family.
  • Antique apothecary glassware and vintage props  reference the company’s early years as a neighborhood apothecary.
  • Vintage photographs and mementos – take customers on an exciting journey through Kiehl’s 162-year history.
  • Pop-art inspired graphics – the late Andy Warhol was a long-time Kiehl’s fan, purchasing Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion in bulk from the Flagship, and special graphics were created in his honor.

About Kiehl’s Since 1851: Kiehl’s was founded as an old-world apothecary in New York’s East Village neighborhood. After years as an ambitious apprentice, John Kiehl purchased the business and began operating under the Kiehl name, serving the burgeoning New York community with unique herbal remedies. In 1921, John Kiehl’s apprentice, Mr. Irving “Doc” Morse, purchased the business and expanded it to a full-service pharmacy, stocking medicines, tinctures, and the first Kiehl’s-branded products. Doc Morse, a pharmacist and herbologist, passed the business on to his son, Aaron, himself a chemist and avid motorcyclist and aviator. Aaron’s daughter, Jami, was raised at Kiehl’s amongst the “family” of employees, who together fostered a tradition of attentive, personalized service for every patron. Over the generations, the Morse family committed Kiehl’s to serving the community uniquely efficacious skin and hair formulations made with the finest natural ingredients in the apothecary tradition.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.  For more information about Kiehl’s, please visit www.kiehls.com.

rsz_davecheatham_velocityretail_small_2013

Retail Overview: Big Boxes, Big Decisions

 

As a building owner of a vacant big box (or perhaps soon-to-be-vacant), there are a lot of factors that affect the return on your investment and the success of your asset.

From our experience in working with owners as they analyze their asset, we have found that one common denominator applies to every situation — the owner must be armed with specific market information so that they can make educated decisions.

Market intelligence or market analytics play a key role in nearly every building sale or lease. While it is important to know the vacancy rate in the market, it is even more important to drill down to specifics about your product type and market area.

Following are some questions you can ask yourself about your building or asset:

>> How many vacant big boxes are in the immediate trade area (what is my competition)?

>> Are the big boxes of the same product type? Neighborhood, vs. power center, vs. anchored, vs. unanchored?

>>  What is the average length of time these boxes are on the market before they lease or sell?

>> What deals have been completed recently which are similar? What was the rental rate, or concessions such as free rent or TI dollars?

>> Who would be the typical tenants to lease or buy the space? Are they already in the area?

>> Will the other tenants in my shopping center be able to stay open if the anchor space is vacant? If so, for how long?

Chances are you do not know all of these answers, or even know where you can get this information. However, we believe that these answers are critical to a successful outcome for your asset. Whether you want to lease and hold it as an investment, or whether you want to sell it as is, the information you gather to make that decision is critical.

Velocity Retail Group has allocated significant resources over the past two years to create a structured research vehicle aimed specifically at big box owners. We have drilled down to specific product types within cities, market areas and regional areas. Additionally, understanding absorption, vacancy and new construction are critical factors to any real estate decision.

Over the past year, we have been asked to present our information to various economic, industry and governmental groups throughout the Valley. The feedback we receive from these presentations has been extremely positive. In order to help share this information in a format that communicates the analytics succinctly we have created a video podcast series for our clients.

Click on the video at the bottom of this article to watch the eight-minute market overview recapping 2012.

Dave Cheatham is Managing Principal of Velocity Retail Group. He is an authority on retail real estate in the disciplines of brokerage, project leasing, development, consulting and advisory services. He is a senior advisor to merchants, entrepreneurs, investors and senior retail executives throughout the industry.

The GPEC building in Phoenix - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Greater Phoenix Economic Council Profiles

Georgia Lord, GPEC Ambassador ChairwomanGeorgia Lord
GPEC Ambassador Chairwoman
Former Vice Mayor
City of Goodyear

As the wife of an Air Force officer, Georgia Lord has experienced myriad of cultures. Little did she know that while with him on assignment in Germany, she would get the opportunity to ride in a blimp bearing, coincidentally, the name of the city she later served as a city council member — Goodyear.

Lord was originally elected to the Goodyear City Council in 2005. Following her successful re-election in 2009, she was elected by the council to be vice mayor. At the end of 2010, however, she had to resign that position in order to run for mayor of Goodyear.

“I’m fortunate to be able to take complicated issues that are important to citizens, break them down in a way that allows us to address the impact of our decisions, and really consider the consequences our actions will have down the road,” she says.

Lord conducts these discussions with others outside of the Goodyear leadership, as well. In fact, she’s able to fuel her passion for Goodyear’s economic development through participation with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a venue that provides a sounding board for her ideas, and encourages interaction and support from other cities in the Valley.

“By working together as a team member of GPEC, we’re able to benefit from economies of scale and achieve our goals,” she says.

Lord is most specifically involved with GPEC’s Ambassador Program, which educates both the private and public sectors by highlighting the state’s strengths and the best ways to capitalize on them. Those education efforts, Lord explains, include tours of industrial facilities, workshops with industry experts, educational seminars and business training. She also participates in GPEC’s International Leadership Council, where she is able to draw on her past experiences overseas as she and other council members encourage foreign companies to invest in Arizona.


Scott Smith, mayor City of MesaScott Smith
Mayor
City of Mesa
www.mesaaz.gov

Scott Smith is not one to sit quietly on the sidelines. So, when he became increasingly frustrated with the direction Mesa was headed in, he decided it was time to “put up or shut up,” and was successfully elected mayor in 2008.

One of Smith’s greatest challenges since taking office has been the state of the city’s economy.

“It’s not allowed us to pursue some of the opportunities we would have liked to be well down the road with already,” Smith says. “We know that the only way for us to recover is to create a business environment where the economy can grow and business can thrive, so we’re working diligently to create that kind of environment.”

Smith has found that his involvement with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) has been very helpful as he navigates the murky waters of the economy.

“Organizations such as GPEC that are focused on the region’s economic success are absolutely necessary tools for us to really experience the kind of success we think we are capable of,” he says.

The best way to build a successful environment, Smith says, is to identify a city or region’s strengths. The city of Mesa has done so through its HEAT Initiative — Health, Education, Aerospace, Tourism. Boeing, an important employer in Mesa, has received good news, Smith says, that will help solidify its position in the region, and MLB Spring Training continues to draw tourists to the state.

“If we can build upon our strengths … I think we can create a new or expanded economic base that will help us to grow in an organic and measured manner, rather than the boom-and-bust that we experience when we depend on growth as an industry,” Smith says.

Participation in GPEC and working with other cities, he adds, will be much more helpful for Arizona’s overall economy than a city trying to work its problems out on its own.

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Girlfriend University - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Girlfriend University Isn’t Just For The Ladies

Don’t let the rhinestones, quotes by Madonna, crystal chandeliers and fuchsia touches fool you; Girlfriend University is serious business.

Founders Renee Dee, former publisher of Arizona Foothills Magazine, and Jodi Low, a former sales and marketing professional, combined their corporate and entrepreneurial backgrounds to create Girlfriend University as a way for women to grow personally and professionally.Girlfriend University Shirts, Lipstick

It’s a place for women to “catapult themselves into a great season of change,” Dee says.

Located in the upscale Scottsdale Quarter, Girlfriend University is equally chic. Clean lines and modern decor set the scene for business and personal growth.

The campus, as the women call it, features a lobby, complete with stick figure renderings of Dee and Low; a conference room; a 50- to 70-seat classroom; and an intimate mastermind room in which teachers and students can brainstorm.

March will mark the first anniversary of Girlfriend University, but it has already grown.

The staff has burgeoned from two, founders Dee and Low, to five, in part because of the success of Girlfriend University’s two and a half day leadership development intensive programs, Dee says. This program doesn’t center on creating a business plan, as most of the university’s other programs do. Instead, it focuses on encouraging women to invest in themselves and their businesses for a good return, Dee says.

The students of the intensive program walk out of the program in a “clear, focused, confident, passionate way,” Low says.

Girlfriend University is committed to doing this “powerful” program monthly, Dee says. To continue this intensive program, Girlfriend University hosts “class reunions” for the students, Dee says.Girlfriend University

Although, as the name suggests, Girlfriend University markets primarily to women, men make up half of the university’s student body.

“The ‘guy’ friends, you could say, are not afraid to stop by,” Dee says.

One of those men is Christian O’Connell, global ambassador for TheScene.com.

“Their two-day course, in my opinion, was more valuable than every other personal development course I’ve ever done,” O’Connell says. “I’ve heard Donald Trump speak on business leadership principles, if you will. The element of personal growth and business knowledge growth that happens at that (Girlfriend University seminar) just surpassed anything that I’ve done.”

O’Connell found this course so useful he encouraged other employees at TheScene.com to take the class.

In addition to the intensive programs, Girlfriend University also hosts a variety of other classes.

It’s a one-stop shop for those looking to grow their current business or create a new one, Low says.

Girlfriend UniversityThree and a half hour marketing sessions, during which the student and teachers “go bananas” in a brainstorming session, is another popular class, Dee says. The session ends with the creation of a business model and a list of people to call and connections to make.

Monthly Business 101 classes focus on a variety of topic, including optimizing social media and maximum time efficiency.

In 2011, Girlfriend University will focus on more “intensive, life-changing programming for leaders and entrepreneurs,” Dee says. The next decade might hold a location change to a freestanding facility as the university grows, Low says.

Wherever Girlfriend University is, Dee is confident that it is unique.

“We feel very one-of-a-kind here,” Dee says. “You can’t go to every city and look at everything they’ve got, so it’s hard to confirm, but we’ve not bumped into anything like this any place else in the country. We’re excited about that.”

Upcoming GU Events:

GU hosts a variety of workshops and one-on-one business intensives, but what sets them apart and makes GU unique is their two-and-a-half day Leader 101 trainings. This intensive course is designed to amplify the passion, enthusiasm, commitment and connectedness in your life.

The monthly classes have received amazing testimonials, and CEO’s in the Valley are even putting their employees in the program. Once completed, the attendees can go onto Leader 202, Communication 101 and 202. The Mastery Curriculum is designed to build strong leaders and passionate employees.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

SkySong is a mixed-use development in Scottsdale with a focus on global industries. - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

GPEC’s Revamped International Leadership Council Looks To Bring Foreign Direct Investment To Arizona

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is sharpening its international approach with an aim toward bringing more foreign direct investment to the state. To that end, GPEC has restructured its International Leadership Committee (ILC).

“My vision is to put Arizona on the radar,” says Rudy Vetter, senior vice president of international business development at GPEC.

Sharon Harper, president and CEO of The Plaza Companies, is one of the ILC’s co-chairmen. The Plaza Companies is the co-developer of SkySong, a mixed-use development in Scottsdale with a focus on global industries.

“Repositioning the (ILC) board and a more strategic focus on foreign direct investment on Europe, Asia and Canada has resulted in a greater number of international prospects and successes,” she says.

Harper notes that the top-tier markets for the committee are those that best align with Arizona, such as China, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, along with Japan, Korea and Canada.

The specific industries being targeted are solar energy, other renewable energy products, clean tech and environmental technology, biotech, medical and life sciences, as well as high-tech manufacturing.

“There is a great opportunity for Arizona and Greater Phoenix to benefit significantly from foreign direct investments. By focusing on Arizona’s core strengths, and specifically the vision at SkySong and other projects that are focused on the global economy, Arizona will be attracting and creating good jobs for our region,” Harper says.

Reducing the committee’s size, along with adding leading investors and major academic leaders in the Valley to its roster, has resulted in a concerted effort to make a more powerful impact in the international arena. Intel, Arizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Phoenix all have a presence on the committee, as well as representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands, among others.

“The key element for the ILC is that they invest their expertise, their skills and knowledge about international affairs, and they combine that with investing into their network, connections and international activity,” Vetter says.

With a diverse and experienced pool of senior executives on the committee, the main goal is to get the word out about Arizona and the many perks it offers.

“It’s about creating awareness,” Vetter says. “Arizona is not necessarily the first state that comes to mind to an international investor. (It’s up to us) to make them aware of the great qualities this place has.

“Very often, we create first contact by meeting companies during trade shows and conferences; we find out if there is a company interested in an operation in the U.S., and we make the case for Arizona and Greater Phoenix,” Vetter adds.

He points out that although Arizona can’t compete with companies looking for an East Coast presence, when it comes to the West, the committee’s job is to ensure the state is on the shortlist of candidates.

Since the passage of the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, Arizona has become a power player in the solar industry, attracting several high-level, international companies to the Valley. To keep the momentum going, Vetter and the rest of the committee work closely with international companies, providing them with step-by-step plans to make their entrance into Arizona a smooth one. The process of foreign companies setting up a presence domestically comes with many challenges, and GPEC strives to ensure the companies’ success.

“It’s a seed that we have to nurture, and sooner or later we can grow a plant,” Vetter says. “They’re coming with an investment, but they have to create the business from scratch. GPEC connects them with local business to get them started faster and to create mutual benefit for the whole community. We hear all the time from companies that locate here; they love this one-stop shopping (GPEC offers).”

As the ILC continues on its mission to attract foreign investors to the area, it also will continue to focus on building a strong sustainability industry in the state.

“The idea of seeing the Valley plastered with solar panels, people driving cars they can plug in and knowing they don’t have to pay their utility bills is a nice vision — but we are not that far from it anymore,” Vetter says.

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Arizona Tourism Alliance Brian Johnson

Arizona Tourism Alliance

Brian Johnson, managing director Loews Ventana CanyonBrian Johnson
Managing Director
Loews Ventana Canyon
www.loewshotels.com

With 33 years in the industry, Brian Johnson has experienced firsthand the roller coaster ride the tourism industry takes as the economy shifts. Johnson has risen far in his career, working his way up from a dishwasher to his current position as managing director of the iconic Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson. But even a resort as well known and popular as the Loews Ventana Canyon must work hard during tough economic times and low tourism rates.

“As anyone else, we have to find ways to create a new wrinkle that will bring people back to our property,” he says. In the past and in recent days, those new wrinkles have included renovations, nature trail additions that harmonize with the surrounding environment, and a butterfly garden. As one of the first ecologically conceived hotels, the environment has always played a part in all of their decisions, he explains.

Johnson’s involvement in the Arizona Tourism Alliance, where he serves on the executive committee, has been beneficial for both himself and the resort.

“It’s one of these things where you have a group of like-minded people who are dealing with the same issues and putting everyone together to create that effect that will help the common good of our industry,” he says. “It’s a global standpoint; we’re not just looking at one area, we’re looking at all the components and doing what is good for all of Arizona.

“I think in our industry, you can be whoever you want to be. This industry has created that opportunity for me and my family … ”


Lorraine Pino, manager of Glendale Convention and Visitors BureauLorraine Pino
Manager
Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau
www.visitglendale.com

Spend just five minutes with Lorraine Pino and one thing becomes obvious — she’s passionate about tourism, not only in Glendale, but the whole state of Arizona.

As manager of the newly appointed Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau (formerly the Glendale Office of Tourism), Pino promotes all Glendale has to offer. She has managed several campaigns that benefit both Glendale and the West Valley. One such campaign is Shop Glendale, a program that provides daily discounts and monthly prizes for the public from more than 70 business participants. To date, more than 35,000 Shop Glendale cards have been distributed.

Pino also helped create the West Valley Events Coalition, which brought West Valley cities together to pool their resources for advertising and marketing efforts geared toward tourism.

Involvement in the Arizona Tourism Alliance has been vital to the efforts of Pino and her team, she says.

“The resources, education and connectivity of the Arizona Tourism Alliance (ATA) are a huge help and much needed foundation for CVBs and DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) throughout the state,” Pino explains. “With our recent transition to a convention and visitors bureau, the resources of the ATA were monumental in helping us form our business plan.”

The new status as a CVB has brought a wealth of positive changes, she says. Funding from the members can now be used toward more aggressive marketing and branding efforts.


Doug Yonko, vice president of communication Hensley DistributingDoug Yonko
Vice President of Communication
Hensley Distributing
www.hensley.com

Doug Yonko is a true believer in longevity and commitment. Just take a look at his employment history with Hensley Distributing. The Phoenix-based beer distributor has existed for 55 years and Yonko — who works as the vice president of communications — has been with the company for more than half that time.

Hensley Distributing is active in many of the community’s charitable efforts, and encourages its employees to do likewise. The company and its employees are also committed to being involved in key issues that impact the state, including Arizona’s tourism. Yonko demonstrates that objective through his involvement on the Arizona Tourism Alliance’s executive committee, where he says he has the “opportunity to connect with some really smart people who truly understand the significance of tourism.”

The downturn in the economy and political issues such as SB 1070 have hit the tourism industry hard, Yonko says, but the situation has taught the business community how to withstand hard times.

“I believe there is a silver lining in these challenges,” he says. “The issues ranging from immigration to budget cuts, etc., have brought the business community closer in terms of the discussion and development for long-range solutions to protect and to foster the growth of the tourism industry. … We have to hold ourselves accountable, as well as the Legislature for our future — funding is critically important if Arizona is to remain competitive.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

A Rioglass solar facility - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program Helps GPEC Bring In The Shining Stars Of Solar

It makes sense that a city with an average of more than 321 days of sunshine a year is taking the lead in solar, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the energy source’s biggest crusader in Arizona: the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

“I think if you look at comprehensively the way that we approach the utilization of solar, this is top-down the best market to do solar manufacturing,” says Chris Camacho, executive vice president of business development at GPEC.

GPEC aggressively pushed for passage of Senate Bill 1403, the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, that was signed into law in 2009. The incentives include a refundable tax credit and a property tax reduction.

Since January 2010, eight companies have made the commitment to come to the Phoenix Metro area, with many more anticipated for the future.

GPEC’s hard work has led to making connections around the globe and attracting a number of high-level renewable energy companies to the Valley. One of these companies is Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s largest manufacturer of photovoltaic modules.

“Arizona can be very proud that it has GPEC as an ambassador for the region to reach out to global companies,” says Wei Tai Kwok, vice president of marketing at China-based Suntech Power Holdings. “They’re pounding the pavement to get the message out there that they want to be the solar capital.”

It was thanks to this commitment that Suntech decided to make Goodyear the location for the company’s first U.S. manufacturing plant.

“(GPEC) helped us with the financial modeling, business plan and follow-up,” Kwok says. “They were very attentive and committed to our success … and they’re still at our side and supportive of our needs.”

He also listed other important attributes that factored into the decision, including the state’s skilled work force and Arizona’s serious commitment to solar energy.

GPEC’s Camacho says that type of confidence and emphasis helps the organization differentiate itself from similar groups.

“GPEC’s brand as a group can provide the highest level of services to companies in analyzing the Western U.S. for business locations,” he adds.

The companies that have worked with GPEC can attest to its capability in assisting with relocation efforts. Rioglass Solar, a company that produces reflector components for solar thermal power plants and is a subsidiary of Rioglass Solar Holdings in Spain, worked with GPEC to establish a manufacturing facility and U.S. headquarters in Surprise.

“It was very helpful for us to have an organization that could get us the support we needed,” says Greg Armstrong, chief operating officer of Rioglass Solar. “You need a site that is constructible, has infrastructure and has a quality work force.”

Armstrong adds that the company is highly confident that due to the support of the local community, the infrastructure and GPEC, coming to Arizona will meet Rioglass Solar’s objectives.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits the expansion of the solar industry in Arizona will have will be on job creation. The more activity there is in the region, the more high-quality jobs will be available. The Suntech plant already has created 80 jobs and is expecting to increase to about 150 people within three or four years. Rioglass Solar also anticipates more than 100 positions at its Surprise facility.

While there has been plenty to celebrate since the passing of the incentive program, there are still hurdles to overcome. The catalysts for future growth of the solar industry in Arizona certainly are in place, but the economic difficulties have had an effect.

“We have seen corporations be very conservative in how quickly they move on investment decisions,” Camacho says. “We still have another 150 renewable energy companies in our pipeline. As the economy continues to recover, credit becomes more available, we will welcome more and more companies.”

It’s safe to say that Arizona is moving ahead in the sustainability industry — most notably in the solar field — and thanks to GPEC’s support, there are no signs of this industry slowing down.

“I look at sustainability alongside health care as one of the two industries that is going to drive our economic future,” Camacho says. “Without groups like GPEC, a lot of this would not exist, and I’ll attribute that to having our team be at the forefront of understanding these technology applications, understanding what drives the location decisions of CEOs, and creating an environment that’s very supportive of the (solar) industry.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Enchantment Resort in Sedona - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Studies Show That Every Dollar Invested In Tourism Returns At Least Double That Amount

Forests of Saguaro cacti lit by fiery red and orange sunsets, gun-toting cowboys staging shoot-outs, and the Grand Canyon’s striated walls looming over the Colorado River.

One would think these distinctly Arizona images could sell themselves. Unfortunately, Arizona’s tourism industry is learning the hard way that it takes more than just the state’s natural beauty and attractions to bring in visitors — it takes dollars.

“That’s why we need to be out there marketing Arizona, reminding people about what a great, wonderful, warm, welcoming destination we are,” says Debbie Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Tourism Alliance and president and CEO of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association.

The recession caused Arizona’s once vibrant tourism industry to flounder, and in 2009, the stigma related to the corporate meetings industry continued the industry’s downward spiral.

“We weren’t just feeling the pain like everybody else. We were getting hit much more significantly than the nation overall,” says Mitch Nichols, president of Nichols Tourism Group, which provides research services to the tourism industry.

Visitor spending in Arizona decreased 10.6 percent, while the nation saw a decrease of just 4.4 percent, from 2007 to 2009. Additionally, Arizona lost $780 million in potential visitor spending because its share of national travel expenditures dropped from 2005 to 2008, according to Nichols Tourism Group.

In early 2010, the state Legislature dealt the industry a one-two punch when it passed SB 1070 and redirected funds from the Arizona Office of Tourism’s (AOT) budget to the general fund.

The Legislature redirected the tourism formula fund, which is composed of 3.5 percent of the state’s bed tax, 3 percent of the state’s amusement tax, and 2 percent of the state’s restaurant tax. This redirection will take approximately $28 million away from AOT over the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.

In November 2010, the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, announced more bad news for Arizona’s tourism industry. In a study, it was reported that the controversial SB 1070 bill had cost the state $141.4 million in lost spending.

However, the industry isn’t down for the count.

Led by the Arizona Tourism Alliance, the tourism industry is campaigning to reclaim the budget, which it believes will help pull Arizona out of the recession and return millions of visitors to Arizona.




Arizona Inn in Tucson

Photo: Arizona Inn




While the long-term effects of SB 1070 on the tourism industry are hard to quantify, the budget redirection is projected to cost Arizona big.

Even the most conservative estimate puts the state’s losses at $26.7 million, but “actual revenue losses could potentially be many times this amount,” according to an independent study by Elliot D. Pollack & Co.

Nichols Tourism Group estimates the state could lose as much as $1.6 billion.

“You’re not finding $14 million. You’re creating a much bigger hole that will have to be funded in the future,” Nichols says.

The redirection of money decimated AOT’s marketing budget, allowing other states to sneak in and steal Arizona’s market share. These states recently discovered the tourism industry’s power to pull a state out of the recession.

“Some of our key competitors, California in particular, got much more aggressive in terms of the resources they were spending to try and convince visitors to choose California,” Nichols says.

Arizona is becoming out of sight, out of mind, and statistics prove it, Johnson adds.

From January to August 2010, the daily rate for Arizona hotel rooms declined 4.4 percent, while the nation’s daily rate only declined by 1 percent, and California’s daily rate declined by 1.1 percent, according to Nichols Tourism Group.

“Too often there’s a mindset that people will come whether or not you advertise. And we’ve got to increasingly ensure that kind of mindset does not carry the day,” Nichols says.

To remedy the industry’s declining revenue, Arizona’s Legislature needs to be reminded of what tourism means to the state. Tourism brings in revenue that funds education and many of the public services that are necessary during recessionary times.

The return on investment for every dollar spent on tourism marketing is seven to one, out-of-state studies show, according to the Pollack study.

In addition to pulling in revenue, the tourism industry directly and indirectly employs around 300,000 Arizonans, about 10 percent of the state’s work force.

Two key pieces of Arizona’s future, the economy and the work force, depend upon tourism. If the budget is restored, and soon, Arizona can rebound to pre-recession numbers within five years, Johnson says.

“Our destination has shown … that we can come back from adversity,” Johnson says. “We saw that after 9/11. (We were) one of the top five destinations, in terms of rebounding. I think we’re going to see that again because of what we have to offer, because we do have such a strong industry here. We’re a united industry. We work together and we come together in times like this. I think you’re going to see Arizona rebound.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Barry Broome, GPEC president and CEO - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

GPEC’s President And CEO, Barry Broome Talks About Getting The Valley’s Economy Back On Track

Give us a look ahead at Greater Phoenix’s major industries.

The emergence of solar and renewable energy has been, and will continue to be, a big opportunity for us. We need to learn, as a market, how to be involved in new technology initiatives. There are going to be wins, losses and volatility, but the renewable space is going to continue to grow.

From January to November 2010, 1,350 jobs and $153 million in capital investment have been created. Renewable energy projects now make up about 28 percent of the companies looking at our region.

In addition to the renewable energy industry, health care, life sciences and information communication technology will expand next year. All of this is plagued by inconsistency in the capital markets. There is not enough private equity and there is no real IPO (initial public offering) market. Whenever you are building a new technology, it is really important that capital markets are responsive.

What kinds of jobs does GPEC look to attract and grow in Greater Phoenix?

We’re probably having the best year for attracting engineers and professional jobs that GPEC has ever had as an organization. These quality jobs are fueled by the fact that renewable energy is the new technology space.

GPEC is performing at a high level, even though the country is still in a recession. We have already driven 4,400 jobs to Greater Phoenix from July to October 2010. Of those jobs, 66 percent provide high wages. We want to see even more high-quality jobs this year. Hopefully, we will continue to drive regional headquarters, and professional services and technology jobs in the region.

GPEC talks a lot about competitiveness. Why is this important, and what specifically is GPEC doing to make the region more competitive?

For a long time, GPEC has focused efforts on increasing the region’s competitiveness. It’s absolutely critical because every major investment is analyzed by people with very astute backgrounds for its financial implications, talent and long-term viability. The most common differentiating point for a market is its competitive position. We look at the cost of doing business, the speed of doing business, ability to attract talent and access to capital.

GPEC has several initiatives to push Greater Phoenix into more globally competitive circles. The region — historically — has relied on retail, construction and real estate sectors to our own detriment. We have a high-quality job formula. Arizona will increase its competitive position with GPEC’s proposal to drive large company expansions, increasing our local, talented work force, and improving our tax climate. Working on job creation legislation with Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), rural partners, the Arizona Commerce Authority and chamber partners is going to be really important this year. GPEC also works closely with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Small Business Association, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership, and our communities and mayors.

It wasn’t that long ago, just four years ago, that Arizona was ranked No. 1 in the country for job growth. Now, we have fallen to almost last in the country — 48th place. We need to understand how to improve the environment for business and compete in new technologies and industries. That is going to make the difference for Greater Phoenix as it recovers from the housing slump and shifts the job base away from the real estate industry to export industries.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Monument Valley in Arizona, part of the Arizona Office of Tourism's new marketing campaign - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Arizona Launches Innovative Media Campaign To Bring Back Tourists

Arizona has gotten a bad rap as of late, with the added national backlash from the passage of SB 1070 making it even tougher for the state to climb out of the recession. But the Arizona Office of Tourism is fighting back, and it has only one word for you — monumental.

It’s part of the Arizona Office of Tourism’s “In One Word — Arizona” marketing campaign that launched Nov. 8. The campaign couples iconic images of Arizona with one word describing the image. Bet you can guess which image is paired with “grand.”

The campaign’s eight images, ranging from the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to Sedona and Flagstaff’s distinctive terrains, will run from November 2010 to May 2011 primarily in Chicago and Los Angeles, the two major markets for Arizona tourism.

This campaign features traditional print, TV and radio ads, but also includes innovative strategies, such as video-on-demand, “wallscapes” on buildings in Chicago and Los Angeles, and versions of the ads appearing on the print-out boarding passes of eight major airlines.

The advertising is “layered to continue to drive home the wonders and the diversity of Arizona,” says Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Spreading the message of Arizona’s allure is not limited to the Hollywood Hills and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. An extensive digital media campaign also will run in San Francisco, Denver, New York City and other major markets, as well as Mexico and Canada.

But the biggest accomplishment of AOT’s new campaign is the fact that despite intense budget cuts that practically erased the marketing budget, the campaign is forging ahead, focused on bringing in much-needed tourism to the state.

The state Legislature removed revenue from the tourism formula from AOT’s budget and placed it in the general fund. Because of this shift, the AOT will receive approximately $14 million less in the 2011 fiscal year than it received in the 2010 fiscal year.

“We have this budget, and we are going to make this budget stand like it is 10 times what we have,” Henry says, adding that AOT’s mission is “to use the dollars we do have to drive as much revenue as we can.”

The budget stress isn’t the only issue facing Arizona’s tourism industry. The recession, which caused the budget decrease, is the No. 1 issue, Henry says. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 hurt, as well as the “AIG effect,” in which big businesses cut down on holding corporate meetings at resorts. Then, boycotts from the passage of SB 1070 gave a further beating to an already crippled industry.

However, Henry says Arizona’s tourism is going to surge back because of the state’s well-established image and the strong partnerships within the tourism industry.

“The branding of Arizona hasn’t changed,” Henry says. “There are some misconceptions of what’s happening here, but it hasn’t really affected the Arizona we all know and love.”

AOT has partnered with local convention and visitor bureaus and the Arizona Tourism Alliance to reach the group-and-meeting tourism market. The relationships between all sectors of Arizona’s tourism industry are “stronger than any other state we know of,” Henry says.

Although 2009 saw a 10.2 percent decrease in travel expenditures and a 2.1 million decrease in overnight visitors, 35.3 million visitors still made Arizona their destination of choice.

Statistics show that in 2010, top-of-the-line leisure traveler numbers are up, Henry says. AOT identifies leisure travelers as Arizona’s target visitor.

“We’re finally beginning to see it creep up again,” Henry says of visitor numbers.




Arizona Office of Tourism's new campaign

Images courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism




AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Bill Pepicello, chairman of GPEC and president of University of Phoenix - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Q&A Bill Pepicello, GPEC Chairman And University Of Phoenix President

What are your top goals as chairman of GPEC?
First, and foremost, my goal is to build on the momentum that Michael Bidwill, GPEC’s immediate past chairman, and Barry Broome, GPEC’s president and CEO, have driving the region toward new high-quality jobs. … I also want to expand on their vision and ideas to build a healthy economy. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together now. Arizona’s Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is driving hundreds of new jobs and millions in capital investment. In addition, many leaders are focused on moving Arizona’s economy beyond its former reliance on the construction, retail and real estate industries.

How would you characterize Greater Phoenix to companies looking to expand here?
Greater Phoenix is a strong investment decision for companies. We have ground-floor business opportunities for companies looking for the right place to expand their businesses. Renewable energy companies and bioscience companies do very well here. The semiconductor and aerospace industry are intertwined in Arizona’s history. Also, Greater Phoenix is an ideal location to launch a business and export products to California, which has a more expensive business environment. … We have highly skilled labor, an affordable operating environment and new available buildings.

Why is GPEC targeting the renewable energy industry?
The industry provides high-quality jobs for local communities, injects millions in capital investment, and draws other companies that serve as suppliers. … GPEC will continue to focus on renewable energy policy and the state’s aggressive Renewable Energy Standard that appeals to companies. Michael will continue to play a pivotal role in advancing the renewable energy industry, as Gov. Brewer has appointed him to lead the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Renewable Energy Growth Sector Committee.

What is GPEC doing this year to advance the region?
We are partnering with the Legislature to bring more high-quality jobs to Arizona, and we are working with lawmakers to modernize the state’s Enterprise Zone to draw more companies here. We are continuing with rebranding efforts to move Arizona’s national image beyond the immigration debates. I believe our efforts to continue diversifying the region’s economy will have a lasting impact for the region and Arizona. GPEC is working very hard to strengthen the economy. We have many tasks to accomplish this year but we are definitely up for the challenge.

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Steve Chucri, president and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Q&A Steve Chucri, President and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association

-In 2002, Steve Chucri was lobbying at the state level when the Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO position was presented to him. Chucri now uses his political and lobbyist backgrounds to help Arizona’s restaurant industry navigate today’s tough issues. An executive committee board member with the Arizona Tourism Alliance, Chucri discusses strategies to create workable solutions to many issues affecting his industry.

Could the recession have been worse for the restaurant industry?
I always think it can be worse, because you don’t know worse unless you’re in it. That being said, yes, the economic hit, the recessionary hit to our industry was substantial. It may not be as substantial as to other elements of the tourism industry, but when you have the closing of restaurants double from normal times during this recessionary time, that’s pretty substantial. … I’m not going to say we were the worst or we were the most impacted, but there has been a huge impact from the most experienced restaurateur to the novices of the industry. Both were equally hit.

How have the arizona restaurant Association and the arizona tourism alliance been working together to get through the recession?
Restaurants over the recent years have become more and more dependent on tourist dollars. The receipts show that. About 25 percent of our receipts from restaurants are coming from tourists. … I think what we’ve been able to work on with both organizations is how do we continue to work together and make Arizona a destination? We’re becoming more and more known for our culinary fare.

Second to that, we’ve also worked legislatively together to ensure we’re not being targeted for miscellaneous taxes and we’re not getting targeted as an industry when it comes to funding issues, especially the Arizona Office of Tourism.

What challenges do you see facing the restaurant industry in 2011?
I see an increase in costs. We’ve been fortunate to maintain costs at a low level because of the recession, but I’m getting concerned that if things do start to pick up we will see costs starting to rise. I feel as though the smallest of things, the profitability of a restaurant, is very, very low and it doesn’t take much. You can’t just go to your menu and start raising prices in an economy like this. … I think we’re going to make a real push to see how we can get rid of that CPI (consumer price index) component with the minimum wage, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that, as we’re still in the strategic phases.

On the good side too, I believe that people are going to realize, yes we’re in a recessionary time but restaurants essentially are on sale right now. … I see people also realizing, like I said on the positive side, that it isn’t all that expensive to go out to eat.

How has Arizona’s restaurant industry been recovering from the recession?
In many, many ways, across many segments of our industry, it’s been at a snail’s pace. … I will tell you that 2010, from the quick-serve industry all the way to fine dining, it has been better than 2009. Now, that’s not universal, but the increases we are seeing are at a snail’s pace.

I think the wish, if there was one, of the industry would be that growth would pick up a little more quickly. Not at the crazy pace we were going at back in 2006, 2005, but something that is more meaningful and can be measured. … I think that restaurants are doing all they can to make sure that happens by offering these terrific deals and really using a lot of ingenuity and happy hours.

Restaurants are really good at incentivizing and getting people to come in. I think we’ll always continue to see that happen. … If restaurants can grow and if our industry can grow back up to the 4 percent or 5 percent and it’s sustainable each month and it’s sustainable on a consistent basis, you’d see a lot of smiles on restaurateurs’ faces.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Arizona's high technology industry - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Far-reaching Initiatives Are Driving The AZ Tech Council

When it comes to new initiatives to promote and develop Arizona’s high technology industry, there is no telling how far the Arizona Technology Council will go.

Would you believe … China? A 10-day, fact-finding journey — led by Arizona Technology Council President and CEO Steven Zylstra — to one of the oldest nations on the planet ranks as the most spectacular effort to assist Arizona’s technology companies and individuals. But there’s much more.

For example, Consultants on Demand, a program run by Dick Stover, CEO of Go1099.com, connects businesses with consultants and professionals for various contract services. It’s free to all Tech Council members.

With the addition of Consultants on Demand to the council’s website, members can post projects and special assignments without charge. Consultants and professionals can access and bid on these projects, also without charge.

Then there is the Mentoring Program, launched in 2010 to provide Tech Council members with a venue for strengthening and building their business knowledge and network. A pool of talented and experienced business professionals is available to fill the role of mentors. Under the program, a mentor spends a year working with a Tech Council member on mutually agreed upon goals for business and personal growth. In addition, the Tech Council has speakers address the group throughout the year on various business topics.

“As the group progresses through the program,” Zylstra says, “new relationships will be formed via networking, and stronger companies will be built by learning new business practices for strategic planning and efficient operational management.”

Because the technology industry is still somewhat male dominated, Women in the Workforce is a program that provides an opportunity for women in technology to share ideas and experiences. Teresa Snyder, marketing director for OneNeck IT Services, says the program is an attempt to fill a need for women in technology.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Heart Star: Larry Fitzgerald Of Arizona Cardinals Always Watches His Health

As one of the best receivers in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals’ star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is serious when it comes to his health and well-being. Although he’s “very thankful” that heart disease and stroke don’t run in his family, Fitzgerald isn’t taking any chances. His “job,” as he calls it, requires him to stay fit and healthy at all times.

“I pride myself on eating right and exercising regularly. During the season, of course, exercising is a part of my job each day I go to work,” Fitzgerald says.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Pro Bowler has made wellness part of his daily routine.

“The team has ‘on field’ practices and we are also required to lift weights, as well. Breakfast and lunch are provided, and I choose to make healthy eating choices,” Fitzgerald says. “During the off season I try to stick to these same rules.”

His dedication to a healthy diet and daily exercise has paid off. Following an amazing career at the University of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald was the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Cardinals.  His best season came in 2008, when he caught 96 passes for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was the same year the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl.

Fitzgerald says his formula for health is simple.

“First, everyone should be sure to take an active role in their health and well-being by making sure to regularly participate in some form of physical exercise,” he says. “There are many components to staying in shape, such as looking after your cardiovascular fitness level, increasing your strength ability, as well as working on your range of motion, otherwise known as flexibility.

“Second, you have to eat right,” Fitzgerald continues. “Portion control is the key, I think. Just watch what you eat and be sure to eat a variety of foods each day.”

Clearly the plays Fitzgerald makes off the field are as important as the ones he makes on the field.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

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

Employee Wellness Programs - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Creating Employee Wellness Programs In A New Era

The old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is still sound advice, but corporations today are taking employee wellness a lot more seriously than a daily dose of fruit. Individual health and wellness is being driven by biometric screening programs, chronic disease management, nurse educational specialists, registered dietitians, certified everything — trainers, ergonomic specialists and hypnotherapists. This isn’t your father’s wellness plan to be sure.

At Phoenix-based, nonprofit Banner Health, for instance, being in the business of health care means the company’s leaders take employee wellness very seriously. Banner’s 35,000 employees have access to Employees Choosing Healthy Options (ECHO), which is the company’s prevention and wellness program.

The ECHO program, similar to those used by many organizations, is designed to provide employees with objective assessments of their health and risk factors, as well as options for making healthy choices and lifestyle changes.

The ECHO program focuses on chronic disease prevention to help manage health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, which can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes and medical intervention. The effects of these diseases in the work place can be costly and lead to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and rising health care costs.

To reduce the risk for chronic disease, some examples of proactive programs include:

  • Biometric screenings annually to identify risk areas.
  • Assessment and individual review of risks.
  • Education and activities that encourage lifestyle changes.

The biometric screening has proven to motivate lifestyle behavior changes, and one-on-one counseling provides the opportunity to discuss individual risk factors to make further changes. Organizations that offer organized wellness programs and annual screenings send the message to employees that “we care about you,” and, in return, will see:

  • Increased productivity.
  • A decrease or maintenance of health care costs.
  • Decreased employee turnover.
  • Recruitment of the best talent.
  • A healthier organization culture.

On the federal level, workplace wellness has risen to the forefront and will continue to have an even greater impact as aspects of health care reform go into effect over the next several years. As wellness programs evolve, they need to be evidence-based and measured for their appropriateness and cost effectiveness as prevention interventions.

So, an apple a day can certainly help, but you also might want to include wellness planning in your place of business for a healthy employee base and bottom line.

Cindy Keller, RN MAOM, is director the ECHO program at Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

START! is a campaign designed to get people moving. - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Valley Employers ‘Start!’ To Get The Healthy Recognition They Deserve

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in Phoenix, the state of Arizona and the rest of the U.S. And physical inactivity doubles the risk of developing heart disease.

This is a scary thought when you realize that many of us spend most of our waking hours sitting behind our desks at work. But, the news isn’t all bad. Some Valley employers such as Chandler Regional Medical Center-CHW, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center-CHW, KPHO-TV, Scottsdale Weight Loss Center, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort, Scottsdale Insurance Company and the American Heart Association have become Start! Fit-Friendly Companies. The movement is expected help employers keep their work force healthier and health care costs down.

Start! is:

    • A campaign designed to get people moving! Through Start!, the American Heart Association is challenging Corporate America to create a culture of physical activity, which can help companies address rising health care costs.

 

    • A call to action that evokes active, year-round participation in walking and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke by supporting the American Heart Association. By participating in the Start! Walking Program you are setting an example for your employees. If leaders show they have made health a priority, employees will do the same, resulting in an increase in productivity and a decline in health care costs.

 

  • A long-term commitment to fight the major causes of heart disease and stroke in American adults through a comprehensive walking and nutrition program. Companies that sign up for the Start! Walking Program receive a plan that includes a step-by-step guide to kick off your company’s Walking Program, as well as tips on how to maximize employee participation. By following the steps presented, you can encourage and motivate your employees to get involved, stay involved and improve their health.

 

The American Heart Association recognizes Start! Fit-Friendly companies as employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health. Employers are encouraged to take steps such as:

  • Providing walking routes.
  • Promoting walking programs and tracking tools.
  • Allowing staff to wear athletic shoes on designated “sneaker days.”
  • Offering unique requirements for the different levels of recognition.

 

Becoming a Start! Fit-Friendly Company is simple, fast and free with the American Heart Association’s online application tool. Visit www.heart.org to take your first step in becoming a Start! Fit-Friendly Company. To learn more, call (602) 414-5344.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

In & Out Box, Ready for Recovery - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Businesses Tasked With Retaining Key Talent In Months Ahead

Anne C. Ruddy, president of WorldatWork, an Arizona-based professional association of human resources practitioners, has extensive experience leading and managing large organizations at the highest level. A talent innovator, she uses her organization and its staff of 130 as a laboratory to test new practices and transfer new ideas to its membership regarding human capital. Here, Ruddy shares a few key strategies for managing talent in this economic recovery.

What kind of impact has the recession had on work forces around the nation?
In a word, negative. Employers are painfully aware that cost-cutting measures deployed to stay afloat during the recession adversely affected workers. One of our recent studies — “The Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey by WorldatWork and Towers Watson” — confirms just how gravely the cost-cutting measures taken during the financial crisis impacted employees’ workloads, their ability to manage work-related stress and overall employee engagement. As a result, companies can expect greater difficulty in motivating employees and retaining key talent during the economic recovery.

What can organizations do to ensure a smooth post-recession recovery?

The very first thing is to identify your top performers. Who are your high-value contributors? These include not only those who drive the most revenue, but also those who play crucial roles in areas such as product development and human resources, or those who help build the employer brand and reputation. Forget the rear view mirror — you’d be smart to base decisions on future business priorities, not just recent performance. Sales employees, for example, who have generated less income than usual during the economic crisis, will continue to be highly valued given the central role business development plays in most post-recession recovery plans.

So you inventory talent and now have a list of pivotal employees. What’s next?

Show pivotal employees they matter. A-players want to know they have a future place in the company. While promotions are one way to send this message, they’re not always possible in this economy. Special assignments, involvement in high-visibility projects, skill-building opportunities, and formal or informal recognition can be equally powerful engagement and retention tools. Also, keep top performers informed about evolving business strategies. Too often, top performers join competitors simply because inadequate communication has left them feeling unappreciated, uncertain about their roles or uninformed about changing business needs.

Many employers were forced to freeze or cut pay during the financial crisis. What should they do for the recovery?

Return to pre-recession pay practices as soon as possible, and differentiate based on performance. Failure to do so can result in high performers being demotivated, demoralized, or worse yet, cause them to look at other options for employment that seem to offer greater rewards for their efforts. Organizations need to make hard decisions, both in rating performance and allocating compensation dollars. If there isn’t enough cash to go around, don’t go spreading it like peanut butter!

Given current high unemployment rates, is the war for talent over?

Quite the opposite. Companies should prepare to compete for the best and the brightest. Don’t be lulled by a perceived surplus of post-recession talent. While it’s an employers’ market for some positions, demand remains high for critical skills. Impending baby-boomer retirements and projected shortages in critical technical disciplines will only intensify the competition. To get ahead, you need to measure the talent that exists in your organization today, in order to find the talent gaps you need to fill so that the organization can get where it needs to go.

What do successful companies know that others may not?

Progressive companies, what we often refer to as “employers of choice,” know that keeping those people who are critical to success is a lot easier than going out into the market and trying to find new people, train them, mother them, and get them ready to really be productive, which usually takes a year from their date of hire.
In good times and in bad, the best companies look beyond talent management to talent innovation. They are on a perpetual quest for the best and the brightest employees, who can truly elevate the organization as opposed to passively watching the organization grow.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011