Tag Archives: May – June 2011

Ed Robson, Founder of Robson Communities, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Edward J. Robson of Robson Communities Talks First Jobs

Edward J. Robson
Title: Founder/Chairman
Company: Robson Communities

Describe your very first job and what you learned from it.
I had several first jobs growing up. I knew at a young age I wanted to make money, so I decided to go door-to-door offering to shovel snow in the winter time for just $2. Then, when it got warmer in the summertime, I went door-to-door offering to cut lawns. … I was also a paperboy. All of those jobs made me learn that if you do a good job, you will get hired back.

Describe your first job in your industry.
I was in high school and hand dug a cellar for a home. In other words, I worked in construction. When I moved to Arizona I got into real estate mainly because it was interesting and rewarding. I learned from my first job in the industry that if you don’t sell, you don’t get paid. I had a lot to lose since I was supporting my wife and kids, so I worked hard.

What were your salaries?
I made $2 per home shoveling snow and $5 per home cutting lawns. It didn’t matter how long it took, I still got paid that amount.

Who is your biggest mentor?
I worked directly for Del Webb for one year and learned a lot. Del Webb instilled confidence in myself and gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age. He truly believed in me.

What advice would you give to a person entering your  industry?
If a person wants to enter the industry and work for someone else, my advice is to be a producer! You can’t be afraid of admitting a mistake. Mistakes are part of learning.

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

This is a hard question for me because I believe that the sum of your choices directs your life. … I have no idea what I would be doing instead, but I know that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to be successful.

 

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Dave Forman, Owner, PourMasters Professional Bartending Service - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Dave Forman, Owner, PourMasters Professional Bartending Service

[stextbox id="grey"]COMPANY: PourMasters
TITLE: Owner
WEB: www.pourmasters.com[/stextbox]

Dave Forman had a whopping two weeks of experience in bartending when he decided to launch his own professional bartending service, PourMasters, in January 1992.

He had been working in management and sales, but after taking a two-week course in bartending, Forman was hooked.  “Bartending seemed like a fun, great job,” says Forman, a native of Michigan. “I’m a people-person, and I just had a blast.”

PourMasters provides clients with bartenders and portable bars. The service also provides the actual beverages, including the alcohol, sodas and mixers. Bartenders employed by PourMasters must be familiar with Arizona alcohol laws and certified with the proper credentials.

Forman started PourMasters with two friends in the Valley, but by the end of the first month, the partnership dissolved. This left Forman alone to handle the challenges that come with starting a new business.

“One challenge I experienced early on was learning what clients want from a bartending service in the first place. The biggest challenge, though, was hiring bartenders with the right personality.”

Another challenge Forman faced — and he was not alone — was the 2008 recession. Luckily, Forman had built a strong relationship with catering businesses in Arizona, and that helped him to stay afloat.  “I’m proud of staying in business for this long in this economy,” he said.

As for the future, Forman says he hopes to expand into other cities, and maybe even write a book about his experiences.
He has this advice for other small business owners: “If you’re not having fun, find something else to do because if you’re not having fun, it’s just not worth it.”

 

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Centennial Photos Then and Now, Mesa - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Centennial Series: Photos Then And Now — Mesa, Ariz.

The saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” aptly describes the relationship the city of Mesa and the Chicago Cubs share.

Major League Baseball first came to Mesa for spring training in 1952. Back then, the Cubs made Rendezvous Park their home until it was razed in 1976 and replaced with a new stadium at Hohokam Park. In the almost 60 years since the Cubs starting playing in Mesa, the city has evolved dramatically. But one thing hasn’t changed — Downtown Mesa remains a buzz of activity on days when the Cubs play, and the streets around the stadium are lined with carloads of die-hard fans.

Just how popular are the Cubs in Mesa? In 2009, they set an MLB spring training attendance record of 203,105. Average per game attendance was 10,690, leading all of baseball.

Big changes are on the horizon, however. In 2016, the light rail is expected to make its way to Downtown Mesa. And by the end of 2011, Mesa and the Cubs hope to break ground on a new spring training facility and retail area known as Wrigleyville West at Riverview Park at Dobson Road and the Loop 202.

Besides the light rail and the Cubs’ new home, Mesa continues to expand its residential and business base.

Incorporated in 1883, Mesa has a population of almost 470,000, making it the third-largest city in Arizona and the 38th-largest city in the United States.

Then:

Mesa, Ariz. mid-1950, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Now:

Robson & Main, Mesa, Ariz., 2011, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Emily Amparan, Alternative Finance Research - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Women In Banking: Emily Amparan, Alternative Finance Research

Emily Amparan is an alternative lending broker at her own firm, Alternative Finance Research.

Amparan is using her many years of experience in the banking and finance industry to help lead the Women in Banking group. She is the committee chair representing Women in Banking on the Risk Management Association’s board of directors, and leads a team of seven businesswomen to organize goals and objectives for Women in Banking luncheons and events. Here, Amparan talks about what motivated her to join the Women and Banking group and its future goals.

What was the main reason for starting Women in Banking?
Women in Banking (WIB) started out as a way for women in the banking/finance industry to connect, and was initially more social than business. Over the last three years, the group has become the networking arm of the Risk Management Association, attracting both women and men in and outside of banking/finance. WIB has garnered the attention of the banking/finance/business community and is recognized as the premier networking group to meet business professionals.

How did the group start?
The group began with a few RMA board members organizing a small group of women in 2006 for lunch at a local restaurant. For the next couple of years attendance grew slowly with quarterly meetings held in various bank conference rooms. When I joined the leadership team in early 2008, we shifted gears by organizing our networking component, we began raising funds for our community outreach efforts, and we sharpened our presentation topics.

How has the group evolved?
Last year, Women in Banking drew 100-plus luncheon attendees and doubled its fundraising capacity for consistent donated dollars to Fresh Start. The group does not exclude men and male attendance is growing. Smart men recognize the businesswomen in attendance are the powerhouses of their industry and experts in building business relationships.

How would you describe  the state of women in the banking world today?
Women have professional opportunities today like never before. Women look, walk, talk and conduct business differently than they did just 50 years ago. … Women are masters at building trust and relationships; two qualities that give them a “leg up” in carving out a path for themselves in banking/finance/business and muscle to continually chip away at the remnants of a glass ceiling.

What programs has the group initiated to help women in the banking industry?
The Women in Banking committee draws interest by addressing three key areas of working professional need: networking, community outreach and information. Through organized networking, luncheon attendees are encouraged to meet new people to exchange ideas and contact information. The energy at a WIB luncheon is electric and charged with introductions and connections to business and business resources.

With tight schedules in mind, opportunities to support our chosen charity Fresh Start through money, volunteering and clothes donations provide professionals an opportunity to be a part their community. Finally, luncheon presentations deliver timely and relevant information regarding banking, finance and business topics.

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

CityScape, Phoenix, Ariz. - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

New Retail And Restaurants To Attract People To Dowtown Phoenix

With the opening of CityScape at One E. Washington St., Downtown Phoenix now has an urban-style, mixed-use development where people can eat, shop, meet friends after work, relax at a boutique hotel, and even blow off some steam at the gym or roll a few frames at a bowling center.

Developers of CityScape envision retail and restaurants as being key to the project’s success. Some of the new downtown businesses include Gold’s Gym, CVS pharmacy, Charming Charlie, Urban Outfitters, Stand Up Live, Five Guys Burger and Fries, and The Arrogant Butcher. Scheduled to open in March 2012 is the 4-star Kimpton Palomar Hotel.

“If you have a comedy club, a couple of bars, a fine dining place, a yogurt shop, a burger place and a taco shop, it gives people more of an incentive to check (CityScape) out,” says Peder Bondhus, manager of Vitamin T, an already established Aaron May restaurant at CityScape.

Part of what CityScape has accomplished is due to its relationship with the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau (GPCVB) and the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

“The Greater Phoenix CVB has been a relentless touring campaign,” says Jeff Moloznik, RED’s development manager. “We spend a lot of time with them touring prospective delegates to the downtown market and CityScape. They also help us with discussing what amenities are available for those who are considering coming to Phoenix for a convention.”

Moloznik says he believes that the success of downtown as a whole hinges on the collaboration of all of downtown’s stakeholders.

“ASU, the (Phoenix) symphony, Comerica, the sporting arenas, CityScape — we all contribute to what is good about Downtown Phoenix,” he says.

Adding to the mix of retail and restaurants are the Phoenix offices of several major law firms including Polsinelli Shughart, Squire Sanders & Dempsey, and Ballard Spahr. The building also houses Alliance Bank, Fidelity Title and RED Development.

And by the end of the year, UnitedHealthcare of Arizona plans to move 600 of its Valley employees to CityScape.

Restaurants scheduled to open later this year offer diverse meal selections, such as American-style breakfast or lunch at The Breakfast Club, Italian cuisine at The Strand, French favorites at La Crepe Nanou, and Japanese options at Silk Sushi.

“We have the utmost confidence in CityScape and the synergy it’s brought to Downtown Phoenix,” says Kyle Shivers, owner of The Breakfast Club. “We’re a breakfast and lunch venue, and the density and daytime market (in Phoenix) is exactly what we’re looking for.”

The only stumbling block CityScape has experienced so far occurred early this year, when LGO Public House pulled out of the project due to zoning and code restrictions relevant to a wood furnace burner.

 

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Steve Moore, GPCVB, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Q&A Steve Moore, President & CEO of Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau

Steve Moore
President and CEO
Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau

What is the outlook of tourism in Arizona and the Valley as you see it?

Tourism is a $17 billion industry here, and it is strong enough to have absorbed some body blows over the past couple of years. The recession hurt. The “AIG effect” hurt. Backlash from SB 1070 hurt. People are still worried about the economy, and large groups are still a little trigger shy.

But we are seeing a few positive signs. Business travel is inching upward. Room rates are rising a little. In Phoenix, the metric we use to assess the financial performance of our hotels indicated improvement in 2010 versus 2009. So far this year, the BCS Championship Game gave the Valley’s hotels a boost in January, spring training provided its annual injection of visitors in March, and the MLB All-Star Week is going to be a huge asset for us in July. But the outlook is not as rosy as it’s been painted in some media accounts. We still have a lot of ground to make up.

How is the Greater Phoenix CVB performing in this environment, and how would you define the CVB’s role in the local economy?

In fiscal year 2010, our sales staff booked over 400,000 future delegates into the convention center and hotels across the Valley. These delegates will spend over $525 million when they get here — that’s direct spending, and it doesn’t include what the family and friends who accompany them will spend. If you were to look at the CVB’s future bookings in terms of corporate portfolio, that “portfolio” would be valued at $2.4 billion. That’s how much direct spending is attached to the future delegates we’ve booked, and that’s the price you could expect to get for the CVB if it were “sold.” Of course, we’re not for sale — we’re a nonprofit. But I think the analogy helps people get their heads around how vital the visitors industry is to the local economy.

What obstacles are currently facing the visitors industry, and what are some future challenges for the Greater Phoenix CVB?

The economy’s signs of recovery give us reason for optimism — but that optimism has to be tempered with a measure of caution. Group business may gradually climb back to pre-recession levels, but spending probably will rise at a slower rate. In that way, this recovery will somewhat mirror the industry’s post-9/11 recovery, albeit with a more gradual climb out of the bottom, because the recession affected all industries, not just ours.

Also, as the cost of oil continues to rise, so does the cost of air travel. Airlines have gradually decreased their capacities, switching to smaller planes and fewer flights. This can increase the cost of air travel and inflate travel times, both of which factor into a business’ decision about where to hold a meeting or convention. It’s something we play close attention to because Phoenix is a fly-in destination. Another challenge for us arose this past September, when the GSA recommended that federal agencies substitute teleconferencing and webcasts for face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Suppliers will likely follow suit, and that’s not good for our industry.

Within the CVB itself, one of our greatest challenges is budgetary. The formula funding we created back in 1998 will yield a million dollars less for us in the next fiscal year than it did in this fiscal year. We have lost four sales people this year, and we have not been able to replace them. We also lost half of our Prop 302 funds to the Legislature, which hinders our ability to market the destination to a national and international audience.

Has the Greater Phoenix CVB seen improvements since the passing of SB 1070? How so?

It’s been about a year since SB 1070 was passed, and in that time we’ve lost six definite conventions. We’ve lost only two since last July, when (federal) Judge (Susan) Bolton’s ruling blocked some of the bill’s most controversial provisions. Our sales team spent a lot of time and energy holding onto some of our large conventions and rebooking others. It’s the pipeline we are most concerned about, and at the close of the calendar year, our booking pace had slowed by 36 percent over last year’s pace — and last year was a recession year.

The fact that 19 other states have introduced immigration bills similar to SB 1070 has taken a little of the heat off us. It’s hard to quantify how much convention business we aren’t even getting considered for due to concerns over the bills. We do know that large, diverse associations are more risk averse than smaller, corporate meetings. Those smaller meetings have started to return to the Valley.

How will the All-Star Game and the MLB FanFest at the Phoenix Convention Center impact Phoenix’s economy and tourism?

The All-Star Game and the events surrounding it — the Home Run Derby, the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, and FanFest at the convention center — are expected to inject $67 million of direct spending into Arizona’s economy. This estimate does not include local production expenses by national and international broadcast media, nor does it take into account hospitality expenditures by sponsors for receptions, parties and banquets.

The fact that All-Star Week arrives in town during summer, our traditional low season, magnifies its economic benefit to the community and provides us a grand-scale opportunity to show leisure travelers and meeting groups that visiting Phoenix in summertime is fun. And it’s the latest in a growing list of mega sporting events whose presence here proves that large and diverse groups and events are welcome and successful in Arizona.

What are your thoughts on the Arizona Office of Tourism’s “In One Word — Arizona” marketing campaign that launched in November?

Well, using just one word is economical, and that’s a good thing. Seriously, though, it’s a beautiful campaign that dramatically captures the beauty of our state. The existence of such a campaign is absolutely essential. Tourism is a $17 billion asset for Arizona. That asset must be trumpeted; that asset must be leveraged; that asset must be cared for. We all know AOT has been devastated by state budget cuts. If there’s one word that should be applied to AOT’s funding, that word is “restoration.”

What are your thoughts on the new Westin Phoenix Downtown and the rest of the downtown hotels and how they can potentially attract more tourists and business travelers?

Westin is a trusted brand, and the new hotel is a wonderful addition to downtown. Many of the conventions we book at the CVB are what we call “citywide conventions.” What that means is, they are big enough so that their attendees and their families spread out to multiple hotels. With the addition of the Westin, there are now more than 2,700 guest rooms within walking distance of the convention center. And more are on the way: A boutique Kimpton hotel — another trusted brand — is scheduled to open in CityScape early next year. So we’ll have the Sheraton, the Hyatt, the Wyndham, the Westin and the Kimpton right in the city’s core, all near the convention center, all near stops for the light rail, all near CityScape. For years we tended to talk about downtown in the future tense — as in, “It’s going to be great.” Downtown is now all about the present tense. It is great, and the catalyst to making it that way was the visitors industry.

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011