Tag Archives: October – November 2006

Chamber Board Leadership

Chamber Board Leadership Second To None

3’s Company

Chamber board leadership second to none

By Vanessa White

With the addition of President and Chief Executive Officer Katie Pushor in January, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approved Pushor’s innovative three-year strategic plan in June. Some key points included growing and retaining membership, reaching out to mid-market businesses, and helping small businesses grow and maintaining a strong and diverse board.

Chamber Board - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Steve Rizley, chamber chair-elect and vice president and Arizona region manager of Cox Communications, said one of the things he likes about the plan is it allows the chamber, as a dynamic organization, to evolve and suit the needs of businesses in metropolitan Phoenix today.

“Our business community has changed as the overall market has changed,” Rizley notes. “I don’t know of another metropolitan area in the United States that has changed more than Phoenix has in the last 25 years. There’s more businesses, there’s more opportunities to make a good first impression because people move here constantly, and what I think Katie and her crew have done is develop a plan that is going to allow the chamber to meet the needs of this dynamic business community.”

Current Chairman of the Board Jack Davis, president and chief executive officer of APS, adds the three-year plan is focused on three aspects. “One aspect is bring more membership, then look at increasing the renewal of membership in the chamber,” Davis says. “Also, increasing the technology on our Web site to make it easier for the members to use and access the benefits we offer.”


Jack Davis - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Jack Davis, chairman of the Chamber board and President and CEO of APS Former Chamber Chair


Mark Bonsall - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006


Mark Bonsall, chief financial executive and associate general manager of SRP


Steve Rizley - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006


Steve Rizley, chamber chair-elect and vice president and Arizona region manager of Cox Communications

Davis notes in order to bring in more membership and increase renewals, the board is looking at programs that would be beneficial to the chamber’s mid-market members. Those with more than 100 employees, but less than 1,000. “There are not that many big businesses here. The broad base of business and the success of Phoenix is built on businesses that are 100-300 employees, so doing the best possible job for them is very important,” Rizley said.

Former Chair Mark Bonsall, chief financial executive and associate general manager of SRP, agrees. “The emphasis that came out of the three-year plan was growth and focus on the mid-market sector, which is absolutely in need of services of the chamber,” Bonsall says. “I think the chamber has done an excellent job of servicing the entire spectrum of this community in the past, and if there’s a spot we need to focus on more, it is the mid-market business.”

However, Rizley says the mid-market focus is not meant to take away from growing small businesses and providing them with needed resources. He said one of the benefits of the chamber for small- and medium-sized businesses is the ability to have a voice in a large organization with so many members.

“The vision of the chamber has to do with being able to serve and further the interests of all types of businesses in metropolitan Phoenix, which means we’re providing a more fertile ground and giving businesses the tools they need to have benefits they might not otherwise achieve,” Rizley adds.

In expanding membership, Rizley says it is important for the chamber to develop a well-respected lobbying arm to market to all businesses. “We have to be able to demonstrate there’s a value proposition that resonates with businesses,” Rizley says. “If you look at what the chamber has achieved in terms of the credibility it has built, the way it is treated when working amongst our elected officials, and how much respect it has from large corporations, I believe that is happening.”

It is universal among members that the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ biggest strength is diversity and the plan aims to expand this even further. “We are a very large board with large businesses, small businesses, utilities, technology and all the other kinds of businesses we have in the Valley,” Davis adds. “That brings a tremendous amount of thinking to the chamber.”

Rizley concurs about board diversity. “Our board represents many different types of companies and represents many different types of interests and backgrounds. I think it represents every type of political affiliation,” he explains. “Because the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has a bigger representation from other Valley chambers, there’s also lots of geographic interests at the table.”

Rizley uses the example of the Southeast Valley compared to north Scottsdale. He said the two are mercurially different in terms of lifestyle and a lot of aspects as to why people choose to live and work in each.

“It is important to have a board that represents those interests and I think we’ve done a good job of meeting them,” Rizley says. Bonsall says the diversity is also a strength because it keeps the board active. “Everybody is encouraged to be on the committees and go to the different meetings,” Bonsall adds. “It’s a gathering place for consensus building.”

Davis says the three-year plan comes complete with instruments to measure the plan’s success and he is confident in the chamber’s future. “This is not a business plan that is pie in the sky,” Davis notes. “This is a plan where we can and will measure our success.”

Cover - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Bonsall is equally optimistic about the plan and the chamber’s future under Pushor’s leadership. “With this three-year business plan and new leadership of Katie, the future of the chamber is the brightest it’s ever been. The sky is the limit with our chamber,” Bonsall says.

Rizley says of all of his affiliations, his chamber board position is most important. “This is the most important thing I am involved in. We believe that if business goes well, the quality of life and the opportunity to educate our kids and have everything, from sports teams to freeway systems, hangs together. People are employable in a great environment and this chamber is running right alongside these businesses, helping to create that environment, so I have a lot of optimism,” Rizley says. “The board shares that optimism.”


Inside the Chamber
2005-2006 Board of Directors
Executive Committee

  • Chairman: Mark Bonsall, SRP
  • Immediate Past Chairman: Rich Boals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
  • Chairman-Elect: Jack Davis, APS
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Michael Holt, Holt & Frank, PLLC
  • Legal Counsel: Jay Ruffner, Fennemore Craig, P.C.
  • Vice Chairman of Healthcare: Reginald M. Ballantyne III, Vanguard Health Systems, Inc.
  • Vice Chairman of Economic Development: Bettye Jackson, Jackson Airport Enterprises
  • Vice Chairman of Transportation: Kevin Olson, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
  • Vice President of Audit: William Hinz, II, Western National Bank
  • Vice Chairman of Human Resources: Manny Molina, Molina Media Group

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

In Invest We Trust- AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Pension Reform Act To Impact Your Investment

In Invest We Trust

Pension Reform Act to impact your investment

By David Bernard

A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. This basic law of physics can be applied to most people’s retirement planning—risking too much or too little and seemingly too apathetic or uninformed to affect change.

In Invest We Trust, Arizona Business MagazineThe Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA law) obligates employers who offer a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), to act as that outside force, pushing or redirecting their employees’ retirement investments. Until recently, plan sponsors were pretty limited by the types of plans and guidance they could provide for their employees. The newly signed Pension Reform Act of 2006 creates some tools and opportunities to help both plan sponsors and participants.

The new legislation is focused on improving employee education, increasing participation and changing under-funded or poorly performing plans. If you offer or are considering offering your employees a defined contribution plan, it’s time to jump on this bandwagon and take advantage of the new opportunities.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Work with a broker or agent you trust to fully disclose information and who benefits from ensuring that you have the right plan for you and your employees. It’s not in your best interest to work with someone who benefits financially based on specific investments or products you select. A fee-based advisor has a fiduciary responsibility to you and your employees and is not motivated by commissions. How people get paid often has a big impact on how they behave.
  • With the help of an experienced advisor, you can adhere to the Department of Labor guidelines for complying with 404(c) regulations. The keys are to know what the regulations mean and being able to document and defend what you have done. Having a compliance strategy with documentation is equally as important as being in compliance.
  • As a plan sponsor, you are responsible corporately and privately for safeguarding the assets of your company’s plan. This means choosing, monitoring and continuing to oversee your plan. Annual reviews and ongoing oversight will help ensure that your plan evolves to meet changing needs and legislation.
  • Finding the right plan involves selecting the right investment choices and the right education program. One size does not fit all when it comes to retirement investing, and there are new options available. Offer your employees a well-researched retirement plan from an unbiased provider.
  • Encourage your employees to participate through automatic enrollment and matching contributions. Employees tend to improve their savings rate when employers offer incentives. This can also serve as an effective way to attract and retain great employees.
  • The annual “educational” meeting to educate workers on investments and register new enrollees just doesn’t cut it any longer. Employees need help not only managing their retirement plan assets, but also with understanding how these investments fit into their other financial considerations. They need individualized, objective advice so that they can achieve their retirement goals.

AZ Business Magazine October / November 2006The burden is on plan sponsors to help employees realize that they can no longer be passive when it comes to their retirement—and Congress has just helped ease the burden. With these new tools and the increased forces, we should see a whole generation of active and engaged retirement investors—no more retirement planning by inertia. We’ll have workers who are well equipped and in top shape to reach their retirement goals tomorrow. David Bernard is the president of Wealthpoint.

At a Glance
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 could greatly raise the number of workers participating in company-sponsored savings accounts by allowing the automatic enrollment of new employees. The legislation also will make it easier for plan sponsors to offer investment advice to 401(k) savers. Over the last decade, personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income has steadily fallen. In the second and third quarters of 2005, the saving rate, for the first time in the last 60 years, has fallen into negative territory—meaning that Americans are, as a whole, spending more than they save. In the third quarter of 2005, the personal saving rate was 1.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Public Policy, AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Greater Phoenix Chamber Of Commerce Outlines Its Most Pressing Public Policy Efforts

Public Policy in Focus

Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce outlines its most pressing public policy efforts


Virtually any group that has experienced the give-and-take of supporting or opposing legislation at the state Capitol is aware of the truism—half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. Indeed, that’s how the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce views the 2006 regular session of the Arizona Legislature. And for those who didn’t get everything they wanted, there’s always next year.

Public Policy in FocusTodd Sanders, vice president of public affairs for the chamber, sees the organization’s public policy efforts as challenges, not necessarily hits or misses. One of the chamber’s biggest challenges, Sanders says, was and still is the issue of employer sanctions in connection with the growing problem of illegal immigration.

“We believe employer sanctions are necessary,” he says. “But in drafting legislation, it was difficult to put something together that was tough, but fair to employers, something that businesses can implement. There is a federal requirement that we check IDs, but the way the bill was conceived, even if we do that and find someone who is illegal, we could still be subject to sanctions.”

The Greater Phoenix Chamber and other stakeholders representing restaurants, homebuilders, small businesses, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other chambers of commerce worked with legislators trying to craft an acceptable bill. What was drafted was combined into an omnibus bill dealing with illegal immigration that Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed.

The chamber was silent on other parts of the bill, including border security, but Sanders says, “We were in favor of employer sanctions. It was drafted in such a way that it was tough, but our members could still implement it.”

One of the biggest obstacles is that federal law requires employers to check IDs, including Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, but those are easily forged, Sanders says. “Business owners are trying to make money,” he says. “They’re not ID experts or document experts. It’s one of the issues we’ll be looking at in the next session. There is a misperception that we were against employer sanctions, which we were not.”

Regarding border security—a hot topic in the general election—Sanders says, “We need to get this done at the federal level. Fixing it at the state level is very dicey at best.”

Another issue and a top priority for the chamber was property tax cuts. “It was quite a process, a lot of give and take,” he says. “The governor wanted a rebate and we wanted a tax cut. We got the cut. Actually, it’s a suspension for three years, so we’ll probably want to go in again for a permanent elimination of that tax. It was our biggest win, given the valuation increases, to protect taxpayers from massive tax bills in the future.”

Elimination of the property tax doesn’t affect the counties, because programs formerly financed by the tax will receive money from the state’s General Fund, Sanders says.

He recalls the big push at the Legislature for eminent domain reform, which the governor vetoed, and the possibility of such an initiative getting on the November ballot. In her veto message, Napolitano has said the bill would have ended existing slum clearance and redevelopment areas and inappropriately restricted the ability of cities to deal with slums and urban blight. “As a chamber, we favor strong private property rights protection,” Sanders says. “We want to make sure it’s balanced. Protection is very important to us.”

AZ Business Magazine October / November 2006The chamber chose not to weigh in on funding for all-day kindergarten and teachers’ raises. “We have supported all-day kindergarten, but with a full phase-in over time,” Sanders says. The chamber was active in efforts to establish and fund the 21st Century Fund. The money is to be used to build and strengthen medical, scientific and engineering research programs and infrastructure, with a non-profit corporation expected to provide matching funds. “We wanted $100 million, and they came in at $35 million,” Sanders says.

Regarding a constitutional proposal to establish a state minimum wage of $5.95 an hour effective July 1, 2007, to be raised to $6.75 an hour on July 1, 2008, and thereafter adjusted for inflation each year, Sanders says, “It’s a safe bet we will be opposed to that measure. We generally oppose those mandates, when government mandates what to pay someone. It’s got a built-in yearly inflator, and that’s where the real pushback will come. In good times, like now, it’s different and maybe business could absorb it, but in bad times it becomes problematic.”


Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Business Questions - AZ Business Magazine 2006

The Most Important Questions To Ask When Pondering Whether To Sell Your Business

The Big 8

The most important questions to ask when pondering whether to sell your business


Selling Your Business Questions - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Some entrepreneurs spend years developing a solid business—growing, investing and nurturing their enterprise into a successful endeavor. Why then, would less effort be put into plans to sell a business? This may sound strange, but according to financial professionals, it happens all the time. Failing to structure your exit can cost in the form of tax penalties, lower profits and the potential for legal action.


There are eight issues to consider before selling your business:

1. Is your company structured to be tax efficient and easily sold? “Many businesses outgrow their initial founding entity,” says Carleen Shilling, a tax partner at Eide Bailly. “Having an entity that’s not tax efficient will cost a business owner substantially when they have to pay taxes on their gains.”

2. Does your business make a favorable presentation? Are your finances clear, complete and accurate? “Poor organization can cause a potential purchaser and advisors to label the business as poorly managed and prompt them to start looking for problems,” notes Michael Walling, vice president of mergers and acquisitions for R.B. Gold & Associates.

3. Have your advisory team evaluate plans to sell your business early on. Walling says business owners should begin planning the sale of their business up to three years before they plan to sell. “This is a major event in your life and your financial team should be on board at the very beginning,” says Shilling. Tax implications, legal obstacles and long-term financial requirements should be planned and executed with authority.

4. Have you considered all the tax consequences involved in the sale of your business? While the price may seem like the most important figure you are dealing with in the sale of your company, another figure that is paramount is the amount you will have after taxes are paid. Failure to factor in tax consequences prior to the sale can be costly and, in many cases, irreversible. One of the most common mistakes business owners make involve company real estate. “You never want to be in a situation where you’ve just sold a real estate property for cash and are then wondering if you can defer any taxes by reinvesting the proceeds into another property,” Shilling adds. “Unfortunately, in a normal sale transaction, once the seller gets the cash, it is too late for tax planning.” To defer taxes, a “like-kind” exchange must be executed in line with IRS codes and done prior to such sales.

5. Who are your potential buyers and what’s your sale price? Business owners should determine their goals for the future and determine the most beneficial sale situation. Grooming a successor, having key managers and raising the profile of your business are key, too. “The ideal situation is to attract a number of potential purchasers and initiate an auction,” Walling adds.

AZ Business Magazine October November 20066. How is your timing? Business owners usually can increase the price if they carefully plan the sale and time it just right. “If the business is expanding at the time of the sale, the owners are likely to get a better price than if the company has reached a plateau or is declining,” Walling says.

7. What will you do with your life after the you sell? Will you retire, start another business or reinvest in other entities? All factors should be considered before you sell. Age and lifestyle are other thinking-points. 8. Be prepared for the emotions involved. “Regardless of your age, selling a business can be more emotional than people realize,” Shilling notes. “It is important to be prepared for this huge decision and know that it isn’t always easy to do.”



Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Loop 202 - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Plannings Pays Off For 202 South Mountain Freeway

The New 202

Plannings pays off for 202 South Mountain Freeway

By David Schwartz

Tom Tait Jr. just chuckles when quizzed about the future of his family’s land holdings in the West Valley, a large expanse of property that has been in the portfolio since the 1970s. Are there any great plans for development? Are there plans to flip the property and pocket the proceeds?


The New 202Not even close. Indeed, the past few years have raised the property’s worth, but that’s apparently where it ends. At least, he claims, that’s the thinking for now. “We are long-term owners of properties and really don’t bother much with any short-term benefits that there might be,” Tait says. “At the present time, we’re just farming the property. That’s what we’ve been doing and I don’t see that changing much. No matter what happens.” And apparently no matter what transportation planners have in store for the acreage.

The Tait family are among the owners of property in the vicinity of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, a long-charted, controversial thoroughfare that eventually will span 22 miles and link Interstate 10 in the southeast and West valleys.

But it’s the stretch of the freeway that cuts through the burgeoning southwest Valley that recently was brought into sharper focus by the Arizona Department of Transportation. In late June, officials ended any uncertainty and revealed that the freeway would connect at 55th Avenue in Laveen—an old favorite seen on the map for at least the last two decades.

The route was a popular choice of the three options presented for review. Better than 71st Avenue. Better than 99th Avenue, south of Loop 101. It was hailed as the right choice by officials in Phoenix and several area municipalities. It too was welcomed by several landowners in the area. But it was neither a surprise, nor unexpected.

Land experts say that the decision by the state was important because it serves to cement the value for the land in the area to be affected by the proposed freeway. There is now a line drawn in pen that can’t be easily erased and sent back to the drawing board.

But experts are quick to add that property in the area has been soaring in value anyway during the last two years, as the real estate market careened through its boom times and those familiar red tile rooftops became a more frequent sight with each passing day.

There likely will be no land rush, they predict, unlike what occurred when other segments of the Valley’s freeway system were put into place in years past. “They are putting it where I think most people thought it was going to be,” says Greg Vogel, chief executive of Land Advisors Organization, which has offices in Arizona, Texas and Colorado. “I don’t think there was a drop in values while they were considering other options. It’s already been priced into the market and it’s been a long time coming.”

Besides, Vogel says, there is not a huge amount of land to be had in the area that will be directly affected by proposed freeway as it sweeps its way through the area. He said land costs now in the fast-growing Laveen area already are between $175,000 to $350,000 an acre, a dramatic increase from more than a decade ago. “This isn’t a case where there are 25 pieces (of land) with 30 different buyers and all kinds of things going on,” he says. “It has been thought through and organized, so you’re not going to see anything like you may have with other freeways.”

Pat Feeney, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis in Phoenix, says he has watched a surge in valuation of available industrial land that began in summer 2004 and pushed prices to about $4 per square feet. That’s more than a five-fold increase from the early 1990s. “The net result is that almost every piece of land in the submarket is owned by a developer who will be building on their property,” says Feeney, who has been tracking industrial properties for about 20 years. “No one out there is a seller right now.”

He says he sees no revaluing of land in wake of the transportation department putting its official stamp on the freeway alignment in the southwest Valley. Officials say that’s because the proposed freeway has been on the books since 1985, when Maricopa County voters approved a Regional Freeway System that was supposed to take care of the Valley’s transportation needs. But a funding shortfall meant that this segment fell down the priority list of projects. At one point, it was seen as a potential toll road.

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006Fast forward to 2004. Voters approved Proposition 400 that provides money to pay for a Regional Transportation Plan that includes the South Mountain Freeway. Transportation officials say plans call for the freeway to cost an estimated $1.7 billion, with construction expected to be completed and ready for motorists in 2015. “It’s the future for that part of the West Valley,” says Debra Stark, Phoenix planning director. “We think we have done a good job planning and making sure land has been set aside.”

She says one needs only to look at an aerial map as proof. In one picture, a clear path for the freeway already has been set aside along 59th Avenue and Broadway Road. Houses can be seen on both sides. “What has helped is that unlike other areas, we’re not seeing as much housing or commercial development,” Stark says. “And as we’ve done zoning there, we’ve asked developers to set aside land for the 55th Avenue alignment. So we’re more prepared for when the freeway is built.”

As for Tait, there are no great preparations just yet for his family’s property. Asked about his time frame for development now that the freeway route has been picked, he says, “What, so now instead of 30 years, it’s 20 years? That’s still a long way away.”


Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Mr. Gadget

Technology Changes The Meeting Planning Industry

Mr. Gadget

Technology changes the meeting planning industry


Webcasting. Green-screen photography. Video e-mail. Seamless projection. Gobos. Video curtains. Not long ago, this kind of technology would not have been in a meeting and event planner’s bag of tricks. But they are today as technology makes ever-greater inroads into the industry. How members of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International use technology depends upon each company’s expertise.


Mr. GadgetMerestone in Scottsdale specializes in audio-visuals. A whole arsenal of gadgets is at the disposal of Merestone president Camille Hill and account executive Lynne Wellish, CMP, who also serves as chairwoman of the MPI job bank committee. “To make your point in the meeting, you have to use the biggest, fastest, smartest and most colorful tools you can get your hands on,” Hill says. “You have to stand out.” Merestone uses glass gobos to project images on screens, walls or the side of a building. The company can make an entire room look like it’s in the tropics. Merestone uses seamless projection in which multiple video projectors blend images together into one image on a huge horizontal screen. The company also uses lasers, confetti cannons, music and sound effects.

Going Gobos
Pictured below:
Merestone uses glass gobos to project images on walls or the side of a building.



Sonoran Communications in Phoenix specializes in creating visual experiences that encourage people to attend the meeting again next year. Its specialty is video for screens. “Clients pay for video screens, so why leave them empty?” asks Neil Schneider, owner of Sonoran Communications and chairman of the MPI public relations committee. “Why not have something playing on them? Having a blank screen is taboo. People are used to multiple screens of information now, so you can show things during lunch and breaks.” Schneider also digitally records a meeting or event and dubs it onto DVDs for people to take home.

Schneider says the MPI chapter recently used a new technology—video e-mail—to promote its Sept. 14 trade show at Arizona Cardinals Stadium. Chapter President Kathi Overkamp, CMP, was digitally recorded in front of a green screen as she gave her pitch for the event. A slide show was dropped in after she was recorded and the video was e-mailed to chapter members.

Mark Anderson, an account executive with Southwest Scenic Group in Tempe who is active on several MPI committees, sees an uptick in requests for meeting Webcasts. It started two years ago and became increasingly popular over the past year. “It’s always been there in the way of studio-type work, but especially now with HDTV and higher-end digital recording,” Anderson says. “This is used for instructional meetings and what we call ‘rah-rah’ sales meetings. People access the meeting either live or later.” Over the next few years, Anderson expects requests for even smaller presentations that meeting attendees can view at their leisure on the company Web site. “Some of these videos are supplements to the meeting,” he says. “For example, a video of a breakout session that some people were not able to attend—they can watch it later.”

Video curtains are available but the technology is in its infancy, according to Anderson. The curtain is a mass of LED lights (light emitting diodes) that looks like a video screen. It’s lightweight, portable and big. Lighting in general is becoming easier to program, saving operating and setup time, Anderson notes.

Superhero Productions with offices in Chandler, Phoenix and Scottsdale, specializes in the “wow factor,” says agent Randy Breen, an MPI board member. “Superhero got its name from that fact that we are here to save the day and, through technology, provide the wow factor for meetings and events,” Breen says. Images of a meeting–graphics, photos, logos–are made available on memory sticks, MP3 players and digital photo frames.

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006Green-screen technology allows on-the-spot photography with a variety of digital backdrops. Powerful, lightweight LEDs allow total lighting of an event so everyone can see, while small, powerful audio speakers can be strategically placed to make sure the entire audience can hear a speaker, Breen says.

Event planning has become less costly thanks to technology and that’s a real plus for clients on a tight budget, MPI members say. But there is a downside. As technology becomes increasingly easy to use, some clients think they can do the whiz-bang stuff themselves. “People think they are more techno savvy than they actually are,” Wellish says. “We manage people doing their own PowerPoint presentations. We help them determine what to project on stage with lights. This is something that has never happened to us before.”



Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Katie Pushor - AZ Business Magazine October/November 2006

CEO Katie Pushor Adds Fresh Ideas To Greater Phoenix Chamber Of Commerce

New President and CEO Katie Pushor adds fresh ideas to Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

Katie Pushor gets a rush as she looks out of her 27th floor office, taking in the booming development in downtown Phoenix. The president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce mentions the expanding ASU campus, the expanding convention center and the TGen headquarters. “I just like to see what’s going on,” says Pushor, who took the helm of the 4,000-member chamber early this year.

“The most important thing I bring is the knowledge of actually running a business, being in business in the Valley for 27 years, and I understand the challenges that business owners and executives face,” Pushor says. “When we look at programs or events or opportunities we might have here at the chamber, I am able to say, ‘When I was in the business community, would that have had value for me? Is that something I would have wanted to go to?’”

Pushor agrees with others who say her leadership style is “calm and collaborative.” But she feels she is most noted for building superior management teams, “and getting accomplished through a team, what you could never accomplish through a collection of individuals.”

She’s also process-oriented. “I see structure,” she says. “Here at the chamber, I’ve been very interested in understanding our business processes and improving them so that they can better serve the needs of our growing community.”

Her main strength, Pushor says, is the diversity of her experience, but that’s not all. “My genuine interest in people and wanting their business to be successful is probably my greatest strength,” she says. “That’s what provides my motivation and passion when I come to work each day. I love to hear about other people’s business models, I like to understand what makes it work, how they get their customers, what their profit margin is, what their challenges are.”

Not surprisingly, Pushor says her weakness is impatience. “I’m able to see exactly what needs to get done, and I have a hard time understanding why it wasn’t done yesterday,” she says.

Working at the Arizona Lottery provided Pushor with a bridge to her current role. The Lottery is a quasi-public business that deals with 2,600 retail outlets, does a lot of consumer advertising and acts like a privately-held business, but is bound by legislative mandate.

“It was an opportunity for me to learn what it’s like to work with an administration and with elected officials and how to work within a legislative cycle,” she says. “And how a great deal of our value to the business community is advocating for them within the legislative and executive branches.”

Since coming on board at the Phoenix Chamber, Pushor has made it her business to meet with chambers and other groups in the Valley, such as the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and other economic development officials.

“That has helped me understand what they do, and helped me to differentiate in my mind what we’re doing,” she says. “What is the unique slot that we’re fitting in and where can we be of help to other people? Where can we join forces? A lot of it is communication and to be willing to be a student, and not come in and think you know all the answers.”

While high-tech is a key driving force of the Arizona economy, and a sector where Pushor excelled for several years, she now takes a broader view. “What the chamber really does is accelerate business growth and retention within the Valley,” she says. “What’s different about us is we look horizontally across the Valley. We don’t see you only as a bioscience company or only as a technology company or only as an agricultural company. We see you as a business partner.”

So the focus is on the challenges that all businesses face, such as workers’’ compensation, safety, human resource issues and employee retention. Pushor says her mission is to get the word out to non-member businesses about the services the chamber provides. “That’s why they hired me,” she says.

And she emphasizes that the chamber is not competing with business recruitment organizations. “They’re looking out of state, out of the country, to bring people here,” Pushor says. “We want you to start here and stay here and grow here. If they bring the fish in, then we’re the aquarium.”

Quick Facts about Katie Pushor

Katie Pushor’s resume reads like a been-there, done-that array of business and executive experience. She came to the Greater Phoenix Chamber from the Arizona Lottery, where under her leadership, revenues and profits soared. Beginning her career as a CPA, Pushor has started and operated two small businesses, held several executive positions at MicroAge starting in 1989, and in 2002, co-authored a book, “Into the Boardroom.”

Arizona Business Magazine October/November 2006

CBRE, AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CBRE’s Top Arizona Executives Describe The Company’s 100-Year Legacy

Looking Ahead

CBRE’s top Arizona executives describe the company’s 100-year legacy and their vision for the future.

By Melanie Winderlich

Pete Bolton, senior managing director-Phoenix, seven and a half years at CBRE
A marathon, not a sprint: The key to CBRE’s sustainability is flexibility, awareness of market conditions and selection of excellent people (including staff, brokers, management)—we have been able to do this work for 100 years. Nearly 20 years ago, the company decided to do commercial real estate exclusively and walked away from the residential side. They understood market conditions and could plan for the future of the market.

Looking AheadAlso, risk taking has been extremely effective here. Some competitors scoffed at some of the major risks we’ve taken and swore those risks would bury us. But we’ve always made strong, calculated risks. For example, Sears, Roebuck and Co. acquired 100 percent of Coldwell Banker commercial and residential in the early 1980s. However, in 1989, the employees invested their own money, and with others, acquired the company’s operations to form CB Commercial. The men and women who worked here invested hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the commercial side away from Sears. That was the launch, a very risky move, which could have been very tough if the market would have experienced a downturn.

Industry progression: In our business, if things aren’t changing, then things aren’t happening. We had a challenging, tough time from the beginning of 2001 toward the middle of 2004 because there was so much uncertainty and nobody was doing anything. Today, in Arizona we’re seeing far more than our share of expansions, which is extremely important for this state. Many companies are either completely relocating to Arizona or expanding by adding a regional hub in the Valley. Phoenix has proven in the last 15 years, to the national marketplace, that we’re a player, not a ‘boom or bust’ economy. It’s consistency from various sources—from the governor’s office to everyday people on the street—that generates interest about developing here.

I hope there can be more openness, from the community, in regards to change. I’ve been in the Valley for more than 52 years and seen so many people move here and give back to the community. What I see a lot of is newcomers (all types) pushing back against change and growth. Any kind of big project is always a battle with the neighborhoods. The change can be good, but they just vehemently resist. Our community needs to become more open to change, more open to density, more open to becoming the city we are destined to become. Luckily we have a very business-friendly government and a governor that listens to the business community and respects our concerns.

Greg Coxon, left, senior managing director-Phoenix and Pete Bolton, senior managing director-Phoenix


Greg Coxon & Peter Bolton


Tim Prouty, managing director—Tucson, six years with CBRE

Tim Prouty


The 100-year legacy: CBRE is all about the client. We want to reduce our clients’ risk. These transactions can be massive, one bad decision can ruin a career, so you better be giving good advice and data. That’s our prime legacy, we’re very sure about the information we’re providing.

Vision quest: CBRE would like to continue to be the place to work. If you have happy people internally and continue to educate them, then your company continues to grow and benefits clients. We’re the only commercial brokerage company I know of that has its own university. About 40 minutes outside of Chicago, our teaching facility educates employees at all different levels. The intensive CBRE curriculum and professional coaches are all geared to create the strongest, most intelligent group to represent the company. CB Richard Ellis is the biggest, most profitable commercial real estate services company in the world, earning about $3 billion worldwide. Our closest competitor pulls in about $780 million. We would like to continue that tradition.

On-the-job satisfaction: I work at CBRE because it’s fun. When you think about it, we spend more time at work than with our families. I work about 10 to 12 hours a day—I get home at 7:30 p.m., spend a couple hours with my kids then go to bed. When you spend 40 to 60 hours a week with the same group of people, you want to be with people you enjoy. Not only is CBRE the No. 1 commercial real estate company in Arizona, the country and the world (by revenue), but our people are wonderfully intelligent, creative and fun. We truly make a difference because of the advice we give. This is a great place for me to apply my trade.

Greg Coxon, senior managing director-Phoenix, 19 years with CBRE
In it for the long haul: The biggest reason CBRE is still around today is our people. We’re blessed to have high caliber people working here. They are unbelievably motivated to execute our business goals. The other part of that secret is our ability to retain these people. CBRE is a great company— the No. 1 company by any comparative standard, that fact coupled with our awesome people who offer expertise and longevity, is a fabulous recipe for success.

A star is born: From an organizational standpoint, we’ve been lucky and had incredibly talented people sitting at the leadership chair of this company. These leaders have been unbelievable with growing this company. Each owner, CEO, manager, and so on has taken this organization to a different level. And this fact has allowed the next CEO or director to grab onto that success and take it to the next level—success begets success. It’s almost incumbent on the incoming leaders to take their role and responsibility to that level of quality. I expect CBRE to get bigger and better as we look forward to the future.

What the community should know: The one thing I would like the community to know about CBRE is how giving we are. Our employees are involved in countless organizations—we have people who sit on boards, volunteer with charities, work with nonprofits. We give money and time to our community. For example, CBRE has held a charity golf tournament every year for the past eight years and over time, has raised nearly $750,000 for several charities. ChildHelp is the biggest benefactor of this event, but it is one of many things we do. I would like people to know about how our people join together when they see a need for their involvement and what they are prepared to do in time of crisis. It’s unbelievable.

Vision quest: We would like to continue to be bigger—growing by employees, geography and revenue. One of our corporate initiatives, at the highest level, is to be the No. 1 provider of commercial real estate services in the world. We can do that by hiring professional, knowledgeable people. We’re looking into other areas that are related to our industry. We’ve started an equipment and asset financing business within CBRE | Melody. A few years ago, we created a team of real estate professionals focused on the acquisition and disposition of mining properties, especially appropriate in Arizona—few people think about mining operations or equipment that are very beneficial to specific clients. We’re continually spawning other niche service lines because CBRE is very entrepreneurial at its roots.

The need for CBRE: Commercial real estate is a fragmented business; there is not another dominant company that provides real estate services across the world. As we go into a global economy, every country has different laws and regulations regarding real estate. The United States’ real estate practices are some of the most advanced in the industry. Given such a good foundation, in terms of ownership and standards, CBRE applies these standards to every market in the world. One of our top attributes is that we have our best practices implemented everywhere in the world, which is good for the client who might not understand the real estate regulations in Japan or Russia, but must have a presence there.

There is not any one company that has the vast majority of the marketplace. We apply our standards to a very vast area of geography—an important fact if you have someone who cannot navigate laws specific to certain areas around the world. We are an economic development engine on a global scale.

A look into the next 100 years: The next 100 years will be better than the last 100 years. We’ve always made the future better than what was in the past. We’re making major advancements. We won’t give up things we value most—our high ethical standards, client needs, giving employees latitude to achieve the level of success they desire—we will meet these successes as a call of duty.

Tim Prouty, managing director—Tucson, six years with CBRE
Benefiting Arizona: CBRE’s 100-year presence all boils down to the people who we’ve been able to attract to the platform. If you get people who want to make things happen, then things will happen. When each individual person contributes, their work creates a huge contribution statewide.

In Tucson, CBRE orchestrated the sale of the IBM plant to the University of Arizona, which then led to the development of the University of Arizona Science Park. This project, which sold for nearly $100 million, created huge employment numbers and added another avenue of research for the school and the state—that’s a pretty significant contribution

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006Changes through the years: Corporate real estate, over time, has continued to focus on outsourcing to real estate service providers, which means more services for us to be ready to provide (from the occupier side). From the investor side, the world is awash with investment capital so we must find appropriate spots to invest that capital. Vision quest: I see continued growth in our company, to serve our clients, in CBRE’s future. We strive to help our clients as one, integrated Arizona company with a consistent level of service in the state. Also, the opportunity to go in fields of different business and serve new clients. For example, clients have changing needs as it relates to finance, construction, facility management. Anything that has to do with real estate, our company wants to be a part of that.

Where work and play merge: I work at CBRE because it’s fun. It’s a great company with a state-of-the-art platform, working on the leading edge of the commercial real estate industry. This business is a blast and it’s always changing—the challenge is never the same. Every client, every building, every concern is unique. The real estate business runs through everybody’s life; every business has a real estate component and I get to interact with almost every industry out there.



Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Cover, AZ Business Magazine

Jim Pederson And Jon Kyl Go Head To Head in Real Estate

The Blue Camp

Jim Pederson has built a real estate kingdom in the desert, but can he dethrone Jon Kyl?

By Lori K.Baker

It’s 4:30 on a sweltering August afternoon, and a cadre of small-business owners duck into Nixon’s, a Camelback Esplanade restaurant that pokes fun at politicians. They gather upstairs, a meeting spot that looks like the back room of a dimly lit Washington, D.C. bar. Quotations—both famous and infamous—are inscribed on the walls. Walls decked out in vintage newspaper and magazine covers flash back to the Watergate break-in, Nixon’s resignation, Kent State shootings and Lyndon Johnson’s announcement he wasn’t seeking re-election.

Jim Pederson, Jon Kyl - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Yes, those were troubling times. But these owners of small businesses—accounting firms, construction companies and automotive dealerships—aren’t enamored by the modern-day political scene, either. And U.S. Senate Democrat candidate Jim Pederson, whom they’ve come here to meet, is about to hear all about it during his one-hour campaign stop.

Dressed in a gray suit and french blue shirt sans tie, 64-year-old Jim Pederson listens intently, often nodding his head in agreement. The Democrat developer—sort of an oxymoron—tells the business owners he can relate to their struggles. He didn’t instantly strike it rich with the Pederson Group, the mastermind of more than 25 retail projects throughout the state, beginning with a neighborhood shopping center in Goodyear in 1986.

As the eldest of six boys, Pederson grew up in a 1,000-square-foot, two bedroom home on the south side of the railroad tracks in Casa Grande, where his father Ed, a diehard Republican, was city manager for 25 years. Ed instilled a passion for news, politics and public service in Jim, who attended the University of Arizona, where he earned his degree in political science and a master’s in public administration.

In 1967, fresh out of grad school, he moved to Phoenix, where he followed in his father’s footsteps by going to work for city government—first in the City of Phoenix’s research and budget division and later as administrative assistant for Phoenix Mayor Milt Graham. When Graham lost an election, Pederson was faced with a decision: Switch careers or return to Phoenix’s research and budget division. Then came a fortuitous meeting with shopping center magnate Sam Grossman, who hired Pederson to run the then-Christown Mall.

Afterward, Pederson was hired at Westcor, where he eventually wound up as manager for Westcor’s shopping centers before he ventured out on his own in 1983. He slowly built his development empire—making him a multimillionaire and making the state’s Democratic Party a benefactor of his largess.

After being elected as state chair of the Arizona Democratic Party in 2001, he infused millions of his own money into the party, set records for fund-raising.

But now he’s making his own high-stakes bid to unseat a two-term incumbent in one of the most watched races in the country. Pederson has poured millions of his own money into the campaign, largely to build name recognition in a state in which 90 percent of the people had never heard of him.

“The race between Senator Kyl and Jim Pederson may end up being one of the hottest senate races in the country,” says Bruce Merrill, a nationally known Arizona State University pollster who conducts monthly surveys. “Both candidates are competent, well managed and well financed,” he says.

On the campaign trail at a recent Kiwanis club meeting in Tempe, Pederson drives home the point that he’s looking out for the interests of the small businessman. “I bring a certain bias to the campaign, the bias of being a small businessman,” he says.

“You need to send someone back to Washington who is independent,” Pederson says, leaning forward on the podium. “Independent of special interests—and independent of partisanship.”


The Red Camp
Incumbent Republican Jon Kyl faces his strongest challenger yet.

Except for triple digit temperatures, it’s an idyllic day at Scottsdale’s posh Gainey Ranch. Sunlight glints on manmade lakes, which pose as water hazards on acres upon acres of rolling green golf courses. Chic eateries are doing brisk mid-day business. Doubletree Ranch Road, lined with towering date palms, winds past the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, where guests can opt for de-aging wraps and mineral massages at Spa Avania.

Down the road from the resort, Sen. Jon Kyl blows into Scottsdale Insurance Company in the nick of time for this 2 p.m. meeting, looking hurried, yet composed. The Congressional Quarterly describes him as someone who “can frequently be seen racing through the Capitol—often to and from top leaders’ offices—never choosing a casual stroll.”

He’s keeping the same breakneck pace on this jam-packed, mid-summer day on the campaign trail in his hometown stomping ground. Today, security—namely national security—is on his mind as he addresses this standing-room-only crowd.

“One thing that is very much on my mind is that we are at war and yet it does not seem like we are,” Kyl begins. “This is a war against a group of evil people who believe they must bend everyone to their will or kill them. We need to support the policies that will deal with this threat in a serious, committed way.”

Kyl has been one of the Senate’s most consistent supporters of the Bush administration’s policies. Political observers like Arizona State University pollster Bruce Merrill notes party loyalty always comes into play during key election races.

“The president’s popularity has the potential to impact this race,” he predicts. Turmoil in the Middle East is the topic du jour for this crowd, which peppers Kyl with questions. “Are we willing to destroy Iran rather than allow them to have a nuclear program?” an attendee asks. Silence hangs in the air as the audience awaits Kyl’s response.

“That’s a good question and I don’t think we want to answer that yet,” replies Kyl, described by Congressional Quarterly as “someone who has taken to working behind the scenes much more readily than selling his position publicly.”

Another hot button around Arizona—and the Southwest for that matter—is immigration reform. The fact that Arizona’s two senators, John McCain and Kyl, have different views on immigration reform has left political observers scratching their heads.

McCain’s solution includes allowing illegal immigrants to apply for a three-year guest worker visa, which could be renewed once if they paid a $1,000 fine and passed a background check. After six years, if they demonstrated English proficiency and paid another $1,000 fine and back taxes, they could apply for permanent residency, the first step toward citizenship.