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.”

www.phoenixchamber.com
www.phoenix.cox.net
www.srpnet.com
www.aps.com

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.”

www.phoenixchamber.com

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.”

www.eidebailly.com
www.rbgold.com

 

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.

Gobos

 

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.”

www.merestone.com
www.sonorancommunications.com
www.southwestscenic.com
www.superheropro.com

 

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.”

www.pederson2006.com

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.

Jim Pederson, Jon Kyl - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006Last year, Kyl co-sponsored a bill that provides for a guest-worker program but requires illegal immigrants to leave the United States—called “mandatory departure”—before they re-enter the United States and apply for it. Guest workers and new immigrant laborers can apply for a two-year visa that can be renewed twice, with a one-year gap between renewals that must be spent outside the United States and a lifetime cap of six years. The visa offers no special path to permanent residency or citizenship. The bill also doubles existing civil penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Back in Kyl’s office at 22nd Street and Camelback, a large photograph on display shows President Bush and Kyl in front of Old Glory, smiling for the camera. He chats about everything from fuel efficient cars to his energy policies, which include more domestic oil drilling as temporary solutions to the long-ranging fuel issue.

Unlike his counterpart, U.S. Senator and media-frequent, would-be presidential candidate John McCain, today’s conversation offers a rare glimpse of the more private Kyl. As Kyl told Time: “You can accomplish a lot if you’re not necessarily out in front on everything.”

www.jonkyl.com

Jim Pederson
Iraq war:
Calls Iraq war “the biggest policy failure in my lifetime” and says he would demand an exit strategy.Immigration reform:
Supports a guest worker program that would fine illegal immigrants and put them through a background check before qualifying.

Repeal of estate tax:
Opposes

Stem cell research:
Supports

Privatizing Social Security:
Opposes

Jon Kyl
Iraq war:
Vote with party officials against a timetable for redeploying troops out of Iraq.

Immigration reform:
Proposes “mandatory departure” of illegal immigrants and opposes automatic path to citizenship for guest workers.

Repeal of estate tax:
Supports

Stem cell research:
Opposes

Privatizing Social Security:
Supports

AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Divorce and Business - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

How To Ensure Your Joint Business Outlives A Failing Marriage

‘Til Business Do Us Part

How to ensure your joint business outlives a failing marriage

By Alexander D. Nirenstein

Divorce can be a trying time for individuals faced with income, property and child custody issues, but throw in a joint business venture, and the formula could be detrimental to both couple and business. The phenomena of newlywed couples seeking an instant satisfying and established lifestyle has led many to open up their own business, where profits can be quick and hours are flexible. Couples in their mid-40s and 50s are also embracing joint business ventures, finally opening that family business they have spoken about for years.

 

business_doWhile this combination of business and pleasure can be a success story for both a marriage and a business, it can also be the recipe for disaster. Arizona boasts one of the highest divorce rates in the nation—about 64 percent of all marriages in Arizona and 75 percent of all marriages in Maricopa County end in divorce (according to the Committee on Human Resources for the Arizona House of Representatives and the U.S. Census Bureau). And the Valley’s most successful CEOs and prominent figures are not immune to the effects a failed marriage can have on a thriving business. Having represented some of the Southwest’s most high-profile figures in family law cases, I have seen first hand that even the elite are not immune to blindly entering into the sanctity of a joint business, without proper legal preparation and agreements.

The No. 1 thing I tell my clients, family and friends who are considering entering into joint business rights or assets is to draft a solid shareholder’s agreement with a buyout provision to protect you, your spouse and the business. This can be in a prenuptial agreement or a separate agreement, but it’s a must. Without this, it can be a free-for-all if you divorce or if one of the parties wants out of the business during a separation.

You also have to be familiar with state divorce and community property laws. As I am often faced with clients who have not taken proper legal protection, Arizona’s community property law never fails to be one of the most shocking divorce provisions to couples. Under this law, regardless of which partner in the marriage is primarily running the business on a daily basis, both parties are entitled to equitable shares of the business. This means the stay-at-home mom can be found to have contributed as much to the business as her CEO husband who puts 60 hours a week into the company. Thus, each party will usually get 50 percent of the business.

Cover - AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006For couples who have been fortunate enough to properly prepare their business for this scenario, dealing with the buyout provision before the divorce is also a smart move as court rulings in divorce cases can impact the share each party has in the business. Additionally, contested divorces can also take years to settle, creating huge setbacks for a business’ growth and success, and creating roadblocks to selling the company should an attractive offer come along.

Bottom line? Putting your head where your heart is could save you and your business. If you are in the middle of a business divorce or on the brink of one, ensure you get all your ducks in a row beforehand. Have your financial planner, CPA and business lawyer collaborate through initial negotiations. This will ensure all parties representing you and your business will be on the same page regarding your personal, financial and business interest.

Alexander D. Nirenstein is a managing partner and co-founder of Nirenstein Ruotolo Group (NRG Family Law), a boutique family law firm with offices in Scottsdale and Tempe.

www.nrglaw.net

 

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CB Richard Ellis, AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CB Richard Ellis Has A Century-Long History

Ethics, Integrity, Collaboration

CB Richard Ellis has a century-long history rich with client-focused expansion

By Debra Gelbart

This year CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) celebrates the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding in America. However, many may not realize that this commercial real estate giant began in San Francisco under another well-known corporate moniker, “Coldwell Banker.” Colbert Coldwell was just 23 years old in 1906 and wanted to help rebuild San Francisco after the catastrophic earthquake. When he started his real estate firm, he was determined to set a new standard for ethics. His professionalism attracted a loyal client base. Just a few years later, he hired a salesman named Benjamin Arthur Banker. The two became lifelong business partners. Their firm began to expand farther and faster than any real estate services firm in history.

Arizona’s profound impact on the company
Ethics, Integrity, CollaborationIn 1952, the company opened its first office outside of California in Phoenix, Arizona. The office was first located on the property of Park Central Mall at Central Avenue and Earll.

J. Daryl Lippincott directed the activities of the Phoenix office from its inception and helped shape the trajectory of the company for the next 30 years. He began working at Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles in 1948 and started learning the business of regional shopping center development in Southern California. Lippincott came to Phoenix to manage the leasing of Park Central, the city’s first mall and Arizona’s first regional commercial development. “Initially, the sole purpose of the Phoenix office was to focus on Park Central,” Lippincott says.

The list of retail stores that Lippincott brought to Park Central includes some legendary names: Goldwater’s department store (the precursor to Robinson’s-May and Macy’s), Diamond’s department store (which subsequently became Dillard’s), Leonard’s Luggage and Switzer’s.

By 1957, the Phoenix office offered an array of real estate services, including mortgage loans, appraisals, property management and a residential brokerage as well as a commercial division. “The Arizona office incorporated separately from California and I became president of the Arizona corporation,” Lippincott says. Later, Phoenix was brought back into the corporate family and became the headquarters for the company’s Southwest division.

Leasing leader
In October of 1959, John Amory drove a car, belonging to a winter visitor, from Boston to Phoenix. “I really liked Phoenix,” he says. “I decided to look for a job here.” In December, Lippincott hired him.

Initially, Amory sold houses. “In 1961, I had an opportunity to concentrate on leasing. That’s when my career working with developers on office buildings began.”

His resume includes leasing activity for most of the premier office buildings in Phoenix in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s: the Greyhound Tower; the Del Webb Townhouse (a unique mix of hotel and office space); the Financial Center, the building on Central Avenue that looks like a 1960s-era IBM punch card; the United Bank Building; the 111 W. Monroe office building in downtown Phoenix; and the Phelps Dodge Tower at 2600 N. Central Ave.

“Our firm leased almost all the new office space in Phoenix,” Amory says. He enjoys leasing office property because “every deal is a new deal. There’s no cookie-cutter formula for leasing office space. You have to figure out how to be a matchmaker for the landlord and the tenant.”

Today, 47 years after Amory began working in the Phoenix office, he serves as senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis. He has the longest continuous tenure of any sales professional in the company’s history. “I have no plans to retire,” he says, adding that he commutes every day from Wickenburg. “I like to work.”

Until this year, Ben Cowles had held the record of longest continuous tenure of any sales professional in the company’s history. He started out in the company’s Los Angeles office in 1949 and came to work in the Phoenix office in 1961, retiring in 1995.

In 1980, Cowles was presented with the William H. McCarthy Memorial Award, named after a salesman in Los Angeles who had demonstrated “the perfect blend of motivation and cooperation,” according to the award plaque. Cowles was only the third recipient of the award in the company’s history and to this day, he remains the only Arizona recipient. The award is the highest honor given every year to a CBRE sales professional who emulates (McCarthy’s) outstanding career.

Just 10 months after Amory arrived at the Phoenix office, Lee Noble was hired. Today, Noble too is a senior vice president in Phoenix with CB Richard Ellis.

“I was a student at ASU and one of my real estate professors got a letter from CB that said the company wanted to hire a young guy to do odd jobs,” Noble says. “I wanted to do it. So I became the ‘sign guy,’ putting up real estate signs all over the Valley. Then I began to concentrate on office building leasing, and several years later, on apartment building sales.” Noble was promoted to senior sales manager but found that he missed selling. “After seven years,” he says, “I went back into production. I wanted to focus on individual clients.”

“People ask me all the time why I’ve stayed with the company so long,” Noble says. “It’s because of the company’s ethics, integrity, the services we offer and the trusted relationships we’ve developed with clients that have lasted for years. The Phoenix office has, by far, the most tenured people of any CBRE office in the world. We have 26 guys who have worked for us for 20 years or more.”

More expansion
In 1963, the company is incorporated after operating as a partnership and again expands, this time to Tucson. In 1968, Coldwell Banker became a publicly traded company.

Mic Williams, who went to work in the Tucson office in 1974 as a salesman, says the firm developed an innovative, more effective way to cover the commercial real estate market. “Typically in those days, real estate brokers were jacks of all trades, leasing office space one day and selling a house the next. But the company pioneered the concept of segmenting the market—having each salesman focus on one specific area, such as office, industrial, retail or residential income. By segmenting, we had a competitive advantage. Our people were better trained and better equipped to service all aspects of the market.”

Williams, today the president of an early-stage seed capital investment firm in Boston, remembers the Tucson location fondly. “We had tremendous camaraderie and esprit de corps in that office,” Williams says. “We all grew up together and had families at about the same time. Our social lives revolved around the office. We were a ‘work hard, play hard’ group.”

The segmentation strategy made CBRE a headliner in the real estate industry in Arizona. By the time Rich Rodgers arrived in the Tucson office in 1981, “I really didn’t have to sell myself or the company to prospective clients,” he says. “They already knew about the company’s reputation for ethics, integrity, knowledge and dependability.”

Today, Rodgers is still in Tucson, presiding over his own company that develops industrial parks. “The knowledge I gained while I was at the firm has been invaluable,” he says. “Everyone I worked with was so professional and knowledgeable.”

Growing, growing, growing
By 1980, the company ranked as one of Arizona’s top real estate brokerage firms, providing comprehensive local market knowledge backed by a solid reputation as a nationwide leader in business and real estate services. In 1989, employees invested their own money and acquired the commercial side of Coldwell Banker’s business. Immediately, it ranked among the largest real estate service firms in North America.

In 1991, the company changed its name to CB Commercial Real Estate Services Group. In 1996, CB Commercial completed an initial public offering under the ticker symbol CBG.

In 1997 CB Commercial acquired Koll Real Estate Services, the nation’s largest property manager. In 1998, the company acquired REI Limited, the holding company for all Richard Ellis operations outside of the United Kingdom, and changed its name to CB Richard Ellis. The same year, CB Richard Ellis purchased a London-based commercial property services company, expanding the company’s full-service capabilities to the United Kingdom. Also that same year, company revenues reached $1 billion.

In 2001, CB Richard Ellis successfully concludes its privatization efforts with an overwhelming 98 percent approval vote by the shareholders. The company continues operations as CB Richard Ellis through its growing service network.

In 2003, CB Richard Ellis merged with Insignia Financial Group, a New York-based fully integrated real estate services company.

AZ Business Magazine October / November 2006In 2004, the company posted U.S. revenues of $2.4 billion. CB Richard Ellis’ property and corporate facilities management portfolio exceeded 989 million square feet. CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. completed an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2005, CBRE joins the Fortune 1000. And finally, in this, the company’s 100th year, CB Richard Ellis debuted on the Forbes Global 2000 list as the only real estate services firm to make the list. National Real Estate Investor has again ranked CBRE as the top real estate sales firm in the world, with sales and leasing volume in excess of $150 billion—more than double the nearest competitor. CBRE, with its partner and affiliate offices, has more than 19,500 employees in over 356 offices across more than 58 countries worldwide.

“This is a dynamic company that has continually expanded throughout the world,” says Daryl Lippincott, who today runs the Lippincott Family Foundation. “The company has never lost sight of providing quality, knowledgeable real estate services always focused on clients’ best interests.”

www.cbre.com

 

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CB Richard Ellis Service, AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CB Richards Ellis Expands Its Definition Of Who It Considers A Client

And Service for All

CB Richard Ellis expands its definition of who it considers a client—supreme service for which it stands

 

CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) is the world’s premier, full-service real estate services company. It has been providing real estate owners, investors and occupiers who represent an array of industries spanning the globe since 1906. Its 100th year anniversary calls attention to a record of astounding achievement and begs the question: what is success and how did this industry leader undeniably obtain it?

And Service for All“We define our success by understanding what our clients need and incorporating their success matrix into our strategies and tactics. When they’re successful, we’re successful,” says Chris Ludeman, CBRE president of U.S. Brokerage at the Los Angeles headquarters who has been with company for 25 years. “When people traditionally think of a commercial real estate firm, they think it’s all about money. Our best people will say it’s not: It’s about the people. The money follows, it doesn’t lead.”

If only every business operated under this value—the importance of prioritizing clients and employees above monetary gain. When people are treated well and feel valued and understood, they become long-term customers and work hard, ultimately forming a winning team.

CBRE’s reputation for excellence in serving clients starts on home turf, with more than 19,500 employees at 356 offices worldwide. What’s the cache? If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of someone else. “Service to employees—it’s absolutely the best,” says Perry Bassett, a client and private investor who was with CBRE for nine years and a top producer in Tucson. Sales personnel are taken to educational events, supported through ongoing education, regularly recognized for their ascendancy and rewarded at ceremonies for levels of achievement. “It’s not like there’s a hierarchy,” adds Bassett, “like you’re an enlisted man verses an officer. If anything, salespeople are held in higher esteem than management. And that’s reflected in every company activity.”

CBRE’s healthy internal corporate culture, its strong core value in people first, permeates through its employees to its clients.

“The quality of service is excellent. They’re very professional,” says Vice President of Kitchell Development Co. Jeff Allen, who has done hundreds of millions of dollars of business with CBRE over his 16 years with the company. “Many of the brokers have been there for 20 plus years. It’s the most experienced commercial real estate brokerage firm in the state.”

When asked if there is anything he’d criticize about CBRE, he quickly answers, “No. We love our brokers. It’s a valuable service they bring to the real estate community.”

CBRE’s reputation for consistency, predictability and superior execution is due in part to all of its salespeople. They’re fully immersed in the market, constantly current on the latest in their specialty field.

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006“We do our best work when we become an indistinguishable part of our client’s executive team,” says Ludeman. “When we can be seen by clients as an extension of their own employees and strategic advisors, it demonstrates we understand their business opposed to them understanding ours.”

Like many of CBRE’s staff, Tyler Anderson’s tenure of more than 20 years has allowed him to observe and testify to the company’s service over time. The top producer says, “It’s our culture to ensure the client is always put first and meet their needs. It’s a people business that’s relationship driven. Through great relationships there’s great trust created and reliability.”

Mike Sandahl, another 20-year veteran and top producer in Tucson sums it up best: “Honesty and integrity has made us a valued partner in our clients’ business. It has helped us to achieve success not only for our clients, but lead to the success of CB Richard Ellis in both cities.”

Why it works
CBRE sales staff undergo a rigorous screening process, one-year training program and ongoing education throughout their careers. They are considered by many to be the top providers of real estate market knowledge on the planet. Because everyone is required to specialize, clients glean the expertise from a number of deep wells rather than a shallow, expansive pool. Find out what these experts say has allowed their company to offer stellar client service.

Reputation
When Rich Rodgers worked in commercial real estate for another company, he says he had to “sell himself” to get a listing. In the ‘80s when he worked at CBRE in Tucson for nearly five years, he says, “I didn’t have to sell the company because everyone knew its reputation; whoever is working for the company is professional. So I didn’t even need to sell myself,” which was half the battle.

Experience
The sheer number of salespeople alone who have been with the company for a long time enhances the depth and quality of expertise. “We have more than 20 people who’ve been with the company for 20 years or more,” says Tyler Anderson, a sales professional in CBRE’s Phoenix office.

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

Why Meeting Planning Has Become A Top Career Pick

Planning Big

Why meeting planning has become a top career pick

By David M. Brown

$122.3 billion. That’s what businesses, small and large, spend on meetings and conventions annually. And that’s one great reason why, when choosing their careers, so many young people are choosing meeting planning.

 

Planning BigEither as independent firms or employees, meeting planners ensure that events, from seminars and incentives to Fortune 500 annual meetings and conventions, are successful for their clients, both tactically (did it run smoothly?) and strategically (did the gathering fulfill corporate goals?). While the perception may be that this is a females-only profession, males are participating in its many facets: administrative; communications; financial; sales; hospitality; audio-visual; staging and production; and long-term visioning. “If you consider the bigger picture, the industry, there are men filling various roles,” says Katherine Christensen, CMP, president and owner of Chandler-based Katherine Christensen & Associates and PRA Destination Management–Arizona. The Certified Meeting Professional, CMP, is an industry certification earned through examination, as well as work and association experience.

“[Students] see the industry as a $120 billion business, and the thought of the myriads of detail necessary to conduct a major event, whether small or large, is challenging for their skills,” says Jim Fausel, CMP, CMM, faculty associate with the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University. There, students pursue one of two elective accredited courses: Meetings and Convention Management and Special Events. Fausel also serves as the director of the Professional Meeting Managers Partnership and, as an independent meeting professional, has led Scottsdale-based The Conference Connection since 1984.

Programs at quality universities such as ASU and Northern Arizona University help students realize that this is a career they never even considered, until they learned what it was all about. “Meetings management is the sleeping giant in academia, and more and more students want to learn how to plan effective meetings,” adds Fausel.

The degree at ASU is a Bachelor of Science and Recreation, with tourism as the section in which meeting management is taught. ASU also offers adult learning courses, he notes: “We target those working in nonprofits, government, associations and corporations who are told to plan and set up a meeting, but don’t have the experience to do so.”

Dr. Gary Vallen, professor, from the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, says the appeal is that meeting planning is a “thrill-a-minute industry.” He asks, “Where else could someone take a leadership role putting on high-end conventions from such diverse topics as a National Home Builders Conference (one of the largest physical show requirements of any in the world) to the world’s largest cocktail and nightclub show?” He adds, “Or put on smaller themed events like a James Bond dinner, or a racecar/Nascar evening for various conference groups?”

His Gary Vallen Hospitality Consultants hosts casino-themed evenings for social purposes or charitable fundraisers. Vallen helped initiate the NAU program in 1988. He teaches Hotel Operations, Casino Gaming Management and Meetings and Events Management, and, during a recent semester sabbatical, developed four courses in meeting, events and expositions management: Meeting Planning; Conventions and Expositions; Festivals and Special Events; and Topics in Meetings and Conventions Management. NAU first offered these courses this spring.

A Business Convention
“Meeting planning as a career is growing more popular in part because of the increasing awareness of our industry,” explains Karla Vogtman, convention services manager for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Almost every organization holds some type of meeting. As long as companies meet, the demand for professionals in our industry will continue,” adds Vogtman, an ASU alum.

She, in fact, works with the CVB’s convention sales department to service groups hosting meetings in the Valley. This includes providing housing and registration assistance; developing community awareness; coordinating site inspections and venues; hosting off-site activities; supplying destination and promotional collateral; and providing marketing assistance to convention groups. “In other words, I act as the destination specialist and work as a liaison between members and meeting planners,” she says.

Her path is illustrative of the many opportunities a meeting career offers: She started in the multi-cultural affairs department, moved to the convention sales department and now works with groups in convention services. “A degree in this field requires you to focus on communication, business and a variety of other skills I utilize every day.”

While the popularity of meeting planning as a career is a national trend, tourism’s place as the second largest industry in Arizona is particularly inspiring young people here. “Arizona as a destination is very popular and our seasons are high in the fall. From January through June, when all in our industry work very hard, oftentimes without days off, we do it to serve our visitors,” Christensen notes. As a result, most meeting and convention planning is hospitality-focused in Arizona, although medical, real estate and financial concerns significantly rely on these professionals as well.

In fact, it’s becoming a necessity, she emphasizes. “It’s a profession that is finally being recognized as an industry,” After all, she points out, “People take their taxes to a CPA, as they are schooled and study in that field, or other experts in their fields like attorneys or mechanics. Why would they not have their meeting/event planning needs tended to, by a professional?”

Plan to Associate with Colleagues
Meeting planning has evolved, though, explains LoriAnn K. Harnish, CMP, CMM. “Today’s meeting planners are event and meeting extraordinaires who are far more strategic than tactical,” explains Harnish, noting that Fast Company Magazine has listed the meeting industry as one of the top 20 professions for the next decade. “Yes, they have resources at their fingertips and checklists galore to ensure every detail is not overlooked or forgotten. However, their main focus is being strategic, that is, aligning their meetings objectives with the visions of the organizations they serve.”

Hornish is president of Scottsdale-based Speaking of Meetings, which ensures that a company’s strategic objectives are the components of every meeting and event. The CMM, Certified Meetings Manager, which develops this strategic visioning, requires a five-day, in-residence course and other components.

She is also president-elect of the 460-member, Phoenix-based Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of the Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International, established in 1972. The largest association for the meetings profession, MPI includes 20,000-plus membership in 68 chapters and clubs in the United States, Canada, Europe and other countries. The chapter assists members with networking, education and vocation tools, as well as works with students for internship opportunities.

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006“Our state has had a chapter for more than 25 years, and that tells you how important meeting planning has been for several decades,” explains Christensen, a member since 1993 who has served in various roles, including president. “It isn’t new; it is just perceived as a necessary profession for corporations, associations and organizations to assist in their planning.”

Everyone agrees: For those planning this as a career, plan ahead. “Throughout the country, this background opens the doors to employment,” Fausel says. “Those companies and associations looking for meeting-management assistance usually turn to those individuals with the training and education in the meetings industry to be part of the team.”

www.kc-a.com
www.asu.edu
www.nau.edu
www.conferenceconnection.org
www.visitphoenix.com

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

busy tomorrow for Meeting Planners

Meeting Planners an Industry On A Roll

Meeting planners an industry on a roll

Only a few years ago, professional meeting planners in Arizona were struggling through a post-9/ll slump in business. Those days are now history. But don’t get the impression meeting planners are breathing a sigh of relief. Members of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International are much too busy for that. The number of meetings and events in Arizona is in a sharp rebound as the state’s economy hums along again and planners who once had nothing but time on their hands, can’t get enough of it today.

“It’s such a turnaround from three years ago,” says Bonnie Brant, national sales manager for Doubletree Guest Suites Phoenix near Sky Harbor International Airport. “We’re so busy and it’s a nice kind of busy. People are traveling again, rooms are filled, planners have a broader selection of events and venues. It’s great.” Brant, a chapter board member and 2006 Mentor of the Year, says the Doubletree steadily booked meetings and events all summer.

Michael Barnhart, CMP, a chapter member and national sales manager for Pointe South Mountain Resort in south Phoenix, is happy to be scrambling again. “The economy is definitely back and it’s nice to have demand again. I like being busy. It beats the alternative.” Planners say that business from associations remained steady during the lean years while corporate meetings nosedived. Now corporate business is back and planners are helping with incentive meetings for top producers, sales meetings, new product launches, board retreats and departmental brainstorm sessions. Because of its proximity to the airport, the Doubletree’s weekends are devoted primarily to military reunions for veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

Some resorts and hotelsMichael Barnhart - meeting planners are funneling money back into their properties to attract more visitors. For example, Brant says the Doubletree refurbished all public areas in 2004 and also enhanced its meeting space, installing new lighting and soundproofing and softening the colors. “Repeat business is key and if you’re not providing renovations and high-tech features and good service, you are not going to be one of the ballplayers,” she says. But the good times also bring challenges. Planners are coming to grips with a time crunch they call compression. Clients struggle with their own lack of time and that trickles down to planners who now have a substantially tighter turnaround to do their jobs compared to previous years. “Usually, what we planned a year out, we are now planning 90 days out,” says Katherine Christensen, CMP, president and owner of Katherine Christensen & Associates and PRA Destination Management in Chandler. Sometimes, there is virtually no lead time, says Christensen, a past chapter president. “They call on Tuesday, asking me to plan an event for Friday.”

Planners who book hotel rooms are bumping up against higher rates as fewer rooms are available and the law of supply and demand flexes its muscle. Christensen sees it as a seller’s market in which booking terms are less negotiable. Part of the problem is that three major Valley resorts–Marriott Mountain Shadows, Doubletree La Posada and Radisson Scottsdale–closed in 2004 and 2005, Barnhart says. “Supply has dipped,” he notes. “With the economy coming back, we’ve got that pent-up demand from corporate America. Their national and regional meetings are in full force. Rates have gone up as much as 10 percent for February through March. Rates are just now getting back to where they were before 9/11.” Meeting planners at one Scottsdale corporation face the same problems with rates and space availability as they organize 60 to 80 events a year for their company. Courtney Aguilar and Shannon Urfer, each a marketing manager of events at eFunds Corporation and chapter member, say their greatest challenge is getting executives to understand that rates are higher and that space is hard to come by. Urfer, who serves on the chapter’s membership, fund-raising and holiday party committees, says from her experience, rates have climbed 20 to 30 percent over the past few years. “When we started looking for the 2007 location for our annual global sales kickoff, almost all the properties we looked at were sold out,” Aguilar says. “We booked both our 2007 and 2008 kickoffs in February of this year.”

Christensen has noticed a significant change in the kind of corporate people her company works with. Increasingly, she works more with procurement departments and less with internal event planners. The bottom line has become more important than the relationship, she says. “The deliverability of our services has not changed,” Christensen says. “What has changed is how we prepare our proposals and that is becoming more line-itemed. That’s fine, but as they pick apart the event to save money, they pick apart the ambience. We will do all that. Just don’t come back to me and say this is not what I originally described in my proposal.”

But since it’s better to be busy than not, planners are taking it all in stride. Christensen attended a MPI retreat over the summer and the busy times was a topic of discussion. “No one really has an answer as to how they are doing it; they’re just doing it,” she says. “We are all glad to see the business.”

Urfer sees meeting and event planners taking on an increasingly important role in the years ahead. “Meeting planners will become more integral and valued as people look to them not as order takers, but as someone who can provide direction,” she says. Brant believes the profession will have a bright future in metropolitan Phoenix. “We’ve got a new convention center coming in. Light rail is coming in. We will have the Super Bowl in 2008. It’s just a great place to be a meeting and event planner.”

www.azmpi.org
www.webeventplanner.com/doubletreeguestsuitesphoenix
www.efunds.com
www.kc-a.com
www.pra.com
www.arizonagrandresort.com

ABOUT MPI
Established in 1972, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest association for the meetings profession with more than 20,000 members in 68 chapters and clubs across the USA, Canada, Europe and other countries throughout the world. As the global authority and resource for the $122.3 billion meetings and events industry, MPI empowers meeting professionals to increase their strategic organizational value through education and networking opportunities. Its strategic plan, Pathways to Excellence, is designed to elevate the role of meetings in business via: creating professional development levels to evolve member careers to positions of strategic understanding and influence; influencing executives about the value of meetings; and ensuring MPI is the premier marketplace for planners and suppliers. More information can be found by going to www.mpiweb.org. Active since 1979, the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter is MPI’s 15th largest chapter in the world. The organization is comprised of over 460 members throughout the state of Arizona, representing a mix of corporate, association and independent planners as well as suppliers who provide a variety of products and/or services to the meeting and hospitality industry.The local chapter offers its members educational, networking, community volunteer, industry certification and professional growth opportunities throughout the year. For more information, contact Executive Director, Joanne Winter, at (602) 277-1494 or visit the chapter website at www.azmpi.org for up-to-date information on events and programs.

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006