Tag Archives: San Diego


New app created by ASU alumni makes it easier to get ‘Tipsy’

Going out is a lot of fun. Meeting up with friends and going out for drinks and dancing is the highlight of the week for most people. However it puts a serious lull into the night when you have to wait for half an hour just to get into the building. And of course there’s always the next morning come down when you realize just how much you spent to have a good time.

Thanks to the new app Tipsy, you may no longer have to pay that price for a night out.

Created by ASU-alumni Eli Chmouni and his team, Tipsy is a nightlife membership app that offers members free drinks, front of the line passes and no cover charge entry to the hottest clubs and bars in the area.

“What we wanted to do was give everyone that VIP experience,” said Eli. “There’s always that one guy that either knows the bouncer or knows the bartender so they can get free drinks or skip the line and covers. We are that guy you know.”

After graduating from ASU with a degree in mechanical engineering working to develop and promote an app was not how Chmouni thought he would be using his education.

“I ended up graduating thinking I’d be doing design and sitting in a dead-end job,” said Chmoundi. “Instead I got really excited about entrepreneurship and business development. It’s really what I’m passionate about.”

The Tipsy app works by charging its users a 15 dollars a month fee in exchange for VIP access and perks. The 35 venues featured on the app are handpicked using their yelp reviews, locations and member requests. The options include places such as Moonshine in Tempe and Dakota in Scottsdale. All you have to do is show is open the app and show the digital voucher to the bartender or bouncer.

In return for providing the perks the venues receive analytics about their customers to help improve their marketing.

Since launching in April the app currently has over 1500 users.

Tipsy is currently only available in Arizona but the creators have plans to expand to San Diego, Montreal and New York City.


LifeLock gives back to its local communities

LifeLock, Inc. launched its inaugural day of volunteerism, where, as part of their regular work schedule, employees leave their desks, roll up their sleeves and give back to local communities in a day of service. All of LifeLock’s 675+ employees are invited to join the event, called “Do-Gooder Day,” across office locations in Tempe, San Diego and Mountain View, Calif.

“We’re proud to be putting our values into action during this day of service on the tenth anniversary of our company. It’s one of the many ways we’re invested in our local communities and contributing our expertise where there is a need for a helping hand,” said Todd Davis, chief executive officer of LifeLock.

The company’s social responsibility mission is to help keep families safer in an always-connected world. In addition to providing services that help members gain some peace of mind, LifeLock is also focused on volunteerism and giving back to communities in ways that further its mission. With the first Do-Gooder Day, LifeLock is making tangible strides in key areas of focus, including providing education to help protect against identity broadly in local communities.

Highlights of the day include:

Sojourner Center: The Tempe based Center is one of the largest domestic violence shelters in the United States and is committed to transforming lives. Employees will sweep, mop, dust and organize the Donation Center and Education Center. They’ll also maintain vacant apartments.

Second Harvest Food Bank: With its Cypress Center in San Jose, Second Harvest is a trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger, providing food to nearly a quarter million people ever month. Volunteers will sort food at the food bank’s warehouse.

Boys and Girls Club San Diego: The San Diego chapter of the Boys & Girls Club provides children’s programs that drive academic success, character development and healthy lifestyle programs. Volunteers will be assisting staff, helping out with transportation and cleaning facilities.

“Volunteerism and giving back has been an integral part of our company from its inception. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a decade of being in business than dedicating a day of service to our nonprofit partners that give so much to the community,” said Hilary Schneider, president of LifeLock.

As part of the company’s commitment to help fight identity theft, LifeLock trains law enforcement, victim advocates and collaborates with a variety of non-profit organizations to help consumers establish positive habits to combat identity threats. For example, LifeLock partnered with the nonprofit FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA) to provide free training to law enforcement throughout the United States and has reached more than 11,000 law enforcement officers, representing more than 4,000 agencies in all 50 states. LifeLock also partnered with the nonprofit National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) to provide training to victim advocates throughout the United States. LifeLock’s partnerships with non-profit organizations focus on parents of pre-teen children, foster children, and victims of domestic violence, who may be at higher risk of identity fraud. Since 2014, LifeLock has partnered with the National Parent Teacher Association to teach good digital citizenship and online safety habits for children.

View of ALTITUDE Sky Lounge. Courtesy of dylanpatrickhospitality.com

Marriott Gaslamp Quarter offers holiday getaway perks

Just in time for the holiday season, the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter has introduced an “All-Inclusive Package” that really packs on the perks for its visitors.

Starting at $174, the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter’s All-Inclusive Package includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary valet parking, high-speed internet in guest rooms and breakfast for two at the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant, Soleil @k.

“The All-Inclusive Package makes it easy and affordable for vacationers to come enjoy all that San Diego has to offer in the holiday season,” said Jim Durbin, general manager of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. “This is a great deal for holidaymakers looking to make a quick getaway to the Gaslamp Quarter and have peace of mind knowing that the logistics, like parking and internet, are already taken care of.”

Located in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter, guests will be steps away from world-class shopping, dining, culture, beaches and countless attractions, and only an elevator ride away from one of San Diego’s premier nightlife destinations, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge and its newer indoor counterpart, City Sights. At 22 stories above street level, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge is the West Coast’s highest open-air bar, boasting panoramic views of the city including the San Diego Bay and a bird’s eye view of PETCO Park.

Coronado Brewing Co.

Craft beer industry thriving in San Diego

BrewHop founder Summer Nixon is eight months pregnant and drinking water from a swing-top glass beer bottle at Coronado Brewing Co.’s new manufacturing facility. She’s just delivered two flights of beer to the table while waiting for Coronado Brewing Co. co-founder Rick Chapman to join her.

Summer Nixon, BrewHop

Summer Nixon, BrewHop

It’s loud in here. The industrial sounds of pressure escaping massive steel kettles and the Tool song just audible enough to recognize it from the tasting room speakers has people occasionally looking at one another’s mouths to make out what they’re saying. The three dogs sitting at their owners’ feet don’t seem to mind the commotion. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume these dogs have laid in their fair share of San Diego County’s 84 breweries’ corresponding tasting rooms or brewpubs. In fact, just one stroll through North Park and it’s obvious craft beer is a popular passion of San Diego locals and a growing one among tourists.

Nixon is the founder of BrewHop, a personalized tour company that over the last seven years has formed partnerships with more than 70 breweries in San Diego. The Seattle native is absolutely entrenched in the scene and is one of the more respected authorities on the craft beer industry. Though beer tourism is a year-round attraction for the city, Nixon says it was in December 2013 that she really started to see an uptick in her business. She’s booked about a month in advance. This is unusual, since it’s March, and her peak season begins in July.

The craft beer scene in San Diego has been gaining steam since its mainstream revival in the late ’90s. In the last three years, the number of licenses has doubled and 32 breweries are expected to join the existing 84 before the year is out.

Karl Strauss Brewing Co.

Many locals consider the beginning of the San Diego craft beer scene to have started in 1996 with the opening of Ballast Point, Stone Brewing Company and Coronado Brewing Co. The three 1996 breweries, with Karl Strauss, were situated in the four corners of San Diego County. They were in suburban and rural industrial areas. As the industry grew, it worked its way toward the urban core. Today, many attribute the revitalization of neighborhoods such as North Park and up-and-coming Imperial Beach to the craft beer culture.

“The gentrification of neighborhoods has been a benefit of the craft beer scene here in San Diego,” says Stone’s Sales Director Chad Heath. “From downtown, to North Park, South Park and surrounding areas, bars and restaurants that center on supporting local have helped shift these areas into some of the hippest parts of San Diego because you can enjoy great food and a craft beer from the brewery down the street. You can see the same effect happening in parts of Los Angeles as well.”

Mike Hess, of Mike Hess Brewing Company, is a North Park brewer. Hess, a former financial services professional, started brewing in his garage. In 2010, he opened for business as a nanobrewery. Opening day, 100 craft beer enthusiasts showed up and drank his entire inventory. He had to shut down for two weeks to replenish his stock. Eighteen months later, he signed a lease for a former JCPenney and Christian bookstore in North Park.

Hess went from making 300 barrels a year in his garage to 5,000 a year after signing the lease in March 2012 for his North Park brewery.

“Seven years ago, most of us wouldn’t have come here after dark,” Nixon says. North Park, which used to be a location for USO dances in the ‘40s before its decline, has turned around and recently landed on Forbes’ list of hippest neighborhoods.

IPA, short for India Pale Ale, is the fastest growing beer segment in craft beer sales. It’s characterized by hoppy flavor, generally high IBU (International Bitterness Units), and, until recently, high alcohol content. San Diego is known for its IPAs. In particular, it’s known for putting out IPAs that are lighter in color, lower in alcohol and a hop-forward taste. The taste is created by a dry-hopping technique in which brewers add hops a second time after the beer is fermenting. This style is generally associated with West Coast IPAs, but Hess (and many other San Diegans) insist a San Diego IPA is unique.

A Stone Brewing employee adds hops to the mixture. Photo by Amanda Ventura.

A Stone Brewing employee adds hops to the mixture. Photo by Amanda Ventura.

“Even ours are different than what’s farther up the coast,” Hess says. “They’re drier beers, also they finish less sweet. I’m seeing more people interested in sessional IPAs in the 3 to 5 percent (alcohol content) range. Usually it’s between 7 and 8 percent.”

Brandon Richards, Coronado Brewing.’s sales and marketing director, says Stone Brewing led San Diego’s IPA movement.

“We just really like hops here,” he says, adding that about 30 percent of all craft beer consumed comes from San Diego. It was 4 percent, he says, when Coronado Brewing Co. started. (Stone opened two weeks before Coronado.)

In 2012, Coronado bought a 20,000-square-foot facility in San Diego to boost manufacturing. It has seen 70 percent growth and more than doubled the annual number of barrels it produces.

Rick Chapman, Coronado Brewing Co.

Rick Chapman, Coronado Brewing Co.

As for the rapid growth of breweries, no one seems too concerned.

“Beer isn’t sitting on shelves,” says Coronado’s CEO Rick Chapman.

“Our market is moving faster than everyone else’s and has been for the last decade.”

Stone, arguably one of San Diego’s most well-known craft beer brewers and distributors, and one of the original ’96ers, has never paid for advertising. Yet, the gargoyle imagery on its beer bottles is as recognizable as its bold flavors.

In 2005, Stone moved from a small facility in San Marcos to Escondido, where it opened its current brewery. The following year, it opened Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, a farm-to-table restaurant and one-acre beer garden. This allowed them to provide tours of the brewery as well as a dining-tasting experience that Heath attributes to a steady influx of tourists.

One thing that doesn’t stop at Stone, Heath says, is construction and expansion. In 2013, Stone added a second 120-barrel brewhouse and constructed Stone Packaging Hall, which is where its finished beers are bottled and kegged.

“I believe Stone and other great San Diego-based breweries are making a lot of great beers that are getting our region international attention,” says Heath.

San Diego Brewing Co. General Manager Karen Bernauer says the scene is set apart by collaboration between brewers and support from restaurants.

The National University Institute for Policy Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, reported craft brewers and brew pubs generated nearly $300 million in direct economic impact for San Diego County in 2011, based on $680.9 million in sales. That’s 1.5 times greater than Comic-Con International, the city’s largest annual convention. It’s estimated that 2,796 jobs were created or sustained by brewery industry jobs in 2011.

Brewery tourism in particular was found to be a year-round attraction. NUIPR’s research reported beer festivals alone attract nearly 100,000 attendees. The largest festival is San Diego Beer Week in November. More than 20,000 people attend and it’s estimated to have created 3,612 room nights and $469,307 in hotel revenue. A little more than half of brewery tourists, according to a University of North Carolina study, have an income more than $80,000. Many indicated a stay of three nights. Those who were traveling with friends or family were also staying at a hotel. On average, a brewery tourist will visit two breweries.

To help drive awareness to these events and local companies as well as create a united force among the breweries, the San Diego Brewers Guild was founded.

The guild hosts four annual events and supports 15 additional annual events.

To get more consumers involved, the SDBG started the Craft Coalition last summer. It has more than 200 members who have the option for behind-the-scenes tours and tasting room discounts.

To learn more about San Diego beer tours, visit brewhop.com.

For a visitor’s guide and to learn more about San Diego brewers and beer events, visit sandiegobrewersguild.org.

Pacific Beach Boardwalk Cyclists -Courtesy Brett Shoaf

San Diego offers free admission for kids in October

Arizona residents flock to San Diego in the summer to escape the relentlessly dry heat. But have Arizona families ever considered experiencing the coastal city’s plethora of family adventures in the fall?

With almost guaranteed perfect weather, weeks of endless fun and entertainment and special family discounts, families can celebrate the season with the second annual Kids Free San Diego month in October.

“San Diego is a world-class destination for family travel,” says a representative at the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA). “The area offers something for everyone, including museums and cultural destinations, family-friendly eateries and beach activities like whale watching and surfing. The first Kids Free San Diego in 2012 was a tremendous success. Our area attractions, like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, reported a 10 percent increase in visitors from out of town.”

Az Business caught up with members of the SDTA to find out what families can expect to see, do, eat and save as Kids Free San Diego returns for an encore in 2013.

AB: What can Arizona families expect this year?
SDTA: Kids ages 10-13 will have the experience of a lifetime at SeaWorld – one child participates for free in the park’s dolphin and beluga whale interaction programs with a paid adult interaction. Every member of the family will enjoy exploring the famous San Diego Zoo and the 16 museums of Balboa Park, including the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum and many more.

AB: Any ocean-related events and activities available to children and their families?
SD: There are a lot of great options to get out on the water during Kids Free San Diego. Families can cruise around scenic Mission Bay aboard a turn-of-the-century sternwheeler (one child rides for free with a paid adult). Both Flagship Cruises & Events and Hornblower Cruises & Events are offering free tours of San Diego Bay for kids with paid adult admission. Older kids even have the chance to learn to surf alongside mom or dad with a free kid’s lesson from Surf Diva at La Jolla Shores.

AB: What are area hotels doing this year to welcome children and families?
SD: Kids can eat for free at 40 San Diego area hotels during Kids Free San Diego. Many hotels are also offering free welcome amenities just for kids. Little ones, for instance, can get a special milk and cookie delivery at the Tower23 Hotel in Pacific Beach.

AB: Can AZ families take advantage of any travel discounts?
SD: Kids can ride for free about the Old Town Trolley Tour. In addition to offering a great sightseeing tour of San Diego, the Old Town Trolley Tour is a convenient way to get from place to place during the day, with on-and-off privileges at stops around downtown, Balboa Park, Coronado and many more points of interest.

Amtrak is offering one child, ages 2-15, free rides per one paid adult rail fare aboard the Pacific Surfliner route, servicing San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Stops include the Santa Ynez Valley, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and more.

San Diego hot spots

San Diego Zoo: The zoo in Balboa Park houses more than 3,700 animals and is also one of the few zoos in the world that is home to the giant panda. Haunted Trail of Terror in Balboa Park, San Diego’s all outdoor haunted attraction, runs Sept. 27-Nov. 2.

Seaport Village: The waterfront shopping and dining complex houses more than 70 shops, galleries, and restaurants in an assortment of architectural styles, from Victorian to traditional Mexican.

LEGOLAND: The 100-acre theme park features more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad takes place on Saturdays and Sundays in October.

Gaslamp Quarters: If you are visiting San Diego and want time away from the kids, you would be remiss if you did not wander the Gaslamp Quarter for the the most amazing nightlife, eating, and drinking the city has to offer.

SeaWorld: The park features shows such as One Ocean, the Shamu show and Sea Lions Live, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. The Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld runs on Saturdays and Sundays from through Oct. 27.


Ryley Carlock Expands Corporate Practice in Phoenix

Ryley Carlock & Applewhite has added Amber D. Curto as an associate in the firm’s Estate Planning and Corporate Practice Groups.

“Ryley Carlock is committed to the recruitment of young talented attorneys like Amber, who can assist our shareholders in finding the best possible solutions for our clients,” stated Managing Shareholder Rodolfo Parga. “Amber brings together the legal capabilities and a strong commitment to our community that our firm values.”

Curto joins an established Corporate Law and Estate Planning Practice Groups, who represent hundreds of clients throughout the United States and internationally, offering legal counsel from start-up companies to mature businesses.

“I enjoy taking a client centered approach to estate planning to make sure that all details, whether it be in a simple estate or a complex trust administration, are taken care of,” stated Curto, “and having the ability to learn from and work with John Lischer and the other experienced and knowledgeable attorneys within this practice group will give me the ability to assist my clients in new and innovative ways.”

Prior to joining the firm, Curto clerked for the Honorable Judge Glenn Davis of the Arizona Superior Court and was an Associate for an Arizona estate planning firm.  She earned her law degree from California Western School of Law, San Diego, California, in 2011 and earned her Bachelor of Science, Summa Cum Laude 2008, from Arizona State University.  While in law school, she was a member of the Moot Court Honors Board as well as President of the Business Law Society. Her community service endeavors have included Girl Scouts of America, Project C.U.R.E. and Crisis Nursery. As a part of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, Curto looks forward to continuing her community involvement by volunteering her time for local boards and organizations.

Verandah Facing Glorietta Bay

San Diego’s Coronado Island is perfect family getwaway

I was sitting at breakfast when my 15-year-old daughter took a break from watching “Breaking Bad” on her iPhone and said, “Mom, we should take a girls’ vacation.”

After patting myself on my back for doing something right while trying to act like a sane Mom to four daughters, working full-time, and finding time for my spouse, I set my plan into motion.

With the skills only an experienced multi-tasker could possess, I moved into planning mode. I have always been jealous of friends who were better at balancing career and family time, particularly when they would take time to vacation in Coronado Island. I felt like I was missing out on some secret, some exclusive location where only the financially sophisticated and elite were allowed to vacation.

So I decided this was my time to shine, my daughters and I would discover for ourselves what lures so many Arizonans to Coronado Island. After a quick search, I landed at the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website (sandiego.org). I  wanted to explore Coronado, to figure out what makes Coronado such a unique destination. I wanted adventure, to discover things to do that were off the beaten track, and also to learn a thing or two about the island along the way.

We decided to stay at the Glorietta Bay Inn, which was once the home (OK, mansion) of sugar baron John D. Spreckles – also the original owner of the Hotel Del Coronado. The boutique inn, restored to look as it did in the 1920s, has 11 spacious mansion rooms in the main building for adults only, in addition to 89 contemporary rooms and suites.  Our one-bedroom suite came with a full kitchen, separate bedroom off the living room (with a fold-out couch), TV with DVD player.  The Glorietta Bay Inn also provides complimentary snacks each day off the grand music room, with lemonade and gingersnap cookies.  Each morning, they provide a complimentary breakfast, and guests may sit inside in the dining room, or outside on the patio.  The staff is incredibly helpful. The Glorietta Bay Inn is also located across from the beach.

Our first activity was a two-hour Discover Coronado Biking Adventure from Where You Want To Be Tours.  Husband and wife team, Darlynne and Marc Menkin were quick to point out that every house on the island is unique. We rode along the newly opened bike path that parallels the Hotel Del Coronado. We stopped by Spreckles Park and learned how on summer concert evenings, it becomes a large family-like picnic ground. We took in the downtown San Diego skyline from Ferry’s Landing (you may take your bike on the ferry over to San Diego), and rode along the Glorietta Bay. Water and light snacks are provided, along with trivia questions along the way.

The next morning, we met up with Crystal at Tourlands Park for a stand-up paddleboard lesson with SUP Coronado. Tourlands Park was on the other end of the island, (the Glorietta Bay side), and it worked out perfectly that we had done the bike tour the evening before, because the directions made sense, and I knew where I was going. Crystal gave us a brief 5-minute lesson on the basics of paddleboarding, and we were off into Glorietta Bay and out into the water like a gondolier in Venice.  We paddleboarded under the Coronado Bay Bridge, ducked under a catamaran, and learned much more about the culture of Coronado.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Coronado Island, without visiting the infamous Hotel Del Coronado.  A girls’ weekend is not complete without facials, so we went to the Del for spa treatments. The Spa at the Del features 21 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, steam rooms and its own private beachfront terrace with a vanishing edge pool.

For a vacation that was somewhat impromptu, I am thankful for the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website that easily allowed me to plan an off-the-beaten-track vacation, which turned out perfectly. The best part was the weekend came when my 15 year-old showed me a website she built in computer class. Under “My Favorite Places” she wrote – Coronado Island and the Glorietta Bay Inn. This time, I owe my Mother of the Year Award to Coronado Island.


Shacknai’s Coronado mansion will be listed

The mansion near San Diego where millionaire Jonah Shacknai’s son and girlfriend died in 2011 will soon be listed for sale at an asking price of $16.9 million.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the real estate broker for the Coronado home says it will be listed in the next four-to-six weeks.

Shacknai, the CEO and founder of Scottsdale-based Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., owns the historic home known as Spreckels Mansion.

In 2011, police discovered Shacknai’s girlfriend Rebecca Zahau bound and hanging from the mansion’s balcony two days after Shacknai’s 6-year-old son Max was fatally injured from a second-story fall.

Investigators called Max’s death an accident and Zahau’s a suicide.

The agent says the home has since received a top-to-bottom renovation; no changes were made to the balcony.


Shacknai's Coronado mansion will be listed

The mansion near San Diego where millionaire Jonah Shacknai’s son and girlfriend died in 2011 will soon be listed for sale at an asking price of $16.9 million.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the real estate broker for the Coronado home says it will be listed in the next four-to-six weeks.

Shacknai, the CEO and founder of Scottsdale-based Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., owns the historic home known as Spreckels Mansion.

In 2011, police discovered Shacknai’s girlfriend Rebecca Zahau bound and hanging from the mansion’s balcony two days after Shacknai’s 6-year-old son Max was fatally injured from a second-story fall.

Investigators called Max’s death an accident and Zahau’s a suicide.

The agent says the home has since received a top-to-bottom renovation; no changes were made to the balcony.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Marcus Networking Opens San Diego Office

Tempe-based Marcus Networking announced it has opened a San Diego office to better service Southern California clients.  They team is headed by Jaden Jeter, a 20-year sales executive, who resides in San Diego.  They will offer technology and telecommunications services to clients throughout Southern California.

“We’re growing across the country and servicing clients in multiple states now,” said Eric Marcus, president of Marcus Networking.  “The expansion to San Diego was a natural progression for us.  We have been servicing clients in Southern California for a couple of years, so it just makes sense to have a team in place that can provide 24/7 support, complete installations, troubleshoot and help with industry specific software issues.”

Jeter, who will serve as West Coast business development manager, brings nearly 20 years of sales experience to Marcus Networking.  Recent experience includes five years with MPower, who was recently acquired by TelePacific.  Additional sales experience includes commercial real estate with several large builders in downtown San Diego, a construction firm and radio station.

“The IT industry is constantly changing and evolving,” said Jeter.  “Marcus Networking is in a growth phase and it’s an exciting place to be. We have the ability to offer some cutting edge and cost efficient alternatives to our clients and it’s really neat to see them implement services that make their business more profitable and effective.”

Marcus Networking has an established portfolio in healthcare, real estate, governmental, nonprofit, retail, legal, manufacturing, call centers and finance.  Working with Marcus Networking eliminates the need to call multiple vendors because they can offer both technology and telecommunication solutions.

For more information, contact Jaden Jeter, West Coast business development manager at 1-866-602-6974 x5043.


A Saliva Gland Test for Parkinson’s Disease?

Described as a “big step forward” for research and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, new research from Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Banner Sun Health Research Institute suggests that testing a portion of a person’s saliva gland may be a way to diagnose the disease.

The study was released Friday and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16–23.

“There is currently no diagnostic test for Parkinson’s disease,” says study author Charles Adler, MD, PhD., a neurologist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “We have previously shown in autopsies of Parkinson’s patients that the abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson’s are consistently found in the submandibular saliva glands, found under the lower jaw. This is the first study demonstrating the value of testing a portion of the saliva gland to diagnose a living person with Parkinson’s disease. Making a diagnosis in living patients is a big step forward in our effort to understand and better treat patients.”

The study involved 15 people with an average age of 68 who had Parkinson’s disease for an average of 12 years, responded to Parkinson’s medication and did not have known saliva gland disorders.

Biopsies were taken of two different saliva glands: the submandibular gland and the minor saliva glands in the lower lip. The surgical team was led by Michael Hinni, MD, and David Lott, MD, at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and the biopsied tissues were tested for evidence of the abnormal Parkinson’s protein by study co-author Thomas Beach, MD, with Banner Sun Health Research Institute.

“This procedure will provide a much more accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease than what is now available,” Dr. Beach says. “One of the greatest potential impacts of this finding is on clinical trials, as at the present time some patients entered into Parkinson’s clinical trials do not necessarily have Parkinson’s disease and this is a big impediment to testing new therapies.”

The abnormal Parkinson’s protein was detected in nine of the 11 patients who had enough tissue to study. While still being analyzed, the rate of positive findings in the biopsies of the lower lip glands appears much lower than for the lower jaw gland.

“This study provides the first direct evidence for the use of submandibular gland biopsies as a diagnostic test for living patients with Parkinson’s disease,” says Dr. Adler. “This finding may be of great use when needing definitive proof of Parkinson’s disease, especially when considering performing invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation surgery or gene therapy.”

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. No tests exist to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Now diagnosis is made based on medical history, a review of signs and symptoms, a neurological and physical examination, and by ruling out other conditions. Yet up to 30 percent of patients may be misdiagnosed early in the disease.

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications may markedly improve symptoms.This study was funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

CEO Series: Eric Marcus

Eric Marcus
CEO, Marcus Networking

Az Business: What does Marcus Networking do?
Eric Marcus: We are a technology and telecommunications company. We manage people’s infrastructure. The easiest way to describe it is you can give us an empty building and we can cable it, bring in the dial tone, install the phone system, procure all the equipment, set up you private industry software, and then we can support it on a 24-hour basis. Our biggest customer base is medical providers. We work a lot with electronic medical records (EMR) and behavioral health.

Video by Cory Bergquist

AB: How is being CEO of Marcus Networking different from being CEO of a company in a different industry?
EM: It’s fun to be the CEO because I get to write my own rules. It’s nice to go out, meet with clients, build a relationship, and let them know that at the end of the day the company will be there for them and I will be there to support them.

AB: How did you start in your industry?
EM: I got into the IT field in 1999, working for a software company that did network management. That company grew from about 15 employees to about 155. As that company grew, my responsibilities grew.

AB: Were there challenges to launching a tech company in Arizona?
EM: For startup capital, I had to use money I had saved working at my previous job. The biggest challenge I had was with credit capital to support projects. You can sell a project all day long for $100,000, but if you don’t have the capital to buy the equipment, you’re kind of dead in the water.

AB: What qualities do you have that make you an effective CEO for Marcus Networking?
EM: I am able to educate a client about what they need to do for their company and let them make the decision. It’s their money, their business, their infrastructure, and at the end of the day it’s my job to be that consultant to educate them and take them from Point A to Point B and decide what is best to build them as a business.

AB: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in your industry since you started?
EM: The advance of technology. What I mean by that is the cost of equipment and the specifications of equipment like hard drives and bandwidth. Ten years ago, a large hard drive was consider to be 73 gigs. Now, you can buy two- or three-terabyte hard drives for a fraction of that cost.

AB: What changes do you see coming?
EM: Equipment is going to get faster. As bandwidth becomes cheaper or larger, you’re going to see more teleconferencing and unified communication.

AB: What is your greatest accomplishment?
EM: Being in business for 10 years. Being a small business, it’s tough. We had our best years through the worst times. This year, our business is up 50 percent and I know there are companies out there closing their doors or downsizing. The thing I’m most proud is we can scale our business tomorrow, so if I found five salespeople in California tomorrow that wanted to come on board and start selling our product and grow our business, I could hire them tomorrow and start.

AB: How were you able to weather the economic downturn so well?
EM: We are in the medical industry. Doctors have to be on EMR systems. It’s mandated by the federal government, so the government has created a need for our services.

AB: What advice would you give someone looking to start a tech company?
EM: Make sure you’re very organized and make sure you’re ready to sacrifice and be ready to work any day and any time. If we have a doctor call us at 3 a.m. and we don’t pick up that phone, we don’t have a job.


SRP Buys Natural Gas Power Plant

Salt River Project has agreed to purchase one block of the Mesquite Generating Station located in Arlington, about 40 miles west of Phoenix.  The natural gas-fired power plant, owned by San Diego-based Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, includes two 625-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle generating blocks.  SRP is purchasing one of the blocks for $371 million and under the terms of the agreement, will operate the entire facility.

“We studied the market very carefully and determined that this purchase would provide an economic benefit to SRP and its customers,” said SRP general manager Mark Bonsall.  “While recent load growth has been fairly modest, more substantial growth is expected and this plant will position us well in the long term to meet our customer’s needs at a reasonable cost.”

The agreement is subject to approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.  The companies anticipate receiving these approvals in early 2013.

According to Bonsall, SRP will save money by purchasing an existing power plant now rather than building a new and much more expensive facility in the future.
As part of the purchase agreement, Sempra and SRP will form a joint operating entity called Mesquite Power Operations, LLC that will hold the plant permits.

The Mesquite Generating Station has been in operation since 2003 in Arlington.  More than 30 people are employed at the plant and SRP anticipates hiring the existing staff while making minimal changes to accommodate normal SRP operational procedures.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving more than 950,000 electric customers.

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC is a leading developer of renewable energy and natural gas solutions.  The company operates solar, wind and natural gas power plants that generate enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes, along with natural gas storage and pipelines, and distribution utilities. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2011 revenues of $10 billion.  The Sempra Energy companies’ nearly 17,500 employees serve about 31 million consumers worldwide.  For more information, visit www.SempraUSGP.com.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: Year-end budgeting

This is the first of what will be a continuing series of technology questions answered by Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking in Tempe.

Question: What technology or telecommunications products should we purchase before year-end?

Answer: December is an excellent time to evaluate your IT needs for the coming year and with Section 179 Deductions changing, small businesses should take advantage of purchasing new equipment before it’s too late.

According to the IRS, Section 179 of the IRS code allows small businesses to deduct the cost of machinery, vehicles, equipment, furniture and other property. This was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At that time, the maximum amount that a business could deduct was $250,000. In 2011, the maximum deduction that a small business could make was $500,000, but in 2012, the amount drops to $139,000.

Marcus Networking recommends replacing old laptops, wireless access points, battery back-ups, MS Office, VoIP phone systems, and servers before Dec. 31, 2012.  All of these products and services can improve workplace efficient and save money in the long run.

We’re also available to provide a free consultation and discuss your business needs.  Does some of your staff work remotely? Will you be adding or reducing staff in the coming year? Are you building a new office? Would you like to cut travel costs and have the ability to do presentations remotely? All of these factors determine what products and services we’ll recommend for your business.  And remember, you’ll always want to talk to your accountant before making any large capital purchases to ensure you follow the Section 179 code and take advantage to its fullest.


Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.

2010 Health Care Leadership Awards

2010 HCLA – Legislative Impact Award And Lifetime Achievement In Research Award

Legislative Impact Award

Honoree: Roy Ryals, Executive Director, Southwest Ambulance

Roy Ryals
Executive Director
Southwest Ambulance

Virtually every pre-hospital care related rule at the Arizona Department of Health Services, and every piece of related state legislation approved in the past 30 years, has something in common — Roy Ryals helped to write it.

Roy Ryals, Executive Director of Southwest Ambulance, 2010 Health Care Leadership Awards

Ryals, executive director for the Southwest region of Southwest Ambulance and Rural/Metro, is considered the pre-hospital regulatory expert and reference point. His knowledge and memory of the history behind decisions, and the far-reaching effects of every word that’s written, has earned him the respect of both the industry and state regulators.

In effect, every patient in Arizona who has used an ambulance over the past 30 years has benefited from Ryals’ intellect and participation in the legislative and regulatory process, whether he’s at the state Capitol, in a board room, or in the back of an ambulance. Ryals has been appointed by four Arizona governors to the Emergency Medical Services Council and was named by three directors of Department of Health Services to the State Trauma Advisory Board.

He is president of the Arizona Ambulance Association and a registered lobbyist with the state. At Southwest Ambulance and Rural/Metro, Ryals is responsible for all contracts, regulatory issues and legislative oversight. He indirectly oversees all field employees through his involvement in medical protocols and regulation for field crews of both companies. He also manages Southwest’s administrative leadership team and legislative consultants. Ryals began his career at Southwest Ambulance in 1987 as the executive director over Arizona medical transport.

Two years later, he was promoted to national director of EMS. In 1991, he became the regional chief operating officer overseeing system integration and regulatory compliance.

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Honoree: Joseph Rodgers, PH.D.

Joseph Rodgers, PH.D., Founder and Senior Scientist
Banner Sun Health Research Institute

Joseph Rogers, Ph.D., the motivating force behind Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, has devoted three decades to finding the cause of and cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But the first work from researchers at the institute did not originate in multimillion-dollar labs or in high-tech facilities; they began their research at a card table with folding chairs.

Joseph Rodgers, Founder and Senior Scientist Banner Sun Health Research Institute, 2010 Health Care Leadership Awards

The institute, a tribute to Rogers’ tireless efforts in the field of Alzheimer’s research, has created opportunities for intensive research into other age-related illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease and arthritis. The discoveries already made at the institute, and those yet to come, promise to have significant benefits for millions around the world. Rogers, the institute’s founder and senior scientist, was recruited in 1986 to develop the research facility.

His qualifications for this breakthrough role include a doctorate from the University of California, San Diego; a postdoctoral fellowship and service as a staff scientist at the Salk Institute; and immediately prior to his arrival in Arizona, he was at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, serving as a principal investigator within the New England Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Harvard University. Rogers made the revolutionary discovery of the damage that inflammation causes to the Alzheimer’s-affected brain. Initially, other scientists scoffed because conventional wisdom precluded the inflammatory process from entering the brain, but Rogers’ discovery changed Alzheimer’s research.

Under Rogers’ leadership, the institute has attracted internationally recognized faculty and scientists, who have made their own compelling discoveries, including a direct linkage between Alzheimer’s and high cholesterol, and a compound of drugs that has promise for significant benefit to those with rheumatoid arthritis. Another key to the institute’s growth is its full-tissue repository, which Rogers initially developed as a brain bank soon after founding the institute.

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