As Americans talk about how to improve our economy, we keep hearing how small businesses and entrepreneurs have to lead the way in the recovery. Today, the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University honored five of the state’s best businesses for creating jobs, contributing to charities and introducing innovation. They’re this year’s winners of the prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards.
“What is striking about this year’s group of finalists and winners is that these entrepreneurs have chosen incredibly difficult industries and excelled where others have failed,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “They are recognized today because of their hard work, dedication to the community, and great entrepreneurial stories.”
Hundreds of Valley business and community leaders attended today’s awards luncheon at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, where the winners were announced. The finalists’ impressive and often emotional stories were shown on video, as the firms were recognized for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.
The 16th annual Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are:
180 Degrees Automotive – The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. This woman-owned, full-service auto repair center caters especially to women and minorities. The company has moved to bigger locations four times in six years, provides free car classes to women, hosts an art exhibit, gives free rides home, and leaves a gift in each car with each visit. It also makes a notable commitment to “green” business practices and community causes.
Daphne’s Headcovers – The Spirit of Enterprise Overcoming Adversity Award. This novelty golf-club cover business was started when the owner was just 16 years old, and it had to address major growth issues when business shot up 400 percent in just one quarter. Daphne’s now serves fine resorts and golf shops in 75 countries, despite the recession that’s hit the golf industry hard. The company has covers in the bags of more than 200 touring pro golfers and offers customers a lifetime guarantee to repair or replace its products for free.
GlobalMed – U.S. Bank Emerging Entrepreneur Award. This booming company offers telemedicine solutions like innovative cameras, medical devices and software, so health practitioners can provide care to remote patients via telecommunications or satellite. GlobalMed made Inc. Magazine’s 2012 list of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies. It also made large donations to charity, including the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, the Strike Out Child Abuse Walk and the Migrant Clinicians Network.
LawLogix Group – Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This fast-growing provider of immigration, I-9 and E-Verify software boasts a 96.9-percent client-retention rate, low 3-percent employee turnover, and more than 155,000 organizations as customers, including Fortune 500 companies. The minority-owned business also has a nonprofit practice that offers tools to hundreds of nonprofit and community-based organizations, so they can provide some of the same information as expensive immigration law firms.
Total Transit – The Spirit of Enterprise Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This comprehensive mobility management company runs the Discount Cab brand throughout Arizona. Total Transit has the largest fleet of environmentally friendly Prius cabs in North America and also provides innovative Dial-a-Ride services for Valley Metro and many large Medicaid and Medicare providers. It also introduced a Free Ride Back program to keep drunk drivers off our roads, by offering paying customers a free ride back to their car the next day. The company donates to the community through its charitable Total Transit Foundation.
The other Spirit of Enterprise Award finalists this year were CyberMark International, Hard Dollar, NJOY Electronic Cigarettes, Optimal Performance Training and Real Property Management East Valley.
These awards are just one focus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while also allowing students to get hands-on business experience. One key program, Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP), matches teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students with Valley companies to help tackle real-world challenges and opportunities. Companies can also use the center to access other ASU business resources.
The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers to sustain its activities. For more information, visit www.spiritofenterprise.org.