Most Admired Companies 2018

This is a past event

September 13, 2018 at 5:30 pm


Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort


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A sold-out crowd filled Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort Thursday night as Az Business magazine and BestCompaniesAZ honored the Most Admired Companies (MAC) of 2018.

“Our primary goal in developing the MAC program was to find and recognize those companies that set a standard of excellence that other businesses should aspire to achieve,” said Cheryl Green, publisher of AZ Big Media, which produces Az Business magazine and eight other Arizona-based publications. “We built the program to recognize those companies that have the biggest impact on the economy, on their employees and on the communities in which they do business. Arizona is filled with great servant leaders, innovators and forward-thinkers. This year’s MAC recipients embody those qualities.”

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Sponsors of the event were Blue Cross Blue Shield of ArizonaCharles SchwabMobile MiniDun & Bradstreet, the Phoenix SunsUSAAMaricopa Community Colleges and Merestone.

In addition to recognizing the 55 incredible companies that earned recognition as Arizona’s Most Admired Companies, five companies earned Spotlight Awards for exceptional achievement in each of the five pillars that go into determining the Most Admired Companies. The Spotlight Award winners for 2018 were:

• Workplace Culture: Arizona Charter Academy

• Social Responsibility: Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona

• Customer Opinion: FirstBank

• Innovation: Digital Air Strike

• Leadership Excellence: Maricopa Integrated Health System

A special award was also given to the Most Admired Company that showed the most spirit. That award went to Washington Federal.



The Most Admired companies of 2018

American Express

Most Admired Company: 2010-2018

Top Arizona executive: John Standring, senior vice president

What it does: Largest credit card issuer by purchase volume.

Admirable trait: American Express encourages its colleagues to express, discuss, organize, and celebrate according to various interests and identifications, totaling 3,942 colleagues who participate in 11 diversity networks. Each network inspires a culture of inclusion. American Express also cultivates a unified, healthy and fun community to work in through a number of Healthy Living programs and initiatives. American Express understands to be truly healthy is not just your body, but also your mind, family, financials and more.

Arizona Charter Academy

Most Admired Company: 2016, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Melissa Holdaway, COO

What it does: ACA is a K-8 public Title I charter school.

Admirable trait: ACA values diversity. Its student population is made up of 17 percent African-American, 52 percent Hispanic, 4 percent mixed and 27 percent Caucasian. ACA’s employees mirror similar statistics as they represent virtually every age and race. Diversity is celebrated through cultural diversity nights and other events that provide opportunities for students to showcase their cultures. While more than 80 percent of ACA students live at or below the poverty line, ACA outperforms all the schools in its area.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Most Admired Company: 2011, 2013-2016, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Derrick Hall, president and CEO

What it does: Major League Baseball team.

Admirable trait: A big focus of the organization is helping the Arizona community. This season, the D-backs and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation surpassed $55 million in giving to the Arizona community since its inception in 1997. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation focuses its efforts on three main areas of need: homelessness, indigent healthcare and children’s programs of all types, including education and youth baseball field development. Each employee receives one paid day each quarter to volunteer for community service.

AXA Advisors Southwest 

Most Admired Company: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Dillan Micus, executive vice president

What it does: Leading provider of financial services for consumers and businesses

Admirable trait: In 2015 AXA won the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for its dedication to volunteerism, fundraising and general community service. Since its inception in 2012, AXA Southwest’s “Weekend Jetaway” has grossed more than $600,000 for local charities and it continues to build momentum every year. Dreamt up by a few AXA financial advisors and staff in 2011, Weekend Jetaway has turned into a highly anticipated charity event with more than 1,000 guests.


Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Rick Smith, CEO and founder

What it does: Develops technology and weapons products for law enforcement and civilians. Its flagship product and former namesake is Taser

Admirable trait: Axon cultivates a positive organizational culture that aligns with its futuristic mission. Each Axon office is designed with science fiction elements in order to inspire employees when they walk into work each day. Axon’s CEO pays out of his own pocket to send all 1,100 employees to see new “Star Wars” films each time they hit theaters. An annual all-expenses-paid trip to the Grand Canyon is also offered to employees.

Bella Investment Group

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Crystal Finch DeHoag, president

What it does: Property management company.

Admirable trait: In 2017, Bella Investment Group launched an initiative called the Bella Initiative of Grace Fund. The fund was created because Bella believes “that generosity is compelling and contagious.” The mission of the fund is to enable Bella team members in their efforts to boost organizations that help extend grace to those in need, especially in the areas of poverty, health and housing. Team members are encouraged to serve as “champions” of organizations aiding underserved populations and they can nominate organizations to receive a grant from the BIG Fund.

Blood Systems

Most Admired Company: 2015-2018

Top Arizona executive: Dave Green, president and CEO

What it does: Provides blood, blood components and special services to patients in nearly 600 hospitals across the country.

Admirable trait: Blood Systems’ transfusion medicine research team is among the most respected and productive in the world. Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI) continues to mature and advance in its mission to improve transfusion quality and outcomes worldwide. BSRI led research on approximately 50 different projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S Department of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as other private foundations and private industry partners.


Most Admired Company: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Paul Komadina, senior managing director

What it does: Full-service real estate services company.

Admirable trait: In December 2017, CBRE Phoenix relocated to a new, 75,000-square-foot office space at The Esplanade. The new office is part of CBRE’s global Workplace360 initiative, the company’s leading-edge approach to workplace strategy designed to promote flexibility, mobility and productivity through technology-enabled, 100 percent free address and paperless offices. Employees are no longer tethered to assigned desks or cubicles, but instead choose from a variety of collaborative and private work settings that align with their changing needs throughout the day.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Phoenix

Most Admired Company: 2012-2014, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Robert Gould, president and COO

What it does: Comprehensive cancer treatment hospital.

Admirable trait: World-class physicians continue to make breakthroughs with evidence-informed procedures. Dr. Sharad Chandrika is the first and currently, the only physician in Arizona trained to offer patients photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT uses light to eliminates tumor metasteses in the throat or airways to improve the patient’s breathing, coughing, and risk of pneumonia while they receive traditional treatment. Medical Oncologist Dr. Alan Tan, is using talimogene laherparepvec – or T-VEC therapy – to fight melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

Charles Schwab

Most Admired Company: 2013-2018

Top Arizona executive: Bernie Clark, executive vice president and head of Schwab Advisor Services

What it does: Provides help with financial planning, investments, retirement planning and more.

Admirable trait: Leadership@Schwab is how the company defines what it means to be a great leader at Schwab. More than a single program or class series, it’s an on-going, multi-year initiative with several integrated tracks and experiences to help Schwab’s people and their business thrive. It includes self-guided learning, targeted development programs, team working sessions, organizational processes, and support to help individuals develop their leadership style and practice new behaviors.


Most Admired Company: 2014-2018

Top Arizona executive: Gary Gregg, managing principal

What it does: Corporate real estate advisors specializing in tenant representation.

Admirable trait: Cresa gives back to the community that has given to them for the past 19 years. Cresa allows its team members to actively participate in philanthropic activity with no limit on time away from the office. As a firm that prides itself on its collaborative culture, Cresa especially likes pulling together for a worthy cause. Cresa as a company has put in more than 5,000 hour of volunteer time, more than $1 million donated to date and has supported more than 100 charities.

DP Electric

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Dan Puente, founder and CEO

What it does: Commercial electrical contractor.

Admirable trait: “The growth of our people is the growth of our company,” says Dan Puente, founder and CEO of DP Electric. Established by Puente in 1990, DP Electric began with one truck and a workshop in a utility room off Puente’s garage. It has since grown exponentially to service major construction projects throughout the state of Arizona, with revenues exceeding $65 million and a workforce of more than 300. For employees starting in the electrical trade, the company covers up to four years of schooling.

Digital Air Strike

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Alexi Venneri, co-founder and CEO

What it does: Digital Air Strike is a leading social media, intelligent messaging and digital engagement company.

Admirable trait: The past two years have been monumental for Digital Air Strike in terms of delivering powerful innovation. The premier innovation for 2018 is Digital Air Strike’s Response Path product. This new tool combines the power of AI with human intelligence to help businesses generate more leads, close sales faster and improve customer service. It also allows customers to create and deploy AI-driven bots across multiple messaging channels easily.

Discover Financial Services

Most Admired Company: 2011, 2013, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Steve Bayans, vice president

What it does: Issues the Discover Card and operates the Discover and Pulse networks.

Admirable trait: Employees are offered annual health evaluations for themselves and their domestic partners. Discover has an onsite fitness center, jogging path, basketball and volleyball courts, employee assistance plans (EAPs) and an onsite EAP counselor, and health screenings. Discover’s campus in Phoenix also has an onsite Health Services Center with a physician’s assistant and registered nurse. Employees can receive treatment on a walk-in basis.

Dun & Bradstreet

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executives: Robin Serna, senior director of sales; Maria Sirvas, vice president of customer service

What it does: Provides commercial data, analytics and insights for business.

Admirable trait: In 2018, Dun & Bradstreet was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the seventh year in a row by Ethisphere, Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Corporate Equality Index and ranked No. 13 on the MUSE list of the “30 Greatest Companies to Work For This Year.” Dun & Bradstreet also offers adoption assistance, reimbursing employees for the cost of adopting a child.

Edward Jones

Most Admired Company: 2016, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Dave Long, principal

What it does: Financial services firm that  focuses solely on individual investors and small-business owners.

Admirable trait: Because of the clear direction provided by the firm’s most senior principals, all leaders across the firm align to a value system that fosters respect, transparency and a client-centric focus. Fortune magazine named Edward Jones the No. 5 Best Company to Work For in 2018, a recognition based primarily on direct feedback from associates. The firm’s internal surveys validate Fortune’s findings, with nine out of 10 associates believing leaders “create an open and trusting environment.”


Most Admired Company: 2011, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Bryce Lloyd, market president

What it does: FirstBank is the third-largest privately held bank in the U.S.

Admirable trait: FirstBank and the Arizona Alliance of Nonprofits started Arizona Gives Day, a 24-hour online giving initiative, in 2013. The bank invested nearly $1 million to spur donations and provides an innumerable amount of time, talent and resources to promote the campaign. For instance, in March 2018, FirstBank employees pumped free fuel for more than 100 commuters in Arizona, encouraging them to “give it forward” to a charity of choice on Arizona Gives Day.

Gallagher & Kennedy

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Michael Kennedy, co-founding partner, shareholder, member of the board of directors and owner.

What it does: Full-service law firm.

Admirable trait: The firm’s overarching commitment to family has resulted in nearly 60 percent of its workforce serving in their roles for 10 or more years. G&K’s workplace culture is focused on providing opportunities for employees to lead healthy lives. Free access to gym facilities, biometric screenings, flu shot clinics and mental health counseling programs are just a few examples. Structured career development programs and monthly professional development lunches are also in place.

Goodmans Interior Structures

Most Admired Company: 2011, 2014, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Adam Goodman, president and CEO

What it does: Commercial furniture dealership.

Admirable trait: Every aspect of Goodmans is focused on changing the community. Its office space is used by Good Inc. participants, its warehouse is used by GoodTHREADS, its salespeople promote GoodART, its designers work on Goodmans Eye for the Good Guy and its operations team manages AIM to Make a Difference. Even money that could have been used on a Goodmans’ 60th-anniversary party was redirected toward 60 gifts to people in the community who employees felt were making a difference.

GPS Insight

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Rob Donat, founder and CEO

What it does: Vehicle and fleet tracking.

Admirable trait: #GPSILife began a few years ago to help foster GPS Insight’s internal culture. Employees refer to themselves as GPSI’s (pronounced gypsy). This group helps organize social events and company parties, philanthropy in the Phoenix area, support groups for employees in need, orientation for new employees and much more.  Rather than giving customer gifts during the holidays, GPS asks for suggestions for charitable donations, yielding a three-year approximate combined total of $600,000 in charitable donations.

Greenberg Traurig

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Nicole M. Goodwin, managing shareholder

What it does: Full-service law firm.

Admirable trait: Greenberg Traurig’s cultivation of a supportive, stimulating environment that encourages collaboration, professionalism, diversity and trust is personified by its commitment to its women lawyers’ success. GT created the Greenberg Traurig Women’s Initiative (GTWI), which includes a firm-wide women’s affinity group encompassing recruiting, retention and business development. Greenberg Traurig takes thoughtful action to address issues such as maintaining a healthy work-life balance, breaking the glass ceiling, mentoring, creating and maintaining healthy lifestyles and giving back to the community.

Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona

Most Admired Company: 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Jason Barlow, president and CEO

What it does: Nonprofit homebuilder for low-income families.

Admirable trait: To help streamline the on-boarding of Habitat’s more than 12,000 volunteers, Habitat created a shortened volunteer orientation utilizing online video that helps volunteers get an overview of the mission, as well as sign up for volunteer opportunities immediately following the presentation. Habitat employed this same strategy to reduce the number of calls to the Family Services team regarding home warranty issues. In each case, Habitat delivered the important information to the respective audience, while still delivering on its brand promise.

Homeowners Financial Group

Most Admired Company: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Bill Rogers, founder and CEO

What it does: Full-service mortgage banking company.

Admirable trait: In 2013, HFG’s President Pat Lamb and CEO Bill Rogers co-founded the Care Fund, a nonprofit foundation with one mission: to financially support Arizona families who endure financial hardship while experiencing serious illness or injury of their children. The Care Fund provides mortgage, rent and housing expense relief during a child’s health crisis. The Care Fund has granted $1.2 million (equivalent to 108 years of monthly mortgage payments) and ensured that more than 550 families could remain in their homes.

Isagenix International

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Travis Ogden, CEO

What it does: Multi-level marketing company that sells dietary supplements and personal care products.

Admirable trait: Since 2012, Isagenix and its employees, customers, and independent distributors have raised nearly $10 million for Phoenix-based Make-A-Wish, helping the nonprofit grant 938 wishes worldwide to children with critical illnesses. Isagenix also serves as the sole corporate sponsor of the Better Business Bureau’s BBB Ethical Athlete Scholarship. A $50,000 investment allows the group to recognize a male and a female high school athlete in Arizona every month of the school year for doing the right thing.

JDA Software

Most Admired Company: 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Girish Rishi, CEO

What it does: Software company providing supply chain management, manufacturing planning, retail planning, store operations and collaborative category management solutions.

Admirable trait: The JDA Winning Leadership program is focused on developing female leaders and highlights JDA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The 12-month program brings global women together for multi-day development workshops and educational sessions meetings to learn how to increase their leadership impact. Participants get 360-degree feedback and are assigned a mentor. At the end of the program, they give a presentation to executives.

JE Dunn Construction

Most Admired Company: 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Brad Schenck, senior vice president

What it does: Commercial construction company.

Admirable trait: Outside of their professional lives, JE Dunn’s employees spend time throughout the year volunteering with many different organizations. Each employee volunteers an average of 86 hours per year, which is more than three times the national average. Through their efforts, along with the Dunn Family Foundation, JE Dunn was able to support over 300 nonprofits last year. These include organizations supporting causes like educational and youth development, healthcare research, sustainability efforts, arts and cultural foundations, home and neighborhood improvements and more.


Most Admired Company: 2015, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Pat Williams, senior managing director

What it does: Specializes in real estate and investment management.

Admirable trait: In 2012, JLL was one of the first firms in its sector to announce public sustainability targets. Having achieved these targets within the five-year timeframe set, the firm announced a new sustainability leadership ambition in June 2018. With a 30-year horizon, the firm has committed to setting a science-based target by 2019 and has introduced goals across each of the four pillars of building a better tomorrow: Clients, people, workspaces and communities.

Jennings Strouss

Most Admired Company: 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: John C. Norling, managing attorney

What it does: Law firm that offers strategic guidance in corporate transactions and litigation matters.

Admirable trait: Jennings Strouss has always been equipped to evolve and adapt to change. Understanding that the way people communicate and find information today is largely online, the firm expanded its digital footprint. Fortunately, the Internet is available 24/7 and gives people a starting point for finding what they need. The firm embraces social media, storytelling, video/visual content, blogging and public relations to help ensure clients have up-to-date information on legal issues that affect their business.


Most Admired Company: 2013-2018

Top Arizona executive: Jim Swanson, CEO

What it does: Handles all aspects of the construction business, from concept through ribbon-cutting and beyond.

Admirable trait: Encouraging visionary thinking, Kitchell’s internal “New Ventures Committee” reviews internal business proposals that require capital investment. Borne of this process are employee-owned innovations such as an off-site prefabrication facility (the first in the Southwest), Kitchell Fleet Services (Kitchell not only maintains its own fleet, but Kitchell does it for many others in the Valley); and a thriving facilities management business that has tripled in size and scope over the past three years.


Most Admired Company: 2014, 2017, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Beau Lane, CEO

What it does: Full-service marketing and advertising agency.

Admirable trait: Tenured LaneTerralever employees are encouraged to improve their work-life balance by customizing their schedules, including working remotely for multiple days a week. To further accommodate parents, LaneTerralever maintains a kid-friendly office, which even hosted daily, kid-friendly movies during the recent teachers strike. New parents on staff are supported by innovative parental leave policies and LaneTerralever’s recently christened nursing room offers new moms a private space to pump or breast-feed while in the office.


Most Admired Company: 2011, 2013, 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Bill Lavidge, CEO

What it does: Advertising and public relations company.

Admirable trait: In addition to the company leader’s commitment to the community, as an agency overall, LAVIDGE provides pro bono services to several nonprofits, including Treasure House, Gratitude America, the Arizona Nurses Association, the Heard Museum, Children’s Cancer Network, FBI Phoenix Citizens Academy Alumni Association and Gabriel’s Angels. Moreover, LAVIDGE forgoes holiday gifts and instead provides a monetary donation to a select nonprofit on behalf of its clients through its annual holiday giving program.

Lovitt & Touché

Most Admired Company: 2015-2018

Top Arizona executive: Charles Touché, CEO

What it does: Insurance agency offering personal lines, property and liability protection, employee benefits, claims administration, workers compensation and more.

Admirable trait: In 2017 alone, Lovitt & Touché committed more than $600,000 to local charitable and professional associations through donations and sponsorships. Lovitt & Touché is on track to meet or surpass that in 2018. Lovitt & Touché also encourages employees to raise money for and participate in local charitable events for organizations such as the Ability360, American Diabetes Association, Make-a-Wish Foundation, American Heart Association, Lupus Foundation and St. Vincent de Paul.

Magellan Health

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Barry M. Smith, chairman and CEO

What it does: Managed healthcare company, focused on behavioral healthcare.

Admirable trait: Magellan’s commitment to making healthcare more accessible and easier to manage has resulted in many new innovations. Its Virtual Care Solution offers digital programs to identify and support those with medical and behavioral health conditions. Magellan’s SmartScreener digital application gives providers a quick way to identify members’ behavioral health risks before they result in an ER visit or admission. Magellan’s DCBT software delivers therapy through confidential interactive sessions. Members complete sessions anywhere, at any time, using a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Maricopa Integrated Health System

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Steve Purves, president and CEO

What it does: General medical and surgical facility. It is also a teaching hospital.

Admirable trait: The health system has served the greater Phoenix community for more than 140 years, providing care for 16,500 inpatients and roughly 400,000 outpatients annually. It includes the Arizona Burn Center, a Level I Trauma Center, two behavioral health hospitals and 13 Family Health Centers. The patient population is almost 75 percent minorities and approximately 60 percent are served through Medicaid. MIHS also is a major physician training center, with 700 medical student rotations per year.

McCarthy Building Companies

Most Admired Company: 2010, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Justin Kelton, president, Southwest region

What it does: It is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country.

Admirable trait: McCarthy’s corporate and social responsibility is cultivated through a team known as Heart Hats and is not driven by a top-down mandate dictating how community service should be conducted. An example of the corporate-level Heart Hats’ philosophy was launched at the firm’s 150th anniversary during each division’s annual employee seminars, where an afternoon was spent building bikes and wagons. Each division selected the charities within their community to receive 150 bikes and 150 wagons.

Mobile Mini

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Erik Olsson, president and CEO

What it does: Portable storage company.

Admirable trait: Mobile Mini has invested heavily in the area of innovation. With MM Connect, its state-of-the-art customer portal, customers are empowered for growth through better business insights that allow them to determine where and when they need Mobile Mini and how much they need to spend to get there. Mobile Mini Tank + Pump Solutions allows customers to manage their rental equipment and compliance of their waste streams easily and efficiently with MM EnviroTrack, its proprietary tracking system for its customers.


Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Robert Nartonis, senior vice president

What it does: Design-build, project development, turn-key development, general construction, construction management and program management.

Admirable trait: With more than 15 years of industry-leading Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) experience, Mortenson is considered the industry leader in implementing these technologies. With in-house 3D laser scanning capabilities, Mortenson can easily transform projects into BIM models. In addition, Mortenson uses virtual reality on all projects. Virtual reality models provide high-level details, allow users to easily visualize their future spaces and eliminate user requested changes during or after construction.

OH Partners

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Brad Casper, executive chairman

What it does: Marketing and communications firm.

Admirable trait: OH has numerous employee development programs that have worked to develop a positive and productive work environment. Programs such as semi-annual 360-degree performance reviews, employee attitudinal surveys, ongoing new employee benefits, numerous formal and informal recognition programs, ongoing offsite “play” and team-building sessions and annual and merit pay raises and bonuses. In addition, OH University is a comprehensive online curriculum that allows all OH employees the opportunity to develop themselves and advance their careers.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Most Admired Company: 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Robert L. Meyer, president and CEO

What it does: The region’s premier pediatric center, providing hope, healing and healthcare for children.

Admirable trait: Phoenix Children’s Hospital is progressive and anticipatory in an industry that is slow to adapt to change. Under the CEO’s leadership, Phoenix Children’s has become a driving force and national leader in pediatric healthcare, on the forefront of innovation. One recent example of innovation is the Phoenix Children’s Data Lake. Data from more than 65 systems stream into Phoenix Children’s Data Lake, an effort that has yielded astounding improvements in patient care.

Pioneer Title

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Keith Newlon, founder and owner

What it does: Provides title insurance, escrow, account servicing, trustee sales, as well as builder-related trust services.

Admirable trait: Rooted in Arizona and family-owned means building a company with that that philosophy at Pioneer Title’s core. Pioneer Title Agency shares a belief in supporting other local businesses, even when there is an additional cost to do so. Pioneer Title’s leadership has a deep belief in re-investing directly into each of the local communities, keeping money in Arizona and with Arizonans whenever possible. Work local. Buy local. Support local.

Quarles & Brady

Most Admired Company: 2014-2018

Top Arizona executive: Nicole Stanton, office managing partner

What it does: Full-service law firm for businesses and individuals.

Admirable trait: The firm was honored by the Arizona Diversity Council with the first-ever Corporate DiversityFIRST Leadership Award for its outstanding accomplishments in the promotion and advancement of diversity through inclusion and strong leadership. The firm recruits at institutions with high percentages of diverse lawyers and regularly attends minority job fairs. Minority scholarships and internships are offered and provided to those who qualify, in order to develop potential talent.

Ryan Companies US

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Rick Collins, regional president

What it does: Ryan has developed and constructed more than 18.5 million square feet of office and industrial space in Arizona.

Admirable trait: Ryan is heavily focused on the culture of the organization and has implemented several programs to increase employee engagement. Ryan’s Emerging Leaders Group (ELG) facilitates and fast-tracks the personal and professional development of emerging leaders through specialized training and curriculum, mentorship and recognition. Another initiative at Ryan is the Women’s Inclusion Network. The purpose of the network is to encourage and support the development of women.

Sonora Quest Laboratories

Most Admired Company: 2010-2018

Top Arizona executive: Dave Dexter, president and CEO

What it does: Schedules and conducts thousands of diagnostic lab tests daily.

Admirable trait: Sonora Quest Laboratories’ values and ethical behaviors serve as the cornerstone of its leadership development. Every leader participates in the company’s leadership development program: Leadership Excellence through Accelerated Development (LEAD). In 2017, Sonora Quest rolled out a four-day, off-site Leadership Journey program for all leaders within the organization. Leaders receive training and coaching to become catalyst leaders — those who can spark professional growth of employees by helping them develop vital skills, shared knowledge and outstanding attitudes.

STORE Capital

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: Chris Volk, president and CEO

What it does: Leader in middle market real estate capital and net lease solutions.

Admirable trait: For more than 30 years, Volk has created real estate mortgage and lease solutions for businesses that use real estate in their daily operations to produce their sales and profits. Collectively, those companies have supplied more than $15 billion in financing to the chain restaurant, education, fitness, convenience store and other industries. Volk is also the creator of the V Formula, a revolutionary equation for analyzing business models and the benefits of asset investments to grow shareholder wealth.

Sundt Construction

Most Admired Company: 2010-2018

Top Arizona executive: G. Michael Hoover, president and CEO

What it does: Construction services.

Admirable trait: Sundt is making efforts to attract young people into the trades and ensure that existing workers receive ongoing training so they can become master builders. Sundt recruits from top schools in the region to help students launch their careers with hands-on internships. Last year, Sundt partnered with Central Arizona College to train the next generation of craft workers. Its investment includes supplies, equipment and Sundt employees serving as adjunct professors. Sundt also works in partnership with school districts to construct career and technical education centers.

Suntec Concrete

Most Admired Company: 2015-2018

Top Arizona executive: Jerry Barnier, CEO

What it does: Commercial concrete construction company.

Admirable trait: Recognizing that the employees are at the center of the company’s success, Suntec has implemented many programs to build an outstanding culture and workplace environment. Just a few of these practices include continued education programs, living out the company’s motto – “Teach. Train. Expect.” In addition to employees having the opportunity to attend fully sponsored and extensive industry training and classes, employees can transition to industry-related teaching roles that allow them to learn and grow as their knowledge base expands.

The CORE Institute

Most Admired Company: 2017, 2018

Top Arizona executive: David Jacofsky, MD, CEO

What it does: Provides best-in-class orthopedic care.

Admirable trait: The CORE Institute is an acknowledged leader in healthcare innovation. From its development of unique informational technology systems that permit physicians to make real-time, evidence-based decisions and arrive at the best outcomes for patients, to the establishment of clinically-integrated networks and payor reform models, The CORE Institute is impacting healthcare on a global scale. In 2011, The CORE Institute and Banner Health entered into a joint venture creating the BannerCORE Center for Orthopedics, which has expanded to five Banner facilities.

UMB Bank

Most Admired Company: 2015-2018

Top Arizona executive: Jim Patterson, CEO, UMB Bank Arizona

What it does: Provides a comprehensive suite of banking products and services.

Admirable trait: Under the Community Reinvestment Act, UMB has an ongoing commitment to its neighboring communities and achieved an “outstanding” rating in the most recent public evaluation conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In Arizona, UMB has impacted the American Corporate Partner’s #GiveThem20 campaign, the Heart Walk, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Scottsdale Boys & Girls Club, Phoenix Art Museum, Project CURE, American Cancer Society, Child Crisis, Sons of Arizona, Teach for America and Valley of the Sun United Way.


Most Admired Company: 2010-2018

Top Arizona executive: David Allazetta, CEO, UnitedHealthcare, employer and individual

What it does: Offers employer, individual and family health insurance plans.

Admirable trait: Innovation is at the heart of UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to helping provide people with more personalized, convenient and easier-to-use resources to simplify the healthcare experience. UHC’s efforts to use technology and data to help improve health outcomes and modernize the health system solve important issues for consumers. For the ninth straight year, UnitedHealth Group ranked first in innovation in its sector in Fortune’s 2018 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list.


Most Admired Company: 2015-2018

Top Arizona executive: Greg DeBernard, regional vice president

What it does: Provides military members and their families with insurance, banking and investment services.

Admirable trait: USAA offers on-site fitness centers and break areas including a live plant wall and wall of water relaxation area, recreation/energy zones, on-campus covered basketball court, half- price healthy food options, free fitness group exercise classes and exercise programming, My Helper concierge service, medical and dental insurance, paid maternity and paternity leave and emotional assistance programs. In addition, employees can pursue paid education and development opportunities through USAA’s education assistance program.


Most Admired Company: 2011, 2013-2018

Top Arizona executive: Matthew Walker, principal

What it does: Offers mutual funds, ETFs, financial advice and related services.

Admirable trait: Two members of Vanguard’s Corporate Diversity and Inclusion team in Arizona recently created and launched an Inclusion Campaign to start a global dialogue around an important key message: “Inclusion is for everyone. Help Vanguard be a place where all crew belong, and join the conversation!” The purpose of this interactive campaign is to increase dialogue around inclusion and the sense of belonging all crew feel at Vanguard. In the first two weeks of the campaign launch, more than 750 crew joined the dialogue.

VIP Mortgage

Most Admired Company: 2013, 2016-2018

Top Arizona executive: Jay Barbour, founder and president

What it does: Specializes in home loans, refinancing and reverse mortgages.

Admirable trait: VIP’s primary focus — restoring the reputation of the mortgage industry — could never be accomplished without “people with HEART doing more together than they ever could alone.” HEART is the acronym for VIP’s core values — Heart, Effective urgency, Absolute respect, Rewarding performance, Total integrity — and anchors and guides every action, interaction and decision VIP’s employees make every day. In 2016, VIP created a philanthropy component to the company’s benefits program, giving employees 16 hours of paid time off for volunteer efforts.


Most Admired Company: 2017, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Glenn Rufrano, CEO

What it does: Full-service real estate investment operating property company with real estate industry management of retail, restaurant and commercial real estate assets.

Admirable trait: To manager the significant amount of materials required to manage VEREIT’s diverse portfolio, it integrated a partnering vendor’s platform to consolidate all content. This software, Property Capsule, centralizes and automates property data, allowing brokers, tenants and employees to access site plans, interactive maps, detailed property data, photos and marketing materials for VEREIT’s properties. Numerous aspects are now proprietary to VEREIT because of the innovations its team developed during the software’s integration.

Washington Federal

Most Admired Company: 2017, 2018

Top Arizona executive: Mike Brown, Arizona regional president

What it does: Bank holding company.

Admirable trait: In 2014, Brown was named Washington Federal’s first-ever Arizona regional president. Since taking the reins, Brown has overseen the acquisition of 13 Bank of America branches, growing the bank’s footprint to 31 branches statewide. Under his stead, total loan production since 2014 is $1.2 billion, including $790 million in commercial and $427 million in mortgages.  He also launched a national franchise finance division from the Scottsdale headquarters in 2018 and opened the first-ever regional headquarters for Washington Federal in Scottsdale in 2017.

Willmeng Construction

Most Admired Company: 2018

Top Arizona executive: James Murphy, president and CEO

What it does: Locally owned and operated building contractor, specializing in ground-up and tenant improvement projects.

Admirable trait: Willmeng places great importance on supporting local nonprofit organizations and consistently donates time, talents and resources. In recent years, Willmeng has been a huge community influencer by associating with more than 40 organizations. As a result of its philanthropic practices, Willmeng was named a 2017 Social Impact Finalist by the W.P. Carey School of Business Spirit of Enterprise Awards for their work in the community.



Past Most Admired Companies 2018 Events