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Awards honor 5 Phoenix businesses

October 08, 2007

Five Phoenix-area businesses have been honored by the Spirit of Enterprise Center at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

The 11th Annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards honored the winners in a celebration of ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship at a luncheon Sept. 26 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

The named awards are sponsored by Edward Jones, the Rich Dad Co. and State Farm Insurance.

The five winners are:

• Rhino Sports, Inc. of Scottsdale – Rhino Sports opened its doors on Sept. 1, 2001, less than two weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks rocked the country and wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy. But John Shaffer, founder and president of the fledgling commercial sports flooring company, didn’t give up. Sales dried up in the months following the attacks, but Shaffer sensed an increased demand for backyard sports courts and decided to shift the company’s focus to the residential market. It was a risky move that meant abandoning the firm’s marketing plan and creating a new one. Since then, Rhino Sports hasn’t looked back.

• Children’s Dental Village of Tempe – Alan Longfellow established his pediatric dental practice in 1973 with two chairs, a dental assistant and an office manager. The practice, now co-owned by Longfellow, his wife, Joyce, and pediatric dentist Mercedes Padilla, honors such values as family, friendship and love, which is why some of its 23 employees have been with the company for more than 20 years. The company’s community outreach division works locally and internationally. It conducted dental programs in Africa and Ecuador during the past year, and also donated dental materials to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

• Infusion Software of Gilbert – Infusion sells customer relationship management software that is designed specifically for firms with two to 100 employees and annual revenues of less than $25 million. With 67 employees, Infusion has an ambitious mission: To transform the way small businesses drive and manage their growth and to be the leading provider of CRM software for such companies. Infusion has undergone a growth spurt, enjoying 100-plus percent annual growth since 2003. Its staff has increased fourfold since 2004, and the company recently expanded into a 10,000-square-foot headquarters building.

• Gold Canyon of Chandler – Curt and Karen Waisath started their candle-making business 10 years ago in their kitchen because Karen wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Since then, the business has exploded into a multimillion-dollar enterprise that operates a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chandler and sells scented products and accessories through a network of independent demonstrators. Five core values influence every aspect of Gold Canyon: Accuracy, courage, humility, integrity and curiosity.

Gold Canyon gives back to the community through its Prayer Child Foundation, which it created to focus on children who face such challenges as illness and abuse.

• Walsh Bros. Office Environments of Phoenix – Walsh Bros. is a family- and employee-owned business that was founded as a typewriter shop in 1919 by three enterprising brothers. Today it is a full-service office environment company with operations in Phoenix and Tucson.

Employees own 15 percent of the company through an employee stock ownership plan. The company defines ethics as earning the respect of its customers, the community and its employees. Its core values and vision date back to Richard Walsh, who was president from 1928 to 1969. Walsh Bros. has a tradition of community involvement through such organizations as United Way and Friendly House.

“Spirit of Enterprise Award winners are leaders in their businesses and in the community,” says Mary Lou Bessette, executive director of strategic initiatives and director emeritus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center. “They set fine examples of high standards in leadership and service, and provide an opportunity for our students to study entrepreneurship and learn from people who have built their dreams into successful businesses.”

More information can be found at the Web site