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Businesses honored as Spirit of Enterprise winners

September 26, 2008

Despite rough economic times, many Arizona businesses are achieving incredible, positive impacts on our state and local economies. This week, five businesses were named Spirit of Enterprise Award winners for boosting our economy and giving back to our community.

The awards are given out by the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University to recognize Arizona companies that demonstrate ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. This year’s 10 finalists generated more than $1 billion in annual revenue last year.

The 12th annual award winners are:

1. American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS) - Emerging Entrepreneur Award sponsored by Edward Jones. ATS is an industry leader in the deployment of red-light and speed camera enforcement programs in more than 120 communities nationwide. Company officials say they focus on promoting safer driving, while freeing up police officers to spend more time on community policing and serious crimes.

2. ATS Electric, Inc. - Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Rich Dad. This commercial electric contracting company has shown remarkable growth over the past few years, even starting an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The company almost had to close in 2004 due to slow business, but now expects to top $16 million in revenue this year.

3. Community Tire and Automotive Service Specialists - Overcoming Adversity Award sponsored by the Arizona Lottery. This car repair and tire replacement company almost went out of business after discovering in 2003 that its then-executives had embezzled more than $1.2 million, but a financial backer jumped in and helped turn things around without laying off a single employee. The company also offers a series of free car-care clinics and emphasizes treating customers with respect.

4. Sundt Construction, Inc. - Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. Officials with this 100-percent employee-owned construction company say they emphasize teamwork, training and education, plus giving back to the community through its nonprofit Sundt Foundation. Sundt Construction plans to top $1 billion in revenue this fiscal year.

5. Televerde - Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. This high-tech marketing company brings training and opportunities to women housed in the Arizona Department of Corrections’ Perryville facility. More than half of the company’s corporate employees graduated from its knowledge centers within the Perryville facility, where its educational programs taught them skills and helped them build confidence to become contributing business professionals.

The other Spirit of Enterprise finalists this year are CRS Temporary Housing, Global Water, NextCare Urgent Care, Sleep America, and TASER International Inc.

Shirley G. Schmitz, who recently wrote a book about entrepreneurship called “Guts, Imagination, Vision; Conversations with Innovators-Changemakers,” was recognized with the Visionary Entrepreneur Award. Schmitz, a founder, charter funder and longtime benefactor of the Spirit of Enterprise Center, is trying to teach others about the tools for success.

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. Through the center, businesses can access short, non-degree programs for busy executives and create connections to other Arizona State University business resources. Teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students also conduct research to help Valley companies. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers. For more information about the center, go to