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Top Ariz. businesses named Spirit of Enterprise Award finalists

Gary Naumann
September 15, 2011

Despite the rough economy, some of the best businesses in Arizona are still growing, adding jobs and boosting our community. The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is honoring 10 of the top companies in the state for their achievements. They are the newly announced finalists for the prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Awards, now in their 15th year of celebrating entrepreneurship.

Past winners include well-known names like Cold Stone Creamery, Grand Canyon Railway and Sundt Construction, Inc. These awards recognize ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. Finalists are noted for creating a positive culture both internally and in the community as a whole.

This year’s finalists are:

• Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, a company transporting sick and injured patients in medically configured jets between health care facilities around the world, which has more than quadrupled in number of employees since it was founded just five years ago by a 25-year-old entrepreneur.

• Dunn Transportation/Ollie the Trolley, recently named one of the best places to work in the Valley and serving about a million riders each year with a 99-percent on-time rate, an executive coach service and ambassador to tourists and residents who ride Ollie the Trolley in Scottsdale.

• Fortis Networks, a minority-owned and -managed company providing fiber optic engineering and design, communication and utility construction services, and wireless engineering, which has doubled its revenue over the past decade.

• Jones Studio, Inc., an award-winning architecture and interior design firm with a focus on sustainability that has expanded operations to southeast Asia and actually conducted daily operations as a temporary “exhibit” at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

• Mountainside Fitness, a state-of-the-art gym company started by one college student/entrepreneur in 1991 that now has 1,000 employees and nine locations, as well as participation in charity and community efforts.

• Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT), a mechanical engineering sales and services firm that has worked with Honeywell and Nissan, keeps adding products and services, and acts as an angel investor, helping to provide funding to other Arizona technology entrepreneurs launching startups.

• Real Property Management East Valley, a full-service residential property management company that has grown to a multimillion-dollar, family-owned business with more than 1,300 units under management in less than five years, largely due to positive customer referrals.

• Virginia Auto Service, a family-owned business that provides every customer with a car wash by hand, free shuttle service, free roadside assistance and a two-year/24,000-mile warranty on all parts and labor, which has revenue at an all-time high, despite the down economy.

• WebPT, a software company offering time-saving electronic medical records tools for physical therapists, which has a high customer-retention rate, 25 new employees added this year alone, and 6,000 users in all 50 states and Canada.

• The Worthy Institute, LLC, a private community organization that has provided more than 10,000 families with services, including family support programs, a children’s obesity initiative, teen substance abuse prevention, diversity training and other efforts to address health disparities among at-risk and underserved populations.

More than a thousand Valley entrepreneurs, community leaders, Arizona State University students and others are expected to attend the annual awards luncheon when the winners are announced Nov. 8 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.

These awards are just one focus of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. The center offers companies the chance to recruit and meet with top student talent, while students get hands-on business experience. Through the center, businesses can access other Arizona State University programs and create connections with community resources. Teams of W. P. Carey School of Business students also conduct research projects to help Valley companies through the Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP) program. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers.

For more information on the Spirit of Enterprise Center, visit For sponsorship opportunities or awards luncheon reservations, call (480) 965-0474 or e-mail