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Top Ariz. businesses win Spirit of Enterprise Awards

Gary Naumann
November 08, 2011

Though it’s been a rough year for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, some Arizona companies have managed to thrive and even add jobs in the down economy. This week, five area businesses were honored for their contributions to our community. They’re the winners of the 15th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

“All of these businesses have created a positive culture both internally and in the community as a whole,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “They keep coming up with innovations to remain on top in this difficult economic environment.”

Hundreds of Valley business and community leaders attended Tuesday’s luncheon at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where the winners were announced. The audience listened to impressive stories of the firms, which were recognized for ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

The winners are:

Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance The Spirit of Enterprise Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. This company transports sick and injured patients in medically configured jets between health care facilities around the world. Started just five years ago by a 25-year-old entrepreneur, the business has already more than quadrupled in number of employees. The company tries to help those initially denied flight benefits by their health insurance companies and also sponsors an annual scholarship in an aviation-related field.

Dunn Transportation/Ollie the Trolley Arizona Lottery Overcoming Adversity Award. Ollie the Trolley is considered an ambassador to tourists and residents alike, who ride the red-and-green icon in Scottsdale. The company, also an executive coach service, survived the city’s deep transit-service cuts during the recession without laying off employees and was recently named one of the best places to work in the Valley. The business serves about a million riders each year, with a 99-percent on-time rate.

Fortis Networks Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. This minority-owned and -managed company provides fiber optic engineering and design, communication and utility construction services, and wireless engineering. It has expanded operations to California, Utah and New Mexico, often working with large military clients. The firm has doubled its revenue over the past decade. The company also supports various outreach events, including a charity golf tournament.

Phoenix Analysis & Design TechnologiesThe Hahnco Companies Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. This mechanical engineering sales and services firm has worked with big names like Honeywell and Nissan and has a large, loyal customer base. The company keeps adding products and services, and acts as an angel investor, helping to provide funding to other Arizona technology entrepreneurs launching startups. It also has a monthly food-bank donation program.

WebPTU.S. Bank Emerging Entrepreneur Award. This software company offers time-saving electronic medical records tools for physical therapists. It has a high customer-retention rate, with 6,000 users located in all 50 states and Canada. The business added 25 new employees this year alone and has a focus on sustainability. After the recent tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, the company offered free months of service to clinics in the midst of rebuilding.

The other Spirit of Enterprise Award finalists this year were Jones Studio, Inc.; Mountainside Fitness; Real Property Management East Valley; Virginia Auto Service and The Worthy Institute, LLC.

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 ASU programs and create connections with community resources. Teams of students also conduct research projects to help Valley companies through the Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP) program.

The Spirit of Enterprise Center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships and volunteers. For more information, visit