East Valley companies won four of five Spirit of Enterprise Awards presented Wednesday by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
The 2007 winners were selected from 10 finalists by a committee of local business people and officials at the Spirit of Enterprise Center at the W.P. Carey School.
The program, which has been on-going for 11 years, honors companies that demonstrate ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. Nominees are judged on their value-based culture, excellence in their industry and involvement in the community. Awardees must have been in business for at least four years, maintain their primary operations in Arizona, have three or more full-time employees and demonstrate profitability for the past three years.
East Valley winners were:
* Infusion Software, a Gilbert-based firm that provides customer relationship-management software to small businesses. It’s flagship product, Infusion CRM, automates marketing, sales and customer-management functions. The company has enjoyed 100-plus percent annual growth since 2003, and the staff has increased fourfold since 2004 to 67 employees. President Clate Mask serves the community as a board member at the Never Again Foundation, which provides civil representation to abused women and children.
* Rhino Sports, a Scottsdale-based maker of backyard athletic courts, opened its doors as a commercial sports flooring company less than two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As sales lagged, founder John Shaffer shifted the company’s focus to the residential market, the company secured a second round of financing and it has been growing ever since. Today the company has a network of 47 independent dealers and 22 employees. The company’s community service is focused on organizations that serve disadvantaged children. It has installed free sports courts for the Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Clubs and created the Play On Foundation, a social, team and skill-development program for children.
* Children’s Dental Village was established by Dr. Alan Longfellow in The Lakes area of Tempe in 1973 with two chairs, a dental assistant and an office manager. The business, then called the Longfellow Practice, built a new office with double the space in 1997 and hired Dr. Mercedes Padilla as an associate pediatric dentist. In 2003 Padilla became a co-owner, and the name was changed to Children’s Dental Village last January. The company has a community outreach division that works internationally. It conducted dental programs in Africa and Ecuador during the past year and helped conduct a local food drive for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
* Gold Canyon, a manufacturer of candles and other scented products, was started by Curt and Karen Waisath 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 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chandler and sells its products through a network of independent demonstrators. 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.
The other winner was Walsh Bros. Office Environments, a family- and employee-owned business that was founded as a typewriter shop in downtown Phoenix in 1919. Today it is an office furnishings and designs company with operations in Phoenix and Tucson. It has a tradition of community involvement through the United Way and other organizations.