For the 16th year, ASU is honoring Arizona companies for excellence in ethics, energy and entrepreneurship. Gary Naumann, Director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business, talks about this year’s award winners.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. For the 16th year, ASU is honoring Arizona companies for excellence in ethics, energy, and entrepreneurship. The Spirit of Enterprise awards were handed out today at a luncheon sponsored by ASU's W.P. Carey school of business. Here to tell us about the winners is Gary Naumann, director of the school's Spirit of Enterprise center. Good to see you again.
Gary Naumann: Good to see you, Ted.
Ted Simons: Energy, excellence, ethics, and entrepreneurship, what are we talking about there?
Gary Naumann: Well, it's one of those things that's really hard to find. But you know it when you see it. It's very -- we take a lot of time. We spend a lot of time with our applicants and we are looking for companies. What it really comes down it to is that all rolls up into what's a great story? Who's done something that really captures our attention that says, not only have they done all the right things, they have shown ethics, they have shown energy and growing their business, they are ethical. They are doing all those things but they have a great way they put it altogether. That's what we are looking for.
Ted Simons: A lot of businesses to choose from?
Gary Naumann: We have a lot of businesses to choose from. It's quite a rigorous application process. We start back in February and March, starting accepting applications from companies and getting nominations and companies can be nominated by many different folks, some within our school, some former spirit alumni. We get them from many different sources. And by doing that, we get such great mix of companies here. Every year I'm just amazed at the wonderful companies we come up with and we get to honor. And we really come down to ten finalists. These final five winners came out of ten finalists and they were all honored today with five of them actually won the ultimate award.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about some of those winners. We will start with an automotive repair company that kind of takes things a little bit differently. Talk us to about, 180 Degrees Automotive?
Gary Naumann: Right. And the owner, founder of that company is a woman by the name of Bogi LaTyner. She is very interesting. She talks about, she started with no business plan and no money, and school of hard knocks and had to really pull herself up by her boot straps, if you will, to learn all those things that she really wasn't interested in. She wasn't interested in the numbers and the systems and all that. Then she realized about three years in I better get smart in all of this. She really dug in on her own and brought herself along from not knowing much at all to actually spending time and focus on making her company different.
Ted Simons: And that building, that's an auto repair shop. It's an art exhibit going on in the lobby.
Gary Naumann: She invites the community in. She wants to connect with her customers. She wants to make it a place where they want to come. And as one of our other guest speakers said today, when was the last time you had a good experience at -- right? That's what she's trying to do is connect with the customers, make it a place where it's fun to come. And to give good service. Nothing beats getting what you came for which is good automotive service. They make that their focus but try to make it a great experience along the way.
Ted Simons: Another winner, Daphne's head covers. Who knew that you could basically build an empire with golf head covers?
Gary Naumann: Golf head covers. Young 16-year-old girl and challenged by her mom to go do it, and sure enough, she went and just fought her way through all the trials and tribulations that somebody would have to do to make their mark in that business. And now, 75 countries, makes covers for all the top pros. And actually another interesting -- she's actually bringing some of our manufacturing here to Phoenix which is a great story because we are all talking about, where are the jobs? Where are things going? So she won our overcoming adversity award and did a great job. She overcame all the hardships that came with 2008 and when everything turned upside down. And she toughed it out.
Ted Simons: She started as a 16-year-old.
Gary Naumann: At 16. And name of the company after her mother, Daphne. Her name is Jane Spicer.
Ted Simons: Global Telemedicine honored as well. Telemedicine monitor, tell us about this.
Gary Naumann: Here's a company, when I say they come from so many different ways, this company started out in the semi-conductor industry doing quality assurance software and machinery for the semi-conductor industry. Found that it was an OK business but not a great business. Switched gears. They found in 2002, switched gears in 2005 into telemedicine and actually started building equipment so doctors could have somebody, a remote patient, they could actually diagnose and see that patient remotely and that works great for people that are like have emergencies that are not near a medical facility. They might have the telemedicine equipment, wonderful application.
Ted Simons: Great lesson in how you need to be adaptable to change.
Gary Naumann: Yes. If you say, hey, this is what I am doing, I'm not changing, I'm going to stick with it even if I hit the brick wall, that's crazy. You have to be willing to adapt. Change your business model to fit the circumstances and then push forward. That flexibility is very key.
Ted Simons: Another winner is a company called Law Logix, immigration software, I understand.
Gary Naumann:Yes, it is. And two partners, and one partner sort of came up with the idea when he was sort of stranded at the border in Mexico and going through all sorts of trials and tribulations of, why is this so hard? That's where a lot of these ideas come from. Why isn't this done better? Why are we banging our head against the wall? And actually said there's a way to do this and they develop case management software for I-9 and E-verify.
Ted Simons: My goodness. A perfect time for that, I would imagine.
Gary Naumann: They have -- I think probably 4 million foreign nationals they have served. A great, great application.
Ted Simons: The fifth winner here is called Total Transit, and this is just what basically a green cab company.
Gary Naumann: Green cab company. Craig Hughes tells the story when he started the company, I think he had been in a cab twice in his life or something like that and started with a couple of cabs. Another, think about this. A basic industry, cabs have been around forever. In 1984 is when Craig started his company and is actually our largest company in terms of employment today, 300 employees. So he was able to just gradually grow his business and innovate along the way. Take whatever technology brought his way and started building his company and now he has the largest Prius fleet in North America. He's got a green cab company and he works with Valley Metro on doing dial a ride services and he made the vehicle fit the circumstance versus having to send out a vehicle that was way too large for the job so to speak so he got it down to the right size.
Ted Simons: Before we let you go, the Spirit of Enterprise center, basically responsible for the awards? How did they sponsor the awards, what are you trying to do there?
Gary Naumann: What we're trying to do is, one of our tag lines, if you will, where campus meets community. And the great thing about that is, yes, we are the W.P. Carey school of business at Arizona State University and we have students and we try make sure that the companies that we talked about today, many of those companies will come back and be guest speakers in my courses for these students and with my other colleagues as well as we have student teams, student project teams. We will match them up with a needed project from these companies and all of a sudden now we have this great company, working with our great students and it's a great match.
Ted Simons: All right. It's good stuff. Gary, good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it.
Gary Naumann: Ted, thanks so much, really appreciate it.
Gary Naumann:Director, Spirit of Enterprise Center at ASU W.P. Carey School of Business;