September 23, 2015

One man’s trash turns into his treasure

Garbage business is one of 12 finalists for Spirit of Enterprise Awards

In 2005, Dave Hertzberg was looking to start a new career. Seeing opportunity in waste removal, he purchased a new garbage truck and a few bins and started pitching business. After five days, he was headed to pick up some bins when he was stopped by a representative of the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.

Hertzberg who didn’t have a license to operate a garbage truck at the time, learned a lot about the trash business that day. He persevered through the many regulations required and, in doing so, identified an even larger opportunity in the data surrounding waste removal. Today he is president of Sonoran Waste Disposal, developing custom solutions to meet waste and commercial recycling needs throughout the Valley.

Sonoran Waste Disposal is one of 12 finalists for the 19th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. From technology start-ups to large, established construction companies, the awards recognize businesses that positively impact the economy while exhibiting ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. The winners will be announced at a luncheon on Friday, Nov. 20.

“Use of the word entrepreneur has become popular, but to truly be an entrepreneur is not for the weak hearted. It requires a just-right blend of confidence in oneself and the solution, enough humility to be willing to learn from others, and courage to act quickly when new opportunities arise. All our finalists exhibit these qualities as well as commitment to their employees and their communities,” said Sidnee Peck, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, which administers the awards program at the W. P. Carey School.

The finalists in six categories include:

Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award

  • Potter’s House Apothecary and Wellness (Peoria) – A pharmacy specializing in both sterile and general compounding, making medications specifically for a patient’s unique needs.
  • Sonoran Waste Disposal (Phoenix) – An innovation-driven company that specializes in waste solutions for sustainability-focused corporations in higher education, medical, commercial, industrial and construction.

Social Impact Award

  • Accurate Signs & Engraving (Phoenix) – Manufacturer of industrial and commercial engraved products working mostly with electrical contractors and solar panel installers around the U.S.
  • Sundt Construction (Tempe) – One of the oldest and largest construction companies in the United States and has built many landmark projects.

Emerging Enterprise Award

  • Crowd Mics (Mesa) – An award-winning app that turns the audience members’ phones into wireless microphones for live events.
  • Pinnacle Transplant Technologies (Phoenix) – a human tissue bank that processes allograft tissue for transplant.

Minority Enterprise Award

  • The Dhaba India Plaza (Tempe) – A one-stop South Asian cultural center housing highly coveted, multi-award winning DHABA restaurant and marketplace, Indian artifacts, cooking school and resource center.
  • About Blind Cleaning (Phoenix) – A commercial and residential deep-cleaning company as well as blind sales, installations, repairs and retrofits.

Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award

  • TYR Tactical (Peoria) – Provides world-class engineering and research and development capabilities with customized solutions to increase the performance of soldiers worldwide.
  • Lucid Agency (Tempe) – An award-winning digital marketing and technology agency focused on interactive marketing campaigns, advanced user interface design and development of web and mobile applications.

Student Entrepreneurship Award

  • Vivek Kopparthi, NeoLight (Scottsdale) – A medical device company that develops phototherapy beds to cure jaundice in pre-term and full term babies.
  • Omron Blauo, teleScrypts (Phoenix) – Mobile health records for remote doctors.

The award luncheon will be held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix. An entrepreneurship workshop is held prior to the event where top W. P. Carey School faculty share tools and techniques professionals can use to advance their businesses. For more information on sponsorship opportunities or to attend, call 480-965-0474, e-mail, or visit

To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit