November 30, 2015

Spirit of Enterprise Award winners epitomize innovation, ethics and commitment to community

Five Valley businesses were honored earlier this month for their ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship at the 19th annual Spirit of Enterprise awards given out by the Center for Entrepreneurship at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

“We are fortunate enough to see enterprising spirits budding and growing on a daily basis at ASU, but it is as equally important to highlight and honor those in the community who demonstrate the tenacity, innovation and strength it takes to build and sustain successful entrepreneurial ventures,” said Sidnee Peck, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, a tissue bank, was awarded the Emerging Entrepreneur Award. Started in 2011, the 80-person company focuses on enhancing the field of regenerative medicine and develops products only in response to their customers needs.

Sundt Construction, Arizona’s largest employee-owned company, received the Social Impact Award. Celebrating 125 years, Sundt has helped to build the local community through a wide range of construction projects as well as providing support to hundred of programs through the company’s foundation.

TYR Tactical earned the The Hahnco Companies Special Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award. A former Marine, owner Jason Beck and his 202 employees create body armor for elite soldiers and law enforcement including a patent-pending, ergonomically designed female tactical vest, the first in the industry to be designed specifically for a woman’s body.

The Dhaba/India Plaza in Tempe was awarded the Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. The restaurant, marketplace, cooking school and Indian cultural center was started in 2003 and serves as a community cornerstone offering healthy, sustainable and green business practices.

Potter’s House Apothecary and Wellness received the Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award. Started in 2009, the compounding pharmacy specializing in personalized medicine hit it’s three-year projections in a year and a half. With 63 employees, owners Kevin and Crissy Borg and Amber Swaney credit their commitment to quality and safety.

Vivek Kopparthy, a recent W. P. Carey School of Business MBA graduate was selected for the Student Entrepreneur Award. Kopparthy is co-founder and CEO of Neolight, a medical device company that develops phototherapy beds to cure jaundice in pre-term and full-term babies.

Bill Lavidge was honored as the National Founder of the Year. LAVIDGE, an agency he co-founded, is a major player in the local marketing communications industry and has received numerous awards, including the first-ever winner of the Spirit of Enterprise award in 1997. Lavidge continues to be heavily involved in civic and community organizations as well as the industry.

The Spirit of Enterprise Awards is one focus of the Center for Entrepreneurship, which helps hundreds of businesses each year. Companies can recruit and meet with top student talent while also allowing them to get hands-on, business-creation experience. The center participates in ASU’s Sun Devil Select competition to honor ASU alum-owned or alum-led businesses. The center is self-funded and utilizes community sponsorships to sustain its activities. For more information, visit