A to Z Notes - AZSBDC Blog
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Gila Valley Polaris – 2014 Success Award Winner

April 17th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Gila Valley Polaris was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Gila Valley Polaris worked with the Eastern Arizona College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Who could have guessed that a first date on a Polaris quad would turn into a marriage and eventually purchasing and owning their own Polaris dealership, but that is exactly how things turned out for Lance and Terri Shupe, owners of Gila Valley Polaris in Safford. “Our first date was literally me on the back of Lance’s quad, running out through the desert and him showing off doing wheelies” says Terri. Since that date, the Shupe’s have had a long history throughout their life together with Polaris off-road vehicles so their eventually having the opportunity to purchase a Polaris franchise was very fitting.

Lance had been in law enforcement for almost 18 years, but due to numerous shoulder surgeries, was now facing a medical retirement from the force and trying to decide what to do next. “I had always wanted to do some kind of business but the right one really never came along. I knew at some point I was going to, but this opportunity came along much earlier than expected” says Lance. Lance and Terri had been long time and regular customers of Gila Valley Cycle and Ski, an off-road vehicle dealership that had been in business for over 20 years. A chance conversation about Lance’s upcoming retirement with the owner caused the future hopes to become current opportunities. “He just asked me if I wanted to buy the business and I told him I needed to think about it a little bit.” But Lance waited a bit too long. When he finally got back to the owner, it was already in process of being sold to another potential buyer, who was also a client of the SBDC. Terri’s casual comment to the owner as they walked out that day was, “If it falls through, give us a call”. A short time later, the call came and the Shupe’s wasted no time in getting things in order.

After making arrangements for personal and private investors to assist in purchasing the business, Lance and Terri approached Eastern Arizona College SBDC Director Kevin Peck in August of 2013 with hopes of getting some assistance in working out all the little details. Terri was referred to the Eastern Arizona College SBDC by her sister, another previous client of the SBDC and by one of their investors. “We had so many things to get organized, especially in trying to get a business plan written that made sense and helped us get things in order”, Terri says. “Kevin really helped me gain the confidence in what I was doing and what needed to be a part of the business plan. He helped me make sense of everything that we needed to address. I always felt confident that we were in good hands and that he was helping us move this in the right direction”.

Eastern Arizona College SBDC provided additional research on traffic counts, demographics and census information as well as assistance working through details for the dealership agreement and application needed for the franchise. The Shupe’s were quickly approved and officially purchased the business in October 2013 and changed the name to Gila Valley Polaris.

Since the purchase, business has taken off, almost doubling historical sales figures and anticipated projections. Because of the increased business, they now have four mechanics, two salesmen, and an inventory manager, not to mention Lance overseeing all operations and Terri doing all the bookkeeping to keep up with growing demand. “Taking the Quickbooks training offered by the SBDC was one of the biggest things I could have done” says Terri. “I was able to get up and operational in a fraction of the time it would have taken me on my own.”

“I can’t think of another business that I would rather have and enjoy as much” Lance says. “We had never been business owners before, no experience and no background in business. Eastern Arizona College SBDC helped us right from the beginning in understanding what our numbers were and what we needed to focus on to be successful. We can’t say enough about all they have done to help us get started in this.”

Pizzicletta – 2014 Success Award Winner

April 16th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Pizzicletta was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Pizzicletta worked with the Coconino Community College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Pizzicletta is the first business Caleb Schiff has owned and the only kitchen he has ever managed. He wanted a restaurant to be a size that would enable him to succeed by giving him the ability to oversee all aspects of a fledging business. Schiff wanted to have hands not only in the dough, but the hiring, bookkeeping, purchasing, and all the while having attention to detail. He wanted to know his way around every physical and fiscal nook and cranny. The simple menu and overall size of Pizziclettta allowed him to do just that, and equally as important, focus on making a pizza that would stand out amongst the sea of slices and styles that are available in Flagstaff. Making pizza is his passion. It is something he loves to do. He didn’t want to lose that love and simultaneously wanted the business to be an avenue toward a stable income. Former restaurant owner and Coconino Community College SBDC analyst Jim Hunter was a perfect resource for Caleb.

Schiff spent time in Europe before he considered opening a restaurant and it was there that he recognized and began to embrace the belief that less is more. Such a place –where less is more – was missing in the Flagstaff food scene. To stand out and enable success, he knew Pizzicletta couldn’t be just another pizza place, so he set out to combine a model of old-world simplicity with a kitchen that was aspirational in its food and wine. Pizza, home-made gelato, a unique selection of wine and beers, and friendly, knowledgeable and unpretentious service established the perfect recipe for success. With that model he has relied on word-of-mouth referrals since day one. Therefore, advertising expenses rarely exceed $100 a month. Each day is new and fresh. Schiff says he learns something new every day and still makes mistakes, but feels like his business has hit a comfortable stride in 2013. Pizzicletta has been recognized as an Arizona Highways top 25 restaurants, Phoenix Magazines top 50 restaurants, and three times in Sunset Magazine. His loyal customer base is expanding and sales are increasing!

Schiff gives significant credit for the execution of his business plan to support and advice from the Coconino Community College SBDC. “Jim Hunter was an invaluable resource! He walked me through cash flow spreadsheets, amortization of loans and pay-off times, in addition to advice about employee retention, pricing, customer engagement and future growth. Many ambitious entrepreneurs across the country have reached out to me for advice and one of my first recommendations is to seek out and approach their local SBDC for guidance.”

Thompson-Wimmer – 2014 Success Award Winner

April 15th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Thompson-Wimmer, Inc. was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Thompson-Wimmer, Inc. worked with the Cochise College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Unmanned Aviation and Global Security are Thompson-Wimmer’s core corporate pillars. They are committed to providing smart solutions to the challenges faced in unmanned aircraft technology integration and pioneering methodologies in global security. Guided by their strong commitment to excellence within these arenas, Thompson-Wimmer Inc. desires to lead the way to a safer global culture and more robust global economy. As a small business located in Sierra Vista, Arizona they are well adept in performing research and training for industry and government clients.

According to Brian Wimmer, Owner, Thompson-Wimmer, Inc. is a leader in innovative services that meet the unique needs of their clients. They currently deliver technology and personnel to implement program management, procurement and administrative task support, and are assisting with a variety of projects critical to the security of the military, law enforcement, transportation and critical infrastructure.

Thompson-Wimmer, Inc. has been a trusted and reliable partner in support of C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) platforms and operations for government agencies and industry leaders. The Thompson-Wimmer team has extensive experience in providing advanced technical knowledge, along with military technical electronics knowledge, software and hardware installation, scheduling and maintain complex C4ISR systems in accordance with the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security standards. They apply their technical skills to enhance their customer’s ability to have both the information and decision making advantage.

Netswat – 2014 Success Award Winner

April 14th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Netswat was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Netswat worked with the Central Arizona College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Jeff Babb was born with the spirit of an entrepreneur. When he was a kid, he used to walk around to all the houses in our neighborhood collecting newspapers from their houses and attempting to resell them to the homeowners. He picked up odd jobs like picking dandelions for 10 cents each—budding with creativity and taking full advantage of the neighbor’s generous offer, each dandelion when presented for the payoff count had mysteriously broken and reformed into smaller, separate dandelions. Since those early days, Babb has grown up and reformed his ways, choosing to build a business based on honesty and integrity instead of creative license. Babb explains, he met Jim when he was working at the Central Arizona Corporate Center. This meeting eventually introduced Babb to the Small Business Development Center and resources for small businesses. While at Central Arizona Corporate Center, Babb became involved in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and wrote a business plan for a competition. Babb’s plan won an Award of Excellence in the 2010 national competition in Kentucky. Though Babb had always wanted to own his own business, he had thought up until this point that, if it were possible at all, he wouldn’t be able to begin the process until he was much older and with years of experience. “It was the faith Jim Rhodes had in me and the skills learned through the Central Arizona College SBDC that helped me realize that I didn’t have to wait. I already have a marketable skill that is highly valued.” explains Babb. The SBDC helped Babb revise my business plan, and with the revised plan in hand he was able to set out into the world of commerce. In addition, Jim Rhodes introduced Babb to Scott Morin with the Oasis Pavilion Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where he was given the opportunity to bid on a contract to build their entire computer infrastructure from the ground up. After presenting his plan of action to Scott Morin, Babb was awarded the contract and began working at Oasis Pavilion. During his time there, he was introduced to Joseph Oladukun with Oasis Home Health Care. This introduction eventually led to Babb taking over management of their computer infrastructure as well. Thus was the beginning of a great small business providing a vital service to the community and generating economic impact for Arizona.

Babb notes, “I couldn’t have come as far as I have today without the help of Jim Rhodes and the Central Arizona College Small Business Development Center. With no startup capital, I have been able to turn what was once just an interest in computers into a fast-growing business. I also hope to one day be able to mentor others as I have been mentored by Jim and the SBDC.”

Yuma Office Equipment – 2014 Success Award Winner

April 11th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Yuma Office Equipment was recognized as a 2014 Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Yuma Office Equipment worked with the Arizona Western College Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

Daniel Bombard had worked at Yuma Office Equipment for many years and had grown with the company. When the former owner was planning to retire, Bombard began discussing purchasing the business. With this transition in mind, Bombard first approached the Arizona Western College SBDC for assistance. Bombard says the advice he received from the AWC SBDC both justified the value of the business and different pathways to complete the purchase. Our discussions not only justified the business valuation but helped to develop the business plan for managing the business. Once that hurdle was accomplished, Bombard began the financial training to become a better manager of the business by enrolling in Profit Mastery training through the AWC SBDC. It was after this training Bombard acknowledges he learned the value of working on his business was as much or more important than working in the business.

“Randy Nelson was extremely helpful by providing a professional level of analysis and insight on what it has taken for my success. The financing, financial management, social media education and just being a resource for small businesses is an amazing tool every business owner should be aware of and I’m so pleased I did,” acclaims Bombard.

Bombard also acknowledges the valuable insight that came through the SBDC counseling that more sales did not always mean the company would show more profits, or was stronger. The key to success would always be managed growth.

One key area that helped the company navigate the great recession is now also leading the growth of the company, investment in professional development. Yuma Office Supply has invested in the employee training and is now the area leader in computer repair, computer networking, and IT services and equipment sales. Additional skills have allowed the company to develop new revenue streams to offset a declining industry.

Today not only has Yuma Office Supply survived a change in ownership, but in fact has thrived. Every job has been retained while the company has grown revenues through new and innovative technologies and service offerings. Yuma Office Supply has added new product lines and reinvented the way it can be an IT partner with any entity in the area.

Maricopa Community Colleges SBDC in collaboration with the CEI Present SBIR Information

April 10th, 2014

Lunch & Learn Free Lecture/Workshop
CEI/Phoenix – 275 N. GateWay Drive
April 10, 2014 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm
Presenter: Tom Swann, SBDC

Lunch & Learn events are free presentations to assist small businesses. This workshop is aimed at companies that are interested in submitting proposals for the upcoming Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 2014.2, Phase I funding opportunity. Attendees will learn how the SBIR program works, the application requirements, finding an appropriate topic, the latest news and changes and some tips for winning. Most importantly, at this stage, is what attendees could do now to prepare for this opportunity when it is announced. The Lunch & Learn free event series is presented by the Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center in partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation.

Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair – 2014 Master Success Award Winner

April 10th, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014, Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair was recognized as the 2014 Master Success Award Winner by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network in the annual Success Award program for small business success. The Arizona Small Business Development Center Network is Arizona’s largest and most accessible statewide source of assistance for small businesses in every stage of development. Each year the Network highlights and honors some of Arizona’s brightest small business successes for the vital role that they play in our state’s economy. Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair worked with the Maricopa Small Business Development Center to achieve a higher level of success. Read their story below:

After retiring from the automotive distribution industry in 1995, Howard Fleischmann Sr. helped his grown children finance a tire store that they had purchases. Over the next few years, the family accumulated eight stores, including four that Fleischmann bought himself. The expanded family-run operation appeared to be running smoothly and Fleischmann tried retirement once again.

In 2003, the bank called and Fleischmann learned that internal embezzlement at Community Tire Pros had cost the company its credit line and placed it in danger. He then returned to take over the company’s management. It was during this time Howard Fleischmann Sr. and his son Howard Fleischmann Jr. discovered the Maricopa Community College SBDC and Business Analyst Michael D’Hoostelaere. D’Hoostelaere mentored the pair in finance, marketing and strategic business planning.

Community Tire Pros has been in business for 22 years now and operates six shops around the Valley. It is the first tire dealer in Arizona to cater to the female clientele and their needs in the automotive industry. Target marketing has proven to be a successful strategy for the company. “I asked my mangers who their favorite customers were and they said women,” Fleischmann noted. “Women customers don’t tell the technicians how to fix the car and, once the job is done and done well at a fair price, they keep coming back. Understanding this changed our business dramatically and helped us to make strategic choices,” Fleischmann said.

“We do business just a bit different,” says Fleischmann. “We engage and create facilities of the clients’ comfort, hire advisors with talent at the counter as well as certified technicians working on vehicles. We never sell a client, our mantra is ‘we advise – you decide.’ We have the most up-to-date equipment to diagnose the ever-changing technology in today’s vehicles. Our teams are very conscious of always going above and beyond – ‘Do the Right Thing!’ We are locally owned and give back to the communities where we do business,” states Fleischmann. As a leader in the community for equality, Community Tire Pros practice in our six locations that everyone is welcomed. Community Tire Pros is a member of AskPatty.com, certified as a Female Friendly facility and dedicated to give a pleasurable repair experience with utmost respect and the chance to educate clients on their vehicles with safety priorities at the forefront.

Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair prides itself on being locally owned and a member of the community. Team members are encouraged to seek ways to give back to those communities where Community Tire Pros does business. Whether its giving a used car to a young mother through Helping Hands for Single Mothers, supplying much needed blankets for LGBT youth on the street, serving food at a homeless shelters, or other outreach efforts, Community Tire Pros is committed to their community. The newest community project is the “Community Tire Salsa Garden.” This is an actual vegetable garden located in two lots across from the corporate facility at Central and Durango. This general vicinity is called a food desert, simply because there is no grocery store within 3-5 miles. This project will engage, involve, create curiosity and educate through growing vegetables. This self-sustaining garden will have aspects to include children and adults as volunteers and in return give vegetables from the harvest based on hours donated. Thus far, since April 2013, the Community Tire Salsa Garden has managed to gift more than 600 pounds of food to this community. The garden will soon encompass cooking, children’s seasonal projects, harvesting, recycling and work with the Friendly House charter school across the street for campus gardening activities. To read more about the garden check out communitytiregarden.org for updates.

When asked what his secret to success was, Fleischmann replied, in today’s market place a small business owner must be better than ever before. We all must have good knowledge of finance, funding, taxes property, employee retention, rewards, discipline, healthcare rues, negotiations, and the list goes on and on. The Maricopa Community College SBDC can provide all of the support necessary to help a business owner work through these issues if you are willing to ask. Michael D’Hoostelaere was a great fit for me as a mentor. Since my financial knowledge was limited, and it is one of Michael’s many strengths, this became a major asset. As many small business owners, I was uncomfortable admitting to my short comings but Michael was able to open the doors without causing any embarrassment and has taken me to a new level of understanding. He has included me in projects that involved others allowing my vision to expand and we continue to work together as we have moved our company from a $6 million a year to a successful $10.6 million in 2013. I cannot express enough thanks to the SBDC for all the help!

Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair has received multiple honors for excellence, quality, customer service and community involvement. Recently, they were honored at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas with the 2013 National, Canada and Mexico “Top Shop” Award Winner by Tire Review magazine. This award indicates that Community Tire Pros are the bet of the best. In 2010, Community Tire Pros was honored as one of the TOP 5 SHOP finalist in the Nation in Tire Review Magazine-Tire Industry. They have received the AAA TOP SHOP Award for four years running, the AZ Central Reader’s Choice Award in 2012 and 2013, the 2012 One Community “Spotlight on Success” award, we honored by being the 2013 Phoenix Gay Pride Grand Marshalls, among other outstanding honors.

AZ SBA Person of the Year – John Stonecipher, CEO of Guidance Aviation

May 29th, 2013
award photo

AZ SBA Person of the Year 2013

May 16, 2013, Scottsdale, AZ. - John Stonecipher, President, CEO of Guidance Aviation, accepted the Arizona Small Business Administration’s Person of The Year Award from the State’s SBA CEO, Rick Murray and National SBA District Director, Robert Blaney, pictured here during the State’s SBA 20th Annual Enterprise Business Awards at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Established in 1998, Stonecipher started Guidance with one helicopter and himself as the sole instructor pilot and employee.  Today, Guidance Aviation is recognized as a leading collegiate helicopter flight training academy with a fleet of fifteen aircraft, fifty employees, and hundreds of graduates throughout the country now working in the aviation industry.

Selection of The Person of The Year by the Arizona Small Business Administration is based upon the following criteria:  (1) Staying power, (2) Growth in number of employees, (3) Increase in sales, (4) Current and past financial performance, (5) Innovativeness of product or service offered, (6) Response to adversity, and (7) Evidence of contributions.

“Our success is a result of the great people that work at Guidance.  These people are simply the best of the best,” stated Stonecipher.

AZ SBDC Network helps small business

AZ SBDC Network helps small business

Stonecipher and Guidance Aviation have been working with Fred Kennedy, a senior business advisor with 21 years of experience, at the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center (YC SBDC).  Pictured here are Fred Kennedy, John Stonecipher and Janice Washington, Arizona Small Business Development Center Network Director. Mr. Kennedy said, “It is always a pleasure and a privilege to work with small businesses…with their prosperity come new jobs, more profitability, additions in revenue to local, county, and state municipalities, and real success, providing the capital needed to maintain schools, roads, fire and police protection.  I met John Stonecipher in 2005 when his business advisor, Rick Gibson, a business professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, asked me to assist John and Guidance with strategic business planning.  Since those early days, John and his team have brought Guidance to the forefront of successful businesses in Yavapai County and in Arizona.  The accomplishments that John and Guidance have made are far too many to mention here, but nonetheless, accolades are deserved.  It was my humble privilege and unpretentious honor to nominate John as the SBA Person of the Year and see him win the honor and, in turn, the admiration of his peers, the community, and his country.”

Stonecipher’s next big step is to represent the State of Arizona and Helicopter Aviation at the National Small Business Luncheon in Washington, D.C. on June 21st.

 

Event To Showcase 7 Awesome Marketing Tools

April 3rd, 2013

You can learn about 7 Awesome Marketing Tools for Small Business Owners at the AZSBDC Network’s next Coffee & Connections networking event. The program will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 18 at the Innovations Science & Technology Incubator, 145 S. 79th Street in Chandler.  The event is free, but registration is required due to limited seating.

The program will be presented by Dow Media Group. Owner Leigh Dow will discuss several emerging tools in the online marketing space that are available to help entrepreneurs market their small business.

To register for this event go to: https://clients.azsbdc.net/workshop.aspx?ekey=10330019

Success Awards To Honor 14 Small Businesses at Capitol

March 5th, 2013

AZSBDC Success Awards Cover 2013TEMPE, AZ - Fourteen Arizona small businesses and their achievements will be honored at the 2013 Success Awards and Legislative Lunch on March 18.

The event is hosted by the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network (AZSBDC) and scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on the House Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Complex, 1700 W. Washington Street in Phoenix. Arizona Capitol Times publisher Ginger Lamb will serve as emcee of the event, which is expected to attract more than 300 guests, including members of the Arizona Legislature and government, business and community leaders from across the state.

“The Success Awards provide an annual opportunity to recognize and applaud the achievements of Arizona small businesses,” AZSBDC State Director Janice Washington said. “The winners represent a wide range of industries and come from every part of this state. Their accomplishments are impressive, given the continuing challenges of the national and global economies.”

The 2013 Success Awards winners include:

2013 Master Award Winner
Odle Management Group, Inc. – Scottsdale 
Lisa S. Odle

2013 Success Award Winners
Mariscos Mar Azul – Yuma AZ
Hortencia Rosales, Alex Morales   

Papazona Pizza, Inc. – Apache Junction
Michael Chastek, Chester Chastek

Munsey Contract & Development – Sierra Vista 
Norman Munsey, Mark Berg, Rick Berg, Kathi Johnson

Mother Road Brewing Company – Flagstaff 
Michael Marquess

Caboose Frozen Treats – Thatcher 
Wendy Skinner

Cellulars Conexion – Mesa 
David Carrizosa 

MarTek - Tempe
Mark James

Paideia Academies – Phoenix     
Dr. Brian Winsor

Bottom Line Tax, Accounting & Business Services - Tucson
Lou and Anna Ciurca

Delectables Restaurant & Catering – Tucson 
Donna DiFiore

Budget Blinds – Kingman
Ed and LeeAnn Benton

Loan Prairie – Lakeside
Mike Sattinger, Eric Grossman, Robert Fee

Quality Vans & Specialty Vehicles – Prescott
Vicki Reber, Doug Reber, Gary Reber 

“Each of these entrepreneurs has a story to share about what it takes to create and grow a successful small business in today’s environment,” Washington noted. “Their collective achievements demonstrate the dedication, resourcefulness and energy that has always characterized the Arizona small business owner.”

Success Award winners worked with an AZSBDC Network Center to achieve their goals and are chosen for their accomplishments during the previous year (2012). “Each winner’s story is a good example of how the AZSBDC Network is helping Arizona businesses succeed,” said Washington. “We are a very strong Network with statewide reach.”

 The Network is also the host of the Arizona Procurement Technical Assistance Center (AZPTAC) network, which is headquartered in Glendale and has satellite locations in Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson and Yuma.

 A map of all Network locations, including the new AZPTAC sites, can be found online HERE

 More information on the 2013 Success Awards can be obtained by calling (480) 731-8720.