Even when the economic times were bad, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce’s two businesses of the year found a way to not only tread water, but make significant gains in their operations.
The two businesses, Newman Realty and San Tan Learning, received the chamber’s small and large business of the year awards, respectively, during the organization’s seventh-annual business award luncheon hosted June 19 at the San Tan Elegante Conference Center located at the DoubleTree Phoenix-Gilbert.
While their businesses differ — the former is a realtor and the latter is a charter school — both earned their respective recognition for growing their businesses during a deleterious economic environment.
For Newman Realty’s titular owner Mark Newman, it started in 2010 when his business increased its sales exponentially while in the midst of the economic downturn. The sales have kept coming since, with at least a 20-percent increase from one year to the next over that stretch, and he expects to double his gains between 2012 and the current year.
It’s not too shabby for a company whose owner admits the title “small business” fits it like a glove.
“When it comes to small business, you don’t get much smaller than this guy,” Newman said.
San Tan Learning’s expansion dates back to 2006, when the then-private school opened with 45 preschool and kindergarten students. In the seven years since, San Tan Learning has transitioned into a free charter school offering classes to 550 students from kindergarten through eighth grade and with a budget that has bumped up from a hint more than $2 million in 2012 to more than $3 million in 2013. The school expects to have a $4 million budget for the next school year.
Accolades have rained down on San Tan Learning throughout the 2012-13 school year both individually and school-wide. Among those awards is Susana Clapham’s recognition as an Arizona Charter Schools Association teacher of the year finalist and winning “best charter school” during the East Valley Tribune’s “Best of East Valley” balloting, as voted by Tribune readers.
“It’s been an award winning year for us,” said superintendent Kristofer Sippel.
Emceed by Terri Oullette, host of ABC15’s Sonoran Living, the luncheon recognized companies and individuals for their efforts during the last 12 months.
The event’s full list of winners and nominees included:
• Volunteer of the year: Anthony Miles of 4th Wall Productions, a local videography and video editing company (finalists: realtor Chris Timmick of the Timmick Team and Tracey Groy of The Original Basket Boutique)
• Gilbert Leadership Award: Kayla Kolar
• Employer of Choice: internet marketing and creative services firm Rocket Media (finalist: Costco Wholesale)
• Rookie of the Year: Nationwide Insurance agency owner Mary Puzzitiello (finalists: McAuley Freelance Writing, Printwerx; Smartful Coaching; Synergy HR Solutions, LLC)
• Family Business of the Year: John’s Refrigeration, owned and operated by Chris John and sons Stephen and Andrew (finalists: SWIMkids USA; The Original Basket Boutique)
• Small Business of the Year: Newman Realty (finalists: 910 West; A.C.T. Awards, Engraving and Promotional Products; Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Golba Group Realty & Property Management; Impromptu Guru; Rocket Media)
• Large Business of the Year: San Tan Learning Center (finalists: Brio Tuscan Grille; DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Gilbert and SanTan Elegante Conference Center; Orbital Sciences Corporation).
“Our businesses are thriving so well,” Puzzitiello said during her acceptance speech.
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