Best of Our Valley 2019: Companies & Professionals

by Melissa Larsen

Best Boutique Advertising Agency and Best Graphic Design: Inflight Creations

Scottsdale’s Inflight Creations is a full-service agency that is deeply involved with its client’s business models and continues to drive return-on-investment and growth for them. The team strives to understand its client’s brand identities and compel their audience—which they know goes further than just a great logo or Web site.

Inflight Creations

Best Large Advertising Agency : Colling Media

The passionate, results-driven team at Scottsdale-based Colling Media feels no greater thrill than when a client reaches its goals. Colling Media’s goal is to partner with businesses that believe marketing and advertising are cornerstones for success, and aims to help them find solutions uniquely customized to help business grow. Knight Transportation and Spartan are just a few of the names who trusted Colling Media with their brand.

Best Auctioneer: Jim Grant

Jim Grant, of Self Storage Auction, started in the successful auction business in 2012 in Scottsdale. Grant created the first online storage auction Web site to combine the excitement and popularity of TV storage auctions shows like “Storage Wars,” “Auction Hunters” and “Storage Hunters” with the practicality of an eBay-style online auction platform. Since then, Grant has opened additional offices in Toronto, Sydney and London and has had more than five million bidders. Grant is a Best of Our Valley winner since 2012.

Best Bankruptcy Law Firm, Best Criminal Defense Law Firm or Lawyer, Best Personal Injury Law Firm and Most Philanthropic Company: Lerner & Rowe Law Group/Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys

Founded in 2005 as Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys, the firm is comprised of more than 240 attorneys and staff members who are devoted to helping others in their time of need. In the past year, the personal injury firm resolved more than $100 million in settlements or verdicts on behalf of those injured as a result of another’s negligence. In spring 2012, the firm opened a separate law firm, Lerner & Rowe Law Group, which expanded its legal services to include representing criminal defense and bankruptcy cases. The firm’s nonprofit foundation, Lerner & Rowe Gives Back, serves the community by providing benefits and support to those in need, or by assisting other local philanthropic organizations. Since inception, the law firms and foundation have donated more than $1 million.

Best Car Wash: Jacksons Car Wash

Jacksons is a family-owned and -operated business with 11 state-of-the-art car care centers and 12 convenience stores throughout Phoenix. Jacksons locations feature full-service and express car washing with complimentary vacuums, full-service and express oil and lube services, glass repair and replacement, comprehensive detail centers, and clean and comfortable gift shop waiting areas with unique offerings found nowhere else in town. Jacksons is the Valley’s only express wash that hand dries all vehicles. Frequent visitor? The car wash offers a wide variety of monthly membership plans with easy upgrades.

Jacksons Car Wash

Best Catering: Emily’s Events

From intimate dinner parties to in-flight catering to large weddings, Emily’s Events is a favorite one-stop shop for catering needs. Menus featuring any cuisine are custom-made for each client; the Emily’s Events team doesn’t use pre-designed menus. In addition to crafting delicious, unforgettable cuisine, Emily’s Events also aims to keep clients within their budget.

Best CEO: Matt Widdows, HomeSmart

Matt Widdows is the CEO and founder at HomeSmart International and HomeSmart Phoenix, which made its debut as a new concept real brokerage in Metro Phoenix in 2000. Over the course of the next decade, he grew the Arizona-based brokerage into the largest in the state. Today, the brand has 166 offices in 28 states and nearly 16,000 agents nationwide. So far this year, HomeSmart International nearly doubled its national footprint, and HomeSmart Phoenix recently acquired Gilbert-based Arizona Preferred Realty.

HomeSmart International was named Best National Valley-Based Company, which also won in 2018.

Best Divorce Attorney: Norma C. Izzo

Norma C. Izzo is an equity member at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon and chair of the firm’s Family Law and Domestic Relations practice group. Norma supports her clients by helping them emerge from divorce with a sense of peace about the decisions they have made and hope for a future that is manageable and just. In addition to providing skilled litigation representation for complicated family law related matters, Norma is a formally trained mediator and Collaborative Divorce attorney, offering her clients an “out of court” process to move through the divorce transition by focusing on their financial, emotional and legal needs.

Norma C. Izzo

Best Dog Training: This Little Doggie Stayed Home

This Little Doggie Stayed Home offers dog-walking and -training as well as pet-sitting services in the East Valley, working with all breeds and behavioral challenges. Owner Lindsey Wescott has been training dogs professionally for eight years, and she takes a holistic approach to dog training and behavior modification focusing on creating a calm dynamic between dogs and their owners.

This Little Doggie Stayed Home

Best Estate Planning & Trust Administration Law Firm: Seiter Law PLLC

Marcus Seiter, Esq., of Tempe-based Seiter Law PLLC, is passionate about helping people formulate plans to reach their estate-planning goals and safeguard their family’s future. To Seiter, who grew up locally in Scottsdale, it is important that each individual, couple or family leaves with peace of mind knowing they are taken care of in the event of the worst.

AFM Fave! Best Etiquette Professional: SueAnn Brown

SueAnn Brown is a certified etiquette instructor and owner of It’s All About Etiquette. Offering classes that are educational, interactive and fun, she specializes in teaching children and teens the following: the importance of handshaking, eye contact, avoiding rude behavior, table manners and dining etiquette, personal hygiene and grooming, posture, cell phone etiquette, writing thank-you notes and more. In addition to children/teen classes and summer etiquette day camps, Brown also offers corporate workshops and etiquette training to business professionals.

Best Event Design & Decorations: Dapper Event Design and Production

Phoenix’s Dapper Event Design and Production is a dynamic and innovative event-management company from owners Alex Wurth and Collin Shepherd. Since 2016, Dapper events have been curated to reflect the personality and brand of each client. Dapper’s event services include corporate events, local and destination weddings, fundraising events and galas, social events, floral design and decor.

Best Family Law: The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation

Founded in 2014 by Michael and Karen Aurit and based in Scottsdale, The Aurit Center for Divorce Mediation helps spouses have a healthy divorce without clashing in court. The couple provides a simple, affordable and confidential divorce process by personalizing divorce terms in order to reach the best possible agreements. The Aurit method helps reduce stress for all involved and protect children from the harm of litigation.

The Aurit Center

Best Florist: Flower Bar 

Flower Bar has been creating unique floral designs for clients throughout Scottsdale and Phoenix since 2012. In the fall of 2017, Flower Bar opened a botanical boutique in Old Town carrying flowers nearly every day of the year. Clients can also sign up for a workshop through the studio’s Web site where there is a seasonally inspired selection of fun classes for designers of all levels.

Flower Bar

AFM Fave! Best Full-Service Creative Agency: Lane|Terralever

Lane|Terralever is a full-service marketing agency with a team of more than 100 whose work spans the nation. Lane|Terralever works with leading national brands like Golden Entertainment, Universal Technical Institute and TruGreen and local names like Valley Toyota Dealers, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Cardinals. The company delivers marketing results through a combination of strategy, creativity and technology.

Best HVAC Company: Goettl Air Conditioning

Goettl Air Conditioning, which was founded in Phoenix in 1939, celebrates its 80th year in business this year. In its decades of service, the trusted HVAC company has helped revolutionize residential development in this climate by inventing an affordable air conditioner for the desert heat. Goettl prides itself on providing the highest-quality service in the industry.

Best Intellectual Property Law Firm: Blythe Grace PLLC

Blythe Grace PLLC is a boutique law firm based in Arcadia and specializing in litigation, employment law, and corporate and limited liability company matters. The firm’s clients range from small Arizona startups to large Fortune 500 companies; these clients rely on Blythe Grace to defend them in complex lawsuits or simply provide day-to-day legal counsel to support their business operations.

Blythe Grace PLLC

Best Investment Firm: Strategy Financial Group

Founded in 2010, Strategy Financial Group offers retirement income planning, investment management, tax-planning coordination, health care planning and legacy planning. 2019 brings an expansion to the advisory team, and the company aims to serve more than 800 families across the nation by year’s end.

Best Modeling Agency: FORD/Robert Black Agency

The Valley’s own FORD/Robert Black Agency is one of the most prominent modeling and talent agencies in the Southwest, boasting more than 50 years of combined management in the industry. The company recently moved into a new office in North Scottsdale and doubled its size. In addition to its modeling services (with models working in every major market including New York, LA, Miami, London, Hong Kong, Brazil, Sydney, Greece and Milan, to name a few), it has the most-coveted artist division in town representing hair/makeup artists, wardrobe stylists and photographers.

Want to join FORD/Robert Black Agency client list? There are weekly open calls for potential future faces held every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the agency’s office.

FORD/Robert Black Agency

Best Boudoir Photographer: Jodi Lynn Maxwell, Le Boudoir Studio

Jodi Lynn Maxwell launched Scottsdale’s Le Boudoir Studio in 2010 with a mission to inspire self-love while empowering and inspiring confidence through boudoir photography. Le Boudoir Studio specializes in tasteful boudoir photography that will be an experience a client cherishes her entire life.

Best Commercial Photographer and Best Real Estate & Interiors Photographer: Danny Raustadt, Bigger Picture Images 

As a real estate and interiors photographer, Danny Raustadt of Bigger Picture Images photographs magnificent home and corporate building interiors and exteriors, stating that architecture has always intrigued him. He has also built an impressive portfolio and client list for everything from products to fashion as a commercial photographer. Raustadt has photographed for print magazines, catalogs, news organizations, manufacturers, resorts, fashion designers, home builders, architects, financial institutions, restaurants, events and more.

Photo by Dan Raustadt

Best Event Photographer: James Larcher, Larcher Photography

James Larcher of Larcher Photography has been shooting photography professionally for more than 30 years. For five years, though, he has given clients a new perspective by shooting events (as well as real estate) via a professional camera drone.

Best Family & Portrait Photographer: Inês Piquet, Inês Piquet Images

Inês Piquet is a longtime portrait photographer based in Scottsdale who launched Inês Piquet Images in 2017. The award-winning talent specializes in black-and-white images, magazine-inspired portraits, modern headshots and personal branding images. Piquet provides a fully custom service to every client, from helping with wardrobe selection, to guiding throughout the photoshoot, to offering handcrafted products that include exquisite heirloom-quality folio collections and wall portraits.

Best Fashion & Beauty Photographer: Larry Alan, Larry Alan Photo

Larry Alan has been a photographer for a decade, with his primary focus being fashion editorial. He has a studio in Downtown Phoenix, where has expanded his business into the world of fashion films.

Photo by Larry Alan

Best Boutique Public Relations or Marketing Firm: Soderman Marketing

Phoenix’s Soderman Marketing is a full-service digital marketing company that specializes in SEO services for local and national businesses all across the nation with 13 years of experience. The firm is recognized as one of the top SEO companies by some of the world’s leading business sites. The team contributes SEO strategies and marketing tips to 50-plus sites, including Forbes & Inc, increasing clients’ organic traffic by more than 300 percent.

Best Large Public Relations or Marketing Firm: Havas PR

Havas PR officially opened the doors to its Phoenix office in 2015 as Havas PR North America’s West Coast agency. The team’s work spans through the West and beyond, even as far as Romania. The roster of past and present clients includes Fox Restaurant Concepts, for whom they are agency of record, True Food Kitchen, Sauce Pizza & Wine, OBON Sushi Bar Ramen and many more. The Phoenix has office won 19 honors, including nine national and eight local awards for client work and research on millennials in the Southwest, plus six individual honors.

Havas PR Phoenix

Best Real Estate Group: Amy Jones Group

The Amy Jones Group, headquartered in Gilbert, is known for its innovative marketing techniques, digital-first advertising strategies and key business partnerships. With six full-time agents, the impressive group has sold more than 2,400 homes and transacted more than $700 million in real estate.

Amy Jones Group

Best Real Estate Law Firm: MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC

Since opening its doors in 2016, MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC has been making waves throughout the real estate law profession. MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC, from partners Patrick MacQueen and Benjamin Gottlieb, are already the top real estate firm in Arizona and boast two of the top legal minds in the business. This year, the team expects to add to its incredible growth by adding two or three more attorneys. At MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC, it’s safe to say they do things a little differently.

Best Social Networking and Online Media Firm: MINT Social

Since 1996, Mint Social’s core focus has been web development and digital marketing for its clients, which has included Fortune 500 businesses. The Scottsdale company has developed a web architecture on top of WordPress that optimizes the user-experience while seamlessly collecting and learning from the data to create a better user experience for customers and prospects. 

AFM Fave! Best Trial Lawyer: Dennis Wilenchik

With experience in both civil and commercial litigation, Dennis Wilenchik has more than 40 years of experience in the industry. He formed Phoenix-based Wilenchik & Bartness in 1991 and is an impressive member of both the Valley’s and the nation’s legal community. This year, he was selected as one of the top 100 lawyers in the state as featured in Arizona Business Magazine, named a “Top Lawyer” by American Law Society and selected as a member of distinguished lawyers of America and a member of Arizona’s finest lawyers.

Best Web Design, Programming or Management Firm: My Biz Niche

My Biz Niche is a results-oriented digital marketing agency focused on one thing: its client’s ROI. The Phoenix-based team (which comprises programmers, coders and statisticians) crafts digital marketing strategies to drive qualified traffic via its core services of web design, search marketing and social marketing.

My Biz Niche

Top-Producing Realtor: Jason Mitchell, The Jason Mitchell Group by My Home Group

Jason Mitchell, founder of The Jason Mitchell Group by My Home Group, has been ranked as Arizona’s No. 1-producing individual real estate agent in Arizona in 2018 with a sales volume of $112 million. He also holds this distinction for the past three consecutive years. Additionally, Mitchell’s team was ranked the top-producing team in the state with a collective volume of $292 million; it was recognized as the No. 1 team in Arizona by Forbes. The team’s projection for 2019: 1,500 closings nationwide for more than $500 million in production and spearheading national expansion.

Jason Mitchell, The Jason Mitchell Group

Favorite Realtor: Eric Fox, Eric Fox Estates/Keller Williams Realty, Scottsdale Sonoran Living

Eric Fox, of Eric Fox Estates/Keller Williams Realty, Scottsdale Sonoran Living, is an expert in the local area, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate here. He can not only sell your home and find your dream dwelling, but he has the tools to make your home attractive to its ideal audience.

AFM Fave! Best Florist: White House Design Studio

Located near the Biltmore area, White House Design Studio is known for providing excellence in fresh floral arrangements and home décor. For inspiration for your next event and some fun finds, visit its bright showroom with exclusive custom-designed fresh flowers, home accessories and unique gifts, luxury soft furnishings, statement pieces and more.

Fast Faves

Best Alterations/Dry Cleaning/Laundry: Prestige Cleaners,

Best Alternative Personal Driver Service: Lyft,

Best Data Centers: Level 3 Communications,

Best Moving Company: Muscular Moving Men,

Best Plumbing Company: TIE between George Brazil Plumbing, and The Sunny Plumber,

Best Private Banking: Homeowners Financial Group,

Best Private Jet Company: Jet Linx,

Best Valet: TIE between American Valet, and Epic Valet,

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