You voted for more than 4,000 nominees in nearly 400 categories (equaling 1.5 million-plus views at AZFoothills.com). Now, it is time to get to know your Best of Our Valley 2014 winners. From your favorite restaurants and resorts to your choice schools and shops, Arizona Foothills Magazine presents Best of Our Valley 2014.
From data centers to dry cleaners, take a look at where locals like to turn when they need a pro to get the job done. Here are your picks for the best Companies & Professionals.
Ben Allen, Mary Collum, Paula Wichterman and Deborah Bateman of National Bank of Arizona.
BEST PRIVATE BANKING – NATIONAL BANK OF ARIZONA
Founded in Tucson in 1984, National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ) now operates more than 70 branches in 50-plus communities. It is a full-service community bank offering unique business and personal financial solutions that help customers manage and grow their bottom line. NB|AZ has more than $4.5 billion in assets. www.nbarizona.com.
Ian McClarty, president of Phoenix NAP.
BEST DATA CENTER – PHOENIX NAP
Whether it’s high-density colocation, flexible storage, physical servers or cloud services, Phoenix NAP’s facilities and certified NOC technicians supply solutions to suit your IT needs. Phoenix NAP is a full-service data center and primary network access point (NAP) that offers the aforementioned services in addition to Infrastructure-as- a-Service (IaaS) technology and more. www.phoenixnap.com.
MOST PHILANTHROPIC COMPANY – GODADDY
GoDaddy believes that its responsibility is to make a difference in the communities in which it operates. As part of that philosophy, GoDaddy contributes to nonprofits that are meaningful to its business, customers, employees and community. Over the years, GoDaddy has worked with the likes of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Arizona Science Center, Boys and Girls Clubs and many more. In addition to its long list of philanthropic endeavors, GoDaddy also announced the arrival of Blake Irving, the company’s new CEO and board director, in 2013. www.godaddy.com.
BEST CATERING – BENEDICT’S CATERING & EVENTS
From boxed business-meeting lunches to wedding-reception buffets, Benedict’s has been providing the top catering services in the Valley for 10 years. On the menu, expect a wide variety of delicious and beautifully presented eats—starting with decadent challah French toast for breakfast and ending with hand-crafted Belgian chocolate truffles for dessert. www.benedictscaterers.com.
STAFF SHOUT-OUT: CHRISTOPHER’S RESTAURANT
One of the best chefs in the Valley, Christopher Gross of Christopher’s Restaurant in Phoenix has crafted several existing menus for catered affairs—or guests can create their own lineup from the restaurant menu based on their palate and budget. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the truffled frites. www.christophersaz.com.
BEST CEO – DONALD E. BRANDT, PINNACLE WEST
Capital Donald E. Brandt is chairman of the board, president and CEO of Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service. Before being elected to the board of directors and promoted to chairman, Brandt held several leadership positions with the company. In 2013, he added “president” to his title. He joined Pinnacle West in 2002. www.pinnaclewest.com.
BEST ESTATE PLANNING AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION LAW FIRM – THE FRUTKIN LAW FIRM, PLC
The Frutkin Law Firm, PLC was founded in 2007 by attorney Jonathan Frutkin with the goal of providing exceptional legal representation to clients throughout Arizona in business and corporate law and related areas, ranging from taxation and asset protection to estate planning. The North Scottsdale-based firm helps businesses, individuals and families with their corporate and business law, bankruptcy, taxation, asset protection, wills, trusts and estates, and litigation needs. www.frutkinlaw.com.
BEST ADVERTISING AGENCY: BOUTIQUE – AVENUE 25 ADVERTISING & DESIGN
Avenue 25 is a boutique full-service agency that has been serving local, national and international clients for more than 22 years. A one-stop shop, the Phoenix-based studio is equally as strong at graphic design, branding and in-house Web development as it is at SEO and online marketing. www.ave25.com.
BEST AUCTIONEER – LETITIA FRYE
A passionate “auctiontainer,” Letitia Frye of Letitia Frye, LLC uses her background in entertainment and marketing expertise to delight and educate audiences with infectious performances while also fundraising for nonprofits. Frye founded her company in 2002. www.letitiafrye.com.
BEST EVENT DESIGN & DECORATIONS – EVENT SERVICES OF AMERICA
Scottsdale-based Event Services of America is the Valley’s full-service event company. Blending the best creative and planning forces in Arizona (and Seattle, where there is an additional Event Services of America office), the company provides the expertise for your next event, meeting or party. Free consultations are available. www.eventservicesofamerica.com.
BEST FAMILY LAW – CHRISTOPHER S. HILDEBRAND
The team at Hildebrand Law, PC, now located in Scottsdale, is emotionally connected and passionate when providing representation. Christopher S. Hildebrand has 20 years of experience in divorce and family law, from cases of child support to alimony. Hildebrand is now practicing estate planning and probate. www.hildebrandlaw.com.
BEST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW FIRM – JABURG & WILK, PC
The partners at Jaburg & Wilk, PC average more than 20 years of experience in providing top-notch legal work and superior client service. In addition to property law, the Phoenix-based firm specializes in defamation, foreclosure, healthcare, escrow, bankruptcy and various other areas of law. www.jaburgwilk.com.
BEST ADVERTISING AGENCY: 10 OR MORE EMPLOYEES, BEST GRAPHIC DESIGN, BEST PUBLIC RELATIONS OR MARKETING FIRM: 10 OR MORE EMPLOYEES, BEST SOCIAL NETWORKING AND ONLINE MEDIA FIRM AND BEST WEB DESIGN, PROGRAMMING OR MANAGEMENT FIRM – ZION & ZION
Zion & Zion, a Tempe-based full-service marketing and advertising agency, recently moved into a sleek new 14,000-sq.-ft. office space that has a Digital Café Theatre, room wizards, interactive touch screens and much more cutting-edge technology that allows them to provide top-notch services to their clients. Among Zion & Zion’s long list of past and present clients is Sotheby’s International Realty, notMYkid, The Farm at South Mountain and Barro’s Pizza. www.zionandzion.com.
BEST ALTERATIONS/DRY CLEANING/LAUNDRY – FIFTH AVENUE ALTERATIONS
Did the hem of your favorite slacks come loose? Perhaps your daughter is experiencing a prom-dress disaster? Locals turn to Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue Alterations, which opened in 1998, to fix their frocks— not matter how big or small their alternation needs may be. 480.970.3994.
STAFF SHOUT-OUT: PRESTIGE CLEANERS
Known as the “Greener Cleaner,” Prestige Cleaners has been a favorite in Scottsdale for dry cleaning, tailoring and more since the 1960’s. There are eight Valley locations. www.prestigecleaners.com.
BEST BANKRUPTCY LAW FIRM – GALLAGHER & KENNEDY
Founded in 1978, Gallagher & Kennedy, today, is the sixth largest law firm in Arizona. With the goal of helping clients overcome obstacles, the highly successful firm has been acknowledged with multiple awards thanks to its quality work in helping clients when faced with economic turmoil, as well as in cases of environmental law, criminal law, personal injury and wrongful death and more. www.gknet.com.
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: COMMERCIAL AND BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: EVENTS – JAY HAGUE, ELITE PHOTO PHOENIX
Elite Photo was born in 1997 in Orange County; it was renamed Elite Photo Phoenix in 2007 after owner Jay Hague moved from California to the Valley. Hauge is known for his top-notch and far-reaching portfolio of advertising, event and lifestyle photography. www.elitephotophx.com.
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: FAMILY & PORTRAITS – STELLA CROWL, STYLE IMAGE STUDIOS
From family photos to high-fashion runways, Stella Crowl’s goal is to make her clients fall in love with every image captured and to showcase their beauty from the inside out. Crowl, of Style Image Studios, has been in business for six years. Though she is well-known for her work photographing families and pageants, she says fashion work is her specialty. www.mystyleimagestudios.com.
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: FASHION & BEAUTY – CHRISTOS SEWELL, CHRISTOS SEWELL PHOTOGRAPHY
Christos Sewell, of Christos Sewell Photography, counts bebe, Joy Li, Zales Diamonds and Oakley among his past clients. Sewell specializes in model portfolio development, lookbooks, commercial fashion and editorial stories. Though he has a studio in Old Town, he works throughout the West, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and New Mexico and plans to expand to New York City, Chicago and Miami this year. www.imagebychristos.com.
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: REAL ESTATE & INTERIORS – DAN RAUSTADT, BIGGER PICTURE IMAGES
Dan Raustadt, of Bigger Picture Images, is an international award-winning lifestyle photographer with a special interest in real estate and interiors. Raustadt has photographed for many luxury home builders and architects and recently delved into the hospitality and travel industry. www.biggerpictureimages.com.
BEST PUBLIC RELATIONS OR MARKETING FIRM: BOUTIQUE – PITCH PUBLIC RELATIONS
Founded by CEO and president Ann Noder (who has been featured in Yahoo, Businessweek, Enterpreneur and Small Business Opportunities Magazine for her expertise), Pitch PR has a team of savvy PR professionals who deliver stellar results for clients’ top-tier national press. Pitch PR works with big-name brands as well as small start-ups. www.pitchpublicrelations.com.
BEST TATTOO ARTIST – JASON ANTHONY, GOLDEN RULE TATTOO
By simply skimming Jason Anthony’s portfolio, it is abundantly clear what makes him a top tattoo artist. From the variety of his work (from a friendly narwhal to stunning likelike portraits) to his beautiful use of color, this artist and owner of Phoenix’s Golden Rule Tattoo stands out from the inked-up pack. www.goldenruletattoo.com.
BEST FLORIST – WHITE HOUSE DESIGN STUDIO
White House Design Studio was founded in 1995 in Old Town Scottsdale and has grown to become the florist and design studio to top Valley executives, politicians, sports figures and more. As of 2012, White House added a gift shop at the UNION in Biltmore Fashion Park. There, customers enjoy flower bouquets, unique gifts, greeting cards, home furnishings and seasonal accessories. www.whitehouseflowers.com.
BEST INVESTMENT FIRM – STRATEGIC WEALTH ADVISORS, LLC
Strategic Wealth Advisors is a family-owned business founded in 1999 and provides a coordinated approach to wealth management. The knowledgeable team at the Scottsdale-based firm creates a financial plan that will provide stability and security for many years to come. Personalized service and attention to detail sets the firm apart from competition. www.xpertadvice.com.
BEST NATIONAL VALLEY-BASED COMPANY – TASER INTERNATIONAL
With five employees, Taser International was founded in 1993 in the Scottsdale Airpark; the company now staffs more than 380 and has offices in Santa Barbara, Seattle and Paris. Taser International uses technology to protect life and improve public safety with its first core product called a conducted electrical weapon known worldwide in 107 countries as a TASER weapon. www.taserbranding.com.
BEST RECORD STORE WINNERS – TIE: ZIA RECORDS AND STINKWEEDS
For those who prefer CD’s and vinyl over anything that comes out of an iPod, locals turn to Zia Records and Stinkweeds for their music needs. (The shops also stock movies, magazines, memorabilia and more.) Stinkweeds, located in Phoenix, has been a local legend for 19 years while Zia Records has four Valley outposts and even sells tickets for various local rock concerts. www.ziarecords.com; www.stinkweeds.com.
2013 BEST JOB SEARCH WEB SITE WINNER – RECRUITING.COM (FORMERLY JOBING.COM)
Founded in 2000, Recruiting.com was one of the Internet’s first local job boards to help countless Arizonans (and beyond) get coupled with their dream job. The site, which is headquartered in the Valley at SkySong, helps potential employees search local jobs, find local employers, connect with local people and discover job resources.
BEST MODELING AGENCY – JANI MODEL MANAGEMENT
JANI Model Management was founded in 2011 in Scottsdale by photographer and graphic designer, Maral Jorjani.
The firm currently represents more than 65 models and its mission is to recruit, develop and represent top male and female talent with a poised, professional presence. www.jani modeling.com.
BEST REAL ESTATE LAW FIRM – JENNINGS, STROUSS & SALMON, PLC
Founded in 1942, Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC has grown over the past 70- plus years to include locations in Phoenix, Peoria, Yuma and Washington, D.C. The attorneys at this dynamic law firm are expe- rienced in handling complex and innovative real estate transactions and litigation. The firm represents clients in every segment of the real estate industry. www.jsslaw.com.
BEST REALTOR IN THE VALLEY, BEST REALTOR: PARADISE VALLEY AND BEST REALTOR: PHOENIX – DINESH WILSON
Thanks to his market knowledge, impressive negotiating skills and outstanding personal service, Dinesh Wilson has earned his spot as one of the most respected Valley realtors. Wilson works with the most distinguished clientele (including doctors, attorneys and CEO’s) with purchases and sales within the Valley’s luxury home markets. Wilson is an agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. www.dineshwilson.com.
BEST REALTOR: AHWATUKEE – BONNY HOLLAND
Since becoming a licensed real estate agent in 1995, Bonny Holland put her love of the Ahwatukee Foothills area to work. In addition to selling custom lots and re-sale homes, Holland is instrumental in the sale and marketing of top Ahwatukee communities for builders and developers. Holland is the team leader of Leading Luxury Home Experts. www.leadingluxuryexperts.com.
BEST REALTOR: CHANDLER – AMY JONES
Since relocating to the Valley from Wisconsin in 2001, Amy Jones has been a realtor—most recently the team leader of the Amy Jones Group of RE/MAX Infinity in Chandler. Her team has been recognized as one of the top five RE/MAX teams in Arizona and one of the top 50 RE/MAX Teams in the nation. www.amyjonesgroup.com.
BEST REALTOR: SCOTTSDALE – VIRGINIA GEE
Virginia Gee is an Arizona native who has represented clients in residential real estate in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley for 20-plus years. Gee joined Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the early 1990’s and has since been dedicated to working closely with her buyers and sellers to ensure they are aware of current, critical real estate market data. www.virginiagee.com.
BEST REALTOR: TEMPE – THOMAS TOKOPH
Thomas Tokoph’s specialty is city lifestyle, which is synonymous with Downtown Tempe real estate. As the designated broker for Urban Realty, he’s been relocating clients from suburbia since 1999. www.lifeisintheheartofthecity.com.
BEST REALTOR: GLENDALE – NATE MARTINEZ
For nearly 30 years, Nate Martinez has been selling real estate in the Valley and stands out for his professional marketing plans. He is the co-owner of RE/MAX Professionals, which was founded in 2001 and has seven local locations. www.nateshomes.com.
Story by Melissa Larsen