APS AAAME Graduation

APS Business Program Graduates 12th class : Fourteen small businesses gain success through AAAME

Every day, more than 6,000 employees come to work at APS. Whether we are out in the field or in an office, we have one collaborative goal – to safely provide reliable electricity across the state. It’s what our customers expect.

But we – as a company – do so much more.

We have always understood the impact we can make on Arizona communities. Our employees donate thousands of dollars to help non-profit organizations; we sponsor events that touch the lives of our customers and communities; and we have a special program within APS that helps small businesses learn what it takes to expand and succeed.

This program – the APS Academy for the Advancement of Small, Minority- and Women-owned Enterprises (AAAME) – graduated its 12th class last week at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The ceremony was hosted by Don Brandt, APS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Rena Huber,Program Manager, AAAME.

The room was filled with the principals of the 14 graduating companies, their family and friends, as well as AAAME alumni and business owners currently enrolled in the two-year mentoring program. The ambiance was a mixture of excitement and familiar comfort, similar to a family reunion rather than a formal graduation ceremony.

AAAME is a two-year mentoring program that combines business skill training with one-on-one advising. The program reinforces solid business practices, utilizing a wide variety of delivery methods such as peer-to-peer networking, resources and training in such areas as strategic planning, finance, management/operations and marketing.

For the past two years, graduates have been forced out of their comfort zone and taught to reach for the stars with AAAME guiding them in their plan to get there.

“We challenged them to implement something new, to review their current practices, and make changes and decisions that will help them reach their goals and become leaders in the business world,” said Huber. “The graduates have created a network of support that will remain. One can sense and feel their increased confidence in handling whatever challenges the business world presents to them.”

“As much as I learned from the presenters and advisors in the program, I learned just as much from my classmates,” said Roosevelt Brown, owner of Velt’s Fleet Wash & Detailing. “Two years ago I was a self-taught business man, but now I’m a business owner.”

There were a lot of tears of humbled gratitude as graduates accepted their commemmorative plaque. One common theme was expressed among them – their appreciation for the work of Huber and Sandie Jones, Community Development Representative, AAAME, in providing them with valuable skills and education to better their businesses and their lives.

Pamela Smith (pictured), owner of NUMBERSetc and class-elected speaker, summed it up best:

“Two years ago, 22 people with 14 businesses made a decision to be accountable for our own success. AAAME has been so much more than a business mentoring program; we’ve been given the tools to transform our businesses, and our lives are enriched by the friendships we have made. On behalf of everyone in Class 12, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Don, Rena and Sandie for selecting each one of us to participate in this rewarding program. It has immensely changed us all … we are shooting stars.”

In his remarks, Brandt commended AAAME graduates and extended congratulations to them on behalf of all APS employees. “We are proud of your success, and we applaud your efforts,” he said.

AAAME Class 12 graduates include:

  • Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine Center
  • ANDALE Construction, Inc.
  • Apartment Finders
  • Bruce Brown Catering
  • Cool Touch Air Conditioning & Heating
  • Envirosure Solutions, LLC
  • INNOVIA Integrated Marketing Solutions
  • Le Tutor Language School
  • NUMBERSetc
  • Smart Construction
  • theSTUDIO
  • The Urban Tea Loft
  • Urban Cookies/Ollie Cake
  • Velt’s Fleet Wash & Detailing

From l to r: Huber; Matt and Kelly McEniry, Owners of theSTUDIO; and Brandt.


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