Six recipients of the 2015 American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (AICCAz) Business Awards were honored at the Hilton East Mesa on Friday, December 11. Recipients (L-R): Arizona Public Service, APN Staffing and Employment Solutions, Salt River Project (2 plaques), Pima Awards and Promotional Products, Inc., and Salt River Materials Group. (Not pictured, UNITY).
Six Award Recipients Build Positive Image and Positive Impact in Indian Country
By Sheila Begay
Au-Authm Action News

On Friday, December 11, six recipients of the 2015 American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (AICCAz) Business Awards were honored at the Hilton East Mesa. Among the recipients were Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s tribal enterprise Salt River Materials Group (SRMG) and a small business, Pima Awards and Promotional Products Inc., owned by Community member Anna Lee.

AICCAz planned an eventful eighth annual awards luncheon for the recipients and their friends and family. Along with the awards luncheon were a silent auction and a toy drive to benefit Saint Michaels Association for Special Education Inc. Entertainment was provided by Shaylin Shabi (Diné), 2012-13 Miss Native American USA, and the event was emceed by AICCAz President Loren Tapahe.

The six recipients of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona Business Awards were:

Tribal Enterprise of the Year: Salt River Materials Group

American Indian Business of the Year: Pima Awards, owned by SRPMIC Community member Anna Lee

Corporate Partner of the Year: Arizona Public Service

Business Member of the Year–Non-Tribal: APN Staffing & Employment Solutions

Non-Profit Organization of the Year: UNITY

Diversity Program of the Year: Salt River Project

The Phoenix Cement Company and Salt River Sand and Rock (Salt River Materials Group) was purchased by the SRPMIC in 1987 and since then has thrived into the successful business that it is today. SRMG is one of the largest aggregate producers in the greater Southwest region and in the United States. It employs 310 people at its three locations in New Mexico, Arizona and California. According to its website, “SRPMIC has invested over $22 million in capital improvements for the cement and fly ash operations.”

“Our product is extended into the seven western states, and more than likely you’ve used our product. If you’ve been to Chase Field, to the Cardinals Stadium, if you’ve traveled any of the freeways in the Valley, you’ve used our product. We’re just finishing up the 101 Pima Freeway in Scottsdale, and our next big project is the South Mountain Freeway, which will be coming up in about a year from now,” said Roger Smith, president and CEO of Salt River Materials Group.

“I want to thank the [AICCAz] for the recognition of a very successful business and enterprise of the [SRPMIC],” said SRPMIC President Delbert Ray, Sr., upon accepting the award on behalf of SRMG. Ray is also chairman of the SRMG board of directors. “I can’t say enough about the quality work of the employees and the leadership that we have at SRMG. I remember when I first [was elected] I heard about all the things that were done [at SRMG], including during the 2007-08 economic crash. Sacrifices were made by our staff and employees, and with adjustments, the industry picked up. I really give a lot of credit to Mr. [Roger] Smith and the leadership at SRMG. I’m very proud to be here today and represent our Community and the enterprise. Thank you again, AICCAz.”

Board member Margaret Rodriguez, who also accepted the award on behalf of SRMG, stated, “I’ve been on the board for many years now, and it’s been an opportunity to get to meet and know the employees and the business itself. I too admire and give a lot of credit to Roger Smith and the management group at SRMG. They’ve done such a wonderful job through all the trials that we’ve gone through, and it’s just been an honor for me to serve on the board.”

“It was an honor that we were [named] 2015 Tribal Enterprise of the Year by AICCAz. This is a prestigious award,” said Smith, accepting the award for Tribal Enterprise of the Year. “It speaks well of our employees and the employee base that we have in several locations. We have the mindset and the work ethic that is the resounding voice in terms of how we operate our business. We do this in conjunction with the Community, as one of the Community’s enterprises. I would like to accept the award on their behalf; it’s [they who] make the good effort to get us the results that we do have.

“I think it helps us to elevate the expectation—not only for us, but from a Community member’s standpoint—it speaks loud and clear of where Salt River is in terms of business and as well as making sure we’re accountable for what we do. I think that’s the main thing we want to emphasize, as well as a reflection of the Community as well. The Community is why we do what we do,” added Smith.

Pima Awards and Promotional Products Inc., owned by Community member Anna Lee, was officially established in 1994. But the business gained momentum straight from her home garage. Becoming an entrepreneur was only a dream, but this dream eventually grew into reality for the Lee family. The business has expanded from just Anna herself to now consisting of eight employees, and it operates out of a storefront in Glendale.

Pima Awards specializes in advertising and promotional products such as engraved plaques, trophies, name badges, signs, acrylics, glassware, marble pieces, embroidered apparel and imprinted pens.

For its good business practices, Pima Awards received the American Indian Business of the Year award.

“This is an honor to be recognized by [AICCAz.],” said Lee. “I created a legacy almost 23 years ago, which wasn’t the plan. When I started out, I didn’t have a real plan with what I wanted to do; for example, a business plan. But I did know that I was pursuing the American dream. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to be self-sufficient. I wanted to have impact in the Community. I wanted to be legitimate, and I wanted to be able to support myself and my family. It took a while to get to that point; it’s hard to start a business. It’s been quite a journey.”

“It means very much to me and Pima Awards & Promotional Products, Inc. to be recognized for the American Indian Small Business of the Year. I am proud to be an example of a successful native business legacy for my Community, Salt River who is also an example of a Community that supports those who choose the path of entrepreneurship. I am, and will always be thankful and blessed for the opportunity to work towards self-sufficiency and to pursue the American Dream,” said Lee in an email.

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