ASU celebrates alumni business owners at annual Sun Devil 100 luncheon
“In everything you do, put others first,” said Benjamin J. Jones at the Sun Devil 100 luncheon on Monday.
That was Jones’ advice on how to become a game-changing entrepreneur.
"It’s your clients. It’s your team. Our core value is be a servant leader," said Jones, who earned a BS in dietetics in 2005 from Arizona State University and now owns a successful fitness chain. “We’ve really built our company based around that. First and foremost I think if you do that, it’s the secret of why we’ve been able to grow the way we have.”
Almost 100 ASU alumni from 83 companies were honored at the fifth anniversary of the program, which celebrates 130 years of Sun Devil executives. The event is sponsored by the ASU Alumni Association.
This year’s class was the largest yet, featuring business leaders from tech, nonprofits, corporate, international and startups. To be eligible, a company must have $250,000 in annual revenue and must be founded or led by a Sun Devil.
Started from his garage in 2014, Jones’ Fit Body Boot Camp now has several retail locations across the Valley. Affordable, convenient, 30-minute fat loss boot camps set them apart in the business. “Change lives everyday” is his motto. Their key metric? They’ve helped clients lose 30,000 pounds and have donated $100,000 to charity.
The class of 2019 includes 83 companies represented by 96 alums from 17 ASU colleges and schools, including the Thunderbird School of Global Management. This powerful lineup of Sun Devil-owned and -led organizations has $5.7 billion in total annual revenue, employs more than 14,000 people and has a presence in 11 states and Canada.
The top spot went to two alums, R. Vincent Switzer, a graduate in 2004 with a BS in supply chain management and a 2007 MBA, and J. Armando Martinez, an alum with a BS in construction management in 2005.
The pair started SeaBay Building Group LLC three years ago, growing from two employees to about 25 and operating in eight states. In addition to commercial construction, tenant improvements and property maintenance, the company provides dispute litigation.
“This is a complete surprise because I figured they would tell you,” Switzer said. “I’m glad to be here. Thank you for the recognition. I’m glad I applied.”
He told the audience about the day Martinez, a classmate and fraternity brother, contacted him and asked if he’d be interested in starting the company.
He agreed, they set up shop and were on their way.
“We decided to expand and expand,” Switzer said.
Top photo: Vince Switzer, CEO of SeaBay Building Group, talks about being the top alumni business at the fifth annual Sun Devil 100 awards luncheon on April 29. SeaBay has offices in Washington, California and Tempe. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now