‘Bright Future’ in store for Havasu, say thirty-somethings
The 30 up-and-comers featured in today’s “Bright Future” supplement are just that. They are group of Lake Havasu City residents who were carefully selected for their business acumen, volunteer contributions and their commitment to making Havasu a better place.
They are a mixed bag. Many own a business while others are employed by existing businesses. Several are in the business of teaching others how to be a nurse, a firefighter or to master algebra. All are under age 40, the prime time in one’s career to keep a shoulder to the grindstone, make one’s mark and deliver significant contributions to Havasu and American society as a whole.
This 2018 group of under-40s is the third such group featured by Today’s News-Herald for what has become an annual project for the newspaper. We circled back around to a few of the under-40s who were selected in 2016 and 2017 to see how they’re getting along and what they’re up to since last we spoke.
In 2016, Qualls was a physical therapist and manager of a physical therapy practice in Havasu. He has since struck out on his own and established Agave Physical Therapy. He leads a staff of seven. A good many of his clients are under 40. For that group, much of Agave Physical Therapy’s work is focused on preventative measures for patients.
“I definitely have learned the difference between managing for someone else and being an owner-manager for my business,” Qualls said. “It’s a whole lot more rewarding when doing it your own way.”
Networking has been fruitful for Qualls, 35. He said the Chamber of Commerce has opened a lot of doors for him with other businesses and medical providers in Havasu. He serves the Chamber as a member of its board of directors.
He’s happy about a trend he has observed in Havasu.
“The community is doing a lot more to support its schools, which is great. There’s more team pride and more hometown pride,” he said.
Featured in 2017’s Under 40 project, much has changed for Jessica Reed, 37. While she’s still involved with Starline Elementary’s PTA, she stepped down after serving as its president. She helped raise in excess of $30,000 last year for the school. She also continues to work with clients through her business, Kinetic Marketing 4 Social Media.
But her new full time gig is chief of public relations for Milemarkers Therapy.
“I handle fundraising, social media and work to bring in bigger and better programs for Havasu’s special needs kids,” she said.
A turning point for her was graduating from a leadership class offered through the Chamber of Commerce.
“I learned so much about business know-how. It has really helped me. I did a lot of networking in the class. There were 26 of us. And now, I’m co-chairing this year’s leadership class. It’s such a great thing to be involved with. I love Havasu,” Reed said.
As for trends she’s spotted in Havasu, she said there’s much less negativity.
“I don’t hear ‘I can’t wait to get out of Havasu’ anymore. What I hear a lot of is ‘How can we make our community better?’ Everyone I know is saying that,” she said.
An improved economy the last couple of years has boosted business for AZ Wholesale Water and Ice, according to co-owner Clay Connelly, 36. He was featured in 2016’s Under 40 project.
“Business has been good this year. We’ve seen a surge in water service in homes,” Connelly said, adding that he and his four employees deliver to customers from Quartzsite to Bullhead City and all points in between. His large customer base facilitates a great many networking opportunities.
When the subject of Havasu came up, he was optimistic. “As you know, the town itself has seen a good growth spurt. What I’ve noticed in the last three years, though, is that a younger crowd is getting involved in the community,” he said, citing Only Orchids as an example.
“It’s a group of young professionals giving back to the community,” Connelly said. “They do a lot of good work.”
Managing Printing Plus has occupied much of Heather Courneya’s time the past seven years. But now, her days are a little more intense. She’s in training to take over the family business from her mother, Michelle Pounders.
“Business is good,” Courneya reported. “And we’re even more busy right now because we’re remodeling. We had a flood, so it worked out to be a good time to make the changes.”
When she’s not serving customers at the printing company, she devotes her time to charity. Courneya, 31, heads up Denise’s Day and Strides for Hope. The events raise money to help families fighting cancer with their expenses.
“We give away anywhere from $250 to $2,000, depending on what a family needs,” she said. For 2018, the charity is on track to raise even more than the $28,750 it distributed in 2017.
“We’ve given away $28,500 so far this year, and I’m sure we’ll do more. Strides for Hope is coming up on Oct. 13, and we’ll raise more money then,” Courneya said.
An ongoing trend she’s observed in Havasu is its generosity to those in need.
“And now, with the economy even better, the community is even more generous,” she said.