Linda Brimhall: Movers & Shapers

M&S Linda Brimhall TEASER

From beekeeper’s daughter to entrepreneur

TAYLOR — Linda Lee Brimhall’s family moved from the Valley to Taylor in 1977. This was Linda’s senior year of high school. She was a shy girl, but not so shy she didn’t find her a high school sweetheart.

Brian Wenn Brimhall was that sweetheart.

Linda planned to go off to college, but Brian was not sure what direction in life he wanted to take.

“If he had said, ‘I love you,’ I would have stayed,” Linda said.

Linda and Brian went their separate ways and began building their lives and careers. Both married twice, and Linda had two children and Brian four.

Wondering about old friends, both joined They reconnected when Brian wrote to Linda to see if she was coming to their 30-year class reunion in 2007. Linda lived in Utah and Brian in Snowflake.

Linda did come back for the reunion, and that spark which had ignited in 1977 between them seemed to still be smoldering.

Unhappy with her life in Utah, Linda returned there and made some major life changes. Then the emails began. Then, with family in Taylor who lived on 40 acres and Linda needing a property to put her Missouri fox trotter horses on, Taylor ended up moving there in 2009, and the courting began.

On March 27, 2010, Brian and Linda became Mr. and Mrs. Brian Wenn Brimhall.

The time of leading different lives between 1977 and 2007 didn’t seem to matter to them. They had “now.”

“We had to grow into who we were,” Linda said.

Brian had been the face of AZ Digital Dish in Taylor for years, handling both the residential and commercial side of business. The company was making changes and the residential side went with corporate, and Brian was left with the commercial side. With these changes having taken place, Brian took a job with Navajo County as a security guard, and Linda went to work for Farr Plumbing.

Everything was serendipitous.

The dream and reality of two soulmates finding one another again, and then getting married, seemed like a “happily ever after” fairy tale.

In February 2013 the fairy tale took a turn. Brian came down with pneumonia, followed by a series of gall bladder attacks. He had surgery in April but did not improve. In May he was diagnosed with cancer. When he returned to the see the doctor in July, he was too weak for treatment and was hospitalized. He died a week later. The day after his death, the tests revealed he had bile duct cancer.

Though Brian died on July 11, 2013, that is not the end of their story.

The job Brian had taken with Navajo County provided him with insurance, a real blessing. The job Linda took with Farr Plumbing allowed her to take time off to be with her husband and then to have a means of taking care of herself after his death.

The commercial side of AZ Digital was still operating while Brian was ill and is now run by his family.

Linda, in an effort to work through her grief, kept looking for a way to keep Brian’s entrepreneurial spirit alive.

“He was always looking for that next best thing,” Brimhall said.

When she was almost ready to throw in the towel from not being able to find that “next best thing,” she got a call from LocaLoop Inc. When the man told her LocaLoop was a 4G broadband internet service with no bundles, no contracts and no internet data limits,” Linda knew this was that “next best thing” and SynKroMax was born.

Having had somewhat of a communications background herself in troubleshooting and repair with Pacific and Mountain Bell, Brimhall understood what contracting with this company meant for rural Arizona.

“The concepts are similar,” Brimhall said.

With the help of Mel Larson, system analyst and technician for SynKroMax and AZ Digital Dish, Brimhall moved forward with the opening of SynKroMax. She resigned from Farr in October 2015 and put all of her efforts into this new company.

Larson and Brian worked together for years with AZ Dish, and Linda says that Larson is the brains behind her operation.

“I feel like (Brian) is backing me from the other side,” Brimhall said.

“When I wondered ‘where will I get the dollars to do this,’ it just works out. There are always little blessings along the way. I have sold silver and gold to make ends meet. I have used life insurance monies. It is risky. It is an expensive investment, but the timing is right. I have gone so far to make it happen, I cannot quit now.”

Working with Larson, they have been able to erect two towers. They are now working towards a third. Brimhall is seeking out grants and looking for ways to satisfy the need for service east of Snowflake.

LocaLoop is out of Minnesota, and as part of the service agreement, they came to the Snowflake-Taylor area in March to help get the first customers hooked up.

“It is like a turnkey solution,” Brimhall said. “It is part of what we purchase from them. They get a percentage from us, and they offer the product, and they allow it to be our own business. All over the country they are doing this in rural communities who are lacking. The federal government wants the internet and a computer in every home by 2020. It may not be fiber, but if we have the technology 4G, 5G is just around the corner.

“Brian always said this is where technology is headed. We should have redundancy within the next couple of months. I am just waiting for the house to sell or to get a grant.

“I can’t not do this,” Brimhall added. “This is needed in our community. It is another option for the future. So many things run off of the internet today, our cell phones and computers. What is out there in the future is broadband, not Ethernet cables.”

Brimhall is well on her way. Now that she is up and running, has an office at 34 Casa Linda Drive in Taylor, has joined the chamber of commerce and is focusing on grants, expansion is her goal. One of the grants she is hoping for would enable her to get service into the Concho community and east of Snowflake.

Even with building a new business, Brimhall knows the value of a personal life. She has grandchildren, and even if it is a quick trip to California, or the Valley, she makes the time.

“My family is still first,” Brimhall boasted.

Linda’s parents were beekeepers, and while at Snowflake High School, she was known as “the beekeeper’s daughter.” Today, living at home right now with her mom, she is “keeping herself.”

The once shy high school girl has found her own voice after reuniting with the love of her life and keeping alive his dream.

“The business has caused me to come out of my shell,” Brimhall said.

Moving forward with determination, Brimhall, who has always been afraid of heights, decided to overcome that fear. She took herself to a ledge on a mountain top, got as close as she could to the edge and meditated until the fear subsided. Then she felt she had let the fear go. She’s proud of herself and she said the experience was exhilarating.

“I felt more empowered after that,” Brimhall said.

Though she probably won’t climb any of the SynKroMax towers, Linda would like to add flying in a biplane to her bucket list. She also loves to hike and loves to paint landscapes. She loves to ride her horses. She has three of them. Though she never did like the competing end of horsemanship, her idea of Heaven on earth is just going out in the mountains and enjoying the scenery on a horse.

Brimhall does have one more important thing on her list with regard to her business.

“I hope to get to a point where I can do service things for the community. I want to help people that need help. I don’t just want to take dollars in and sit on it. I want to give back,” Brimhall said.

Though it has been over two years since her husband died, Brimhall has discovered that true love transcends time and space and can be kept alive even through the fulfilment of another’s dream.

J.K. Rowling said, “Love as powerful as your mother’s love for you leaves its own mark … to have been loved so deeply … will give us some protection forever.”

Dana Heck, Red Door Consigments – Movers & Shapers

IMG_0314As an Army brat, Dana Rock Heck knows how to “adapt and overcome.”

LAKESIDE – Dana Rodd Heck is the main “smile” behind the actual red door at Red Door Consignment Store in Lakeside, a business that was truly serendipitously inspired.

Heck literally blazed many trails before winding up in Lakeside.

The daughter of an Army intelligence office and an Army nurse, Heck was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Her parents had met overseas during World War II and married in Australia.

Heck was not able to call any place home until she was 10 years old when the family settled in Cortez, Colorado.

With her father still in the service, and her brothers who were older, gone, one in Viet Nam where her father was, life for Dana from age 10 on was like being an only child.

“I had a wonderful childhood,” said Heck. “I had my mother all to myself. She was the most Godly woman I have ever known. She had worked in a MASH Unit, like on TV, and saw horrible things, bayonet wounds and more.”

At 16, Heck worked after school at Sonic as a car hop. That is also an important age to remember for her because that is how old she was when she met the love of her life, Rick Heck. Rick was 9 months younger than her, but it was love at first sight, and they met at church.

That may be one of the earliest recollections of a “cougar,” before it was called that.

“He could not even drive,” said Heck.

Obviously, that did not matter to her. They have been together 41 years and married 36 of those.

Dana went to school at Fort Lewis College in Durango, majoring in business, and Rick got a Masters Degree, according to Dana, in the school of hard knocks, growing up in the family garage building hot rods.

Dana never really aspired to be anything but a wife and mother, and she did that. She and Rick have three grown birth children, two living in the White Mountains, one in Cortez, and a foster daughter who lives in Cottonwood. They have six grandchildren and are soon to be great grandparents.

Heck said they never really had a plan.

“We just throw things at the wall and whatever sticks,” said Heck.

Dana was sick of cold weather and in 1986, they moved to Page, Arizona, by Lake Powell. She says it is about 10 degrees warmer than here. Prior to that move, she and Rick drove all over Arizona looking for their new home, but had not found it. A family reunion had been planned for Page just a few weeks later in September, and it was obviously “what stuck” because they picked up and moved there in December. Rick opened an off road shop and also worked part time at the power plant. Dana got her radiology license and went to work for a dentist.

Wanderlust settled in and wanting to be near family, they decided to move to Cottonwood. They nested there for a while and then Rick, who was wholesaling cars, was invited to be a GM at dealership in Show Low in 2001. Kicking and screaming, but on the road again, the Hecks wound up in Show Low.

Needing a place to work on cars, Rick bought property on Porter Mountain Road in Lakeside and built a facility. When the property next to it became available, he bought it and started building what was supposed to be a machine shop, but before it was finished the people had backed out.

It was time once again to throw something on the wall and see if it would stick – the Heck Plan, if you will.

Dana’s friend and tack lady, Mickey Oliver, had stopped by the shop and was telling her the Springerville Antique Mall was closing. There it was, they looked at each other, took out paper and pencil and started drawing the layout of what was to be the next “recession proof” business and tenant for the machine shop building. They had ever space rented within a week and people started coming in. Talk about serendipity. Prior to this venture, Dana had never even been in a consignment store in her life.

Rick had also rented out space on to a cabinet shop and a sign shop, but in 2007 they both“tanked.” When they could not find renters, Rick told Dana, “You are expanding.”

Expand she did, and it also “stuck.”

Another expansion idea was the little restaurant she opened inside the consignment shop, a hard business to sustain in any economy. Though it was the “talk of the town,” and had wonderful food, after nine months, the former business major knew it was time to close it. That was a disappointment.

There are about eight key ladies who have helped Heck make the consignment store a success. Nearly every one of them has been with her since the start, especially Mickey who helped her birth the idea.

“These ladies were gifts from God,” said Heck.

Today Heck has over 1500 vendors and consignors.

Heck loves what she does. She loves people, making friends, and just coming to work every day.

Heck’s husband is into racing and probably will always have something to do with cars, and though Dana is not into racing herself, she loves to go “Jeeping.” She also loves to go shooting. She is even NRA Certified. She also loves gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.

If she could go somewhere, a bucket list item maybe, she would go to Egypt, if it were safe. She has always been fascinated with its culture.

With the red, white and blue running through her veins, her parents, who have passed on, would be very proud of Dana today. She has become, her words, “a conservative activist,” for quite some time, hosting political meetings at her consignment shop, and making her voice heard, even if only by her actions. In high school, she always favored current events, and still does.

Several times she has been approached to run for council, but always refused. She would always tell those who asked her to run, “You need a Pit Bull, and I’m a pussycat.”

Like Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a changin’.”

Recently, when asked to run for town council, she told the people, “if you can’t find anyone else, I will do it.” Her name was throw in the hat for the Pinetop-Lakeside Town Council, and she got the job.

Heck said she recalls a comment made by AZ Representative Brenda Barton that has stuck with her and made her say she would run. Barton words were, “Challenge begins with the grass roots.”

“I plan to help make things better for our little community,” said Heck. She has been sworn in and is getting up to speed on her duties. She is now reading the book put out by the League of Cities and Towns for her new job.

Once again, the Heck Plan of throwing something on the wall and seeing if it sticks, has proven to be the plan that works for the Hecks.

Dana Heck is a “Mover & Shaper.”

Sandy Morgan, Owner Perfect Paws – Movers & Shapers


SHOW LOW — Sandy Morgan is the owner of Perfect Paws on the Cooley-Deuce split in Show Low. You may or may not see her if you go into the pet store, but she is there, usually grooming dogs in the back.

“People say, we come in and you are never there,” said Morgan, “but I am always here.”

Such is the life of a successful, hardworking small business owner. As a small business person, Morgan is totally responsible for her business and the employees and all of the overhead. She has to generate her income. She is, therefore, always working, or networking, giving back to the community, taking care of her family, and on rare occasion, steeling a few moments of to actually do something for herself.

Morgan grew up in Westchester, California, a secluded neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles. Her mom was a secretary and her dad a Los Angeles police officer who was injured on the job. Her parents divorced when she was five, but her single mom served as a role model for perseverance and hard work. Her mom worked as a secretary for TRW but had ambitions. Though it took her 13 years, her mom went back to school and earned her master’s degree, and a PhD in Education, no small feat.

After high school, Morgan went to junior college and then worked as a secretary herself.

Later in her married life, she opened her first pet store at age 27 in Sherman Oaks and then a second one in Northridge.

The seed for the pet store most likely germinated from her grandparents in Pasadena who owned a pet store in the 50s, which was more like a feed store with pets and they did have pets, Poodles, the rage in those days.

Though business was good in California, Morgan had two kids in pre-school, ages 4 and 6. The school was right across the street from the high school, and the joke was the pre-school had private security. Secret service were always there because President Reagan’s grandchildren went there.

Even with the security, Morgan did not like what she began to see at the high school on that street, and the family began entertaining thoughts of exiting California to raise their children.

Morgan sold her pet stores, and she and her husband at the time, Michael Keele, moved the family to the White Mountains where Sandy’s dad and step mom lived.

Her husband obtained the Roto-Rooter franchise for this area, but she soon saw they needed more money to live on. Sandy immediately saw she needed to generate her own income She went to work in sales for Hugh Williams at KVSL. Later she moved on to work for Dave Robbins at KRFM , where she became sales manager. Her left there to go to work in Springerville for Ted Barbone with KQAZ and KRVZ radio part time. She also took a part time job with the newspaper there.

Working the two part time jobs allowed Morgan to get back on the path towards owing a pet store again. That was 1995. She made time for grooming at K&R Feeds, which was at that time next door to her present location.

When the building next to K&R became available, Sandy started the process of searching for a small business loan to purchase the building to open Perfect Paws. Though the deal took so long it almost fell through, she persevered and finally got the funding. That was 1997.

Though it looks so easy when you walk in the store today, and see all of her merchandise and all of the live pets, the customers looking around and at the register, the journey Sandy Morgan has made to present day success has not been without obstacles.

Divorced when she started the business, and a single Mom building the business, Sandy was surprised with a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2002. With no cancer center at the time, she had to go to the Valley for surgery and radiation treatment, taking her away from her business and her children who were 15 and 17 at the time.

She would head to the Valley and stay with friends on Monday, receive her treatments all week, and return home on Friday to handle everything else. She had an employee who helped with her kids and other things, an ex-husband close by who also helped with the kids, but she had to face her treatments alone, but in stride.

“I didn’t have any problems. I had the surgery and then the radiation was easy. I didn’t have to have chemo. The radiation took about an hour each day and, really, I did well. You could say I was the poster child for radiation.”

She is cancer free today and does have regular mammograms.

One day Sandy was listening to the radio and heard Main Street Director Sharon Adams talking about Main Street. As soon as the show was over, she gave Sharon a call and volunteered to be a part of the Main Street efforts since her business was on Main Street. That was many years ago and she is still on that board. In fact, she is President of the Fourth of July Rodeo and under her leadership it has grown from one day to two sanctioned event and attracts 3,000 people.

Working with Main Street helped the community, and helped Sandy as she continued to build her small business.

Not long after her radiation treatment ended, Sandy met her husband Tom Morgan. That relationship led to marriage and the two have been working hard to build their future towards retirement and make a difference in the community.

Tom is the Arena Manager for the Rodeo and for work, like many White Mountain couples, he has had to work out of state, as he is currently. They make it work, talk to each other every day and he comes home as often as he can.

When 2008’s economic downturn touched the nation, Perfect Paws was hit too. She cut employees, tightened her belt every way that could and just worked harder while waiting for the storm to pass.

Before it passed though, Sandy had a heart attack. That was 2010 or 12, she doesn’t recall exactly. She was up and down one night until about 2 a.m. She had the classic pain running down her left arm, she was sweating and having trouble breathing. She wondered if she was having a heart attack, but just paced back and forth, not wanting to wake anyone up. Like many, she was also knew her insurance was not that good. Her husband was out of town working and the pain was not unbearable, so finally went back to bed and went to sleep. The next morning, when she and her husband spoke, she told him about it, and he told her he thought she did have a heart attack.

Morgan called the doctor’s office and told them what happened and they told her to come on in. Unfortunately, being the boss and a small business owner, she had a full day of grooming ahead of her and two appointments regarding advertising which had been set. She told them she could come Friday. That was Tuesday. On Friday, she learned she did have a heart attack and that sent her to the cardiologist which sent her to the Valley for a stent. Driven, and responsible, Sandy was back at work within a week. She tells everyone not to wait like she did, but these are the kind of things a small business owner faces – trying to make it all work.

Luckily she loves what she does, and Sandy survived competition and the lull in the economy not just in 2008, but 9, 10 and 11. She said she had to expand during that time to keep up with the competition to survive.

“I had gotten behind and found myself digging out,” said Morgan, “but I just kept working.”

The store today is very inviting, having expanded and gotten a new facade since its original opening.

“We are the only live pet store around,” said Morgan. “We have added Added salt water fish and have spread out so we are less crowded. We expanded our fresh water fish, and reptiles. We have more live stock because we have more room.”

“People come in to look at the pets. My Grandma always said that people will come in to look at the pets. We are a zoo.”

“We have schools come in for tours of the store, and we do presentations every summer on reptiles and amphibians.”

A local business man and a county supervisor tell Morgan that getting to visit her store is a reward for their children. If they do their chores and get good grades, they get to visit Perfect Paws.

With her focus on giving back to the community and having a successful business, Sandy Martin has just “worked.” Thinking a bit about retirement with 65 on the horizon, she visited with a local financial expert to see where she was.

Much to her surprise, and proof of her hard work and focus, he told her she had done just what she was supposed to. She bought property and kept it – did not sell it. So retirement will come.

Her Dad has passed away and the house in Lake Havasu is occupied right now, but she would love to be able to winter in Havasu and spend summers in the White Mountains. She and Tom have a boat but they have not gotten to use it lately. Taking her family to Lake Powell is a big item on her bucket list. They both love the outdoors. She even has a horse and loves to ride, but running a small business she has not gotten to ride him lately either.

When he husband comes home, they love to go to Licano’s and dance and listen to Armoir Gomez. They did give themselves a valentine’s get away to Laughlin, all on the spur of the moment, a rarity in their lives.

Her kids are grown now. Nikki is married and teaches seventh and eight graders at the Junior High and Matt is also married, works for his Dad and has given her two grandkids who are 13 and 9, and like she did with her grandparents who had a pet store, they learned to bag crickets as soon as they were born.

“I feel good about what I have done,” said Morgan. “I have worked hard.”

For anyone starting out in business, I would tell them to be honest with their customers and to be involved in the community. You must offer service to your community. Give back. Fill a need and be educated on what you do. It is all PR. You have to serve the people.”

For Sandy Morgan, who has not slowed down since she first started, slowing down is in her cards, but not yet.

It is said, “All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work boulevard at some point.”

Sandy Morgan has passed through more than one of those stop signs on that road.

It is time to slow down.

Brad Jarvis – Movers & Shapers


Brad Jarvis, an “business incubator” in St. Johns

ST. JOHNS – “I love St. Johns,” said Brad Jarvis. “It has been good to me and my family.”

A third generation St. Johns’ son, Jarvis grew up in St. Johns. His father was the elementary school teacher and his mother was a a stay-at-home-mom.

Like many kids who grow up in small towns, when they graduate high school, they head off to college, go to work in a big city, get married, and have children.

It is almost the American Dream, but absence often does make the heart grow fonder, and once those from rural small town America get to the family stage, they yearn for their roots, or a place like it. They want to raise their children like they were raised.

Such is the story of Brad Jarvis.

With an entrepreneurial spirit embedded in him at an early age, Jarvis said, “I never knew what I wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to work for myself. You can either make yourself do the hard things so someone else makes the money, or you can do the hard things for yourself. Either way, you are going to do them.”

After attending Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher where he met Shauna Lee Flake, they got married and began their lives in the Valley. Jarvis was on his way to becoming an Investment Manager.

Jarvis went into the water and ice and ice cream business in Chandler and, though he says it was scarey going back to where you were raised, the family chose to make the transition to St. Johns.

In 2003 Jarvis bought St. Johns Ice Company, developed it and sold it in 2008.

In 2009 he partnered with Claryce and Karson Crosky, and they built the Gas-N-Go, a 24 hour gas and convenience store, anchored by an El Cupidos Express on W. Cleveland.

Jarvis and the Croskys had grown up together in St. Johns. Neither had ever been in a partnership with anyone, but they found themselves a perfect fit to do business together. The Croskys were a little younger than he and Shauna Lee, but they discovered they were a good fit.

“We both have things that complement each other,” said Jarvis. “One party does not work less than someone else. Neither of us thinks we are entitled. They like to work behind the scenes.”

Their partnership has proven successful, such that they joined forces again in October of last year to buy the Whiting Quick Stop, implementing changes for the better right away.

They had hoped to find someone to lease the kitchen at Whitings where there had been just pizza. Within a month, they opened the grill as Whitings Quick Stop Burger Generation with a menu that offers items not already found in the area. Justin Weller, a former Apache County Deputy Sheriff, designed the menu which encompasses fried chicken, gourmet hot dogs, tilipia, and even an eight ounce steak. Where there was only takeout before, customers now have a choice. Jarvis brought in six tables and 24 chairs to accommodate the customers.

Plans are already on the drawing board for more upgrades at the Quick Stop.

Jarvis says he is always either, “Working on work, or thinking about working on some new scheme.”

In fact when he sold the ice company and the cost of ice went up, Jarvis crushed his own, bagged it and sold it to his customers as a perk for only a dollar.

In 2007 when Mahai Burlea, the first Romanian to get a baseball scholarship, came to Eastern Arizona College, he dated a girl from St. Johns. Burlea worked for Jarvis’ ice company, and through that relationship, Jarvis made his way to Romania and wound up owning a metal fabrication company. He partnered with an Italian who is now Burlea’s brother in law.

“Business under communism is different,” said Jarvis. “It is more of a social experiment. I kind of like the idea of knowing guys are working while I am sleeping, and then I am working while they are sleeping. It is like work is going on 24 hours a day.”

“The business takes care of itself. This year I am looking at importing over here.”

Jarvis has been to Romania several times on behalf of the business, and for pleasure. He loves the castles and history of the Turks and Romans. He has been in Dracula’s castle and likes the smaller castles. He described the feeling of despair one feels as they go down into the dungeons. He loves the salt mines, the old weaponry and the monasteries of the 14th Century with their beautiful mosaics on the wall. He marvels at how through the wars they remain untouched.

On the local level, Jarvis, like most of the folks in St. Johns, dabbles a bit in farming. He has 20 acres grows alfalfa, has cows and chickens and tractors, and calls it fun.

He and Shauna have six kids, four girls and two boys. The kids are learning about work and small town life from their parents.

The kids do not just go in and get something when they go in to either of the businesses.

“If they want something, they can work for it,” said Jarvis. “They learn to work here. If they come in, they have to pay like everybody else for what they want.”

Mom is also a good example. Not only is Shauna Lee a crafter, but she is known all around for her baking skills. Every other day she makes batches of oatmeal with craisins, cowboy, peanut butter, old fashioned molasses, pudding cookies with M&Ms, and “Cracked Sugar Cookies” for both the Gas-n-Go and the Quick Stop. One cookie is about the size of three regular cookies.

It is said around St. Johns that the guys from Navopache Electric are addicted to those “Crack Sugar Cookies.” They refer to them as just “crack cookies” because they are so addictive. If they go and they have run out of the cookies, there is trouble.

Jarvis is well aware the City of St. Johns depends on the power plant, the government and schools for jobs to survive. The population of St. Johns is 3800.

“I have seen people struggle and have ideas that did not work, and I have seen people come and go.”

“You have to know your area and your customers. We have not re-invented the wheel.”

“We do not sell alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets in our stores, and we shut down on Sundays. The people appreciate it.”

Jarvis welcomes competition. “It makes you stronger, makes for a better community,” said Jarvis.

“If someone else comes in, it just makes me be aware of what I should be doing.”

Though Jarvis will no doubt be thinking of new ways of branching out to make his home-town better for his family, and his neighbors, or anyone passing through, Jarvis’ goal is to “get our kids grown.”

Brad and Shauna Jarvis came back to the right place to do that.

St. Johns is billed at the Town of Friendly Neighbors, a Close Knit, Family First Community.

Living his dream of working for himself, and making a difference in his community for his family and the people who live there, or just pass through, Brad Jarvis has attained success in small town America. Brad Jarvis is a “Mover & Shaper.”

Movers & Shapers – The El Rio Theater

Ginger Harding El Rio Theater     El Rio Theater, Spvl

“PreServing popcorn, soda, candy and a movie on a single screen”

SPRINGERVILLE – In February 2014 Ginger and Allen Harding came to check on their house in Alpine. Allen noticed that Sam Madariaga, owner of El Rio Theater in Springerville, had died. Wondering what would now happen to the historic community theater, Allen inquired and discovered it was for sale. After meeting with Kirk Madariaga, Sam’s son, they set about to do their due diligence.

They knew 35 mm was soon to be obsolete, and an almost 100 year old building probably needed upgrades which an inspection would reveal.

They had made a plan years before to retire in Alpine, and they knew, active people they are, they would like to have a business there. They decided this would be that business.

With Allen committed to a contract with his employer, the decision was made for Ginger to be the on-site person. She would live in their retirement home in Alpine and they toggle between their two worlds until Allen retired.

“We wanted to rescue and resuscitate a really important fixture in the community,” said Ginger. “We love serving the community and the families who live here. Many of the adults have gone to this theater since they were little children, or worked here.”

Word spread quickly that someone was going to “save the theater.”

When Ginger first arrived on scene and was actively renovating the theater, she frequented True Value Hardware, often in her “grubbies,” not her normal attire. She introduced herself to owner Deanna Davis and explained she and her husband had purchased the theater and were renovating it. Showing gratitude that would be echoed by the community, in typical Springerville fashion, Deanna asked if she could give Ginger a hug. That hug had meaning. Deanna proves it weekly as she and a host of her employees spend Saturday nights at this theater.

“When we have a family movie, we do an extra show on Friday afternoon with special pricing, and then show it again on Monday,” said Ginger. “It feels good to see two or three generations of a family going out of the movie holding hands.”

“We decided to keep the prices the same as the previous owner,” $6 for adults, $5 for students, and we added military and first responders to this group. It is $3 for children. We also kept the concessions the same prices, Popcorn for $2, $3 and $4, sodas for $2 and $3, and candy for $3.

“The 1946 Manley popcorn machine, which had not been used for quite a while, is being rebuilt in Florida. We want to keep the historic feel, the nostalgia.”

With El Rio being the oldest theater in the State of Arizona, now 101 years old, the Hardings joined the League of Historic American Theaters.

While attending a conference of the group in Colorado, they found themselves in the minority with regard to ownership. Most historic theaters are now run by non-profits. When a question regarding community data base came up, Ginger realized she was that person and needed to add that to her role.

Though Ginger is the mainstay at El Rio for now, when Allen comes up, he loves to do the ticket booth. Though still working, he has played an active part in the remodeling.

Spending time alone in Alpine now, Ginger finds plenty to do. Choosing not to have TV in Alpine or at the theater, her love of reading fills some of that time. Ginger easily has six to eight books going at once.

She has also joined the chamber of commerce and the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary Post 9897.

“Running a theater, you don’t get to participate in many community events,” said Ginger.

There are two holidays, however, she will not miss, the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day Parades. With her own bright purple 1964 Chevy pickup, sporting glasspacks, she dons the car with movie stickers and is a regular entry.

Ginger belongs to the Alpine Community Church and on Sundays after church she heads to either the VFW or Trailriders Restaurant. Ordering her usual tacos and tea and prepares to enjoy some football. Not your average female football fan, Ginger knows the game, and doesn’t really care who is playing. She just wants to watch some football, even if it is only one quarter before she heads to open the theater.

Her younger brother played Pop Warner and she was his statistician. That is where she developed her love for the game.

Ginger and Allen are native Arizonans. They did not arbitrarily choose Alpine for retirement. They lived in Alpine over 20 years ago as on-site managers for Tal Wi Wi Lodge, owned by Allen’s parents. As managers they were 24/7, doing everything. When their first born was on the way, they transitioned back to the Valley for a lifestyle more conducive for family, but always knew they would return to Alpine.

Ginger graduated from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, went on to Business College and ASU. She was Political Science major, looking at law school, which is where she and Allen met. He was also a Poli-Sci major. Though they changed their minds about law school, they didn’t change their minds about each other. This November they will be married 28 years.

They have one son, Alexander, who currently works at Grand Canyon University, who, like his father has earned two degrees. Their daughter, Nicole, is a nurse who works with autistic children and adults.

Ginger has been successful in several fields. She ran a surgeon’s practice, worked as a paralegal for 20 years for government agencies including the attorney general and the Maricopa County legal defender. Since 2008 she has served as liaison for Phoenix Community Women. She was also a sales director for Mary Kay, and yes, she earned a car, but not the pink one. Added to that list now is theater owner and operator.

Ginger describes herself as a recovering feminist. Today she believes there is an order to things.

“We all have our jobs,” she said.

Ginger has no bucket list.

“I have been so blessed and have had so many crazy adventures,” she said. “I traveled with the city council to the USS Phoenix Nuclear Submarine for one its final voyages when it was docked in Florida. I have done glider planes, parasailed in Mexico with my baby brother.”

“Thanks to my hard working husband and his career, I have been to Sweden, Montreal, and Italy. On our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we went to London, and I spent a day in the British Library. We took a shuttle to Paris. I took French in high school and got to spend time with a French family. On one of my birthdays, my husband took me on a Route 66 trip where we stopped at all the little places along the way. My husband is a Renaissance man. His depth and breadth are unmeasurable.”

Not bad for a woman who in second grade was told by her teacher that she could be the first female President of the United States. She never forgot that.

Though her goal never to be the first female President, Ginger has obviously been first in many other things, and she is not done.

The 101 year old El Rio Theater in Springerville, purchased by two driven people who realize the value of history and community, not only want to continue that tradition, but add to it. They love the community and its people.

“People just drive through here on the way to somewhere else,” said Ginger. “They don’t know the people and what we have here in this community. I would like it be more of a destination to here, than through here.”

One thing Ginger would love, and it is not really for herself, but for posterity’s sake, is to locate photographs and information about El Rio. What little information they have found is on the website. Her deepest desire is for people who may have something to add will come and share it so it will be available for everyone as a part of El Rio’s history.

In a theater where people say John Wayne, a night owl by nature, sat and watched movies until the wee hours of the morning, there surely is more to tell. Since the walls cannot talk, perhaps some of the movie-goers will.

As caretakers of Arizona’s oldest movie theater, Ginger and Allen Harding have preserved memories for Round Valley and for Arizona. They have also made it possible for new memories to be made for generations to come.

Visa Credit Card founder and CEO Dee Hock said, “Success follows those adept at preserving the substance of the past by clothing it in the forms of the future.”

Thus it is with Ginger and Allen Harding, added now to the list of Apache and Navajo County “Movers & Shapers.”

Movers & Shapers – John & Diane Hendrix

M&S John & Diane

John & Diane’s Painting, painting the picture of life in Heber-Overgaard|
Barbara Bruce, The Independent

Famed motivational preacher Joel Osteen always asks, “Are you living your best life now?” Most of us could not unequivocally answer “yes” to that question, but John and Diane Hendrix can.

They love where they live,what they do personally and professionally, and who they are as individuals and partners.

John and Diane Hendrix are painting contractors, owners of John & Diane’s Painting in Heber-Overgaard.

John is from Southern California, followed by a short stint in Colorado before arriving in Arizona in 1991. After high school, he painted his way through Bible college and seminary. John was from a family of evangelical preachers. He pastored one year, and then went back to painting which he has done for 37 years.

Diane is originally from Ohio, but found her way to Arizona via Pennsylvania.

John and Diane,both married before, found each other at Bethany Christian School in Tempe where she worked as the secretary. John’s son and one of Diane’s daughters were in the same class. John and Diane were both runners and began running together as friends. The rest, as they say, is history.

John has one daughter and one son, Diane has two daughters and one son, and now the Hendrixes have three grandchildren.

In the Valley they worked together as painting contractors for years. In 2006 they bought a vacation home in Overgaard. Shortly after arriving, people asked what they did for a living. They told them they were painting contractors. That got them a job and from there it snowballed. That was a sign. They sold their Valley home and have never looked back.

John and Diane employ three people, and their work ethic dictates they call people back, show up, and do a professional job. They don’t take payment up front. They do the job, take pictures of the job, and then collect, because they know their customer will be satisfied with the job they did.

It is no wonder the Hendrixes never lack for work, even in the winter.

“The last two winters, winter never showed up,”said John, “but not this year. We have lots of work waiting. We usually save the interiors for winter. It is different for paint than stain. Stain needs to be warmer, 45 to 50 degrees, and we can get something done. It may not be all day, it may just be 4 or 5 hours.”

This month they painted the Baptist church.

“Humidity is low here and paint dries very quickly,” said John, “inside.”

“Much of our business is staining and cabins need to be stained every two or three years, or at least one side. It is not a luxury, but something you have to have. It is an education process to the consumer.” “The best protection for a deck is to have a roof over it. Most people think wind or snow is what affects wood, but it is Arizona sun. If you have 10 things on the list that will affect your deck, one through nine is Sun.”

“Staining is preventative, not corrective. Once the wood is damaged, the only thing you can do is stop further damage.”

John and Diane have done their homework on stain products and found one they preferred. A little Mom & Pop business in Payson carried it for them. When the local ACE Hardware approached them and offered to stock whatever they were using, they were happy to bring that business locally.

“We have worked hard to protect our reputation,” said John. “We have done better here in our business than we did in the Valley.”

“The three guys who work for us show up early every day. Brandon calls us sometimes at 10 p.m. and tells us he has been thinking about a job and tells us what he thinks we need to do. They take ownership in the business.”

After meeting June and Jerry Call, the Hendrixes got “sucked in” with the chamber.

John says, “Sucked in, in a good way.”

The Hendrixes could not believe how much the Calls did for the community, and they wanted to help.

Jerry said the chamber was on life support, and the Calls were working tirelessly to get it back up, juggling 25 balls in the air at a time.

“Our business got going and we started spending more and more time volunteering,” said John. “You would think there would be no time for our business, but the more we gave away, the more we made. It works that way.”

“The Chamber of Commerce is a huge full time job. There is not a day we do not work there.”

The chamber only has two paid employees, the office manager and the maintenance director who handles Navajo County Park.

Jerry is vice president of the board, and he and Diane prefer a support role in helping the President. He calls himself the Joe Biden of the chamber.

John, a great photographer, recognized there was no photographic history of the area for the chamber and made that a priority. Each year he also does a one to two minute video of the past years events and embeds it on the website and puts it on YouTube. He also does Facebook. They got 40,000 hits on the website last year and have 3300 followers on Facebook.

“I am so proud to help play a role to bring credibility to Heber-Overgaard,” said John.

With work and volunteering, the Hendrixes are not neglecting themselves.

John runs 70 miles a week which equates to 15 to 20 hours. He will run his first 50 mile marathon in Sacramento in April.

“We were born to run,” said John. “Early man was either running to get food, or running not to be food.”

Diane is a cyclist, inspired by the Special Olympics Torch Run which came through Heber-Overgaard on the way to Payson. She has done three 100 mile races and rides about 150 miles a week. She has a Trek Emondo road bike which only weighs 17 pounds and she rides to Clay Springs and even Show Low. In the Winters she either uses her indoor trainer which converts her bike to stationary, or layers well and rides by herself.

“On Christmas Day we went to the Fire Department and John got the treadmill out of the exercise room and I brought my bike and trainer,” said Diane. “We exercised for three hours in concert with a movie. It was fun.”

They also bike and run with their two Australian Shepherds.

John says, “ We say exercise burns off the crazy. We feel energized.”

The Hendrixes are dedicated to whatever they set out to do. Two years ago they changed their diets, giving up all processed foods, breads and pasta. They do not do carbs.

“I cleaned out the kitchen,” said Diane.

“Our staples are now spinach, avocado, almonds and blueberries,” said John. “We like a plant based diet, but we do eat meat, steak. We burn off so many calories.”

They do have cheat days. Their favorite cheat is a hamburger, one Diane makes herself. She grinds her own meat and then grinds bacon and adds that to it.

John said, “We have eaten pizza with friends. We ate three slices and it was not that great. We felt so crummy afterward. When you eat crap you get thirsty, and your hunger is not satisfied. It is not what fuels us.”

With their new way of eating, Diane lost 40 pounds and John lost 42.

When they first started losing, they carried out 11 bags of clothes,gave them away, and bought a whole new wardrobe. They were,, a bit premature, their body weight not yet regulated to their diet and exercise regimen. When they reached their ideal, they gave the new clothes away and bought more. .

“Not many people can work together 24/7,” said John. “This is our lot in life right now. If we could do anything else, it would be more promotion for Heber-Overgaard.”

John’s video of the Hashknife Pony Express Ride through Heber-Overgaard was recruited for the Hashknife Living History website, one more opportunity to show off Heber-Overgaard..

John and Diane also wear other hats. He is on the fire board for the District, and Diane does some catering. She has everything necessary to cater an event, and has done this on the side for years. John says she is quite good at it.

Doing good has its own rewards, but it does not come without discouragement.

When things get tough, John says he remembers the words of the late Lewis Tenney, former Navajo County supervisor, leader and statesman. Tenney told both the Calls and the Hendrixes, What you are doing is making a difference. It gets discouraging, but the community needs people like you.

John said, “Lewis Tenney said this matters, and we have to stick to it.”

John and Diane Hendrix are “living their best life now,” proving once again that “the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love until you give it away.”

John and Diane Hendrix are “Movers & Shapers.”

Movers & Shapers – If the shoe fits…


SNOWFLAKE — Tim and Mary Windwalker have been in business for 30 years, working together, raising a family and doing what they love in Snowflake.

“It is not work. We call it life,” Tim said.

The Windwalkers are the owners of Windwalker Fine Footwear, individually constructed works of art designed to last 10 to 20 years, and even then, they can be refurbished or repaired.

They make the shoes in their solar studio from where they can look out their window and see Mesa Redondo, Greens Peak and the Fort Apache Reservation.

When they first moved out to their 20 acres, it was nine miles of bad road with no mile markers or reflectors. Only the road to Snowflake was paved.

“The challenge here is finding a way to make a living,” Mary said. “People move out here with a pipe dream and it often goes up in smoke. We go away and take orders, come back, and we have gotten it down to a science.”

Mary hails from north of Seattle and Tim from the Chicago area. They met in Phoenix.

Prior to moving to South Phoenix, Mary learned about shoes. Mary understood the importance of feet and their connection to Mother Earth, so she made her baby’s shoes.

When people saw the shoes on her baby’s feet, they had to have them. They literally bought them off her feet.

“I knew then that shoes are the thing,” she said. “I started selling them in 1982 when I went to barter fairs.”

That was Mary’s real beginning with shoes.

After reading “The Book of Hopi,” Mary was inspired to move to Phoenix. There she worked as a midwife. She had a ‘61 GMC 70 passenger bus and a 1919 Singer sewing machine she found at a swap meet.

After leaving San Francisco where he was a drummer for a rock band, Tim made his way to Phoenix. Through a series of serendipitous occurrences, Tim found himself in Snowflake, soon to be an apprentice for the infamous Grey Wolf, who taught him how to craft the style of shoes he and Mary make today.

Both Mary and Tim apprenticed under Wolf, who was from Washington state and a graduate of University of California Davis. At his dwelling in Snowflake, Wolf had one solar panel, goats and horses. He had a converted chicken coop for his shop and a 1900-era Treadle sewing machine. Tim actually lived there while apprenticing.

Then Tim headed to Chicago in 1986. When he and Mary reunited, they started making shoes, their first in 1987.

They were discovered at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. They had done art shows but this fell in their laps. They feel such a debt of gratitude to the fairs.

“We went down three days before with $150 in our pocket. We had never been to anything like this,” Tim said.

“Everyone had elaborate booths, and we thought, ‘Oh my, we are in trouble,’ but we made it work. We sold our footwear and see people walking around with them today.”

Since that time, the Windwalkers have been in attendance every day for every show.

“We are grateful every day for Grey Wolf teaching us this style of shoes,” Tim said.

“We go to music shows, Renaissance fairs and art shows. We are sometimes gone eight weeks at a time. We are on Facebook, and we have made over 1,500 pairs of shoes. We have never run out of orders,” he added.

In their studio, there is Mary’s side and there is Tim’s side. Each have specific duties. Orders go on Mary’s side where her flow chart starts at one end and extends all the way to her window.

It takes nine to 12 months from order to delivery for a pair of Windwalkers. “Rush money” to bump up an order is not accepted.

Like they were taught by Grey Wolf, the Windwalkers use the Hank Zander method to make their cast. Zander, whose foot was mangled in a motorcycle accident, was the originator of this pattern. He had been told he would never walk again but refused to accept it. He figured out how to make a pattern with duct tape for shoes to support his foot and ankle, so he could walk again.

The process begins when the customer place their foot on a white cloth where it’s outlined. Next, a sock is put on and a duct tape cast is made around the foot and calf.

When getting fitted, “everybody says something about their feet,” Tim said. “We don’t care. We are just there to intro our boots.”

After the taping is complete, the cast is cut off on one side. Then the customer picks out their material, colors and tread. Many people already know the design they want, but they can actually think about it while they wait for their number to be called.

When it is time to begin, Mary says it is a normal occurrence that when she thinks of that customer, they call her. Mary has learned over the years that she will get some kind of intuitive spark about the person that reveals to her what she needs to proceed. It kind of “seals” that shoe to the person’s spirit, and the shoe and the person become one.

“Feet are powerful,” Mary said.

Their shoes start around $300 and go upwards, depending on what the customer wants.

Their mission statement is: “We make every pair by hand. We try to make each pair stronger than the last.”

One of their claims to fame is making a pair of shoes for folksinger Arlo Guthrie. As to other VIP owners of their footwear, they always tell a customer, “It is you.”

Mary recalls an order over a decade and a half ago that stood out for her. An entertainer known as Moonie the Magnificent had a 5-year-old daughter who died of cancer. Moonie sent Mary the last art work she had done and asked if it could be put on a pair of boots. Mary traced and cut out her footprint and put it on the boots and then followed the scrawl of her handwriting which she had stitched onto the boots.

“Feet are power points” Mary noted.

Tim also recalls an order that stood out for him. There was a man in Chicago who had a knack for making money. He bought, refinished and sold carousel horses. He had two or three pair of outlandish boots from the Windwalkers. When he died, his wife had the boots recut and refitted for their two daughters.

Making a living doing what they love, the Windwalkers have managed to put five daughters through college.

When at home, the Windwalkers do not talk about work. They even share the same cell phone

They are involved in their community. They come together for births and deaths, marriages, gardening and potlucks. They help build homes and get together to learn things to better their lives and the lives of everyone around them. They ski and they hike.

Their business rallies behind one local cause, builder Steve Johnston’s Disc Golf Competition in Concho each year. Their logo is on the disc.

They are the flower children who really embrace peace and love and responsibility for a better planet. They don’t use credit. They use solar and the things that are good for our planet. They are successful and happy, but they have not stopped there.

After meeting a multimillionaire who took her own idea and managed to expand its reach to Wall Street, Mary asked her what business advice she could give them. The lady told her to have an exit strategy. After her success, she was bought out for a nice sum, but it was no longer her baby.

That got the Windwalkers thinking. What will they do when they get to 80? They came up with the idea of teaching others to make their footwear. They had already reached out and had apprentices who either went to work for them, or struck out on their own.

They came up with an exit strategy ‑ a school to teach others how to make their footwear. The school is in Creststone, Colo., a unique community of about 100 people. The Earth Dancer School of Shoe Making is already in existence and summons future cobblers to learn hands-on, and then test drive the shoes on the hiking trail.

They are summoning other shoemakers and their techniques to join them. Brother of local resident Dawn Marino teaches shoemaking at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and Italians in Milan. This summer he will be one of the school’s teachers. It is now a legacy.

You haven’t heard the last of Tim and Mary Windwalker. They embody what many of the baby boomers left behind. They have the simplistic lifestyle many are now seeking, and they did it one pair of artistic footwear at a time.

Previous Older Entries