The Arizona Small Business Association has a new board chair, and he is focused on the future.
“My priority as the chair of the board is to really help us to chart a new path,” said Andrew Westle, general counsel for Soaren Management in Phoenix and new board chair for ASBA. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions and really refocus our energy.”
ASBA has made a number of staffing changes over the past year, including the addition of Jess Roman, former senior development officer at the Society St. Vincent de Paul, as CEO, as well as changes on the board. Westle said his goal is to chart a new path and “steer the ship in the direction that we need it to go.”
The changes have made the association more streamlined and brought in more revenue to support its small business members, Westle said.
“I think small business is strong; Arizona is a state with a lot of small business,” Westle said. “There’s also a good amount of big business, and so there’s that kind of — not competition — but that synergy that has to happen.”
In the coming years, there will be a big push for business-friendly legislation, especially with a big election in 2020, he said.
“A lot of the voter initiatives, ballot initiatives that you see have a direct impact on business, and part of our job is to educate,” Westle said. “The state of small business is strong, but that can quickly change if certain things happen that can very quickly derail that.”
ASBA’s job is to protect small businesses and keep them in the loop on policy issues, Westle said. In order to create “synergy” with big business, ASBA must champion the supply chain between small and big business to create a mutually beneficial environment, he said.
“We have a good relationship with the Arizona Chamber [of Commerce and Industry], and there is a mutual respect, and there is a mutual recognition that… small business and big business, they can feed off each other,” Westle said.
To use the construction industry as an example, large developers need smaller subcontractors to be successful, and one cannot survive without the other. It is in everyone’s best interest to work together, Westle said.
Former board chair Mike Leeds, president and “head coach” at his Phoenix-based company, Pro Sales Coaching, praised Westle at the annual ASBA board meeting on January 16.
“I’ve known Andrew for a couple of years; this guy is a really good guy,” Leeds said. “He’s got a lot of passion for small business, and I truly believe he is going to continue to carry our board forward.”
Westle thanked Leeds in turn for the “new era” into which he ushered ASBA.
“We’ve had to acknowledge internally that we’ve needed to make changes, and Mike has been on the forefront of those changes, which I believe… will help ASBA not only continue to survive, but to thrive,” Westle said.