LEADERSHIP LOWDOWN with Tom Hatten of Mountainside Fitness and Russ Yelton of Yelton and Associates
It all started with an idea. An idea to be the friendliest gym in town. To know their members’ names, not just their numbers. To offer free towel service, even if that meant doing laundry at his apartment until two in the morning. This was the beginning of Mountainside Fitness.
In 1991, founder and CEO, Tom Hatten, began Mountainside Fitness while a junior at Arizona State University. Together with his family and friends, Tom brought his dream to life. From welding gym equipment to painting walls to selling memberships, the early years were true sweat equity in every sense of the word. Mountainside Fitness was founded on community and value, and those continue to be at the company’s core as they grow into 16 locations and over 80,000 members this year.
In November of 2005, Mountainside Fitness Centers was voted 1 of 10 “hottest growing” companies in Arizona by Biz AZ magazine when 5 clubs were added to the chain. Tom has also received various awards and accolades throughout his career, including being voted 1996 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Business Journal/USA Today, being the Cover story of Entrepreneur Magazine July 2004, and being featured in Forbes Magazine, US News and World Report, Club Solutions Magazine, Paradise Valley Magazine, and Club Insider Magazine.
In addition to growing his company, Tom is a motivational speaker to many business organizations, colleges, high schools and churches. His topics range from entrepreneurship, economics, and corporate community involvement. Hatten is also featured in the college textbook titled Entrepreneurship: A Practice Based Approach co-written by authors: Christopher Neck (Management Professor Arizona State University), Heidi Neck (Entrepreneurship Professor Babson College), Emma Murray (Consultant). And he is currently working on another book Dream On: An Entrepreneurs desire to overcome which is due out in Spring 2018.
Hatten at one time co-hosted the mid-day all fitness request hour for local KZZP FM radio. Tom strongly values the community and has dedicated his time and resources, not only to helping people live healthier lifestyles, but also to social responsibility. Some of the highlights of his commitment to the community include:
2016 Honoree – Teen Lifeline Foundation
2016 Honoree – Muscular Dystrophy Association
2016 Chairman of the board – Make-A-Wish Arizona
2017 Honored as one of the Most Admired Leaders by the Phoenix Business Journal
2017 Board member – AZ Special Olympics
2017 Board member – AZ Diamondbacks Foundation
Tom is also a Founding Board member of AZ Bank & Trust, member of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Scottsdale, and member of the International CEO’s against cancer. Born in Austin, Minnesota, he has lived in Arizona for all but 6 months of his life. Favorite charitable organizations include: Make-A-Wish Arizona, Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, Special Olympics and MDA of AZ.
Russ Yelton served as Chairman of the AZBio Board of Directors from January 2015 to December 2017. He has been an active board members since being elected in 2009.
He is currently president of Yelton and Associates. The firm provides economic development services as well as early stage business solutions. Yelton and Associates has experience both domestically and internationally and has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs to raise funding and bring their products to a variety of markets. The firm also has a long history of assisting municipalities with the development of co-w0rk, incubators and accelerators as well as loan funds, student focused entrepreneurial programming as well as shared facilities.
As a Board Member at Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, Inc., Yelton provides executive level leadership to a rapidly expanding tissue bank and medical device company. Yelton served as Pinnacle Transplant’s CEO from 2014 to 2017.
Pinnacle Transplant Technologies is a multi-service tissue bank dedicated to ethical participation in the donate life process. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registered and American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) accredited, Pinnacle only works with federally chartered Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and agencies accredited by AATB to help safeguard our employees, provide superior allografts for transplantation and assure reverence to our donor families.
Prior to joining Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, Yelton was President and CEO of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology located in Flagstaff. NACET is a business incubation program that assists companies with commercializing their technologies in both domestic and international markets. NACET is supported by the City of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University where it functions as the Technology Transfer Office for NAU. Clients in NACET’s program received individual business consulting, access to mentors, venture and angel capital and domestic and international student research teams.
Prior to coming to Arizona in 2009, Yelton oversaw the creation of a business incubation program in Asheville, North Carolina in an abandoned 141,000 sq feet former BASF manufacturing plant. That program, located at a community college, included a commercial food kitchen, biotechnology space with wet, dry and core laboratories, light manufacturing and executive offices.
Yelton received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Appalachian State University, a Masters of Business Administration from Western Carolina University and Doctoral studies in Educational Leadership also at WCU. In addition, he received a European Union Grant in 2008 to complete Evaluation of Sustainability Training from Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.
The Leadership Lowdown was created to share the REAL story behind valley leaders’ rise to the top, and the truth about what it takes to TRULY succeed in life and business. Hear the raw stories of these leaders’ journeys…the pitfalls, the victories, and all of the heartaches and triumphs in between.
ABOUT YOUR HOST
Jodi Low is an accomplished corporate trainer, inspirational speaker, and the Founder and CEO of U & Improved. Jodi has trained thousands of entrepreneurs and executives on how to build a booming business, master a mindset for success, and achieve the lifestyle they desire through heart-fueled leadership.
Through U & Improved—an award-winning personal and professional leadership development company based in Scottsdale—Jodi has redefined traditional leadership training by creating a sustainable and actionable model that is personal, challenging and meaningful to each and every individual who enrolls in any of the two-and-a-half-day experiential training classes. She and her elite training team have advanced the charge in heart-based leadership
development and empower U & Improved graduates with knowledge, tools and awareness to immediately be more effective and responsive leaders at work, home and within their communities.
Among her many accomplishments as a Valley leader, Jodi launched a teen leadership program in 2014 to empower young adults to become more confident, motivated and focused stewards of our future. In 2016, she founded a non-profit arm of the company—the U & Improved Leadership Foundation—that makes the program more accessible to deserving teens.
Jodi has been recognized by industry publications and organizations for her work in leadership development and serves as a source of inspiration within the community. In 2015, she was honored as an “Outstanding Women in Business” by the Phoenix Business Journal and by the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona with the “Amazing Women” award. She has received both the prestigious “Diversity Leader of the Year” and the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce’s “Sterling Award.” She was also awarded a Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 and was a finalist for the Junior League of Phoenix’s Valley Impact Award. Jodi is a devoted single parent who volunteers her time at her daughters’ school programs and with organizations such as Angel Mamas, where she’s served on the board for three years.