If you’re not from Arizona and someone asks you what you think of the Phoenix metro area, what words come to mind? Boring and vanilla? If so, Hamilton Baiden would have to ask you if you’ve visited here recently.
In all honesty, Hamilton thought the same thing the first time he visited the Valley many years ago.
He didn’t have a favorable impression at the time, thinking that everything was too spread out and mundane. The city lacked an identity and a pulse.
Oh, how things have changed.
Having worked back east in pharmaceuticals for seven years, Hamilton was out here on a trip to visit a friend who lived in the Valley. During a conversation, while soaking up some sun around the pool, he discovered how far a dollar could go in Arizona when his friend mentioned how much he’d paid for his house. Blown away at the affordability, Hamilton immediately checked the local real estate market, and two days later he had bought his own house here and officially became a transplant.
In Arizona, Hamilton joined Avella, a national specialty pharmacy where he eventually took on the role of Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. During his 14 years with the company (he departed in 2018 to assume a similar position with Heritage Health Solutions), he watched the Valley and his company transform before his eyes with Avella becoming the largest specialty pharmacy in the nation.
When discussing the new AZ5Cs with us, Hamilton immediately zeroed in on how culture has played a considerable part in Arizona’s success.
He noted that while the Valley initially felt very spread out and bland to him, today it is extremely livable.
While its cities have continued to expand, it feels like things have drawn in because you never have to go far to find something interesting to do.
The sense of vanilla and sameness has evaporated, replaced by a sense of vibrancy and multi-culturalism transforming the metro area into a diverse and eclectic hotspot.
In fact, Hamilton believes that pockets of Phoenix and Scottsdale have become as hip as the trendiest areas of New York City or L.A. This multicultural vibe adds to the area’s attractiveness.
It’s this growth in culture along with a business environment that’s conducive to commerce that has helped spur the Valley’s rapid growth and transformation. Avella experienced its own explosive growth during Hamilton’s time with the company. Originally a small business earning $25 million a year, it grew to over 800 employees and $1.7 billion in revenue becoming one of the largest privately held companies in the state. Businesses can develop because of the economic climate and the fact that Arizona’s culture is very attractive to top prospects giving Phoenix-area-based companies an edge over other cities with miserable weather and less desirable amenities and lifestyle.
Hamilton commented that there’s been an influx of really, really smart people coming to Arizona. Originally, he noted, you would see primarily real estate and finance people in Arizona, but these days it’s different. There are executives from so many diverse industries here because they believe in Arizona and enjoy it here. It’s become the land of milk and honey and big dreams.
He went on to say that businesses find it easy to recruit top talent to the metro Phoenix area because the quality of life is exceptional, and it’s affordable. Not only is there the opportunity to make a career here, but it’s also a great place to establish roots.
Unlike in earlier decades, people now move here and tend to stay.
Back in the day, Hamilton remembers meeting one or two people who were natives — everyone else was a transplant and typically transient, ready to move on. And while people continue to move here for the excellent job opportunities, it’s no longer unusual to meet a native. With the great weather and lots of things to do, people have been settling down to start their families and then raise them here.
Arizona’s culture has come a long way. And without a doubt, it will continue to evolve.
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