P.T. Barnum is famous for saying, “There’s one born every minute.” If only they were all like Brandon Ames, an entrepreneur who’s passing his skills to a new generation
When someone’s called a “sucker,” chances are his common sense is being questioned. But when that description was used on Brandon Ames a few years back, it was a term of endearment.
After all, it takes common sense in mass quantities to found a thriving company right out of college. That’s just what Ames did in 1993. He’s president and CEO of Arizona-based Able Information Technologies, now the largest provider of technology for school districts in the southwestern United States. Why would anyone call this man a sucker?
“I was very active in FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America] in high school,” Ames explains. “I went to their nationals in entrepreneurship as a student and mentored Arizona’s entrepreneurship team to a national championship as an adult. I’ve always done a ton for them.
“So in 2000, SkillsUSA Arizona was looking for someone to help them with their Computer Maintenance competition. Someone asked Arizona’s FBLA director who to recommend, and the response was, ‘Brandon will do it. He’s a sucker.’ They knew I just have a love of seeing students exceed their potential.”
But that was only the beginning. The next year, Ames was chairing SkillsUSA Arizona’s foundation, and his company was making an annual $10,000 commitment to sponsor Arizona’s leadership development camp. Today, simply funding the camp isn’t enough. He also attends it.
“Just throwing money at a problem doesn’t fix it,” he says. “People want your time. They want to hear your stories, what you’ve learned. Scott Soldat [SkillsUSA Arizona’s director] and I have really seen some great outcomes from the camp in terms of student success, and that’s what it’s all about. That’s cool.”
Ames’ mentoring is instrumental in SkillsUSA Arizona’s success on the national officer front. “Jeremy [Montoya, current high school president] was practicing his speech,” he recalls, “and I said, ‘That all sounds great, but say something to me. Give me three points that you’re going to change the world on when you leave. What are your goals, how are you going to accomplish them, and how are you going to change SkillsUSA?’ Jeremy went back to work, and the coolest thing he said to me when he came back from nationals was, ‘Brandon, everyone told me that they heard the three points.’ That’s the reason I do this.”
“It’s real easy for industry to complain about how hard it is to find great people,” Ames continues, “but you can either moan about it or get off your butt and support an organization like this an organization that will change the world.”
SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2007 | Volume 42, No. 1