A True Champion

A True Champion

Time in the Army shaped Anthem entrepreneur Frankie Ruiz

By Weiss O’Connor

Given his time in the jungles of Panama and the tropics of Hawaii, veteran Frankie Ruiz can truly appreciate the simplicity of the desertscape. Yet the eight-year Anthem resident and owner of the successful Azteca Home Services says he can’t help but “kind of miss” his time serving in the U.S. Army.

It was in the military that Ruiz learned and developed many of the values that shaped his life: humility, honor and pride. Talk to Ruiz today, and he exudes pride in his service, his business, and his family. He also has a driven mindset that is surely a vital factor in his successes in all facets of life.   

But in high school, he wasn’t yet sure of what direction he wanted to take with his life, so he gravitated toward the military. Despite his initial inclination toward the Marine Corps, Ruiz was swayed into signing up for the Army because of the multitude of opportunities it offered. One of those opportunities was playing football.

“The possibility of playing football for the Army one day… obviously played on those emotions,” Ruiz says with a smile.

The forward-looking Ruiz made the most of his time in the service. “I maximized all my schooling,” Ruiz says, “and I was always, really, a pretty decent athlete.” He adds he “could run 2 miles in 11 and a half minutes.” But he laughs, hinting that he doesn’t know if he could accomplish that today.

During his two years in Panama, Ruiz made a point to “hang out with the locals,” which helped him improve his Spanish, a language he would later study at Northern Arizona University. Through programs offered by the Army, Ruiz attended night school. Then he was faced with a tough decision between two excellent opportunities for his Army career: going to Ranger school or traveling to Hawaii to be closer to his parents. Ruiz requested both locations, but when orders came for Ranger school and Hawaii, he was forced to choose.

As a “family guy” through and through, Ruiz chose Hawaii, where he continued to attend night school. After winning the prestigious Green to Gold scholarship, Ruiz went to NAU, where he could complete his bachelor’s degree in business and Spanish, as well as receive a commission in the Army to become an officer. Ruiz soon learned he “didn’t particularly care for the officer side of the house.”

Officer ranks tend to be more political, he says. “[You] schmooze your way up. So almost immediately I actually resigned my commission.” He decided to stay out of the Army. Concurrently, Ruiz married and had his first son, beginning a new chapter in his life. Today, Ruiz has “three amazing children,” Xavier, Diego and Savannah. He says it’s because of his children that he became an entrepreneur.

When he left the service, Ruiz sold cars and “turned out to be pretty successful,” he says. But the long hours cut into his family life. With Azteca Home Services – a pest control, landscaping and pool services company – Ruiz can fulfill his desire to give back to his family and become deeply involved in his community. In 2016, he was co-chairman for Anthem’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade. Azteca Home Services has also sponsored nonprofits such as Drive-By Blessings, which provides furniture and used household items to veterans who are homeless and are finding new homes. He truly appreciates the “small-town feel” of Anthem, where “everybody knows everybody.”

Ruiz says the Army instilled in him discipline and the opportunity to “be a part of a huge team.” He says he “loved every part of it” and feels that “everybody should do at least two years in the military.”

“There’s not one person in this world that can say they did it by themselves, and I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if I didn’t have an amazing team or a family that supported me the way that they did,” he says.

Throughout his life, Ruiz has strived to live as a “champion” and “lead from the front,” philosophies that he demonstrates every day.  

– Weiss O’Connor, a sophomore at Boulder Creek High School, is involved in Veterans Heritage Project, band, Boulder Creek soccer, and Civil Air Patrol.

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