CEO of the Year: Small company finalists
Raymond Johnson, CEO, Infinite Power Solutions
Littleton-based Infinite Power Solutions develops thin-film micro-energy storage devices. Under the leadership of CEO Raymond Johnson, the company has grown over the past five years from five workers to nearly 50 and has raised more than $60 million in equity investment.
IPS was expected to announce a new CEO in November, but details were not available at press time.
The company has built the first and only volume manufacturing facility for solid-state rechargeable batteries, which Johnson says is the world's most powerful battery of its kind.
The solid-state battery is about the size and thinness of a postage stamp and is designed to replace conventional batteries and supercapacitors in applications ranging from medical to consumer, Johnson says. The batteries can be recharged indefinitely and never need to be replaced - or put in a landfill, he says.
"What we've really built here is a revolutionary solid-state technology, all manufactured here in Colorado," Johnson said in October during an interview after he was named the Cleantech Entrepreneur of the Year by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.
The batteries initially will show up in the industrial marketplace, such as in a thermostat that otherwise would be powered by double-A batteries that would normally need to be replaced in a couple of years, Johnson said: "With our technology, that battery would never need to be replaced."
IPS was named a Colorado Companies to Watch this year by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
- Mike Cote
David Thibodeau, president and co-founder, Ska Brewing
If we didn't already have sound business reasons why the president of Ska Brewing was worthy of consideration for CEO of the year, we would have made some up after checking out the company's website, which tugs at our love for craft brews.
"Captain Corporate America is a jerk. He wants you to drink watery beer-soda and listen to the same bad music and tell the same bad jokes and think the same," one of the cartoon "heroes" characters at skabrewing.com says. "We just want you to drink and be happy and maybe tell someone else to drink and be happy."
Under the leadership of David Thibodeau, who co-founded the company in 1995, Ska Brewing was recognized this year as a Colorado Company to Watch by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
After recording growth of 10 percent to 20 percent for 13 years running, the Durango brewer increased capacity with the construction of a 100 percent wind-powered "brew fortress" in 2008. It reached 46 percent wholesale growth and 38 percent overall growth the following year.
In addition to making and marketing its own brands -- including Pinstripe Red Ale, True Blonde Ale and Steel Toe Stout - Ska Brewing is a wholesaler for more than 150 other brands of beer.
- Mike Cote
Bill Gamber, president, BAP Inc.
Gamber started outdoor clothing retailer BAP Inc. (Bwear Action Products) as a college project at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, and in 1990 he and co-owner Rich Hager moved the company to Steamboat Springs, where it's been ever since.
Gamber incorporated BAP in 2000 and then founded Big Agnes, introducing an integrated sleeping bag and pad and changing the way campers looked at their sleep systems. The companies have won editor's choice awards from publications such as Backpacker Magazine and Gear of the Year awards from Outside magazine and Men's Journal. Their product line sells in about 450 stores in North America and is expanding into Europe, Japan and China.
Another Gamber company is Honey Stinger, a maker of honey-based energy gels, energy bars, protein bars and organic energy chews. In that venture, launched in 2003, Gamber teamed with, among others, his father, William, a honey industry veteran. Growing up, Bill spent summers working for his family's honey-packing company, Dutch Gold Honey.
Both Big Agnes and Honey Stinger have earned accolades for which they've been profiled in ColoradoBiz, as last year Big Agnes was named one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch, and Honey Stinger received the same distinction this year.
BAP employs about 25 people in the Steamboat area, while Honey Stinger employs about 10.
- Mike Taylor