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Colorado Companies to Watch 2015: Engineering/Technology


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ENGINEERING/TECHNOLOGY

ISSAC Corp.

(Colorado Springs – issaccorp.com – Founded: 2006

ISSAC is a service disabled, veteran-owned small business with core competencies in:

  • Data analytics
  • Systems engineering and integration
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Algorithm and software development

The firm has experienced rapid growth, offering a competitive advantage with its “enlightened data solutions” for business transitions with the U.S. Department of Defense. This technology can absorb and interpret written and spoken English, aggregate and analyze numerical data, relate data items to one another to harness causality, and provide hypotheses and prescriptions for action. The artificial intelligence system quickly and automatically queries subject matter experts to enhance solutions from data analysts in less time, computing power and expense than traditional methods.

The company’s first contract was with Lockheed Martin to support the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. ISSAC has acquired DoD contracts and agreements with other defense industry partners.

Last year, ISSAC was saluted as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) champion by the Colorado Education Initiative.

WORTH WATCHING: ISSAC is currently working on research and development projects for the U.S. Navy for next-generation Electric Ship Program. Though the Colorado Springs-based business is a DoD aerospace-focused company, the organization is quickly pivoting into five commercial verticals: health care, energy, finance analytics, logistics optimizations and commercial aerospace.

Infinity Systems Engineering

(Colorado Springs – infinity.aero – Founded: 1996

The Air Force. The Army. The Navy. Boeing. Lockheed Martin. Raytheon.

That is just a smattering of the high-caliber clients Infinity Systems provides advisory, engineering intelligence and information technology services to. Seeking to deliver superior engineering and technical services through a commitment to excellence, innovation and integrity, one of Infinity’s specialties is helping integrate satellite space and ground segments through extensive knowledge of both segments and broad program offerings. The Inc. 500 firm has experienced significant growth in its 20 years in business, maintaining Top Secret clearance and a full staff cleared at the Department of Defense Secret Level, with most at the Top Secret Level. Infinity is a Cogswell Award recipient for its exceptional security program, putting it in the top 1 percent of all DoD firms, and has also been recognized as the Subcontractor of the Year by the Small Business Administration.

WATCH FOR: After winning some new contracts this spring, Infinity is looking to expand support to the U.S. Army and Navy and extend reach into New Mexico and Southern California. The aggressive approach the company is taking includes several contracting and subcontracting pursuits throughout the rest of 2015 to expand core capabilities and business partners.

Czero Inc.

(Fort Collins – czero-solutions.com – Founded: 2007

Starting Czero out of passion and today led by award-winning engineers with more than 25 years of experience, the fast-growing mechanical engineering research and development firm pragmatically helps clients develop new technologies for energy efficiency, recovery and renewable fuels. The in-house partner of Colorado State University’s Energy Institute co-located at the Powerhouse Energy Campus swiftly turns early-stage concepts into fully tested, fully functional prototypes, expediting proof-of-concept and product completion. Some of the firm’s areas of expertise cover:

  • High-bandwidth hydraulics
  • Advanced machine design
  • Fuel systems
  • Valve systems
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Distributed power generation and smart grids
  • Natural gas conversions

One of many noteworthy projects the Czero team has tackled is the VanDyne SuperTurbo, a technology that is expected to improve standard gasoline engine performance by 20 percent to 30 percent.

Watch Out: Czero is looking to grow its staff to take on bigger projects.

Blackhawk Equipment Co.

Arvada – blackhawkequipment.com – Founded: 1985

Blackhawk Equipment distributes compressed air systems  – deemed top-tier quality and impressively cost effective – throughout the state with the goal to optimize these operations. The company partners with clients – such as Ball Corp. – sharing data it collects with its ViewAir software. Engineered packages range from modular buildings containing complete air systems to be used in unmanned locations and harsh environments, to cooling water systems designed to support entire production facilities.

For four consecutive years, the company has received Xcel Energy Efficiency Partner status, last year recognized as one of only two companies facilitating more than $650,000 in prescriptive and custom rebates for customers. Also, last year, Blackhawk purchased and moved to a 30,000-square-foot facility, effectively tripling its space.

WATCH OUT FOR: The Blackhawk team foresees sustainable revenue growth in the 10 percent to 20 percent range, while actively pursuing initiatives to continue its substantial growth and product line expansion.

E Source

Boulder – esource.com – Founded: 1986

Mission: To advance energy efficiency for electric and natural gas utilities and large business customers.

Method: With an eye on the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit – and aligning with federal demand for utilities to cut their carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2030, E Source provides actionable expertise as a research and advisory firm focused on how consumers use energy. The firm partners with utilities to help them put together programs that their customers can participate in, such as heating and lighting reduction rebates.

Before sustainability really took off, E Source delivered critical information to the utility industry to make smarter decisions, work faster and avoid costly mistakes, starting more than a quarter-century ago. And it’s worked. Last year E Source experienced double-digit growth in revenue and made significant investments in human capital. Part of that success is attributed to the company’s Colorado headquarters and the state’s progressive energy policy.

KEEP WATCHING FOR: E Source anticipates solar gaining more of a seat at the energy table and hopes to be there to prepare utility companies for the shift. The company is in a period of high growth, entering new markets and expanding product offerings to become increasingly relevant to existing as well as new clients.

Pie Consulting & Engineering

Arvada – pieglobal.com – Founded: 1999

Pie is a provider of building and forensic science services with a range of expertise in engineering, rehabilitative design, consulting, enclosure commissioning, construction management and field performance testing. Clients range from development, design and construction customers to insurance and legal professionals around the globe. Regardless of the size or complexity of the projects Pie bids on, the organization exudes drive and exuberance. Among the projects the firm has taken on so far in 2015 are Pearl Place, the new Google complex in Boulder, the re-skinning of the Marriott at Denver International Airport, and the NASA Kennedy Space Center headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

In 2014, Pie posted the best year of its 15-year history, increasing its staff by more than 30 percent. This growth is fueled by a highly motivated and skilled core team and leadership development with career path models, mentorship and training to open opportunities.

WATCH FOR: Pie Consulting & Engineering has committed to an aggressive growth plan for this year, on pace to grow its headcount by another 25 percent and exceed its revenues from 2014.

EMPSi

Boulder – empsi.com – Founded: 2006

Environmental Management and Planning Solutions Inc. is a national consulting firm committed to making the world a better place by solving complex environmental challenges. Specializing in niche permitting and planning work for federal lands and mineral estates for third-party commercial clients and directly for land management agencies, EMPSi has 600 million acres under its management – roughly 28 percent of the total base in the U.S., and 47 percent in the western U.S.

The organization’s team is comprised of recognized experts in:

  • Natural resource and recreation planning
  • Environmental impact analysis
  • Stream and land restoration
  • Permitting
  • Geographic information systems
  • Economic analysis
  • … and more.

EMPSi attracts and retains skilled people by supporting a culture that balances work, life and social responsibility. As a result, the company has been dubbed a “Best Place to Work” by Outside magazine as well as an Inc. “Fastest Growing Private Company” – 500/5000.

WATCH OUT FOR: For the last three years, EMPSi has worked on a comprehensive federal management strategy for the Secretary of the Interior to protect the greater sage-grouse, so that the animal population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. If it were to become listed, energy development in the eight states that make up the Great Basin region would become increasingly difficult. The Boulder-based business was aiming to have the final documents prepared in early June with a hopeful final decision later this year.

Greystone Technology Group

Denver ­– greystonetech.com – Founded: 2001

With a uniquely human approach, “The goal when we started was really to change the face of the way IT services were being experienced and delivered,” says Peter Melby, president of Greystone Technology Group. “We say this a lot: Tech changes very fast, but tech services are very stagnant in terms of innovation.”

Melby and his team have a formula that works; the self-funded company has been profitable 47 consecutive quarters and has become the outsourced IT department for roughly 200 organizations along the Front Range, all without the aid of a sales department. The combination of tech know-how and analytics, a focus on customer experience and trusted relationships, has allowed Greystone to be incredibly impactful.

KEEP WATCHING: Greystone is in the thick of some exciting projects, including the rollout of a new tech infrastructure for Breckenridge Brewery, the City of Centennial and Comfort Dental. Also in the hopper: more service lines.

Mobile Solutions Services

Centennial – mobilesolutions.net – Founded: 2008

With more than 1.3 billion mobile workers around the globe today, companies are seeking new ways to manage communication tools for faraway employees. Mobile Solutions helps enterprises eliminate excess wireless spending through a combination of advanced analytics software, wireless device, and rate-plan experts. With dramatic growth, the company is looking to rise to the challenge with its Mobile Expense Management (MEM) platform. The cloud-based portal aims to save clients’ money on their wireless spend, to date saving close to $100 million, while providing increased visibility and optimization of mobile expenses to benefit business customers’ IT and finance departments. Another side-effect to the growth in mobile device usage is the time and expense required to manage related costs. Mobile Solutions eliminates the challenge of reviewing multiple invoices from multiple carriers, or logging into multiple accounts to manage various employee devices and plans.

KEEP WATCHING: With the growth Mobile Solutions has experienced, the company likely will move to a larger office this year.

Sphero

Boulder – gosphero.com – Founded: 2010

The family room is cluttered, toys are overflowing from their bins, and somehow your child still seems bored. Sound familiar?

Solution? Sphero.

The company was started when its two software engineer co-founders, Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson, went through Techstars mentor-driven startup accelerator. Initially conceiving an app-controlled garage door opener, they ultimately settled on something more fun.

Bringing personality and innovation to playthings, Sphero has created a new category in the somewhat static toy market. The toy maker has become the industry leader in connected play, redefining the consumer-toy relationship as toys become smarter to create ever-evolving experiences. Sphero holds six patents on breakthrough technology and has expanded into 70 countries with more than 8,000 points of sale in less than 15 months.

Sphero also won Outside magazine’s No. 3 slot on the annual “Best Places to Work” list last year, for its scooters and skateboards in the office, Dawn-Patrol snowboarding sessions, STEM Education Coalition participation and donation, among other attractions.

WORTH WATCHING: Sphero seeks to continue influencing the way people interact with robots, imagining companion-based toys looking out several years. For a quicker turnaround time, the team will be rolling out a consumer version of the new droid character, BB-8 featured in the new Star Wars movie, coming to theaters this December.

Oakman Aerospace

Littleton – oak-aero.com – Founded: 2012

Colorado is in the top five states consistently for its presence in the aerospace industry, and veteran-owned Oakman Aerospace contributes to the state’s impressive standing, providing cutting-edge products and services involved in space systems architectures, spacecraft and satellite design, development and mission payload, and data distribution services. Oakman prides itself on its customer service along with rapid and responsive modular technology and interoperability constructs that allow related and competing organizations in the space to build on the same interface standards and innovate simultaneously.

Oakman is a strong STEM education proponent, having recently supported, along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a local high school in Jefferson County to build a bioreactor that will be sent into space.

WATCH FOR: Oakman is betting on an uptick in opportunities in the commercial space biz as regulations have relaxed and costs have decreased.

SGM

Glenwood Springs – sgm-inc.com – Founded: 1986

According to the state demographer, SGM’s service area is expected to experience 200 percent to 300 percent growth between now and 2050.

As the largest Western Slope multidisciplinary civil engineering, surveying and consulting firm, SGM has a presence in Gunnison, Aspen, Meeker, Salida and Grand Junction. Its role spans site development survey to the initial/final design to ensuring the project is built to specification. Projects of note include the rehabilitation of the Crystal Mill, creating a safer passage for backcountry enthusiasts by renovating the Pearl Pass Bridge. SGM also had the opportunity to prepare Colorado’s first water plan as per Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order in May 2014. As such, the firm has explored and designed a strategy for the state to meet water supply needs up to the year 2050, bearing in mind anticipated population growth, transportation and energy use upticks, among other issues.

“I think, historically, the state has gone to some of the larger engineering firms, but in this case came to us because we knew the communities and have built relationships for 30 years,” says Louis Meyer, CEO and president of SGM.

KEEP WATCHING FOR: Public-private partnerships will be very important in the future, according to Meyer, pointing to the process behind the Colorado Water Plan that required roughly 80 public meetings and constant coordinating with state officials. “The entire state of Colorado has to learn to use water more efficiently. If status quo remains and we continue to do things the same way as the last 100 years, the rivers will dry up, and it’ll put us in a position of management by crisis, rather than a proactive and strategic management,” he says.

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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