Top Company 2015: Continental Sausage
Winner and finalists in the Manufacturing category
Three words from them, about them: Integrity. World-class. Community.
Eric and Jessica Gutknecht are serious about sausage: spicy, all-natural, mouth-watering, grill-it-up and scarf-it-down.
“We source from sustainable family farms that do not use antibiotics or hormones and that treat their animals humanely,” CEO Eric Gutknecht says. “We use organic produce, the highest quality cuts available and never use MSG or other harmful chemicals. We strive to be the best in every facet of our operation. We never cut corners at the expense of profitability.”
In fact, that philosophy has only added to the bottom line of the company, which Eric’s parents bought in the early 1980s. Since Eric and Jessica took over Continental in 2003, it has grown from annual sales of $1.4 million and nine employees to $6.2 million and 45 employees as of 2014. The company is investing $2.2 million for an expansion expected to be completed this year.
Despite its growth, the organization maintains a family atmosphere, with constant solicitation of employee feedback and team-building events, such as the Colfax Marathon and supporting Denver Kids Inc. In 2015, 75 percent of Continental employees participated in the marathon by either running, walking, or helping with transportation and logistics for relay participants.
The secret sauce: “Our team is passionate about producing the best-tasting sausage on the planet,” Gutknecht says. “We have a very connected team on a mission to wow our customers with uncompromising flavor and exceptional quality. We source locally, we create new markets with our award-winning products, and we are active in the community in which we work and live.”
Christi Skow’s diagnosis of celiac disease in 2007 led her to create bread recipes that eschew gluten without compromising texture or flavor – and Canyon Bakehouse was born. The Loveland-based company now sells its products to more than 8,000 stores nationwide from a 30,000-square-foot facility with 100 employees.
Family-owned Qualtek Manufacturing provides metal part manufacturing services to product developers. Based in Colorado Springs for more than 50 years, it is one of the city’s largest locally owned employers, with more than 70 employees. Qualtek’s metal manufacturing processes include project planning, metal stamping, finishing, wire EDM, heat-treat, and tool and die building services.