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September 2014 Issue

Cover Story

GenXYZ: Colorado’s 25 Most Influential Young Professionals

By Mike Taylor

Now in its third year, the feature we’ve dubbed "Gen XYZ" for the age-group or "generation" it represents – the under-40 set – has boomed in popularity and participation numbers, to the simultaneous delight and consternation of the judges who pour over the nominations to come to a consensus on the year’s top 25 young professionals, and then from that group select a top five who are profiled in more detail. This year, a record 261 nominations were submitted online at www.cobizmag.com. The judges were made up of ColoradoBiz magazine’s editorial board along with

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Articles

GenXYZ Top Five: Madolyn Jones, Resolution Research

Denver native and USC grad returns home to build something bigger

By Lisa Ryckman

Resolution Research CEO Nina Nichols wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Madolyn Jones, her nominee for one of Colorado’s Top 25 Most Influential Young Professionals, is not – repeat, not – for hire. "She’s phenomenal," says Nichols, who brought Jones on board less than a year ago as director of research. "She works very autonomously and pulls resources from wherever necessary to make the project happen and never gives up – a sign of a true entrepreneur." Jones, 28, is also a true Denver girl, born and raised in Five Points, the fifth child of six and one of the first to go to college. "Education was a big deal to my parents – my mom didn’t go to college, my dad didn’t go to college," Jones says. "Education was very. . .

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Sports biz: Want ice with that, Denver?

By Stewart Schley

With the debut of the Central Hockey League’s Denver Cutthroats at the Denver Coliseum this month, Denver becomes one serious playground for hockey fans. Here’s the math: Including the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Cutthroats and Denver University’s men’s ice-hockey team, an inventory of 1.1 million seats for live hockey are waiting to be filled this season in the metro area. (That’s the number of regular-season home games X the number of available arena seats per game.) Blame the new guy for inflating the numbers. As the new arrival on the scene, the Cutthroats have added 269,000 available tickets, or roughly 24 percent of the total inventory, courtesy of 33 home games in the 8,000-seat Coliseum. Among other things, hockey fans, that means you can brace yourself for harmonic hockey-convergence evenings when all three Denver teams will by vying. . .

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The Economist: Jumping off the fiscal cliff

By Tucker Hart Adams

The current political mess in D.C. is leading our country on a path to nowhere. I’m pretty cynical about politics in the best of times, observing that with very few exceptions those smart enough to hold a national political office are too smart to want the job. But this is beyond ridiculous. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to recognize that in the short term we need to create jobs and in the medium and long term we need to balance the budget. Southern Europe is showing us the futility of trying to shrink your way to prosperity. They are also providing example after example of what happens when you allow your debt to reach a point that investors are afraid to purchase it. Meanwhile, back in D.C., our Congress has decided that the smart thing to do is to raise taxes by $400 billion and cut spending by $200 billion. That’s 3.8 percent of the nation’s. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Karl Falk, Summit Mitigation Services

Air Force Academy grad applies lessons to real estate niche

By Nora Caley

Karl Falk, 37,  thinks his Air Force experience has helped him in his current career, which is negotiating real estate short sales. Falk is president and CEO of Summit Mitigation Services, which helps title companies and real estate brokers handle negotiations of short sales. A short sale is a property sale in which the proceeds are not enough to cover the balance of the mortgage. It’s a preferred alternative to foreclosure, and one that involves working with others toward a goal. "In any industry there is a wide variety of ethics and personal beliefs, and coming from the Air Force Academy there is a strong sense of ethics, and having a vision, and leading other people to believe in that vision," says Falk, who graduated from the Academy and then served in the U.S. Air. . .

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GenXYZ companies

Passion and persistence a common trait for eight emerging companies

By Eric Peterson

Similar to our Gen XYZ profiles of young professionals making their mark in Colorado business, we set out to unearth companies that project a certain youthful exuberance, entrepreneurial zeal, and a forecaster’s sense of what goods or services will be of value in the marketplace. The range of what these eight companies offer should serve as an indication that as long as the passion and persistence is there, the enterprise stands a good chance of enduring, and thriving. Among the companies profiled, you’ll find: • A sculptor-turned-custom cake maker; • An online seller of discounted medical equipment; • The creator of an app for restaurant reviews that’s won the following of some award-winning restaurateurs; • The creator of a fast-growing business contact-management solution; • A globe-trotting, philanthropy-minded importer of. . .

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Top 250 Private Companies 2012

Construction, engineering firms top ranking again

By Mike Taylor

The top four spots in the annual ColoradoBiz Top 250 Private Companies are a repeat of 2011, once again occupied by firms in the construction or engineering fields, or both. All four companies topped $1 billion in revenues last year, led again by Englewood-based global engineering giant CH2M Hill with revenues of $6.37 billion last year. Denver-based PCL Construction Enterprises was next with revenues of $5.6 billion, followed by Greeley-based Hensel Phelps Construction ($2.3 billion) and MWH Global, a specialist in wet-water infrastructure based in Broomfield, which boasted sales of $1.48 billion. The highest year-over-year growth among firms at least three years old was achieved by Motivity Solutions, a provider of business intelligence. . .

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Business as usual: Cultivate Festival is vintage Chipotle

By Mike Taylor

Chipotle Mexican Grill has been different from the start, beginning with the fact that the founder, Steve Ells, came from a culinary institute, not a business school. Then there’s the way the Denver-based chain with the "Food with Integrity" mission statement has marketed itself – or hasn’t. Chipotle has grown to more than 1,300 restaurants yet had never aired a national TV commercial in its 18-year history until this year’s Grammy Awards – a cute but serious message in which Weeble-like characters see the meat industry magically transformed with humane animal-raising practices, a Chipotle trademark. That stands in stark contrast to the typical fast-food chain approach, which Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold describes as "lots of limited-time or seasonal offers, heavy television and heavy media support for those offers, which causes temporary spikes in. . .

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Rundles wrap up: Pondering passages

By Jeff Rundles

When it comes to things to ponder – and I am an inveterate ponderer – the passing of eras interests me greatly, probably because I have lived long enough to see many of them pass. I’ve seen a few of them come along, too, and then pass. For instance, my office in the early 1980s was one of the first in Denver to get a fax machine, and we went to great lengths to seek out the other two or three possessors of this blazing technology; we mostly sent each other jokes and quotes just to see how the machines worked. Then for about 15 to 18 years we had to get a newer, faster, plain-paper fax machine every year to keep up with the demand. I recently saw one of these marvels on a shelf in my basement, right next to a classic Underwood manual. . .

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Colorado cool stuff: Dracula’s fangs, day of the dead art, Saso sauces, Honey skateboards

By Eric Peterson

DRACULA HOUSE FANGS Don Nutting of Foothill Creations in Boulder got into greeting card distribution in the late 1960s, then the souvenir game in the 1970s, followed by Halloween masks and other products in the 1980s. By the mid-1990s, he saw a market opportunity in a premium line of costume fangs. "I developed the first universal fang that wouldn’t fall out," Nutting says. The trick: subtracting material on the back of the tooth and adding pliable thermoplastic. Now his Dracula House brand offers fangs for vampires, werewolves, zombies, devils, goblins and more. "We sell them all over the country and Europe," says Nutting, citing annual sales around $1 million. "It’s the best fang on the market." $19.95 to $29.95 retail. Made by Foothill Creations Ltd.,. . .

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Pet insurance growing into workplace perk

By Debra Melani

If Lassie were to trot into a veterinary hospital today, the Hollywood collie who stole America’s heart in the TV show of the ‘50s-‘70s would probably fall over in shock, no command necessary. The medical field for her furry friends has reached such a high level of care, even unsuspecting owners rushing Fluffy and Fido through the doors might wonder if they took a wrong turn and entered a human hospital. But along with this specialized medicine, which includes everything from PET scans and CT scans to physical therapy and chemotherapy, comes a growing price tag. Something as seemingly small as a swallowed sock can set a dog owner back $4,000.The inflation has led to an uptick in what was once a highly niche market, with more Americans. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Marc Crawford, Education Measures

His firm’s data crunching helps companies fine-tune their education programs

By Nora Caley

Usually the way to make sure a student learned something is to give a quiz. Unfortunately this isn’t practical for continuing education for health-care professionals. Marc Crawford’s company, Educational Measures, helps companies capture outcomes, or the impact of educational programs. Educational Measures collects data through electronic surveys and audience response system software. Crawford, 39, who founded the technology company with his brother Mike in 2005, says he soon realized that companies were collecting data with this technology but they weren’t using the data to its fullest extent. "When we started I said they are collecting all this data and not doing anything with it to show a return on education," he says. "We help them get paper off the. . .

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GenXYZ: 10 more of Colorado’s Top 25 Young Professionals

By the staff of ColoradoBiz

Erik Mitisek, 35 Co-Founder and vice president, Next Great Place Inc. Path to success: Mitisek started his first successful business, Riki Wear, as a student at the University of Denver. He has been the first employee or early team member of four Denver companies, and he has been building companies and hiring employees here for more than a decade. Prior to co-founding Next Great Place Inc., he led firm-wide business development and corporate development activities for Exclusive Resorts, where he orchestrated partnerships with companies including Neiman Marcus, American Express, NetJets, Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Morgan Stanley. Before Exclusive Resorts, Mitisek was a pioneer in the online music industry supporting the founders of XACT Radio in building a world-class personalized. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Amanda Adams, MWH Global

Love of geology led to career with environmental engineering giant

By Nora Caley

Amanda Adams, 29,  wants people to be excited about a career in mining. That includes everyone from Girl Scouts on an educational excursion on Dinosaur Ridge to new hires at MWH Global, where Adams works as a senior geological engineer. Adams didn’t even want to be an engineer when she was growing up. "My dad is a structural engineer," she says. "I thought, I don’t know what Dad does but I’m sure it’s boring." Her downfall was that she really liked geology, which, as it turned out, was not boring at all. She graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering. She went to work for a small geotechnical company in Denver, then joined MWH Global in 2008. MWH Global is a wet infrastructure and. . .

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Executive edge: Amy Burkett

Denver architect finds fulfillment in Middle East projects

By Lynn Bronikowski

For Amy Burkett, principal of Denver-based Burkett Design, the chance of a lifetime began with a voice mail from a world away. The American University of Afghanistan was awarded $5 million to build the International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development and in a national search was pursuing Burkett, as a women-owned firm, to do the design. "There was no doubt in my mind that I had to do it," Burkett said. "To me, it was a dream project – a combination of being in the Middle East; it’s architecture; and it’s about helping women. You can’t have a more powerful project than that." Although Burkett travels with security, she had no hesitation about visiting Kabul. She’s been there six times and will attend the grand opening in. . .

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Tech startup: BrightNest

Making useful sexy

By Eric Peterson

INITIAL LIGHT BULB In summer 2011, Justin Anthony realized home maintenance was no easy task. "A guy came by my house and asked if I needed my ducts cleaned," he says. "I didn’t even know I had ducts." Two days later, Anthony got a call from longtime Chicago-area homebuilder Allen Shulman, who sent over his business plan for a home-maintenance website. Anthony woke up that night, edited the plan, and emailed it back. The very next day, Shulman hopped on a plane to Denver and met Anthony for lunch, and they formally went into business as BrightNest. From November through February, the duo participated in the intensive 500 Startups Incubator in California. "We were doing 14- to 16-hour days for four months without a break," says Anthony.. . .

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Best of the web: Why every brand-conscious business should blog

By Paula Berg

Despite the evidence in favor of blogging, with the rise of Twitter and Facebook, many brands are reluctant to blog. While blogs can be a lot of work, they provide a foundation for information on the Web and an owned platform for your social business. Hubspot’s 2010 "The State of Inbound Marketing Survey" found that: • 77 percent of Internet users read blogs; • Blogs yield an average ROI of 600 percent; • Companies that blog have two times the number of inbound links versus companies that don’t; • 46 percent of companies with blogs have acquired customers from a blog-generated lead; • 58 percent say that they are better-known in their industry because of their blog; • 56 percent say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry. And anyone who says blogs are dead. . .

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GenXYZ Top Five: Michael Pytel, NIMBL

Young father used warehouse-clerk job as stepping stone to his own IT company

By Lisa Ryckman

At 18, Michael Pytel was a new father and reluctant college dropout working as a warehouse clerk to pay the bills. It was actually an improvement over his previous job. "I was assembling zippers," says Pytel, 33. There was no place to go but up. So that’s exactly where Pytel went. "IT was deploying a new system at the warehouse, and I took to it pretty well," Pytel recalls. "They asked if I would train other people, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll train everybody.’ A year later, they asked me to work on the help desk." Pytel bounded up the ladder, going from clerk to manager to SAP solution engineer for a large staffing corporation. He and business partner Yosh Eisbart grew the technology piece of the company from nothing to $30 million. "Yosh and I were. . .

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