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November 2014 Issue

Cover Story

2013 Top Company finalists: Ingredients of success

By Gigi Sukin

Business is sort of like baking. Per industry, as per recipe, there is a list, whether written or committed to memory, of specific ingredients that must be included. Creativity and innovation can be deliciously appealing, but depending on the company or dish, a little can go a long way. Also, proper timing is essential; otherwise the final product may not fit the taste of its intended audience. Business and baking aren’t exact sciences. But in Colorado, where the air is thinner and the spirit is fueled by a work-life balance that the Rocky Mountain landscape can’t help but

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Articles

GenXYZ Top Five: Brandy Bertram, 36

Executive Director, YouthBiz

By Nora Caley

When Brandy Bertram was in grade school, all her report cards contained the same critique. “It always had ‘Challenges the instructor,’” says Bertram, currently the executive director of YouthBiz. “I was always asking, ‘Why am I doing this, what is this and where does it come from?’” Bertram grew up in Laramie, Wyo. Her parents and brother all earned doctorates, so she might have been expected to follow their academic lead. Yet, she declined. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming, and then went to work as a stockbroker. “I earned my Series 7 and Series 63,” she says, referring to the securities licenses. “I did that. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Media

By Gigi Sukin

Media . Ad . PR Winner: GroundFloor Media Staffed entirely by seasoned pros since 2001, GroundFloor Media, set in downtown Denver, is an award-winning marketing-communication agency specializing in strategic communication, digital and social media strategy and reputation management. Differentiator GFM’s unique business model, in which the organization is staffed entirely by senior-level professionals, lends itself to obvious advantages. The agency doesn’t specialize in one particular niche, but instead cross-pollinates among industries with interesting stories to tell. Greatest Achivement The agency is currently in the process of establishing a company foundation focused on child and family services. This new grant-making entity will serve as a formalized extension of the community service activities that the agency has been committed to for all 12 of its. . .

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Sports biz: Going deep

By Stewart Schley

The most famous touchdown pass in college football history arced over Miami’s Orange Bowl field for seconds before settling into the arms of the Boston College wide receiver Gerard Phelan in a breathtaking last-second finale. But the echo from Doug Flutie’s impossibly magnificent, 48-yard heave continues to resonate, and right now, is especially loud in Colorado. “The Flutie Effect” is the nickname college athletics leaders use to describe the off-the-field impact of one of the greatest plays ever. Admission applications to Boston College soared by 30 percent in the two academic recruiting seasons following the 1984 game, suggesting there is no marketing scheme more effective than a heroic moment in football. Similar upswings have occurred elsewhere after college teams produced instances of on-field glory piped by ESPN and FOX into America’s living. . .

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Mixed forecast: Clean energy braces for funding cuts

Will local sustainability programs remain sustainable once federal dollars disappear?

By Jamie Siebrase

Colorado’s climate, ample sunlight and consistent investment in local think tanks haven’t hurt the state in its march toward renewable-energy leadership. Neither have federal dollars that were funneled into renewable initiatives a few years back. When it comes to investment in renewable energy, “Colorado is absolutely at the forefront,” says Julie Herman of the Colorado Green Building Guild. But what’s to come when the cash cow runs dry? In the first quarter of this year, 723 megawatts of photovoltaics were installed nationally, which represents 33 percent growth for the first three months of 2012. Nationally, the non-residential market had a slow start in 2013 with just 242 megawatts of PV installed in the first. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Tourism & Hospitality

By Gigi Sukin

Winner: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers The burger chain founded in 1969 in Seattle is now headquartered in Greenwood Village and run under the four cornerstones: “People, Smiling Burgers, Core Values and the Gift of Time.” Differentiator Red Robin is known for its unique burger creations, such as the Bonzai burger with grilled pineapple and other craveable favorites. The casual dining venue’s approach to guest service is inspired by an “unbridled” culture and random acts of kindness that restaurant team members are expected to bestow on guests and fellow team members. Biggest Challenge The restaurant industry remains highly competitive, largely due to discounting, quick-service and an influx of fast-casual dining options. Looking Forward Red Robin aims to continue serve the internal team, guests, maintain steady growth and prosperity. Quote of. . .

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2013 Top Company winners: Manufacturing

It's a tie

By Gigi Sukin

Manufacturing Winners: Sophono Inc. and Birko Sophono Inc. The Boulder-based developer of bone conduction hearing devices was incorporated in October 2009, following five years of research and development aimed at improving the hearing device experience. Differentiator Sophono manufactures and sells the only abutment-free, implantable, bone-anchored hearing device available to treat conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-ear deafness. This technology minimizes the risk of infection, need for daily wound care, cosmetic issues and problems for athletic wearers. Biggest Challenge Keeping up with manufacturing and production – based solely in Boulder – and getting the word out to surgeons about the effectiveness of the Alpha 2 implant are two ongoing challenges. Greatest Achievement Receiving FDA clearance to sell the Alpha System in 2011. . .

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Cherry Creek East responds to rental demand

State of the state: Real estate

By Mike Taylor

Two major projects underway in Denver’s Cherry Creek East neighborhood will add more than 350 rental units to the upscale area – and there’s more on the way. Broadstone Gardens at Cherry Creek, a 108-unit project located on Alameda Avenue and a block west of Colorado Boulevard, is slated for completion in early 2014 but is already leasing three completed floors. The developer, Alliance Residential Co., acquired the parcel from Zeppelin Development and began executing on plans previously presented by Zeppelin and agreed upon by various stakeholders. Meanwhile, demolition has begun on the southeast corner of East First Avenue and Steele Street to make way for a 12-story, 250-unit apartment complex across the street from the Cherry Creek Mall. BMC. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Consulting

By Gigi Sukin

Consulting & Professional Services Winner: Faegre Baker Daniels LLP From its Denver and Boulder offices, nearly 100 practicing attorneys serve the legal needs of the Rocky Mountain business community. Differentiator Innovating to improve the client experience is one way FBD strives to maintain a competitive advantage. Biggest Challenge With roots dating back to 1863, the never-ending task of staying abreast of an ever-changing legal and regulatory environment allows FBD to provide clients expert counsel to make sound business decisions. Greatest Achievement Expansion into global markets while maintaining shared ideas, a client-focused culture and similar values across oceans and borders. Looking Forward With a continued focus on pro bono work, sponsorships and charitable contributions, FBD hopes to help enrich the communities in which its team members live and. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: RE-Construction

By Gigi Sukin

Real Estate  .  Construction  .  Contracting   Winner: Oakwood Homes LLC Oakwood is considered one of Colorado and the nation’s premier luxury home builders and master-planned community developers, having built more than 10,000 homes since its inception in 1991. Differentiator Oakwood manufactures its own wall and roof systems to ensure quality and a systematic approach to its business. Greatest Achievement One of Oakwood’s many successes includes receiving the National Housing Quality Award. Looking Forward The builder’s 2020 vision is to build another 5,000 homes annually in multiple markets and leave lasting impacts on each community it touches. Quote of Note “The team at Oakwood Homes has worked hard at establishing a corporate culture that is focused on building top-quality homes in growing communities and. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Consumer

By Gigi Sukin

Consumer Business Winner: WhiteWave Foods Co. The WhiteWave Foods Co., headquartered in Denver, makes and sells branded plant-based food and beverage products, with well-known brands including Silk and Horizon. Differentiator The company believes its purpose is about more than merely making great tasting, responsibly produced food, but also leveraging the scale of its business to support the environment, employees and communities in which it does business. Biggest Challenge WhiteWave’s goal “to change the way the world eats for the better,” is a lofty objective, requiring a steadfast focus on providing consumers high-level service and quality products. Greatest Achievement In the last year, WhiteWave has created award-winning, innovative products, which contributed to the company’s record revenue of $2.3 billion in 2012, and to the creation of. . .

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Colorado cool stuff: Handleband, Treety socks, the Real Dill, Spirit Hound

By Eric Peterson

HANDLEBAND A senior at Stanford University, Boulder native Daniel Haarburger raised $58,000 on Kickstarter for his Wingstand smartphone stand in 2011. Now he’s got a new invention in the Handleband, designed to mount a smartphone to a bicycle’s handlebars to serve as a light, navigator or headlamp, and it’s got a bottle opener to boot. The first of the three functions was actually Haarburger’s initial inspiration. “I got a ticket for biking without a light at Stanford,” he says. He’s since raised more than $70,000 on Kickstarter for the Handleband and started shipping in August. Now 21, Haarburger has plenty of plans for the future. “Each successful product opens the floodgates for a number of new ones,” he says. About $30 retail. Made by. . .

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2013 Top Company finalists: Nonprofit

By Gigi Sukin

Nonprofit Goodwill Industries of Denver While many consumers know Goodwill for its thrift stores, revenues from the retail operations as well as donor contributions fund the 95-year-old organization’s work force development programs meant to benefit the community. Differentiator Last year, Goodwill helped more than 21,000 people in Denver and Northern Colorado with career development. Biggest Challenge Goodwill’s biggest challenge is to continue to grow revenue in tough economic conditions, to fund community programs and serve even more Coloradans in need. It intends to do this by optimizing activities to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and by marketing retail and mission programs to a wider audience. Greatest Achievement Goodwill’s success is carrying out its community mission for individuals to gain dignity and self-sufficiency day in and day. . .

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The Economist: The economics of perseverance

By Tom Binnings

Thomas Carlyle saw perseverance as the secret to a successful life. He wrote, “The tendency to persevere, to persist in spite of all hindrances, discouragements and impossibilities – it is this in all things that distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” While this certainly rings true in light of two summers of Colorado wildfires and the slow recovery from The Great Recession, it also represents a somewhat countervailing perspective to economists. As an applied economist, I get paid to forecast the future based on observable data and trends. I gave my first paid presentation as a young 20-something to business owners in a small Colorado community with a declining downtown. They were applying for a government grant and the firm I worked for was hired to assess the market feasibility of revitalizing the city center. This downtown, like so many, barely survived. . .

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2013 Top Company finalists: Technology

Companies on the cutting edge

By Gigi Sukin

Technology   Zayo Group Zayo Group provides bandwidth infrastructure services to wireless carriers, Web-based companies, health-care institutions, financial services and other industries. Differentiator Zayo focuses on providing fundamental infrastructure to entities that consume tremendous amounts of bandwidth. In contrast, the company’s competitors often view themselves as traditional telecom companies, focusing on providing a bundle of voice, Web and managed services. Biggest Challenge Zayo has acquired 25 companies since its founding in 2007. Integrating them into a single seamless network infrastructure has been a challenging undertaking. Greatest Achievement Zayo is proud that its business flourished throughout the 2008 financial crisis, growing every quarter and directly creating jobs for hundreds of people. Looking Forward Bandwidth is an. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Telecom

By Gigi Sukin

Winner: Level 3 Communications Headquartered in Broomfield since 1997, Level 3 Communications has provided international communication tools and services, focusing on business, content, government and wholesale customers. Differentiator Ranked as one of the most connected Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Level 3’s expanding assets have solidified its position as one of the largest IP transit networks in North America and Europe. The network service provider serves some of the world’s most demanding customers with mission-critical applications including top U.S. broadcaster, four of the five top global financial exchanges, 70 percent of the Fortune 500, 80 percent of the Fortune 100 and more than half of the Global 500. Greatest Achievement In 1998, the company began construction on what is known today as the world’s first continuously upgradeable,. . .

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2013 Top Company finalists: Software

By Gigi Sukin

Software   Confio Software Software creation is the name of the game for Confio, which helps database administrators (DBAs), developers, operations staff and other IT managers identify and solve performance problems in enterprise databases. Differentiator Rather than serving as merely a software vendor, Confio distinguishes itself by filling the role of trusted adviser to its worldwide customer base. Moreover, while many competitors monitor the health of databases, Confio tries to focus on end-user experience and response time. Biggest Challenge Technically speaking, the most difficult part of the industry requires keeping pace with ever-changing environments the company monitors. In terms of the business itself, managing rapid growth proves challenging because of international adoption of Confio’s Ignite software, requiring the expansion of its Boulder. . .

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2013 Top Company winner: Financial

By Gigi Sukin

Winner: Mercury Payment Systems Established in 2001, Durango-based Mercury is a fast-growing, award-winning payment processing company devoted to streamlining the payment chain for its clients. Differentiator Considered the pioneer of integrating payment processing into point of sale (POS) systems and the recognized market leader for POS developers and dealers, Mercury’s scale enables payment innovation and support that many merchants previously couldn’t afford. Biggest Challenge The intersection of mobile devices, fraud reduction, social and Web-marketing is driving unprecedented change. The organization’s biggest challenge is innovating responsibly for its channel, payments and technology partners. Looking Forward Consumers continue to demand a more personalized, rewarding and positive experience when spending their hard-earned money. Mercury is. . .

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Rundles wrap up: Traffic jams indeed

By Jeff Rundles

On my way to Denver International Airport recently for a passenger pickup, I used my preferred airport route and travelled the entire distance of I-225 from I-25 to I-70. I did that same thing the night I-225 opened way back in 1976 just to get a feel for the new “loop” on the east side of town. What has continued to amaze me over the years – and I have travelled the I-225 route hundreds of times – is that never, not once, not ever did I traverse that 11.959 miles of highway when there wasn’t some sort of construction going on. I-225 has always been and is today, as they say, a work in progress. I think of it as a metaphor for Colorado transportation. Once you create more access, a more direct route, you also create. . .

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Executive edge: John Hayes

Ball Corp. CEO buys into minor-league hockey

By Lynn Bronikowski

When John Hayes was 4 years old, he’d peek over the pew of his church in suburban Chicago, decked out in hockey gear so he’d be ready to hit the nearby ice rink as soon as he said his last amen. “I’ve played hockey my whole life,” said the CEO of the Broomfield-based Ball Corp. “Hockey is not only a sport but it is one of life’s lessons. It’s taught me more things that I apply in my business life than anything else. It’s about accountability; it’s about teamwork; it’s about passion; it’s about working a little harder than everyone else,” said Hayes, who today plays in what he calls a men’s beer league. “You can apply all that to playing hockey. . .

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Escape to Estes Park

The town offers alternatives to typical convention centers

By Tess Ford

Conference time. Please find your welcome packet and nametag at the door. Help yourself to a styrofoam cup of coffee brewed yesterday from a tin drum and let us plow through this. For many business owners, planning and orchestrating a conference is an inevitable, annual chore. It’s not the sort of event that typically allows for the time, inspiration or budget required to book a less-than-obvious location. A mandatory two or three days of sedated keynote speakers, fiscal planning, professional development – strategery – it’s thrilling stuff. As rough as business meetings can be, when it is time to slaughter a to-do list, it is best to have some measure of forced togetherness and seclusion. To effectively host  a. . .

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New commerce secretary seeks to tap Colorado’s export potential

State of the state: Business development

Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker kicked off her nationwide listening tour with business leaders and Department of Commerce employees with a series of stops in Colorado. Over a two-day period in July, she met with employees of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder. In Denver, Pritzker met with Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss his vision to concentrate aviation-intensive businesses around DIA. She also spoke with Gov. John Hickenlooper and hosted a roundtable with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and several local business leaders to discuss ways to build on the momentum of Colorado’s improving economy. Bennet then joined the Secretary for a tour of. . .

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