Posted: September 01, 2008
2008 Top Company Finalists
Colorado's most competitive business awardBy ColoradoBiz staff
What’s it take to become a top company?
Pretty much everything you should aspire to be as a business enterprise.
Top Company is Colorado’s most competitive business awards program, judged on the basis of financial performance, operational excellence and community involvement.
Companies participate by submitting confidential nominations to long-time co-sponsor Deloitte, whose industry specialists select finalists from eight business categories after rigorous evaluations.
A panel comprised of business professionals and leading policy officials then convenes to determine winners in each category.
Now in its 21st consecutive year, the roster of Top Company winners reads like a who’s who of Colorado business. The 22 finalists profiled on the following pages represent the state’s highest achievers.
Winners will be announced Sept. 16 at an awards luncheon in the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Call (303) 662-5222 or visit cobizmag.com for details.
Catalyst Repository Systems
Catalyst Repository Systems helps coordinate teams and manage cases throughout all phases of litigation and other complex legal matters by providing Web-based platforms to streamline discovery, analyze information and reduce overall review time and cost.
This enables law firms and corporate legal departments to centralize electronic discovery, improve the efficiency of their legal review and better manage the rising costs of litigation. Catalyst CR, a Web-based search and review tool, can search more than 70 languages from a single repository.
It also allows clients to translate entire documents "on the fly" in up to 14 different languages. Additionally, Catalyst has introduced a new Assigned Review Module that automates document batching and assignment, as well as the entire review workflow. This allows review teams to work faster and more efficiently as documents automatically move from one stage of the review to the next.
"Catalyst offers some of the most advanced technology in the business, and its strategy of honesty, integrity and putting client needs first has worked to the benefit of both clients and the company," the Denver-based company says.
Founded in 2000 by CEO Dan King, ReadyTalk has built its audio conferencing and Web meeting solutions at a time when communicating online is increasingly important given the current business climate.
ReadyTalk’s technology helps customers hold engaging meetings, conduct sales demos, run Web seminars, host training sessions and communicate in infinite ways using the phone and the Web. Recently, the company has focused its efforts on helping customers take more control of their events, handing them tools ranging from pre-event registration and invitation to post-event reporting and campaign tracking.
The Denver-based company, located over the Tattered Cover bookstore downtown, works hard to build a community of loyal customers through its commitment to designing innovative and useful technology and its dedication to customers’ success. Its numerous accolades include a ranking as the third fastest growing company in Colorado on the Deloitte Fast 50 list, the top ranking for 2007’s Best Company to Work for in Colorado award, and, most recently, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 award for the Rocky Mountain region.
ReadyTalk is known for placing emphasis on the health and vitality of its employees. The company offers a casual, dog-friendly office, generous benefits and employee-run philanthropy committee.
Spectranetics manufactures and sells the only excimer laser approved in the United States, Europe and Japan for use in multiple, minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures.
The technology treats complex cardiovascular conditions by vaporizing lipid-based, calcified and fibrotic plaque, saphenous vein graft disease, and neointimal hyperplasia. Excimer lasers are also used to remove scar tissue holding problematic pacemaker and defibrillator cardiac leads in place.
The Colorado Springs-based company’s disposable catheters use high-energy "cool" ultraviolet light to vaporize blockages into tiny particles that are easily absorbed into the blood stream, reducing complications and improving clinical outcomes.
Spectranetics was founded in 1984 by Robert Golobic, Ph.D., an Air Force physicist and Johan Sverdrup, a Hewlett-Packard engineer. Golobic had been working on lasers as part of the Strategic Defense initiative, and Sverdrup had done ultrasound work with ADR (Advanced Diagnostic Research) and Doppler imaging with Vingmed.
They created Spectranetics — one of the first companies in the world to explore the possibility of using a "cool" ultraviolet laser to clear occluded arteries. The first patient was treated at the Texas Heart Institute in 1989.
Spectranetics’ common stock is traded on the NASDAQ market under the symbol SPNC.
Tourism / hospitality
Noodles & Company
Broomfield-based Noodles & Company was founded in 1995 as the world’s first quick-casual, globally inspired noodle restaurant. Its menu features Asian, Mediterranean and American inspired noodle dishes, soups and salads.
"At Noodles & Company there are no freezers, no microwaves, and no can openers. Instead, we seek to nourish and inspire our guests with a balanced and craveable menu made with fresh, wholesome and authentic ingredients," the company says. "Every bowl is prepared to order with only the best noodles and pasta, fresh vegetables, authentic herbs and spices, artisan spices and grilled chicken, beef, shrimp or organic tofu."
The philosophy at Noodles & Company is that diners can eat well without compromising on flavor or a nourishing meal. Two thirds of its dishes contain less than 500 calories. Its educational "Good Balance" program was created to help guests make customizable food choices to meet their own balanced diet and needs. Health magazine recently named Noodles & Company "America’s Healthiest Fast-Food Restaurant."
Noodles & Company is open seven days a week in more than 180 locations in 17 states. It plans to open 35 to 45 new restaurants in 2008 and to exceed 500 in the next five to six years.
Polk Majestic Travel Group
Polk Majestic Travel Group is a Colorado corporation jointly owned and operated by Robert A. Polk, CEO, and Andrea Shpall, president.
Polk, the former owner of Polk Travel, has been in the travel industry since 1980. His simple business philosophy, "If we strive to be the best, our future is unlimited," resulted in Polk Travel growing its business clientele to nearly 500 corporations.
Shpall, a third-generation Colorado native, owned and operated Majestic Travel for many years. After a successful career as a lawyer, Andrea made a career change to take over her family-owned business. Under her leadership, Majestic Travel became one of the leading travel agencies in Colorado.
Since Polk and Shpall joined forces on in 2003, Polk Majestic Travel Group has grown as a full-service travel management company and is now the largest independent agency in Colorado. Changes in the industry brought about by Internet reservation centers prompted the merger.
"We were strong where the other was weak," Polk told ColoradoBiz in 2006. "That helped us a lot. It gave us more stability."
Polk Majestic Travel is no stranger to Top Company: It bested the competition two years ago to win the Tourism/Hospitality category.
Xantera Parks and Resorts
Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates lodges, restaurants and other concessions at national parks and state parks and resorts and is the country’s largest park concessionaire.
The Greenwood Village company operates concessions in Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks and Mount Rushmore National Memorial; and at the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif.; and eight Ohio State Parks.Its affiliate, Xanterra South Rim LLC., operates concessions at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Xanterra also operates the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Ariz.
Xanterra has become recognized internationally as a hospitality industry leader in sustainable operations. The company received the "Sustainable Hotel of the Year" award at the HotelWorld Global Hospitality and Design Award Ceremony and Expo this year for its environmental achievements at Zion Lodge in Zion National Park. Additionally, Xanterra will soon complete construction on one of largest renewable energy systems in the United States — a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic system in Death Valley National Park.
Other initiatives in the last few years include committing to — and achieving the goal of — an absolute reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions and developing U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified sustainable buildings in two national parks.
LEI Companies Inc.
Brandon Berumen and Lenee Koch founded Denver based LEI Companies Inc. in 2002, aiming to establish it as an elite electrical contracting firm.
After their family-owned business, Laser Electric Inc., decided to discontinue the electrical contracting portion of its services, Berumen and Koch were determined to stay in the industry. Berumen, the company’s president and CEO; Koch, its vice president; and Terry Haley, preconstruction manager, created a company that encompasses marketing, management and quality control as a basis for growth and opportunity.
LEI focuses on all facets of the ever-changing construction market, including commercial, industrial and residential construction. As an electrical contractor, LEI is involved in traditional hard-bid projects, service calls and also embraces a new-age construction philosophy that focuses on alternative delivery methods.
"The experienced staff of LEI Companies provides extensive knowledge in the industry covering a wide variety of commercial customers and contractors in both the private and public sectors," the company says. "With a commitment to continuous improvement and education, LEI can handle all levels of a high-profile project, especially difficult and complex electrical installations. LEI has a commitment to high-quality workmanship and steadfast performance and will never compromise this philosophy for price."
Lend Lease Communities
Denver-based Lend Lease Communities develops sustainable mixed-use projects. The company is working on two projects in Colorado — Horizon Uptown in Aurora and Lowry Range in Denver — and aims to expand nationally.
Horizon Uptown is part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED-Neighborhood Design pilot program. It will combine residential, commercial and retail uses in an urban format that emphasizes community cohesion, lifelong learning and recreational opportunities.
When complete, Horizon Uptown will include more than 3,800 homes, 60 acres of parks and 1.3 million square feet of retail space. In addition, it will be a major regional economic-development hub, with up to 11,000 jobs and 4 million square feet of commercial space.
Lowry Range, scheduled to break ground in 2010, is a 3,870-acre project that Lend Lease Communities is developing in a long-term relationship with the Colorado State Land Board. Lowry Range will be a new town of 32,000 residents about 20 miles southeast of Denver.
Abutting a 17,000-acre conservation area, Lowry Range will feature a Main Street-style town center, seven P-8 schools, 1,100 acres of parks, conservation and open space, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, convenient retail and major employment opportunities.
Mass Service & Supply LLC
Mass Service & Supply LLC is a small, woman-owned, HUBZone general contractor that specializes in federal government contracting.
The Pueblo company was founded in 1996 by Mary Catherine
Grasmick and Mohammed Ghamdi and since then has worked for such customers as the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Air Force Academy, Wyoming Air National Guard, Fort Carson Directorate of Contracting, U.S. Forest Service and the Pueblo Chemical Depot.
Mass’ project managers and superintendents possess diverse backgrounds covering all construction trades. It provides the security of skilled project management within a small business environment. Mass offers a variety of services including design-build, renovations, new construction, metal buildings, infrastructure and civil projects. It also provides municipal park development and upgrades, asbestos/environmental cleanup, specialized protecting coating, concrete and service contracts.
Mass is a chief metal building dealer and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. The company was ranked by ColoradoBiz as one of the Top 100 women-owned businesses in 2008. Mass has been the recipient of several outstanding performance awards from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded the 2007 Fort Carson Small Business Contractor of the Year.
First Western Financial Inc.
First Western Trust Bank is the first Western-based, Western-focused private bank and trust company. A wholly owned subsidiary of First Western Financial Inc., the bank now has more than 200 prominent individual shareholders.
First Western has approximately $2.8 billion in assets under management through its network of offices and affiliate operations, and $300 million in bank assets. First Western brings a sophisticated approach to the management of its clients’ portfolios. The bank offers four key integrated financial services: private banking, investment management, personal trust and wealth planning. First Western serves those individuals with $1 million liquid net worth, along with any associated companies and/or family foundations.
Scott Wylie, who founded First Western in 2002, is the bank’s chairman and CEO. In 1996, Wylie launched Colorado’s first local private bank and trust — Trust Bank of Colorado — which was eventually acquired by Northern Trust Bank of Colorado.
First Western is headquartered in Denver, with additional offices in Boulder, Cherry Creek and Fort Collins. The firm will open an Arizona-chartered bank in Scottsdale, Ariz., and plans to open a location in the Denver Tech Center later this year.
Mercury Payment Systems Inc.
Mercury Payment Systems delivers smart payment processing to restaurants, retailers and supermarkets throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The Durango company, which employs 275 people, ranks 29th in the 2008 Nilson Report’s Top 100 Acquirers list, up seven spots from 2007. Mercury builds its technology, for free, into point-of-sale (POS) systems. Its MercuryPay platform is readily available in hundreds of POS systems to enable fast, reliable and affordable payment processing.
Mercury also includes 24/7 live support, Web reports, and other services, such as gift card transactions and e-alerts, free of charge. Mercury offers security "best practices" to its developer, reseller and merchant partners and PCI-compliant protection to its consumers.
Founded in 2001 by brothers Marc and Jeffrey Katz, Mercury’s family-style company culture is as unique as Mercury’s business model. Marc Katz was named by ColoradoBiz as Small Business CEO of the Year in 2006. Mercury was named a "2008 Best Company to Work for in Colorado" by the Society for Human Resource Management Colorado State Council.
A Mercury reseller partner won the 2008 Innovative Solution Award for his use of MercuryAlerts at the RSPA RetailNOW conference and expo.
New Frontier Bank
Founded in 1998, New Frontier Bank quickly became one of the fastest-growing banks in the nation, expanding from $6 million in capital to become a $2 billion bank — all with just three locations and without mergers or acquisitions.
The Greeley-based company, which also operates in Windsor and Longmont and employs 230 workers, is a locally owned and managed, full-service community bank that provides financial services to the households, small- and medium-sized businesses, organizations and government entities
The bank cites "exquisite timing" as the answer to part of its success. The absorption of local banks by corporate giants was an important early development for the bank, says the company, which also benefited from rapid growth of business and the population in its service area.
But New Frontier Bank also had a strong vision: "From the very beginning a solid commitment was made to customer services; every person was to be greeted at the front door and every phone call to be answered in person; all were to be treated equally regardless of their profit-value; the dignity of every individual was to be respected no matter whether they came to us with an opportunity or a challenge. These are the same principles we operate under today."
The Children’s Museum of Denver
Since its inception in 1973, the Children’s Museum of Denver has served the metro-Denver community as a learning institute dedicated to the education and growth of young children, newborn through age 8, and their caregivers.
The museum offers 11 interactive "Playscapes," daily programming and special events, and serves more than 270,000 children annually. Last year, it served 534 school groups. The private nonprofit has experienced record attendance growth over the past several years: serving 226,131 children and caregivers in fiscal 2006, 253,760 in 2007 and 273,061 in 2008. It attracts more guests per square foot than any other Children’s Museum in the country.
The museum strives to reach all segments of the community. Of more than 12,000 members, 30 percent of are sponsored memberships for families in need. The museum provides more than 14,000 free admissions for underserved children annually through its sponsored admissions program. Each participating child is offered a free yearlong museum family membership.
Through partnerships with the United Launch Alliance, Denver cultural institutions, and public and private schools, the Children’s Museum of Denver has extended its ability to make its mission a success.
In 2007, the museum paid off its mortgage, making it debt-free for the first time in its history.
Denver Rescue Mission
Founded in 1892, the Denver Rescue Mission is the oldest, full-service Christian charity serving the poor and needy in the Rocky Mountain region. It provides emergency services, rehabilitation, transitional and permanent housing, and community outreach.
The aim of the nonprofit is to return the poor, needy and homeless to society as self-sufficient, productive community members. Last year, the Mission served more than 550,000 meals, provided 157,000 nights of shelter, distributed 155 tons of clothing, received 108,011 volunteer hours, placed 158 families into permanent housing, led 21 men and women to a general equivalency diploma, and graduated 62 men and women from the New Life Program.
The Denver Rescue Mission reached a milestone this year through the Family and Senior Homeless Initiative, a collaboration with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver’s Road Home, the city of Denver’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. The goal of the plan is to place 1,000 low-income families and seniors into permanent housing through the help of 1,000 congregations by 2015.
Since 2005, the Mission has collaborated with the city of Denver and the faith-based community through the program to help more than 400 families and seniors into permanent housing in less than three years.
Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain Inc. is a local organization dedicated to inspiring young people to reach their full potential. Its mission is to inspire and prepare them to embrace free enterprise and succeed in a global economy.
The nonprofit accomplishes this by facilitating a partnership between schools and communities. JA develops free educational programs; schools provide the access; and community volunteers deliver the hands-on curriculum to students.
The group’s interactive K-12th grade curriculum, which focuses on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness, prepares students for success by teaching them the "economics of life." Programs are conducted in the classroom by volunteers from the business community, who serve as role models to the students.
This year, Junior Achievement hopes to reach 90,000 students in 520 schools throughout the Front Range, with the help of more than 3,200 local volunteers. Beginning in the 2008-09 school year, JA will work with Denver Venture School, a new business and entrepreneurship-focused charter high school, to integrate Junior Achievement programs into the curriculum for all students. For the first time, each student at an entire school will experience JA as part of the standard curriculum at least once per year for the four consecutive years they attend.
Alpine Waste & Recycling
Founded in 1999, Alpine Waste & Recycling is the largest privately held commercial waste and recycling collection company in the Denver area.
Named as one of the top 25 fastest growing Colorado companies every year in the period 2003-2006, Alpine has parlayed a customer-service focus into a compound annual revenue growth rate of greater than 50 percent. By 2007, Alpine had a customer base of more than 2,000 accounts. With a focus on commercial accounts, Alpine lists among its customers Gates Corp., Xcel Energy, Whole Foods and CB Richard Ellis.
From its beginnings as a single-truck operation called Alpine Disposal serving Aurora, Alpine has grown to a company of more than 36 trucks and more than 90 employees and hauls more than 100,000 tons of waste per year. In 2007, Alpine opened its Altogether Recycling Plant in North Denver, in which the company accepts recycling materials from customers in a single stream, with no separation of materials required. Equipment at the plant automatically separates the materials into plastics, aluminums, paper, cardboard, etc.
Alpine puts a GPS tracking device and digital camera in each of its service vehicles, allowing the company to maintain accurate records of customer service activities and communicate effectively with its customers.
Gutterman Griffiths PC
Littleton-based law firm Gutterman Griffiths PC focuses on family law, helping people in Colorado weather some of the toughest family transitions.
More than 50 percent of marriages fail; and more than 53 percent of all cases in the court system involve family law, the firm notes."We inform our clients about all of the options available to them in family actions from a ‘kitchen table’ settlement to a ‘War of the Roses,’ the nine-attorney firm says on its website. "Most divorces, fortunately, fall somewhere in the middle, and most people like to think of themselves as reasonable and rational.
"By educating our clients and the public, which we do extensively through lectures, publications, workshops, and seminars, we enable them to choose the path suited to their particular needs and wishes."
Gutterman Griffiths has earned a "preeminent" ranking from Martindale Hubbell, which means the firm has achieved the highest level of legal ability and the highest adherence to professional standards of conduct, ethics, reliability and diligence.
The firm’s other awards include rankings in Colorado Super Lawyers, Denver’s Top Divorce Attorneys, ColoradoBiz top 100 Women-owned Companies and Top 250 Private Companies, and Women’s Vision Foundation "Entrepreneur of the Year."
Service Magic Inc.
ServiceMagic.com is a free service for consumers that connects them with home-improvement professionals, from maids to plumbers to remodelers.
Each professional has already been screened in areas like criminal records checks, state sex offender registries, state-level trade license (if required), liability insurance and more under ServiceMagic.com’s 10-point screening process.
ServiceMagic.com has been in business since 1999 and now has more than 53,000 prescreened professionals across the country. In 2007, the company made 3.5 million matches between homeowners and prescreened contractors nationwide and since 1999 has made more than 9 million matches.
ServiceMagic just launched a new service called ScreenAPro.com, which runs the same 10-point screening on the name of a contractor a customer may have already hired or is considering hiring. It’s another free way to make sure a home service professional checks out.
The company’s headquarters is in Golden, where most of its 850 employees work. The remaining employees work at its new operations center that opened in June 2007 in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, Kan.
In 2007, revenue at ServiceMagic totaled $93 million — a 47 percent increase over 2006.
Centennial-based AlloSource is a nonprofit that provides skin, bone and soft-tissue grafts for use in surgical procedures.
Founded more than 20 years ago as the Mile High Tissue Bank, AlloSource is the world’s leading supplier of fresh cartilage tissue used for joint repair and skin allografts to heal severe burns. The company provides specialized bone products for neurosurgical and orthopedic spine surgery and fusions, and processes ligament and tendon replacement tissue to repair torn tendons.
The 400-employee company is based in Centennial, where it has 254 employees and also has primary locations in Salt Lake City and Cincinnati. AlloSource was a finalist this year in the Best Companies to Work for in Colorado competition, also co-sponsored by ColoradoBiz.
"Because we are a nonprofit and because we deal with donated human tissue, we hire people who right off the bat understand that we’re a mission-driven organization, and that drives a lot of our success as far as it relates to getting good, satisfied employees," AlloSource President and CEO Thomas Cycyota told ColoradoBiz in an interview for the Best Companies program.
In 2007, AlloSource processed more than 3,000 donors — a 20 percent increase from 2006 — which helped it provide 33 percent more allografts to patients in its local communities.
The Children’s Hospital
Founded in 1908 in Denver, the Children’s Hospital consistently ranks among the top 10 pediatric care centers in the country. This year, the hospital was ranked the seventh best hospital for children in U.S. News & World Report’s "America’s Best Hospitals."
The private not-for-profit health-care network has more than 1,000 pediatric specialists and more than 3,000 full-time employees. It provides services at its main campus and 12 other locations, and offers more than 400 outreach clinics annually in the Rocky Mountain region.
The Children’s Hospital at Interstate 225 and Colfax Avenue is the only Level I trauma center in a seven-state region. The hospital also provides emergency care at Saint Joseph Hospital in downtown Denver and at Parker Adventist Hospital and urgent care in Littleton, Broomfield and Wheat Ridge.
Last year, the Children’s Hospital became the first exclusively pediatric hospital in the nation to set up a completely integrated electronic records system, according to Utah-based Klas Enterprises, an independent research company. The system enables physicians and other health-care providers to access patient records electronically through secure technology whether they are at the Children’s Hospital, their offices or other locations.
Founded in 2000, HealthTrans provides health-care management solutions, including medical and pharmacy claims processing, benefits administration/management, discount health-care programs, clinical programs, consulting services and mail-order prescriptions.
Clients include employers, union groups, third-party administrators, brokers, consultants, managed-care organizations and other payers. HealthTrans has helped clients lower their overall net health-care expenses. The company first focused on claims administration, and quickly realized its clients needed a trusted partner who could help them with broader health-care management offerings.
HealthTrans evolved its product set with full pharmacy benefits management, medical, dental and vision options and other health-care related services. The HealthTrans Access discount drug card provides cardholders with discounts ranging from 10 percent to 85 percent off the cost of generic and brand-name prescription medications at more than 55,000 pharmacies nationwide. The average price of the medication purchased using the HealthTrans Access card is $31.79 — a 57 percent savings over the national average medication price of $75, as stated by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
HealthTrans processes more than 90 million claims annually, representing 15.1 million lives and more than $4 billion in annual prescription drug spending. Entrepreneur magazine’s 2008 Hot 100 list ranked HealthTrans, as the seventh most successful privately owned company in the United States.
Energy & natural resources
Xcel Energy in Colorado is part of an investor-owned U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Midwestern and Western states.
Minneapolis-based Xcel is one of the largest combination natural gas and electricity companies in the nation.
Xcel Energy Colorado provides products and services to 1.3 million electric and 1.2 million natural gas customers.This year, Xcel Energy selected Boulder to pilot its SmartGridCity initiative. This next-generation grid will allow customers and utilities to collaboratively manage power generation, delivery and energy consumption.
When completed, SmartGridCity will boast a fully interconnected energy system capable of managing the various parts of the grid involved in producing power and delivering it to consumers.
The company is a national leader in developing technologies and practices that reduce the impact of electricity generation on the environment, focusing on minimizing carbon emissions. The company is the nation’s No. 1 provider of wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Its Windsource product tops the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s list of customer-driven "green" products in the country.
Xcel Energy is ranked fifth in the nation among utilities with solar power, according to Solar Electric Power Association. It initiated the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the country in Alamosa, an 8.22-megawatt facility that uses a combination of solar technologies.