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Posted: March 11, 2009

Capitalizing on core values

DMC and ESM honored at ACG Rocky Mountain Corporate Growth Conference

Mary Butler

Going “boom” is a big part of Dynamic Materials Corp. business, quite literally. The Boulder-based company specializes in explosion-welded clad metal plates – and besides detonations being a big part of its manufacturing process, the company has blasted off sales-wise, growing from less than $50 million in 2003 to $233 million in ‘08.

On Wednesday, CEO Yvon Cariou enthusiastically spoke about DMC at the Association for Corporate Growth’s Rocky Mountain Corporate Growth Conference, where it was one of two companies given an ACG Corporate Growth Award. Highlands Ranch-based Education Sales Management was also honored. ColoradoBiz publisher Bart Taylor moderated the awards luncheon.

While ESM can’t claim BOOM as its NASDAQ symbol – or the visceral interest of blowing up stuff – it has its own story of explosive growth, with sales leaping from $14.9 million in 2005 to $32.6 million in 2008. Company CEO Rick Fort said he hopes to the company will break $100 million in sales by 2013. “I feel a little bit like a Hollywood star, who’s been working 15 years to become an overnight success,” quipped Fort, who launched ESM with two employees in 1995. ESM is a customer-contact center for schools, learning centers and universities that helps enroll students and sell educational programs, products and services.

Launched as a call center for Sylvan Learning Centers, Fort quickly saw the company’s potential for further growth: “Teachers are not good salespeople,” he said. ESM helps clients double and sometimes triple their contact rates, resulting in higher admissions, more graduates – and more dollars.    

As different as ESM and DMC are in their products and services, after the two CEOs described the companies’ missions and values, it was clear they had plenty in common.

ESM and DMC grew their companies by examining their strengths and weaknesses. Fort zeroed in on customer service and hired real sales people to sell educational products and programs – and trained those sales people to be product experts. DMC’s Cariou began with improving safety, a no-brainer for a company that works with explosives. That first step led to cultivating a culture of quality and continuous improvement, Cariou said.

Both companies are forward-looking, always asking, “what’s next.” For DMC, that means expanding into new markets: transportation, defense and nuclear. Next month, ESM’s rolling out a new “retention” product to help educators keep students enrolled. 

And each values its employees. ESM is a “top 10 Colorado employer,” Fort said, and it was recently named the second-best employer to work for in Ohio. At DMC, “We take care of people,” Cariou said, because it’s in the company’s best interests, especially when it comes to succession planning. “We can’t afford to be redundant, but we have plans and actors in place,” he said.

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Mary Butler is ColoradoBiz's online editor.

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