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Posted: December 01, 2012

CEO of the Year 2012: Medium company finalists

Eric Peterson

Larry DiPasquale

chairman and CEO, Epicurean Catering

Three decades into his career, DiPasquale has nurtured Epicurean into one of the longest lasting and largest catering companies in the country, handling catering for such big-name clients as Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

"Thirty years is a long time in the food business," he says. "Trends change a lot." For instance, Epicurean recently launched a street division with food trucks and mobile pizza ovens, and the move helped Epicurean grow by about 20 percent in 2012.

Since 2008, DiPasquale has also been in the restaurant business with Mangia Bevi at the Palazzo Verdi building in the Denver Tech Center, where he hosts a lot of events. "I'm Italian and I wanted a place where I could do Italian specialties," he says. "It's going great.

"As an entrepreneur, I think work ethic is the most important thing," he says. "At first, you don't realize how hard it's going to be and how committed you have to be."

Charity work is another of DiPasquale's passions. "We really try to have an impact on the community we've been blessed to do business in," he says.

Mark Steputis

president and CEO, Vision Graphics

Vision's CEO and sole owner since 1999, Steputis learned the printing business from his late uncle, Francis Brooks, who preceded him as CEO. "He taught me the business," Steputis says. And he taught him well: Annual sales for the Loveland-based company have grown from about $1 million to about $20 million over the course of Steputis' tenure as CEO.

Today the challenge is to offer an integrated approach that encompasses not only print media but myriad electronic and digital channels as well. "The communications pie was four pieces," Steputis says. "Now it's dozens of pieces. You can't just take email and you can't just take print."

Vision's acquisition of Denver's Eagle:XM in early 2012 gave the company a big boost in its digital and electronic capabilities. "In the past, you had to do that with two vendors," he says. "That's really tough. With Vision, it's all under one roof."

Steputis says the recent recession offered him a moment of truth as CEO. "You've got to face it head-on and address it and make quick decisions," he says. "The natural instinct is to cover up and hope it goes away. That doesn't work."

George Heinrichs

president and co-founder, Intrado

Heinrichs co-founded Intrado, a provider of emergency communications technology, in 1979 and today the company has about 750 employees in Colorado, plus more at offices in Montreal and Austin. "We've slowed down, but we're still growing," says Heinrichs.

Along with the growth, Heinrichs has seen sweeping change in Intrado's market. "Phone systems in America have just skyrocketed technologically," he says. "Cell phone adoption is north of 100 percent. Who would have thought we would have had more cell phones than people right now?"

With that innovation, Intrado has worked to improve emergency communications with next-generation services and solutions. "911 remains simple to the outside world," says Heinrichs. "Behind the scenes, you're seeing increasing complexity." Longmont-based Intrado offers text-to-911 and geolocation services that take advantage of such advances.

One key, says Heinrichs, is to have "fast failures," and that goes double for companies in the communications business. "You try to pick the winners as early as you can," he explains. "Same goes for losers. Don't spend a lot of time on something that's not going anywhere."

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Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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