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Posted: December 01, 2012

CEO of the Year 2012: Small company finalists

(Now in its eighth year, the ColoradoBiz CEO of the Year award seeks to recognize outstanding professional achievement and community impact while taking into account obstacles surmounted, career-long body of work or other unique elements of the CEO’s life and work. Nominations from Colorado’s business community, ColoradoBiz readers and staff are evaluated by a judging panel made up of the magazine’s editorial board and, this year, representatives from the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry.)

Here are this year's finalists in the "Small Company" category:

Chris Conroy

president and owner,
Yeti Cycles, Golden

Founded in the 1980s and bought and sold by Schwinn in the 1990s, mountain-bike maker Yeti enjoyed 30 percent growth in 2012, hitting about $20 million in sales, under Conroy's guidance.

Conroy thinks the uptick is in large part due to the company's innovation. "We launched new suspension technology called Switch last year," he says, describing the concept as "a pivot within a pivot" that makes for a pedaling platform that's at once more stable and efficient. "It really is the next iteration of suspension technology. We had a run on the tables on all of the editor's choice awards."

To accommodate the growth, Yeti doubled its square footage in a new building in Golden. Conroy credits Yeti's employees for the company's success. "We make sure we hire people who are our end consumers," he explains. "Everybody here is a hard-core rider.

"My management style is hire the best people, deliver leadership and style, and let them get it done," says Conroy. "I'll put the staff here against anyone in the industry. Whatever it is, we deliver best in class."

Craig Lieberman,

founder and president, 34 Degrees LLC

34 Degrees LLC makes nine kinds of crisp breads. Founder and president Craig Lieberman makes making crisp breads sound like a whole lot of fun.

Lieberman launched 34 Degrees in 2003 upon returning to Colorado from graduate work in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is located at latitude 34 degrees south, and Lieberman began the company by importing Aussie crisp bread crackers and other products, thus the company name.

Four years later the fledgling Boulder-based business invested in a big oven and began manufacturing its own goodies. Today 34 Degrees makes five savory and four sweet crackers and sells them at Costco, Wal-Mart, King Soopers, Whole Foods and elsewhere. The company also garnered effusive praise from the people most in the know, namely cheese makers at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery; Arcala, Calif.-based Cypress Grove Chevre; Central Point, Oregon-based Rogue Creamery; and so on.

Food & Wine magazine named 34 Degrees' crackers one of its "Editor’s Top 10 ‘Objects of our Obsession’" in the magazine’s October 2012 issue.

The company expects 58 percent revenue growth this year atop 2011’s 28 percent increase.

Kevin Price

founder and CEO, Accucode Inc.

Kevin Price founded AccuCode Inc. in 1996. One way to mark the company’s more recent progress is to note that when it began appearing on the Inc. 5000 in 2002, it had $5.6 million in revenue and 20 employees. This year Centennial-based AccuCode ranked No. 3,286 on the list, the sixth time it has earned that distinction, with 2011 revenue of $25.8 million revenue and 52 employees. The company has said it projects 2012 sales of more than $30 million.

AccuCode specializes in software development, barcode and RFID, mobile computing, mobile applications, retail commerce, point of sale, hardware procurement and lifecycle management, and wireless networks for retail, transportation, and the supply chain.

AccuCode in 2003 pioneered "as-a-service solutions," software bundles dedicated to solving a single big corporate problem, and today a booming industry trend.

The company also has turned its talents and technology to good use by providing equipment and technology solutions to help track Hurricane Katrina victims.

Lisa Calkins

CEO, Amadeus Consulting

Lisa Calkins co-founded Amadeus Consulting in 1994 when it employed three people. Today Boulder-based Amadeus employs 73 experts in digital marketing, custom software development and mobile app development. Much of the energy that Calkins brought to that growth derived from her longtime dedication to creating intelligent technology solutions with successful business results, to paraphrase a company slogan. "Her passion for weaving technology into every facet of the business is the fire that fuels Amadeus Consulting's operation," a colleague wrote recently.

Amadeus’ sales have grown more than 225 percent in the past five years. The company has placed on the Inc. 5000 list since 2006.

Some of Amadeus Consulting’s latest challenges have had to do with mobile computing. Calkins led the development of the company’s mobile team, which so far has created more than 100 mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 platforms, and already is ranked as a top mobile app developer.

Last year Amadeus Consulting was named one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch and profiled in the June 2011 issue of ColoradoBiz.

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Readers Respond

Congratulations Kevin and the Accucode staff. Much deserved. The seeds of your professional successes are reflected in your personal lives. By Mike Gilchrist on 2012 12 05
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