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Posted: December 01, 2012

CEO of the Year 2012: Small company finalists

Jeff Bisberg

founder, president and CEO, Albeo Technologies

Albeo Technologies produces "Industrial Strength LED Lighting," its motto says.

Under the guidance of Jeff Bisberg, the company also has produced industrial strength expansion. Among many other milestones, Boulder-based Albeo Technologies increased its 2011 revenue to more than $10.5 million from $1.47 million revenue in 2008.

Not coincident and just as important, Albeo Technologies turned a profit in 2010.

"Albeo achieved this growth by making LED light fixtures that are brighter, more efficient and longer lasting than competitors and selling them to Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Caterpillar and other large institutions," a company statement explains.

Albeo offers products and expertise in LED lighting including industrial lighting, commercial lighting, cold storage warehouse lighting, high-bay lighting and parking garage lighting.

For 2012, Albeo forecasts more than $15 million in sales and also closed $6.5 million in venture capital. The company had 19 employees in Colorado in 2008; today it has 65.

James Vigesaa,

CEO, Bleeker Vigesaa Brown General Contractors

James Vigesaa has always wanted to own a construction business.

"A lot of people like to do construction as their vocation because you see the results of your work," says Vigesaa, CEO and co-owner of Bleeker Vigesaa Brown General Contractors. After earning a bachelor of science degree in construction management in 1988 from the University of Nebraska, he worked for several contractors as project manager and pre-construction director. In 2003 he co-founded BVB, which today has 14 full-time employees.

The Brighton-based company specializes in dental offices and medical offices, building 35 to 40 of them each year. BVB promotes itself by sponsoring events such as the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention, Metro Denver Dental Society annual meeting, and the Platt Valley Medical Center Foundation’s Faces of the Future concert.

Restaurants are the company’s next largest niche, and BVB will soon begin building locations of Ted’s Montana Grill, Panda Express and McDonalds. The eateries are not that different from dental and medical offices, Vigesaa says. "Most of the work is not in the lobby where you see it," he says. "There is a lot of plumbing and electrical behind the scenes."

Bob Witham,

president and owner, Two Rivers Winery

Two Rivers Winery in Grand Junction was enjoying sales growth of 15 percent a year until the recession hit, and now sales are steadily flat. That’s pretty good for a business run by two people whose knowledge about wine was that they liked drinking it.

Bob Witham, an executive at a long-term care company, and his wife Billie, an accountant, did some research in 1999 when they bought the land that now holds the winery. They soon found they needed to hire a winemaking expert. Other tasks, such as marketing, fell to Witham, so he learned quickly.

"When you are in the wine business your objective is to get strong and immediate brand recognition," he says. "That’s why we have tasting rooms." Two Rivers Winery also has a 10-bedroom country inn and a conference and events center.

Two Rivers Winery is set to sell 13,475 cases of wine this year. The company bought a Palisades winery and named it Mas Rios, Spanish for "more rivers." They’re using it as a storage facility now, but Witham says eventually it will produce 6,000 more cases a year.

John Kelley

Chairman & CEO, CereScan Corp.

John Kelley is CEO of CereScan Corp., a brain imaging provider that offers Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT).

Kelley joined CereScan in 2009. He had been CEO of McData Corp., and the storage company was bought by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. in 2007. Kelley says his tech background is right for the brain-imaging business. "The brain is a gigantic computer," he says. "I look at it as a device rather than a spectacular magical organ."

CereScan patients include athletes and soldiers who suffered a concussion and want to know if their current depression is due to their brain not healing properly. There are also parents inquiring whether their kids were wrongly diagnosed with ADHD, and baby boomers wondering if a parent has Alzheimer’s disease. CereScan recently began working with the NFL to do baseline scans of players’ brains, to see what changes the brain undergoes if the player later suffers a concussion.

The Denver-based company abandoned plans to open a clinic in Seattle, but does plan to open in Florida and Texas within the next year. CereScan has 13 employees.

Patrick Meiering,

CEO, Zuke’s

In the 1990s, Patrick Meiering worked as a strategic planning consultant with an Albuquerque, N.M.-based firm called Management Technologies. One day he and his chocolate Labrador, Zuke, were hiking, and the dog became exhausted. Meiering broke off a piece of his energy bar, fed it to the dog, and came up with the idea to create energy-boosting treats for dogs.

Meiering started his own company, Durango-based Zuke’s, which makes dog and cat treats. The company has 21 full-time employees and recently expanded the line of dog treats with grain-free Lil’ Links and nutrient-packed Supers. The work demands constant creativity. "Either in creating new products or addressing the needs of employees and the marketplace itself, you are constantly creating, adapting and pivoting in a growing business," Meiering says.

His brother, Chris Meiering, works at Zuke's in the marketing and IT division. Chris and Patrick helped start the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund, a nonprofit that provides dog and cat owners with the life-saving treatments their dogs and cats need if they have cancer.

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