Posted: June 18, 2013
COCTW 2013: Precise Cast Prototypes to Zen PlannerGigi Sukin
Precise Cast Prototypes & Engineering
Snapshot: PreciseCast is a manufacturing and engineering company out of Adams County that provides prototype and low-volume castings and machined parts to companies including John Deere, Lockheed-Martin, Bose and L3 Communication. Revenues for the 9-year-old company are projected to increase by 28 percent in 2013.
Leadership: Brett Peak, the president of PreciseCast, assumed the position in 2011.
Big Break: When three guys, Peak, Patrick Peterson and Craig Reeves, took a leap of faith and mortgaged their homes and assets to form a company in 2004, PreciseCast became more than just talk. Two years thereafter, they realized only a small portion of their customers drove the vast majority of profit. As a result they opted to diversify their audience, capitalizing on the niche prototype development market.
Tech Edge: Translating customer designs into manufacturable products requires the expertise of PCPE’s team of full-time electrical and mechanical engineers. These team members develop and implement processes from initial concept to the manufacturing phase.
Company Culture: PCPE employees take pride and ownership of each project they complete. Due to a swiftly flowing stream of challenges and commitments, pride, loyalty and camaraderie are natural by-products that define the PreciseCast dynamic.
Snapshot: By combining innovative technology and creative design, Precision Media – founded in 2004 – provides safety, comfort, convenience and entertainment in homes and offices with electronic system solutions.
Leadership: Brian Richards has been President and CEO since 2004, when the Jefferson County company was founded.
Work force: Employee growth for 2012 reached 29 percent and is set to increase by an additional 22 percent in 2013.
Pivotal Moment: The IT business largely relies on client recommendations to pursue new business. For instance, shortly after completing a large-scale residential lighting project, the structure Precision had constructed failed in one of the neighborhood homes, leaving the home owner unable to turn off any lights. In fulfilling its duties, the Precision team fixed the inoperative system at 2 a.m. that very night. Three months following the incident, the client referred Precision for a $300,000 project after telling a friend the story.
Community Involvement: By creating easy-to-use electronic environments for schools, city governments, nonprofits and training centers, Precision contributes to learning experiences and information sharing.
Company Culture: Many Precision employees have shared their hope to keep their career at the IT company in its entirety.
Snapshot: A decade ago, the financial services field experienced frequent disconnections, dead-ends and barriers. With the development of the ProLink framework, the Denver-based company has successfully implemented software solutions, serving a variety of enterprise-level companies across the globe, currently processing 25 percent of all U.S. commercial mortgage transactions.
Leadership: In 2000, Shawn McKenna founded ProLink and has served as CEO since.
Work force: With a substantial spike in employee growth projected for 2013, ProLink anticipates jumping from 30 to 50 employees.
Pivotal Moment: After perfecting its platform, in 2007 ProLink refocused on the low-income housing market, a segment in need of transparency and compliance. With their enterprise-level applications, the computer pros were able to establish themselves in the industry as regulations and reporting was completed with unwavering guidelines.
Tech Edge: With the creation of SmartDox, data from Microsoft Word and Excel can be exported into and out of the application, saving customers hours of wasted effort and eliminating redundancies.
Company Culture: Boasting a work-hard, play-hard, family-first environment proves that ProLink values its employees, resulting in a less than 2 percent turnover rate.
Quick Left Inc.
Snapshot: Quick Left develops custom Web and mobile applications out of Boulder County for startups and established businesses alike. The company largely attributes growth in the past three years to being one of the only software shops of its kind with engineers skilled in advanced languages. This year Quick Left is projected to increase its revenue by 79 percent.
Leadership: CEO Ingrid Alongi co-founded the Web engineering company in 2009.
Work Force: Between this and last year, Quick Left is set to grow its work force by 40 percent.
Pivotal Moment: Though the decision to move the company to its current Pearl Street location cost a pretty penny, the relocation allowed Quick Left to dramatically boost its employees and put the headquarters on the map as one of the most frequented business sites in the industry.
Community Involvement: In addition to sponsoring various education efforts, Quick Left supports the Boulder Nordic Junior Race Team and Colorado’s Women’s Cycling Project.
Company Culture: Quick Left – a WorldBlue certified business, reserved for 50 companies worldwide for promoting democracy in the workplace – empowers its employees to be groundbreakers within the organization by offering monthly leadership training from improv classes to hiring consultants.
Snapshot: RavenBrick is a clean technology company out of Denver that manufactures patented window filters, which change tints with temperature, saving up to
30 percent more energy than competitors’ varieties. Revenue growth for 2013 is projected at 129 percent.
Leadership: CEO Alex Burney and CTO Wil McCarthy co-founded the company in 2006.
Work Force: This year, the manufacturing business is set to experience a 157 percent increase in full-time employees.
Big Break: In mid-2007, McCarthy dismantled a standard calculator and put the display in an old coffee cup with boiling water. The display changed color and the company’s patented smart window technology was born.
Tech Edge: The “secret sauce” around RavenBrick is McCarthy’s experience as an aerospace engineer. He expects his applications to be faster, smaller, smarter and more efficient. With optimism and know-how, RavenBrick believes it has a winning recipe.
Company Culture: Self-described as “Animal House meets Weird Science,” all but three of the high-spirited, confident staff members are engineers, primarily under 30 years old.
Rocky Mountain Reagents Inc.
Snapshot: Started in 1951 with a simple strategy focused on superior service, Rocky Mountain Reagents (RMR) operates as a manufacturer of laboratory test solutions for industries including food, wastewater treatment, education and aerospace. In 2012, the company experienced 12 percent revenue growth, with additional 16 percent projected for this year.
Leadership: President and owner Phyllis Sordelet started with the company in 1988.
Work Force: Upon last year’s end, RMR was up 10 full-time and 12 part-time employees, equating to 16 FTE workers on the team. This year that number is set to increase by 28 percent.
Pivotal Moment: In 2001, RMR acquired First Service Supply, doubling its sales and opening new project lines, breaking down industry barriers.
Tech Edge: RMR has redesigned lab products and packaging to be user-friendly for fieldwork. The Jefferson County based company has also helped develop experiments that enable college students to perform science labs at home.
Company Culture: When on the hunt for new talent, the RMR team seeks likeminded people who appreciate the Colorado lifestyle.
Snapshot: From the Northern Front Range, SAFEbuilt provides contract building department services such as inspections, plan reviews, code enforcement and administration to local governments nationwide. The company has experienced 36 percent growth in the last year and is slated for an additional 13 percent revenue increase in 2013.
Leadership: President and CEO Mike McCurdie got on board at SAFEbuilt in 1999, just seven years after the company was started.
Work Force: Last year, the construction business grew its employee base by more than 50 percent, while this year, an additional 26 FTE employees are expected to join the team.
Pivotal Moment: In an attempt to appeal to client requests and shifts in the market, SAFEbuilt began providing services outside its original core business, smaller towns and cities. In a substantial departure from the company’s historic focus on single service, projects such as work for the City of Centennial required that SAFEbuilt scale its service model to fit larger communities, allowing the business to remain relevant.
Community Involvement: In May 2008, a mile-wide tornado tore through the Town of Windsor, one of SAFEbuilt’s clients. Due to pre-existing professional relationships, the team was able to draw inspectors statewide to perform assessments on the 850 damaged houses and waived $130,000 in permit fees to get residents back in the comfort of homes expediently.
Tech Edge: As mobile technology has become increasingly ubiquitous, SAFEbuilt has pushed devices into the field. Inspectors are provided smartphones and iPads that allow them to stay connected, entering data in real-time from the field, rather than delayed information submission and sharing with contractors.
Sky Blue Builders LLC
Snapshot: The Denver-based general contracting and construction management firm concentrates on commercial tenant finish and infrastructure. Last year, the company increased revenues by 275 percent.
Leadership: Mowa Haile, CEO and president, founded the company in 2007.
Work Force: After a 300 percent increase in employees last year, Sky Blue is projected to add another nine FTE workers in 2013.
Pivotal Moment: Sky Blue Builders (SBB) was originally a general contracting firm specializing in high-end custom home renovations. In 2008, the company transitioned to the public sector, seeing a decline in the private market. The federal market now makes up nearly 50 percent of the company’s revenues.
Community Involvement: The SBB team has employed high school and college students from Goodwill and the Bridge Project to teach business etiquette for future job preparation.
Company Culture: With a “beyond benefits” attitude, SBB encourages performance-based incentives, continued education, mentoring and creative programs to foster accountability.
Snapshot: Stationed in Denver, SpireMedia develops Web and mobile applications for clients including, Dell, Rent-A-Center, Toys ‘R’ Us and evening talk show host David Letterman. In 2013, Spire is set to experience 25 percent revenue growth.
Leadership: CEO and Founder Michael Gellman started the company in 1998.
Work Force: Last year, Spire hired roughly 10 new FTE employees. This year the staff is expected to increase by another 35 percent.
Big Break: Before the iPhone and Android were universal, Spire predicted mobile apps would blossom in a big way. Thus, the research and development department investigated the potential of the technology, and by the time the public’s collective hand was glued to its smartphone, the information technology organization was ready to jump into the action, leading to lucrative partnerships with AT&T and others.
Community Involvement: Spire is a major supporter of the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, a nonprofit that provides learning, lending and coaching opportunities to low-income entrepreneurs.
Company Culture: Because the media group considers its people the No. 1 asset and operating with a system of checks and balances, Google-esque perks such as nap rooms, dog friendly office space, food, beer and flex time have become the rule, rather than the exception.
Snapshot: SpotXchange connects premium publishers with countless advertisers, agencies, trading desks and ad networks, reaching 110 million unique visitors monthly in more than 40 countries.
Leadership: Michael Shehan, president and CEO, along with COO and CFO Steve Swoboda, co-founded the company and assumed their roles in 2007.
Work Force: The advertising and public relations company estimates increasing its employees by 35 percent this year, equating to 111 full-time employees.
Big Break: Shehan and Swoboda demonstrated their agility, adapting ahead of the curve with SpotXchange and a willingness to take risks to create a real-time online video advertising marketplace. With the launch of SkipIt – a service that allows consumers to control the Web video ad experience with the opportunity to avoid video ads – SpotXchange addressed the issue of high abandonment rates online and made it fair for publishers, consumers and advertisers.
Community Involvement: SpotXchange hosts several events annually to promote women in technology. As a founding member of the NCWIT Entreprenerial Alliance, the team works to recruit and retain more women in tech-related industries.
Tech Edge: Each year since its onset, SpotXchange has launched industry-first innovations, like real-time bidding for video advertising and ad skipping technology. Most recently, the company made it possible for clients to automatically bid on ad impressions in real-time and drive efficiencies, thereby reeling in the full revenue potential of a video.
Snapshot: Denver-based TaxOps drives value through custom tax solutions, fixed-fee pricing and year-round delivery. TaxOps primarily works with software, technology, oil and gas, manufacturing and service industries.
Leadership: Founder and CEO Brian Amann began TaxOps in 2003.
Work Force: Increasing its work force by 43 percent, the accounting firm plans to grow its employee base by another 25 percent this year.
Pivotal Moment: In its beginning, the opportunity to put theory into practice came when a major client demanded an uncommon fixed-fee structure that required a specific scope, efficient engagement and tech savvy. Yet, the overwhelming success of the deal led to the value-based philosophy the firm maintains today.
Community Involvement: The firm recently launched TaxOps Foundation, focusing on funding soft skill education and development for accounting and tax students to work on their communication, project management, technology and problem-solving skills.
Company Culture: TaxOps boasts a casual work environment, retaining the benefits of a big firm, but eliminating the stuffiness that fails to add real value. Without time sheets, office hours or an official dress code, the paperless environment is flexible all the way around.
The Fort Collins Brewery
Snapshot: Riding the wave of statewide success in the brewery business, the Larimer County Fort Collins Brewery creates and sells its wide variety of ales and lagers while operating Gravity 1020 Modern Tavern, a full-service restaurant that combines the art of beer and food.
Leadership: The husband-wife and president-VP team of Tom and Jan Peters bought the brew business in 2004.
Work Force: With 42 FTE employees at year’s end in 2012, Fort Collins Brewery is projected to increase its staff by 5 percent in 2013.
Pivotal Moment: The initial design of the restaurant would have left it to be operated by an outside management group, rather than the brew team itself. But unable to lease the space with doubt surrounding the untested concept of a restaurant within a full-production brewery, Gravity 1020 was ambitiously opened to rave reviews in the spring of 2010.
Tech Edge: From the automated brew house and packaging line to the introduction of software created just for the production of craft beer, Fort Collins Brewery has attempted to remain at least one step ahead of the game.
Company Culture: The family-owned and operated brewery and restaurant has led to the foundation of a brew team, rather than merely a brew master, to maximize production and engage each individual. Additionally, by hosting the community-supported agriculture program (CSA) the brewery supports local jobs, healthy eating and an integrated appreciation of community and pride among co-workers.
Snapshot: Founded in 2006, TrackVia provides a fast and simple way for business people lacking tech-savvy to design and build custom applications to track and streamline their work.
Leadership: CEO Pete Khanna joined TrackVia in 2011.
Work Force: Last year, the IT company jumped from 10 to 32 full-time employees. This year, the hope is to reach roughly 54.
Big Break: Before TrackVia was officially established, co-founder Matt McAdams worked as an independent consultant and was tasked by Denver’s RTD to develop a system to manage various lightrail construction projects. After successful completion, he realized that other organizations may need similar tech products to manage complex designs and large amounts of data, and opted to kickstart TrackVia.
Tech Edge: TrackVia’s big idea is “the consumerization of IT,” to help ordinary professionals build their businesses without necessarily becoming experts in technical codes and software. With a flexible back-end database and simple front-end user experiences delivered to customers, individuals are able to build robust applications in roughly a week and for 20 percent of the sticker price.
Company Culture: Despite humble beginnings, TrackVia provides each employee an annual $500 “passion scholarship,” to pursue a personal hobby, organizational donation, or other interest. Many employees use the financial backing to aid local or national charities at their discretion.
Snapshot: By redesigning retail stores and programs, Tradavo optimizes the shopping experience. In 2012 the company improved its revenue by 24 percent and is set to increase by an additional 16 percent this year.
Leadership: Bobby Martyna is Tradavo’s president and CEO.
Work Force: Tradavo ramped up its work force to 17 FTE employees in 2012 and is set to surpass 20 this year.
Big Break: During initial conversations with prospective retailers, it became apparent that there was a need in the market for suppliers to service buyers’ purchasing levels. While most were, at the time, using local wholesale clubs, Tradavo developed the first version of its online ordering platform in six weeks.
Community Involvement: Because the Tradavo team receives samples of food products, sundries and convenience items from distributors, the surplus of items is paid forward and donated to local food banks and churches.
Tech Edge: With sound, highly flexible technology, Tradavo’s “endless warehouse” of unlimited items can be distributed from hundreds of locations, and delivered within days to customers’ product requests.
Snapshot: Since 2002, Broomfield-based TruEffect has provided online advertisers with its patented technology intended to improve the performance of their display ads across the web and various devices. In 2012, the advertisers experienced 122 percent revenue growth and are projecting another 116 percent increase this year.
Leadership: Last year Finn Faldi took his role as CEO.
Work Force: TruEffect intends to get up to roughly 86 full-time employees by this year’s end.
Pivotal Moment: When TruEffect lost its only customer in 2005, the company took a new direction, developing its First-Party ad technology that has become its main differentiator.
Community Involvement: The team participates in Bike to Work Day and was awarded for its involvement the last two years.
Company Culture: Boasting a unique international culture, technological expertise is recruited from foreign countries and from coast to coast at TruEffect.
Snapshot: Based out of Douglas County, Zen Planner provides member management software to fitness-based businesses, with end-to-end solutions including: prospect management, website integration, schedule and membership management, billing and reporting. Last year the computer systems design business reported 178 percent revenue growth.
Leadership: CEO Jeffrey Gardner joined the company in 2011 after teaming up with founder Ben Pate.
Work Force: After a spike of 220 percent full-time employee growth last year, Zen Planner is poised to increase by 81 percent in 2013.
Pivotal Moment: Headquarters were officially moved to Colorado in August 2011. Since raising the necessary capital, Zen Planner has grown by 400 percent, revenue per customer has increased by 25 percent, and the number of industries served has more than doubled.
Community Involvement: With a philanthropic initiative to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly in children, Zen Planner foregoes profit to provide services cost-free to organizations whose mission is to empower youth with values of hard work, dedication and responsibility through athletic training and fitness education.
Tech Edge: By combining financial software, workout tracking tools, belt ranking software, mobile apps, lead management tools and email automation programs, Zen Planner has become a one-stop, customer-centric shop for its fitness business clients.
Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at email@example.com.