Posted: August 15, 2014
COCTW 2014: Infrastructure engineeringMike Taylor
Armstrong Steel Corp.
Portrait: Founded in 2007, Armstrong Steel sells, designs, engineers and delivers steel building materials including mini-storage units. Through its network of preferred fabricators, the Greenwood Village-based company offers steel building kits along with all components (doors, windows, vents, skylights, insulation) for a complete steel building erected by the customer.
Major Moment: The company distinguished itself by establishing an in-house engineering department, enabling it to take complete control of the design, detailing and engineering of its buildings. Among the benefits: Armstrong allows customers to make changes to plans without impacting design costs. This necessitated an internal shipping department to coordinate delivery, which created job opportunities. In almost every case, the buildings Armstrong ships are heavier and require greater shipping coordination. This changed the playing field of original equipment manufacturing (OEM) and has been a significant reason for Armstrong’s rapid growth.
Differentiator: Unlike traditional construction companies, nearly every Armstrong Steel customer comes from the Web. The staff – including a full-time SEO manager, technology strategy adviser and writer – produces all creative elements and Web content. Armstrong’s structures arrive ready to assemble, and innovations in manufacturing have made the erection of an Armstrong Steel building remarkably simple, requiring little to no previous construction experience.
Innovation: Proprietary technology on the company’s website allows customers to see the progression of other Armstrong Steel projects in real time while simultaneously maintaining the privacy of every customer. This assists in marketing by allowing customers to see the diversity of Armstrong’s offerings and fosters consumer confidence while keeping with its transparency policy.
Bison Innovative Products
Portrait: Founded in 1970 by a contractor, Bison Innovative Products manufactures products that solve roofing challenges.
Major Moment: The company invented and initially sold roofing-application machines during its first few decades of operation. As the roofing industry evolved away from open-flame applications, Bison sought out other products to solve unique roofing problems, finally identifying a solution for creating level decks on roofs without causing leaks. Bison’s revenues have more than doubled since 2010.
Differentiator: Bison manufactures screw jack pedestal products that have received patents based on elements that enhance the ease of use, safety and performance.
Innovation: Bison was the first company in the U.S. to develop and sell screw jack pedestals. It holds numerous patents on product designs. Bison’s pedestals are recyclable, long-lasting, offer LEED credits and are made in Colorado.
Portrait: HomeSphere develops and manages the home building industry’s first and only business-to-business digital lead generation service, connecting more than 80 preferred product manufacturers across 23 product categories with more than 16,000 local and regional homebuilders.
Major Moment: Launched in 1999 as the Internet was just gaining a foothold, the company’s original vision was to become an electronic meeting place for construction industry stakeholders to do business and facilitate the movement of information and business among various supply-chain constituents. It weathered a volatile housing market – including a nearly 80 percent drop in residential construction from 2006 to 2009 – by focusing on research and development, and introducing digital tools into the traditionally low-tech residential construction community. HomeSphere increased revenues by nearly 30 percent in 2013 and enrolled a record number of builders.
Differentiator: HomeSphere has often led the industry to adopt such technologies as CRM, lead generation and database marketing. These innovations earned the company 2014 “Top Product” from industry trade publication Constructech magazine and resulted in record-setting growth.
Community: Last year HomeSphere was a major sponsor of Rebuilding Together’s Healthy Housing Challenge, an annual rebuild-a-thon and one of only nine community revitalization programs chosen for the National Center for Healthy Housing’s annual challenge. HomeSphere funds helped rebuild 22 homes in Denver’s Cole neighborhood, improving the quality of life for the neighborhood’s older and lower-income residents. In 2014, HomeSphere plans to renew its affiliation with the program, and a team of employees has already volunteered to pitch in.
Portrait: RMS Cranes is a crane-service provider for the commercial building market in Colorado. The company was founded in 2006.
Major Moment: The introduction of tower cranes to its fleet was a major development for RMS, as the company recognized this crane type would be needed for Denver to grow its downtown metro area. Opening a northern Colorado branch was another key moment in the company’s history, as the expansion not only helped current customers but enabled RMS to reach a new market, serve new prospects and cultivate future business.
Differentiator: Versatility of personnel and equipment sets RMS Cranes apart from the competition. Whether the customer requires the relocation of something small on a construction site or needs to erect an entire building, RMS has the equipment and the experienced employees to fit the job.
Community: RMS donates to charities often brought to the company by customers. Those include St. Jude’s, American Cancer Society, and numerous memorial charities for fallen soldiers. CEO Cody Gilliland serves on the board for Ace Scholarships.
Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at email@example.com.