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Posted: June 19, 2012

Inspiration in Northern Colorado

Otterbox and New Belgium have win-win formulas

Tami Young

(Editor’s note: In April, about 120 business and community leaders from Denver traveled to Fort Collins for the 2012 Colorado Experience trip, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. This is one of a series of essays written for ColoradoBiz by several participants.)

Northern Colorado is home to companies such as Otterbox and New Belgium Brewery. These companies have turned the sterile workplace around by transferring their own outlooks on business and philosophies on life into a living, breathing culture that is experienced by one and all upon arrival. As curious guests seeking to understand economic impact and job growth from these "household" names in our community, our group came away inspired and proud.

Both companies have revenues well more than $100 million each and collectively employ hundreds of local residents. Through unique corporate cultures, they evangelize concepts such as humility, and social and environmental consciousness. As our group walked the Otterbox halls, we saw inspiration incorporated into the design and details: coffee bars with sitting areas that promote collaboration, bike storage that allows employees to forego the vehicle to commute, colors and space planning that ignite creativity.

Nancy Richardson, president, described how the company supports employees to give back by gifting them $200 each to bestow upon a charity of their choice. From bake sales to charity races, employees incorporate creativity, love and teamwork to raise the bar, compound their donation and maximize community impact.

As Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewery, stood before our group, she expressed the love that resides within the beer-making process and the transparency in the business behind it. She spoke about influencing each and every co-worker’s quality of life by creating a positive environment. Fun is stressed throughout the workplace, and the word "sustainability" is applied from the manufacturing approach all the way to the brewery’s people approach. Employees live, breath, eat and drink ways to be both profitable and responsible. As customers buy for taste and adult refreshment, New Belgium is continuously promoting inspiration through creative marketing and advertising.

While the economic impact of successful companies in Northern Colorado has a ripple effect within our community, it is ever apparent how connected they are to Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains as their playground, they speak in terms of protecting the environment in the same breath as expanding product lines. Ultimately, they aim to expand both businesses and footprint in true win-win style.

Between Otterbox and New Belgium Brewery, Northern Colorado has the perfect "poster companies" for startups to strive toward. The Colorado Experience program touched on many aspects of how the economy in Northern Colorado is serving the state as a whole. Experiencing how these businesses have been successful invoked inspiration and pride throughout the group.

Tami Young is founder of AdvenTech, an information technology services firm that provides strategic guidance and resources within IT departments across the United States

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