Posted: April 10, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Medical & bioscienceBy Eric Peterson
Hearing aid accessories
In 1954, Ron and Mickey Morgan launched what is now North America’s largest hearing aid earpiece manufacturer from Divide. Nearly 60 years later, the company has sold millions of custom earpieces.
“It’s probably 15 million to 20 million custom earpieces in the last 50-plus years and
every one is hand-produced,” says Westone Marketing Director David Slepak. “It’s a real manufacturing facility down here.” Of the company’s 250 employees in Colorado Springs, about 200 work in production.
The company isn’t exclusively rooted in the audiology market: Westone has also sold plenty of custom earplugs to the hearing-protection market and custom ear monitors to the professional audio market.
Westone not only manufactures locally, it tries to keep its sourcing local as well. “We buy all of our packaging and printed materials in Colorado,” says Slepak. “Our supply chain is predominately in the U.S. and even more granularly, it is in Colorado.”
Laparoscopic surgical monitor and instruments
Dave Newton and Roger Odell founded Encision in the early 1990s “to make electrosurgery safer,” says current CEO Fred Perner. The company’s laparoscopic surgical monitor and instruments prevent unintended energy burns during surgery.
After starting with the monitors, the 61-employee Encision opened a machine shop and went into the surgical instrument business in 2005. “We actually average 70,000 units a year,” says Perner, describing a much different business than the low-volume, high-tech monitors. The company is releasing three new products this year: a new monitor and two hand-activated surgical instruments, a departure from the foot-activated norm.
Perner says the company benefits a great deal from manufacturing in Boulder. “What I like is the access to CU,” he says. “From an innovation standpoint, this is a great location.”
Sharklet’s sharkskin-inspired surface is an exceptionally bad place for bacteria, says CEO Mark Spiecker. “We’re able to inhibit 99 percent of bacterial growth,” Spiecker touts.
And that’s a big deal, especially by the numbers, he adds. “Hospital infections occur 30 million times a year in the U.S. We spend $30 billion a year fighting hospital infections and 100,000 people die from them.”
Sharklet, which moved to Fitzsimons from Florida in 2010, is currently engaged in light manufacturing of its adhesive antibacterial film products in Aurora as the company expands its licensing footprint and Spiecker eyes additional manufacturing in Colorado. “About 18 to 24 months from now, I’m looking to have the ability to injection-mold in-house,” he says. The target market for Sharklet’s plastic parts: medical devices as well as furniture, iPad and iPhone cases and other “high-touch surfaces.”
Longmont, based in California
Longmont is a major manufacturing center for Amgen, with about 700 employees.
Fort Collins/Colorado Springs,
based in California
The company manufactures a variety of laboratory analysis equipment in Colorado.
Contract medical manufacturing
CEA is focused on low-volume, high-tech medical manufacturing.
Boulder/Broomfield, based in Ireland
Covidien employs nearly 2,000 people in Boulder and Broomfield counties.
E.I. Medical Imaging
E.I. makes portable, rugged ultrasound systems for use on animals.
InDevR specializes in tools that improve microbiological analysis.
Mile High Orthotics Lab
MHO makes a wide range of custom orthotics, braces and footwear.
Contract medical manufacturing
Mountainside Medical was established in 2005 to serve the surgical and orthopedic markets.
Broomfield, based in Germany
Sandoz is another big pharma player that makes its meds in the Centennial State.
Bone-anchored hearing devices
Sophono’s innovative hearing devices are implanted under the skin.
Blood collection technology
Terumo BCT is a global leader in the blood and cellular spaces.
Contract pharmaceutical manufacturing
The Colorado BioScience Association’s 2012 Company of the Year, Tolmar offers both R&D services and contract pharma manufacturing.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com