Posted: April 30, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Technology & industrialEric Peterson
Gamma Two Robotics
Drs. Jim and Louise Gunderson are the husband-and-wife, CTO-and-CEO team behind Gamma Two Robotics. They incorporated the company in 2003 but didn’t begin developing a biologically inspired cybernetic brain until 2006. Now that they’ve honed the technology, they’ve plopped that brain into the Vigilus indoor security robot.
“It can do tasks that are too dull, dirty and dangerous for humans,” says Louise. “You need some intelligence to do these things – these are not toys.”
Robots lease for $2,000 a month with a maintenance contract and sell for about $40,000. Next up: the outdoor security market and home-assistance robots.
Louise says the company works with numerous local vendors. “Two-thirds of the equipment going into the robot is made in Colorado and the robot is assembled here in Colorado,” she says, counting Gamma Two’s size as a blessing.
Leitner-Poma of America
Chairlift and gondola systems
The U.S. subsidiary of a French parent company, Leitner-Poma has been making chairlifts and gondolas near Grand Junction since 1981, averaging about 10 installations a year at ski resorts all over the world. A $5 million high-speed quad chairlift is Leitner-Poma’s “bread and butter,” says Rick Spear, president of Leitner-Poma of America. “We usually do between five and eight a year.”
While the uphill-transport market has changed markedly, “things have leveled off,” says Spear.
The company’s highest-profile in-state project came online this ski season at Vail: One, the fastest 10-person gondola on the continent with all of the bells (heated seats) and whistles (Wi-Fi). “The gondola increased the capacity over the old chairlift by about 40 percent,” Spear says. “The skier feedback is very positive.”
Merritt Equipment Co.
Aluminum livestock trailers and other products
Founded in 1951, Merritt was one of the first manufacturers to offer an aluminum livestock trailer. The company traded Oregon for Colorado in the 1970s to get a better location for its central market. Today the company has 290 employees and makes a wide range of livestock and commodity trailers as well as aluminum parts for the trucking market.
“We’re well known in the industry but not so well known in Colorado,” says CFO Taylor Merritt, noting that the company has “seen a lot of change” in its 40-plus years in the Centennial State.
Based in California, Bal Seal manufactures innovative seals for automotive, medical and other applications in Colorado.
Electronics for CCTV and security
Making a wide range of modules and controllers since 1989.
Precast concrete structures and products for architecture, agriculture and industrial markets.
Manufacturing in Colorado and elsewhere, fast-growing comCables has emerged as the little company that could take out the billion-dollar competition.
Deltech has made glass-melting and other furnaces since 1968.
A/V displays and accessories
Displays and A/V accessories for commercial applications.
Providing high-resolution imaging solutions to medical, industrial and military markets.
Spun off of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Fiberforge makes advanced composite materials for the automotive and aerospace industries.
Golden Aluminum was established as Golden Recycling in 1983 by Coors Brewing Company and still uses up to 95 percent recycled aluminum today.
Analytical water testing instruments
Making water analysis a cinch for more than 60 years.
Largest manufacturer of commercial ice-making machines in the country.
Plastic injection molding
High-speed, high-volume plastic manufacturing.
Glass and plastic packaging
Boosting the Northern Colorado economy is one of the world’s premier glass and plastic packaging manufacturers.
Motors, electrical and drive systems for water, oil and gas, and other industries.
Ponderosa Industries Inc.
Producing the parts and pieces for machines since 1988.
Backup software and drives
Rebit assembles its hard-disk products in Longmont.
Reynolds Polymer Technology
Acrylic windows for a worldwide market of aquariums, zoos, pools and more.
Contract electronics manufacturing
Circuit boards, control boxes and cabling.
Sierra Detention Systems
Technology for corrections industry
Manufacturing for prisons, jails and other secure facilities.
Tape and disk-based backup for more than 30 years.
Stolle’s flagship manufacturing facility is in Englewood.
Heavy-duty waterblasting technology for dirty jobs of all kinds.
Lawnmowers and tractors
With 155 employees, Walker Mowers are distributed in 28 countries.
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