50 Colorado Companies to Watch 2009
You might recognize a few of the companies among this year's Colorado Companies to Watch, but for the most part, you'll be scratching your head.
Who? What? In Colorado?
That's the point.
When Penny Lewandowski and her colleagues with the Edward Lowe Foundation try to sell economic development types on the Companies to Watch program, they guarantee potential organizers they will learn about thriving businesses in their state they did not know existed.
That's certainly been true for all three years of the Colorado program, at least as far as this magazine is concerned. Sure, we should know where the upstart high-growth companies are statewide, but we'll be truthful here. We're always surprised by the depth and breadth of the emerging companies that make the list.
"The Colorado Companies To Watch program has a consistent record of success and represents a wide range of industries and services," Gov. John Hickenlooper says. "These excellent companies are selling high-quality Colorado products and services in every corner of the world and creating good jobs in our state."
Some of the companies that made the grade this year are familiar to readers of ColoradoBiz, such as Innovative Water Technologies, a Rocky Ford business we included in our "Trendsetters" feature just this past month or Ayuda Management Corp., a Broomfield construction and construction management company that has been a fixture of our woman- and minority-owned business rankings for years.
But have you ever eaten a Bobo's Oat Bar or sipped some Bhakti Chai? Or ridden a Moots Cycle? In addition to the consumer-oriented companies, this year's class includes all varieties of technology and manufacturing firms, including cleantech companies. In short, all that Colorado has to offer.
"The companies are not only high quality, but they're so diverse," says Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development of the Edward Lowe Foundation. "More than any state we do, it really does reflect the personality and the culture of the state."
The program was developed by the foundation, which was created in 1985 by Edward Lowe, the late creator of Kitty Litter and his wife, Darlene, to promote entrepreneurship. The foundation also organizes Companies to Watch programs in Florida, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin and is planning to launch one in Washington state.
The program, overseen by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, has a judging panel established each year that is comprised of leaders in public and private sectors spanning business, government, education and associations from across the state. The 50 second-stage companies selected must be:
Headquartered in Colorado
Have six to 99 full-time equivalent employees
Have $750,000 to $50 million in sales or a similar range of working capital
Especially during the past few years of economic distress, the Colorado Companies to Watch program, and the gala awards event that culminates the program each year offers a powerful dose of positive business news.
"When you look at those companies that are up on the stage, and you look at what has been typically in the press, there is a completely different story to tell, and that's the story that Companies to Watch tells," Lewandowski says.
Check out all the companies below and on the following pages:
Snapshot: AccuCode solves problems through the application of technology. The organization lowers clients' total cost of ownership and solves problems quickly and cost-effectively.
Leadership: Kevin Price is the founder and CEO of the Centennial company, which was founded in 1995.
Work force: The company expects to have 52 full-time employees this year.
Pivotal moment: In 1997, salesman Troy Brosious was hired. He brought in Corporate Express, StorageTek and Synthes. Sales went from $450,000 to $2.2 million.
Technological edge: Solving problems through the application of technology is the strength of AccuCode. A good example of this is AccuCode's move to cloud (Internet)-based communication and collaboration tools. Four years ago, AccuCode moved to Google Apps as the unified communication and collaboration tool for the entire company.
Culture: Employees of AccuCode are very much a family. Team members love what they do, and it shows. They have a passion for being of service to customers and solving problems through the application of technology.
Snapshot: Amadeus Consulting is a custom software development company dedicated to creating technology solutions with successful business results. The company specializes in custom software applications such as rich Internet applications, content management systems, e-commerce, surveys, social networking sites, data collection and management, browser plug-ins and mobile application.
Leadership: Lisa Calkins is the CEO of the Boulder-based business, which was founded in 1994.
Work force: The company expects to have 58 full-time equivalent employees this year, which would be a 10 percent increase.
Pivotal moments: In 2008, the company saw a sharp increase in demand in custom software needs, and had to transform and adjust from a small business to medium-sized business mentality. In 2009, Amadeus Consulting saw another market shift toward everything mobile and had to transform internal processes to accommodate the phenomena. It remains one of the business' most lucrative and successful service lines.
Technological edge: Because technology changes day to day, Amadeus Consulting has an in-house Innovation Team. Members of the Innovation Team learn about, try, document and teach new technologies to every member of the company.
Culture: Passion and relaxed are the best words to describe the company culture. Every person who works at Amadeus Consulting has a passion for technology, passion for creating it and a passion for talking about it with customers. Relaxed is how the company conducts business internally: "Conversations are always open, no one wears suits, and we are always planning the next company event," the company says.
Aspenware Internet Solutions Inc.
Snapshot: "We at Aspenware create software that people want to use. We specialize in solving difficult problems using current and emergent technologies and methods. Our software is well conceived, designed and implemented."
Leadership: Josh Swihart is president and CEO of the Greenwood Village company, which was founded in 2001.
Work force: The company expects to have 30 full-time employees this year, which would be an increase of 36 percent.
Pivotal moment: After the economy went down, the company reinvented; tore everything down and built it up again. Aspen Leaf Software became Aspenware. In spite of a significant recession and without incurring debt or outside funding, Aspenware established a new brand, defined its focus and pulled together a team of highly skilled people to form the foundation of its business.
Company culture: The leadership at Aspenware set objectives as a desire to work with smart people on interesting things, create software for people, and produce work that the team is proud of. Aspenware is built around small and empowered teams made up of people with complementary skills. The company also gives back to many charitable organizations in the community and overseas.
Ayuda Management Corp.
Snapshot: Ayuda works in construction and construction management, construction defect repair and environmental and remediation services. Ayuda is a woman- and minority-owned firm.
Leadership: Maria Vogt is president and CEO of the Broomfield-based business, which was founded in 2002.
Work force: The company expects to have 37.5 full-time equivalent employees this year, which would be a 9 percent increase.
The company edge: Ayuda has experienced extraordinary growth since 2007. "This growth reflects the dedication to our clients and our ability to provide problem-solving services that are on time, on budget and within specifications," the company says.
Company culture: Ayuda has made financial contributions to a number of charities such as The Children's Hospital Foundation, Walk for the Cure, Down Syndrome Buddy Walk, Adams County CASA, March of Dimes, Judi's House, Our Family Orphans, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis, American Cancer Society, Leukemia Society and the Latin American Education Foundation. Ayuda cares about its employees' philanthropic passions, so these organizations are selected based on their requests.
Snapshot: Best Practice Systems developed Waypoint, software that is customizable and user-friendly. Waypoint provides crucial coordination among IT, accounting, customer service and executives.
Leadership: Clint Waite is the president of the Englewood company, which was founded in 2001.
Work force: The company expects to have 47 full-time equivalent employees this year, which would be an 8 percent increase.
Pivotal moment: A partnership with Fiserv provided the company with the infrastructure it needed to service not only their existing customers, but new customers. Signing its first Fortune 500 Company helped the company not only grow but gave it a well-recognized name as a reference to potential customers.
Company culture: Best Practice Systems participates in many programs for youth, including time and financial assistance to Boy Scout programs.
Snapshot: Bhakti Chai produces a blend of organic ginger and spice in a brew of antioxidant rich fair-trade black tea.
Leadership: Brook Eddy is founder and CEO of the Boulder-based company, which was founded in 2006.
Work force: The company expects to have 17.5 full-time equivalent employees this year, which would be an increase of 52 percent.
Marketing: To get shop owners to put the product on the menu board, Bhakti needed a way to differentiate, so it offered inexpensive purchase materials for the register and counter areas. These were vital in educating consumers about the product. These little counter signs changed the way people ordered chai in Colorado by getting them to ask for the product by name.
Company culture: Bhakti is sanskrit for devotion through social action. The company's mission is to use sustainable practices, and support nonprofit organizations that work to empower and educate women and girls worldwide. In 2010, Bhakti gave more than $23,000 to nonprofit organizations.
Bobo's Oat Bars
Snapshot: Bobo's Oat Bars manufactures wheat-free and vegan, all-natural and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) breakfast/snack bars.
Leadership: Beryl Stafford is founder and CEO of the Boulder-based company, which was founded in 2003.
Work force: Bobo's expects to have 9.5 full-time equivalent employees this year, an increase of about 12 percent.
Company culture: Contributing to community is an important part of the Bobo's Oat Bar company vision. Each year Bobo's donates to several community and nonprofit events that focus on outreach to help educate and feed children, and outreach to support families in need.
Marketing: Bobo's Oat Bar's most successful marketing campaign has focused on increasing product distribution by promoting brand awareness. Bobo's has rolled this out using a three-tiered strategy of social media, in-person events, and discounts both in-store and online.
Broad Reach Engineering Co.
Snapshot: Broad Reach Engineering designs and manufactures avionics for spacecraft; computers, GPS receivers, camera avionics and flight software to control the avionics or the spacecraft.
Leadership: Chris McCormick is CEO of the Golden-based company, which was founded in 1997.
Work force: Broad Reach expects to have 61.5 full-time equivalent employees this year.
Pivotal moment: Broad Reach hired some of the best designers in the aerospace industry, in order to be able to design and deliver the next generation of high-end avionics and payload computers to NASA and USAF.
Company culture: The company philosophy is to respect each others' talents and contributions, and to share in the rewards.
Educational endeavors: The company has teamed up with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, and has sponsored seniors, grad students and doctoral candidates, as well as sponsored professors, to help develop the next-generation weather, space weather and climate instruments.
Snapshot: BuyMyTronics.com purchases unwanted electronics (new, used and broken) from individuals and businesses. The company recycles/resells all of these electronics in an environmentally and ethically responsible manner.
Leadership: Brett Mosley is CEO and founder of the Denver-based business, which was founded in 2007.
Pivotal moment: The creation of BuyMyTronics was funded from profits earned by collecting consumer electronics via Craigslist. Brett Mosley realized the potential of what this business model could provide to the public, and BuyMyTronics.com was launched. The site created a platform to effectively operate the business, which connected the company to more than 50,000 customers worldwide.
Company culture: The company promotes being green to its customers and clients. It embraces the concept from within, from being wind-powered to encouraging employees to bike to work. By keeping e-waste out of landfills, BuyMyTronics positively impacts the community and the environment. BuyMyTronics was one of the first companies to develop in the e-cycling market and distinguished itself from others by being completely self-funded and through organic growth.
Chaé Organics Inc.
Snapshot: Chaé Organics is leading the trend of natural and organic skin and personal-care products.
Leadership: Linda Chaé is president and CEO of the La Veta-based company, which was founded in 2005
Work force: Chaé Organics expects to have the full-time equivalent of 25 employees this year, which would be an increase of 56 percent.
Pivotal moment: In 2010, the company added the high-profile client Suzanne Somers, who brought large-volume manufacturing to the company and helped to generate 300 percent growth over 2009.
Company culture: Linda Chaé has lobbied to protect people from toxic chemicals. Unlike many other cosmetic manufacturers, employees work in a safe environment, free of hazardous chemicals. Though a relatively small company, Chaé makes profit interest shares available to employees.
Snapshot: comCables manufactures structured cabling solutions and distributes low-voltage special systems. Products offered include fire alarm, security and surveillance, access control and audio/video systems.
Leadership: Greg Greenwood is president and CEO of the Denver-based company, which was founded in 1999.
Work force: The company expects to have 39 full-time employees this year.
Pivotal moment: comCables taking its brand national was a major turning point. Because of a vision to be a tier-one manufacturer, comCables started attending trade shows, joining national organizations and marketing to companies across the nation.
Company culture: Since comCables was founded in 1999, it has been a major supporter of Sun Valley Youth Center and Here's Life Inner City-Denver. comCables' purpose is to serve and empower its constituents, customers and the community.
Snapshot: Confio Software is focused on database performance monitoring. Its flagship product, Ignite 8, helps identify and eliminate performance bottlenecks.
Leadership: Charlie Sander is chairman of the Boulder-based company, which was founded in 2002.
Key innovation: Confio's main feature is a database methodology called wait-time analysis, which helps pinpoint and identify bottlenecks in Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase and DB2 environments. This methodology is at the crux of Confio's products. Confio is recognized as having the most advanced wait time measurement methods.
Company culture: Confio encourages each employee to be engaged in the charity or cause that is most important to him or her. Instead of a top-down approach in which employees must rally behind one company-wide cause, Confio allows each employee to pursue his or her own cause.
Delta Disaster Services
Snapshot: Delta provides emergency response and reconstruction services after such residential or commercial disasters as fires, floods and environmental issues.
Leadership: Michael Mastous is president of the Arvada-based company, which was founded in 2006.
Work force: The company expects to employ 28 people this year. Pivotal moment: Delta Disaster Services was created as the prototype for a national franchise system. After nearly five years of preparation, national marketing of the franchise opportunity began in fall 2010.
Company culture: Protecting the planet is as important to the company as protecting its clients and employees. Accordingly, the company was the first restoration contractor in Colorado to use an environmentally friendly biocide and garnered national recognition for this cutting-edge green approach in a 2010 USA Today article. This product has since been adopted by all restoration contractors in the state.
Encompass Technologies LLP
Snapshot: Encompass is a Route Accounting Software (RAS) suite for the Direct Store Delivery beverage wholesaler. As the first completely Web-based Route Accounting System with mobile device integration, Encompass facilitates the migration of data from existing RAS systems to Encompass. Encompass also supports direct integration with many General Accounting systems.
Leadership: Owner Jonathan O'Neil founded the company in 2001.
Work force: The company had 20 full- and part-time employees in 2010 and expects to increase that by 20 percent in 2011.
Market niche: The company's "Software as a Service" subscription model minimized the high-cost entry barrier of the traditional software license model, making it easier for customers to switch to Encompass as the company got started. In 2008, Encompass was recognized as a MillerCoors Strategic Partner, giving the startup credibility and allowing it to be part of the planning and implementation of brewery initiatives.
Solutions: Encompass Mobile, its handheld software, runs on a variety of mobile operating systems, from the traditional Windows Mobile devices to the industry's first iPhone and Android ‘apps' for field sales and delivery. Encompass gives you options to significantly reduce mobile hardware costs while providing a superior tool for sales and delivery personnel.
Growth curve: The company's revenues have quadrupled in the last four years.
Snapshot: EnergyLogic delivers innovative services for reducing energy consumption in buildings.
Leadership: CEO Stephen Byers founded the Berthoud company in 2006.
Work force: The company started with 11 full-time and three part-time employees and expects to have 30 full-time and 12 part-time by year's end.
Market niche: Clients include DR Horton, Lennar Homes, Classic Homes, KB Homes, Markel, New Town Builders, Pulte, Aspen, Oz Architecture, Fort Collins Utilities, Atmos Energy, SourceGas, Colorado Natural Gas, NV Energy and the Kansas State Energy Office. Solutions: "Through an innovative company structure the EnergyLogic ‘Laboratory,' we develop industry best practices that are then reflected in our Professional Services and Software Solutions Divisions. These Divisions in turn gather and refine information and practices from across the industry for inclusion in our systems and services. We've developed and delivered new technologies and practices to energy industry segments that either had no systems or had outdated systems," the company says.
Growth curve: From 2007 to 2010, revenues grew by more than 80 percent, and the work force nearly tripled.
Erker Grain Co.
SNAPSHOT: Fort Morgan-based Erker Grain Co. is a processor of confection sunflower, black oil sunflower and Colorado millet. The company contracts acreage with farmers, sells them planting seed, offers technical support during growing and buys their production. The raw products are cleaned, sized and shipped around the world.
Leadership: Michael Erker founded the company in 1976.
Work force: The company has 16 full-time employees.
Market niche: Erker Grain has brought a worldwide diversified market to farmers in Colorado and Nebraska, giving them greater options for planting and marketing their crops and increasing the prices that are paid to growers through increased competition.
Solutions: "We have been diligent in developing our own Erker high-plains sunflowers and are now developing our Erker Colorado millet. We have established a reputation for quality and excellence in our products and service. Our "Erker-brand products can be found in warehouses across the U.S. and throughout the world," the company says.
Growth curve: Erker's revenues have nearly doubled in the last four years.
Executive Media Network
Snapshot: EMN is a Denver advertising sales organization.
Leadership: CEO Benjamin Little founded the company in 2007.
Work force: The company expects to have 24 full-time employees this year.
Market niche: EMN reaches 50 million business travelers, through 120 private airports and airlines executive clubs and lounges in 49 of the top 50 U.S. media markets.
Solutions: "When the advertising economy hit bottom in 2009, EMN refined its competitive positioning with research-based solutions and developed, new to the industry, core audience-based pricing metrics.
"This strategy resulted in a top line revenue increase of more than 260 percent, compared with the industry's growth of 14 percent," the company said.
Growth curve: In four years, Executive Media's work force has grown from two to 24, and its revenue increased by nearly 800 percent in 2009 and 150 percent in 2010.
Snapshot: FHS Corp. developed the nation's first Web-based tool to help patients estimate how much their medical bill would be before they actually had the procedure.
Leadership: CEO Timothy Estes and President/COO Travis Gentry co-founded the company in 2005.
Work force: The company had 21 employees in 2010.
Market niche: The company supports more than 300 hospitals, including Centura Health, Catholic Health Initiatives, Catholic Healthcare West and Adventist Health.
Solutions: "In 2007, FHS delivered revolutionary technology to the health-care industry through the invention of ClearCode," the company says. FHS leveraged the budding technology of associative marketing similar to that of Amazon.com, allowing users to draw upon historical information as predictors of future procedures. FHS also developed the industry's first estimation solution that combines the hospital estimate with the physician estimate to give patients a complete view into their total out-of-pocket estimate.
Growth curve: The company has grown from four to 21 employees in three years and expects to add another nine in 2011.
Snapshot: Fiberforge is a technology company that has developed a breakthrough manufacturing process that enables the high-volume, low-cost production of thermoplastic advanced composite parts.
Leadership: Jon Fox-Rubin has been president and CEO since 2004.
Work force: Fiberforge had 22 full-time equivalent employees in 2010.
Market niche: Fiberforge initially focused on making affordable, lightweight hybrid-electric cars with advanced composites but now applies its process to ultra-high performance structural parts for aerospace and defense applications.
Solutions: Fiberforge has developed a breakthrough process that creates advanced composite parts with an automated manufacturing system. This process creates structural composite parts faster than the competition. "Our technology is patented worldwide, and we have a number of patents pending. We also maintain a number of trade secrets related to software and processing know-how to bolster our patent protection," the company says.
Growth Curve: The company's revenue increased by nearly 80 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Snapshot: Flaik provides GPS tracking services to ski schools to ensure the safety of their students on the mountain.
Leadership: Michael Bosscher became CEO in 2009, two years after the company was founded.
Work force: Flaik had 10 full-time and 20 part-time employees in 2010.
Market niche: Clients include Whistler Blackcombe, Steamboat Springs, Copper and Winter Park ski resorts. It also has potential applications in other areas, such as child tracking for school field trips or in theme parks; prisoner and parolee tracking; tracking of military personnel; and vulnerable individuals such as Alzheimer's patients.
Solutions: Flaik's combination of GPS tracking with GSM communications provides a real-time tracking solution for thousands of children on ski slopes every day and ensures alerts and quick location. Its technology allows for effective tracking in a difficult mountain environment through superior geo-fencing capabilities, data compression, removal of GPS drift and the ability to transform an artist impression into a GPS enabled map.
Growth curve: The company has no competition, and its revenues have more than quadrupled since 2008. Flaik has grabbed only a small percentage of the ski school market so far, but it has begun operations in France and plans to continue expanding there as well as in North America.
Snapshot: Garmat manufactures energy-efficient, environmentally friendly paint spray booths and equipment.
Leadership: Johan Huwaert is general manager of the Englewood-based company.
Market niche: Garmat has automotive, industrial and military clients, including Sterling Automotive, the Van Tuyl Auto Group, Caliber Collision, Playtime Amusements, Freeman Co., Red River and Osh Kosh.
Solutions: Garmat's CTOF paint booth, the only government-approved paint booth with an open front, was developed to give businesses an alternative to using prep stations for painting, which was dangerous to the technicians and harmful to the environment. Garmat also created Accele-cure, an air accelerator system that reduces cure/flash time for waterborne and solvent paint by nearly half.
Growth curve: Revenues have increased by more than 40 percent in the last two years.
Green Energy Corp
Snapshot: Green Energy Corp focuses on modernizing national power systems and microgrids.
Leadership: CEO Peter Gregory founded the company in 2009.
Work force: Green Energy has 75 full-time employees.
Solutions: "Our innovation lies in using advanced software capabilities to upgrade the 100-year old energy grid without compromising security or reliability," the company says. The greenbus platform enables utilities to connect old systems to new systems and gradually expand into a smarter operations model. Utility customers can deliver power more efficiently and integrate renewable energy like wind and solar to reduce the impact of fossil fuel energy production. Green Energy also helps utilities provide consumers with tools to control energy consumption and costs. "We have a patent pending on a software model that aggregates many sources of renewable power generation into a virtual power plant," the company says.
Growth curve: Headquartered in Denver with offices in Durango and Raleigh, N.C., Green Energy experienced 35 percent revenue growth in 2010 and is on track to surpass that in 2011.
Snapshot: Denver-based Hammond's Candies, the nation's largest handmade hard candy manufacturer, makes old-fashioned, gourmet, handmade, hard candy, soft candy and other unique confections.
Leadership: Andrew Schuman has been president and CEO since 2007.
Work force: The company had 93.5 Full-time equivalent employees in 2010.
Market niche: Clients include department stores, bookstores, gift shops, groceries and direct-to-consumer via the company website.
Solutions: In 2009, Hammond's Candies became kosher and haccp/food safety certified, increasing overall sales by nearly 40 percent. "These designations furthered Hammond's dedication to quality, consistency, and food safety and greatly expanded our customer base," the company says.
Growth curve: Hammond's experienced double-digit growth and increased profitability over the last two years. Face-to-face meetings with clients accounted for $2.2 million of the $2.5 million in increased sales from January 2009 to December 2010.
Snapshot: Fort Collins-based HEIT provides financial institutions with a new and proven approach to technology management through cloud-delivered performance, compliance and security managed services.
Leadership: Dan Holt has been CEO since the company's founding in 2002.
Work force: The company had 91 full-time and four part-time employees in 2010.
Market niche: HEIT serves banks and credit unions, with clients including Alpine Bank, Aurora Bank, The Eastern Colorado Bank and Air Academy Federal Credit Union.
Solutions: "HEIT's mission is to enable community financial institutions to win through superior technology strategy and delivery," the company says. "Our singular focus on community financial institutions delivers services that are specifically tailored to the unique needs of the banking industry. Its focus on cloud-delivered services exemplifies its position as an innovator in the industry. One of our cloud-delivered services, managed compliance, offers the only platform-as-a-service of its type using the foundation of governance, risk and compliance (grc) technology."
Growth curve: HEIT and Simpler-Webb merged in September 2010 to become the industry leading provider of cloud-delivered managed services for community financial institutions. The company's revenues have increased nearly sixfold since 2007.
Innovative Water Technologies
Snapshot: Innovative Water Technologies develops new water purification technology.
Leadership: Jack Barker president of the Dumont-based company and inventor of the Sunspring water purification system.
Work force: The company had 13 full-time equivalent employees in 2010.
Market niche: "Our goal is and has been to create innovative products that are attainable, affordable and portable," the company says. With the Sunspring, a real solution is available in the world's most remote locations, for emergency response efforts and disaster preparedness, developing countries and for commercial applications." Clients include GE Foundation, Pentair Foundation, Central Arizona Project, U.S. Military, U.S. Forest Service, NW Haiti Mission Group and the Mexican Military.
Solutions: The company invented and developed the Sunspring, a portable, self-contained, solar-powered water purification system, which can purify up to 5,000 gallons a day. Its membrane ultrafiltration technology is specifically for package water treatment systems. "Our commitment to r&d to help in solving the world's water crisis has iwt positioned with two patent applications and another soon to be filed," the company says.
Growth curve: The company's revenues have increased tenfold in the last four years. In 2010, GE purchased several Sunspring systems and asked that GE's logo be placed on the front, which increased IWT's recognition and added validity, from a product perspective, on a worldwide basis.
Irrigation Water Technologies
Snapshot: IWTA provides a closed-loop subsurface capillary irrigation control and distribution system that ensures uniform water distribution to improve plant quality while minimizing maintenance.
Leadership: David Hunter has been president/CEO since 2009.
Work force: The company had 14 full-time employees in 2010 and expects to add eight more this year.
Market niche: Its patented Kapillary Irrigation Sub-Surface System (KISSS) products are available for large turf areas such as commercial and sports fields, as well as for green roofs and cityscapes such as parks, highway medians and flower beds.
Solutions: IWTA's KISSS system is "intelligent irrigation" that moves water from over-saturated areas to under-saturated areas utilizing evapotranspiration metrics to provide each plant with the appropriate amount of water. KISSS is installed completely below the surface minimizing evaporation, eliminating wasteful and harmful runoff of water, fertilizers and other chemicals.
Growth curve: IWTA's revenues grew nearly 100 percent in the last year, and it estimates growth of more than 350 percent in 2011.
Snapshot: Krayden is a distributor of sealants, adhesives, coatings, solder materials, release agents and mold-making materials. It serves electronics, aerospace, transportation, solar, oil and gas industries and original equipment manufacturers.
Leadership: Wayne Wagner is president and owner. He founded the company in 1989.
Work force: Starting with two employees in 1989, the company now boasts 59 workers.
Pivotal moment: In 2000 Krayden established coverage throughout Mexico with the founding of KraydenMex. A partnership with Greeley-based FCT Assembly in 2003 expanded the product line to include lead-free solder and stencils. In 2007 a partnership with K.R. Anderson Inc. expanded distribution coverage coast-to-coast in the United States and the Philippines.
Technological pursuits: Krayden's field representatives work directly with suppliers' engineers in the development and testing of new products being introduced into the manufacturing industries of electronics, solar, wind, aerospace, energy, transportation and general industrial.
Approach: Krayden strives to "partner" with customers to find solutions to difficult problems that others might have missed. The company recently was named "Dow Corning Electronics Distributor of the Year" for the third straight year.
Snapshot: Originally launched as a software-based marketing platform, Broomfield-based Kutenda helps small businesses lay the foundation for a strong online presence as well as a service plan designed to generate traffic, convert prospects and shorten sales cycles.
Leadership: CEO Mike Cooch founded Kutenda in 2009.
Work force: Kutenda ended last year with 36 employees and expects to double that by the end of 2011.
Pivotal moment: Founder Mike Cooch realized that while every small business knows it should be leveraging the Internet in some way, most weren't doing everything they should, either because the right pieces were unavailable to small businesses, required a team of experts to execute and/or were unaffordable to smaller businesses.
Technological edge: Kutenda built a marketing platform that includes a content management system, a lead/contact management system, an e-mail marketing platform and more. The software allows customers to build on the done-for-you services Kutenda offers while enabling Kutenda's internal team to execute packaged services.
Culture: Kutenda has sought to mirror the culture of its customers by preserving the culture of a small business. Kutenda's team structure encourages entrepreneurial initiative. Employees are challenged and empowered to design and incorporate process improvements to drive the company forward.
Marketing: Kutenda has found success partnering with other businesses in its industry to deliver educational Webinars. Most recently, Kutenda partnered with a leading hosted IT business management software firm to deliver a Webinar on "Demand-generation tips for IT professionals."
Snapshot: Leereedy/Xylem Digital is a fully integrated branding and digital agency. Clients include Atkins, Naked Juice, Chiquita Brands International, Fresh Express and Red Robin.
Leadership: Kelly Reedy and Eric Kiker are principals.
Work force: Leereedy/Xylem Digital ended 2010 with 30 employees and projects adding five more this year.
Pivotal moment: Five years ago, Leereedy won the Naked Juice account – its first representing a consumer packaged good – thus going into battle against Coca Cola-owned Odwalla. Eighteen months later, Pepsi bought Naked Juice. Just over a year ago, Leereedy bought Xylem Digital, which had launched the first Chipotle site and counted Chiquita and Red Robin as clients. This combined traditional communication expertise with digital.
Marketing strategy: "Two Weeks To Truth" is the firm's self-branding initiative launched late last year that also sheds light on the company's culture. Out of that came "Clients With Fire," a description that allows the firm to categorize the types of relationships it is after, not by size of company, location or industry, but by attitude. "‘Fire' is all we need to be successful and to find clients who will be members of our family for years to come. ‘Fire' is what we look for in employees," the company says.
Snapshot: Wheat Ridge-based Lifeloc designs, manufactures and sells breathalyzers used to detect and measure alcohol intoxication by law enforcement, in health-care environments, by educational institutions, parole and probation entities, as well as by corporate America for drug and alcohol abuse programs.
Leadership: Barry Knott is president and CEO. He assumed leadership in 2009. The company was founded in 1983.
Work force: Lifeloc had 25.5 full-time equivalent employees at the end of 2010 and projected hiring four more this year.
Pivotal moment: In 2001-2002 Lifeloc launched the FC-Series, a new law enforcement breathalyzer that leapfrogged all existing products. With it, Lifeloc took from its largest competitor the state of Michigan contract, one of the largest in the country and one that gave Lifeloc worldwide credibility. Last year Lifeloc executed a fuel-cell technology transfer agreement that gives it control over a key component of its technology and is paving the way for significant improvements in cost, product design, new product opportunities and strategic self-sufficiency.
Technological edge: Lifeloc has a patent on the algorithm it uses to measure and convert breath alcohol vapor to a numerical BAC (blood alcohol content) reading. Additionally it holds several design patents on its devices.
Marketing: Lifeloc's most successful marketing strategy was to establish a strong distributor network to sell its products in work-place and health-care segments, whereas competitors market through direct company-controlled sales organizations. Early on, Lifeloc recruited a national network of independent drug and alcohol testing and training experts who know the complex local state laws and can help customers navigate them. They establish long-term relationships with customers.
Snapshot: Moots Cycles handcrafts high-performance titanium road bikes, mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes and related components from its factory in Steamboat Springs. Its bikes are marketed and sold through independent bicycle dealers around the world.
Leadership: Rob Mitchell is president and CEO. He assumed leadership in 2008. The company was founded in 1981.
Work force: The company has 25 employees.
Pivotal moment: In September 2009, Moots introduced a leading-edge road bike, the Vamoots RSL that redefined what is possible with titanium. The other pivotal event was the company's decision in 2008 to keep the Moots team entirely intact and stick to its strategic growth plan through the economic downturn. "We felt that if we stayed the course and continued to invest in our plan while our competitors would likely pull back, we would come out on the backside in a stronger, market-leading position. This proved to be a fantastic strategic decision," the company says.
Competitive edge: Unlike nearly all of its competitors, Moots only builds with titanium and has been doing so for more than 20 years. The aforementioned introduction of the Vamoots RSL – featuring an exceptionally light, stiff and durable titanium frame – pushed the envelope from a product-development standpoint and opened the eyes of the cycling community to what is possible with titanium bike frames.
Culture: One of Moots' guiding principles is "Be Meaningful in All We Do." This guides both its business strategies and its giving strategies. Moots recycles 100 percent of all product waste and has a full-roof solar electric system, the largest in Routt County.
Motivity Solutions Inc.
Snapshot: Motivity Solutions' mortgage-centric platform helps lenders get more business, and get more out of their business, through customer relationship management, business intelligence, and process automation. Company revenues have more than tripled every year since the firm's founding in 2006.
Work force: Motivity ended 2010 with 18 employees and expects to expand to 30 this year.
Pivotal moment: Motivity positioned its product as a technology to help mortgage-related companies manage their entire business and coined the term "Business Management Platform."
Technological edge: The founders partnered with industry-leading companies to develop industry-specific solutions and currently serves more than 10,000 employees in 35 companies.
Community: Employees get 16 paid hours off each year to volunteer for their favorite organization.
Leadership: Tyler Sherman is CEO. Doug, Todd and Tyler Sherman launched the company in 2006.
Snapshot: Pactimo is a provider of technical-performance apparel for cycling, triathlons and running. The company is based in Greenwood Village.
Leadership: Frank Kim is Pactimo's CEO. He assumed leadership in 2006. The company was founded in 2003.
Pivotal moment: In 2006, Pactimo invested nearly all profits into the proprietary development of a Web-based administrative platform that has become the technology backbone of the company. Then in mid-2008, the looming financial crisis caused concern about adding to fixed overhead in the form of full-time account managers to manage growing sales. Instead, Pactimo leveraged its proprietary Web-based administrative platform and refined training processes, enabling it to hire skilled part-time account managers who worked offsite.
Technological edge: Early adoption of digital dye sublimation technology resulted in the lowest minimum order requirements in the custom-cycling apparel industry and disrupted traditional pricing structures. Early proprietary development of an industry-leading online ordering platform created transparency in the ordering process, leveraged account manager productivity, and enhanced the efficiency of value chain activities.
Ingenuity: Pactimo has developed an internal VOIP system allowing free calls and conferencing with staff and customers anywhere in the world. It also relies on available products such as Skype and WebEx for frequent video conferencing.
Snapshot: PharmaJet's FDA-cleared Needle-free Jet Injection System delivers vaccines and liquid medications by means of a narrow, high velocity fluid jet, which penetrates the skin. PharmaJet is based in Golden.
Leadership: Kathleen Callender and Heather Callender-Potters founded the company in 2005.
Innovation: PharmaJet's Needle-free Jet Injection System is patent protected, covering the three components: reusable injector; disposable needle-free syringe; and universal filling adaptor that captures vial overfill doses, resulting in savings per drug vial.
Product impact: PharmaJet's Needle-free Injection technology eliminates the potential for needlestick injuries among health-care providers and eliminates the possibility of needle re-use and cross contamination, as the auto-disable syringe is designed to be used only once. The tremendous reduction of needle sharps into the environment greatly reduces the burden of hazardous waste management.
Pivotal moment: Early this year, PharmaJet's intra-dermal injection device (0.1 milliliter volume) became the first in the world to receive an FDA marketing clearance. Injecting small amounts of vaccine just into the skin (where the immune response is hyper-stimulated) provides for the volume to be reduced by 80 percent while still achieving the same immune response as a full dose.
Snapshot: Boulder-based Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.
Leadership: Clint Wheelock is company president.
Work force: The company ended 2010 with 25 full-time employees and expects to expand to 40 employees in 2011. Approximately half the Pike Research team is based in the Boulder headquarters. The company also has offices in Washington, D.C.; London; and Seoul, South Korea.
Pivotal moment: 1) Landing a large Wall Street client during the company's first six months and 2) Losing the same Wall Street client nine months into the relationship. While a financial blow, the company says it gained the freedom to focus on its fast-growing core of serving industry clients. In its seventh month of operation, Pike Research landed its first big subscription client – a world-leading building-controls company.
Revenues increased more than fourfold from 2009 to 2010, and the company expects additional revenue growth of 74 percent this year.
Niche: Pike Research's client base includes the top technology and energy companies engaged in the cleantech space, along with government agencies, industry associations, and the investment community. Pike Research's analysis is regularly cited in the world's top business publications.
Snapshot: Founded in 2005, Rays delivers teleradiology services for radiology practices and medical facilities.
Leadership: Greg Rose is CEO, president and owner.
Pivotal moments: In an effort to more clearly convey its direction, products and services, NightRays announced a rebranding effort, including a name change to Rays in 2010. The name change was the result of a broader direction and wider set of services provided by Rays.
Business inroads: Rays has been chosen by two nationally recognized health-care group purchasing organizations as a contracted supplier. Community effect: The very nature of Rays' services allows people in medically underserved communities to receive access to superior medical diagnosis that otherwise would not have been possible. It is difficult for small, remote community medical facilities to recruit and employ the depth, breadth and caliber of physicians that Rays has on its staff, all of whom are able to serve these populations. Rays hears story after story about how its services have touched the lives in these small communities.
Snapshot: Boulder-based ShipCompliant develops software solutions to help wineries, distillers, importers and state regulators facilitate the movement of wine through direct and three-tier distributions channels. Currently 66 percent of the U.S. wine direct shipping industry utilizes ShipCompliant.
Leadership: Jason Eckenroth is the CEO. He founded ShipCompliant in 2000.
Work force: ShipCompliant ended 2010 with 28 employees and expects to expand to 35 full-time employees in 2011.
Pivotal moment: A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005 in favor of domestic wine producers created what is now a $1 billion market. Prior to that, ShipCompliant had been a side project for Eckenroth's bootstrapped company. He immediately hired his first product manager to speed ShipCompliant to market. The timing was perfect. Within two years the company had divested all other products to become fully focused on ShipCompliant.
Ingenuity: ShipCompliant has been first in the industry in many areas: supply-chain integration, state and federal information integration, electronic filing, digital signatures and zip-code level temperature forecasting for wine shipments. ShipCompliant has lowered the barrier of entry for nearly 1,000 small wine producers in the U.S. and allowed them to participate in direct sales efficiently.
Snapshot: Denver-based Spinnaker provides supply-chain solutions through its consulting, technology and business-process outsourcing services. It delivers measurable results to supply-chain clients in the most competitive of markets where margins are razor thin.
Leadership: Mathew Stava is managing principal. He co-founded Spinnaker in 2002.
Pivotal moment: In April 2010, Spinnaker won a major outsourcing project from a large industrial engine manufacturer. This long term project has elevated the company's profile in the marketplace from a boutique player to a competitive supply-chain provider. Earlier, in 2007, Spinnaker acquired Atlanta-based Prosero Inc. Previously Spinnaker primarily focused on providing supply chain consulting services. This acquisition added outsourcing capabilities to its solution mix. It now runs warehouse, logistics and reverse logistics operations for the largest engine component provider and one of the largest telecom equipment providers in the world.
Marketing approach: Before a website revamp, Spinnaker's top five keyword searches were showing up on about the 500th spot of an Internet search. Now it ranks, on average, within the first or second page for its top keyword searches. A website analytic tool indicates what companies are surfing Spinnaker's site, what they searched to get there and what pages they visited.
Summit Dopler Systems
Snapshot: Summit Doppler Systems manufactures medical equipment for the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease and for monitoring fetal heartbeat. Its technology was co-invented and co-patented with the Cleveland Clinic, one of the leading cardiovascular institutions in the world.
Leadership: Ken Jarrell is president of the Golden-based company, which was founded in 2002.
Work force: Summit expects to be at 18 workers this year, a growth of 22 percent since 2007.
Competitive edge: Summit's most successful marketing plan has been its sales model itself, the company says. The company has contracts with the largest distribution companies in the United States and ships to more than 80 countries. "Our goal is to build the highest quality equipment in the world at an affordable price," the company says.
Innovation: Summit Doppler systems recently completed a two-year project in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic to further diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease.
Community: "The biggest impact we can make is providing equipment where they don't have the financial means to provide adequate health care," says the company, which has provided equipment worldwide to hospitals and clinics without adequate resources.
Snapshot: Syncroness is a product development company that helps its clients engineer better business by performing new product development, research and engineering. Its clients include Covidien, United Launch Alliance, GE and Medtronic
Leadership: Greg Langley joined Syncroness in November 1999 and has served as the CEO since September 2005.
Work force: The Westminster-based professional-services company expects to employ 63.5 full-time equivalent workers this year, about a dozen workers more than 2010.
Competitive edge: Thanks to high client retention and referral rates, Syncroness has enjoyed double-digit growth despite soft economic conditions. It has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fast-growing companies in the United States for four years running.
Innovation: Because it is a professional services company, Syncroness' customers retain the intellectual property associated with its work. But its engineers work so closely with customers that the company has been named on more than 20 patents for medical devices, automotive technology, gas pipeline equipment and consumer devices. The company also has 12 patents pending for client companies.
Going green: Syncroness has been working on green-tech products, including a plugless car charger.
Snapshot: Using nanotechnology, Synkera develops and manufactures hazdardous gas sensors and nano-pore gas and liquid separation membranes.
Leadership: Co-founder Stephen S. Williams, Ph.D., is president and chief technical officer.
Growth curve: The Longmont-based company projects its revenues to grow 26 percent this year, which would mark its third consecutive year of double-digit growth. "Our plan and our products have the potential to create worldwide sales in the $100 million range within several years," the company says.
Competitive edge: Synkera builds products designed to greatly decrease the cost of hazardous gas sensors, creating an expanded market for instrument companies. Its most successful marketing strategy is getting prospects involved in company research projects that do not cost the prospects any initial cash.
Innovation: The company's work includes adding carbon monoxide sensors to cell phones. It also builds membranes to separate hydrogen from sources, such as coal gasification streams.
Environment: Synkera's work in the detection of hazardous gases will greatly improve the safety for people and the economics of agriculture, the company says. One example is the detection of ammonia – which is deadly in high concentrations – in chicken houses.
Snapshot: Tandem Select helps organizations make informed hiring decisions faster by providing the innovative background checking services. The Fort Collins-based company was founded in 1995.
Leadership: Chris Baker is the chief executive officer.
Work force: The company expects to grow its work force by 12 percent this year, with 50 full-time and eight part- time employees.
Growth curve: Tandem Select was among the fastest growing background screening companies in 2010. With average industry growth around 20 percent, Tandem Select grew revenues by 65 percent in 2010.
Competitive edge: Tandem Select uses artificial intelligence to access and retrieve online records, which has reduced staffing cost by almost $200,000 while improving delivery times by almost 1,000 percent and improving company quality (error rates) by 10 percent. The company is taking advantage of the explosion of online data being generated on the internet by building social media search products it says will change the nature of employment screening.
Innovation: Tandem Select has developed the proprietary IntegraCheck Candidate Ranking System, which applies a "pass" or "fail" grade to candidates according to each client's unique hiring criteria. Its clients include the Children's Hospital, Sheetz, Cydcor, 20/20, the City of Fort Collins, Trident Seafood and Racetrac.
The Assist Group
Snapshot: The Assist Group specializes in health-care cost containment. The Lakewood-based company's clients consist of re-insurers who cover 40 percent to 50 percent of the U.S. market, as well as numerous commercial, Medicaid and Medicare insurers.
Leadership: Owner Beverly Freedman, a nurse by training, founded the company in 1999. She saw a need in the industry and created The Assist Group to provide care management for maternity, complex newborns and pediatrics, as well as complete claims resolution services. The company's management service is provided by a multidisciplinary expert team focused on resolving key issues that impede a patient's progress.
Work force: The company projects to employ 57 full-time and one part- time employee this year, an increase of 12 percent.
Competitive edge: Recently a seasoned senior leadership team was brought into The Assist Group to take the company to the next level of growth. Its employees are educated in the fields of medicine, nursing, finance, legal and operations.
Innovation: The company has developed a proprietary methodology of bill review of large-dollar hospital claims that allows it to consider a number of variables to determine the likelihood of errors on a bill resulting in financial savings for health plans.
The Kyjen Co.
Snapshot: The Kyjen Co. – an amalgamation of the founders' names Kyle and Jennifer – manufactures a growing lineup of in-house-designed and branded products designed to keep dogs active and engaged. Its brands include Plush Puppies dog toys and Outward Hound pet travel gear. Its core customers include PetSmart, Petco and thousands of independently owned retailers.
Leadership: Kyle Hansen is president and CEO of the Centennial-based company, which was founded in 1995. The company's revenue grew by 22 percent last year.
Work force: The company projects to have 25 workers this year. It has more than doubled the number of employees since early 2010. Competitive edge: In 2010, the company moved its entire operations from California to Colorado to accelerate the company's growth, bringing in a new management team, including an experienced inventory and logistics team, to help forecast and meet demand so retailers could be assured of product availability.
Innovation: Kyjen helped create the dog travel category with its Outward Hound line of pet travel gear, which includes backpacks, lifejackets, travel bowls as well as vehicle and training accessories. Kyjen also helped establish the soft toy category in the 1990s, and created the Invincibles, a patent-pending squeaker chamber that keeps squeaking even when punctured, and the Hide A Squirrel puzzle toy.
Snapshot: Trada is a crowdsourcing paid search company that helps small- to- medium-sized businesses execute paid search campaigns. Trada has a crowd of more than 1,000 paid search experts who help these businesses create paid search.
Leadership: Niel Robertson is the CEO of the Boulder-based company, which was founded in 2008.
Work force: The company had 37 full-time equivalent employees in 2010 and projects to hit 100 this year.
Competitive edge: Trada's technology creates a one-stop platform to run campaigns on all of the search networks – Google, Yahoo and Bing – without replicating work. Innovation: Trada's Marketplace applies a crowdsourced model to the paid search industry. Advertisers who use Trada will have five to 10 experts creating all of the keywords, ads and ad groups. The expert makes money by achieving clicks or conversions below the advertisers stated price, allowing them to keep the spread.
Game changer: Trada's approach to paid search technology benefits the advertisers, who run campaigns without fees and a high-degree of work, and the experts, who are making part-time and full-time livings while working in the Trada Marketplace.
Marketing muscle: Trada runs its own paid search campaign for lead generation in the Trada Marketplace, Called Trada for Trada.
Transform Software & Services Inc.
Snapshot: The Littleton-based company provides software and services for oil and gas exploration and production, especially for unconventional resources such as tight gas and heavy oil. Its solutions span geology, geophysics and engineering and are being used by large and small companies throughout the world.
Leadership: Dean Witte is CEO of the company, which was founded in 2004
Work force: The company projects to have nearly 23 full-time equivalent employees this year, an increase of 39 percent over 2010.
Market mission: The increasing complexity of petroleum reservoirs is placing tremendous strain on the industry's work force and technology processes. Most exploration and production software is a decade or more old. Transform aims to develop innovative software technology and supporting services to simplify locating and extracting petroleum reserves. Innovation: The company has developed new methods for visualization of geosciences data, statistical analysis, signal and image processing, seismic inversion and registration, and geological interpretation, among others. "Customers are instrumental and enthusiastic partners, identifying the problems they face as they try to optimize oil & gas production while minimizing environmental impact," the company says. "Customers talk directly to our R&D team and provide continuous feedback as our solutions are under development."
Travelers Haven LLC