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March 2015 Issue

Cover Story

Work in progress

By Gigi Sukin

Photography by Jeff Nelson Take a gander at many a corporate photo wall and notice the number of women in the pictures. Amid the sea of navy blue blazers and patterned neck ties, where are the females? How many have risen the ranks to sit on executive boards? True, females have emerged as viable players in business during the last few decades. But the man-to-woman ratio has barely budged in the last several years. The percentage of women at or near the top has flat-lined in the U.S. Currently, women lead just more than 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 17 percent hold board

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Sports biz: Wheeling, dealing and winning

Rockin' the Rockies

By Stewart Schley

The 1970s “Saturday Night Live” character Chico Escuela, played by comedian Garrett Morris, was best known for a signature line delivered in halting English: “Baseball” – or beisbol, as he pronounced it  – “has been very, very good to me.” As far as I know, none of the owners of the Colorado Rockies makes a habit of mimicking Morris’ exaggerated Dominican accent. But thanks to some savvy wheeling and dealing by Major League Baseball, the same expression applies to all of them today. Led by CEO Richard Monfort, the Rockies’ ownership group has benefitted mightily from membership in the exclusive 30-team collective that is Major League Baseball. Independent of win-loss records, pitching ERAs, clever promotions and stirring fireworks displays, the Rockies owners have watched their team values soar as huge TV rights. . .

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Colorado cool stuff: Gropener, hot socks, doggy beds, chocolate dice

By Eric Peterson

CHOCOLATE DICE Author/web developer/chocolatier Mario Lurig combined two unlikely ingredients – Dungeons & Dragons dice and chocolate – into one popular whole. In 2012, he embarked on a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $900 and netted $16,000. “The shape really resonates,” Lurig says, highlighting the 20-sided die as his most popular. The concept emerged during a role-playing campaign when a player feigned a die ingestion in 2009. “I said, ‘You can’t eat that,’” Lurig recalls. His sage advice proved an a-ha moment, and now he makes chocolate dice for the retail market as well as weddings and other events. Next up: chocolate chess sets and chocolate tech gadgets. $7.99 to $9.99 for a set of six chocolate. . .

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The Economist: Economics and drugs

By Tucker Hart Adams

I attended a fascinating lecture this week by a Mexican economist on the drug war in his country. It got me to thinking about one more economic-politic issue to get off my chest before I go back to more interesting subjects like moral hazard and rent and unemployment. I know you can hardly wait. You know that I’m a big believer in the workings of the free market as long as there are lots of buyers and lots of sellers. At first glance one would think that means a free drug market. There certainly are plenty of buyers and sellers. But I remember something Kenneth Boulding, a famous economist who ended his career at the University of Colorado, told me. “You can’t have a free market in addictive substances because, by definition, the buyer cannot control his demand.” Now, I don’t know whether marijuana is addictive or not. Some claim it is; others say it. . .

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Tech startup: Airborne Media Group Inc.

The answer to the noisy sports bar

By Eric Peterson

INITIAL LIGHT BULB Working at the Old Tymers Cafe, a sports bar and restaurant in downtown Durango, Ryan Danford and Justin Ginn learned time and time again that a noisy crowd at a sports bar makes it very difficult to hear play-by-play, especially with multiple games playing on omnipresent flatscreen TVs. They saw a possible solution: smartphones. They approached Chip Lile of another Durango bar, El Rancho, and Cordell Brown, a veteran of the wireless Internet business who relocated from Houston to Durango after selling his previous company. Both of them liked the idea, and Airborne Media Group was born. “They de-mothballed me and got me involved,” says Brown, who now serves as the company’s CEO. The company ramped up development of its technology,. . .

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Cashing in on cosmetic medicine

Beauty industry booming despite economy

By Cathie Beck

Beryl Reker is in her 60s, though she barely looks 43. She’s got help, it’s true. That 40ish-year-old-looking skin and glow is an amalgamation of education, medical-grade products, living right and a surgical touch or two. She’s the Medical Aesthetician at Aesthetics by Design in Englewood, but she’s also a living, breathing testament to a beautiful face that appears relaxed and natural. “Our primary goal is to have our clients look like themselves, only better,” she says. Dr. Mario Imola employs Reker and owns both Colorado Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics by Design. Imola is a cranial facial reconstructive surgeon and intimately knowledgeable about muscles, nerves and all other intricacies of a face. He brings more than 18 years of. . .

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Going big in Silicon Valley

Denver’s Ping Identity leads booming cloud-security market

By Eric Peterson

As he embarks on what might well be Ping Identity’s final funding push, Andre Durand, CEO and founder of Denver’s Ping Identity, has relocated his family to work from California for the first six months of 2013. “I’m getting schooled in the ways of Silicon Valley,” he says. “It really is pretty astounding. It’s go big or go home.” That credo currently applies to Ping Identity as well. The company, founded by Durand in 2002, has emerged as the largest IT-security firm in the country with more than $50 million in annual revenues, 300 employees and 900 customers – primarily enterprises with a minimum of 1,000 employees and the requisite data center. But the market doesn’t begin and end with enterprise customers. Ping. . .

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CEBA Daniel L. Ritchie Award: Bob Coté

Tough love for tough times

By Gigi Sukin

To disregard a man with tattered, dirt-caked rags for clothes and a cardboard sign on the side of the road or to give in to the momentary pang of guilt in between an otherwise “ignorance is bliss” mentality, presents a challenging moral dilemma. Every few passers-by surrenders to the words on the sign, “Anything helps … God Bless,” handing over a few crumpled dollars or some spare change. But Bob Coté takes a different approach entirely. To “take responsibility away from a person who can assume responsibility dehumanizes that person,” Coté said in a 2009 interview at The King’s College. “Giving people money or anything without expecting. . .

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CEBA Samaritan Institute Award: Bayaud Enterprises

By Gigi Sukin

In the thick of a downtrodden economy, we hear a lot about “putting people back to work” – a challenging undertaking to assume and achieve under traditional circumstances, overwhelmingly complex when referring to individuals with mental, physical and emotional conditions. “People deserve the right to work, and if needed, can have access to a resource that can help them overcome their problems,” said David Henninger, executive director of Bayaud Enterprises. “If people are having a hard time focusing on the job search because they are worrying about where they will be sleeping at night,” then perhaps the missing ingredients are “hope, opportunity and choice,” which Bayaud seeks to provide. The 2013 Samaritan Award winner has successfully served the Colorado community, providing support to find folks jobs for more than 40 years.. . .

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Rundles wrap up: Ethical dunces

By Jeff Rundles

A few weeks back, in April, the Colorado Ethics in Business Alliance (CEBA), of which ColoradoBiz magazine is a co-founder, held its 21st Annual Awards Luncheon honoring Colorado companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals for high ethical standards and practices. When we first came up with the concept, way back in 1990, it was in response to the then-raging Savings and Loan scandal and, of course, in the ensuing years – and in spite of our best efforts to illustrate that you could do well by doing good – there have been tons of further ethical breaches throughout the state and, indeed, the nation. The very latest was the indictment of 35 school administrators and teachers in the Atlanta Public Schools on charges of racketeering, theft by taking and making. . .

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King Coal’s uncertain future

Natural gas and environmental regulations threaten once-dominant electricity source

/ Photography and words by Lee Buchsbaum / Bucking a nationwide trend, 2012 marked the second straight growth year for Colorado’s coal miners. Only two states among the top 10 coal producers – Colorado and Illinois – increased production last year. But trapped between a glut of natural gas and falling demand for its premium quality coal, producers are getting hammered in 2013. However, as King Coal staggers here at home and nationwide, are we setting ourselves up for a future of reliance on much more expensive and potentially environmentally worse natural gas dependency? Historically, Colorado coal production peaked in 2004 when almost 40 million tons were extracted, mainly from Western Slope counties. With its high heat and relatively low sulfur. . .

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Executive edge: Kelly Manning

Small-business development director oversees 14 centers statewide

By Lynn Bronikowski

When Kelly Manning travels throughout Colorado, she thinks about the small businesses she has helped nourish and grow. She thinks of Shelley McPherson, better known as the Rag Diva, who formed American Wiping Rags Inc. in Pueblo by simply recycling cloth and turning it into rags used by companies across the country. “She’s been on my state advisory board for five years,” said Manning, state director of the Small Business Development Center Network. “We helped her and now she’s giving back, which is a nice affidavit for the work we do.” Manning has countless similar small-business success stories since taking the helm of SBDC Network in 2000 where she oversees 14 small business development centers across the state. Part of the Colorado Office of Economic. . .

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Ski-area expansions and the bottom line

Resort developments yield mixed reactions

By Eric Peterson

There are few touchier subjects in the Colorado business world than expansions at the state’s ski areas. Many in the industry would rather stay mum on the dollar-and-cents decisions that go into an expansion of skiable terrain, but those who will talk about it see tangible benefits. Breckenridge Ski Resort, owned by Broomfield-based Vail Resorts, is expanding by 550 acres on Peak 6 for 2013-14, and Monarch, Eldora, Wolf Creek and Crested Butte all have development plans on the drawing board, awaiting costly environmental studies and stamps of approval from the U.S. Forest Service. These moves of course all come along with multi-million dollar chairlift installations, glading and earthmoving operations, in the process stoking some serious environmental. . .

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CEBA Bill Daniels Award: Walker Manufacturing

By Gigi Sukin

Throughout political campaigns, the American public hears a lot about “good Christian values,” evidently indicating the intrinsic morality of the candidates. However, unwavering “family style,” Christian-based principles provide the foundation for Walker Manufacturing’s 33-year operation. “In a time of being ‘politically correct,’ Walker Manufacturing and its owners stand behind and promote good old-fashioned values, morals and ethics in all of their dealings and activities,” said Jenny Schultz, Walker’s commercial banker. For the private, family-owned lawn mower manufacturing business, the primary objective is to produce multiplied opportunities, achieved with high performance expectations, business practices shaped by. . .

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