COCTW 2013: Icelantic Skis to Populus

Icelantic Skis

Snapshot: Icelantic Skis manufactures and sells Alpine skis and boots. The company was founded in 2005 and is Denver-based. Revenues increased 69 percent in 2012 and are projected to increase 61 percent this year.

Leadership: Benjamin Anderson is CEO and co-founder with Annelise Loevlie, Travis Parr and Travis Cook.

Work Force: The company expects to have 10 full-time and 14 part-time employees this year.

Pivotal Moment: Icelantic Skis won the Best Brand New Hardgood of the year award in 2006 at ISPO, a sporting goods tradeshow in Munich, Germany. Also, the company partnered with the snowboard manufacturer Never
Summer Industries to make Icelantic Skis in Denver.

Community Involvement: Employees of Icelantic Skis volunteer with University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, Rocky Mountain Micro Finance Institute, GALS (Girls Athletic Leadership School), Women’s Economic Leadership Forum, Something Independent, The Business of Fun and other local organizations.

Company Culture: There are no set hours or vacation quotas. Some employees work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and take government holidays; others travel the world and work remotely. The Icelantic crew takes one or two company retreats, a ski or surf trip, every year. This allows the team to connect out of the office and generate new ideas.

Isonas Inc.

Snapshot: ISONAS offers physical access control with a pure Internet protocol (IP) solution that eliminates control panels and specialized wiring while allowing management of the system via a Web interface. The company was founded in 1999 and is based in Boulder. It experienced a 113 percent revenue increase in 2012.

Leadership: Rob Mossman became CEO in 2012.

Pivotal Moment: In 2004 the founders decided to approach a hardware-based access control market from a software perspective. They were able to build a product that eliminated control panels and the need for external power, reducing installation time and cost. Patents were issued in August 2010, giving ISONAS broad protection to grow the business.

Tech Edge: The patented product uses a pure IP solution that is control panel-free and powered over Ethernet cable, to bring flexibility and scalability up and cost down. The user has the ability to modify the access control system via a Web interface, which allows decentralization of permissions management.

Company Culture: ISONAS has an espresso machine and free Italian coffee and beer ready and waiting in the refrigerator. Company culture descriptors are listed on a dry erase board in the office: Proud, Thrifty, Motivated, Energized, Urgency, OK to Make Mistakes, Creative, Innovative, Open Minded, Personally Responsible.


Luna Gourmet Coffee
and Tea Co.

Snapshot: Founded in 1996 and based in Denver, Luna Gourmet Coffee and Tea Co. is a coffee roasting and tea blending company that owns and manages three brands:, Boulder Organic Coffee and Luna Roasters Coffee & Tea.

Leadership:  Brothers Jason and Douglass Barrow are co-owners; Jason serves as president, Douglass as roastmaster. Revenues are expected to increase 117 percent this year.

Big Break: In 2008 the company won its first multi-million dollar national account. The new business helped Luna attract new investor financing, which the company used to expand its facility by 15,000 square feet, add a second coffee roaster and install an automated packaging line.

Community Involvement: Luna offers socially responsible, roast-to-order coffee to restaurants and online. The company donated 7.9 million cups of coffee to front line soldiers through its Troop Coffee program. Also the company provided a sizable cash donation to local nonprofit partners, through a give-back on every dollar spent with wholesale customers.

Company Culture: The management philosophy is Happy Employees create Happy Customers, who in turn create Happy Shareholders. Every employee has several areas of responsibility, which drives accountability, quality and awareness of the processes upstream and downstream.


Minute Key Inc.

Snapshot: Founded in 2008, Boulder-based Minute Key Inc. devised the world’s first self-service, automated key-cutting machine. The kiosks can be found in major retailers, including Lowe’s, Walmart and The Home Depot. Revenues grew 681 percent last year and the company projects a 39 percent increase in 2013.

Leadership: CEO Randall Fagundo assumed his role in 2010.

Work force: As of 2012, Minute Key employs 31 full-time workers and 66 part-timers, experiencing a 68 percent employee growth rate in 2012. It expects to reach 40 full-time workers this year.

Big Break: When Minute Key’s founders recognized how challenging key duplication was despite technological leaps and bounds in other industries, their curiosity was piqued. Consequently, they created a simplified and automated prototype from wood and metal in their garage, believing the result would be a win-win for customers and retailers.

Tech Edge: With robotics, software engineering and a singular focus, the tedious task of copying keys has gone from inconvenient and labor-intensive to a three-step solution that produces 100 percent accurate keys in a minute or less.

Company Culture: Fagundo’s respect for his staff builds an environment with high sociability and solidarity. With shared values, trust and rewards to incentivize hard work, the Minute Key atmosphere is open for creativity and teamwork.


MM Local

Snapshot: MM Local partners with Colorado family farmers to preserve their organic, homegrown produce so hungry customers can chow down on nutrient-rich local food year-round. In 2012, MM Local experienced 73 percent revenue growth.

Leadership: Owners Jim Mills and Ben Mustin co-founded the company in 2009.

Work Force: The Denver-based business employed 19 full-time-equivalent workers in 2012 and expects to reach 22 this year.

Pivotal Moment: Before Mills and Mustin dove into their production process, they jotted down MM Local’s brand beliefs. Three-and-half years later, the values-driven team vision to craft an authentic, healthy and sustainable food system and inspire community connections has gone unchanged.

Community Involvement: By buying produce exclusively from Colorado farmers, hiring Colorado workers and selling solely to Colorado consumers, MM Local has become a trailblazer in the state’s food community. Also, as a primary buyer of local produce from several agricultural partners, the farms are able to plant more acreage and confidently maintain a stable buyer, willing to adapt to ever-changing supplies.

Company Culture: MM Local strives to invest in relationships internally and externally by embracing collaboration and manufacturing better food. To recognize employees’ hard work and the long hours required during harvest months, the MM Local crew observes holidays in the late winter-early spring and has created a unique company holiday in March, MM Local Eating Day.


Montanya Distillers LLC

Snapshot: From its beginning, Montanya made rum its focal point and the company has yet to falter from that focus. Montanya Distillers is a craft distiller of artisan rum, now distributed across the country and around the world. Its projected revenue growth is 21 percent for 2013.

Leadership: Company President Karen Hoskin founded Montanya in 2008.

Work Force: Montanya expects to expand its employee base by 5 percent this year.

Big Break: In May 2011, Montanya made the move from Silverton to Crested Butte, solving the challenges of growth it had faced for several years. Montanya received “2013 Craft Distillery of the Year” from the American Distilling Institute and “2012 Business of the Year” from the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce.

Community Involvement: The artisanal rum producer lends its facilities cost-free for fundraising event space year-round, most recently hosting a Moulin Rouge Ball to benefit local land preservation organization High Country Citizens’ Alliance (HCCA) in Crested Butte.

Company Culture: As self-proclaimed “classic bootstrappers,” and “eternal optimists,” the distillery aims to enhance the lives of its staff. As such, Montanya instigates group activities such as staff retreats at the Chipeta Sun Lodge in Ridgeway or company celebrations with pirate-themed parties and aerial dancers.


Mountain Racing Products

Snapshot: Mesa County’s Mountain Racing Products manufactures high-end bicycle components and is a global leader in the niche chain guide and guard market. MRP’s brand was the original chain guide in the bicycle market.

Leadership: Tim Fry, Mountain Racing’s president, founded the company in February 2000.

Work Force: In 2012, MRP had nearly 19 full-time equivalent employees, expecting to ramp up by a couple more this year.

Big Break: The expansion of MRP’s bicycle chain guide and guard technology from the downhill market to the broader mountain bike space changed the business dramatically. This year MRP expects a 400 percent increase in revenue due to the addition of this product line.

Community Involvement: Not surprisingly, the bike-component makers tend to concentrate community service efforts on projects to support the advancement of outdoor activities, such as the 130-acre acquisition of the Three Sisters property to be developed for recreation and educational purposes.

Tech Edge: The company makes and supplies parts that keep chains on mountain bikes in tricky terrain, protecting the bikes from damage. MRP has two main patented areas in its suspension products: a unique patented valve system that employs magnetism to control suspension and an axle resulting in an easy-to-use and substantially stiffer suspension fork than competitors’ offerings.


Oliver Manufacturing
Co. Inc.

Snapshot: For over 80 years, Oliver has broken ground as a leading provider of durable, effective and reliable equipment for separating dry materials by weight. The Otero-based company has served global seed, nut, coffee, recycling, lumber and mining industries since 1930 with its line of refined gravity separators, de-stoners, precision sizers and bed dryers. Its projected revenue growth for 2013 is set at 31 percent.

Leadership: Brian Burney – president, CEO and great grandson of founder Oliver Steele – joined the company in 2004.

Work Force: The manufacturing business is set to hit 75 full-time employees in 2013.

Pivotal Moment: In Oliver’s first generation, the founder developed equipment, revolutionizing seed and grain processing. With each transition from generation to generation there have been further improvements.

Tech Edge: Today’s Voyager and Maxi-Cap Platinum products are the first fully automated, fully integrated gravity separators on the market.

Company Culture: Oliver has been a family business since its establishment. Across three generations, a collaborative team-oriented approach has helped get things done quickly in an ever-changing, globally competitive market. 


One World Labs LLC

Snapshot: One World Labs (OWL) abides by a “safety first” style, specializing in cyber security testing, risk assessment and remediation of physical and digital security for corporations and government agencies. In the growing digital area, the company is forecast to experience 153 percent revenue growth in 2013.

Leadership: Jay Weber took over as CEO of OWL in 2011.

Work Force: The Denver-based IT experts are projected to experience an 82 percent employee spike, from 11 full time workers to 20 by year’s end.

Big Break: Chris Roberts is a world-class security specialist with striking technical skills. However, he was unconvinced that his tech savvy would translate into building a thriving business.  Luckily, he had the foresight to call upon Weber’s entrepreneurial know-how. The two raised the necessary funds to jumpstart OWL and have since doubled their revenue annually.

Community Involvement: OWL is a member of Hackers for Charity, a nonprofit that leverages the skills of tech pros to solve challenges nonprofits face.

Tech Edge: OWL has developed counter-intelligence software, which proactively monitors the Web and other potentially malicious channels to identify and mitigate threats to companies before damage is done.



Snapshot: The brainchild of Stephen “Esteban” Anson has evolved into an all-natural, organic soda, sweetened purely with agave nectar. Flavors include mandarin key lime, watermelon cream, strawberry rhubarb and more. The company experienced 28 percent revenue growth in 2012 and is slated to nearly triple that in 2013.

Leadership: Gannon Merrell, president and CFO, founded Oogavé in 2009.

Pivotal Moment: The idea for Oogavé first came to Anson while overseeing his small, natural foods restaurant, Wholly Tomato in downtown Denver. From his fresh baked breads to his handcrafted dressings, nothing artificial or commercial made it past the culinary wiz. Bothered by the lack of choice and quality in soft drink selections, he turned to agave nectar. After months of mixology and countless taste-tests, Anson began serving Oogavé fizzy drinks in his restaurant on April 13, 2005.

Tech Edge: Oogavé bottles its beverages in-house, allowing for more control of the manufacturing process from start to finish. Additionally, beginning in April, Oogavé began distributing LOCA, a full-flavor, low-calorie variety made with all-natural ingredients.

Company Culture: With a shorts and T-shirt style and pets with an open RSVP policy around the office, the scene is set for a calm, cool, collected company environment. Oogavé’s laid-back philosophy embraces the individuality, creativity and stress-free lifestyle its employees seek.


PEAK Resources Inc.

Snapshot: By tailoring technology to its end users’ needs, PEAK Resources is able to blend virtualization, server and storage consolidation, business resiliency, cloud and IT optimization for small startups to Fortune 100 clients. The company’s revenue was up by 17 percent in 2012.

Leadership: Since 1991, founder Vince DeRose has served as company president.

Pivotal Moment: The most recent economic downturn put an undeniable strain on PEAK’s business and coverage models. As a result, the company developed tighter management to maintain profitability. Since recovering, the company has become more flexible, prepared to take on the cloud-computing era.

Community Involvement: In an effort to support the educational needs of the Denver community, PEAK is currently in its third year of its Resources Scholarship for Technology with KIPP Colorado program, awarding up to $6,000 for graduating seniors who intend to pursue technology-based degrees.

Tech Edge: PEAK’s Technology Center serves as a showcase, housing the latest technology for clients to check out.


Populus LLC

Snapshot: Founded in 2007, the Boulder-based utility company provides energy efficiency implementation for utilities and governments. Noteworthy clients include Xcel Energy, the City and County of Denver, Boudler and Longmont. Populus has achieved more than 3,000 percent revenue growth since 2009.

Leadership: Laura Hutchings joined Populus as its CEO in May 2009.

Work Force: Populus anticipates 35 full-time employees to make up its team by the end of 2013.

Big Break: After laying the groundwork with a few, small government contracts, Populus was awarded a $3.8 million multi-year contract to administer a community-scale residential energy efficiency program throughout Boulder County in 2009. The contract afforded Populus the opportunity for rapid growth and validated its scalable delivery model.

Community Involvement: In 2012, team members jumped on the “Movember” bandwagon, competing to grow the most impressive facial hair. Populus supported the employee-led initiative by matching the fundraising efforts to aid prostate cancer research.

Company Culture: Populus has pioneered a new implementation model for residential energy efficiency that puts “People First, Buildings Second.” By taking the role of “Energy Advisor,” Populus endeavors to establish relationships of trust with home owners.