Denver Metro Chamber Awards Gleam Car Wash as Green Business of the Year

VIDEO: Finalists Ardent Mills and Gone for Good also in the running for moving the needle on sustainability



Though Denver doesn't have specific recycling standards for car washes to adhere to, the team behind Gleam Car Wash has committed to environmental stewardship with a host of green practices. Opened in northwest Denver at 4895 W. 38th Ave. in August 2016, Gleam recycles more than 90 percent of its water, using than 15 gallons of drinkable water per car.

"We have heard there is one car wash in the northeast that is LEED-certified, but we don't know of any car wash that is doing everything we're doing," says Gleam's co-founder Emilie Baratta.

Before Gleam, Baratta launched sustainable firm, Turnbuckle Development and spent more than a decade working on mixed-use LEED Gold and Silver infill projects in Denver, Baltimore and Michigan. Her partner, Robert Madrid, had a history in the carwash business. 

Madrid calls Baratta an "eco-warrior."

For Gleam that means:

  • No hot water used to wash its cars
  • Recycled water
  • 100 percent LED lighting
  • 41 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof

In the nearly two years since the business began, it is already profitable and has created 35 jobs, recruiting, training and hiring men and women with cognitive disabilities, such as autism, as well as refugees and immigrants with limited English skills.

Is the Gleam squad setting a new standard within its industry?

"It's easy to just have a carwash," Baratta says. But what they're doing is something different. "We want to be reflective of the community and neighborhood and spirit."



Through the combined North American milling operations of Conagra Foods and Horizon Milling, an independent Cargill-CHS joint venture, Ardent Mills chose Denver as its home in 2014. 

The company's products – more than 1,000 of them – include traditional wheat flours, multigrain blends of organic flour and gluten-free flour products that don't have wheat. Maximizing the combined assets, capabilities and experience of its parent companies, Ardent Mills brings innovative flour and grain products, services and solutions to the market, supported by 40 mills.

"Landing Ardent Mills is a little like winning the Super Bowl — or at least the Flour Bowl — especially for rural communities," said Gov. John Hickenlooper, upon the announcement of Ardent Mills selecting its Denver headquarters.

Bill Stoufer, chief operating officer of Ardent Mills, adds the company selected Colorado for its new headquarters largely because of research institutions like CSU; but the culture of Colorado was another a major draw.

Since, the company has tapped the market knowledge, transportation logistics, consumer insights, wheat sourcing capabilities, ingredients and culinary expertise available from its parent companies and within the Colorado community.

Ardent Mills delivers quality ingredients rooted in sustainability, health and wellness, aligned with the latest food trends, meanwhile teamed up with family farmers.

"Colorado farmers are a part of our food story," says Vice President of Supply Chain, Jeff Zyskowski.

A culture of sustainability weaves through the fabric of the company, with leadership taking a long-term view. According to CEO Dan Dye, nearly 65 percent of employees take the RTD light-rail. The organization is also dedicated to limiting food waste, and promoting food safety. 

Last year, Ardent Mills' earnings were higher than the year prior, due to more favorable conditions and continued improvement in operating effectiveness, according to Conagra. 

On March 9 of this year, the company introduced the Annex by Ardent Mills, a business unit focused on exploring and providing food companies and food service operators with specialty ingredients and products.




We've all got it. We all want to get rid of it.

Tired of clutter?

Trying to clean house?

Inspired to improve your carbon footprint?

Denver's Gone for Good hauls everything, resells the items in its thrift store, gives them to charity or recycles them, so less ends up in landfills. 

Regardless of how this full-service, eco-friendly hauler gets rid of excess stuff, it will not go to waste. Not usable? That's OK – Gone for Good breaks down items and recycles them, partnering with area recycling companies to help with: 

  • WOOD

Gone for Good, which got its start in 2008, has a stated mission of "reduce, resell, recycle," and it follows through. Within the last year the company has recycled more than 7 tons of cardboard, eight barrels of oil and 63 cubic yards of landfill space.

But it's not always easy:

"Being green isn't always green," says Reid Husmer, owner of Gone for Good. 

This April, the Gone for Good team invested in and opened a new recycling center. Locally, the group contributes to Free the Girls, A Precious Child, Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) and others, while working with the Denver Housing Authority as a good corporate citizen.

2018 Business Awards – Green Business of the Year Finalists from Denver Metro Chamber on Vimeo.

Categories: Companies to Watch