Manufacturers celebrate at ColoradoBiz's Made in Colorado 2016 event

Focusing on the human stories behind the products

With about 140,000 Coloradans working in manufacturing, there’s a lot to celebrate. On March 3, machinists, and welders, engineers and designers, sewers, painters, brewers, butchers and more, gathered for the 4th annual Made in Colorado manufacturer’s forum and awards program.

 This year, ColoradoBiz focused on celebrating the human stories behind the skills and physical objects. With abilities to craft and create with such high precision, the makers in attendance and highlighted inside the pages of the magazine deem their work more than just a job, but rather a personality, a lifestyle, a calling.

Since offshoring accelerated in the 1990s, there’s been a growing disconnect between the education required and the necessary skills for these jobs. Such talent is in high demand in Colorado and beyond, and there’s an active push to close the gap.

That's why Made in Colorado exists – the business-to-business connections, the sharing of stories and commitments to products and processes. Putting that all under one roof for a collection of conversations is the way for ColoradoBiz to move the needle toward progress for the sector as a whole.  

The day opened with a luncheon and B2B lounge where manufacturers were exclusively invited to talk about technology and software solutions within the industry.

To kickoff the afternoon program, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke of the strength of the manufacturing sector in Colorado’s capital and beyond and pointed to companies the city’s population takes great pride in Thereafter, five Made in Colorado award categories were identified and one winner from each was selected:

Most Innovative Manufacturer

  • Winner – Terumo BCT
  • Finalist – Hach Co.
  • Finalist – Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems

Best of Food & Beverage

  • Winner – Tender Belly
  • Finalist­ – Grateful Bread Co.
  • Finalist – Ska Brewing

Most Ethically Produced

  • Winner ­­ – Women’s Bean Project
  • Finalist – Growing Spaces
  • Finalist – Knotty Tie

Emerging Manufacturer of the Year

  • Winner – Lifeloc Technologies
  • Finalist ­– KMLabs
  • Finalist – Agribotix

Top Designed Goods

  • Winner – Topo Designs
  • Finalist – Winter Session
  • Finalist – The Azure Furniture Co.

Following the awards program three food and beverage manufacturers arrived on stage for a panel conversation moderated by Kreg Brown, partner at EKS&H. The panelists included Matt Shifrin, COO of Breckenridge Distillery, John Roelke, VP of sales and marketing for Continental Sausage, and Koel Thomae, co-founder of Noosa Yoghurt. The three individuals spoke on the trials and tribulations within their individual product categories as well as shared opportunities, insights and intentions for the future of their businesses.

The list of the Top 250 Manufacturers of 2016 was unveiled at the event. See the list here.

Here are some photos from the event. Enjoy!

Categories: Events, Made in Colorado, Web Exclusives