Made in Colorado 2022 — Most Innovative Manufacturer
Nano-coating technology and the world's largest aquarium windows, made right here in Colorado. Pretty cool, huh?
All Made In Colorado’s winners and finalists have at least one thing in common: They all make products in Colorado.
It underlines the sheer breadth of the products made in Colorado. While the Colorado manufacturing base is not as established as places like the Rust Belt and the Southeast, it is also unconstrained by tradition and underpinned by innovation.
And that might be exactly what the domestic industry needs as it rides a winning streak fueled by the return of manufacturing from China and other overseas locales — no matter whether it lands in Detroit or Kremmling, Colorado.
MOST INNOVATIVE MANUFACTURER
WINNER — Vita Inclinata Technologies
Visit — www.vitatech.co
Chairman and CEO Caleb Carr co-founded Vita Inclinata after his friend died following an unsuccessful helicopter rescue in 2009. The tragic event led Carr to start developing load stabilization technologies for helicopters.
After starting Vita Inclinata in 2015, Carr and co-founder and CTO Derek Sikora developed a game-changing unit with a propulsion system to replace the status quo: a rope dangling from the helicopter held by a person on the ground.
“What that ends up causing is a delay of the aircraft sitting onsite, but it also naturally can cause injury and death,” says Carr. “The use of the rescue system eliminates both the need and the worry of having to use a rope to manipulate the load. It actually controls it, but arguably most importantly is you speed up what is normally a 20-minute mission down to a three- to five-minute mission.”
In the construction market, it has the same impact: reducing risks of accidents while boosting crane utilization by about 30 percent, he adds.
Now 91 employees, the company is growing with search-and-rescue systems, as well as sales to the military for use in Ukraine and the construction industry for load stabilization on cranes. Carr forecasts a 2,000 percent spike in revenue to about $30 million in 2022, followed by a 1,000 percent uptick in 2023.
Relying on a far-ranging supply chain, Vita Inclinata assembles its systems in Broomfield, but more space is needed for a planned move into systems for wind turbine blades that will be “6 to 10 times the size of our current system,” says Carr. “We’re bursting at the seams in Colorado now, so we’re actively sourcing a new facility.”
The location is yet to be determined. Carr says Denver’s location and workforce is ideal, but state support for Colorado-based companies looking to scale is lacking. “It’s one thing to entice companies to come to you. It’s a whole other thing to keep the ones that you have.”
FINALIST — Forge Nano
Visit — www.forgenano.com
Founder and CEO Paul Lichty worked on nano-coating technology called atomic layer deposition (ALD) at CU Boulder, then bought the rights for a mere $1 to launch Forge Nano from his garage in 2011. The company has since commercialized the process for manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries, OLEDs and semiconductors.
FINALIST — Reynolds Polymer Technology
Visit — www.reynoldspolymer.com
The Western Slope manufacturer has been on the cutting edge of highly engineered acrylic and polymer for 35 years. Reynolds Polymer has plenty of superlatives in its cap: The company made the world’s largest aquarium windows while supplying acrylic to the largest dark matter experiment in the U.S.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com