The Makers: From Footwear to Medical Apparel and Pool Sanitation
Standout Colorado product companies – The ones to watch in 2018
The following businesses are scattered throughout the state and present a variety of physical products to the marketplace. From chemicals to sandals, bicycles to scrubs, there's an assortment of expertise in every tangible item produced by these Colorado Companies to Watch.
Northglenn | Since 1990 | Chemical manufacturing
B&B Blending develops and manufactures a full line of quality automotive reconditioning, car wash, janitorial and industrial cleaning products. In 2014, B&B launched its private brand, Puris, at Automechanika in Frankfurt, Germany, and subsequently doubled its international footprint, expanding to more than 37 countries. In 2017, B&B partnered with Front Range Community College’s Corporate Solutions program to train staff in LEAN manufacturing practices and 6S methodology, allowing staff to begin recognizing and systematically eliminating waste in their respective work areas.
B&B completed DiSC personal assessments to generate an organization personality profile to improve productivity, teamwork and communication. The company culture thrives on passion, high energy, transparency and inclusion, which employees say make it an exciting and fulfilling place to work.
Boulder | Since 2014 | Non-chlorinated pool sanitation systems
Clear Comfort bet that swimmers would rather not have the sting and stench of buckets of chlorine in their pools, and it’s a wager that’s paying off. The company sold its first system in less than two weeks with a product it says delivers the cleanest, safest water without the toxicity of high chlorination.
From 2014 to 2016, Clear Comfort mostly sold directly to consumers and commercial facility operators, but it has since changed to a focus on channel partners. By the end of 2017, revenue had doubled, and 2018 is expected to be 200 percent of the previous year. Clear Comfort earned its B Corporation certification in 2016, joining a Colorado community of organizations that share its values in using business as a force for good.
Colorado Springs | Since 2014 | Industrial 3D printer maker
Mechanical engineer Clay Guillory used to spend his days designing 5-axis CNC routers and his nights building large 3D printers in his garage. Guillory's hobby quickly developed into a new business; he founded Titan Robotics at age 26. At the time, there were limited industrial, large-format 3D printers available on the market until Titan developed its Atlas 3D printer. Guillory applies his knowledge from the proven CNC manufacturing world to Titan's machines, differentiating the company from other mainstream 3D printer manufacturers.
Titan's management style is to lead by doing. A fast-approaching deadline means all hands on deck, and CEO Guillory is often found working side by side with the team building machines and developing innovative technology on the shop floor. Titan volunteers with Enabling the Future, a nonprofit connecting children with engineers and 3D printing service providers to create custom 3D printed prosthetic hands. Titan has donated about a dozen of these prosthetics for children in Colorado and across the country.
Broomfield | Since 2010 | Footwear maker
Steven Sashen has an important question: Are you more comfortable once you’ve taken off your shoes at the end of the day? “If so,” he says, “you've been wearing the wrong shoes.”
Sashen says his Xero Shoes, based on a 5,000-year-old design, are so comfortable, some people actually forget to remove them before bed.
“Modern footwear, especially running shoes, has never been proven to reduce injury or improve performance,” he says. “Just the simple design change of making a shoe wide enough to let your toes spread and splay is disruptive in this industry!”
Sashen and his wife, co-founder Lena Phoenix, appeared on “Shark Tank” and turned down a $400,000 offer, but he says the experience brought a much-needed focus and commitment to the business. “(Plus), the response we got once we appeared totally confirmed the value of our product, and at that time all we had was a DIY sandal-making kit.”
Xero’s original sandal product was inspired by the tire-sandals made by the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, a group suffering greatly from drought threats, drug cartels and lack of food, water, education, and health care. The company donates a percentage of its DIY sandal sales to the Tarahumara Children's Hospital Fund to help provide education, medical care, food and more.
Denver | Since 1976 | Landscape services
As a pioneer of innovation in Colorado's landscape industry, Lifescape is actively adapting green, sustainable and water management initiatives. Saving water and other natural resources starts with eco-friendly landscape design and continues with high-tech construction practices and efficient resource utilization. “Our team loves to get its hands dirty and is passionate about our role in designing, building and maintaining spectacular Colorado landscapes,” CEO and owner Michael Hupf says. “We collaborate with our clients to make this a fun experience and customize the design or maintenance program to fit their individual needs.”
The company has grown from $3 million to $15 million since 2006, and it gives back by providing scholarships and internship opportunities for students coming into the green industry. Lifescapes also adopts a family in need each year.
Denver | Since 2011 | Mountain bike manufacturer
Guerrilla Gravity’s mission is to “make mountain biking more awesome,” and that means bringing Colorado-made mountain bikes to market for the same price point as competitors’ overseas-made bikes, while also improving performance and offering unique customization options. The company accomplishes this through design for manufacturing, lean inventory management and a multi-channel sales strategy, along with community building and a personal one-on-one sales customer experience.
Employees receive a new bike each year to ensure they’re riding the latest and greatest on the company’s weekly after-work rides. The company hosts fundraisers for the Colorado Mountain Bike Association and a camping weekend for customers to celebrate mountain biking.
Brighton | Since 1980 | Wholesale landscape grower & supplier
That tree you like to lounge under at lunch time? It might have been put there by Arbor Valley Nursery, which was started by a father-son team nearly 40 years ago. The company uses lessons learned from other industries to remove waste, speed up production and improve the consistency of plant quality.
Before the company began to adjust its operations, it surveyed customers, suppliers and market influencers; what emerged was the promise of “Quality Plants Delivered Just In Time.” That has meant reshaping the trucking fleet, driver training and staffing models, but it has allowed Arbor Valley’s partners to plan and prepare, maximizing their effectiveness and minimizing the time and cost to complete projects.
Arbor Valley’s continuous improvement culture and local expertise allow it to produce consistently high-quality plants while minimizing the variable cost to the market. Higher quality plants in superior soils have greater success rates, and that means project owners spend less time and resources on replacements.
Boulder | Since 1998 | Products for utilities
With a focus on innovative engineered products, Comptek developed the CityPole, a ground-breaking smart pole built with modular elements to quickly and economically support changes in radio technologies. Equipment is tucked into a secured base cabinet integral to the pole, and antennas are concealed. The result: a slender, attractive pole structure that replaces existing light poles or is standalone and can support multiple carriers, deploying the wireless technologies that serve today’s fast-moving lifestyles and helping smart cities thrive.
Comptek gives back to the community by supporting a cycling fundraiser each year, typically for Children's Hospital, along with a paid day per year for employees to contribute time to a nonprofit or charity of their choice.
Littleton | Since 1994 | Medical apparel
Yes, hospital scrubs are blue and green and brown. And as imagined by Crazy Scrubs, they’re also covered with hot pink flowers, wild geometric shapes and cartoon characters. Scott and Sandi Richter started Crazy Scrubs by selling scrubs to doctors and nurses in Littleton; the company now has a network of thousands of wholesale accounts nationwide. A division the couple calls Ripcord Brands, started two years ago on Amazon, is the platform’s leading seller of medical apparel and one of its highest-rated and fastest-growing companies.
Crazy Scrubs has supported more than 100 medical missions around the globe. “From the beginning, we decided we would support any medical mission who asked for our support,” Scott Richter says, noting that the company has photos in its corporate office hallway showing Crazy Scrubs in Tanzania, Kenya, Haiti, the Philippines, Mexico, China, Cambodia and India. “Surgeons who have worn our scrubs on medical missions tell us that their wild, fun Crazy Scrubs have helped ease the sense of anxiety their foreign patients felt before surgery. They say it bridges the language barrier.”