The 2017 Colorado Manufacturing Awards celebrated innovation in manufacturing at The ART, a hotel, on April 13. Out of 30 deserving finalists across 10 categories, awards went to 10 winners for work in advancing the industry.
Emcee and CompanyWeek Publisher Bart Taylor called Colorado "a model for national manufacturing." Noted Taylor to the event's 240 attendees: "Many of you have small businesses competing improbably against larger businesses. Resources alone don't equate to market leadership."
The event was presented by CompanyWeek and Manufacturer's Edge. Sponsors included BKD, UMB Bank, Squire Patton Boggs, Alliance Insurance Group, Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (CAMA), Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the City of Fort Collins, and the Northern Colorado Manufacturing Partnership.
Beyond innovation, teamwork was a common theme for the night. As Manufacturer's Edge CEO Tom Bugnitz noted, "Manufacturing is the people behind it. We've got the best in Colorado. End of story. Period."
Beer & Brewing: Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
The Denver brewery won for its mastery of sour beers and taming the wild brettanomyces yeast strains that produce them. "For our brewery, it's founded out of research, and to see that research turn into manufacturing and something we can taste here today is really exciting," said Crooked Stave founder Chad Yakobson.
Food & Beverage: MycoTechnology
Harnessing the food-enhancing power of fungi, MycoTechnology is moving from its initial bitter-blocking innovation, ClearTaste, into the protein market with PureTaste. "It will allow us to feed the world in new ways," said Pete Lubar, founder and COO. Lubar expects the staff to hit 80 employees in 2018, up from four in 2013.
Industrial & Contract: Tag Team Manufacturing
The Parker-based contract manufacturer has invested in automation to stay on the leading edge. "This sounds trite, but the real support comes from our people," said Tag Team CEO Terry Taggart. "And we wouldn't be here tonight without our clients. We look forward to building upon the platform that's been established."
Electronics & Aerospace: Aleph Objects
Manufacturer of LulzBot 3D printers, Aleph Objects has seen annual sales grow more than tenfold to about $20 million in four years. "The company's grown tremendously," said Director of Marketing Ben Malouf. "We are totally focused on user freedom. We share everything under free licenses. We are really proud that not only are we manufacturing in Colorado and the United States, but we're doing it in a way that's completely unconventional."
Bioscience & Medical: PharmaJet
CEO Ron Lowy credited CTO/COO Chris Cappello, and pointed to the fight against polio as an example of innovation at PharmaJet. "We're right on the verge of eliminating it from mankind," said Lowy. A shortage of vaccine is a big hurdle, but PharmaJet can help rectify that with its needle-free technology. "We invented a device that gets the same immune response with 60 percent less vaccine."
Women in Manufacturing Woman of the Year Award: Marcia Coulson, Eldon James
"I can't wait to get back and share this with the 45 people I work with," said Coulson, president of the PVC-free medical tubing manufacturer. "You become who you associate with, so choose good friends, choose good co-workers, and good things will happen."
Innovation in Supply Chain: Ardent Mills
"Nothing happens without supply chain," said CAMA's Tim Heaton as he introduced the category. His analogy involved the realization you're missing a key ingredient in the midst of making dinner. "Your cost just skyrocketed, and you probably have six angry customers at the table."
Accepting the award, Ardent Mills COO Bill Stoufer said, "We're just a sleepy little company that feeds 100 million people a day." The flour-milling giant established its headquarters in Denver in 2014. "I grew up in Iowa and this food scene in Colorado is unrivaled across the country," added Stoufer. "We're very proud of it, and the state should be proud of it, and we couldn't be more happy to be here."
Built Environment: Prescient
Prescient's system for manufacturing steel-framed buildings has quickly gotten traction in the market as it expands nationally. Chairman and CEO Satyen Patel, a self-described "private-equity guy," said that co-founders Michael Lastowski and John Vanker "deserve all the credit." The company has grown from eight to 350 employees and won 29 patents in five short years and will cross the $100 million sales mark in 2017. Said Patel: "This company is on a roll."
Energy & Enviro: Forge Nano
Forge Nano specializes in next-generation nano coatings that make for safer, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries. "The key to our success was a really good team," said VP of Engineering James Trevey. "We're really excited about what we're doing and there's not one person who clocks in just like it's a job."
Lifestyle & Consumer: Ross Reels
"A lot of our success has been driven by two things: the stewardship of our employees and the stewardship of our city," said David Dragoo, president of Ross Reels' parent company Mayfly Outdoors. The company has called Montrose home for more than 30 years and has numerous employees with 25 or more years of tenure. "We're just really proud to represent Colorado manufacturers and Western Slope manufacturers," added Dragoo.