Contract manufacturing, engineering, and design
Since purchasing Colorado Tech Shop in spring 2022, manufacturing industry veteran Hostetter has breathed new life into the contract electronics shop.
The company provides Colorado entrepreneurs, startups, and enterprise-level clients with electronics prototyping, PCB assembly, and manufacturing services. The turnkey shop offers engineering and design work, board layout, and full assembly as well as fulfillment, warranty, inspection, and shipping.
Hostetter spent 22 years running a defense and aerospace manufacturing business until her then nine-year-old son had a life-threatening accident. She stepped down to start H2 Solutions, a consultancy offering a wide range of services to small businesses. Colorado Tech Shop was among her clients.
"They were sick of it and said to me, 'Either you buy it, or we're going to dissolve it,'" Hostetter says.
Hostetter is well-suited to ensure the company's success. She is a founding board member of the NoCo Manufacturing Partnership and has organized several women in manufacturing professional development and networking events.
She also helped develop the Colorado Center of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing with Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace and the Colorado School of Mines. She worked with leaders at Mines, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and Manufacturer's Edge to establish the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) Center in 2016.
Supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are among the biggest issues confronting Hostetter since she took over the business.
"Electronics distributors are running out of inventory," she says. "COVID is still a thing in China -- when you get the sniffles, they shut the factory down. It forces you to be innovative. You're forced to look at things through a different set of optics, and that's not always bad."
Challenges: Many businesses are having trouble finding employees, and Colorado Tech Shop is no different. "Our state demographer has been telling us that the birth rates are low and the death rates are high here," Hostetter says. "The workforce will continue to be an issue in our colorful Colorado state."
Opportunities: Hostetter identifies two main opportunities for Colorado Tech Shop. First, while she could have retired, Hostetter saw the opportunity to purchase a distressed asset that has the potential to create wealth for people who otherwise may be struggling to get ahead.
Hostetter's first day of ownership was April 1, 2022. By July, she'd given all employees their first bonus checks. "Sixty percent of our staff is brown-skinned, largely Latina women," she says. "I wanted to fast-track wealth creation that I'm passionate about."
The second opportunity is strategic: Hostetter wants to help her clients solve supply-chain nightmares that force them to wait for as long as eight months for parts. "As much of a management nightmare as it is, it is what's needed because by the time people get these parts, they're just underwater," she says. "I do it with all the same certification as the big buys. When you have an opportunity like that, it's because something is lacking."
Needs: Getting clients to understand the changes she's made since buying the company is the biggest thing Hostetter needs to communicate. What they need to know is that Colorado Tech Shop performs work quickly, on time and at the same level of quality as its larger competitors. "It's the new Colorado Tech Shop," she says. "It's not the same place people knew of the last five years. We need to make people aware that there's a new Colorado Tech Shop in town and this is what we do."