With the page about to turn on 2017, now is the time to take a look back -- and publish a few year-end lists on companies we've featured. Of the more than 200 company profiles CompanyWeek published last year, here are 10 stories of Colorado manufacturers that stood out with their ingenuity, innovation, and integrity.
CompanyWeek's Brad Smith talked with Katie Weimer, the publicly traded company's VP of medical devices, about 3D Systems' long legacy in additive manufacturing. Founder Chuck Hull invented stereolithography in the early 1980s, and it continues to define its Littleton-based healthcare division today.
We revisited the Loveland-based maker of the Lulzbot line of 3D printers in April and reported on the company's dynamic growth. From $1.75 million in 2013, Aleph's sales snowballed to $4.6 million in 2014, $15 million in 2015, and $21.1 million in 2016. The company ranked 122nd on the 2016 Inc. 5000, second-best in Colorado and tops nationally for privately held hardware manufacturers. The staff has grown from 20 employees in 2013 to about 150 today.
One of the anchors of the state's enviable aerospace industry, Ball Aerospace is driving innovation in a wide range of spacecraft components and systems. The company is currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope (in partnership with prime contractor Northrop Grumman) that's slated to launch in October 2018. Other ongoing projects include work on NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), a network of cutting-edge weather forecasting satellites; and NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission, a new propulsion system, with Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Founder Troy Casey is taking local to another level with his Glenwood Springs brewery. Emphasizing local fruit and other ingredients, all of Casey's beers are fermented and aged in oak barrels, and his penchant for experimentation has won the hearts of sour aficionados nationwide.
CompanyWeek craft distilling writer Aron Johnson recently talked to photographer-turned-distiller Michael Myers. His whiskeys have won a rack full of awards, and they get a distinctive (and definitively Colorado) kick from the aspen staves used in the aging process.
Landon Meier's so-real-they're-surreal masks are works of silicon art. He's done celebrities ranging from Charlie Sheen to Kim Jong-Un and a series of oversized baby masks that have inspired endless double takes and viral videos.
CompanyWeek writer Bill Radford III took readers on a tour of the Colorado Springs co-packer's cutting-edge new facility in August. Founder and CEO J.W. Roth calls it "the most state-of-the-art ready-meal plant in the United States." High-pressure pasteurization (HPP) is just part of the innovation, he says. The company uses "the most sophisticated multivac packaging equipment in the world" and "the best ovens, the best smokers on planet Earth."
The Boulder-based stalwart spindle and loom manufacturer is closing in on 50 years in business. Barry Schacht, co-founder and president, started the company in 1969 after mowing a peace sign in front of the student union at his previous job on the University of Colorado grounds crew. Then he moved into the weaving world and never looked back.
CompanyWeek writer Jamie Siebrase reported on the Littleton manufacturer that crafts premium pastels that are devoid of cadmium and other potentially harmful chemicals. "Most of our pigments come out of the earth," says CEO Geoff Ludwig, who took over his dad's company in 2016.
CEO Mark Inboden has steered the Arvada-based control panel manufacturer towards innovation with custom products for the utility and energy markets. His vision for the future: wireless panels.