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Spotlight: 2018 Colorado Mfg. Awards Finalists

on March 17, 2018, 04:15 pm MDT

The third annual Colorado Manufacturing Awards showcase the best and brightest stars from all over the state and its many manufacturing sectors.

CompanyWeek's crack writers have caught up with the 30 finalists across 10 categories to shine a light on their successes, innovations, and new initiatives. While they make everything from bourbon to spacecraft, there are common threads: dynamic growth, a commitment to quality, and a focus on innovation.

We'll showcase three categories per week in the run-up to the April 5 event, when winners from each category will be announced. Here's this week's list:

Outstanding Craft Brewery

By Angela Rose

4 Noses Brewing Company



After a 91 percent increase in 2017, 4 Noses Brewing Company's founder, Tommy Bibliowicz, is planning to nearly double his brewery's output again this year, forecasting minimum production of 8,000 barrels.

The rapid growth is necessary to keep up with demand. Bibliowicz partnered with Elite Brands last year to launch his previously self-distributed beers statewide. "Prior to signing with Elite, we were only in the Front Range with some presence in the mountains and Colorado Springs," he explains.

The brewery's portfolio has expanded as well. "There's a long list of experimental ad hoc products that we were able to come out with in 2017," Bibliowicz says.  One such release was a Russian imperial stout called Ryeciprocal, which recently won gold in the wood- and barrel-aged dark beer category at the Craft Beer Awards.

"Some of the other ad hoc beers that we put out successfully last year are going to move from in-house only to a little more widespread availability," Bibliowicz adds. "We'll also have a lot of big barrel releases throughout the year as well as beers in our wild saison and sour programs, which are really coming along well."

While brewing good beer is decidedly important, Bibliowicz says 4 Noses' success has also been built on the excellence of his team. The company brought on a new director of brewing operations last year and had very little turnover of which to speak.

"We have a great team, and we kept it almost entirely intact throughout 2017, so I would definitely put that as a big success as well," he says.  

CompanyWeek Profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/4-noses-brewing-co

Left Hand Brewing Company



The craft beer industry has changed a lot since Eric Wallace co-founded Left Hand Brewing Company in 1993, but the business has weathered every storm. One of the ways they've done so is to instill a sense of ownership -- figuratively as well as literally -- in their employees.

"Back during the first craft beer shakeout in 1998, we began offering some of our employees equity in the company in order to keep that talent around," says Wallace.  In 2015, Left Hand took employee ownership a step further, creating an ESOP, or Employee Stock Ownership Plan, for its team of 115.

Maintaining "Righteous Independence" has also contributed to the brewery's success. Wallace says Left Hand remains a "cash-flow driven company" to this day. "We're not outside funded," he adds. "You have to run mostly on your own cash or somebody else is going to own you."

The model has served Left Hand well, enabling them to focus on more than the bottom line. While they were unable to increase production last year due to a voluntary recall, Wallace is aiming to boost total barrels from 69,535 in 2017 to 75,000 this year.

In the area of innovation, a partnership with Ball Corporation allowed last year's release of Milk Stout Nitro in American-made widget cans. "Prior to this, all the widget cans used in the U.S. were made in Europe and shipped over," Wallace says.

Left Hand has continued raising funds for charities as well, with over $900,000 in donations generated in 2017. "We'll crack $3 million for Bike MS this year since we first started sponsoring teams in 2008," Wallace says. "That's pretty cool and shows that we're community minded."

CompanyWeek Profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/left-hand-brewing-company

Paradox Beer Company



When Jeff Aragon and Brian Horton founded their brewery in 2012, they were dissatisfied with the industry's status quo and determined to produce beers that would challenge convention as well as the palates of adventurous beer drinkers.

"We're still doing it six years later," Aragon says, "and we plan to continue with our experimentation and pushing of boundaries. It's one of the things that really differentiates us from other breweries."

Paradox released its first coolship beer last year, making it the only brewery in the U.S. at a significant elevation (Divide is at 9,165 feet) to experiment with open spontaneous fermentation. The first in the Divide Ethos Spontaneous Series, the beer garnered rave reviews at the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines festival in January.

"We'll be using the coolship a lot more this year," Aragon says. Paradox is planning to increase production by 15 to 20 percent over 2017's 2,000 barrels and will be expanding distribution as well. "We just added Virginia and are getting ready to launch a couple more states," he continues. "We're working on some stuff that may happen overseas, too."

The brewery's physical footprint will also grow this year with the addition of a new 2,400-square foot building for offices and a dedicated humidity-controlled barrel room. "We're going to double our foeder capacity as a result," Aragon adds.

He expects to continue brisk business in Paradox's scenic taproom as well. "The taproom was our focus last year," he explains. "It used to be more of a place where you'd buy bottles and go, but we expanded our hours, food selection, and beer menu. That really contributed to 2017's success for us."

CompanyWeek Profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/paradox-beer-company

Outstanding Outdoor Industry Brand

By Chris Meehan

Alchemy Bicycle Co.



Founded in 2008, Alchemy is rolling out more handcrafted bikes than ever as it changes production methods and continues to expand into new market segments.

"We have been growing consistently about 30 percent," says founder and owner Ryan Cannizzaro. "This year we are pushing that in terms of revenue and units, we're looking to double our sales. The main part of that is because we're going to a complete bike company. The average price per unit going out of here is likely to be going up quite a bit."

Cannizzaro is targeting minimum sales of $4 million and 1,400 units for the 12-employee manufacturer in 2018.

"A couple of years ago, we got into the mountain bike side of business," he says. "That's really been contributing to a lot of the growth right now."

Alchemy's full-suspension mountain bike is a pioneering carbon-fiber model. "We're the first manufacturer in the states and we produce that in-house," says Cannizaro.

Gravel bikes are also driving sales. "Gravel's becoming more and more popular," says Cannizzaro.

Using custom geometries developed in-house, Alchemy has been able to bring down prices without sacrificing quality. Cannizzaro explains that one of company's models was selling for $5,000. "With our house geometry, it came down $1,000 to $4,000 [in 2017]," he says. "We've been able to work with our vendors to get really good pricing on components, which really makes us competitive. We're not going to discount an Alchemy frame, but you get the value on how much the components are worth on the bike."

The company has about 50 retailers across the U.S. as well as distribution in Asia, Canada, Great Britain and some stores around the world, most recently adding a distributor in Australia. "We sell direct to consumer as well. I think we've learned in the changing times that we're not going to close the doors to any sales revenue and we're up front with everybody that we sell through all three sales channels," Cannizzaro contends.

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/alchemy-bicycle-co

Meier Skis



The Denver ski manufacturer is coming off a banner year in 2017, and co-founder Ted Eynon is expecting more growth in 2018. "For calendar year 2017, which is our fiscal year, we about doubled in size and topline revenue," he says. "For 2018 we're budgeting to see similar growth. Time will tell, but we're expecting two times topline growth once again."

The company manufactures its skis and snowboards at what Eynon says is likely the only "skiery" in the world, where customers can have a beer and watch as skis are made in the shop behind the bar.

"It's a bar that's made of our ski cores," says Eynon. "There's a wall of glass behind the bar and people chat with our skitender, and learn about the brand watch the guys press the skis and snowboards. We're doing happy-hour tours, having events, all of that has been really crucial to our growth and success."

Moving from Glenwood Springs to Denver in 2016 also helped the company grow by increasing opportunities to work with local suppliers and find employees. "We have great access to marketing co-branding partners like distilleries, breweries and other businesses. As well as easier access to the media obviously, transportation and DIA. Really, just the whole greater Denver ski and snow community and active outdoor lifestyle community has become huge for us."

Meier has co-branding deals with such breweries as Tivoli, Crazy Mountain, Little Machine, Strange Craft, and Renegade, and the taps at the bar are usually populated with the partners' beers.

The move to Denver also allowed the company to partner with Front Range manufacturers like Mile High WorkShop. "We provided some tooling and training and get our wood delivered there. They smooth the wood and glue up our core blocks," Eynon says. "We go over and grab the glued up core blocks and it's just a huge help to us."

Meier designs its graphics and HookFish Manufacturing prints the topsheets. "They're able to print off all our prints very quickly," says Eynon. "They're really crisp prints and it's a huge help for us and they're only about 15 minutes away."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/meier-skis




Phunkshun has carved a unique niche in the outdoor market manufacturing dye-sublimated accessories from recycled plastic fibers. "With us there's a lot of transparency about how we make the products and where they're made," says Phunkshun CEO Jason Badgley.

While that mission, the product mix has evolved since the 20-employee company launched in 2011. "Early on, we had to throw everything at the wall and see what stuck and we did that many times to figure out what the key pieces were," says Badgley. The catalog includes a number of hoods, scarves, and other garments meant to insulate one's face and neck on the slopes.

New for 2018 is a base layer. "It moves us out of the accessory category and is our first footstep into the undergarment apparel side of things," says Badgley.

Demand overwhelmed Phunkshun's capacity. "We got swamped with orders in the early winter and had to send some of our base layers to a contractor in town to do the sewing," Badgley says. "They were better equipped to do it and we were overwhelmed with orders. We were lucky there was a local Colorado cut-and-sew shop that could help us out."

Badgley says growth has been in the "double-digit percentage each year. That varies but for an industry that's had very small and steady growth it means we're taking market share from other people."

The company has continued to grow sales domestically and internationally. Its products are available in Canada, South America, and Europe. "We're putting a lot into international growth next year," Badgley says.

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/phunkshun

Outstanding Industrial Manufacturer

By Eric Peterson



Colorado Springs

In the last five years, ConcealFab's growth has been the very definition of dynamic.

When CEO Jonathan Fitzhugh joined the company in 2013, revenues were around $500,000. "Last year, we did just under $10 million in sales," he says. "The year before, we were at  $4.4 million."

The maker of antenna concealment solutions has grown from 35 employees to 90 as it moved from a 23,000-square-foot facility to a 96,000-square-foot one.

And Fitzhugh forecasts more of the same in 2018. "We expect to at least double again this year," he says. He expects to top $20 million in revenue for the year as the head count hits 120 or more.

What's the driver? "Because cell phones are becoming more data-intensive, it's putting a lot more strain on carriers' networks," says Fitzhugh.

More data means more radios and antennae, and more antennae means more orders for ConcealFab.

"The challenge is most of these people with these data-oriented cell phones live in major metropolitan areas," says Fitzhugh. "You can't put 100-foot cell towers in downtown Denver. You need to put in 20- to 30-foot cell towers that blend in with infrastructure."

"That is what we do," he continues. "We design and fabricate solutions that hides and holds telecom infrastructure."

But ConcealFab's hockey-stick ascent isn't solely about skyrocketing demand. Fitzhugh's strategy of marketing to OEMs like Ericsson and other providers to the carriers as "a nimble manufacturing engine."

The company works with a supply chain that's centered on Colorado, including co-finalist IP Automation, which Fitzhugh calls "a great partner" for ConcealFab.

"It's been a pleasantly surprising ecosystem of vendors and labor," says Fitzhugh. "We prefer local. If problems happen, I put my guys in a car and we drive. And I like to keep the dollars in the state."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/concealfab-corporation

Diversified Machine Systems


Colorado Springs

After Lincoln Electric acquired Wolf Robotics of Fort Collins in 2016, Wolf CEO Doug Rhoda says "he wasn't ready to retire yet."

He took a look around and found an "appealing" opportunity as CEO of Diversified Machine Systems (DMS) last year. "There's a really strong customer loyalty. Customers are voting with dollars."

In his first year at the helm, Rhoda initiated a push to develop "pipelines of technical talent" from local schools. "I'm really pleased with the success of that after one year," he says, pointing to hires from University of Colorado Colorado Springs and other local colleges and universities.

Innovation is another focus at DMS. "One of the reasons I came to DMS was the prospect of building on our existing platform with 3D printing," says Rhoda. "For industrial 3D printing of polymers and aluminum, we've made great strides in the last year developing machines that can do additive manufacturing."

Debuting last year, the DMS solution is a hybrid that allows for "both additive and subtractive” manufacturing in a single unit. "That's unique," says Rhoda. "There are some [other hybrid machines] coming out, but we're on the leading edge of it."

The new products could bolster the company's already rapid growth rate, but Rhoda wants to keep the 100-employee DMS from overheating. "We're growing at a 20 to 25 percent clip," he says. "Going forward, we want to grow in control. We don't want to grow faster than we can handle."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/diversified-machine-systems

IP Automation


Colorado Springs

Before founding IP Automation in 1988, Ilia Petkov moved his family from U.S.S.R.-dominated Eastern Europe and worked as a handyman for the Vatican and pumped gas in California to make ends meet.

But his ability to devise complex automation solutions for manufacturing and industrial clients led him to go into business for himself. In the three decades since, he's invented revolutionary systems for everything from disposing nuclear waste to maintaining railroads.

For most of the company's history, the strategy was to focus on three or four key clients. IP Automation has broadened its reach in recent years. "We have a new slogan: AAFAB, or almost anything for a buck," laughs Director of Business Development Ken Krassy.

He says the result is "consistent growth." The company currently has about 30 employees. He adds, "Our growth has allowed us to invest in additional up-to-date machines," including a 110-ton press brake and a pair of large-scale CNC machines.

The railroad industry is a key market for IP Automation, and it counts Ingersoll Rand, Johnson & Johnson, and Vestas among its clients. "The coolest thing we did was for Vestas," says Krassy. "We actually sat down and designed a 17-ton machine just to move on part 90 degrees for a crane."

Krassy also highlights work for United Technologies. "We've saved them hundreds of millions of dollars by recycling the carbon in their braking systems," he says.

Another top customer for the company is one of its fellow CMA finalists: ConcealFab.

Krassy says it comes back to Petkov's "Einstein-like" ability to solve complex problems with custom machines. "People come to us and we sit down with them and figure out how to solve their problems," he says.

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/i-p-automation

From previous weeks:

Outstanding Craft Distiller

By Eric Peterson

Leopold Bros.



After shuttering their eponymous brewpub in Michigan, Todd and Scott Leopold returned to their native Colorado to focus on distilling in 2008. A decade later, they're one of the superstars of the state's craft spirits boom.

With a catalog spanning vodka, gin, whiskey, liqueurs, and absinthe, the distillery's output has increased markedly since it moved into a new state-of-the-art facility in northeast Denver in 2014. "Production has more than doubled," says Todd of 2017. "You're not seeing much of it."

That's because the spirits are increasingly going into barrels, not bottles. Case in point: After spending more than four years in barrels, Leopold Bros. Bourbon is almost ready for its public debut. "We're planning on releasing our bourbon in the spring," says Todd. "We're pretty excited about that."

The bourbon aligns with the growth in three areas: premium, brown, and craft spirits. "We know where the market's headed," he says.

Released in 2017, Leopold's Summer Gin was a recent sales driver. "That was an enormous hit for us," says Todd. "We sold five times what we were expecting." With less alcohol and less juniper, he describes it as a "citrus-forward gin" made with Italian blood oranges and immortal flower from France. "It's really made for refreshing gin and tonics," he says.

Leopold Bros. is one of a few distilleries that malts its own grain. "We're in the middle of expanding our malthouse," says Todd. "That brings our capacity to 2 million pounds a year."

This dedicated grain-to-glass approach has defined the distillery. "We're very proud of that," says Todd. "It's very difficult to do what we're doing and stay independent."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/leopold-bros

Marble Distilling Co.



Co-founder Connie Baker was the sole employee working the still at Marble for its first two years in operation since opening in 2015.

Now she's finally got some help, but the sustainable system she developed remains a marvel: It recycled 1.8 billion BTUs in 2017 -- or enough to heat 20 homes for a year.

Rather than simply pouring hot water down the drain, says Baker, "We harvest the heat from all of that water." It heats the water for the next batch as well as the distillery and tasting room.

But the ultra-green operation doesn't just conserve energy, it also makes some standout spirits. Marble started with vodka, gingercello, and espresso liqueur, but its brown spirits are now coming to market. "All of our browns are going to be single-cask," says Baker.  Marble's rye debuted in late 2017 and the bourbon is due out in 2018 after about three years in barrels.

Many ingredients are sourced from local farms, and Marble returns spent grain as animal feed. (One supplier, Nieslanik Beef, has gone into the hog business because of the surplus.)

Marble's the only distillery in Colorado where you're welcome to spend the night. The sleek Distillery Inn has five hotel rooms that wouldn't look out of place in Manhattan.

"The big guys are fighting you, because they saw what happened in the craft brewing world," says Baker.

That explains the inn: Baker saw it as a revenue stream that would help diversify Marble's business. For 2018, she's forecasting a 100 percent bump in Colorado after signing with Breakthru Beverage to distribute Marble's spirits statewide as she eyes other states -- and countries -- for expansion.

But Baker says she's just getting started. "I joke, 'We're still a toddler,'" she says. "We're only two and a half."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/marble-distilling-co

Montanya Distillers


Crested Butte

Karen Hoskin started her rum distillery in 2008, making it one of the five oldest craft spirits operations still operating in Colorado. "We're OGs, so to speak," she jokes.

And Montanya has been an innovator since the beginning. "We really pioneered the craft cocktail bar within the distillery in Colorado, which is now standard," says Hoskin, who moved the company from Silverton to Crested Butte in 2011.

2018 is a big year for Montanya. "We will celebrate our 10th anniversary in April," says Hoskin.  She's marking the occasion by throwing a big party on April 7 to release Anniverseria, a rum aged for four years in barrels from Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, Sutcliffe Vineyards, and Laws Whiskey House.

But the birthday bash is far from the only news at Montanya. "We're in the process of our B Corp certification," says Hoskin, touting the distillery's longstanding commitment to sustainability with carbon offsets, production processes, and a straw-free tasting room.

A decade in, Montanya shows no signs of slowing down. "We've had double-digit growth every year," says Hoskin. "We grew another 20 percent ins 2017," says Hoskin. "We grew our wholesale business by 20 percent and our retail by 20 percent. . . . It was a really good year for us."

But that means success that can't necessarily be quantified. "We're not buying into a lot of traditional measures of growing your brand," explains Hoskin. "We're doing it organically."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/montanya-distillers

Outstanding Consumer & Lifestyle Brand

By Margaret Jackson

Knotty Tie Co.



Knotty Tie co-founders Mark Johnson and Jeremy Priest are "makers on a mission."

About five years ago, the partners recognized a void in employment opportunities for resettling refugees, primarily single mothers who faced educational, linguistic and cultural barriers. They wanted to provide a flexible work environment that would let them take their children to childcare and hold a job. "It took us two years before we could hire our first refugee employee," Priest says.

Knotty Tie supplies individuals, companies and wedding parties from all over the world. It will make a single tie or 10,000 ties, depending on the client's needs. Ties are customizable in terms of size, length, color and design. In addition to ties, it makes scarves and is looking to expand its product line into socks, suspenders, vests, curtains, pillows and wall prints.

Many of the refugees Knotty Tie hires come to the United States with sewing experience. If they don't, the company trains them.

Today, the company has 21 employees who earn between $15 and $17 an hour and enjoy health and dental benefits, as well as 25 paid days off each year.

The company adheres to sustainable practices, milling all of its fabrics from recycled plastic bottles so that they look and feel like silk. All products are handmade in a facility Denver's Art District on Santa Fe.

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/knotty-tie-co

SaraBella Fishing



April Archer has loved fly fishing since she was a kid. It's a passion she's instilled in her daughters.

So when she didn't have a good answer for them when they asked her why there aren't rods, reels and other equipment designed for females, she decided to start SaraBella Fishing, and named the business after her dogs Sara and Bella.

Archer and her husband, JT,  launched SaraBella with business partner Scott Grieble in 2014. The company handcrafts its rods in Lafayette from carbon-fiber graphite and five types of wood. It customizes the build and grip for its customers, even offering an option for women with smaller hands. And you can get the rods in pretty colors like lavender or teal.

"The ongoing challenge is to create excellent products that are made especially for females," Archer says. "We allow women to pick and choose what performs the best. Being a pioneer in that is exciting."

As more people recognize that they can fly fish in all types of water, the popularity of the sport is growing. And women account for nearly half of beginning fly fishers, so Archer sees tremendous opportunities for SaraBella to grow. "You don't have to be in a cold-water stream in the mountains," says Archer. "And we see a tremendous opportunity to serve beginning women anglers."

Vintage Overland


Grand Junction

Britton Purser wanted to take his two sons into the desert, so he designed a camper that would get them there.

"I had a piece of plywood and a magic marker," says Purser, founder of the maker of off-road-capable camper trailers. "I drew a teardrop shape and ended up with a Caravan. I just wanted to build something that was really small, open and airy and didn't have a lot of stuff."

At first, Purser made just one or two trailers a year. Then, in 2014, he founded Vintage Overland and sold 18 trailers during the company's first year in business. The company is currently working on its 59th Caravan. Vintage Caravan has even sent a camper to Australia.

There are three models of the Caravan, ranging in price from $12,500 to $16,500. The company sources all its materials from Colorado companies, and building a camper takes about six weeks.

Because they're light -- the trailers weigh between 600 and 700 pounds -- Vintage Overland trailers can be pulled by any Subaru, and its torsion axles and rugged tires allow it to go wherever the vehicle towing it can get. "Our tagline is, 'Go nowhere,'" Purser says. "I mean out in the middle of nowhere, not somewhere."

In an effort to further develop the brand, Vintage Caravan has started make products that go with the Caravan. There are camp chairs, kitchens, blankets and awnings. "We're setting up more of a brand for people who want to buy one of our Caravans," Purser says.

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/vintage-overland

Outstanding Bioscience Manufacturer

By Bill Radford III

3D Systems


Littleton (headquarters: Rock Hill, South Carolina)

3D Systems' Healthcare Technology Center in Littleton serves as the global headquarters for the company's health care operations. The roughly 200 employees at the center "collaborate with our customers every day to create highly personalized 3D-printed medical devices and patient-specific surgical simulation," says Katie Weimer, vice president of medical devices. "We also direct print individualized implants and customized instrumentation."

Weimer sees several growth areas. "A great deal of attention in the industry is focused on device design and manufacturing for 3D printing of titanium spinal interbody cages and hip cups," she says. "We are also seeing tremendous interest in our own VSP [Virtual Surgical Planning] products -- both in expansion of our craniomaxillofacial application, as well as expanding this technology to other areas such as spine and orthopedics. Finally, we are seeing our 3D printing technology moving to the point of care. Hospitals and doctor's offices are purchasing 3D printers to conduct some of the medical image processing and manufacturing -- primarily of anatomical models."

Weimer sees several advancements on the horizon that will have a big impact on the industry, such as the development of biomimetic materials that the human body can accept more easily. "3D printing has already had a major impact on our ability to find solutions for unique problems and solve complex cases," says Weimer. "However, I believe we have only begun to scratch the surface of better device design and treatment options built for the human body."

CompanyWeek profile: www.companyweek.com/company-profile/3d-systems

Allison Medical



President and CEO Lance Ferrin's father founded the company in 1981 as CSI International, making molded rubber components. It became Allison Medical a decade later as it evolved into a manufacturer of drug delivery systems -- primarily syringes and pen needles.

The company began with veterinary syringes; after it got into human medicine and the diabetic market, the company finally took off, Ferrin says. "We've grown every year since 2000."

Allison Medical has 15 employees today. Its main business is in retail pharmacy, with its people products in grocery pharmacies and stores such as Costco and Target. Its diabetic products are under the SureComfort label and its general-use syringes make up the CarePoint line. Ferrin is looking to hospital pharmacies as a source of future growth. The company's veterinary products, which make up about 15 percent of its business, are found in stores such as Big R and sold through distributors to veterinary offices.

Pen needles are a growing category for the company, Ferrin says, and sales of the general-use syringes are taking off as well. Allison Medical is also looking to come out with a new type of syringe that Ferrin says will be a game-changer and has "people knocking on our door to be part of that project."

"I think we can continue to grow because we have our brand out there, but I think we have to be innovative in the products that we are selling and how we get them to our customers," Ferrin says.



Fort Collins

"We've had really dramatic growth in the last 10 years in all aspects of the business," says CEO Mike Duncan. The company's two dozen pharmaceutical offerings include a line of generic dermatology products and specialty injectable oncology products.

"We manufacture the world's second leading treatment for prostate cancer (ElIGARD), and it's growing rapidly, so we think it'll be first soon enough," Duncan says. ELIGARD is available in 90 countries and sold directly to physician offices. "We have a very sophisticated inventory management system for the doctors, where we actually manage their inventories and their shipments," Duncan says.

TOLMAR has about 650 employees. It began as Atrix Laboratories in 1990 with four employees in 2006.

The company looks to other Colorado companies for much of its packaging needs, Duncan says, and has strategic partnerships with large companies such as Sandoz to distribute its generic products.

The key to the company's future? "It's absolutely product development," Duncan says. "We have about 150 people in product development."

Typically with generics, he says, sales grow for the first few years, then flatten for about  five years and ultimately decline. "The only way to offset those declines is to continually develop and launch these generic products," he says. "On the flip side of that, we use a lot of our generic profits to develop new drugs; it takes much longer, about 10 years, to develop a new drug, and it's substantially more expensive than a generic."

Register here to attend this year's Colorado Manufacturing Awards event on April 5 at the Cable Center on the campus of the University of Denver.

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