Winners were announced last week in the fifth annual Colorado Manufacturing Awards, with participants convening at a virtual event after two pandemic-related postponements. Company executives from around the state were on hand as finalists competed for top honors in 14 industry and achievement categories.
Company leaders were effusive in recognizing the resilience and exemplary work of employees. The nod to the importance of human capital — along with the high quality of Colorado’s manufacturing workforce — was the common theme of the program.
There was also much to be celebrated. Highlights from fifth annual CMA “winners reveal”:
- Aurora’s Dry Dock Brewing Co. broke the ice on the program, winning Outstanding Craft Brewer and joining a stellar list of past winners, from Colorado’s bellwether industry.
- Montrose’s TEI Rock Drills achieved the first CMA “double” by winning Industrial & Equipment Manufacturer of the Year, as CEO Sue Frank also was announced Colorado Manufacturing Woman of the Year by the local chapter of Women in Manufacturing.
- Guerrilla Gravity emerged as winner of the CMA inaugural Innovative Product of the Year for consumer cycling frames. Carboy Winery won the inaugural CMA Winery of the Year.
- Longmont’s StickerGiant likewise took top honors in the first Advanced Manufacturing & Machining Award.
- Barber-Nichols, nominated again in 2020 after losing a close decision in 2019, won the coveted Aerospace Manufacturer of the Year award.
Here’s the list of 2020 winners. Nominations for the 2021 program open in October.
Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing: Sue Frank
TEI Rock Drills President Sue Frank has led the Montrose-based rock drill systems manufacturer into new industries and export markets.
“I’m so proud of the team I have backing me here down in Montrose, Colorado,” Frank said. “We’ve managed to sell and distribute our products worldwide. We’re extremely proud that we manufacture everything here in-house and our products support other American-made businesses.”
Debra Wilcox, The 3D Printing Store, Englewood
Heidi Hostetter, Faustson Tool/H2, Arvada
Angie Hellstern, Molecular Products, Louisville
Bioscience Manufacturer of the Year: Molecular Products
Molecular Products makes a line of carbon dioxide absorbers used by half of anesthesiologists. In recent years, its growth has been driven by creating other products for industrial and military customers, including a line of chemical oxygen generators for submarines.
“A great company is really the result of a great team, and our success is all attributable to our staff and our dedicated employees,” said Troy Rhudy, the Louisville company’s group chief executive officer.
MBio Diagnostics, Boulder
Cannabis Manufacturer of the Year: Hemp Depot
Colorado Springs-based Hemp Depot‘s mission is to make its CBD-rich seeds and oil-based products available to the masses — farmers, individual consumers and outside manufacturers and companies.
“Being able to provide some of the highest-quality and consistent products to the CBD industry is something we couldn’t be more proud of,” co-founder and CEO Andy Rodosevich said.
Medically Correct, Denver
Stillwater Brands, Denver
Outstanding Craft Distiller: Dry Land Distillers
Longmont-based Dry Land Distillers develops world-class spirits that are authentic to Colorado — not Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey. The company is expanding its distribution to 10 retail outlets this year. “I don’t have to tell this audience how much of a team sport producing anything from raw ingredients is, and it’s no different for distillers,” co-founder Marc Staats said.
Mythology Distillery, Denver
Storm King Distilling Co., Montrose
Advanced Manufacturing and Machining Award: StickerGiant
StickerGiant supplies custom stickers to its more than 30,000 customers, including craft breweries, ski resorts and musicians. “Colorado is a great manufacturing state, and Longmont is a great manufacturing town,” founder and CEO John Fischer said.
Columbine Label Co., Centennial
Mayfly Outdoors, Montrose
Titan Robotics, Colorado Springs
Outstanding Craft Brewer: Dry Dock Brewing Co.
Aurora-based Dry Dock Brewing Co. brews more than 20,000 barrels a year that is distributed across Colorado. The company has two tasting rooms and a partnership with the Gaylord Rockies Resort.
Co-founder Kevin DeLange said he was pleased that the city of Aurora chose to nominate Dry Dock for the CMA award. “We are absolutely thrilled and super honored to win this award,” DeLange said.
Goat Patch Brewing Company, Colorado Springs
High Hops Brewery, Windsor
Outstanding Food Brand/Co-Packer: American Outdoor Products
American Outdoor Products is a family owned and operated freeze-dried food manufacturer based in Boulder, with a portfolio of successful brands including the well known Backpacker’s Pantry product line. The company’s former president Rodney Smith, who recently died, was committed to environmental sustainability and high-quality ingredients, and the company continues to uphold his high standards-
“2020 has been a challenging time for companies in any industry,” said Tim Koehler, the company’s chief financial officer. “There has been camaraderie on display that shows why our state is so special. The old normal may be a bit far off.”
Ready Foods, Denver
Honey Smoked Fish Holdings, Denver
Innovative Product of the Year — Design-to-Manufacture: Cycle frames, Guerrilla Gravity
Denver-based Guerrilla Gravity makes highly refined mountain bikes that are optimized for speed. The frames are designed and built in Colorado, which enables the company to maintain quality control and provide riders with customization options.
“It’s definitely a team sport and lots of long hours and trying to make things work and do things in a way that’s never been done before,” said Will Montague, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “It started with a dream that there had to be a better way to do it and make things here in the U.S.”
Eldon James/WilMarc, Fort Collins
TEI Rock Drills, Montrose
Outstanding Consumer Brand: Meier Skis
Denver-based Meier Skis is a “craft skiery” where guests can sip beer while they watch skis being made from beetle-kill wood.
Meier Skis owner Ted Eynon thanked employees past and present for making Meier the brand it has become today.
Black Hound Design Company, Arvada
Aerospace Manufacturer of the Year: Barber-Nichols
Arvada-based Barber-Nichols is a supplier of electronics-enhanced turbomachines and turbomachine-based subsystems for the aerospace and defense industry.
CEO Dan Thoren said keeping up with the new and exciting things the company is doing is a challenge. “We’re continuing to add a bunch of new people — engineering, manufacturing, technicians,” Thoren said. “We’re moving toward alternative energy. We’ve got such a broad and capable group that we can switch from market to market. We’re getting a lot of exposure nationally.”
Outstanding Energy & Environmental Manufacturer: VAIREX
Boulder-based VAIREX air systems works in two areas aimed at improving air quality through reduced emissions: fuel cells and diesel emissions controls. “We ship to over 20 countries,” co-founder and Director of Manufacturing and Engineering Joel Oakman said. “We source as much as possible from Colorado, but we have no customers in Colorado.”
Winery of the Year: Carboy Winery
Carboy Winery has produced 150,000 gallons of wine since it opened its first location in Littleton in 2017. Since then, the winery has opened locations in Breckenridge, where Carboy took over one of the oldest liquor licenses west of the Mississippi with the purchase of the Gold Pan, and in Denver with the acquisition of Govnr’s Park.
“It’s a very exciting future we are all embarking on,” Carboy Director of Winery Operations Kevin Webber said of his fellow finalists. “Our goal is to elevate this industry and make Colorado wine something to be reckoned with.”
The Storm Cellar, Hotchkiss
Buckel Family Wine, Gunnison
Building/Construction Manufacturer of the Year: RK Mission Critical
RK Mission Critical provides custom-engineered modular solutions for the data and telecom industries. The company handles complex and high-volume projects, and its customers benefit from reduced construction or manufacturing costs, accelerated speed-to-market and increased operational efficiencies.
“It’s all about the people at the end of the day,” John Marinucci, general manager of RK Mission Critical. “My team is exceptional. They don’t stop. They get the job done and make the customer happy.”
Tharp Cabinet Company, Loveland
Industrial/Equipment Manufacturer of the Year: TEI Rock Drills
TEI Rock Drills has been manufacturing rock drilling rigs, excavator attachments, safety equipment and related components at its 28,000-square foot facility in Montrose.
Right Stuff Equipment, Denver
Panther Industries, Highlands Ranch