By Bart Taylor | Mar 28, 2023
The finalist group has taken shape for the 2023 Colorado Manufacturing Awards, and this year's roster of nominees and finalists again represent Colorado and CMA alumni with distinction.
The CMAs were founded in 2016 to showcase manufacturing like it hadn't been seen before -- a mix of makers and manufacturers and dreamers and doers across a range of industries. As we celebrate the 2023 Finalist class (ten winners from six categories will emerge this year), here's a few highlights from seven prior years -- years in which so much has happened to amplify the importance of U.S. manufacturing and the companies we recognize.
The CMAs have done their part. The list of past winners is a Colorado Manufacturing Hall of Fame.
The program has always been about small and medium manufacturers, and the early events were marked by genuine appreciation among companies for the opportunity to meet manufacturers from other industries -- a cacophony of "I didn't know you made that here" -- a halo that carries on to today.
The inaugural 2016 event brought together beer makers (Ska Brewing won the first Beer & Brewing CMA) with medical device OEMs (Mountainside Medical) and aerospace contract manufacturers (Faustson Tool). Companies in eight industries overall joined together in the same room, at the same time. There was palpable curiosity and collegiality. Ross Reels and RK began storied CMA runs.
In 2017, Marcia Coulson was awarded the first Colorado Manufacturing Woman of the Year CMA, a class that was, for me, also defined by deft technicians in nanoscience (Forge Nano – a finalist this year), 3D printing (Aleph Objects), brewing (Crooked Stave), and food (MycoTechnology).
2018 had a true statewide feel, with winners from Crested Butte (Montanya Distillers – the first CMA Craft Distiller of Year), Fort Collins (Manes Machine), Woodland Park (Blue Moon Goodness) and Loveland, home of Lightning eMotors, who would go on to be the first CMA winner to IPO. Aerospace manufacturing began a blue-chip run with Manes Machine. An all-star roster including Barber-Nichols (twice), SG Aerospace, and Special Aerospace Services has followed.
The 2019 CMA was a raucous affair with memorable acceptance speeches from winners like Wild Zora, Boyer's Coffee, WeldWerks Brewing, Tharp Cabinet Company, Wana Brands, and yes, Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU. The class as a whole was thriving; manufacturing was truly back, and Colorado companies were leading the charge.
2020 was the first of two consecutive virtual COVID-era CMAs -- and was memorable for profound commentary as companies navigated wretched conditions that were especially onerous for small businesses. Nevertheless, entire teams from Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, Meier Skis in Denver, and StickerGiant in Longmont accepted CMAs. Littleton's Carboy Winery won the first CMA Winery of the Year.
We tried twice to celebrate in person in 2021, but finally succumbed to the inevitability of meeting virtually to recognize another standout class -- a reality that didn't faze Steamboat's Moots, who tapped off its 40th anniversary celebration with the Consumer Brand CMA. 2021 was notable for its compelling mix of established industry standouts -- like Sundyne and Encore Electric -- alongside up-and-coming brands led by ambitious entrepreneurs at Storm King Distilling in Montrose, City Star Brewing in Berthoud, and Titan Robotics in Colorado Springs.
Back in person and on stage in 2022, the assembled crowd seemed to revel in being together, but also in celebrating significant accomplishments. It was a stellar class -- driven home by fun and compelling speeches from Karen Hertz (Holidaily), Tim Fry (Mountain Racing Products), Patrice Matysiewski (Sauvage Spectrum), Diana Hall (ActiveArmor), Meghan Marsden (Veil Intimates), and generally, every winner.
Here we go, 2023.
This year is already distinguished by the Finalist class (judges will select one winner from each of five categories) including national and global standouts like Windsor's Walker Manufacturing, Colorado Springs' dpiX, Thorton's Forge Nano, and Grand Junction's Leitner-Poma. RK is looking to become the first three-time CMA winner. This list is longer -- and equally compelling.
As we recognize past winners, it's important to say again that every CMA nominee is valued, and every second taken to submit a nomination is appreciated. The CMAs have always been about the entire community. ALL manufacturing is mission-critical: innovation, ethos, ideas, energy -- all flow freely across manufacturing industries.
Support each other by attending the 2023 Colorado Manufacturing Awards gala and winners reveal, Thursday afternoon, May 11, a kick-off to the first Colorado Manufacturing Summit on May 12.
And contact me anytime.
Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.