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Engineering consulting

COO and Senior Mechanical Engineer Dan Bodenstein helps clients bring products to market from the idea stage to manufacturing.

Over the last few years, Boulder Engineering Studio has evolved from helping startup businesses get their ideas from founders' brains to prototype into a company that works with small- and mid-cap companies in focused, phased development of their projects.

Whether it's a lab instrument, underwater camera system, or wearable technology, Boulder Engineering's interdisciplinary team approach helps its customers adapt their products to today's supply chain.

Photos Jonathan Castner

"We still mentor startups through accelerators, but we don't typically take them on as clients anymore," says Bodenstein.

Boulder Engineering Studio (BES) specializes in designing and prototyping to help its clients move from concept to manufacturing as efficiently as possible. BES also helps companies navigate the complex intellectual property landscape. It works with clients and their attorneys to develop strategy and patent sketches to protect their ideas.

The types of projects it works span a range of categories.

It's worked on sports training equipment for Bat Speed Recon; a portable phone suction mount for dop; wireless camera remote control for Alpine Labs; a modular, connected indoor agriculture system for; and an in-home compost bin designed to take the "yuck" out of composting for CompoKeeper.

It even worked on a watch that stores solar energy so users can charge their smartphones on the go; that project is paused while the client, Hemera Project, investigates market viability for the watch.

Since the company shifted its focus away from startups, it has more bandwidth to help mature companies. "We have more resources and runway and time in the schedule," says Bodenstein, who co-founded BES with CTO John English in 2010. "We can produce mature products quickly in that sense or modernize an existing product line. We have to adapt their products into today's supply chain."

Boulder Engineering struggled a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic, losing a big program that left it with a mid-six-figure unpaid bill. But the company never had to lay off employees. "We got beat up pretty hard," Bodenstein says. "But we managed with attrition-based downsizing and never had to do layoffs."

Challenges: Uncertainty and the macroeconomic climate prompted Boulder Engineering to shift its focus from time and materials consulting to fixed-fee work, a model Bodenstein says is challenging because of timelines for projects being expanded.

"Everybody's timelines are nebulous," Bodenstein says. "The challenge is not programs being canceled. We're seeing things need to slow down and stretch out. There's more elasticity from what people thought they would need to do a year ago."

One of the challenges that's starting to work itself out is supply chain coordination. Lead times have expanded from eight or nine months to as long as 80 weeks, Bodenstein says.

And just like most businesses, BES struggles to find the right employees. "Managing those supply chains and making sure we don't come up short has been a significant challenge the past two years," he says.

Opportunities: Boudenstein says he views collaborating with its upstream suppliers as a key to success. Collaborations will give BES the opportunity to position its test fixture development as a service.

Bodenstein aims to strengthen its relationships with potential users of its test fixtures for products it didn’t design. "This step is essential in every manufacturing process," he says.

Needs: A new space is a likely upcoming need: Boulder Engineering's lease is up in October 2024, and the company's 10,000-square-foot office, design room, lab, and prototype space is part of a block that's slated for sale to a developer later this year. "We're starting to look around for real estate," Bodenstein says. "We were looking at potentially purchasing a building before the pandemic when the interest rates were low."

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