By Eric Peterson | Mar 23, 2021
This is the Colorado Manufacturing Award where the rubber meets the road: manufacturers who make products for other manufacturers and industrial clients. It's all about low- and no-downtime tools that enhance the customer's productivity, quality, or both.
The 2021 slate includes Arvada mainstay Sundyne, a leading supplier of mission-critical pumps and compressors to a host of industries; Durango's StoneAge, a pacesetter in waterblast tools for more than 40 years; and canning system manufacturer Twin Monkeys Beverage Systems of Denver.
Traditionally focused on oil and gas, Sundyne has in recent years diversified into other manufacturing sectors, including food and beverage, and looks to continue doing so in 2021 and beyond.
"We're really investing heavily in renewable energy," says Mark Rauenzahn, general manager at the company's Arvada facility. "Specifically, we're looking at hydrogen and EV battery technology."
"We're increasing our head count, we're actually developing and designing new technology, and we're partnering with NREL [the National Renewable Energy Laboratory] in Golden on developing a new renewable natural gas solution."
On-time delivery has been another big push at Sundyne in the last two years. "The company here has been able to increase on-time delivery to the highest level we've had: Right now, we're at about 94 percent," says Rauezahn. "We're also trying to actively reduce our lead time by 75 percent. Right now, we're about halfway there."
CompanyWeek profile (January 2021): https://companyweek.com/article/sundyne
CompanyWeek spoke with Kerry Siggins, CEO, for a profile published in the last month, just a few weeks before judges selected the manufacturer of waterblast tools for industrial cleaning as a CMA finalist.
The company has embraced automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) in a big way, releasing new IoT-enabled hardware and acquiring a Reno-based IoT provider, Breadware, in 2020. In the end it's about making safer tools, says Siggins. It's all about user safety: "Success for the industry would be reducing injuries and fatalities in hydroblasting. That's where we're trying to drive the industry and that's where everybody wants to go."
Siggins emphasizes StoneAge's status as an employee-owned company, noting the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) -- adopted in 2015 -- helps with recruitment and overall performance.
"I'm on the governor's employee ownership commission," she says. "Every employee is an owner. We share in the success of the company."
She adds, "We have unique engagement and participation. I think we drive the growth of the company because our employees care -- it's more than just a job."
CompanyWeek profile (March 2021): https://companyweek.com/article/stone-age
Founded in 2015, Twin Monkeys has grown from two to 25 employees in the last five years as it moved into a new facility in Denver in early 2021.
Josh Van Riper, co-founder and CEO, says sales plummeted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, then boomed as the entire craft brewing industry looked to can their beer with taproom closures.
It follows that Twin Monkeys sold 120 canning systems in 2020, up from 70 in 2019.
The differentiator? "We routinely have come up with things where people say, 'Why didn't somebody else come up with that before?'" says Van Riper. "I think it's because they really didn't pay attention to what the needs were."
Examples include Twin Monkeys' Steady Coder, which makes for more consistent date coding, and more precise weighing and rejection technology that adjusts on the fly by "auto-tuning" fill heads. "We've got a patent coming on that one, because nobody else is doing anything like that," says Van Riper of the latter.
The growth is catalyzing vertical integration. "We're putting in a machine shop," says Van Riper. "It's not as much cost savings as a little more control over our own destiny in terms of delivery time frames."
CompanyWeek profile (January 2016): https://companyweek.com/article/twin-monkeys-beverage-systems
The winners of the 2021 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed at a virtual event on April 29, 2021.