The manufacturers in the Consumer Goods category at the 2023 Colorado Manufacturing Awards boost the health of Colorado's economy and workforce.
The economic Boulder County powerhouse Quicksilver Scientific provides health care supplements that quickly add benefit to bodies.
When spending time in the fresh air outdoors, young couples and retirees alike can bring their own campers along thanks to innovative Colorado brands such as Pueblo's Boreas Campers and Golden's Supertramp Campers.
If a national brand wants to flaunt a design of theirs on fabric -- whether a logo or a vibrant pattern -- they can call upon HookFish Manufacturing in Denver to do not just the highly-specialized printing, but also the sewing and assembly of articles of clothing, as well.
American-made clothing from Topo Designs adorns a youthful demographic. The company's variety of bags can also be found at outdoor-friendly outposts like REI, as well as its own flagship Denver store.
Mile High WorkShop makes tote bags, as well. It makes auto parts. It packages goods for national brands. And it assists people obtain employment after life's hard knocks have rendered them oftentimes unemployable elsewhere.
And for workers who are finding it harder to remain in the communities they love and serve due to rising costs and decreasing home availability, Fading West Development wants to build more modular housing to ship to them across the state from its factory in Buena Vista.
To your health, each and all -- as well as to the health of Colorado.
Founder Matt Reichel, a onetime ski instructor, built his first camper while living on Boreas Pass Road in Breckenridge. A subsequent move to the Front Range put Boreas Campers on the map in terms of manufacturing: his two models are now sold not only in Colorado, but also by dealers in North Carolina, Idaho, and California. The company's recent move from Arvada to Pueblo "allowed us to essentially double our manufacturing space and nearly double our staff," says Reichel.
Hindered previously by being able to only build one camper at a time, the present Pueblo facility has more than one production line. "We're able to have multiple stations, with teams at each station as the trailers roll down the line," says Reichel. In 2021, the company built 100 campers. This year, Reichel expects to manufacture around 140.
The campers boast a lightweight composite fiberglass composition, with metal for the chassis and exoskeleton. They come complete with a kitchen and refrigerator. And solar power. "We're the first guys in North America to install Cruisemaster suspension," adds Reichel, calling the Australian brand the"gold standard."
Reichel says Colorado's Front Range offers ancillary businesses that assist his work -- from sheet metal and powder coat shops to laser and CNC specialists. And Pueblo provides a skilled workforce. "Pueblo is at its heart a manufacturing town," says Reichel.
What makes his campers stand out from towing other brands behind a pickup? Reichel says Boreas was "born and bred in Colorado -- so it's designed to be off-road and off-grid and getting down those Jeep trails."
CompanyWeek profile (Feb. 2022): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/boreas-campers
One might expect a company manufacturing healthcare products to have seen an increase in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. And that was precisely the case for Quicksilver Scientific. Revenue jumped 19 percent for the business between 2020 and 2022 -- a time period which saw the company add an additional 19 employees, to make for a total of 93.
"We're a bioavailability company," founder and CEO Dr. Christopher Shade told CompanyWeek in 2019. In other words, his business develops oral formulations which get into the body rapidly, since the active ingredients have been greatly reduced in size. The company's nomination material states, "Our proprietary nanoparticle technology has resulted in the world's most sophisticated liposomal delivery system" which allows for "nutraceutical absorption to begin as soon as the product is ingested."
Quicksilver Scientific's proprietary technology has also been licensed by companies in the cannabis and CBD space, including a CBD water brand which involved, early on, Molson Coors. Additionally, the company sells detoxification formulas for people who have been exposed to environmental toxins, as well as testing kits to detect toxic metals.
Quicksilver now operates out of a cGMP-certified, 60,000-square-foot facility in Louisville, where it makes its newer Apricō line of products.
CompanyWeek profile (Oct. 2019): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/quicksilver-scientific
Founders Jedd Rose and Mark Hansen share a "core mission to inspire more people to get outside," the company says in a written statement. Rose and Hansen do that by providing clothing suitable for adventures -- whether backwoods or urban in nature. Menswear (such as the company's dirt pants, mountain shorts, and global jacket) and womenswear (like Topo's dirt coveralls, river shorts, and Boulder Pants) appear just as suited for a cup of coffee at a breezy sidewalk cafe as they would be for lunch along a tree-lined creek bed.
And to get to places both near and far, chances are some type of bag is going to be essential -- whether a backpack, a gear bag, or a rolling suitcase. The company's numerous options clearly expand upon founder Rose's fascination with the "old bags from my parents that I collected over the years," as he previously told CompanyWeek.
Through vibrant design, the company appeals to "young Millenials and a growing Gen Z set" in places like Denver, Portland, Seattle, and New York City, as well as Northern and Southern California. "In 2022, the company's total revenue grew over 30 percent, and the band is projecting strong double-digit growth in 2023," says the company in a statement. Its flagship store on a revitalized Larimer Street in Denver spotlights its U.S.-made gear.
The company's workers match the enthusiasm of its founders. "We have great employees who are great at their craft and live and breathe the outdoors," the company writes.
CompanyWeek profile (Dec. 2014): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/topo-designs
Supertramp Campers' flagship model snaps into place atop a pickup truck's cargo bed. With the click of a button, linear actuators raise the camper to close to seven feet in height, making for a roomy interior space. The insides feature a refrigerator, toilet, and kitchenette. "I think we've created a layout that feels comfortable to hang out in after doing a great outdoor activity," Supertramp Campers' COO Kelsey Panich told CompanyWeek last year.
Many of the camper's parts are built at the company's Golden facility using vacuum infusion, which is commonly employed by manufacturers of "boats, blades for wind turbines, aerospace -- [those are] really the only other industries using that process," Panich said. The resulting pieces are durable yet lightweight -- an important facet when hauling a camper and traveling off-road with it.
The company's pioneering use of vacuum infusion led to it being awarded a $250,000 Advanced Industries Early-Stage Capital and Retention Grant in 2022.
Based upon the knowledge it's gained about vacuum infusion, Panich predicted the company will be developing additional applications for the technology in the future. Panich said, "We're going to be pulling things from the automotive industry, pulling things from the aerospace industry, mating that together, so that we can be a long-term competitive company here in the United States in manufacturing."
CompanyWeek profile (July 2022): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/supertramp-campers
"Everybody wants to live here," says founder and CEO Charlie Chupp about Colorado's ever-growing popularity. Skyrocketing real estate prices and decreasing availability in mountain towns has been "driving the workforce out of the communities," he notes.
"Our mission is to create attainable housing that's high-quality, architecturally-interesting, but also affordable, for the workforce segment of the market," Chupp says.
Fading West Development creates planned communities, such as its flagship project The Farm at Buena Vista. It constructs modular homes in its new Buena Vista facility -- four different home models, which can accommodate, Lego-like, the bolt-on of, say, an additional room. And its contracting services help install the homes onto plots of land throughout Colorado.
"We're doing big projects in Gunnison, Vail, Telluride, and Breckenridge," says Chupp, as well as "with the [Colorado] Department of Transportation -- because they need housing for their people."
In terms of building homes, the company is meeting its initial projections. Chupp says, "We are hitting our production output goals of about 25,000 to 30,000 square feet a month." Given how most of them measure between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet each, that's around 20 houses per month. "Typically, we're between 10 and 20 percent less than a traditional stick-built house in any location," says Chupp.
What's the benefit of building its homes indoors in a factory in Buena Vista? "One is the short building season," says Chupp. "The fact that most of these Rocky Mountain communities have a much shorter window of construction than other locations makes it very beneficial to move that into a climate-controlled facility."
CompanyWeek profile (Mar. 2022): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/fading-west-development
Unlike other finalists within the Colorado Manufacturing Awards, Mile High WorkShop is a 501(c)(3) non-profit: a mission-driven job-training center, which helps participants gain re-entry into the wider employment market after being, as examples, homeless or in rehab or in prison.
In the past couple of years, the WorkShop has moved into a new building, added more participants, and increased company partnerships. "I think the last couple years have been huge years for growth overall," says Development Manager Jonathan Garmany. "We're serving over 100 people."
Participants manufacture refrigerant tubes and auto parts. They do contract sewing, including the upcycling of old banners into attractive new tote bag. They package Kong dog toys and maps for National Geographic. The company also offers co-sponsors forklift certification. And it runs the brand Everpillow, both assembling the pillows and fulfilling orders.
Considering how the WorkShop supports participants in recovery or seeking local housing, Garmany notes that companies partnering with the organization "can say that they're truly benefiting the city of Denver."
Throughout its history, the nonprofit has worked with top brands like Ben & Jerry's, Adidas, and Vans. And its reputation often precedes it. "When someone contracts with us, they know they're going to get quality work," says Garmany.
CompanyWeek profile (June 2021): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/mile-high-workshop
"We're a dye sublimation print house," says Mark Huebner, the president of HookFish Manufacturing. "The thing that we offer that's unique is that we can digitally print textiles here at our facility."
Take, for instance, a golf polo shirt with a checkered pattern. HookFish can print out the pattern onto specialty paper, then embed that pattern into cloth using heat and pressure within one of its rotary drum presses. The result is "the ink is in the fabric -- not on the fabric," says Huebner. After that, the company's seamstresses cut out the patterns and sew the shirt together.
"I cannot tell you in the last year how many golf brands have reached out to us for domestic-made printed golf polos," says Huebner. Other printed products include beach towels, blankets, ski racing bibs, and team uniforms. Furthermore, the company's signage division, which creates backdrops and wing banners, has contributed to the business' steady growth.
"We can do it actually better than China because the inks that we use are of higher quality," says Huebner. And the company can oftentimes compete, after shipping is factored in, with China cost-wise, too.
The cost of doing business in Colorado, itself? "The labor pool is expensive, the real estate is out-of-control," says Huebner. But he happily adds, "I love where I live, right! So we have to figure it out."
CompanyWeek profile (May 2021): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/hookfish-manufacturing
Join us on the afternoon of Thursday May 11 for the CMA Gala & Winners Reveal to celebrate one of America's most compelling manufacturing outposts.
Photos by Jonathan Castner except where otherwise noted.