By Margaret Jackson | Apr 17, 2023
These six standout Colorado companies are competing for two trophies at the 2023 Colorado Manufacturing Awards: Industrial & Equipment Manufacturer of the Year and Contract Manufacturer of the Year.
Munro develops innovative products and solutions to move water. Founded in 1965, the company makes pump stations, centrifugal and submersible pumps, pump controls, valves, fittings, and accessories.
Munro is a family-operated company with more than 100 years and five generations in business on Colorado's Western Slope. Fred Munro opened the first Munro Mercantile in 1900 in Rifle and expanded to 35 locations over the next 35 years.
Munro has been building pump stations since 1972 and was an early adopter of variable frequency drive technology. Munro pump stations are designed to be low-maintenance, high-value solutions for commercial, agriculture and residential irrigation systems. The Munro team designs, builds, tests and services its pump stations.
The business survived the Great Depression and evolved to serve the mining industry, before Munro's descendant, Allen Munro, started the pump station manufacturer that it is today.
"We have been successful because we always put the customer first -- in our product designs, in our commitment to quality and, of course, in our customer support," says Katie Munro Powell, the company's president. "We have a fantastic team that is committed to an excellent customer experience in all that we do."
CompanyWeek profile (Aug. 2015): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/munro-companies
Leitner-Poma of America makes chairlifts, gondolas, urban transportation and other ropeway transportation. The company builds a wide range of pre-assemblies at its 100,000-square-foot facilities on 14 acres in Grand Junction before shipping them to customers' sites.
The company is a North American subsidiary of Poma S.A., a France-based sister company to the Italian entity Leitner AG. It came to Colorado in the early 1950s branded as Pomalift and has maintained a continuous presence in the U.S. for nearly 50 years.
Early Poma chairlifts were installed for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California. The company also supplied lifts for the Olympic Winter Games at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984; Albertville, France in 1992; and Lillehammer Norway in 1994.
Notable installations last year include the gondola between Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows in California; a chairlift system at Wasatch Peaks Ranch in Utah; and several new lifts at Vail and Keystone in Colorado.
The company has about 170 employees based in Grand Junction and another 70 in Salt Lake City. It adds another 60 to 70 installation workers during the summer months. The company also is working with the State of Utah to build a larger facility there.
CompanyWeek profile (May 2022): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/leitner-poma-of-america
Walker Manufacturing builds commercial riding mowers at its 216,000-square-foot factory east of Fort Collins, Colorado.
The company, which employs about 200 people, uses a blend of skilled craftsmen and automation throughout the manufacturing process. Walker mowers are made with a high percentage of U.S.-made materials and components.
The company's fabrication department converts raw steel into more than 1,700 parts for tractor and deck production, and its computer numeric control (CNC) machine departments makes many of the more precise parts, including bearing pivot housings for caster wheels.
"We believe the company has succeeded because we are in business for the right reason -- to create multiplied opportunities," says Bob Walker, the company's chairman. "We have a little statement in our beliefs that captures the idea from another direction: Love people, use money."
The company got its start in 1953 in Kansas when the late Max Walker, a farmer, built a miniature model Caterpillar to give his seven-year-old son Bob, now the company's president, for Christmas. The vehicle was proof of Max Walker's gift for equipment design. From there, he went on to build a gasoline-powered golf car before evolving into mowers in the 1970s and 1980s after finding the rear-engine riding mowers they purchased to mow their personal residences cumbersome and slow.
Walker Manufacturing continues to innovate. Today, the company focuses on fuel efficiency and improved performance. The company's products are distributed throughout the United states and 28 other countries.
CompanyWeek profile (Jan. 2014): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/walker-manufacturing
AMP Robotics is using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to modernize the world's recycling infrastructure.
The company builds technology that solves recycling challenges and makes the process more efficient, cost-effective, scalable and sustainable. AMP assembles its systems in-house with off-the-shelf robotics from Omron that are often used in packaging. The system can identify more than 100 different categories of materials with better than 99 percent precision in the primary categories. The robots also are a good fit for operations that handle compost, electronics scrap and construction waste.
"We've been fortunate to attract a passionate team with a shared vision for how AI can transform recycling, loyal customers and visionary investors," AMP founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz says. "We've worked hard to bring ideas to testable concepts, executing quickly and then iteratively improving. This approach has helped us deploy hundreds of sorting devices globally to modernize and expand our recycling infrastructure, increase recycling rates and landfill diversion and aid society's path to a more circular economy."
In November 2022, AMP raised $91 million in equity in a Series C financing led by Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management. The company is using the funding to scale its business operations and continue its international expansion.
CompanyWeek profile (Mar. 2022):https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/amp-robotics
LTM Plastics provides custom plastic injection molding services. The company was founded in 1977 as Lawrence Tool & Molding, a family manufacturing operation. It creates parts with a variety of polymers, including engineered resins, inserts and over-molding. It also handles assembly and packaging, so its customers' products are ready for store shelves.
LTM Plastics serves companies of nearly any size, whether they're running as few as 10,000 parts or more than 1 million parts per year. It provides start-to-finish product design and manufacturing, including prototyping and small-run production.
The company recently preplaced all its presses, installed a state-of-the-art material handling system, robots and two overhead cranes. It also codified all in-house processes so its team can generate the same results every time.
The LTM Plastics shop operates 24/7 to provide its customers with quick turnarounds. Owner Brian Parker says the company has built a system that empowers employees. And as LTM strives to maintain its culture, the company also has become extremely selective about who it hires.
"It's as close to a family environment as ever exists at a company," Parker says. "We invest in our people personally and professionally, and we care so much about our team as individuals that they get the success and growth they need. Those people, in turn, are extremely loyal to us."
RK Mission Critical develops custom data centers that are manufactured at its facilities and assembled on site.
One of building contractor RK's six business units, RK Mission Critical works in the containerized farming industry, which is emerging as an efficient and productive alternative to growing fruits and vegetables in traditional farm settings where weather, climate and pests can have a detrimental effect on crops. The containers are shipped worldwide and have applications in a variety of markets, including healthcare, restaurants, hospitality, agriculture education, grocery/food box home delivery and disaster relief.
The company teamed up with FarmBox Foods to commercialize and manufacture its proprietary modular farm designs to produce leafy green vegetables, herbs, peppers and gourmet mushrooms. "Our passion is to help innovative companies create and scale breakthrough products that significantly impact or create markets," RK Mission Critical says on its website.
Its DISRUPTOR 2000 product line has helped raise the credibility of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, with several industry leaders endorsing its use. The DISRUPTOR 2000 is the industry's first 2 megawatt containerized solution to receive UL certification.
RK Mission Critical has more than 280,000 square feet of clean manufacturing space, 11 production lanes and hundreds of employees on the shop floor.
"We combine services that are traditionally done by different entities and provide our customers a customized, completely integrated modular solution," says Jesse Davern, the company's vice president of commercial services. "Apart from our substantive edge, I think the reason we've been successful is our people. We have had people on this startup journey with us that have worn every hat, done every job and remained dedicated to our goals, and that is the key to our success."
CompanyWeek profile (Feb. 2014): https://companyweek.sustainment.tech/article/rk-mechanical
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.