2020 CMA Preview: Energy/Environment Manufacturer

By Chris Meehan | Mar 06, 2020

Energy & Environment Colorado

Over the past decade, energy and the environment has created more jobs than almost any other sector in the U.S. That is especially true in Colorado.

And there is still room for innovation and sustainably minded leadership in all corners of the economy, from agriculture to transportation and energy generation. The Colorado Manufacturing Award finalists in this category are leading the way to a cleaner, more energy efficient future driven by innovation and continual refinement.




Founded: 1983

Privately owned

Employees: 20

Industry: Energy & Enviro

Products: Precision agriculture injection systems

Since the 1980s, Agri-Inject has manufactured products that more efficiently distribute fertilizer and other materials to growers, reducing waste and overuse of materials. The company has primarily served the agricultural industry but also serves water treatment, turf and golf as well as industrial markets.

Farmer Gary Newton launched the company to make delivery of agricultural materials more precise for the industry. Since 2011 the company has been on a mission to reduce waste and improve order times in its deliveries by bringing more manufacturing in house and practicing lean manufacturing processes. The company has since expanded its operations footprint twice and tripled its production area.

Newly upgraded machinery in its manufacturing space includes a rotational molding machine, which led to developing a custom molding department, expanding its client base. This has led to hiring two new employees, reducing lead times from weeks to days, and decreasing costs by more than 40 percent.

Investment is ongoing. "We are currently optimizing our assembly space by creating a 'universal line' which allows three complete product families to be produced on the same line with minimal change-over and reconfiguration time," CEO Erik Triblehorn says. "Also, we are investigating robotics to assist with subassembly, and CNC machinery to speed up molded part deflashing and trimming."

CompanyWeek profile: https://companyweek.com/company-profile/agri-inject

Vairex air systems



Founded: 2009

Privately owned

Employees: 8

Industry: Energy & Enviro

Products: High-performance air compressors

Vairex is supplying a key component for electric fuel cell-based motors and generators: cathode air compressors.

In many fuel cells, the power produced is affected by how much air flows through the fuel cell. Vairex produces efficient, precision controlled air compressors that are compact, inexpensive, and durable.

"Fuel cell power output is controlled by using the airflow rate -- and pressure -- the fueling rate follows, just like when you push down on the 'gas pedal' in your car. So, the cathode air compressors we build are the first link in the control chain, which imposes quite a list of technical requirements, response time just the tip of the iceberg," explains CEO Ski Milburn.

The company began making the compressors six years ago using radical simplicity to create compressors with less than a dozen parts that assemble in minutes, Milburn explains. Competitors' products contain more than 100 parts and take hours to assemble.

Though it sources some parts internationally, it's also increasing local production. "We've recently moved production of our injection molded impellers from the Midwest to Colorado, and recently added a Colorado high-technology motor supplier," Milburn says.

Over the past few years, the company has seen growth of 30 percent annually, generating over $1 million in revenue for the first time in 2018.




Founded: 2012

Privately owned

Employees: 7

Industry: Energy & Enviro

Products: Hydroelectric power control systems

Segrity provides Colorado-designed and made mechanical products, engineering and other services to the hydroelectric industry.

The company has a Colorado supply chain that includes machine shops in Denver and a casting company in Longmont. Products are designed in Denver and assembled and tested at the company's facilities before being shipped to clients throughout the country and internationally.

Segrity makes low-volume hydroelectric products of their own brand and also is a supplier to Nexus Controls (a Baker Hughes Business) for a line of products that was previously manufactured in China for. It is proving its better value proposition, showing that low-cost solutions, like those manufactured in China with significant quality problems, are not the best. The company has already completed more than 100 projects for over 40 clients around the globe.

2019 CMA Winner: Bolder Industries

2019 CMA Winner: Bolder Industries from CompanyWeek on Vimeo.

The Colorado Manufacturing Awards will take place virtually from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2020.