‘Heck yeah,’ it’s a tech company. Well, not really

By Bart Taylor | Jun 16, 2015

It's generally bad form for a small media brand like CompanyWeek to publish opinions critical of the Denver Post. Especially mine. If nothing else it sends the wrong message. I'm a fan of the paper, any newspaper for that matter. And its days in print are numbered, soon to follow the halcyon years that have already passed.

But I'm not required to be an apologist for the Post. Plus, as it relates to business coverage, it's far easier to be a critic. For the moment, I'll set aside good form.

I've written before how the Post just doesn't get manufacturing. Does it matter? Maybe not. Manufacturers don't seem to care, have given up caring, or like millennials don't read the newspaper anymore.

All of which is no excuse for lousy business content. Take the pithy attempt to dress up the Tech+ blog, authored by the otherwise capable Tamara Chuang. Titled 'Heck yeah Colorado profiles,' this content is intended to highlight "Colorado tech companies that make cool stuff. These little snippets are intended for readers to explore the technology being made right here. One company at a time, of course."

I suppose it's a reasonable attempt at some differentiated content, unless of course a company it 'profiles' isn't a tech company at all but a manufacturer, like Colorado's iconic brand OtterBox -- now a product unit within an expanding corporate umbrella known as Otter Products. Chuang's "Heck yeah" feature on OtterBox ran yesterday.

Otter Products indeed makes cases for tech stuff. And, as with most other manufacturers today, the company deploys technology in increasingly innovative ways, including "smarter" cases with built-in batteries, LEDs, and other techy features that may again set a new standard for the sector.

But heck no, Otter Products isn't a technology company but a manufacturer managing a complex global supply chain from its Fort Collins headquarters with assembly operations along the Front Range. It actually is a terrific story, one we'll embellish with an interview of Otter Products VP Brent Hunter in an upcoming issue.

Manufacturers should care about misinformation like this even if they don't. Manufacturers do care about their brand, and an outdated public perception that still makes it difficult to recruit talent and advance a sector that's very much informed by technology -- and by cool products like OtterBox and companies like Otter Products.

As employees at the Denver Post suffer another round of layoffs, perhaps going back to basics would attract readers to an institution worth saving -- and, in doing so, save some jobs. 'Basics' entails a straightforward account of industry sectors that define Colorado's economy. And whether it's beer, natural food, satellites, or iPhone cases, in Colorado, it's manufacturing.

Heck yeah.