Here’s why the Colorado Manufacturing Awards take on deeper meaning in 2019

By Bart Taylor | Jan 06, 2019

It's interesting to watch the shine come off technology's bellwether brands in the New Year and speculate whether manufacturing will follow suit. Last week's whipsaw stock market sent mixed messages -- as did a weaker-than-expected ISM report on December manufacturing.

Manufacturing advocates who take ISM with a grain of salt were rewarded by a strong jobs report. But even Forbes manufacturing columnist Marco Annunziata, who got it right with "U.S. Manufacturing Can Take The Punches - It Is Stronger Than You Think," misses a key point: Manufacturing's strength is as much a result of industry diversity as "innovations in manufacturing technologies."

We've witnessed this firsthand, and it's one reason the Colorado Manufacturing Awards has become such a powerful standalone event, and a metaphor for a sector in transition. Here's how:

  • Manufacturing's high-growth sectors are in the surprise industries we've followed closely the past five years, and food and beverage lead the way. This year three Awards categories will showcase Colorado's dynamic industries:
    • Outstanding Craft Brewer
    • Outstanding Craft Distiller
    • Outstanding Food Brand/Co-packer

It's worth a reminder that the food is the fastest growing manufacturing sector in Colorado. It's an embarrassment of riches we'll again showcase.

  • For the first time, cannabis manufacturers will have a seat at the Awards table. The CMAs will recognize the state's maturing industry in the Outstanding Cannabis Manufacturer category. It's time, with emphasis provided by the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp cultivation and product manufacturing is today legal at the federal and state level. If you're not working with or selling services to cannabis businesses today, you will be. (Factoid: Hemp is cannabis sativa).
  • The core strength of traditional manufacturing in Colorado will again be showcased from bellwether industries:
    • Bioscience & Medical Manufacturer of the Year
    • Industrial & Equipment Manufacturer of the Year
    • Electronics & Aerospace Manufacturer of the Year
    • Energy Manufacturer of the Year
    • Builder/Construction Company of the Year
  • Contract manufacturing has always enjoyed a special place at CompanyWeek, and we're celebrating the category this year by showcasing key outcomes manifest in the region's job shops. Companies here have been asked to do so much to stay competitive -- by OEMs, by employees, by skeptical media. We're confident that finalists and a winner from Colorado's sector are world-class operators -- much like last year's winner. We're fixin' to find out.
  • We profiled more Colorado consumer manufacturers in 2018 than those from any industry sector, and the 2019 Awards will be well-represented by two categories that underscore the promise of both current and future consumer manufacturers:
    • Outstanding Outdoor Industry Brand
    • Outstanding Consumer & Lifestyle Brand

The diversity of the CMAs is also reflected in the criteria developed to recognize companies. We'll look at business through the industry lens for each category.

As the year gets underway, the best way to celebrate manufacturing is to acknowledge the accomplishments of companies from across the spectrum of industries transforming the sector. It’s why the 2019 CMAs hold special meaning.


View the criteria here and nominate your company!

We'll report on the process along the way, including features on all the finalists, and gather to celebrate them all along with alumni from past years. And we'll convene April 4 in Denver to announce winners and celebrate manufacturing. Grab a seat at the Awards event and contact me or Katie Keating with questions.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Reach him at