Next steps: Two inaugural events seek to connect manufacturers and business

By Bart Taylor | Aug 12, 2014

If you’ve wondered about the mission of CompanyWeek, two events we're supporting align perfectly with one aspiration, to connect companies in a community that wants to know each other. But largely doesn’t.

In most every goods-producing sector the plan is to make more stuff here, in the U.S. And this time, manufacturing growth means more work for U.S. companies. Manufacturers want local partners to improve quality and better protect IP, to get off the road and inform brands with a local, authentic fabric.

But where to find them?

SOCOM - the Southern Colorado Manufacturing Expo and Conference - will be held September 30/October 1 in Colorado Springs, the week of national Manufacturing Day, Friday, October 4.

It’s an industry-led initiative -- the first trade-show-type Expo held along the Front Range. Tom Neppl, CEO of Spring Fabrication, an international provider of engineered metal products, is the visionary behind the event.

“Manufacturing is an economic engine for nearly every economy in the world, including southern Colorado, where a very diverse group of companies is supplying products to every industry and shipping products around the globe. We’re taking this opportunity to raise awareness, educate the public and showcase the products we produce.

“Manufacturing companies are busy, including multi-national companies operating in our own backyard. There are career opportunities at nearly every level, both highly skilled and support functions. We’re excited to showcase manufacturing to industry and a prospective workforce.”

Neppl’s investing time and resources, as are his colleagues from Colorado Springs and Pueblo. It’s an ambitious move to energize the manufacturing community.

Tracy Waters is a great contact if you or your company want to get involved. Reach her at 719-358-4225 or

That’s not all.

CompanyWeek is co-host along with the City of Denver of a new event that also promises to connect industry players, with the mission of overcoming specific barriers to growth.

The Colorado Apparel Manufacturing Summit, October 9 in Denver, will bring together the region’s apparel sector to have a long-overdue discussion about what needs to happen to put regional apparel manufacturing back on track.

With the help of apparel pros like Carol Engel-Enright, we’re convening the state’s established and rising apparel stars to discuss the state of fashion and apparel given manufacturing challenges, and if possible, begin to construct a blueprint for policy-makers and higher-education -- industry’s partners.

Apparel is tough. It’s still an offshore industry. But more companies want to make stuff here. Outdoor Retailer, the mega-trade event held last week in Salt Lake City, was abuzz with talk of more domestic apparel manufacturing.

The challenge is to build labor and equipment infrastructure equal to the opportunity. Dan English, CEO of Pagosa Springs-based Voormi and a panelist at the Summit, sums it up.

“When it comes to [the outdoor] industry, we believe there’s no more authentic place than Colorado to design, develop, and build products. It’s our challenge, we believe, to match that authenticity with the infrastructure needed to make it happen, from training programs to advanced capability centers, and more.”

An objective of the Summit is to provide a workable path that policy-makers and economic development entities can act on.

For more information on how to attend or get involved – and it’s hoped everyone with a stake in lifestyle manufacturing will do so – contact me or Carol Engel-Enright at 303-517-2583, or