2007 Top Company finalists.
Excellence in financial performance.
Excellence in business operations.
Excellence in community involvement.
The 30 companies profiled in the following pages are finalists for the 2007 Top Company business award program.
They didn't get there by accident. Participating companies must nominate themselves, which means they're willing to undergo the rigor of an evaluation process by longtime sponsor, Deloitte, and a panel of judges.
The professional-services company evaluates the dozens of nominations received each year and selects finalists in 10 business categories, including a newly added nonprofit category.
A panel comprised of outstanding Colorado business and civic leaders will select winners from the companies profiled in the following pages.
The 2007 panel:
* Kathryn Paul, President and CEO, Delta Dental
* Larry Pisciotta, President, Brakes Plus
* Mario Carrera, VP/General Manager, Entravision Communications Corp.
* Jon Nordmark, CEO, eBags
* Don Elliman, Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade
* Bruce Hutton, Interim Dean, Daniels College of Business, Univ. of Denver
* Don Collins, Chief Marketing Officer, Pinnacol Assurance
Winners will to be announced Sept. 12 at an awards luncheon at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Call (303) 662-5222 for more information.
ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
FOREST OIL CORP.
Forest Oil Corp. has a long history of exploring, developing, producing and marketing natural gas and crude oil over much of the continent and selected international sites. In recent years the Denver-based firm has narrowed its focus and is reaping the benefits.
"We've made a transition since the summer of 2003 through today that's taken us in a completely different direction," says Patrick Redmond, the company's director of investor relations. "The primary producing areas we're in are Texas and Canada. We're concentrating outside the Gulf of Mexico and primarily in onshore North American development or exploitation plays. It's provided for much greater stability for the company and much more clarity in terms of growth of production for the organization."
The company in June acquired Houston Exploration for $1.5 billion and also this year entered into an agreement to sell its entire Alaska assets. President and CEO Craig Clark called the two moves "another transformational period for Forest."
There have been many such periods in the company's long history. Forest Oil dates back to 1916 when it was launched in northwest Pennsylvania, the place oil was first discovered in the U.S. Over the years the company has expanded and weathered economic fluctuations to become one of the largest independent exploration and production enterprises in the U.S.
ST. MARY LAND & EXPLORATION CO.
A Top Company winner in 2005, St. Mary Land & Exploration Co. got its start in 1908 when the founders purchased 17,700 acres of land in Louisiana for $11,000 that ended up yielding more than 200 million barrels of oil and large quantities of natural gas.
The company has been headquartered in Denver since 1966 and has been a public company since 1992. The firm is engaged in the exploration, exploitation, development, acquisition and production of natural gas and crude oil in five core areas: the Mid-Continent (Oklahoma and northern Texas); Rocky Mountain; another region that includes parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas (known as "ArkLaTex"); the Permian Basin of west Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the Gulf Coast.
That geographic diversity, along with a decentralized company structure--each regional office has its own geo-scientists, engineers and land negotiators--enables the company to weather adversity in any one region, such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.
That diversity and degree of autonomy in the regional offices also helps St. Mary manage risk and maintain value in a notably high-risk industry. For example, a St. Mary's geophysicist in the Billings, Mont., office developed sophisticated geographic mapping in the early '90s that enabled the company to establish a large, profitable acreage position ahead of competitors in the Williston Basin of eastern Montana.
Xcel's Public Service Co. of Colorado, whose parent is Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, has been a statewide leader in the growing sustainability movement, as it has worked to bring wind-energy alternatives to consumers and is working with National Renewable Laboratories in Golden to develop hydrogen technology-based energy solutions.
The company also has partnered with a solar-energy farm in the San Luis Valley of Colorado to further broaden the company's investment in sustainable-energy solutions.
While coal-fired electricity-generating plants remain an Xcel staple, a recent National Renewable Energy Lab ranking of green pricing programs placed Xcel's Windsource and Renewable Energy Trust No. 1 in number of customers and fifth in energy sales out of more than 500 U.S. utilities.
In 2005, Colorado voters mandated that utilities provide at least a 10 percent renewable component for electricity by the year 2015, and Xcel representatives say they expect to meet that requirement seven years earlier than mandated.
In August 2006, the company created a "voluntary energy assistance program" that allows Colorado customers to make regular tax-deductible donations to Energy Outreach Colorado through a check box on their monthly utility bills.
Unlike many competitors who were negatively impacted by scandals in the financial-services industry, OppenheimerFunds has grown rapidly in the past five years. In that period, the firm has increased assets under management 92 percent, to $244 billion, and is now rated as the seventh-largest fund manager in the U.S.
A key to that growth has been the firm's transfer agency subsidiary, OppenheimerFunds Services, which is located in Centennial and provides record-keeping and customer service to 6 million shareholder accounts.
The firm decided to bring in-house its customer servicing function for its tax-advantaged college savings vehicles, known as 529 Plans. That move improved customer service and responsiveness, and it resulted in the firm receiving the Best Post-Trade Technology Implementation Award at the 14th annual Mutual Fund Industry Awards Ceremony.
To lay the groundwork for young people to succeed financially and encourage them to become early and successful investors, Oppenheimer sponsors the Colorado Stock Market Game, allowing students to build mock portfolios based on real market conditions.
The firm allows employees to vote on where they want to concentrate their community fundraising each year. For 2007, the choice was the Denver Dumb Friends League's annual fundraising run, the "Furry Scurry."
UNITED WESTERN BANCORP
Formerly known as Matrix Bancorp, Denver-based United Western Bancorp has transformed from a holding company focused on mortgage servicing, to a premier community bank.
As part of that process, the company last year added two branch offices and a loan-processing center. During the year, 92 people were added to the banking team, including veteran bank presidents, loan officers and other specialists.
As loans in the firm's mortgage-services portfolio are paid off, United Western is redeploying them into community-based lending activities.
Last year, United Western donated almost $200,000 to local organizations. It concentrates its charity efforts on activities in which employees are involved, thus leveraging its involvement in terms of both time and money put into the community.
Among those efforts: The company awards two need-based scholarships to students at Denver's Metro State who are pursuing business or finance degrees. It also supports the Money Smart educational program in partnership with Denver Mile High Rotary, teaching money and other skills to moderate-to low-income women--instructing them in English or Spanish as needed.
WESTERN UNION CO.
Western Union has been in the money-transfer business since 1851, and last year took on a new identity as it spun off from First Data Corp.
Even after the spinoff, Western Union ranked No. 10 among the state's largest public companies, based on revenue, in this magazine's annual public-companies ranking.
The Englewood-based firm has 300,000 agent locations around the world, and they complete an average of 13 transactions such as bill payments or offsite purchases per second.
Agents are able to make money transfers in more than 120 currencies, and Western Union Online has country-specific websites for almost all the company's markets.
Seven years ago, the company formed the Western Union Foundation to facilitate charitable giving, and since its inception the program has granted more than $4.4 million to 522 Colorado programs focused on education issues, basic needs of Coloradans and disaster relief efforts around the world. Employee contributions to the foundation are matched by the company, $2 for every $1 an employee gives, and matched $1 for $1 for employee contributions to other charities.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Craig Hospital started out in Lakewood as the "Brotherly Relief Colony" and consisted of 50 tents for destitute, homeless male sufferers of tuberculosis.
A century later, with TB long under control thanks to advances in antibiotics, Craig's focus has changed, but the compassion and hope delivered to patients hasn't: Since the mid-1950s the hospital has specialized in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, and it treats more than 2,000 people a year from around the country and sometimes from outside the U.S.
Now based in Englewood, the nonprofit hospital has consistently ranked among the top 10 rehabilitation programs in the country.
About half of Craig's patients are from Colorado, and the average in-patient rehabilitation is 60 to 90 days, with extreme cases exceeding 180 days. Craig plays just as big a role in the complicated health needs of outpatients, as it schedules more than 3,000 outpatient re-evaluation visits a year.
Craig's research department has teamed with national and international parties since the mid-1970s, and in the last 10 years the hospital has been at the forefront of exploring cellular-based cures and surgical interventions for central nervous system injuries.
INNER CITY HEALTH CENTER
Nonprofit, volunteer-based Inner City Health Center provides medical and dental care as well as counseling to the uninsured and very low-income families of Denver and beyond. The center also provides opportunities for job training and employment for low-income people.
Located in northeast Denver on 34th Avenue and Downing Street, the center was founded in 1983 by two physicians and a counselor who wanted to address the needs of Denver's medically indigent. Since then, the center has grown from slightly fewer than 2,000 patient visits in its first year, to a current average of 20,000 patient visits annually.
The center collaborates with more than 20 organizations in referring low-income patients to resources such as housing, clothing, food and other social services.
About 63 percent of the center's patients during the 2005-2006 fiscal year were uninsured; 33 percent were Medicaid or Medicare recipients. The center charges patients on a sliding scale based on their income and ability to pay.
The clinic has 45 paid staffers, 30 of them full-time. Volunteers make up the majority of the clinic's professional staff. In 2005-2006, all but one of the physicians and two of the dentists, as well as 90 percent of the nurses and 66 percent of the counselors, were volunteers who donated $268,000 worth of professional services to the clinic.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HEALTH PLANS
A Top Company finalist in 2006, Grand Junction-based Rocky Mounain Health Plans is a not-for-profit company that collaborates with other health-care organizations.
Last year, it gave $727,968 to support more than 70 community-based organizations and events ranging from the Fort Collins Senior Center to the Sangre de Cristo Hospice to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
In August 2006, Rocky Mountain Health Plans launched SOLO Health Plans, a new line of individual health-plan products, targeting individuals in the 18-35 and 50-65 age groups. As RMHP points out, the former demographic group tends to respond to what's hip, the latter wants something that's practical, but both groups need something affordable and convenient that provides a safety net along with preventative and prescription coverage.
Some 770,000 Colorado residents are without health insurance, and for them economic disaster can be an accident or unforeseeable illness away. Recognizing this, RMHP put together the new line of health plans offering comprehensive affordable coverage designed to fit the budget of many of Colorado's previously uninsured.
In just five months, the program generated 1,805 enrollces.
RMHP's diabetes program was honored by America's Health Insurance Plans with the 2006 Foundation Innovation and Excellence Award for Chronic Care. It was the only award given to a small, independent health plan in 2006.
Founded in 1910 by beer magnate Adolph Coors, CoorsTek isn't in the beverage business, but it is the largest technical ceramics manufacturer in North America and a worldwide provider of advanced materials and engineering solutions. The company boasts 17 manufacturing facilities worldwide, including Europe and Asia.
Among its many products, the Golden-based company provides ceramic armor components used to manufacture protective vests and vehicle armor used for tanks, helicopters and planes that have come under increased demand by military units in Iraq and around the world.
CoorsTek supplies critical components and complete assemblies for industries ranging from medical to automotive to aerospace, and the company has ramped up R & D to ensure it will be poised to meet future industry demands. Recently it invested $2.5 million in a state-of-the-art materials development center.
As part of its corporate vision to become a "measurably better" company and differentiate itself from competitors, CoorsTek implemented an Operational Excellence program in 2004. The results at its five Colorado facilities:
** $5 million savings and efficiency improvements in 2006.
** Labor efficiency improvement of 19 percent in the past three years.
** Labor, as a percent of sales, decreased from 31 percent to 25 percent.
The company is a substantial contributor to The Children's Museum of Denver, Ginny's Kid's International and the American Heart Association. CoorsTek also put together a matching relief fund for Katrina victims, and employees responded with an effort that raised $20,000.
SILICON MOUNTAIN MEMORY
This Boulder-based manufacturer of computer memory chips doesn't actually make its chips in Boulder; just the rest of the operation is based there, including product development, sales and marketing, customer service, management and technical support. Manufacturing is near the customers, in California's Silicon Valley.
Mountain Memory says it offers prices of 10 percent to 40 percent lower than the competition because it "manages all elements of its production and sales process, from manufacturing to fulfillment." It does this chiefly through the direct sales model made famous by Dell computers. It "eliminates the usual layers of middlemen and markups," achieving a 35 percent gross profit margin in an industry where 20 percent is the norm.
The company has on-site quality control that it says keeps returns down. Its RAM cards are also programmed and tested for specific computers. All this has led sales, according to the company, to increase 550 percent since 2000.
Employees are allowed one day a month to work in their charities, such as Meals on Wheels, Boulder Valley Humane Society, Boulder County Safehouse, Shared Parenting Program and the woman's Wilderness Institute. In 2006, company employees donated 39 days.
Spectranetics has been around Colorado Springs for a long time and through many ups and downs, and 2006 was definitely an up year. The company develops ways to clear heart blockages.
The company cites two significant improvements to its laser ablation catheters, what it calls the Turbo and Turbo Elite line. Part of the trend, the company says, is the result of more laser systems installed in hospitals. Improved product is the rest of the story. The new catheters allow for easier entry and passage through small arteries and increased power that shortens treatment times. Clinical studies demonstrate that Spectranetics' laser ablation technology has saved the legs in nine of 10 patients scheduled for amputation.
The company has expanded its headquarters, and the workforce grew from 208 in 2006 to 311 in 2007, including 214 in Colorado.
For six years, Spectranetics has been the presenting corporate sponsor of the American Heart Association Heart Ball. Employees are also involved each spring for the association's Heart Walk. With the addition of corporate matched funds, the Spectranetics team earned the Heart Walk's Top Team Award in 2006.
AVENUEWEST CORPORATE HOUSING
Kimberly and Eric Smith saw a need in the corporate world for long-term digs for employees on an extended assignment. Hotel rooms get expensive, and very old, after a while. So the property managers started AvenueWest Corporate Housing in 1999. They say it's the largest company of its type in Colorado.
AvenueWest manages individual homes, condominiums and apartments that have been offered by their owners to rent to corporations. And it is increasingly involved with companies that buy their own buildings for their traveling employees to use, as opposed to taking out sublet apartments. The pair also started a sister company called Corporate Housing by Owner, a national online directory that connects renters and owners.
In terms of community involvement, employees are allowed one day off per month to pursue their own charity work. In addition, the company sponsored a day of horseback riding and mountain climbing in Buena Vista for 27 inner-city girls.
Besides giving to several local charities, the company helped a recent parolee with temporary housing; sponsored "Chicks With a Purpose"; and employees donated extra household items to charity.
If it sounds like a good community thing to do, McStain Neighborhoods has probably done it, from encouraging its employees to volunteer to charities 365 days a year to building green model homes for the United States Green Building Council.
McStain was founded in 1962 by Tom and Caroline Hoyt. It wasn't long before employees formed the McStain Hoyt Foundation for Building a Better World. Besides yearly contributions from company profits, employees conduct better building and land-use training programs and donate their time through the 40 Days of Giving program that resulted in 365 days of volunteering from 100 percent of the workforce for such charities as Habitat for Humanity and Adopt-A-County Road.
McStain says it takes a "holistic approach" to sustainable building by going beyond Energy Star standards to reduce energy consumption by 45 percent per year over a conventional home.
In July, McStain broke ground on what it bills as Colorado's largest solar-powered neighborhood, Bradburn Village in Westminster. Forty-two solar electric homes will be available in three, two-story home plans ranging from 2,446 to 2,842 square feet, featuring three to four bedrooms, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 bathrooms and two-car garages. Each home will come standard with solar electric power, with prices starting in the upper $400,000s.
PEAR COMMERCIAL INTERIORS
Under your feet is where it's at for Pear Commercial Interiors, at least as far as office design and layout is concerned. The downtown Denver firm specializes in what it calls a green/sustainable approach to building out interiors of commercial office space.
Pear helps clients build heating and cooling systems under the floors in buildings and offices that the company says improves air quality besides saving on energy costs.
"Under-floor air efficiently utilizes the concept of displacement ventilation, where supply air is introduced to the space at or near the floor level, at a low velocity, at a temperature only slightly below the desired room temperature. The cooler supply air displaces the warmer room air, creating a zone of fresh cool air at the occupied level," the company says.
As far as community service, Pear and CEO John Robbins focus their entire efforts on the Denver Children's Home, which has been around since 1876. It is a treatment center for traumatized, abused and neglected children ages 6 to 18. The Pear staff donated time and money to renovating all of the classrooms at the center.
When Chipotle Mexican Grill went public in January 2006 for $45 a share, it was a rough ride for a few months. But early skepticism would not have paid off on this stock, because it recently crested $100 per share as investors approved of the significant growth the restaurant chain underwent.
Founded in Denver by former cook Steve Ells in 1993, the restaurant is known for its chunky guacamole and large burritos. McDonald's was an early investor in the chain and sold its interest prior to the initial public offering. Today, Chipotle has more than 600 restaurants and 60 in Colorado. Sales grew 31 percent to more than $822 million in 2006, leading the retail/wholesale category in sheer volume growth.
The company's vision and innovation has remained the same since it was founded: Change the way people think about fast food through the use of high-quality ingredients, classic cooking methods and a distinctive interior design.
Chipotle sponsored high school fundraisers throughout the year across Colorado, donated sales for Special Olympics Colorado, held a fundraiser for the Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization focused on building ecologically stable agricultural systems, and staged a Military Free Day in Colorado Springs, giving away free burritos, tacos or salads to anyone with a valid military ID.
The company also staged toy drives for The Children's Hospital and food drive for Hunger Awareness Day and donated more than 100,000 pounds of food to the Colorado Food Bank Association.
FASCINATION ST. FINE ART
Another retail/wholesale finalist is Fascination St. Fine Art, a company founded in Denver in 1989, originally as a collectibles boutique. A second Cherry Creek location was added, and both are run by founder Aaron LaPedis and his wife, Sandee.
Now the growth is coming online, and Fascination St. has branched out into original drawings of cartoon animations. Fascination St. has made itself into one of the top three animation galleries in the United States and sells to a worldwide clientele. You can order from a variety of artists and categories, including collectibles.
LaPedis has turned himself into a media darling. He developed a show that focused on educating the masses about collectibles called "Collectibles with Aaron" airing on Rocky Mountain PBS Channel 6 and was picked up by National PBS. He is also a regular contributor to the Channel 7 local news in a weekly segment called the "Collectible Guy" and has been featured on Discovery Channel and the Dish Network.
The LaPedises are very involved in the community, giving both time and money to such organizations as the Denver Film Society, Arapahoe House, the Max Fund for injured pets, the De Wild Cheetah and Wildlife Trust, Saturday Night Alive, The Western Fantasy Gala, Make-A-Wish Foundation, National Sports Center for the Disabled and the National Kidney Foundation.
ROCK BOTTOM RESTAURANTS INC.
A total of 106 restaurants make up the portfolio of Louisville-based Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc., but only 29 of them go by the company's namesake Rock Bottom Breweries.
Among the others are 66 Old Chicagos, four Chophouses, two Sing Sings and one Walnut Brewery. The former publicly owned company, which went private in a leveraged buyout in 1999, has restaurants in 20 states, including 34 in Colorado.
Quite an evolution for an outfit that 31 years ago opened its first restaurant, an Old Chicago, on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.
The company proclaimed in its submission for these Top Company Awards, "Beer is our business." Indeed, Rock Bottom Restaurants produce more than 40,000 barrels of beer annually, the highest volume of beer in the country's restaurant brewery category.
Promoting this niche to the fullest, the company markets "The Mug Club," a program that allows customers to keep a mug behind the bar at their favorite Rock Bottom. The campaign includes special promotions and invitations to beer tappings--no small event considering a nine-step process goes into the brewing of every Rock Bottom beer.
Some of the revenues from all this food and beer make their way back to important community causes. The Rock Bottom Foundation, the charitable arm of the restaurant company, runs programs and grants money to Miracles and Thanksgiving Gatherings, a program that since 1996 has provided holiday meals to more than 8,000 disadvantaged people in 13 cities across the country.
Rock Bottom supports CARE (Community Action Rewards Everyone), which organizes collection drives and fundraisers for hunger-related charities. The company established another program, HOPE (Helping Our People in Emergencies), in 2002 to allow the restaurants to make grants to employees who have experienced a crisis.
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF COLORADO
Big Brothers Big Sisters was established in Colorado in 1918 by Claude Blake, chief probation officer in Denver, who wanted to help guide boys away from lawlessness. Big Sisters began in Denver in 1921, and the two merged in 1996. In 2006, BBBS attracted the support of more than 1,400 volunteers who invested 88,446 volunteer hours. Of the youth served, more than 90 percent live in low-income, single-parent families, one out of three have a parent in prison, and dozens are transitionally homeless.
After research showed that mentoring is one of the best ways to help kids, but there weren't enough male volunteers, BBBS developed programs to attract both young boys and adult male volunteers, including "Golf Buddies" and "Sports Buddies" and also actively solicited donations and a spokesperson for the program, such as former Bronco Reggie Rivers.
In Golf Buddies, each mentor meets twice a month to participate in golf lessons provided by the Colorado Golf Association. The program has tripled in size in just over a year. In Sports Buddies, mentors and kids meet to enjoy in a variety of spectator and participatory sports at professional and college venues. It, too, will triple in size over 2007. BBBS has had an increase of 330 percent in males inquiring to be mentors, and corporate contributions have more than doubled.
THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF DENVER
Last year the museum served more than 225,000 children, from newborns to age 8, providing rich play experiences and a dynamic learning environment.
The museum is excited about its WillitWork program, a prototype testing process that enables research, testing and evaluation of conceptual ideas and activities under consideration for long-term placement at the museum. Visitors enter the testing area, try the new conceptual activities and provide feedback. Museum officials say it is a unique program for cultural institutions.
The goal is to make people want to come to the museum and create a product that people want to use. Several other Children's Museums across the country are interested in creating similar prototyping spaces because of the efficiency and success of WillitWork.
Due in part to WillitWork, The Children's Museum of Denver efficiency quotient (attendance/square feet of exhibit space) is two to four times the quotient of Children's museums in other cities such as Baltimore, Miami, Seattle, Richmond, Atlanta and Brooklyn, museum officials say.
Other areas of service include educational programs, imaginative playscapes and special events. The museum offers monthly themed programs for children, which included in 2006 more than 30 different weekly programs and activities (Wild West Month, Our Diverse Community, Backyard Explorers and Toddler Time).
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF METRO DENVER
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver had its best year ever in 2006. The home ownership charity that endeavors to build homes for families in need and help them break the cycle of poverty built 42 homes housing 68 adults and 129 children.
Through the years, the primarily volunteer-based Habitat has built 307 homes for more than 1,200 people. More than 8,000 volunteers help out every year. Overhead is estimated at 11 percent a year.
Homes are sold to qualified families, with a zero percent loan and no profit to Habitat. More than 600 families apply each year, but only a few are selected after a rigorous screening process. All families selected contributed 250 to 500 hours of "sweat equity labor" toward building their own home and/or the homes of others. Families also participate in training that teaches them homeowner skills. Foreclosure rate is less than 1 percent.
As many as 35 corporations a year engage in Habitat's mission through a combination of financial and volunteer support. An additional 100 businesses donate funds and in-kind materials. Habitat also works with at least 100 different faith congregations a year that contribute funds and volunteers.
It's not just homebuilders who help out. Volunteer professional architects design homes, real estate professionals help find land and handle closings, bankers do credit reviews, office volunteers do organization paperwork and update databases. All vehicles are maintained by the Downing Street Garage, which donates all of its labor.
DECISIONEERING INC. (ORACLE'S CRYSTAL BALL)
Since 1986, Denver-based Decisioneering Inc. has provided decision-analysis software and solutions for individuals and organizations and established itself as a leader in risk-analysis software.
That leadership has continued as Decisioneering recently became Oracle's Crystal Ball Global Business Unit after a series of acquisitions.
Decisioneering was acquired in January by Hyperion Solutions Corp., a California-based business-software leader. Three months later, Hyperion was acquired by Oracle Corp., the world's largest enterprise software company. Thus, Decisioneering is now run as a business unit of Oracle.
The company's Crystal Ball software is used by 85 percent of Fortune 1000 companies. Other primary customers include colleges and government agencies.
Community involvement remains a staple of the enterprise. Decisioneering has sponsored an internship program to give college students from local schools experience in high tech. It also has sponsored community science fairs to support and encourage young scientists, engineers and mathematicians. The company also has donated its software and equipment to community organizations such as Outward Bound, and employees have volunteered with organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House.
QWEST COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL INC.
The largest Colorado-based public company in terms of annual revenues, Qwest is a leading provider of voice, video and data services across the U.S. and the world. Most of its business, though, is operated within its local service area of 14 Western U.S. states.
In 2006, Qwest launched its "digital voice" ad campaign to promote integrated local and long-distance voice services. It continues to focus on improved customer service and on product bundles and packages for its mass-market customers.
Also last year, Qwest's focus on operational efficiency and customer service, summed up in the "Spirit of Service" campaign, enabled the company to generate double-digit productivity improvements in repair and service delivery. Wait time for repairs for small-business broadband customers has been reduced, and more specific service appointments with customers have been set, which has increased the number of customers Qwest network technicians can serve each day.
The company has 9,400 employees in Colorado, and they support a range of programs in the community, most of these efforts focusing on education for teens and younger children.
Qwest has provided grants to Denver Public Schools' Partners Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Young Americans Center for Financial Education/Young AmeriTowne Program, and the Kent Denver/Summerbridge Program. It also sponsors the Qwest Teachers and Technology Grant Program and provides money to Northern and Southern Colorado to support grants for innovative programs by teachers.
Formed in 2001, Englewood-based Statera helps large and small companies achieve the optimal balance and performance of people, processes and technology solutions.
Statera accomplishes this through strategic management consulting that utilizes technology and IT services, and the company's Customer-for-Life philosophy has paid off in the form of consistent 20 percent annual growth since the company was launched. The company has consistently made this magazine's annual ranking of the state's Top 250 Private Companies, including No. 78 in the 2007 ranking that appears in this issue.
Beyond business, the company donates 6 percent of its net profits to various organizations. It sponsors a fundraising event each year for Whiz Kids, an educating, tutoring and mentoring program for inner-city children. It donates services to the Gold Crown Foundation, which provides athletic opportunities to middle-school children.
Statera also donates to the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, The Children's Hospital, the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets Community Fund, the Colorado Technology Community Foundation, Colorado Youth at Risk, Computer Training for People with Disabilities, Denver Active 20-30 Children's Foundation, the Portercare Foundation, United Way and Warren Village.
Led by CEO Brenda Rivers since 1988, Andavo Travel has surmounted two major obstacles to remain one of the largest independent travel companies in Colorado and the third-largest woman-owned company in the state in terms of annual revenues.
The emergence of the Internet posed a grave threat to almost all travel agencies, and Andavo was no exception. But the company survived and grew by diversifying its business model, embracing the Internet and transitioning from a traditional travel agency to one offering more personalized services.
The effects of Sept. 11, 2001, also decimated travel agencies, including Andavo. Within two weeks of the tragedy, Andavo was spending more than it was taking in. To avoid laying off team members, Rivers implemented 10 percent pay cuts, including a cut for herself, and reduced work hours to sustain the team.
The result: One year after 9/11, Andavo celebrated having survived with no layoffs, no lost customers and a gain of 25 percent in revenues.
Andavo's operational efficiency continues to evolve, with a virtual work environment that travel consultants run seamlessly with the support of a telecommunications system and software programs. Andavo's calling card is its ability to offer a single point of contact to serve all client travel needs, both business and leisure.
The firm's community involvement is driven by "Andavo Cares," a company-wide initiative. Among the program's features:
Employees are given one paid day off each year to perform volunteer work of their choice.
Andavo sponsors an elementary-school mentor program facilitated by Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As a destination-management and event-planning company, The Arrangers seeks to provide a "one-stop shop" in producing many of Colorado's award-winning events.
The company, created in 1969 and purchased by longtime employee Nicole Marsh in 2000, partners with corporate and association planners to design and implement themed events, team-building activities, meetings and conventions, ground transportation, custom tours and VIP services.
In 2006, the company produced 400 events for 148 clients. As part of a commitment to operational efficiency, The Arrangers implemented a new custom database that has allowed it to more efficiently track the sales process, generate detailed schedules of service, track deposit schedules and payments, and provide more accurate forecasting.
Internally, The Arrangers fosters a team atmosphere with a workplace devoid of cubicles, sabbaticals for employees who have worked there five years, and a "Company Incentive Trip" for all employees.
The December 2006 issue of Special Events Magazine named The Arrangers one of the 25 top destination-management companies in the world.
The Arrangers' efforts in the community include arranging for the Denver Metro Convention and Visitor's Bureau services at no cost for a number of city-hosted events; partnering with the Rock Bottom Foundation since 2005 to assist with logistics for a holiday feast for Denver's homeless; and providing planning services for the HOPE Center's annual fundraising event at a reduced rate.
WILDERNESS AWARE RAFTING
Buena Vista-based Wilderness Aware Rafting has sought to set itself apart by surveying more than 10,000 guests each year to learn what made their experience exceptional and how that experience could be improved.
The company emphasizes the use of highly trained guides, top-of-the-line equipment and first-class amenities such as clean restrooms, a retail store and licensed food preparation.
Like a lot of tourism-based businesses, Wilderness Aware Rafting was hit hard by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. On top of that, a drought hit Colorado. The company took on these challenges in a number of ways.
It ordered smaller rafts that were able to float at lower water levels; it sought and landed a disaster loan from the federal government to keep operations moving forward; and it invested funds into landscaping to improve "curb appeal" and create a comfortable gathering area.
The company also partnered with other major recreation enterprises under the trade name "Colorado Adventures" to add horseback riding, jeeping and downhill mountain biking to its vacation offerings.
Owned and operated by Joe and Sue Creiner, the company was involved in two major community initiates in 2006: It pledged half the money needed to purchase new chairs for the century-old Orpheum Theater in downtown Buena Vista, matching dollar-for-dollar up to the $10,000 that was needed.
The company's other major community initiative is its annual donation of 80 seats for the Denver Rescue Mission Rafting Trip for the Denver Rescue Mission.
CACTUS MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
Founded in 1990, Cactus is a full-service branding agency that provides integrated communications, advertising, marketing, public relations and Web development to businesses.
The company guides clients with a four-step marketing formula known as "The Simple Truth Marketing Process" in which it applies discovery, strategic planning, creative development and evaluation to every project.
In the past year, Cactus' research on behalf of one client partner, STEPP (State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership at the Colorado Department of Public Health Environment) uncovered demand for a tool to help young people quit tobacco. In the process of creating a new marketing strategy, Cactus invented a new product to help people quit smoking: FixNixer, the first text-messaging cessation tool for helping young people quit tobacco.
After just eight weeks, the FixNixer generated more than 600 registered users in Colorado who are using it to help support a quit attempt.
HOLME ROBERTS & OWEN LLP
The firm known as HRO has approximately 240 attorneys with offices in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and San Francisco, as well as London and Munich.
The Denver-based firm has been around 109 years and has a longstanding reputation for community involvement. HRO lawyers serve as volunteers and/or on the boards of more than 100 community organizations, and the firm's contributions to various causes totals more than $500,000 annually.
In 2006, HRO implemented a campaign of listening that not only promoted the firm's philosophy and promise of service to the community, but marked a cultural shift within the firm. HRO decided to seek out the very people affected by what it does--its clients--and ask what was important to them. HRO found that they want someone to listen to their problems, no matter where they are, no matter what time of day, no matter how complicated the problem is.
These interviews, conducted by the firm's managing partner, the chair of the firm's executive committee and other key members of the firm's management, drove home the fact that professional-service providers, the legal industry and busy lawyers are not always known for their listening skills.
The customized surveys are sent regularly to clients to encourage feedback, and it's helped HRO to focus on solidifying and building client relationships.
MCCLAIN FINLON ADVERTISING INC.
McClain Finlon is the largest independently owned full-service ad agency in the Rocky Mountain region and ranked as one of the country's top 25 independent agencies.
In business for more than 25 years, the agency's approach is to discover, develop and strengthen the magnetism between its clients and its clients' customers.
An internal team at McClain Finlon developed a presentation called Curveball that is currently used as a tool to let companies know their messages can be heard and how to motivate action. In the past nine months, Curveball was presented to more than 25 companies throughout the U.S. and within all industries and has been vital in opening many doors for McClain Finlon.
The firm has long been a provider of pro-bono services to the community, specifically children's health care, education and the arts.
It has worked with the Denver Zoo to consistently increase the zoo's attendance and build awareness about the zoo's efforts to preserve animals and the environment. McClain Finlon's pro-bono creative and ad services for the Denver Scholarship Foundation have helped create an overall identity for the program. The agency is currently working to develop marketing materials targeting prospective students, teachers and parents.
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|Date:||Sep 1, 2007|
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