Longmont, Colorado

Owner Charles Mason’s hands-on contract manufacturer specializes in laser cutting and etching — and getting concepts off the drawing board.

Photos Jonathan Castner

Boulderworks can customize pretty much anything its customers can imagine, hence the tagline “Ideas Materialized.”

The company performs custom laser-cutting services on anything from metals to woods to plastics. Mason has an extensive background in design, art and engineering and is skilled in coming up with creative solutions for any project, whether it’s a widget, machine part, custom sign, or consumer product.

“I love using my hands — I just like to make stuff,” Mason says.

Among the products Boulderworks makes are architectural models, plaques, home accents and decor, menu boards, outdoor signs, promotional gifts, and restaurant fixtures. The company works with a variety of materials, including acrylic, cardboard, galvanized steel, granite, marble, leather, glass, and rubber.

“The one thing I’ve found over the years is that people don’t always know what they want,” Mason says. “They think they know what they want, but they don’t.”

That’s evident when Mason starts asking customers questions about what kinds of materials they would like used for their creations, whether it’s wood, metal, or glass. “They’ll say they just want regular steel, but there are so many options with steel,” Mason says.

The company doesn’t require a minimum order size, but it does prefer to work with vector CAD drawings to speed up turnaround. But if a customer doesn’t have a drawing, Boulderworks offers design services — even if the idea is just in the customer’s head or sketched on a napkin.

Most orders can be completed within a week, and Boulderworks guarantees its customers will be satisfied — if they don’t like the product, they don’t pay for it.

Challenges: Finding good employees has been tough for Boulderworks, which at one point had 10 workers. Mason scaled back because he felt like he was wasting his time babysitting them so he scaled back. “Our sales were three times what they are now, but our profits were lower,” he says. “I’d rather manage equipment than people. They break, but they don’t whine.”

Mason says he likes to hire people who are self-motivated and can manage themselves. “I want a mini-me who has all my skills and more,” he says.

Boulderworks also is having some difficulty in managing cash flow because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he adds. “We had two months of no sales, and we moved into a building where we had to fix everything,” says Mason. “Cash flow will improve, but we have to get our debt load down.”

Opportunities: Boulderworks is in the process of buying a chemical etcher that will help Mason expand the business. That will provide the opportunity to hire another person and take on more business. “I love tools, I love building things, I love design,” Mason says. “I like to work for myself.”

Needs: The purchase of the chemical etcher will trigger the need for Boulderworks to add another hard-to-find employee. “I just need another really solid employee and this new machine working,” Mason says. “We’ve kind of got it mapped out. We don’t do a lot of advertising. Most of our business is word of mouth.”


Find Them In Our Directory: