CompanyWeek published 236 in-depth profiles of manufacturing companies in 2018, an enlightening portrayal of industry and economy across Colorado and the western U.S.

Here’s an industry breakdown (some companies are listed in multiple industries):



Bioscience and Medical


Brewing and Distilling


Built Environment




Consumer and Lifestyle


Contract Manufacturing


Electronics and Aerospace


Energy and Environment


Food and Beverage


Industrial and Equipment


Supply Chain


The collection defies abbreviation, but companies on my short list promise to capture the imagination of a generation of buyers and employees and the communities where they reside. They’re changing the face of modern manufacturing.


I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned cutting, bending, and welding. It’s a granite-like foundation for every manufacturing era, including this one. When we profile companies where employees’ skill sets would span generations, I’m hooked. Spyderco’s blades fit the bill.

Manes Machine

A top supplier to Boeing, Bruce Page is investing in automation to stay competitive. One outcome of automation has been a reset of workforce needs away from harder-to-find, multi-year machine operators to more of a technical engineer-operator.

Manes is the tip of the spear, a leader in what is otherwise an underappreciated but uber-capable collection of contract manufacturers throughout the West.

Cayson Designs and Betabrand

Apparel manufacturing is tethered to cut-and-sew production, a process that looks and feels much like it did a half-century ago. America stopped training or recruiting qualified labor about the same time, so local brands that manage to develop and sustain cut-and-sew staffs are truly remarkable businesses. Cayson Designs in San Francisco is one such company.

It’s why the sector also begs for innovation in any form, and Betabrand’s unique crowd-based model of prototype to small batch to volume production has catapulted the company to substantial size and influence.

NuVue Pharma

Colorado’s business community has been slow to warm up to it’s homegrown cannabis industry. Malik Hasan and NuVue Pharma lead a cadre of manufacturers that will change the perception of the region’s hemp and marijuana industry.

Hasan’s NuVue is letting science do the talking, and where his R&D will lead may change our recalcitrant views and everything else about the business. It’s easy to envision new medicine and tailored wellness products emanating from NuVue’s operations, products that also relieve us from Big Pharma’s unhealthy stranglehold.

Cusa Tea

We profiled nearly 40 food and beverage companies in 2018 (not including brewers and distillers). It’s an embarrassment of riches if you’re a fan of innovation and more, of leaders transforming staid industries into vital new sectors.

I was drawn to one company that encapsulates all of these attributes except local manufacturing. Jim Lamancusa’s lightbulb moment may have been on a camping trip or outdoor excursion, one of a hundred we’ve all enjoyed as denizens of the West, but followed through to tip-over an entire category with science, entrepreneurship, and determination. Not to mention an aversion for coffee.

Tailwind Nutrition

One notable southwest Colorado company is manufacturing locally as they borrow technology from local brewing cousins and play to the active consumers in the region. Jennifer and Jeff Vierling’s growing company is just one of a wave of brands emerging or locating on Colorado’s Western Slope, an up-and-coming outdoor industry juggernaut.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Reach him at

Also VIEW Editor’s Choice: Best Profiles of 2018>>