Women have played an increasingly integral role to manufacturers worldwide, but the Centennial State is on the front end of the trend. This is front and center when you hear the stories of the three finalists for Colorado Manufacturing Woman of the Year at the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards.

Diana Hall, president and CEO, ActivArmor

Photo by Jonathan Castner

Hall returned to her hometown of Pueblo to start ActivArmor, an innovative manufacturer of 3D-printed casts and splints in 2014. The company has since established relationships with dozens of clinics on multiple continents to make the better-fitting, easy-to-clean products.

In 2021, ActivArmor pivoted from marketing to clinics to launching a direct-to-consumer telehealth model as it embarked on R&D for new products for 2022, including a new trauma splint. “What we decided to do is invest in innovation,” says Hall.

She says she sees women playing a critical part in bringing new products to market. “Women can see the big picture better,” she says. “Sometimes, we tend to not be as good at focusing on one thing, but we’re very good at being strategic about it. I think that really has helped me to think a little bit differently than the traditional engineers.”

CompanyWeek profile (September 2019): https://companyweek.com/article/activarmor

Heather Bulk, CEO, Special Aerospace Services

Photo by Jonathan Castner

After announcing an expansion to Huntsville, Alabama, in 2021, the chief executive and co-founder of the Boulder-based aerospace manufacturer says the company has graduated from singular components to systems for space programs. “We are now in full swing with our clients to serve those needs,” says Bulk.”It’s allowing our teams — both the engineering as well as the hardware — to be in perfect harmony.”

Bulk shares stories of being the only woman in the room at meetings with the Department of Defense, but says she saw the opposite at the luncheon where the nominees for the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards were announced. “I was surprised to see the number of women. I was pleased — I think it was fantastic to see that. I think Colorado is probably ahead of the curve with other states in regards to where women are, but they are definitely playing much more of a role.”

CompanyWeek profile (September 2021): https://companyweek.com/article/special-aerospace-services

Karen Hertz, Chief Brewista, Holidaily Brewing Co.

Photo by Kim Swanson Photography

When Hertz adopted a gluten-free diet after two bouts with cancer, she soon realized there were scant options when it came to beer. She subsequently founded the state’s leading gluten-free brewery in Golden in 2015.

The brewery has been on a heady ascent ever since, expanding its map to eight states in 2021 as production jumped by more than 60 percent to about 3,400 barrels for the year. “We have added more regional distribution and opened a second taproom in the Denver Tech Center,” says Hertz.

Noting that less than 3 percent of breweries are majority-owned by women, Hertz says, “We still have a long way to go on that, but I do see a lot of progress in the variety of roles women are taking on. In the olden days, it was HR or administrative or marketing. Now you really are seeing more women in operations, women in logistics, women in leadership, women brewing, women packaging.”

She says it’s part of a broader trend in brewing towards diversity and inclusion: “I just think there’s fresh ideas. It’s different perspectives, so you get different ideas out of it.”

CompanyWeek profile (August 2017): https://companyweek.com/article/holidaily-brewing-company

The winners of the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed on April 7 in Denver. The event is open to all Colorado business enthusiasts and stakeholders. REGISTER HERE for the 2022 CMA Winners Reveal & Gala.