Todd Dutkin, CEO of Fresca Foods and a winner last year of the Colorado Manufacturing Awards in Food & Beverage, reminded me earlier this year that “ideas are the currency of business.” Today it seems an apt metaphor for the flood of new ideas and innovation coursing through Colorado’s manufacturing community, and a perfect segue to announce the first wave of finalists for this year’s awards program.

Last year, in the first-ever statewide manufacturing awards, we recognized uber-competitive manufacturers across eight industry sectors including the supply chain. It was a tip of the cap to established market leaders and industry standouts.

The 2017 theme, “Innovation in Product Manufacturing,” is proving a worthy follow-up. If ideas are the currency of business, innovation is the language of manufacturing. Researchers including McKinsey & Company have established that manufacturing contributes disproportionately to exports, innovation, and productivity growth. Manufacturers innovate, and the entire economy benefits.

Nominations for the 2017 Colorado Manufacturing Awards demonstrate why, as do the hundreds of profiles we published in the last year. It’s important to note that as we shine a light on a single company, a dozen others may be working on ideas that will change the world. Next month, we’ll recognize a select group. We also won’t forget about the others.

Here are the finalists from five industry categories. We’ll publish the remaining five, plus finalists for the inaugural Colorado Manufacturing Woman of the Year, next week.

Consumer & Lifestyle

Wright & McGill Co., Denver

Moots, Steamboat Springs

Wagner Custom Skis, Telluride (t)

Ross Reels, Montrose (t)

Beer & Brewing

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Denver

WeldWerks Brewing, Greeley

Codi Manufacturing, Golden

Industrial & Contract

Easter-Owens, Arvada

Diversified Machine Systems, Colorado Springs

Tag Team Manufacturing, Parker

Electronics & Aerospace

Aleph Objects, Loveland

Bron Tapes, Denver

SEAKR Engineering, Centennial

Energy & Environment

Forge Nano, Broomfield

Garlock Pipe Technologies, Wheat Ridge

Agri-Inject, Yuma

Sign up to attend the Colorado Manufacturing Awards finals event, where we’ll announce winners April 13 in Denver.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Contact him at