On the evening of April 4, CompanyWeek and Manufacturer’s Edge presented the fourth annual Colorado Manufacturing Awards (CMAs) at the University of Denver’s Cable Center.

The event has grown every year since inception, with 2019 marking the first to venture beyond Colorado state lines with awards for standout manufacturers in New Mexico and Wyoming.

As CompanyWeek founder Bart Taylor put it during his remarks, “We’ve come from so many places. We’ve come from Albuquerque tonight, Laramie, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Greeley. One person has come further than any other: We’re very happy to have Caroll Thomas [director of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program] from Washington, D.C.”

An early video interview with Left Hand Brewing President Eric Wallace by Hoptocopter Films might have captured the reason people traveled to Denver for the event. Noted Wallace: “Manufacturing is how you build wealth in your community. You have good jobs, you’re bringing in raw materials, and you’re selling the products outside your community.”

That’s really the crux of the importance of manufacturing to Colorado, and any other state. Same goes for cities and regions.

For that precise reason, the CMAs strive to elevate the companies doing the most moving and shaking across a dozen different manufacturing sectors, and there are plans to get bigger and better for the event’s fifth year in 2020. Said Taylor: “We’re just getting started.”

Outstanding Craft Brewer

Finalists: Odell Brewing Company, TRVE Brewing Co., WeldWerks Brewing

Winner: WeldWerks Brewing

Quote of note: “I started in my garage with my co-founder, Colin Jones. Now we’re 30 people. I agree with what Eric [Wallace] said: People are the heart of manufacturing.” — Neil Fisher, co-founder and head brewer, WeldWerks Brewing

WeldWerks' Neil Fisher

Bioscience/Medical Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Cambrex Corporation, Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU, Osypka Medtec

Winner: Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU

Quote of note: “This is really an asset for the state of Colorado, but also nationally and internationally.” — Ray Goodrich, executive director, Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU

Outstanding Food Brand / Co-Packer

Finalists: Boulder Organic Foods, Teton Waters Ranch, Wild Zora

Winner: Wild Zora

Quote of note: “Food is one of our fastest growing manufacturing sectors in Colorado . . . an industry model that actually shines brighter on the national stage than in its own state.” — Rob MaCoy, partner, BKD

Wild Zora's Zora Tabin

Industrial & Equipment Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Merritt Aluminum Products, StickerGiant, Titan Robotics

Winner: Merritt Aluminum Products

Quote of note: “Without great people, none of it is possible. We’ve got a great team. I’ll put them against anybody in the industry.” — Taylor Merritt, chairman and CEO, Merritt Aluminum Products

Contract Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Cogitic, Custom Microwave, High Precision Devices, Ingram Machining

Winner: Custom Microwave

Quote of note: “We’ve been around for 53 years. We’ve built so many different antennas for so many different applications. I’m really proud to be part of this company.” — Clency Lee-Yow, president, Custom Microwave

Outstanding Consumer/Lifestyle Brand

Finalists: Boyer’s Coffee, VOORMI, Vortic Watch Co.

Winner: Boyer’s Coffee

Quotes of note: “It’s really about trying to connect the farm to the cup and telling that story.” — Jason Barrow, co-owner, Boyer’s Coffee

“For me, it’s really about our employees and our customers. We’re just two business owners up here.” — Douglass Barrow, co-owner, Boyer’s Coffee

Boyers Coffee's Doug Barrow

Aerospace/Electronics Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Barber-Nichols, Special Aerospace Services, Wren Industries

Winner: Wren Industries

Quote of note: “It’s really nice to know small business still means a lot. At the Lockheed Martins and the Boeings, we’re still moving forward.” — Mike Sneddon, president, Wren Industries

Manufacturing Advocate of the Year

Finalists: Robin Kniech, Denver City Council; Tom Neppl, Springs Fabrication; George Newman, Front Range Community College

Winner: Robin Kniech

Quote of note: “It starts with personal stories. Manufacturing put food on my table, put a roof over my head, and put health insurance in my life.” — Robin Kniech, at-large council member, Denver City Council

Robin Kniech

New Mexico Manufacturer of the Year

After remarks from Manufacturer’s Edge CEO Tom Bugnitz and MEP Director Caroll Thomas, Mezel Mods, a manufacturer of aftermarket pinball parts, won the Land of Enchantment’s top honors for its innovative use of 3D printing.

Quote of note: “I’m really honored to be representing the small manufacturers of New Mexico. We might be small, but we are mighty and powerful.” Kristin Browning-Mezel, head honcho, Mezel Mods

Wyoming Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Electrichlor, Kennon Products, Frog Creek Partners

Winner: Kennon Products

Quote of note: “In the Western states, we’re building on the shoulders of pioneers.” — David Bell, director, Manufacturing Works

Cannabis Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Green Dot Labs, incredibles, Wana Brands

Winner: Wana Brands

Quote of note: “Manufacturing is all about making things better, month after month, year after year. ” — Dan O’Connor, COO, Wana Brands

Outstanding Outdoor Industry Brand

Finalists: Guerrilla Gravity, Ross Reels, Topo Designs

Winner: Ross Reels

Quote of note: “Look at this state we live in. 6,500 feet is our average elevation. We’re at the top. That’s why we’re crazy.” — Tony Lugard, COO, Ross Reels

Outstanding Craft Distiller

Finalists: Distillery 291, Golden Moon Distillery, Laws Whiskey House

Winner: Distillery 291

Quote of note: “We started in a 300-square-foot production facility, we moved to a 7,000-square foot production facility, and this year we’re moving to a 25,000-square-foot production space.” — Philip Rawleigh, brand ambassador, Distillery 291

Distillery 291's Philip Rawleigh

Builder/Construction Company of the Year

Finalists: Encore Electric, RK, Tharp Cabinet Company

Winner: Tharp Cabinet Company

Quote of note: “Our competitors build boxes. We build an experience.” — Garth Rummery, president, Tharp Cabinet Company

Tharp Cabinet Company's Garth Rummery, with Tom Bugnitz, Manufacturer's Edge

Energy Manufacturer of the Year

Finalists: Bolder Industries, CoorsTek, Solid Power

Winner: Bolder Industries

Quote of note: “I want to thank everybody at the company who works at the company every day. We are at 50 employees now and were 14 a year ago.” — Tony Wibbeler, CEO, Bolder Industries

Bolder Industries' Tony Wibbeler high-fives employees