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Outdoor startups embrace small Colorado towns

Small mountain towns in Colorado are increasingly home to incubating manufacturing startups in the outdoor industry, and none seems to be doing a better job of it than Steamboat Springs. While famous for being the home to more Winter Olympics athletes than any other in the nation, it also is home to an incredible assortment […]

From wartime work to peaceful play

Everyone in Colorado knows why people from other states continue to move here. The area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with lots of hiking and biking trails, places to mountain climb or boulder, many areas for water sports, camping and fishing. But how did Colorado become one of the major outdoor industry hubs in the […]

Manufacturers picky about where they make camp

We all have reasons — sometimes leaking into rationalization — for being where we are. But whether it’s love, location or incredible luck or lucidity, here are some of our favorite reasons for outdoor manufacturers to be where they are in Colorado — which, of course is always a good place to continue to be, […]

Industry association: There’s green in those green spaces

The outdoor industry accounts for $646 billion in retail sales and services, $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues and 6.1 million American jobs, according to the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association. The industry shows no sign of a slowdown. Colorado established itself as a major outdoor-industry hub in the aftermath of World War […]


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  • Lindemann steps down as CEO at JustRight Surgical

    LOUISVILLE — JustRight Surgical LLC, a pediatric medical-device company in Louisville, has hired Robert Kine to replace Russ Lindemann as chief executive. Lindemann, a company cofounder, is retiring but will remain on the company’s board of directors. Kline has more than 25 years of experience in the health-care and life-science industries. Most recently, he was president and CEO of ViroCyt Inc., a biotech tools company that was acquired by Sartorius AG in July 2016. Previously, Kline was the founder, president and CEO of Medivance Inc., which developed  therapeutic hypothermia treatment for critically ill patients. Medivance was acquired by CR Bard in 2011 for $260 million, and Kline was named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Mountain/Desert Region by Ernst and Young. “JustRight Surgical is gaining momentum in the marketplace and due to personal considerations, I felt it was an ideal time to reduce my involvement with the company to my board responsibilities,” Lindemann said in a prepared statement. JustRight’s surgical instruments enable less-invasive surgical techniques in small patients, ultimately reducing scarring, pain and hospital stays. All of JustRight’s products are designed and manufactured in the United States.  

  • Test for remote air-traffic control system set to begin at NoCo airport

    LOVELAND — The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Canada-based Searidge Technologies to install, test and certify a remote air-traffic control system at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland. This is the first step toward implementing a test site for next generation air-traffic control technology designed to improve efficiency and safety. The project will integrate video and radar to provide a view of the airport surface and Class D airspace to air-traffic controllers working in a remote facility. Class D airspace ranges from the ground to an altitude of 2,500 feet with a radius of about 4.5 miles. The FAA, Northern Colorado Regional Airport and the Colorado Division of Aeronautics are collaborating on the project. Jason Licon, director of the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, said for this test, cameras and sensors will be located throughout the airport’s grounds and feed into a facility set up in the airport’s terminal. The airport currently does not have a control tower. Moving forward, a permanent “remote tower” will be less expensive to build, operate and staff than a traditional air-traffic control tower, according to a statement issued by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The project is being funded with $8.8 million from the Colorado Division of Aeronautics and approved by the Colorado Aeronautical Board. The Colorado Division of Aeronautics is supported solely by aviation fuel sales tax and excise taxes. Searidge Technologies, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, specializes in airport surface management using technology. It was the first company to have an operational video surveillance system in an air-traffic control tower, and now has video-based airport surface-management technology implemented at 30 airports located in 16 countries. The Northern Colorado Regional Airport was chosen as the test facility for this project based on several factors including the availability of commercial air service, traffic volume and the wide mix of aircraft types operating at the airport. Timeline for the project: Site survey: summer 2017. Install equipment: fall/winter 2017. Site acceptance test: winter 2017. Passive testing: spring/summer 2018. Active testing: fall 2018 – spring 2019. Initial operating capability: fall/winter 2019.  

  • Internet of Things brings opportunity, significant security challenges

    LONGMONT — The Internet of Things is a fact of the 21st century, as more and more devices and sensors become connected to the cloud to collect data for people to analyze and learn from. But one of the greatest concerns a device such as a wearable presents is who actually has access to the data. It’s not just the owner of the device. In fact, for each wearable, about 10 to 12 cloud companies are involved in the storage and transfer of data, panelists shared at a Longmont Startup Week event on cyber security. Protecting that data is a major concern to Marty Skolnick, a panelist and account manager at Siemens Industry Inc., which is building the connected home development Sterling Ranch. “To me, it’s all about the ownership of the data,” he said. “That’s where the greatest risk is. We need a solution. Whether it’s privatizing and commoditizing that information or forming some secure alliances so your information is not freely sold from corporation to corporation. If IoT can solve that, then we’re good. After all, we’re going to have some 30 billion connected devices in the next three years.” An issue with wearables can be their ease of being hacked, said Don Bailey, a researcher and founder of Lab Mouse Security. Most mobile-phone softwares, such as Apple’s iOS, are extremely hack-resistant. But a cheap wearable can be an easy backdoor to getting into a phone and accessing data, calls, texts and any other sort of communication or personal information stored on it. The way to combat this is to have some sort of best practices amongst the industry. That likely won’t come from the federal government, which has challenges enforcing regulations when it comes to data and has difficulty keeping up with the speed of IoT’s real-world problems. Where it could come from is an alliance of industry experts across IoT, cloud services and wireless communication that can come up with unified best practices. The problem now, Don Bailey said, is that most experts are operating in silos to decide best practices and not working together. “What we need for IoT is the government to say to everyone in IoT that they need to play together or not play at all,” he said. Although the security challenges that face IoT can be difficult, IoT pioneer and futurist Matt Bailey urged startups working in the field not to let the roadblocks deter them. “If you’re involved in IoT, stick with it,” he said. “You’re doing IoT because you have a passion to solve a particular problem. Stick with it, keep learning, talking and sharing to bring your proposition forward.”  

  • Dallas-based Triumph Bancorp continues acquisition run in Colorado

    BRIGHTON — Triumph Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: TBK) announced Thursday that it plans to acquire Valley Bancorp Inc., parent of Valley Bank & Trust, headquartered in Brighton, making it the Dallas-based bank’s third acquisition in Colorado within the last 16 months. Last month, Triumph Bancorp entered into an agreement to acquire nine branches from Independent Bank Group Inc., the McKinney, Texas-based holding company for Independent Bank. The nine branches are in Evans, Firestone, Johnstown, Longmont, Milliken, Akron, Otis, Sterling and Yuma. In March 2016, Triumph Bancorp Inc. said it was acquiring ColoEast Bankshares Inc., parent company of Lamar-based Colorado East Bank & Trust in a deal worth $70 million in cash that included Colorado East Bank & Trust’s 18 branches, including operations in Dacono, LaSalle, Mead and Severance. Financial terms of the Valley Bancorp deal were not disclosed. Valley Bancorp had $314 million in total assets as of June 30. Its community banking subsidiary, Valley Bank & Trust, is an independent bank owned by the O’Dell family, with branches in Brighton, Dacono, Westminster, Denver, Hudson, and Strasburg. Valley Bank & Trust will be merged into TBK Bank, SSB, and operate under the TBK Bank brand. “When we met with Triumph, I knew right away that this was the perfect fit,” James J. O’Dell, chairman of Valley Bancorp, said in a prepared statement. “Our cultures of values, service and philanthropy are in line with each other. I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.” The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by shareholders. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2017.

  • NCRA

    The Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland is the site for the Colorado Remote Tower System Project. Courtesy CDOT/Shahn Sederberg.

  • Vail Resorts seeks to eliminate environmental impact

    BROOMFIELD — Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) has announced an ambitious plan to reduce the environmental impact of its operations to zero by 2030. The Denver Post reports that Vail plans to “eliminate emissions, deliver zero waste to landfills and offset its overall impact to forests and habitat in the next 13 years.” Announcement of the initiative — dubbed “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” — came at a Vail Resorts employee meeting July 25.

  • United to begin nonstop service between Denver, London

    United Airlines will launch nonstop service between Denver and London in March. The Denver Post reports that United will launch the seasonal service using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, heightening competition for the Denver/London route. British Airways has offered nonstop service since 1998, using London Heathrow airport. Norwegian Airlines announced in April that it would launch service between Denver and London Gatwick. Norwegian Airlines earlier this month announced that it would begin nonstop service between Denver and Paris. United’s seasonal London service will run daily from March 24 to Oct. 26, 2018.

  • Centennial manufacturer to lay off 100 workers

    CENTENNIAL — A Centennial manufacturer is laying off 100 workers after the company’s acquisition by WestRock Co., an Atlanta-based company. BusinessDen reports that Multi Packaging Solutions, which manufactures credit, debit and identification cards, announced the cuts in a WARN notice filed with the state July 25. The company, which operates 19 other manufacturing facilities in the United States and 34 internationally, said the Centennial facility “will permanently cease operations except for a very small part of the business.”  

  • VolkBell brand dissolved, stakes acquired by separate firms

    LONGMONT and FORT COLLINS — The two insurance-benefits companies that operated under the VolkBell brand in Northern Colorado have been acquired — in whole or in part — by separate insurance-benefits companies. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Salt Lake City-based GBS Benefits Inc., a full-service employee-benefits firm and a member of the Leavitt Group, has taken a 65 percent equity stake in Volk & Associates, an insurance and human resources consulting firm based in Longmont, and AssuredPartners Inc., in Lake Mary, Fla., acquired Front Range Insurance Group LLC in Fort Collins, the companies announced separately on Tuesday. Volk and Associates, founded by Clair Volk 30 years ago, had been part of a partnership with John Bell and Steve Smith of Front Range Insurance Group LLC that operated under the VolkBell brand for 12 years prior to the acquisitions. Volk still maintains a minority ownership stake in Volk & Associates that will continue to operate in Longmont with its 16 employees as Volk GBS. “We are excited to be joining the GBS Benefits Inc. and Leavitt Group team,” Volk said in a prepared statement. The Leavitt Group is the 10th-largest privately held insurance brokerage in the nation. It offers insurance-market access, specialty products and a wide-range of insurance programs, including  property and casualty insurance, risk management and employee-benefits solutions. “Several months ago, we began looking for a partner that could help us better serve our clients,” Volk said. “GBS and Leavitt will not only provide additional expertise, but also assist with more resources to control health-care spend, improve employee communications and simplify the overall management of our clients’ benefit programs.” Bell said in a phone interview Wednesday that his group initially considered affiliating with the Leavitt Group as well. “After we got into it, going with Leavitt was a good fit for Clair, and going with AsssuredPartners was a better fit for us,” Bell said. AssuredPartners provides business and commercial insurance, employee-benefits insurance and personal-insurance brokerage services. Front Range Insurance Group and its 28-member staff in Fort Collins will operate under the name Front Range Insurance Group going forward and will remain under the leadership of principals Bell, Smith, Sue Roberts and David Wooldridge. Bell said after AssuredPartners acquired FRIG, he and other principals acquired an undisclosed equity stake in AssuredPartners. “This is an exciting opportunity to join a dynamic regional and national organization that reflects the same values that made us successful,” Bell said in a prepared statement. “Our clients will continue to work with the consultants and service teams they know and trust. “AssuredPartners allows us to further enhance our client focus and services on a local basis while at the same time incorporating our operations into a national platform. Our clients will benefit from the increased support, resources, markets and tools now available to us.” AssuredPartners Inc. acquires and invests in insurance-brokerage businesses across the United States and in London. From its founding in March 2011, AssuredPartners has grown to more than $870 million in annualized revenue […]