First and foremost, Colorado Tech Shop was founded by and is owned by a woman entrepreneur, which is a rarity in both the local and US manufacturing industry. Seventy percent of our employees are women or minorities, some of them holding upper level and highly skilled positions. We do our best to cross train all of our employees, furthering their education, understanding, skill-set and certifications where applicable. Both existing and new employees are each trained on the various machines and manufacturing procedures, specific to company and/or customer requirements. Regular, In-house training sessions conducted by qualified technical instructors are provided to maintain proficiency and industry specific certifications. We have one employee who is a single mother wanting to get her GED to better her life, we have supported her every way we can, including adjusting her work schedule around her schooling schedule.
We work with diverse clientele from small, local scrappy startups (some of which are woman owned) to larger more established companies in Colorado and beyond. We are somewhat unique in the local ecosystem, offering a flexible, one stop solution aimed at streamlining design, prototyping, manufacturing and fulfillment, saving precious time and money for our customers. We believe the fact that we are a smaller, woman owned firm provides a unique, valuable and approachable asset to smaller enterprises.
2. How does the business engage with community resources, partners and events?
Colorado Tech Shop is very active in the local community and we believe without all the wonderful programs and benefits the community has offered, we would not be thriving as much as we are today. We have found support not only in the local SBDC, where we have engaged with several specialists over the years to help grow our business but we have also sought out and attended classes and programs run by the MBO and OEDIT including attending the Advance Colorado Procurement Expos. In addition, we have gone through all the necessary steps and been approved for our 2019 certification as a Minority/Women Business Enterprise for the city and county of Denver (DSBO).
Colorado Tech Shop has benefitted from several different programs, including a great sales course offered by H2 Consulting via Manufacturer’s Edge. I regularly attend events put on by CAMA and NOCO (including upcoming NOCOM trade show) and am part of the new Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP) international networking group. Colorado Tech Shop has been working closely with Longmont Economic Development Partnership since our start in late 2015. I am one of the core roundtable members for their Perspectives Group, aimed at helping small local businesses flourish. We won the LEDP 2017 Cornerstone Startup Award and also received a $10,000 expansion grant in 2018 through them, which helped us double our facility space, invest in new machinery and hire more employees. We take advantage of the Colorado Enterprise Zone Certifications each year to maximize tax breaks and incentives, freeing more cash to reinvest in the business.
We have gone through a community lending partner called Colorado Enterprise Fund to attain a business loan and line of credit after we could not get funding from normal banks in our start up phase and early days and this has been a great help to our massive growth. Aside from all of the wonderful local programs we have used, we have been blessed with an enormous amount of mentoring help from none other than what most would view as our “competition”. We have made friends with most of the other contract manufacturers in our region and their kindness has been amazing, particularly that of Premier Manufacturing (run by Edmond Johnson). Instead of seeing us as a competitor to squash, he has helped us in a myriad of ways and by doing so he seeks to strengthen ALL of Colorado manufacturing, as a rising tide lifts all ships. It’s this sort of inclusion and ‘it takes a village’ mentality that we believe in and as we grow we want to continue to give back to the community that has welcomed us so fully and helped us grow and thrive.
3. How does the business create and retain jobs in Colorado?
Although Colorado Tech Shop is primarily a manufacturing company, we minimize market risk by added diversity in our offerings to clients. In 2016 we began offering design and engineering and in 2017 we started providing a skilled workforce to ‘lend’ out to other companies and manufacturers when they had large projects. This last piece went so well and was growing so rapidly that in late 2018, we felt the need to establish the ‘staffing’ portion as a standalone company, thus Colorado Tech Staffing was born (also woman owned) and now employs 10 people in the Longmont area, 40% being women/minority. This is in addition to the 10 people that Colorado Tech Shop employs, 70% of which are women/minorities. I will continue to grow both companies, adding additional jobs and helping fill a niche for other local manufacturers needing short to long term skilled workers. Colorado Tech Shop did 1.2 MIL in revenue in 2018 (only its third year in existence) which was a 123% increase in revenue over 2017 and 343% increase over 2016. We are estimating to triple our revenue this year to 3 MIL, which will necessitate several new machines and additional space. With that will be the creation of 4-7 new jobs this year alone. The sky is the limit with Colorado Tech Staffing (due to no need for additional infrastructure), as we are actively seeking a few new clients to partner with, which could double or even triple our current number of employees (now at 10) this year.
We retain jobs in Colorado by perpetuating an inclusive and family like culture within both companies. We make sure our employees feel valued and cared for and regularly have Pizza Friday or hire other women owned businesses to come in for some added employee benefits, such as yoga and chair massages. We also pay on the higher end of the pay scale for the skill set, so we tend to keep our employees around, which further adds to the family feel.
4. How does the nominee (personnel and/or business) contribute back to its community?
As stated above, as we have received so much mentoring and help personally and as a company, we do our best to mentor other businesses, whether we are helping small start ups get to market or through sharing knowledge and experiences through the LEDP Peerspectives group, we are constantly looking for ways to engage further with the community. Case in point, we just finished renovating some of the new space in our facility to create a specialty co-working environment, whereby we rent dedicated desks and private office space to community members, with preference given to those in the tech/manufacturing industries. In this way we create a unique space where a maker, entrepreneur or engineer could work side by side with a manufacturer thus enabling a crossover of skills and sharing of knowledge and resources that will enrich everyone involved.
In all our manufacturing we strive to keep our vendors and suppliers as local as possible, we get our stencils at Stentech, right in Golden and many of our bare boards come from Circuits West in Longmont. We love the fact that a lot of our clients are right down the street (quite literally) and that’s yet another value added benefit of working with Colorado Tech Shop, as we encourage clients to come see us in action. As well, if there is ever an issue we are nearby and can respond quickly and efficiently and most times even hand deliver your completed job.
Having just signed a 4 year lease, Colorado Tech Shop intends to continue investing in the local economy while growing our business to its full potential, which would in turn necessitate hiring more local employees and utilizing more local resources.