BizWest 500 – Peak performers’ pandemic panacea: Give Ps a chance

For companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado that not only survived but thrived during a year of pandemic-related restrictions, the watchwords were pluck, pivoting, preparation, partnership and perseverance.


Click here to view the Mercury 100 awards event. Timestamps for each flight are included in the description.


Just ask some of the locally based businesses whose two-year revenue growth topped their tiers in BizWest’s 2021 list of Mercury 100 fastest-growing companies.

The Mercury 100’s top flight ranked companies whose 2018-to-2020 revenue growth topped $13 million, and the leader in that flight turned the pandemic’s requirements for shutdowns and social distancing — and the resulting side effect of cabin fever — into big profits.

The opportunity was obvious for a real-estate firm such as Windsor-based Hayden Outdoors LLC, which specializes in farms, ranches, country estates, recreational properties, cabins, waterfront tracts, fishing camps and land.

 “These are passion-driven properties that it’s fun to work in,” said Dan Brunk, marketing director and partner at Hayden Outdoors. “We just like to work in the great outdoors. We sell dreams of what people are passionate about, and that passion comes through even to our agents, because they’re passionate about what they’re selling. We haven’t spent a dollar on recruiting yet.”

When COVID-19 hit “and when people started working from home and corporations started forcing people to, we had a tremendous amount of demand from people moving out of cities into the country,” Brunk said. “It has been phenomenal.”

Part of the value Hayden offers is being knowledgeable about issues such as water and mineral rights, he said, “because millions of dollars are involved, and you might sell a valuable asset that you don’t know about.”

Not only did last year finish very strong with 120% two-year revenue growth, Brunk said, but the company is seeing 270% growth for this year to date.

Topping Flight 1 in the Boulder Valley with 262% revenue growth, Boulder-based 1908 Brands cleaned up with the launch of plant-powered Boulder Clean Household Disinfectant Cleaner.

The focus on the Boulder Clean product line as well as Schultz’s Gourmet and Pasta Jay’s jarred sauces led to a big revenue boost that enabled the company to more than double its staff, even as it put three of its other brands — Thrive Tribe paleo snacks, Bump Brands juices and Three Bear Oats  — on hold during the pandemic.

For Loveland-based Ensign Power Systems Inc., owner and founder Robert “Larry” Choate attributed his company’s 172% two-year revenue growth — tops in Northern Colorado’s Flight II — to “just being lucky.” 

As fulfiller of orders for large defense contractors that sell directly to the government, Ensign Power Systems was deemed an essential business during the pandemic and allowed to continue to operate at full steam.

“We got a letter early on from the Undersecretary of Defense, who told us, ‘You stay open no matter what your governor says,’” Choate said. “But as it turned out, it was not a conflict because the state supported us as well, so we never closed. We just kept up normal operations.”

The company also benefited because developing custom power supplies and then getting them “qualified” for government use often takes up to four years from concept to final production, Choate said. “We finally hit volume production on things that took several years.”

The first power supply his company developed was a “relatively simple” 5,000-amp, 1,000-volt device for use on nuclear submarines. “Twenty-five years later, that customer is still buying it in sets of seven,” Choate said. “The goal of our businesses is trying to accumulate programs like that.”

Ensign employs 25 workers now, Choate said, after starting with “two guys in one room.”

Blue Spruce Construction Services in Niwot led the Boulder Valley’s Flight II with 185% two-year revenue growth by deftly pivoting from work on homes to work on businesses.

“We do both residential and commercial construction and remodeling, so we were really positioned well,” said president Sandra Weeks. “Early on in 2020 we did have several home remodels that went on pause or canceled completely, so we were able to shift our focus to commercial. We had a very large commercial project — for Charlotte’s Web in Louisville — that really was the primary project we’ve ever done.

“We were very careful about respecting and following all (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines to keep everybody safe and healthy, on the jobsite as well as in the office where everybody had their own space. Employees could still come to the office if they were comfortable doing so.”

By fall 2020, Weeks said, “residential started picking up again, so then we were able to shift again and take care of our residential customers.”

The key, she said, was having the flexibility, talent and skill sets to go from residential to commercial work and back again.

“The spacecraft market has done really well during the pandemic, which is nothing I was able to foresee,” said Thomas Murphey, president and chief executive of Loveland-based Opterus Research and Development Inc., whose 418% two-year revenue growth topped Northern Colorado’s Flight III.

“We just kept doing what we’re doing,” Murphey said. “We embraced remote working and it worked out quite well. We got lucky that everybody had laptops, and we had a production workforce that could keep proper distancing” — four people in a 9,000-square-foot space.

Opterus’ 18 employees develop deployable satellite components such extendable booms and unfolding solar arrays for both commercial and government contracts, Murphey said, “and we’re getting pretty close to releasing some new products.”

Loveland-based Awakened Foods LLC, revenue leaders in Northern Colorado’s Flight IV, boomed with the merger of Ka-Pop Snacks and Bubba’s Fine Foods, said chief marketing officer Christina Finkel.

“The pandemic was super-impactful because Jeff Schmidgall of Bubba’s met Dustin Finkel of Ka-Pop when a small group of like-minded people created a mentoring circle,” she said. “The pair “found that they had great chemistry and quickly recognized that each had the solution to the other person’s problems. Bubba’s had the private-label manufacturing but didn’t have experience in brand marketing. Ka-Pop didn’t have the facility. Now we’re under one roof and have hired dozens of employees, and have really been able to grow.”

The pandemic prompted a pivot to online sales of nine SKUs in the snack and cereal space and seven new Ka-Pop flavors,” she said.

Shifting to online sales also was key for Longmont-based Colorado Crafted LLC, which led Boulder Valley’s Flight V with 194% two-year growth. Founded in 2012 by former food bloggers Sarah Welle and Dulcie Wilcox, the Longmont-based company creates gift baskets containing Colorado-produced artisanal products that generally couldn’t be found online. Business gifts make up half the company’s orders, with personal purchases accounting for the other half.

Despite the pandemic — or, maybe, partly because of it — 2020 was Colorado Crafted’s best year, Welle told BizWest in March.

“Luckily we did quite well,” she said, “because people couldn’t shop in brick-and-mortar stores but still wanted to support local businesses.”

Fueled by their success, the pair has replicated the formula in another state with California Crafted.

Full results of the 2021 Mercury 100 appear here:

Boulder Valley

Flight I

Companies with 2020 revenue above $14,000,001. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. 1908 Brands, Boulder, 262%.

2. Ziggi’s Coffee, Longmont, 189%.

3. Feel the World Inc., dba Xero Shoes, 163%.

4. Mountain High Products LLC, dba Wana Brands, Boulder, 97%.

5. StickerGiant, Longmont, 55%.

6. Bobo’s Oat Bars, Boulder, 52%.

7. 8z Real Estate, Boulder, 40%.

8. Quicksilver Scientific Inc., Louisville, 30%.

9. Ascent Builders Inc., Broomfield, 25%.

10. Barnes Electrical Contracting Inc., Lafayette, 14%.

Flight II

Companies with 2020 revenue between $9,000,001 and $14,000,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Blue Spruce Construction Services, Niwot, 185%.

2. Ionex Research Corp., Lafayette, 118%.

3. Milo Construction Corp., Boulder, 66%.

4. DevelopIntelligence LLC, Lafayette, 57%.

5. Bolder BioPath Inc., Boulder, 24%.

6. Lyons Gaddis, Longmont, 23%.

7. American Outdoor Products Inc., Boulder, 22%.

8. Alpen HPP Inc., dba Alpen High Performance Products, Louisville, 17%.

9. Caplan and Earnest LLC, Boulder, 16%.

10. WorkWell Occupational Medicine LLC, Longmont, 12%.

Flight III

Companies with 2020 revenue between $2,400,001 and $9,000,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. GreenPlay LLC, Louisville, 70%.

2. RMC Pharmaceutical Solutions Inc, Longmont, 69%.

3. PCD Engineering Inc., Longmont, 52%.

4. Sopher Sparn Architects LLC, Boulder, 50%.

5. Jorgensen Brownell & Pepin PC, Longmont, 48%.

6. Indian Peaks Ace Hardware, Nederland, 36%.

7. Insight Designs Web Solutions LLC, Boulder, 21%.

8. WishGarden Herbs Inc., Louisville, 19%.

9. Acertara Acoustic Laboratories LLC, Longmont, 17%.

10. Peak Asset Management LLC, Louisville, 14%.

Flight IV

Companies with 2020 revenue between $1,350,001 and $2,400,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Tool Studios Inc., Niwot, 96%.

2. Buffalo Security, Boulder, 67%.

3. Rodwin Architecture, Boulder, 49%.

4. Boulder Brokers LLC, dba Market Real Estate, Boulder, 48%.

5. Black Swift Technologies LLC, Boulder, 47%.

6. Ascent CFO Solutions, Boulder, 36%.

7. Sketchfolio, Lafayette, 35%.

8. Harris Dewart LLC, Nederland, 33%.

9. Whole Family Dentistry, Boulder, 25%.

10. Greater Western Plumbing LLC, Longmont, 25%.

Flight V

Companies with 2020 revenue up to $1,350,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Colorado Crafted LLC, Longmont, 194%.

2. Green Alpha Advisors LLC, Niwot, 134%.

3. Freedom Folding Bikes LLC, Boulder, 121%.

4. OnPath Testing, Boulder, 83%.

5. Arcadea Inc., Boulder, 67%.

6. Matrix Gardens, Boulder, 33%.

7. All County Property Management of Boulder, Boulder, 25%.

8. Lawrence & Gomez Architects, Boulder, 15%.

9. Details Design Studio LLC, Boulder, 14%.

10. Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co., Lafayette, 5%.


Northern Colorado

Flight I

Companies with 2020 revenue above $13,000,001. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Hayden Outdoors LLC, Windsor, 120%.

2. ECI Site Construction Management Inc., Loveland, 86%.

3. Naranjo Civil Constructors Inc., Greeley, 60%.

4. Ward Electric Co. Inc., Longmont, 47%.

5. C3 Real Estate Solutions LLC, Fort Collins, 38%.

6. Roche Constructors Inc., Greeley, 38%.

7. Malm Electrical Contractors LLC, Frederick, 36%.

8. Symmetry Builders Inc., Dacono, 31%.

9. Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Greeley, 24%.

10. Duran Excavating Inc., Greeley, 21%.

Flight II

Companies with 2020 revenue between $4,800,001 and $13,000,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Ensign Power Systems Inc., Loveland, 172%.

2. Advanced Interiors Inc., Windsor, 102%.

3. Neumark Commercial Builders LLC, Loveland, 80%.

4. eduPresent LLC, dba Bongo, Loveland, 39%.

5. Fort Collins Retail Nursery Inc., dba Fort Collins Nursery, Fort Collins, 30%.

6. Living Design Studios Inc., Erie, 25%.

7. EnergyLogic Corp., Berthoud, 21%.

8. Burns Marketing, Windsor, 18%.

9. Mountain-n-Plains, Fort Collins, 17%.

10. Allura Skin, Laser & Wellness Clinic, Fort Collins, 9%.

Flight III

Companies with 2020 revenue between $1,800,001 and $4,800,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Opterus Research and Development Inc., Loveland, 418%.

2. Senior Helpers, Laporte, 288%.

3. Turbo Tenant LLC, Fort Collins, 213%.

4. Aerosol Devices Inc., Fort Collins, 151%.

5. Wild Zora Foods LLC, Loveland, 112%.

6. Bonfire Creative Group LLC, dba Bonfire Effect, Fort Collins, 109%.

7. Conduct All Electric, Windsor, 87%.

8. Sharpnet Solutions Inc., Fort Collins, 45%.

9. Timberrock Landscape Center, Windsor, 40%.

10. Semantic Arts Inc., Fort Collins, 35%.

Flight IV

Companies with 2020 revenue between $680,001 and $1,800,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Awakened Foods LLC, Loveland, 927%.

2. LandOne Engineering LLC, Greeley, 187%.

3. Navigation Wealth Management, Fort Collins, 105%.

4. Onsite Property Management Services, Fort Collins, 73%.

5. Colorado Sash & Door Inc., Johnstown, 68%.

6. Brillity Digital LLC, Fort Collins, 55%.

7. The Family Center/La Familia, Fort Collins, 22%.

8. WindLion Inc., dba Express Employment Professionals, Greeley, 21%.

9. Pisacka, Baker & McFarland LLC, Fort Collins, 19%.

10. Journey Payroll Inc., dba Journey Payroll & HR, Fort Collins, 18%.

Flight V

Companies with 2020 revenue up to $680,000. Ranked by two-year revenue growth, 2018 to 2020.

1. Journey Franchising LLC, Fort Collins, 133%.

2. All County Fort Collins Property Management, Fort Collins, 83%.

3. New Media One Web Services, Erie, 55%.

4. Assist 2 Sell/Ortiz Realty Inc., Loveland, 33%.

5. Payroll Vault, Fort Collins, 29%.

6. Bio-Medical Janitorial Inc., Fort Collins, 19%.

7. Crafted Leadership LLC, Fort Collins, 13%.

8. Paul Wood Florist, Fort Collins, 11%.

9. Blue Ribbon Builders Inc., Firestone, 10%.

10. Feeding Our Community Ourselves Inc. (FoCo Cafe), Fort Collins, 5%.