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ColoradoBiz Top Company finalists: From service to tourism/hospitality

ColoradoBiz Staff //September 1, 2012//

ColoradoBiz Top Company finalists: From service to tourism/hospitality

ColoradoBiz Staff //September 1, 2012//


Alpine Waste
& Recycling

Years in business: 13

Location: Commerce City

CEO: John Griffith

Company snapshot: To make recycling easy, Alpine Waste & Recycling implemented single-stream recycling, which means customers can deposit all their recyclable materials into one bin. For many of Alpine’s customers, more than half their waste stream is now being diverted from landfills.

Notable practices: Alpine offers weekly tours of its Altogether Recycling facility for area students from elementary school through college level. Nearly 2,000 students have been exposed to the environmental benefits of Altogether Recycling.

Community involvement: Alpine celebrated America Recycles Day by sponsoring a Recycled Art competition at a local high school. The program stretched across several weeks. First, a class of 30 art students visited the recycling plant and selected material such as cartons, plastics, magazines and tin cans. They spent 10 days creating their art, and then Alpine executives and the reigning Miss Colorado visited the school and judged the projects. As part of the program, Alpine made a donation to the school’s art department. Alpine also supports other charitable organizations including Adams 14 Education Foundation, Brent’s Place, Champa House-Denver Rescue Mission, The Children’s Hospital Foundation, Mount Saint Vincent Home, Women’s Bean Project, and others.

Market Force

Years in business:7

Location: Louisville

CEO:Karl Maier

Company snapshot: Market Force is a global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses including retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies.

Notable practices: Market Force conducts millions of consumer surveys a year and hundreds of thousands of audits and mystery shopping assignments. To help companies make sense of all this information, Market Force developed a customer intelligence solution suite to pull together multiple customer-related data streams into a single platform. Market Force counts more than 350 of the world’s largest consumer brands as clients. In 2011 it acquired Canada-based Tell Us About Us and the UK-based Retail Eyes.

Community involvement: More than 70 percent of Market Force employees and the contractors in its mystery shopper network (600,000 strong) are female, so breast cancer awareness is very important to the company. Market Force sponsors an annual “Shop for the Cure” program in which the company contributes a portion of proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for each mystery shopping assignment one of its contractors completes during the campaign. The company also participates in volunteer activities related to There with Care and Brent’s Place, encourages participation in Boulder’s annual Bike to Work Week, conducts annual food, toy and coat/blanket drives, encourages recycling, and holds a health fair for employees.

Swingle Tree
& Lawn Care

Years in business: 65

Location: Denver

CEO: Tom Tolkacz

Company snapshot: Swingle is a landscaping, lawn care, and tree service that works on residential and commercial projects.

Notable practices: Swingle services approximately 20,000 customers along the Front Range, and boasts customer retention rates of 80 to 85 percent. The company is developing and providing environmentally friendly treatments to protect trees and shrubs from the mountain pine beetle and other problems in Colorado.

Community involvement: Swingle sponsors the Denver Botanic Gardens Spring Plant Sale, the Parker Christmas Carriage Parade, the Greeley Garden Tour, the Terrace and Garden Tour in Fort Collins, and the Loveland Garden Tour. Swingle committed $25,000 to the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation, which awards scholarships to students enrolled in landscape contracting and horticulture programs at colleges and universities across the nation. Swingle donated landscaping services to Families First’s lawn, trees, and shrubs, and donated spruce trees to an elementary school class at St. Mary’s Academy in Cherry Hills for Earth Day. Swingle participates in GreenCare for Troops in Denver, which connects participating local lawn and landscape firms with families of the men and women away from home serving in the armed forces.


Ping Identity

Years in business: 10

Location: Denver

CEO: Andre Durand

Company snapshot: Ping Identity provides cloud identity security solutions to more than 800 of the world’s largest companies, government organizations, and cloud businesses, helping them to secure hundreds of millions of employees, customers, consumers and partners.

Notable practices: In June 2012 the company secured $21 million in venture capital funding to accelerate global growth, resulting in 200 percent growth in its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific and Japan sales offices. Ping Identity doubled its employee base over the past year. Ping Identity’s Annual Cloud Identity Summit (CIS) in Vail attracts thought leaders from Cisco, Google, KPMG, Oracle, Salesforce and others, who work on issues facing the cloud identity security industry.

Community involvement: Ping Identity offers employees one paid day per year to use as dedicated time to their favorite charity, and also matches the first $100 the employee contributes to a charity. Ping Identity’s Corporate Philanthropy Model commits 1 percent of its time, 1 percent of its equity and 1 percent of its product to nonprofit organizations. Contributions include giving holiday gifts for Denver families and collecting school supplies for Volunteers of America (VOA), preparing welcome kits for VOA’s Brandon Center/Theodora House, collecting coats for Samaritan House, and in Nebraska, packing food for Food Bank of the Heartland.

Symplified Inc.

Years in business:6

Location: Boulder

CEO: Eric Olden

Company snapshot: Symplified is a cloud identity company that helps enterprises protect confidential data as it moves across the firewall and onto third-party systems. Symplified anticipated the security challenges organizations would face when they started using cloud computing applications, also called Software as a Service (SaaS). The company developed technology that allows companies to extend security controls to applications they do not control, such as, Google Apps and others.

Notable practices: In 2011, Symplified grew revenues by nearly 500 percent year-over-year and increased customer adoption by 300 percent. The company currently has more than 4 million licensed users. This year, Symplified introduced Symplified Structure, an infrastructure-as-a-service platform that enables cloud service providers and cloud application hosting companies to seamlessly integrate identity and access management security across their suite of cloud services without the need for infrastructure investments.

Community involvement: Symplified is a member of the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Colorado, an organization that assists startups in bringing social responsibility to the company. Symplified also donates one-half percent of its outstanding shares in the form of warrants to nonprofits. All Symplified employees are able to volunteer 1 percent of their salaried time working for nonprofits at their normal rate of pay. The company organizes company-wide volunteer activities.

Technologies Inc.

Years in business: 8

Location: Denver

CEO: Daniel Kraft

Company snapshot: NewsGator develops social computing software for Microsoft platforms. It is a Microsoft Gold Certified Globally Managed Partner and includes among its clients Accenture, Adidas, Deloitte, Ericsson, General Mills, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Kraft Foods, Merck & Co., Unisys Corporation, and the U.S. Army.

Notable practices: NewsGator has more than 3 million paid enterprise users, including the U.S. Army, with 150,000 users. The Defense Acquisition University, the educational institution for acquisition professionals in the U.S. military, is NewsGator’s largest government social computing community with 200,000 users. NewsGator’s software, Social Sites 2010, provides enhanced targeting and sharing of information with colleagues, improved filters for dissecting company and external news, social learning, video streaming, badging/recognition, idea sharing/voting, and rich personal profiles for expertise discovery.

Community involvement: The company participated in the March of Dimes Mudd Volleyball Tournament, encouraged employees to donate to UNICEF for the Horn of Africa Famine crisis, donated the equivalent of 5,280 meals through the Food Bank of the Rockies Virtual Food Drive, participated in the Make-a-Wish Kickball Tournament, and sponsored two families and two children in Denver Children’s Home. A Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policy encourages employees to engage in volunteer activities.


Four Winds

Years in business: 7

Location: Denver

CEO: David Levin

Company snapshot: Four Winds Interactive (FWi) offers digital signage to help companies communicate with their audience through wayfinding, event details, employee communications, metrics reporting, building directories, menu boards, emergency messaging, travel information and advertising.

Notable practices: FWi provides digital signage for universities, hotels, restaurants, healthcare systems, casinos, and others. Local clients include the University of Denver, Heritage High School in Littleton, and the Heroes Wall at the Fort Collins Veterans Plaza. The company was ranked 16th on the Forbes 2011 list of America’s Most Promising Companies and No. 660 on the 2011 Inc. 500|5000 list with three-year sales growth of 482 percent. It also won the 2011 Hotel Visionary Award for Customer-facing/In-room Technology Innovator for Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

Community involvement: FWi donates signage to local organizations for use at their events and fundraisers. These organizations include the American Heart Association, and the Havana Nights event that supports the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.


Years in business: 2

Location: Boulder

CEO: Dave Wright

Company snapshot: SolidFire delivers high-performance data storage systems designed specifically for cloud service providers. The systems leverage an all-flash scale-out architecture that allows providers to create large high-performance storage environments that are easy to manage and maintain.

Notable practices: The move to cloud-based computing allows companies to be more efficient with the technology they currently use, and is enabling them to test, develop, and deploy new applications more quickly than before. For cloud service providers, the increase in computing workloads places enormous pressure on the legacy disk-based storage systems. SolidFire combines performance with volume-level quality-of-service (QoS) controls that enable providers to designate and guarantee storage performance to every application within their cloud.

Community involvement: SolidFire offers indoor bicycle parking, lunchtime bike rides, and weekly company hikes to reduce the amount of local traffic and pollution and support the overall health of employees. SolidFire is a member of Boulder Chamber of Commerce and a frequent attendee of the Boulder Open Coffee Club networking events. Employees volunteer with local student groups to discuss career opportunities and explore areas of interest with the next generation of leaders. SolidFire dedicated valuable internal resources to the OpenStack community, an open source software for building private and public cloud environments.

Spectra Logic

Years in business: 32

Location: Boulder

CEO: Nathan Thompson

Company snapshot: Spectra Logic makes automated tape backup solutions, disk backup solutions, and data backup storage solutions to protect data efficiently and securely.

Notable practices: In 2011 Spectra Logic launched the Spectra T-Finity high capacity data storage system. The T-Finity provides a tape archive and backup solution for the data-intensive environments of the enterprise IT, federal government, high performance computing, and media and entertainment markets. T-Finity was recently selected by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) to provide 100 percent of the near-line data storage for its upcoming Blue Waters supercomputing system, one of the largest and most powerful supercomputers in the world. The T-Finity and Spectra’s other tape libraries are environmentally sound “Green IT” solutions.

Community involvement: Spectra Logic’s community involvement committee led a Fourmile Fire fundraiser in Boulder, raising $4,350 in donations. The company has donated time and/or money to the Kohl Elementary Walk/Run, The Colorado Trail Foundations’ Adopt-A-Trail program, Emergency Family Assistance Association of Boulder County, the Alexander Dawson School, and the University of Colorado Boulder College of Business and College of Engineering. Internationally, Spectra Logic supports Homes Of Hope to provide housing to low income families in Tijuana and Baja California, Mexico. In Laos, Spectra Logic employees are raising funds to build a rural village school.



Years in business: 12

Location: Denver

CEO: Dan King

Company snapshot: ReadyTalk provides audio and Web conferencing services for everything from small virtual meetings to large Web events such as webinars and sales demos.

Notable practices: ReadyTalk provides audio and Web conferencing services that are reliable, affordable and easy to use, so participants can focus on the substance of the meeting rather than the technology behind it. ReadyTalk surveys customers annually to get a sense of customer satisfaction, and on the 2011 survey 89 percent of the customers surveyed said they were likely or extremely likely to recommend ReadyTalk’s service to others.

Community involvement: The company’s Charitable Contributions Committee focuses on employee-supported organizations that are based in the Front Range and serve financially disadvantaged populations. Every year the committee donates more than $60,000 to organizations and events including Lacrosse the Nations, Lupus Foundation, Tsunami relief, Denver Dumb Friends League Furry Scurry, Caring for Kids, Urban Farm at Stapleton, SAME Café, Denver Children’s Home, Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, Children’s Hospital Courage Classic, Freedom Service Dogs, Juvenile Diabetes, Junior Achievement, and others. In addition, ReadyTalk matches all employee donations up to $500 per year.

ViaWest Inc.

Years in business: 12

Location: Greenwood Village

CEO: Roy Dimoff

Company snapshot: ViaWest creates a safe haven for data. The company has enterprise-class data centers in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Texas, and Nevada, providing a comprehensive suite of colocation, complex hosting, cloud and managed services to businesses of all sizes nationwide.

Notable practices: ViaWest boasts 87 percent first call resolution fromits account relations teams.The company has had constant revenue growth and positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) since 2002. KINECTEd Cloud, ViaWest’s newest offering, provides a choice of two different platforms based on state-of-the-art technology from proven vendors. In addition, ViaWest has a number of initiatives to support women in technology and encourage career growth. Co-founder and COO Nancy Phillips is a board member of the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT), and she provides support to women who want to pursue careers in computing and IT.

Community involvement: ViaWest supports KidsTek, Food Bank of the Rockies, the NCWIT’s Aspiration Awards, and the Atlas Program. In 2011, ViaWest’s monetary contributions totaled more than $85,000. In addition, employees contributed eight hours each to a Habitat for Humanity build project. ViaWest’s Colorado employees donated cash and gifts to Family Tree, the Autism Society of Colorado, Servicios de la Raza, and MaxFund.

Zayo Group

Years in business: 5

Location: Louisville

CEO: Dan Caruso

Company snapshot: Zayo Group provides bandwidth infrastructure solutions and carrier neutral colocation. The bandwidth infrastructure solutions are provided over regional and metro fiber networks in markets across the nation. Clients include enterprises, schools, hospitals, governments, banks and service providers.

Notable practices: Zayo continues to expand its network reach both organically and through the accumulation of strategic acquisitions. The company has a goal of solidifying Colorado as an epicenter of the telecommunications industry. The national reach of Zayo’s network supports the Colorado economy and makes it more attractive to new businesses looking to establish roots in the state.

Community involvement: This spring Zayo implemented an initiative to hire U.S. military veterans, and has hired five to 10 servicemen and servicewomen. Dan Caruso, president and CEO of Zayo Group, is involved with the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act of 2012, a bill aimed at jumpstarting the U.S. economy by restoring opportunities for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. As a result of his support for the JOBS Act, Caruso was invited to the White House to be present for President Obama’s signing of the bill. In 2011, 30 Zayo employees rode in the Boulder County B Strong Ride, a 70-mile bike ride that raised money for LIVESTRONG, the George Karl Foundation, and other cancer care organizations.


Comedy Works

Years in business:30

Location: Greenwood Village

CEO: Wende Curtis

Company snapshot: Comedy Works has a comedy club in downtown Denver and one in Greenwood Village. The latter, Comedy Works South, houses the comedy club showroom, a martini lounge, a 4,500-square-foot ballroom/event space, a full service kitchen, two private dining rooms and three patios.

Notable practices: Comedy Works implemented and upgraded a new handheld point of sale (POS) ordering/printing system. This allows the server to enter the order table-side, and then another staff member serves the food and beverage within minutes. The system enables Comedy Works to serve 300 to 400 patrons in a 90-minute period. The company runs programs including summer comedy camps for kids and family game show nights, and plans to start a YouTube channel.

Community involvement: Comedy Works donated $800,000 in benefit tickets to charities to use for their fundraising purposes. The company also supports nonprofits by organizing fundraiser events at both locations. Comedy Works launched the Comedy Works Foundation with the purpose of abolishing homelessness, helping neglected and abused women and children and donating to female and minority owned businesses in the Metro Denver area.

Glenwood Caverns
Adventure Park

Years in business:13

Location: Glenwood Springs

CEO: Steve Beckley

Company snapshot: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (GCAP) offers activities such as cave tours, thrill rides, a 4D Motion Theater, and a tramway.

Notable practices: GCAP has grown from offering cave tours during the summer months to a year-round vacation destination with restaurants and family activities that attracted more than 149,000 visitors in 2011. That was a 14.7 percent increase in attendance over 2010, and revenues were up 22.4 percent in 2011. This year, GCAP added the highest-elevation full-sized roller coaster in America, along with a smaller family roller coaster and a ferris wheel ride, a total investment of $1.75 million. The company plans to expand the cave tour offerings in 2013.

Community involvement: GCAP supports nearly 300 organizations and events through the donation of passes for fundraising. Recipients range from school groups and sports teams to nonprofit organizations and fundraising events for local individuals battling the costs of medical expenses. The company supports the LIFT-UP food pantry through the Music on the Mountain series, which invites guests to enjoy a free tram ride and live music in exchange for the donation of at least one food item for the food pantry. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association named Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park the Philanthropic Business of the Year in 2011.

Sage Hospitality

Years in business:28

Location: Denver

CEO: Walter Isenberg

Company snapshot: Sage Hospitality Resources is a hotel management company that operates more than 60 hotels and 10 restaurants in 26 states. Its portfolio includes locations of Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, and other properties.

Notable practices: Sage has four strategically aligned divisions, each servicing a different hotel business type. Sage hires experts in each hotel type and aligns those experts to serve assets that leverage their expertise. Sage Restaurant Group (SRG) partners with hotels to create restaurant concepts that drive revenues from hotel guests as well as the local market. Even though hotel restaurants are usually breakfast-centric, SRG restaurants drive $6 to $10 million in revenues through each location by maximizing all meal periods.

Community involvement: Sage associates are given a paid day off each year to volunteer in their local area. Dollars from Dreams, the company’s associate and hotel guest donation program, has given $2 million to charities. In the Best in Class program, each hotel adopts a school located in a low socioeconomic status area, and hotel staff performs service projects from raising funds for computers to painting classrooms to tutoring. Sage also supports local organizations including Food Bank of the Rockies, Samaritan House, and The Delores Project. The hotels donate thousands of hotel rooms for charity auctions.