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Denver International Airport (DIA) is now the Third-busiest Airport in the World

At times overshadowed by conspiracy theories and punchlines about the since-scrapped automated baggage system, Denver International Airport hit an inarguable zenith during the pandemic, jumping from the 16th-busiest airport worldwide in terms of total passengers in 2019 to the eighth-busiest in 2020. 

In 2021, the ascent continued: DIA was the third-busiest airport on Earth with 58.8 million passengers, a position it maintained midway through 2022. The busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, saw about 76 million passengers, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with 62.5 million. 

“That’s the highest Denver has ever ranked,” says Laura Jackson, vice president of air service development at DIA. “In 2021, we were the largest airport for United, Frontier and Southwest. To my knowledge, that’s never happened, where one airport was the largest station for three major carriers.” 

There’s a pandemic-related asterisk: “Domestic travel has led the recovery, particularly in 2021 when borders remained closed. Prior to COVID, 95 percent of our traffic was domestic. At the core of the airport, we’re domestic and we’re serving domestic travel.” 

DIA

Jackson says that “outsized demand for leisure travel and outsized demand for travel to places that have access to wide-open spaces where you could social distance” was another catalyst for the ranking.  

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Can DIA maintain its lofty global ranking as a new normalcy emerges? Jackson is bullish. “The airport was built for 50 million annual passengers, so we were already exceeding that volume for several years going into the pandemic. We already had expansion plans in place to absorb the volume with the concourse expansion plan, building out new gates, and the Great Hall renovation.”

Jackson says the 2022 forecast of 70 million passengers could top the previous high-water mark of 69 million in 2019. Look for more high-water marks to follow. “Our strategic plan, Vision 100, is preparing us to serve 100 million passengers, which we expect to happen in the next 10 years, probably early 2030s based on our projections,” she says. 

“Airlines follow two things: people and their money,” says Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, a strategic research firm for the travel industry in San Francisco. “As Denver has attracted more people, airlines have responded by bulking up their flights at DIA.” 

READ — Colorado is Seeing More Inbound Moves in 2022 Than Most Other States in the U.S.

The airport’s efficiency supports those decisions, he adds. “In San Francisco or Newark, you can’t have airplanes arriving and departing at the same time on parallel runways because you’re too close together. Denver was designed with airline hub operations in mind. Importantly, it has enough land so that if it needs to add more runways, it has the physical space to do so.”  

Harteveldt says he sees a creative, flexible approach that works more often than not. “It’s not always whipped cream and strawberries at DIA—sometimes, the milk is curdled—but DIA works very, very well. Airlines stay at DIA because not only does it function well operationally, but economically the airport works well with airlines, too,” he says. 

DIA

“We also have to acknowledge that the airline world today is not a normal operating environment,” Harteveldt says. “Not all of the airlines have reinstated all of the routes on their route networks before COVID. There are more than 50 cities in the U.S. that have lost or are losing their airline service.” 

Harteveldt says the recovery of international traffic—traditionally about 25 percent of passengers, but closer to 15 percent in 2020 and 2021—will likely benefit other airports more than it will DIA. 

“Denver’s place as number three is very impressive,” he says. “What will be impressive to me if it is able to maintain that position as other large hub airports see service reinstated. Will Denver be able to work with its airlines to regrow their route networks faster than other airlines at other hubs?” Harteveldt asks. 

“In this high fuel cost environment—and high pilot cost environment—the airlines that are operating at DIA look at their financial results of their flights,” Harteveldt says. “Obviously, it’s not responsible for the price of fuel, it’s not responsible for the pilot shortage, it’s not responsible for COVID. DIA can do a lot to make itself as cost-efficient as an airport as possible, as user-friendly to the airlines and passengers as possible, but ultimately Denver’s fate is determined by the airlines.” 

That said, the airlines are building on their already impressive operations at DIA. Chicago-based United Airlines started flying into Denver in 1937 and now has more flights to more destinations than any other carrier at DIA. The company employs about 7,000 people in Denver, including 1,000 at its Flight Training Center, touted as the world’s largest. 

“Denver’s central location in the U.S. allows us to serve as a key hub for United, and in fact, we are one of our company’s fastest growing hubs,” says Matt Miller, United’s vice president for airport operations in Denver. “For Coloradans, United offers local travelers the most comprehensive global route network and is the Mile High City’s most reliable airline—with more on-time departures than any other major carrier for six years running. “ 

Miller says about 60 percent of United’s traffic at Denver International Airport is tied to connecting flights, but the location also makes it an ideal conduit to the slopes. “We have the most daily seats to ski destinations of any domestic airline, making us the airline industry’s gateway to skiing,” he says. 

READ — Why Colorado? Come for the Mountains, Stay for the Culture

Expanding to DIA in 2006, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has about 5,000 employees based in Denver—“and we’re continuing to grow that number,” says Jason Van Eaton, senior vice president of real estate and government affairs and executive ambassador to Colorado for Southwest.  

Fresh off ribbon-cutting at a new $100 million maintenance hangar at DIA in March, Southwest opened 16 gates at the airport in May, giving it 40—more than any other airport on its map. “The real story around growth is in Denver. We have been growing by leaps and bounds in this market. It’s either our largest or close to our largest market in any given month.” 

DIA emerged as Southwest’s busiest airport as social distancing became the norm in 2020. “People were really trying to spread out. We saw our traffic really focus on people going to the beach and people going to the mountains,” Van Eaton says. “In September, we’ll be at 275 daily departures to 90 destinations. We only serve about 120 total, so that puts it in perspective of just how much of our network you can reach from Denver.” 

Van Eaton credits leaders like former Denver Mayor Federico Peña for their forward-thinking approach in the 1980s. “The city was visionary when they built DIA,” he says. “An airport is an economic engine in every city that it’s in. When you have an economic engine that can continue to grow to meet the demands of the city, you have something special—and that’s what Denver has.” 

To Drive Innovation in Metro Denver, Focus on Connectivity

We live in a world where connectivity is an absolute necessity. With more than 275 million smartphone users in the US, and with up to 25 internet-connected devices in the average American home, it’s safe to say that reliable internet is no longer a luxury, but indispensable. Society’s expectations for our wireless devices goes beyond texting, calling, and surfing. Smartphone and mobile devices are used for everything from securing a safe ride home, to socializing with friends, to using touchless payments, to working from home, and more – and we expect it all to work in an instant.

Even the best smart devices are only as good as their network. Livestreaming events we don’t want to miss, navigating directions using GPS, and checking in with loved ones from anywhere all require a network of communications infrastructure. After all, according to an Ericsson Mobility Report, smartphones generate about 97 percent of mobile data traffic, with video accounting for nearly 70 percent of that traffic.

The movement from 3G to 4G meant an explosion of mobile internet use, as users created more and more data with every swipe of their finger. Now, we need to upgrade from 4G to 5G to meet the ever-growing data demand created by modern American life. To achieve this level of connectivity anywhere, anytime, 5G communications infrastructure must be built in every community. Not only will the buildout of next-gen wireless networks create more jobs in metro Denver, but 5G will unlock innovations in nearly every industry, in ways we can’t even understand right now.

With an estimated 3 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2025, demand is skyrocketing for the reliable, ultra-fast connectivity this technology will bring, and innovation along with it. This will empower and support other industries, like the grocery and food delivery services, which gained a massive audience because of the connectivity that brings together drivers, retailers, and consumers. We’re seeing that here in the Denver area as well.

There are 17 billion connected machines today, 7 billion of which are IoT devices – and that’s expected to triple in the next three years to 21 billion IoT devices. Ensuring these devices work everywhere, every time means 5G is at the center of all our lives, even if we don’t realize it. By working together to build, maintain, and improve these revolutionary 5G capabilities around the Denver area, everyone can benefit from faster, more reliable internet whenever and wherever it’s needed.

 

Tim Urband PhotoTim Urband is the President of the Colorado Wireless Association, a nonprofit striving to promote awareness of the telecommunications industry, educate consumers on the value of the industry, and provide guidance to municipalities on regulatory issues. The telecommunications industry plays a critical role in Colorado, and COWA seeks to cultivate and foster strong relationships among the members of the telecommunications industry through networking events, educational seminars and fundraising events.

Changing the Plumbing Industry One Stereotype at a Time 

It’s rare for a child to aspire to be a plumber when they grow up. As a famous NFL player once told us, “Plumbing isn’t sexy.” There are many stereotypes that attribute to that train of thought. Whether it’s the idea of working in dirty sewage or the infamous plumber’s crack, young people aren’t enthusiastic about the idea of being a plumber during their adult years. That’s why as co-owner of High 5 Plumbing, my husband, Levi, and I had to take a step back and analyze what we were doing as a company.  

Eliminating the negative stereotypes of the industry became one of our goals. We realized stepping away from the traditional way of operating in the industry would not only set us apart from the competition, but it would also make us more attractive to the younger generation by building a fun work atmosphere. This was the way we wanted to contribute to the plumbing and home service industries.

Altering the Dress Code 

The first thing we decided to change was the way we dressed. When you think of plumbers, you think of the traditional branded button-up shirt. That was one of the first things to go. While watching a Colorado Rockies game, I decided that a High 5 baseball jersey would be an excellent choice. Now, our technicians have the option to wear the baseball jerseys that sport our logo. In addition, these jerseys have added length to eliminate the terrible plumber’s crack stereotype. This one change has since branched off into an entire High 5 Plumbing clothing line with the proceeds going to charity.  

Building a Fun Atmosphere 

We never wanted High 5 Plumbing to be a place that our employees dreaded coming to each day. The appearance of the building can play a large role in that. To stand apart, we outfitted our building with a playful design that includes anything from graffiti to a basketball court. We also created a brag board, where technicians who have taken a high five photo with customers can post it. We want our employees to be greeted with high energy and a fun atmosphere the moment they walk in the door. 

A Culture of Giving 

Giving back to the community is near and dear to the heart of our company. We wanted to build that into our culture. That’s one of the reasons we decided to create High 5 Cares, which is a program that spotlights nonprofits in the area. We wanted to come together to create a positive impact with not only our team but our clients and community as well. As part of this initiative, we donate a set amount of $500. In addition, the nonprofit receives $10 for every High 5 Club Membership that’s sold during the month and receives 100% of the proceeds from the company’s High 5 clothing line. Our technicians also hand out materials about the nonprofit during service calls. This helps get our technicians interacting with the community on a deeper level than just repairing issues. It’s all about creating that one-on-one relationship with your plumber, which many plumbing companies lack because they stick to the stereotype. 

Changing the Industry 

From changing our dress code to developing a culture that is different than many other home service companies, we work hard to break the stereotypes that haunt the plumbing industry. As a new generation is coming of age, it will be important for them to understand that the plumbing industry can be fun to work in. While working in dirty conditions is part of the job, it’s not the only aspect of the profession. You can have positive interactions with customers, wear awesome uniforms and play a major role in your community. Breaking those stereotypes is what will keep our industry thriving and moving forward. 

Cassi Torres High 5 PlumbingCassi Torres is the co-owner of High 5 Plumbing. High 5 Plumbing is a local, family-owned company serving residents in the greater Denver metropolitan area. With a professional team that has extensive experience and a commitment to service, High 5 Plumbing offers comprehensive plumbing, sewer and drain services. 

Denver Ranks 10th in Fastest-Growing Startup Cities List 

Venture capital firms have tightened their purse strings this year as inflation rises and fears of a recession loom large. U.S. companies received $58.7 billion in funding in the second quarter of 2022, a 20.8% year-over-year decrease. And that trend was particularly pronounced in traditional startup hubs such as San Francisco, New York and Boston.

But that wasn’t the case in Denver, which was just named the No. 10 fastest-growing startup city in the United States. 

Inside Denver’s Startup Growth 

Denver companies raised over $1.1 billion in Q2 — more than double the city’s typical quarter, according to the report by York IE, a strategic growth and investment firm. Companies from a variety of industries, from Software as a Service to energy, helped spur Denver’s growth in Q2. 

The city’s biggest round came from employment technology company Velocity Global, which raised a $400 million Series B in May. Crusoe Energy Systems, which raised a $350 million Series C in April, was another highlight.

Perhaps more telling of Denver’s growth potential, however, was the number of companies that raised money in the quarter. Whereas many other cities on the list saw a handful of large rounds boost their numbers, Denver companies raised 27 rounds — more than any other city featured in the report.

Fastest-Growing Startup Cities 

The top 10 cities featured in the report were: 

  1. Kirkland, Washington
  2. Stanford, California
  3. Madison, Wisconsin
  4. Birmingham, Alabama
  5. Wilmington, Delaware
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Cleveland, Ohio
  8. Santa Barbara, California
  9. Dover, Delaware
  10. Denver, Colorado 

Denver’s rapid growth also propelled the city to No. 6 on York IE’s list of top-funded U.S. startup cities, ahead of stalwarts such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin. The firm has released three reports dating back to the third quarter of 2021, and this edition marked the first time Denver has appeared on either list.

York IE, which is based in Manchester, New Hampshire, releases the semi-annual report to show entrepreneurs that you don’t have to be in a traditional startup hub to build a successful, sustainable business. 

“If you’re not playing the Silicon Valley growth-at-all-costs game of chasing vanity metrics on a fundraising hamster wheel, you’ll be able to find there is a ton of capital available to you from many committed partners,” said CEO Kyle York. 

 

Colin Steele York IeColin Steele is head of content at York IE, a strategic growth and investment firm in Manchester, New Hampshire. Previously, he was a public relations and social media manager at Oracle and an editorial director at TechTarget. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in the Boston area.

Aging Smarter: Denver Doctor Gives Tips for Better Brain Health

We all have misplaced our keys or forgotten someone’s name more times than we probably want to admit. We tend to chalk up these momentary memory lapses to our busy schedules or even stress. As it turns out, occasional forgetfulness can be a normal and natural part of aging. However, these episodes of forgetfulness also may be a sign of a more serious problem with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s.

The good news is there are some simple strategies you can implement that may help combat memory loss and keep your mind sharp, no matter your stage in life.

Exercise that brain

We all have heard the adage “use it or lose it.” This is particularly prudent advice when it comes to keeping your memory and brain function in the best shape possible.

Examples of activities that may stimulate your brain include crossword puzzles, painting, reading or online brain games.

Maintain a healthy diet 

It is undeniable that a healthy diet can have wide-reaching benefits on a person’s physical health; it also can be a boon to cognitive health. Some of the research suggests that a healthy diet is associated with the brain’s ability to remember and potentially stave off dementia.

To help reap the benefits of brain-boosting foods, consistently reach for fruits and vegetables as well as include items that are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, nuts, avocados and olive oil. Try to stay away from foods high in trans and saturated fats, like cake, doughnuts and fatty cuts of beef.

Don’t shortchange your zzz’s

The brain is constantly busy during waking hours but while we sleep, the brain has a chance to relax and “detoxify” from the day. Scientists are learning that this process is critical to maintaining brain function, and in turn, helps keep the brain healthy and memory sharp.

Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. Of course, everyone is different, and medications, as well as underlying health conditions, can impact sleep. Consult your provider if you are having trouble getting adequate sleep.

Get moving

Regular physical activity can boost brain health. Most adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity weekly along with at least 2 non-consecutive days of strength training. But, set realistic fitness-related goals for where you are in life. Starting with daily walking is a good first step. Or perhaps you feel motivated to finish your first 5K or hit a nice bike trail. People should always check with their physician before starting any exercise regimen.

Bottom line

Always be mindful of changes as you age. If you notice abnormal or rapid changes in memory or forgetfulness, talk to your provider. There are many reasons for memory changes. For example, if you have had COVID-19 and are experiencing “brain fog,” it could be a post-COVID condition.

Practicing some or all of these strategies might help keep you ahead of the aging curve. Remember, needing extra time is normal as we age, but you are still capable of learning new skills and forming new memories as you get older.

 

KaczmarczykDr. Greg Kaczmarczyk is a family physician with New West Physicians, part of Optum in Denver.

Communication is the Key: High 5 Plumbing Explains the Unique Nature of Working with a Spouse

Starting an independent business can be a difficult venture. Along with having the money to fund the project, one must develop a business plan, create working systems, hire employees, convince customers to purchase the product or service, and a multitude of other important business management issues. It is a long and sometimes daunting task. 

For some, it becomes a family business that incorporates a husband-wife duo overseeing operations. That is the case when it comes to High 5 Plumbing. The home service company offers a multitude of plumbing solutions to residents in the Denver area, including repair and installation, drain cleaning, pump plumbing, piping, garbage disposal services, sewer line repair, gas plumbing, water heater installation and much more.

The company is led by Levi and Cassi Torres. When running a company with your spouse, keeping a work-life balance can be complicated at times. “Everyone talks about a work-life balance,” said Levi.

“In all reality, when we go home, we are in a different mindset. But we still discuss work. We talk about our plans and the future of the company. The only difference is we don’t go home, open a laptop and start working directly on the business. The balance is we are not working in the company, we are working on the company.” 

When starting a business from the ground up, almost every aspect of the business is discussed daily, according to Cassi. 

“It comes up naturally,” she said. “Our kids have been around the company ever since they were younger. They were always around the business, so it’s just natural for us to discuss it when we are at home. It comes up all the time.” 

The couple, who started High 5 Plumbing in 2012, said there are plenty of advantages of running a business with your spouse. Being able to share a clear vision for the company helps develop a clear company culture. 

“We are the leaders of the company, so our relationship with each other is reflected in the company,” said Cassi. “We have a common vision of where we want the company to go. I think having that vision has allowed us to constantly be understanding of each other. Like four years ago, having a common vision and direction helped us develop a plan to grow the business.” 

Building a successful plumbing company with two locations and plenty of happy customers isn’t simple, even for a happy couple. Levi said the biggest obstacle to success is a lack of communication.  

“It may be a cliché answer, but communication is the answer to a lot of problems,” he said. “If you can communicate how you’re feeling, then you can avoid hurting other people’s feelings. If you can communicate what you want to accomplish, then there won’t be any confusion. Communication is the key.” 

While the couple has been together for 21 years, Cassi said they still use a coach to help them communicate better both inside and outside the office. 

“Levi and I are completely opposite when it comes to our personalities and how we interact with people,” Cassi said. “We’ve had to learn how to respect how each other communicates. Even though we’ve been together more than two decades, we are actively working with a coach on how we can improve our communication skills, build a stronger relationship, and be aligned in the same direction.”   

Both Cassi and Levi agree that getting a mentor is the best thing a couple can do to help run a successful business. Due to the unique nature of running a business together, a coach can help the owners “go through the weeds of it” and come out the other end successfully. 

 

Cassi Torres High 5 Plumbing
Vice President at High 5 Plumbing, Cassi Torres, and the teams behind High 5 Plumbing are innovating the plumbing industry across Denver.
About High 5 PlumbingFounded in 2012, High 5 Plumbing is a local, family-owned company serving residents in the greater Denver metropolitan area. The company was recently recognized by the Denver Metro Chamber Business Awards as a 2022 finalist for Small Business of the Year.
With a professional team that has extensive experience and a commitment to service, High 5 Plumbing offers comprehensive plumbing, sewer, and drain services. The company was built on the values of solving plumbing problems and serving every customer with professionalism and respect. For more information, visit: High 5 Plumbing

Colorado Agtech Hits Critical Mass

A third-generation Colorado farmer, Marc Arnusch grows barley and other grains on 2,200 acres in the Prospect Valley east of Keenesburg. 

His son, Brett, joined Marc Arnusch Farms after he graduated from Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 2018. “We didn’t know if he’d come back to the farm or not,” Arnusch says. 

But Brett did come back to the farm, and as the chief technology officer implemented soil moisture probes and drone imaging. He also helped develop proprietary software to manage the farm’s operations. 

“Halfway through college, he discovered there was a whole new environment in production agriculture on the tech side,” Marc Says. 

Brett has implemented precision technology in the farm’s irrigation system while integrating a wide range of data on planting schedules, weather and crop protection into the farm’s decision-making process. 

“He’s really helped us find next-level efficiencies,” Marc says. “We’re just making decisions quicker, and decisions are made easier.” 

Irrigation,system,on,wheels,on,wheat,field,at,sunset,in

One example: Soil moisture probes revealed some hail-stricken crops were not going to survive in summer 2018, so the farm turned off the spigots and other inputs. “We knew the crop was giving it up, and that saved us a significant amount of investment that ordinarily we would have put into the crop,” Marc says. 

Marc says he likes to be a smart adopter instead of an early one, but notes that the farm—and agriculture as a whole—is often on the cutting edge. “We’ve had autonomous, self-driving tractors since the early 2000s,” he notes. “Adopting the right technology on our farm has rewarded us so far.” 

The operation is currently beta-testing a sensor-driven irrigation system to more efficiently water the crops. “It’s basically looking inside the plant we can’t get inside of as farmers and agronomists.” 

“Without question, I would say technology has reduced our dependence on labor, and we’re coming up with better quality,” Marc says. “We have to continue to adopt these technologies to survive, evolve and innovate.”

Combine,machine,harvesting,in,rice,field

He adds, “Sustainability starts with having a profit, because if we can’t meet our obligations to others, we’re not going to be here.” 

Arnusch Farms is not unique. “Agriculture’s always been technologically sophisticated, it just doesn’t look like it to the outside observer,” says Gregory Graff, who has been researching the rise in investment in agtech at Colorado State University for nearly a decade. “People see lots of mud and broken-down equipment and stuff like that.” 

Annual worldwide investment in agtech was hovering around $200 million until it took off starting in 2007 and exploded when Monsanto bought weather modeling startup The Climate Corp. in 2013 for about $1 billion. 

“Suddenly, cha-ching!” says Graff, a professor in CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “Venture capital more or less drank the Kool-Aid, whatever analogy you want, but they really bought the storyline that agriculture was an undiscovered behemoth of an industry ripe for disruption technologically.” 

While noting there was “a bit of hubris” in the investment community’s mindset, Graff points to AgFunder’s 2022 report as a sign of the times: It pegged foodtech and agtech investments at $52 billion worldwide in 2021, up a whopping 86% over 2020. Agtech is about a third of that, give or take.  

The numbers depend, of course, on what you count: Most agtech can be categorized as biotech, chemistry, software or mechanics, but some analysts lump in B2C platforms and other food-centric models. “It’s so diffuse, nobody understands how big it is,” Graff says. “And the venture capital investment has absolutely surged since that 2013 shot over the bow. These last 10 years have seen a runup of enormous scale.” 

How has all of this investment affected farmers and ranchers? “It’s given them password anxiety,” laughs Graff.  

Taking,care,of,the,crop.,aerial,view,of,a,tractor

Passwords aside, he adds, “I think what you’ve seen the farmers doing is adopting piecemeal and pretty conservatively relative to what the tech optimists would have liked—or even would want you to believe, especially if you’re a VC investor thinking about putting money into them.” 

Regardless, Colorado is at the forefront, with an agtech cluster that’s gaining international attention. Startup Genome ranked Denver-Boulder fifth in the world for its agtech and food startup ecosystem in its 2022 report on the sector. “I can say confidently we’re one of the leading hubs in the country,” notes Graff, who tracks 110 active agtech companies in the state. “Silicon Valley always wins, no matter what, but they’re winning by less and less lately.” 

Saving labor with wireless cameras 

And many of Colorado’s ag-focused startups are gaining traction. Take Barn Owl Tech in Colorado Springs. Founder and CEO Josh Phifer was raised on livestock ranches in Wyoming and Nebraska. “I grew up with the problems of having assets spread out over dozens if not hundreds of square miles,” he says. 

After Phifer served in the U.S. Air Force, he saw the possibility of using wireless cameras on farms and ranches during his military experience and launched Barn Owl in 2016. 

“At a large farm or ranch, they spend about 30% of their labor literally just checking on things, driving around and checking on things,” Phifer says. “If you have a fully deployed set of cameras, you can cut that down by more than half, so you’re saving 15 to 20 percent of your overall labor. If you grew up in ranching, you know there’s always more work to do, so it’s not that we’re replacing labor, we’re just giving the time back to do more effective and
efficient things.”  

Revenue has been increasing at an annual clip of 250% in recent years, Phifer says, with about 60% of sales going to agricultural customers.  

“Farming has become very technology-dependent, everything from automated tractors to GPS-guided fertilizing and planting,” Phifer says. “The livestock side tends to be a little more old-school. Just by the nature of raising young animals, it has to be a more hands-on operation.”

Soybean,farmer,with,drone,remote,controller,in,field.,using,modern

Not that livestock operations don’t have increasingly innovative options: Australia-based AgriWebb, offering livestock ranchers a cloud-based platform to manage their operations, chose Denver over Austin, Dallas and Salt Lake City for its North American headquarters in 2020. 

Denver “is the confluence of all of the things we were looking for,” says AgriWebb CEO Kevin Baum. “It’s got a great, thriving and growing technology scene, it is a regional headquarters for so many ag businesses and partners, it is geographically near where our market is in the middle of the country, it has a hub airport, and it’s a great place to live. It ticked all of our boxes, and it wasn’t much of a competition.”

Baum says livestock ranching has historically been “largely run by anecdote, which is a theme we’ve found all around the world. Most farms are managed on pen and paper.” 

AgriWebb has gained traction since launching the platform in Australia in late 2015. “There was rapid adoption,” Baum says. “We’ve got about 12,000 users today. Right now, we’ve got about 17.5 million animals on the platform, which is eight times our closest competitor.” 

The first employee in Denver, Coby Buck is a fifth-generation rancher. His family’s Wray Ranch in northeastern Colorado became an AgriWebb user soon after he joined the company, and it immediately paid dividends. 

“They realized they were overfeeding their cattle in winter,” Baum says. “It was just bang! $80,000 in annual savings.” 

That sort of anecdote has been part of the industry for millennia. “Agriculture has been developing technology since the beginning. It’s the original technology. That’s how you keep up,” he says. 

“The next wave of that is digital adoption. Data is a tool. It is not a replacement. You still need that farmer, you still need that expertise, you need someone who knows what to do with the data.” 

 

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]