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Top Company 2023: Manufacturing

Now in its 36th year, ColoradoBiz magazine’s Top Company Awards program recognizes businesses and organizations based in Colorado or with a significant presence in the state that are leading the way in their fields, as demonstrated by financial performance, notable company achievements and community engagement.

To be considered, Top Company entrants submitted applications throughout the year online at ColoradoBiz.com. From those entries, which numbered in the hundreds, the magazine’s editorial board narrowed the field to three finalists (in most cases) in each industry category. A judging panel made up of area business leaders and ColoradoBiz staff then met to compare notes on the finalists and decide winners in 14 industries plus the Startup category, for companies in business four years or less.

Congratulations are in order not only to the 41 winners and finalists profiled on the following pages, but to all the companies that took the time to tell us about their achievements and obstacles surmounted over the past year that make them worthy of Top Company consideration.

READ: Fall 2023 Issue — Top Company Awards, Inside the CHIPS and SCIENCE Act, and More


WINNER 

Reata Engineering & Machine Works

Englewood, CO

Website: www.reataeng.com 

CEO Grady Cope started Reata Engineering & Machine Works with $6,000 in credit card charges in 1993. The 43-employee manufacturer provides prototypes, tooling, production machining and assembly to customers in aerospace, medical, semiconductor and other industries. 

In 2011, the company purchased its first five-axis multi-tasking CNC machine, which was “a game changer in terms of production and revenue generation,” says Tom Finnelli, Reata’s COO and CFO.  

The company has continued to invest heavily in technology and automation in the years since. “When it comes to Industry 4.0, Reata is a leader and a great example of where manufacturing is headed,” Finnelli says. “We incorporate advanced technology so that our team can spend less time on manual labor and more time creatively solving problems.” 

Workforce is a challenge, but Finnelli says Reata has met it head-on. “We’re heavily involved with the high schools in and around Englewood, where our precision machine shop is located,” he says.  

Reata recruits from and teaches at local high schools. Additionally, it works with vocational programs to subsidize credentials for National Institute of Metalworking Skills certification. The company also sponsors and volunteers to help students develop engineering and manufacturing skills at an annual high school National Robotics League competition. 

The human touch doesn’t end with hiring. Reata has worked to foster a culture based on employee recognition and engagement. “Whether we’re bringing a wok into the shop for fresh Vietnamese spring rolls made by a machinist’s family members or celebrating birthdays and milestones together, we value each other,” Finnelli says. “How many shops do you know that have a Fun Committee? We do. And not just because we like parties — but because enjoying each other as people helps our business grow and succeed. We’re having more fun, and our productivity is up: It’s a win-win.” 

FINALISTS

Packaging Express Inc.

Colorado Springs, CO

Website: packagingexpress.net 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTbvVBWUsjk

Founded by Jim Davis in 1998, Packaging Express designs and manufactures custom corrugated packaging and boxes, including retail packaging, printed shipping boxes and point-of-purchase displays. 

The 24-employee, family-owned company’s new EMBA 175 is the fastest box-making machine in Colorado, with a maximum capacity of 500 boxes per minute. Packaging Express acquired the machine in late 2022 and is leveraging its superlative speed to foster sales growth. 

President and CEO Matt Davis (Jim’s son) represents the family’s third generation in the box business. He has built Packaging Express on communication and transparency with his team, as the company instituted profit sharing to foster accountability. That strategy has led to low turnover and fast turnaround times for producing custom boxes and packaging. 

The company’s 94,000-square-foot facility in Colorado Springs is home to the new Packaging Express Artist in Residency (P.E.A.R.) program. It gives artists about 400 square feet of space to work for free on large-scale projects for four to eight months. P.E.A.R. opened for applications in 2023.