Wolf Robotics forecasts 20-percent revenue growth

Wolf Robotics, a Fort Collins-based robotic devices manufacturer, expects revenue growth of 20 percent this year in part thanks to help from the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology, or CAMT.

CAMT, of course, was the organization that recently withdrew from the effort to redevelop the old Agilent Technologies plant in Loveland. Officials said CAMT’s vision for the plant didn’t align with the developer’s, a Kentucky company owned by a discount tobacco billionaire.

CAMT’s role in the project would have included helping companies that moved into the plant expand and reach new markets.

It did just that for Wolf Robotics.

The company has manufactured robotic welding cells since 1978 as a division of ABB Group. Since the company broke away from ABB and started its own operations in 2003, it has grown from 20 employees to 110.

Wolf Robotics attributes its expansion to a combination of growth in international sales and participation in programs run by CAMT.

“They helped a lot,” Wolf Robotics spokesman Chuck Boyer said. “There were other factors, but that was part of it.”

The company projects international sales will grow from 1 percent of the company’s revenue in 2010 to 4 or 5 percent this year. That growth stems from Wolf Robotics’ participation in a CAMT program called ExporTech, which provides a network of exporting resources for companies.

Wolf Robotics also has participated in the association’s Visual Workplace program to improve internal communication and increase efficiency. The upshot was a clean, colorful, organized and efficient manufacturing facility that has become a key part of the company’s sales strategy.

Wolf Robotics also worked with the association to develop new products during a series of workshops that focused on innovation. Recently, CAMT connected the company with NASA technologies.

The program has helped the company “turn federal R&D and technology into products that will improve the efficiency of American manufacturing,” said Lance Guymon, Wolf Robotics’ director of engineering.

Innosphere client creating inmate monitoring system

Gordon Coombes, CEO of Canvasback Legal Technology LLC, is developing a better monitoring system for criminal offenders.

Working with leaders of two other companies at the Fort Collins technology and scientific startup incubator Rocky Mountain Innosphere, Coombes is creating software for a system that tracks the location of offenders before and after their convictions.

Coombes, entrepreneur and former police officer, started Canvasback in 2009 and has operated at the Innosphere since 2010. He aims to reduce costs of analyzing and storing bail bond industry data.

Coombes’ system will notify police, courts and victims if an offender, for example, misses a court appearance. The system also will manage records for the bail bond industry.

“It’s pretty exciting what it does,” he said. “It takes an industry that’s so antiquated, (relying) on paper and pen still, and it takes it to a whole new level.”

Kevin Kaiser, president of Clear Path Labs, and Peter Byrne, president of Crashboxx, helped Coombes find a way to develop the software for $50,000. That figure is $200,000 less than Coombes originally thought software development would cost.

“We’re each going to benefit from each other,” Coombes said. “We all bring something to the table to make a good concept greater and cheaper.”

Will ‘crowdfunding’ bill aid tech startups?

President Obama last week signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), a measure that included the so-called “crowdfunding” amendment.

Using crowdfunding, startups can raise capital online from multiple investors, including through social media. Entrepreneurs provide information about their businesses and solicit investors to contribute capital.

The Northern Colorado tech industry will have to wait and see how the bill might benefit them.

“Fundamentally, we’re certainly for anything that can potentially help our startups find new ways of raising money,” said Todd Headley, president of tech transfer group CSU Ventures. “But we don’t personally have any experience with it yet with our startups.”

Hewlett-Packard holds girls tech camp

Tech-minded girls got a chance to learn more about a career in technology at an HP camp earlier this month.

Women fill more than half of the nation’s professional jobs, but only 25 percent of information technology positions, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Seeking to boost that statistic, HP gave female students from Fort Collins a taste of the opportunities provided by a technology career.

Students toured HP Workstations R&D and chemistry labs as well as connected with DreamWorks Animation artists.

Steve Lynn covers technology for the Northern Colorado Business Report. He can be contacted at slynn@ncbr.com or 970-232-3147.

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