Briefcase – July 2019

BRIEFS

Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland received a federal grant of $162,000 that will be used to update the airport master plan. The grant, from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, was included in $8.2 million in grants to four Colorado airports and $3.18 billion that will be spent nationwide on airport improvements.

Boulder’s Planning Board declined an opportunity to scrutinize a plan to build a new Shake Shack restaurant at the Twenty Ninth Street mall. By not opting to call up the proposal, the board will allow the restaurant’s proposal to move forward as is. Plans filed with the city’s planning department show Shake Shake intends to demolish the roughly 6,000-square-foot Cantina Laredo building at 1680 29th St. The new restaurant will “be roughly 3,500 square feet and will feature a large outdoor patio,” a company spokesperson told BizWest late last year. The Boulder Shake Shack is expected to open this year.

Longmont City Council members approved a measure to offer AveXis Inc. an incentive package worth about $1.9 in an attempt to entice the Swiss biologics firm to expand operations in the city. AveXis bought the former AstraZeneca campus in Longmont in April. In May, it is believed to have applied for and received a job-growth incentive grant from the Colorado Economic Development Commission. If AveXis agrees to the incentive deal, the company would receive rebates on certain city fees and property taxes. The city would eventually recoup about $2.1 million in fees and taxes. The company has hired about 150 employees and could hire another 125 if the Longmont expansion comes to fruition.

CLOSING

FirstBank, Colorado’s second-largest bank with branches throughout the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, is closing its Table Mesa branch, located inside a King Soopers grocery store at 3600 Table Mesa Drive in Boulder. It was approved for closure in March, according to data from the Colorado Division of Banking. The date of the closure has yet to be announced.

Dress Barn, a women’s clothing chain, will close all its roughly 650 stores, including locations in Loveland and Fort Collins. It has not announced when individual stores will be shuttered.

CONTRACTS

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) was awarded a $561.8 million contract to provide Army Tactical Missile System missiles for the U.S. Army and customers in Bahrain, Poland and Romania. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s Boulder facility as well as in St. Louis; Grand Prairie and Lufkin, Texas; Camden, Arkansas; Clearwater, Florida; Windsor Locks, Connecticut; and Williston, Vermont, according to a U.S. Department of Defense contract announcement. The missile systems are expected to be delivered by June 30, 2022.

The Longmont Economic Development Partnership and CareerWise Colorado, a nonprofit group that provides three-year apprenticeship programs for high schoolers, partnered on an effort to connect students with local businesses in need of employees to work in hard-to-fill positions. Interested businesses can contact Morgan Smith at 303-651-0128.

OtterBox and Michigan-based Handeholder Products Inc. partnered to launch a product line called uniVERSE Case System. Handeholder makes accessories for tablets such as point-of-sale device holders mini-tripods. The swappable uniVERSE Case System allows for different devices such as mobile point-of-sale credit card processors to be attached to tablets and cell phones.

Aleph Objects Inc., a Loveland-based 3D printer developer, partnered with FluidForm Inc. to develop techniques to 3D print organs and other biological material. The partnership combines Aleph’s LulzBot printer technology with FluidForm’s printing techniques using bioinks and other materials. FluidForm is a Pennsylvania-based company that in 2018 spun out from Carnegie Mellon University. The two companies expect their first products this summer.

During a spaceflight mission launched June 24 from Florida, NASA and Boulder-based Ball Aerospace demonstrated a safer, more efficient type of rocket fuel. NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission components — a small Ball-built satellite propelled by a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel blend — was sent into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. The launch also included a demonstration of NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock.

Scout Clean Energy LLC, a Boulder-based renewable and wind energy firm, inked a 20-year purchase agreement to provide wind power to Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. The agency will purchase the entire 200 megawatts of renewable-energy capacity from the Three Waters Wind Farm to be constructed in Jackson County, Minnesota. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The 45,000-acre wind farm is expected to break ground in 2021.

Students looking to study medicine in Colorado will soon have a new option in Northern Colorado. Colorado State University and the University of Colorado partnered to bring a CU School of Medicine branch to Fort Collins. The first students are expected to be enrolled in the program in 2021. That initial class is expected to be about a dozen students with the potential to expand enrollment to about 48 in future years. In all, the CU School of Medicine matriculates about 184 students per year. Students at the Fort Collins branch will receive degrees from CU.

Platte River Power Authority’s owner communities — Loveland, Longmont, Fort Collins and Estes Park — signed an extension to the organic contract extending PRPA’s life through 2060. New power supply agreements were also executed, running concurrently with the organic contract. PRPA is a regional wholesale electrical power provider with a major power plant located north of Fort Collins.

DEADLINES

Nominations are open through July 12 for the 2020 Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Ethics. Members of the public, community leaders, businesses and nonprofits can nominate outstanding ethical organizations in Northern Colorado and Wyoming for this award, including their own company. To be eligible, an organization must be in business for at least three years, be in good standing with BBB, be free from government action and, if a nonprofit organization, be accredited through BBB’s charity review process.

EARNINGS

Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc., a Boulder CBD extract company traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE: CWEB), reported 66 percent higher revenues in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 compared with the same period last year. The company had sales of $27.1 million in the quarter that ended March 31, up from $13.1 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. Profits were down slightly in the most recent period. Net income for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 was $2.3 million, or 3 cents per share, down from $3.1 million, or 4 cents per share.

Cannabis company Urban-gro Inc. reported a 69 percent surge in revenue for the first quarter, but ongoing losses remain a concern for the Lafayette-based company. Revenue for Urban-gro totaled $5.8 million, up from $3.45 million for the same period a year ago. Urban-gro’s net loss also grew, reaching $1.5 million, compared with $782,649 in the first quarter of 2018. Urban-gro has incurred operating losses since its inception, accumulating a deficit of $10 million, a working-capital deficit of $6.3 million and negative shareholders’ equity of $3.48 million.

EVENTS

BizWest will launch an event on July 18 called “Confluence: the Northern Colorado Water Conference.” To be held the same day and at the same venue as the annual Colorado Energy Summit, it will explore the many facets of water availability, cost, conservation, development and supply. The events will be at the Ranch in Loveland, 5280 Arena Circle, Suite 100. Attendees can attend either event for $53.49 or purchase a full-day pass for $103.49.

KUDOS

BizWest brought home six awards from the annual Colorado Press Association convention awards ceremony in Aurora. It won first place in Best Advertising Special Section for a custom publication created for Loveland co-working space desk chair. Sandy Powell managed the publication. It took second in the category for a new publication in 2018 called Stuff, which featured information about products made in Northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley and also included information about careers in manufacturing and other industries. Powell, Jeff Nuttall, Chris Wood, Ken Amundson and Chad Collins were listed as participants in the project although it was a staff-wide project. It won second place in the Best Agriculture Story category for a story titled “JBS moves on from Batista scandal” by Paula Aven Gladych, and first place in Best Health Enterprise/Health Feature Story for a story titled “Health-care pricing remains opaque” by Doug Storum, which detailed how best efforts to create transparency around health-care price has resulted in continued confusion. It won first place in the Best Business News Feature and Best Feature Story categories for the “#WeToo” package of stories by Jensen Werley, which detailed how the movement has impacted business in the region.

Ernst & Young Global Ltd., which does business around the world as EY, gave John Mark Cavitt, founder and CEO of Covenant Testing Technologies LLC, Colorado’s largest privately held well-flow management company, the Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Award in the Energy Services category in the Gulf Coast Area. Covenant Testing Technologies has a Greeley location employing 328 people. It is the largest provider of well-flow management services in the region. In the competition’s Mountain Desert Region, Lani Dolifka, co-founder of Brighton-based Watermill Express LLC, won the regional award in the natural resources category, and Bryan Schramm, COO and co-founder of Liqid Inc., a Broomfield-based software company, was recognized in the software category.

New West Genetics LLC, a Fort Collins hemp-genetics provider, was awarded new patent claims by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for hemp varieties that combine market valued traits with adaption for large-scale field production.

The 10th Leadership Northern Colorado class completed its six-month program. The program is a joint initiative of the Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland chambers of commerce, the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and the Community Foundation Serving Greeley and Weld County. The 37 members of the 2019 class are: Brooke Alexander, Alexander & Ewert LLC; Gysela Blanco, High Country Beverage; Kit Brown, CBRE; Aaron Buckley, Colorado State University, Parking and Transportation Services; David Crowder, McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc.; Gabriel Dunbar, Saunders Heath Construction; Diane Ellsworth, Project Self-Sufficiency; Chris Fine, McKee Foundation; Kim Fisher, Vision Catalyst; Chris Garcia, city of Greeley; Devin Glass, Larimer County Solid Waste; Misty Gulley, Larimer County Community Corrections – AIM/Wellness Court; Tonja Hadley, Hadley Harmon Consulting; Lea Hanson, Left Lane Communications LLC; Tina Harkness, Employers Council Inc.; Jodee Hinton, Martin/Martin Inc.; Dr. Matthew Hortt, High Plains Library District; Mandi Huston, Coan, Payton & Payne LLC; Pete Iengo, city of Fort Collins Utilities; Kim Joiner, Aims Community College; Sarah Martin, North Front Range MPO; Ryan C. McLean, Poudre Fire Authority; Zachary C. Minniear, RLH Engineering Inc.; CeCe Moreno, Employment Services of Weld County; Mistene Nugent, CBRE; Beth Phillips, The Group Inc. Real Estate; Carolyn ‘CJ’ Renaud, Greeley-Evans School District 6; Shannon Richardson, Merrill Lynch; Michael Ruttenberg, Larimer County Criminal Justice Services; Shayle Sabo, Larimer County OEM; Jessica Scheopner, town of Windsor; Courtney Stewart, Platte River Power Authority; Kelly Strohman, Keller Williams Realty – Northern Colorado (The Strohman Group); Sarah Swanty, Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic; Carlie Thomas, Columbine Health Systems; Emily Voshall, Eide Bailly LLP; and Becca Walkinshaw, Gallegos Sanitation Inc.

Three northern Colorado cities are among the leaders nationwide for craft beer selections, but none of them has the largest selection in the nation. According to a study published by Chicago-based research firm C+R Research, Boulder has the most craft breweries in Colorado with 14 per 50,000 people, followed by Fort Collins and Loveland with eight and seven breweries per capita, respectively. Boulder placed fourth in the study of 500 cities, while Fort Collins and Loveland placed 11th and 12th, respectively. The study also found Sanitas Brewing is the most popular brewery in Boulder, while New Belgium Brewing was the most popular in Fort Collins and Loveland Aleworks in Loveland based on search volume data from Google. According to the craft brewery site BreweryDB, Boulder has 37 active breweries and three under construction and Fort Collins has 26 active sites, while Loveland has 11.

Royal Crest Dairy Inc., based in Denver but with operations in Longmont, was recognized by the Colorado Division of Workers Compensation for its safety track record.

Ann Cooper, founder of Boulder’s Chef Ann Foundation and director of food services for the Boulder Valley School District, was named an American Food Hero by EatingWell magazine.

Greeley is eighth on the Walton Family Foundation’s rankings of the “Most Dynamic Metropolitans” in the United States. The study’s authors reviewed metros on performance-based metrics, such as job growth, income gains, and the proportion of total jobs at young firms.

Teams from Boulder and Fort Collins were among the winners in the annual Go Code Colorado competition, which asks teams to use public data to develop useful business insights, analyses and tools. In the Business Product Track, winners included Boulder-based Trackers, for an app named Position my Kitchen, In the Business Analytics Track, winners included Fort Collins-based FlowCodeColorado, for analysis that forecasts when water surplus will be released.

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

The Oberalp Group, an Italian outdoor industry conglomerate with a Boulder-based North American headquarters, acquired California climbing shoe brand Evolv from BRS Outdoor Sports Holdings LLC. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Zayo Group Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO) set July 26 for shareholders to vote on whether or not to sell the company for $14.3 billion. The Boulder-based bandwidth provider agreed to be acquired by affiliates of Digital Colony Partners and the EQT Infrastructure IV fund in May, which would take the company off the public markets. 

Congruex LLC, a Boulder-based construction and engineering service firm, acquired Terra Technologies LLC for an undisclosed sum. Terra is a civil engineering and construction management technology company based in McHenry, Illinois.

A Longmont-based property-management company was acquired by Sentry Management Inc., based in Longwood, Florida, bringing new ownership to an operation founded in 2005. Classic Property Management LLC, founded by Kathy Lange, will be rebranded as Sentry Management in the coming months, with Lange serving as Sentry Management division manager for Boulder. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Insurance technology company Accurence Inc. finalized the acquisition of a Jacksonville, Florida-based company specializing in water and flood claim modeling. Accurence closed the deal to purchase National Water LLC’s software division last week and now wholly owns its assets after forming a strategic partnership a year ago. Accurence, based in Louisville, builds software for property insurance adjusters and contractors to estimate damage costs from wind and hail claims. It’s unclear how the deal will affect the company’s staffing in Colorado.

Align Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Cleveland and Dallas, has acquired a majority stake in Boulder-based E Source, which provides research, data and consulting for utilities. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.

RapidILL, an interlibrary loan platform developed by Colorado State University library staff, was acquired by Israeli library software developer Ex Libris. Terms were not disclosed.

Mile High Labs, a CBD company that has been growing like a weed in recent months, purchased the former Sandoz Inc. pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Broomfield. The company calls the roughly $18.8 million acquisition of the 400,000-square-foot campus at 2555 W. Midway Blvd. the largest infrastructure purchase in the history of the CBD market.

Boulder-based Tendril Networks Inc. secured a majority investment from private equity firm Rubicon Technology Partners with participation from Morgan Stanley Alternative Investments and Zoma Capital. Tendril is a software company that analyzes energy-related data on 123 million U.S. homes and works with five of the top 10 U.S. utilities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck declined to provide details.

The merger of Longmont-based UQM Technologies Inc. (NYSE American: UQM), a developer of alternative energy technologies for electric vehicles, and Denmark-based Danfoss Power Solutions (US) Co. may take a bit longer to complete than initially anticipated. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a regulatory body the reviews foreign investments in American firms, is extending the period of time it has allotted to investigate the transaction.

TCF Financial Corp., which operates bank branches in Broomfield, Lafayette and Westminster, signed a definitive agreement to merge with Detroit-based Chemical Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: CHFC). The transaction will be an all-stock merger of equals, creating a combined company with $45 billion in assets, $34 billion in deposits and 500 branches across nine states, including 34 in Colorado. The merger has been approved unanimously by the boards of both companies. TCF will merge into Chemical, with the combined holding company and bank operating under the TCF name and brand after closing of the transaction.

New York-based Kinderhook Industries LLC didn’t have to look far to find the latest acquisition for Bestop Inc., its Louisville-based portfolio company. Bestop acquired Softopper LLC, a Boulder-based company that designs, manufactures and distributes convertible soft tops for light-duty pickup trucks and SUVs. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Brickell Biotech Inc., a Boulder-based clinical-stage medical dermatology company, agreed to merge with Vical Inc. (Nasdaq: VICL), a San Diego biopharma firm. The merger is an all-stock deal in which existing Brickell stockholders will own 60 percent of the combined company, and Vical stockholders will own the remainder. The ownership split is based on a $60 million valuation for Brickell and a $40 million valuation for Vical. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. After the close, the combined company will be headquartered in Boulder.

Two Northern Colorado-based animal-welfare organizations are merging.  Beginning in 2020, Animal House Rescue & Grooming and Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic will join and operate as a single organization. The new, unified organization does not yet have a name or logo, but the merger team will solicit ideas from the community.

Northern Colorado Traffic Control, a Greeley-based maker of products such as roadway signs and cones, was acquired by private equity firm The Riverside Co. The company will be folded into Riverside’s existing traffic management solutions entity called the Area Wide Protective program. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

A Seattle-based company acquired a majority stake in Boulder-based Head Rush Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of adventure and recreation equipment. Pike Street Capital, a private equity firm, acquired the interest for an undisclosed sum.

MOVES

Agfinity Inc., a farm supply co-op formerly based in Eaton, moved its headquarters to a space in Loveland’s Crossroads Business Park.

A clean-tech company formerly based in Golden has moved its headquarters to Broomfield. Strategic Environmental & Energy Resources Inc. (OTC: SENR) relocated to 370 Interlocken Blvd., Suite 680, in April. The company provides next-generation clean technologies, waste-management innovations and related services, focused on the oil-and-gas, food-and-beverage, agricultural and renewable-fuel industries. SEER occupied 3,864 square feet at 370 Interlocken.

NAME CHANGES

Two years after acquiring Boulder technology firm iSupportU from the company’s founder, owner Ramberg Group LLC has rebranded the IT firm as Altitude Integrations. Altitude focuses on cloud integration, security solutions and delivering information-technology support to scaling and established organizations.

FATV, a Boulder-based provider of web videos and content about higher education and financial aid, changed its name to Ocelot. Financial Aid TV (FATV) is a tradename registered to CareerAmerica LLC. Ocelot is not a tradename registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The FATV brand will continue to exist as the featured online video service within the Ocelot AI Chatbot and Video Platform,

OPENING

Marriott International opened its new SpringHill Suites hotel June 27 in Windsor. The 97-suite hotel at 6445 Crossroads Blvd. will operate as a Marriott franchise and is owned and managed by Kana Hotel Group of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Rush Bowls, a fast-casual chain known for its meals-in-a-bowl crafted from  fruits and vegetables, topped with granola and honey and blended with protein, vitamins and other ingredients, expanded its Colorado footprint with the opening of its second Fort Collins location on May 20. Located at 1205 W. Elizabeth St., the store is owned by brothers Troy & Jim Leisenring.  They also own the original Fort Collins location, which opened in May 2018. Rush Bowls, which was founded in Boulder, also will soon open its first franchise location in Detroit.

The Lafayette office space formerly home to Foothills United Way was sold to a veterinary clinic for nearly $1.5 million. Happy Tails Properties LLC bought the roughly 6,000-square-foot property, which is also home to the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County.

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), a pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer, opened a new manufacturing facility in Frederick. The $185-million, 135,000-square-foot operation will make oligonucleotide active pharmaceutical ingredients.

First National Bank of Omaha opened a new branch at 2075 Colorado Highway 7 in Erie. The bank has locations in Fort Collins, Wellington, Windsor, Johnstown, Loveland, Greeley, Kersey, Longmont, Brighton, Broomfield, Louisville and Boulder.

Real Farmers Market, which operates markets in Erie, Louisville, Golden and Denver, launched the Urban Farmers Market Downtown Longmont on June 19. The market will operate from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday until Sept. 11 on Fifth Avenue.

Torchy’s Tacos, an Austin, Texas-based restaurant chain with Colorado locations in Fort Collins and the Denver metro area, will open a location in Boulder. Torchy’s will take over the former Turley’s Kitchen space at the northeast corner of 28th and Pearl streets. Turley’s, which was founded by Paul Turley in 1977 and moved to its Pearl Street location in 2007, closed in 2017.

Fort Collins-based Bank of Colorado has been approved by the state to open new branches in Littleton and Cherry Creek in Denver.

Advanced Energy Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: AEIS), a Fort Collins-based power and control technologies firm, is opening a new facility in Caesarea, Israel. The 6,500-square-foot facility will include office space, a service and repair center, and research and development labs.

Longtime Greeley and Loveland law firm Otis, Bedingfield & Peters LLC was divided into two firms, effective May 16. Otis & Bedingfield LLC, with partners Fred Otis, Jeff Bedingfield, Tim Brynteson and John Kolanz, will continue at its two locations: 1812 56th Ave. in Greeley and 2725 Rocky Mountain Ave., Suite 320, in Loveland. The firm also includes associates Corey Moore, James Godbold and Don Hoff, and of counsel Mike Stewart. A new law firm, Peters, Schulte, Odil and Wallshein LLC, has launched at 1935 65th Ave. in Greeley. The four-attorney firm will focus on litigation and will include partners Jennifer Peters, Christian Schulte, Tim Odil and Nathaniel Wallshein.

BOCO Cider at 1501 Lee Hill Drive in Boulder, in the former Decadent Saint Winery location, is producing cider for restaurant consumption with several Boulder County and Denver accounts buying kegs of cider. Michael Belochi, owner, bought the facility for $505,000 and was to open a taphouse by mid-June. Also, Washington-based Locust Cidery will open its fifth cidery and its first in Colorado, at 5446 Conestoga Court, in early July.

Snarf’s Sandwiches, a restaurant chain founded in Boulder, is planning a new location near the company’s former flagship store that closed in March. The proposed restaurant, Snarf’s fourth in Boulder, would be located at 1852 Arapahoe Ave., a site that is currently home to residential rental units. Snarf’s proposes to repurpose the space into a 2,275-square-foot sandwich shop with a 150-square-foot outdoor seating area. There would be seating for roughly 70 patrons, and the store would employ about four full-time workers and 15 part-timers. Snarf’s closed its flagship restaurant at 2128 Pearl St. earlier this year to make room for a luxury townhome development.

Campbell Morrison Wealth Management has formed in Fort Collins. It will host an open house in late summer at 375 E. Horsetooth Road, Building 4, Suite 101.

The redevelopers of Windsor Mill on Main Street in Windsor hope to reopen as a restaurant and tavern by Labor Day. The mill, destroyed by arson fire in 2017, has been undergoing renovation since that time under the ownership of Blue Ocean Enterprises of Fort Collins. When done, the two tenants will be Cacciatore Windsor at Heller’s Kitchen and Windsor Mill Tavern.

A taproom and food truck park opened within view of Loveland landmark Feed and Grain. Backyard Tap, 323 N. Railroad Ave. just east of downtown, replaces a storage yard/auto-repair shop that had occupied the site. The new use will provide room for several food trucks.

PRODUCT UPDATE

Anheuser-Busch started brewing an organic line of beer, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The company’s Fort Collins brewery is one of two to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The other is in Carterville, Georgia.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved a plan to launch a series of new undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering degree programs. These new degrees, which could be offered as soon as fall 2020, are the first of their kind for the CU system and CU Boulder is the only college in the state to offer them.

SERVICES

Banner Health’s Fort Collins Medical Center began accepting Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (NYSE: ANTM) insurance effective July 1, joining the rest of the company’s locations in Colorado. Banner also said it intends to add six beds to its inpatient and maternity wards to the center at 4700 Lady Moon Drive.

Banner Health installed an automated system at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley to answer emergency room patient questions that are unique to the patient and not canned responses. The conversational chatbot can be accessed by mobile phone, can download existing medical records and respond to questions such as, “How long is this going to take?” When asked a question, the bot pulls data from the health system’s medical record to get answers.