Briefcase – February 2020

BRIEFS

Broomfield-based Ball Corp.’s (NYSE: BLL) new line of recyclable aluminum cups, which made their public debut last year during the University of Colorado football team’s home opener against the University of Nebraska, were used Feb. 2 during the Super Bowl football game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. During the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, 50,000 of Ball’s 20-ounce cups were made available. The cups, which can be recycled repeatedly, will then be served at the stadium for future Miami Dolphins games and other concerts and sporting events. Ball spent seven years developing the new cups, which are designed to be more environmentally friendly than the traditional plastic cups typically served at stadiums. Late last year, the company opened a new manufacturing plant in Georgia dedicated to production of the aluminum cups.

Federal officials say they recovered mathematician and World War II-era codebreaker Alan Turing’s doctoral degree, knighthood medal and other pieces of memorabilia in Colorado in 2018, almost 36 years after they were stolen. In filings in the U.S. District Court of Colorado, federal officials say they seized the British mathematician’s Princeton University degree, his Order of the British Empire medal and several photos, school reports and letters from his time at Sherborne School, a boarding school in Dorset, England. According to the seizure notices, Julia Turing approached the University of Colorado Boulder in January 2018, saying she wanted to loan Alan Turing’s memorabilia to the library. Archivists at the library determined that the items were stolen from Sherborne in 1984. Alan Turing developed several processes for breaking German military ciphers for British intelligence agencies during World War II and is considered a forefather of computer science and algorithmic design. He died by poisoning in 1954. His life story was most recently portrayed in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game.”

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the Danish wind-energy company, will work toward production of zero-waste wind turbines by 2040. The goal will mean changes at both the Windsor blade-production facility and the Brighton nacelle plant. First step will be a focus on improving the recyclability of all wind-turbine blades.

Larimer County health inspectors are now using a simplified system for rating restaurant safety. The change from a five-tiered rating system to three tiers changed earlier this month to conform with statewide rules, but doesn’t change how violations are recorded in restaurants.

“Cannabis Vaping: Opportunities in an Uncertain Future,” a report released by Boulder-based BDS Analytics Inc. and Arcview Market Research, found that cannabis vape sales in legal markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon dipped from $160 million in August 2019 to  $119 million in October. That 25 percent sales decrease, which occurred after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about the first death attributable to e-cigarettes in August, reversed a months-long pattern of revenue growth for vape products.

CLOSING

Bin 46, a wine bar and restaurant at 600 Longs Peak Ave. in Longmont, closed after five years in business. Bin 46’s ownership hopes to eventually reopen elsewhere. It said in an email.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the cooperative that supplies wholesale electric power to utilities around the region, will close all its New Mexico and Colorado coal-fired power plants earlier than expected because of pressure from its customers. The co-op said it would close its last New Mexico coal-fired plant by the end of 2020 and its Colorado coal-fired plants and its coal mine by 2030. The closures affect about 600 power plant and mine workers, the company said in its announcement of its plans. It is stepping up efforts to replace the power from those plants with renewable sources, a demand made by multiple member-customers, who threatened to leave the co-op if it didn’t increase the speed at which was adding green resources. Tri-State is the wholesale supplier of electricity to the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association Inc. and United Power Inc. in Northern Colorado.

The HobbyTown USA shop at 3500 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins closed Jan. 31. The store’s  large footprint combined with the rise of online retailers were factors in the decision to shutter.

Oskar Blues Brewery is in the process of closing its CHUBurger restaurants to focus on its other two restaurants in the northern Boulder Valley. The brewery said it would shut down its Longmont burger restaurant Feb. 29, while its location in Denver’s River North District closed at the end of 2019. It cited increasing food and labor costs as key reasons for the closures, and said the Longmont location’s lease at 1225 Ken Pratt Blvd. is due to expire. Oskar Blues plans to shift its dining focus on OB Grill & Brew in Lyons and Homemade Liquids & Solids in Longmont with additional menu items and various remodels. About 30 people worked at the CHUBurger locations, but they have been offered opportunities at the other restaurants.

Plexus Corp. (Nasdaq: PLXS), a Neenah, Wisconsin-based designer and manufacturer of electronic products, will close its Plexus Boulder Design Center in Louisville, eliminating 104 jobs, just two years after moving into the facility. The closure will take place March 22 and will include engineers (analog, digital, mechanical, product and quality), project managers, and management/administrative personnel.

Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant The Rib House closed abruptly in Longmont’s Prospect new-urbanism development. Tracy Webb launched The Rib House in 2001 and opened a second location in Boulder in 2009. The Boulder restaurant closed in 2015. The closure represents the second Prospect restaurant to shutter in the last three months; 2 Dog Diner closed in November.

Schurman Fine Papers Corp., parent company of the Schurman Retail Group that operates 254 stores in the United States and Canada under the retail names of Papyrus, Paper Destiny, American Greetings and Carlton Cards, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing all of its stores. A Papyrus store in the FlatIron Crossing Mall in Broomfield is among the stores closing.

CONTRACTS

San Jose, California-based Broadcom Inc. (Nasdaq: AVGO) signed a deal to supply wireless electronic parts to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) for the next several years, which could be produced heavily in the Fort Collins plant. Broadcom employs about 1,500 people in Fort Collins and about 500 people in its Broomfield office.

Urban-gro Inc. (OTCQX: UGRO) signed a supplier partnership with Milwaukee-based Desert Aire LLC for climate-control equipment. The Lafayette engineering company said Desert Aire will not offer quotes or proposals to indoor marijuana and hemp cultivators except through them, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

ArcherDX Inc. and Illumina Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) added another set of genome tests to their ongoing marketing partnership. The two companies said they would sell ArcherDX’s in-vitro genetic disorder tests with Illumina’s sequencing programs once ArcherDX’s tests receive regulatory approval for sale. The two companies have already agreed to develop and market their other genetic testing programs to medical labs and hospitals.

EARNINGS

AveXis Inc.’s parent company said sales of its flagship gene therapy increased by $26 million over the last quarter, signaling strong demand for the drug due to start production in its Longmont plant this year. Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) said it sold $186 million worth of doses of Zolgensma, a one-time therapy for young children with spinal muscular atrophy, for the period. It sold $160 million in the quarter before in its first full quarter on the market, far outpacing analyst expectations at that point. The drug is the world’s most expensive at $2.1 million per dose, meaning Novartis sold an additional 12 doses on top of its previous sales in Q3 2019. AveXis is based in the Chicagoland area but recently began the process of getting federal approval to make Zolgensma at the 692,000-square-foot plant in Longmont formerly owned by AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN). At full capacity, the plant could produce between 800 and 1,200 doses to treat SMA, which treats a genetic disorder that prevents newborns from developing the strength needed to move body parts unassisted.

CANarchy’s beer sales outside bars and liquor stores grew by 14 percent in 2019, while Oskar Blues’ sales in the same segment rose by a third. The Longmont-based brewery collective said its eight breweries shipped 480,000 barrels last year, up from 420,000 in 2018. It also reported that beer sales in general-purpose grocers and convenience stores rose 22 percent between 2018 and 2019. Oskar Blues Brewery’s grocery sales increased by 33 percent in that same timeframe, driven by what it said was a 71 percent increase in sales for its sample packs after shifting from a 12-can box to 15. Salt Lake City’s Squatters Craft Beers and Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing edged out Oskar Blues, with 36 percent year-over-year sales growth.

Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) said poor snowfall at some of its top destinations is dragging down key metrics halfway through the skiing season. The Broomfield-based ski resort company said overall skier visits fell 7.8 percent in the current 2019-2020 season compared with the number of skiers in the same time period in the 2018-2019 season. Dining revenue at the company’s resorts fell 3.6 percent this season compared with the same period last year, while rental and retail sales at its pro shops fell by 1.8 percent. Total lift ticket revenue inched up by 0.4 percent from last season, while ski lesson sales increased by 2 percent compared with the same point last year. Vail did not comment about sales in its five Colorado locations.

KUDOS

Larimer and Weld counties have been designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a continuum of care region, according to a United Way of Weld County news release.  A continuum of care is a local or regional planning body that is responsible for coordinating the funding and delivery of housing and services for people experiencing homelessness in its service area.

Larry Kendall, co-founder of Northern Colorado real estate brokerage The Group Inc., was inducted Jan. 23 into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Denver. Kendall, co-creator of the Ninja Selling System sales method, served for 25 years on the board of directors for FirstBank Holding Co. and was named 2006 Colorado Realtor of the Year.

LEGAL

A Windsor man is suing Clear View Behavioral Health for allegedly holding him for more than a week against his will as part of ongoing accusations of severe mismanagement at the hospital. In a lawsuit filed late last year in Larimer County District Court, Windsor resident Angelo Scolari accuses the Johnstown-based psychiatric hospital of holding him and other patients longer than needed so it could continue to charge Medicare, Medicaid and insurers and charge them for care visits they never provided.

Lake Loveland Dermatology agreed to leave its current address at 776 W. Eisenhower Blvd. by May 31 and pay its landlord $17,030 as part of a settlement ending several lawsuits, according to filings made in the U.S. District Court of Colorado. The dermatology office, owned by Dr. Kevin Mott, and the property owner, former Lake Loveland owners Dr. Patrick Lillis and Tracy Amick, have dueled for months over claims arising from its March 2019 bankruptcy.

Lever LLC, a Boulder-based manufacturer of harness-like systems designed to assist treadmill runners, is being sued by a competitor in Minnesota that accuses Lever of patent infringement. Lightspeed Running & Rehabilitation Systems LLC, which “manufactures and sells a bodyweight support system branded as the ‘LightSpeed Lift,’ which is designed to relieve impact forces and enhance natural movement and balance while running on a treadmill,” filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver, court filings show. Lightspeed alleges Lever’s running assistance system, which it sells online for $999, violates Lightspeed’s 2016 patent for a “Body Weight Support System for Therapeutic and Physical Training, And Method of Use Thereof.”

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

In the latest salvo in its ongoing takeover efforts, Xerox Holdings Corp. (NYSE: XRX) submitted 11 executives to replace the board of HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) later this year. The Norwalk, Connecticut-based printer maker submitted the list of executives, which include alumni from UBS Group AG (NYSE: UBS), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HLT), Praxair Inc. and other companies that completed major tie-ups in the past several years. Xerox is pursuing a hostile takeover of HP after initially offering to take over the computer maker for $33.5 billion in cash and stock in November. HP has deep roots in Northern Colorado’s tech scene despite shrinking its local footprint in the region for decades. At its peak in the ’60s and ’70s, it employed more than 3,000 people in its Loveland campus alone and produced the first commercial scanners in its Greeley plant. Today, approximately 600 people work at the Fort Collins office. HP Enterprise Inc. (NYSE: HPE) also has offices in Fort Collins and Boulder, but is a separate company from HP Inc. created from a 2015 spinoff. Xerox’s takeover efforts would not affect employees at those two sites.

Woodward Inc. (Nasdaq: WWD) CEO Tom Gendron pushed a sense of long-term confidence for his company in what could be Woodward’s final annual shareholder meeting before it combines with Hexcel Corp. (NYSE: HXL). Speaking at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Fort Collins, Gendron said the pending merger with Connecticut-based Hexcel makes sense for investors as it plans to buy back $1.5 billion worth of its stock after the deal’s close, and the new company would have the size to take on the research departments of other aerospace supplier giants. Woodward and Hexcel announced a merger that would create a company with combined revenues of $5.3 billion in 2019 and $1 billion of free cash flow for investors.

General Cannabis Corp. (OTCQX: CANN), a Denver-based pot production and sales firm, recently acquired Boulder cultivator SevenFive Farm. SevenFive has operated a 17,000-square-foot grow facility for four years, according to a General Cannabis news release.

K12 Inc., a Virginia-based for-profit online education company, acquired coding school and co-working firm Galvanize for $165 million. The all-cash deal closed Jan. 27. Galvanize is headquartered in Denver and operates a campus in Boulder at 1023 Walnut St. The company has additional locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

Galvanize graduates have gone on to work for more than 2,250 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple, according to the press release announcing the deal.

Boulder-based Vexcel Imaging Inc. is set to acquire an aerial-imaging division from Verisk Analytics Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSK) in what the companies say will make the largest geospatial image library. Vexcel said it would combine its aerial camera and sensors systems with Geomni’s aircraft to get more-accurate images around the world. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Verisk will take a minority stake in Vexcel. Vexcel currently employs about 60 workers in its Boulder offices and has a second office in Graz, Austria.

A Fort Collins-based chain of audiology centers has transitioned to new ownership. The Hearing Place LLC, which operates seven locations in northern and eastern Colorado, now is led by former employee Brittany Mathisen, taking over for founder Mike Walker. It operates locations in Fort Collins, Fort Lupton, Greeley, Loveland, Windsor, Brush and Sterling.

Blue Federal Credit Union is buying out Liberty Savings Bank’s branches and assets in Colorado, with the deal set to close this month. The Cheyenne, Wyoming-based credit union said it is acquiring $100 million in deposits and Liberty’s branches in Denver and Granby, which services 2,149 customers. Liberty will continue operations with five branches in Florida and a national mortgage division. Blue currently runs eight branches in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Wellington.

On the heels of recent news that The Green Solution LLC soon will be acquired by a New York cannabis firm for $140 million, the Denver-based retail pot chain — one of the largest in Colorado — has continued its expansion out from the Denver market with the opening of a new location in Longmont. The city opened its doors to recreational pot sales in late 2018. The Longmont location, TGS’ 21st pot shop in Colorado, is at 206 S. Main St. and celebrated its grand opening Jan. 25. When TGS opens in a new community, the firm identifies a local nonprofit organization to support. In Longmont, that group is Sustainable Resilient Longmont, which advocates for environmental protection and responsible economic growth. The Longmont location is the second new TGS store to open in the roughly two months since the firm announced plans to merge with Columbia Care Inc. (OTCQX: CCHWF).

Points West Community Bank merged its Nebraska and Wyoming charters into its Colorado banking charter. The Windsor-based bank has expanded to 23 locations in three states, including nine locations in Colorado. Points West has locations in Julesburg, Haxtun, Wellington, Loveland and Fort Collins, and two each in Windsor and Greeley.

Shelley and Andrew Dunbar, Boulder locals who have held North American distribution rights for Australian outdoor product maker Sea to Summit for more than two decades, sold those rights back to Sea to Summit Inc. for an undisclosed sum. The deal, which is expected to close in April, will not impact Sea to Summit’s roughly 50 employees in the Boulder area. The local North American distribution headquarters will not be moved.

Global Healthcare Exchange Inc. acquired Chicago-based Lumere Inc., a provider of data and analytics solutions that enable health-care organizations to build clinically integrated supply chains and optimize medication formulary management. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Louisville-based GHX is a health-care business and data automation company, providing health-care organizations with a cloud-based supply-chain technology platform. The company works with manufacturers and distributors in North America and Europe.

Heska Corp. (Nasdaq: HSKA) closed acquisitions of CVM Diagnostico Veterinario S.L. and CVM Ecografia S.L., two sister companies in the veterinary diagnostics industry based in Spain. Loveland-based Heska, which produces its own set of blood tests and imaging tools for animals, said the companies initially agreed to a sale late last year.

MOVES

Silicon Valley Bank (Nasdaq: SIVB) relocated its Broomfield office to downtown Denver. The Santa Clara, California-based bank first opened an office in Boulder in 1996. That operation moved to 380 Interlocken Crescent in Broomfield in 2007, employing about 50. Now, the office has moved once again, to 1200 17th St. in the Tabor Center, which provides room for growth.

Lush Cosmetics LLC, a Vancouver, British Columbia, company with a long-time location at 1312 Pearl St. in Boulder, will relocate this spring to larger quarters at 1215 Pearl St. Nature’s Own, the previous occupant of the space, closed Dec. 29. It maintains retail locations in Nederland and Fort Collins and has a wholesale business that sells products to museum gift shops. The Nederland store has been the top performer for the company.

Equinox, the sculpture of three horses visible to northbound Interstate 25 drivers as they exit onto U.S. Highway 34, will be removed and stored to make way for changes to the interchange caused by the expansion of I-25. The sculpture, created by three Loveland residents, will be relocated when a position for it is selected.

OPENING

Torchy’s Tacos was to open its first Boulder restaurant Feb. 5, bringing to eight the number of Colorado restaurants for the Austin, Texas-based taco chain. The Boulder restaurant is located in the former Turley’s Kitchen space at 2805 Pearl St., at the northeast corner of 28th and Pearl streets. Torchy’s, which was founded in a food trailer in Austin in 2006, providing traditional street tacos, also operates restaurants in Fort Collins, Denver, Greenwood Village and Highlands Ranch. The chain operates 73 locations in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: SPWH), which has a location in Colorado, will open a store in Parker this month. It will be the retailer’s seventh location in the state. The company, which sells hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, apparel and footwear merchandise, also is adding stores in Brentwood and Corona, California.

North Range Behavioral Health opened a counseling center in Frederick Jan. 17 after brealomg ground on the new building last April. The 12,000-square-foot center at 5901 Majestic St. has room for seven therapists overseeing therapy across age groups and specific needs, such as driving-under-the-influence counseling.

PRODUCT UPDATE

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking clinical review for Boulder-based Clovis Oncology Inc. (Nasdaq: CLVS) as it tries to expand the reach of its flagship drug to treat other types of cancer. Clovis said the FDA approved its application to begin clinical trials for Rubraca as a standalone treatment for advanced forms of prostate cancer and granted it priority review. Rubraca, the company’s only drug approved for sale in the United States and European Union, primarily is prescribed to ovarian-cancer patients and survivors to lower the chance of relapse, but is thought to help control solid-tumor forms of cancer caused by a specific genetic mutation.

Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder developed a new hard seltzer product line called Sparkle, which will be available for purchase throughout the brewery’s distribution network this month. Sparkle will be 5 percent alcohol by volume, 100 calories, and 1.5 carbs and will come in cherry lime, grapefruit, and CranRaz.

Little Secrets LLC, a Boulder-based company that produces Fair Trade Certified candy, added cookie bars to its lineup of natural products. The cookie bars are available in both milk and dark-chocolate flavors. Retailers to carry the brand include Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, PCCs, Fresh Thyme and Central Market.

SERVICES

Longmont Power & Communications will continue to provide electric vehicle charging for free at city-owned charging stations. The city has been providing free charging since August. Stations have been used more than 1,100 times, triple the usage in all of 2018. Longmont’s city-owned EV charging stations are located at the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, in the 300 E.  Main St. parking area; a lot between Third and Fourth avenues; the Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road; the Longmont Service Center, 1100 S. Sherman St.; and the St. Vrain Memorial Building, 700 Longs Peak Ave.

Zayo Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO) activated a new wavelength route between Montreal and Albany, New York. From Albany, routes traverse either east to Boston or south to New York City and most other northeast markets. The Montreal area is a hub for technology. This wavelength route provides a differentiated option for carriers, fintech, webscale and other enterprises needing high-speed, dedicated connectivity.