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.
CEO Steve Swinney founded Kodiak Building Partners in 2011 to bring an economy of scale to the building materials sector.
Kodiak has since acquired more than 100 locations in 25 states with 6,000-plus employees, as the revenue has soared in the last decade.
Swinney called Kodiak’s “decentralized business model” a differentiator. “Unlike many competitors, Kodiak’s backend support has helped enable growth across its portfolio of brands, while maintaining local independence and decision-making autonomy,’ he says. “Kodiak’s financial success and growth is a testament to how well this model works. In the past five years, Kodiak has delivered more than 10 times the return on their original investment in transactions to acquire new operating partners.”
It’s all about operational efficiency. Kodiak, for example, recently evaluated its accounts payable processes and reduced workloads by 80 percent, which enabled the team staffed around those tasks to refocus on other value-added projects.
Fostering culture as a holding company has been a challenge, but a welcome one, Swinney adds. “It’s commonplace for holding companies to establish a standard ‘corporate’ culture that’s big on compliance and often lacking in personality. Kodiak took another approach in establishing its culture, intentionally embracing a decentralized model where the corporate office more often flies under the radar of its operating partner brands.”
The strategy allows companies in the portfolio to build on existing strengths as part of a broader network of suppliers. “Kodiak doesn’t come in and conduct corporate shakeups,” Swinney says. “Communication flows both from the top down and from the bottom up.”
Kodiak recently launched a program to support leadership development across the company: The inaugural class of Kodiak’s Emerging Leaders program graduated in spring 2023.
It’s all about energy efficiency at the largest residential HVAC replacement contractor in Colorado and the leading Daikin dealer in the state. Cooper Heating & Cooling — aka the Cooper Green Team — has been Xcel Energy’s top partner for furnace, AC and heat pump rebates for the last 13 years.
Founded in 1978, the contractor has grown by leaps and bounds over the decades. “At almost 180 people, we are starting to grow out of that mom-and-pop shop, which is good and bad,” says owner and CEO Luke Cooper. “We are able to offer better insurance, 401(k) and other support, but it has been very important for us to keep that mom-and-pop feel.”
The company has turned around after former leadership drove the company into debt about five years ago. “We were overdrawn on every account and on credit hold with every vendor in town.” said Cooper. “This was the hardest professional thing we have ever had to overcome, but it made us better in every way. Our team showed amazing support and together we became more efficient, structured, and successful by working together as a team.”
Founded in 2010, I-kota is a general contractor specializing in the construction of multi-family affordable housing. The 52-employee company is now one of the top three builders in the affordable housing market sector in Colorado with more than 3,100 affordable units completed, as revenue more than tripled from 2019 to 2022.
CEO Riley McLaughlin had to pivot in 2016 after his business partner left I-kota. “In this process, we implemented a new organizational chart, promoting three individuals from within the company, hiring an outside CFO, and sizing our business to commit to being a $50 million a year company,” McLaughlin says. “What I’m personally most proud of through this difficult organizational transition was that we had zero turnover in personnel and have a solid relationship today with our previous business partner.”
McLaughlin says the company emphasizes people over all else. “We rewrite our business plan each year, and we do not put a growth percentage in there,” he says. “We believe that could be fueled by ego and as a company we attempt to stay as far from that behavior as we can. Instead, we understand the difficulty of hiring people. We are investing heavily in our current staff to limit any turnover and increase the quality of our product.”
And he says, “Bigger does not mean great.”
© 2023 ColoradoBiz Magazine.