On June 22, 2012, Alamosa business owners Randy and Micah Jackson of Rustic Log Furniture were recognized in Denver as one of Colorado’s Companies to Watch. This competitive process narrowed down the nominations to just 50 companies, which were highlighted in the ColoradoBiz, June 2012, magazine. As Mike Cote summarizes in his article, these companies are “successful, they’re growing and, chances are, you might be hearing about many of them for the first time.”
Colorado has become one of the "shining star examples" of how to conduct the program, says Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development at the Edward Lowe Foundation, which also oversees Companies to Watch programs in several other states.
"Second-stage companies are an important component in Colorado’s economy and a significant driver of job growth," said Ken Lund, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. "These companies account for nearly 39 percent of the state’s economy in terms of sales and are responsible for 34 percent of all of the jobs created."
Recognizing and celebrating the impact of these companies represents a major step toward ensuring the state creates the proper environment for them to succeed. Second-stage companies are looking for something more than business planning and marketing assistance. And they tend to move fast, Lewandowski says.
"They need much more sophisticated help, services that deliver pertinent information and guidance can play an incredible role," Lewandowski says. "They tend to learn from their peers. That’s where they feel there are trusted sources. Activities that are peer-to-peer are very important them."
Executives in these companies often are facing leadership issues that come with leaping to the next stage, Lewandowski says. "They start to look at management in a very different way because the entrepreneur can no longer be the person that takes care of everything at this company. Their growth issues and their strategy issues are very different than at early stage."
Snapshot: Alamosa-based Rustic Log Furniture manufactures log furniture products using dead standing aspen from the Rocky Mountain forests and distributes them to retail stores across the country.
Leadership: Randy and Micah Jackson were founders of the business in 1996. Randy served as the Chair for the Alamosa Economic Development Corporation and they also volunteer as speakers for the Leading Edge Business Seminar. Randy also serves on the Adams State University Foundation Board. They are graduates from Adams State and are involved in their local church and community.
Work force: Rustic Log furniture ended 2011 with 35 full-time-equivalent employees, a 71 percent increase over the previous year. It expects to employ 45 this year.
Pivotal moment: When Rustic Log outgrew its manufacturing location, the company leased adjoining property that had more acreage and highway frontage. Walk-in traffic surged as a result.
Technological edge: Rustic Log Furniture is connected with most of its suppliers for virtual automation of the inventory-ordering processes. The invoice software is linked to the factory’s batch processing reports that export piece lists for the various work stations. Machinists used by Rustic Log have developed new equipment and modified existing equipment to optimize various processes.
Competitive Edge: Rustic Log Furniture has developed, streamlined, and automated processes to deal with the irregular nature of log furniture. Its product line is the most extensive in the industry, according to the company. Competitive advantages it has realized from collaborating with suppliers and distribution networks have allowed it to price products 10 percent to 20 percent below the competition.
Growth curve: The company’s revenues soared 34 percent in 2011 over the previous year, and it is projecting a 20 percent gain this year.
For more information, please see: http://www.cobizmag.com/articles/50-colorado-companies-to-watch-2012.