Steamboat Springs Affiliated Steamboat Springs companies Big Agnes and Honey Stinger just keep growing.
The Edward Lowe Foundation is spotlighting Big Agnes this month as one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch, an award it granted Big Agnes and Steamboat's Boa Technology in May. The award is in its first year and recognizes second-stage companies, or those that have six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generate $750,000 to $50 million in annual sales or working capital.
The foundation is working with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and business entities across the state to honor this year's 50 recipients. Each winner receives a weeklong feature online at http://companiestowatch.org.
Noreen Moore, the business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, nominated seven Steamboat companies for the award. Five were finalists.
Tuesday at Big Agnes and Honey Stinger's shared warehouse on Copper Ridge Circle, warehouse assistant manager Paul Geppert said a down economy is actually helping Big Agnes sell its outdoor gear.
"People aren't going on Disneyland vacations," Geppert said. "They're packing a tent and a sleeping bag and going camping in national parks. We haven't really felt the impact of the recession at all - actually, we've done very well."
Warehouse manager Diego Girard, originally from Argentina, said Big Agnes ships more than 150 boxes a day to locations across the country and the globe.
Geppert said Big Agnes recently has begun shipping products to outdoor clothing and gear retail giants Cabela's and L.L. Bean.
Honey Stinger, which shares a co-owner and employees with Big Agnes, also is adding contracts for its energy gel packets.
Geppert said the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks buy Honey Stinger packets for their National Football League athletes.
On the collegiate level, University of Utah, Utah State University, University of Missouri and University of Tennessee buy Honey Stinger, he said.
Girard said he heard anecdotally that former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler found Honey Stinger packets at a Whole Foods grocery store and encouraged the Broncos to pick up the product.
The Cutler story didn't sit well with Geppert.
"Ah, he's in Chicago, you don't want to talk about him," Geppert said, referring to an off-season trade that sent Cutler to the Chicago Bears.
He also joked that the Broncos' 4-0 start could be attributed to Honey Stinger.
An informal, fun atmosphere pervades the Big Agnes warehouse, where 25-year-old Denton Turner worked Tuesday in a flannel shirt, Carhartt hat and hiking shoes.
"I'm outdoors all the time," Turner said.
"The company is great for us because they allow us to demo the products."
Geppert said although summer is the busiest season for Big Agnes, there is little slowdown heading into winter.
"We're busy all year round," he said, citing the new 2010 gear due to arrive in December. "In January, we're supplying big retailers with their spring stock."
Big Agnes co-owner Len Zanni said the Colorado Company to Watch award was a "great recognition for all the hard work that our staff has put in to Big Agnes. We have a great crew both at our store and our warehouse."
Moore said Big Agnes is an example of successful entrepreneurship.
"They're one of the representatives of what we call micro-companies," Moore said. "They just add so much to the economic mix and economic health of the community."