The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Business Awards celebrate organizations from across the region who are leading in their field and making an impact in the community – writing our next chapter as a great community to live and do business.
Meet the 2018 Minority or Woman-Owned Business of the Year finalists: Copper Door Coffee Roasters, Emergenetics International and FruitRevival. The winner will be announced live on April 27.
Copper Door Brews Success in Coffee
When Hannah Ulbrich bought Copper Door Coffee Roasters and began roasting, she was surprised to find men dominated that field.
“I thought there’s really no reason that should be the case,” said Ulbrich, who is the only 100-percent woman-owned roastery in Denver. “So, we’ve started working with other women to empower them to roast.”
While she offers roasting classes to the public, she also works to empower women through her business: her management team and roaster are women and she imports coffees from woman-owned producers from around the world.
Ulbrich purchased Copper Door from friend Sinjin Eberle five years ago. The business has gone from roasting coffee beans in a garage to growing the wholesale business nationally and running two local cafés. Her “first go-to resource” – and an ongoing consulting partner – is the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center, an affiliate of the Chamber.
She mentors other women in the coffee roasting business, is on the board of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance and is a judge for Roasters Guild competitions. In addition to being engaged in the coffee community, Copper Door gives back more broadly.
The business is 100-percent wind powered. They regularly partner with local schools, providing a portion of the day’s proceeds to that school and they just partnered with 2018 Business Awards Green Business of the Year Finalist, Gone for Good, on a bra drive.
They offer free community meeting space at their cafés, located in the Baker and Lowry neighborhoods: “Copper Door Coffee is here to serve more than a great cup of coffee because we really want to be a space for the community.”
She acknowledges that while the craft coffee scene is competitive, she and fellow roasters work together to put Denver on the map: “It’s just getting good coffee in the right hands.”
Emergenetics Builds Better Teams
Team members at Emergenetics International pride themselves on living their work.
Bright wheels with varying proportioned wedges of blue, yellow, red and green dot desks, mousepads and walls outside offices, showcasing their Emergenetics profiles, outlining how each person works best.
“We’re a strength-based tool. Our goal is that you understand what your gifts are,” said Founder and CEO Geil Browning. “We tell them how to use their gifts to make a difference in terms of their creativity, their productivity, how to communicate with others and build teams.”
Browning created the assessment, which asks 100 questions and benchmarks responses against thousands of others from across the globe (42 percent of their population is from outside North America), with Wendell Williams in 1991.
“We believe very much if you have all the right brains in the room, there isn’t much you can’t do,” Browning said.
Under the Emergenetics approach, that means focusing on what she calls cognitive diversity – or bringing together people who think in different ways, whether analytical, structural, social or conceptual – to take on a task, whether in school or in a business.
Emergenetics uses that approach in their office, from how they build their teams to how they engage their team. “That’s part of the transparency that we’re very proud of,” Browning said.
Browing credits the company’s growth to the commitment of the team. They bring that commitment to the community, too. Emergenetics offers two paid days to employees to volunteer, matches all employee contributions to charity and supports organizations like the Florence Crittenton and Ronald McDonald House of Denver. And, their budget always starts with 10 percent of gross profits going to charity, Browning said.
Staff describe Emergenetics as a harmonious work environment, but for Browning, it’s more than work: “I always say, ‘Welcome to the family.’”
FruitRevival Makes Snacking Healthier, Convenient
Crates filled with citrus, pears and apples lean over an assembly line of people hand-picking and placing the fruits into bright orange boxes. They’ll then be delivered to companies across the Front Range as a different kind of snack for the office: FruitRevival.
“We make it easy to eat healthy at work,” said co-owner Melissa Edison Barnes.
She and twin sister, Jennifer Zatz have been working to do just that since 2011, when they bought the company from a friend.
Employers can provide smart options, the sisters said – and it leads to short and long-term benefits – from avoiding productivity slumps to health care cost savings.
“We like to think that we’re a resource for employers in terms of retention and creating an environment that they want for their employees,” Barnes said.
At a time when on-demand delivery is growing among grocers and restaurants, Barnes said they want to stand out and point to their connection to local, small businesses and local growers whose products and produce make up their boxes.
“You can’t slow down, because if you slow down your business slows down,” she said.
Being a woman-owned business is part of what makes them stand out: “We bring a different perspective, we bring different values,” Zatz said.
They are working to be a zero-waste company, starting with reusable delivery boxes. Any produce that can’t be used in their boxes goes to Metro Caring and We Don’t Waste, who can distribute it to those in need.
They began providing healthy produce at the Chamber for its staff and members after hearing its President and CEO Kelly Brought talk about the importance of workplace wellness on the radio.
That membership has also made an impact on their business, Barnes said: “There is a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit here … I think the Chamber has embraced that and embodied that.”
Sara Crocker is the communications manager for the Denver Metro Chamber.