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 Green Business of the Year finalists: Ardent Mills, Gleam Car Wash and Gone for Good. The winner will be announced live on April 27.
Ardent Mills Connecting the Farmer to the Consumer
Ardent Mills is more than just a flour milling company, they are a connector – bringing wheat farmers to consumers.
“We’re in a really unique position where we can see the supply chain end to end. We can work with the farmer and the grower in the field and get to the consumer on the fork,” said Jeff Zyskowski, vice president of supply chain for Ardent Mills.
Ardent Mills is North America’s leading flour supplier and grain innovator with more than 40 community flour mills and blending facilities throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Colorado farmers are part of the reason why Ardent Mills picked Denver as their headquarters four years ago: “Our business is built off wheat farmers and they are growing this crop here in Colorado,” Ardent Mills CEO Dan Dye said.
Another reason why they moved their headquarters to Denver, “there’s an importance of sustainability and doing business the right way,” Zyskowski said. “That’s been something that drew us here.”
Ardent Mills has four pillars around sustainability: agriculture, operations, transportation and packaging. Last year alone, they were able to take the equivalent of 1,300 cars, 2,000 trucks and over 80 railcars off the roads through efficiencies around greenhouse gas emissions.
Wheat is only one part of the story. When you walk into Ardent Mills headquarters in Denver, you can smell innovation. From fresh bread to caramels, Ardent Mills’ test kitchen gives them the opportunity to try new recipes and ways to utilize their flour.
They are taking innovation one step further and partnering with Colorado farmers to create specific wheat varieties. Recently partnering with Colorado State University to develop a wheat strand called Snowmass.
“That’s a great partnership with Colorado farmers,” Dye said. “That brings the farmers all the way to the consumer and be a part of that food story.”
That food story is what Ardent Mills is striving towards making sustainable and here for the future generation of farmers. “We come to work every day to help to feed the world,” Dye said. “And, we’re really proud to be a Colorado company based here in Denver.”
Gleam Car Wash Goes Green with Its Clean
Gleam Car Wash aims be more than just a place you take your car to get cleaned. “We could just have a car wash,” said Owner of Gleam Car Wash Emilie Baratta. But the 18-month-old northwest Denver company is a community place with a commitment to being ecofriendly in everything that they do.
Gleam Car Wash recaptures 90 percent of the water that they use in their tunnel. They use only 15 gallons of drinking water, compared to the 100 gallons a typical car wash uses.
“We live in the neighborhood, so it’s very important to us that Gleam Car Wash be reflective of the neighborhood personality and spirit,” Baratta said. “We’ve created about 35 well-paying jobs in our neighborhood.”
Part of Gleam’s employee hiring model is a social equity hiring process where they recruit, train and hire individuals with cognitive disabilities. Some of their employees haven’t had experience working in a car wash before, but that’s where training and culture comes in. “We have a phenomenal staff,” said Robert Madrid, owner-operator of Gleam Car Wash.
Madrid and “captain planet”, his nickname for Burratta, have worked to make Gleam as green as they possibly could. They have a 41-kilowatt array of solar on our roof, with plans to add 42 more kilowatt on our other roof, 32 variable frequency drives, computers that ramp up each motor slowly so there’s no spike in electricity and there is 100 percent LED lighting throughout the car wash.
Gleam wants to leave their environment better off and that includes in their community. A portion of their proceeds go to two local nonprofits, Groundwork Denver and Children’s Hospital of Colorado. They also work with schools in their neighborhood to fundraise.
“We do believe in giving back in our community,” Baratta said. “It does make people feel good to bring their cars and their business to our business, because they know that we’re more than just washing cars.”
Junk ‘Gone for Good,’ But Out of the Landfill
It’s easy to understand that Gone for Good could be confused with a moving company. With a box truck and a warehouse filled wall-to-wall with boxes, stacks of books, computer towers and more, they are doing a lot of moving of items people no longer want – but they’re not going to the landfill.
“Gone for Good is an ecofriendly junk hauling company where we take stuff out of home, business and we try and find all of that stuff a second home,” said Reid Husmer, owner of Gone for Good.
Gone for Good was founded nine years ago, embracing the sustainability model of reduce, reuse, recycle and taking it one step further by also reselling gently used items.
“We put the resell in there because there are so many items that are coming out of houses that still have some value,” Husmer said.
They resell items in their thrift store located just down the street from their warehouse on Kalamath and 1st Avenue. Shoppers can find anything from furniture, outdoor equipment to even an outfit worn by Prince – there’s always a hidden treasure.
Gone for Good is committed to finding a new home for almost everything that comes off their trucks, and part of that is by donating items to local charities from mattresses for the Denver Housing Authority to providing sleeping bags and jackets to Denver Rescue Mission, and donating over 450 cubic feet of materials to RAFT Colorado for teachers to reuse.
“We try to give back to the community as much as we can,” said David Camit, operations manager for Gone for Good. “We try and supply as much as we can.”
Camit and Husmer hope that their recycling model leaves an ecofriendly footprint on the community to think about how they recycle. And, they’re proud of what they do day-in and day-out.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but you find the team and the energy to do it. And, we’re very proud. Not only is it not going to trash, it’s going to recycle. Not only is it not sitting in the landfill, it’s going to someone in need,” Husmer said. “It’s a good feeling when you work that hard.”
Laura James is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Denver Metro Chamber.