This past year has been a year of uncertainty, but it also has been a time for business to adapt, innovate and show how resilient their teams are. Our 2021 Business Awards finalists reflected on what this past year meant for their business and what resiliency means to them.
Get to know our 2021 finalists and celebrate them on April 14 at our 2021 Business Awards presented by BOK Financial.
Bespoke took each challenge one day at a time and responded with character, determination and heart.
“Bespoke banded together with our industry partners, to support one another, and to move forward despite the challenges that the world has posed. We showed up for each other, our clients and our partners. We prioritized COVID-19 safety to ensure a welcoming coworking environment for our team while at the same time remembering that there was still fun to be had! We refocused on our greatest gifts as an organization and how we can share those gifts with our clients and help them all to connect people to the heart of their brand.” – Eric Deffenbaugh, co-founder of Bespoke, 2021 Small Business of the Year finalist
cliexa evolved its technology to support their clients.
“In the past year, cliexa has witnessed a sharp transition in care delivery and the way our technology supports our clients. This shift required listening and learning to adapt to our clients’ new method of treating patients. We developed several new solutions including telehealth and virtual check-in processes to meet the needs of the evolved market and improve our entire platform. Our willingness to learn and adapt during this uncertain time not only had direct benefits for our clients, but we emerged as a stronger, more robust product and company.” – Ashley Darnell, director of product for cliexa, 2021 Start-up Business of the Year finalist
Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) supported their team and community to navigate uncertainty.
“At DSF, resiliency has been embodied by my coworkers who authentically support and encourage each other to rest, restore, re-calibrate, innovate and stand up one more time. They experience an obstacle in doing their work and together they innovate and support each other to overcome it or to try again tomorrow. All are fueled by the energy they get from each other. I have never worked at an organization where every employee engages with each other this way. Before COVID, I experienced this in small doses, but over the past year it has been an exponentially powerful antidote to the challenges we’ve faced.” – Patricia Whitehouse, director of human resources for DSF, 2021 Large Nonprofit of the Year finalist
Emerge Professional Services rallied as a team to meet growing demand.
“Resiliency is doing whatever it takes. Our team did whatever it took to support one another, both financially and emotionally. It meant that everyone in the organization became salespeople for six months, and as a team, we brought in enough revenue for us to avoid layoffs and allowed us to not only pay full rewards but also add to staff to meet a growing demand.” – John Reid, founder of Emerge Professional Services, 2021 Start-up Business of the Year finalist
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver focused on its mission on advocating for solutions to housing inequities.
“Resiliency is the capacity to recover from whatever challenges come your way and learn from them for the future. At Habitat, our teamwork made us resilient over the past 12 months. It wasn’t always easy, but we figured it out together. We remained mission-focused. We all understand that our mission is bigger than any of us individually, and that allowed us to make decisions with clarity and purpose. We stayed true to who we are as a housing developer, community builder, mortgage lender and advocate for systemic solutions to the housing inequity people experience across our community.” – Heather Lafferty, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, 2021 Large Nonprofit of the Year finalist
Heart & Hand Center connected with community to tackle challenges.
“2020 has been the most challenging year in Heart & Hand’s 10-year history, but it has simultaneously been the year that we’ve seen our true capacity and brilliance radiate stronger than ever … Heart & Hand’s deep and meaningful connection to this diverse community ensures we will not only survive, but thrive, no matter what challenges we face. Heart & Hand has stayed laser-focused on our mission to create a nurturing community that empowers young people to realize their potential.” – Mary Cipollone, executive director of Heart & Hand, 2021 Small Nonprofit of the Year finalist
Metro Caring adapted to respond to our community’s growing need for solutions to food insecurity – from providing walk-up delivery models to increasing monthly visits for food assistance to safely maintaining community gardens.
“The pandemic and the economic fallout affected all of us, but it did not affect us all equally. It fell onto the backs of Black, Latinx and Indigenous people who have borne the brunt of 400 years of persistent and grinding systemic racism. Metro Caring’s diverse community consists of over 80% people of color and people of all ages and abilities. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed each other’s pain and strength in ways that would be hard for many people to imagine. We did our best to show up for one another … We’re still averaging 300% of pre-COVID levels of need for emergency food and expect need to remain high for at least two more years. However, food insecurity in Colorado is not an issue unique to the pandemic. Resilience means more than getting through. It means reimaging a better way. It means putting in the hard work to rebuild back better together. It means finding joy in the work together along the way. Our community, which includes our staff, board members, volunteers, community partners, donors and our program participants – they are the personification of resiliency.” –Teva Sienicki, CEO of Metro Caring, 2021 Large Nonprofit of the Year finalist
Novitas Communications rolled up their sleeves to navigate a challenging year.
“Resiliency is the ability to adapt and pivot quickly in the face of adversity. Last year was by far the most challenging year for our business, and it meant rolling up our sleeves and exhausting our resources and creativity for our clients. It was pivotal for us to basically throw out our existing business model and ask ourselves “what is it going to take to make it?” We executed on our new plan that included new products and services and, as a result, we even gained new clients during this pandemic crisis. We also took a surgical look at revenue and expenses and adjusted to preserve cash flow and, because of this, were able to avoid any employee layoffs or pay cuts.” – Michelle Lyng, president of Novitas Communications, 2021 Minority or Women-Owned Business of the Year finalist
Project Helping shifted to virtual volunteer events to help our community continue to give back.
“We believe that the simple definition for resiliency is the ability to adapt to the situation around you. But to us, resiliency is so much more – it’s about never giving up. Resiliency is found in the moments when your path suddenly gets shifted and instead of being paralyzed, you find the courage to move forward … Project Helping has always been based on connection and community. We knew that the next pandemic to follow COVID-19 would be a mental health one, and we are passionate about continuing to provide support. We shifted our in-person volunteer events to Kynd Kits and created virtual volunteer events and mental health discussion events. Resiliency has meant learning ways to continue to deliver our mission meaningfully in a time when it was needed more than ever before.” – The team at Project Helping, 2021 Small Nonprofit of the Year finalist
RK kept their employees safe while building new business.
“Resiliency to RK has always been the willingness to be flexible during times of distress. Our resiliency through the COVID-19 pandemic situation was at its height. After the initial shock of the situation and after construction and manufacturing were deemed essential business, RK began immediate communications with employees on a daily basis to keep all team members informed and educated on the situation at hand. Our focus was on the health and safety of our employees … As the year evolved, our businesses were able to successfully complete our work and book sufficient new business to eliminate the long-term effect of lay-offs or furloughs.” – Rick Kinning, CEO and chairman of RK, 2021 Disruptor of the Year finalist
WeeCycle is providing basics to families in need to help them navigate COVID-19.
“Resilience means being able to keep on going through challenges and to come out stronger on the other side. I can’t help but think about how WeeCycle can support resilient families, working hard to provide for their children. If we can give a little support, a little hope by providing families with just the basics: diapers, wipes, formula or baby food, maybe, just maybe, we can create a space where they can recover more quickly from this pandemic. WeeCycle can be a part of these families’ support systems that help them overcome challenges and find the strength within themselves to create a stable foundation for their children to thrive.” – Morgan Seibel, executive director of WeeCycle, 2021 Small Nonprofit of the Year finalist
Workplace Resource collaborated to reimagine the workplace.
“2020 was marked as a year that our company, employees and community faced unprecedented adversity. Our team adapted by keeping our main focus at the forefront of every decision and every communication – take care of each other and take care of our customers … As a company that provides interior solutions to businesses throughout the Colorado region during a period of abrupt vacancy from offices, the future of our business was at stake. We re-evaluated the purpose of the office and the future of hybrid work. We’re now on a path to help other businesses with this new understanding as we guide them on the best way for them and their teams to return to a workplace reimagined.” – Rachel Clark, COO of Workplace Resource, 2021 Minority or Women-Owned Business of the Year finalist
YellowDog leaned into the core values of community, creativity and curiosity.
“Resiliency has meant leaning into our core values as our true north during times of crisis. Since community is a guiding value for us, we built community by doing everything possible to take care of our staff, clients and neighbors. We definitely got creative – or scrappy, to put it plainly – by setting up a pay-in-advance promotion for our best clients and diversifying our revenue stream with B2C e-commerce. Our curiosity led us to survey our target market and gain new insights into its changing needs. Core values helped us feel optimistic and more in control of the situation, which is so important for resiliency.” – Cynthia Ord, marketing manager at YellowDog, 2021 Small Business of the Year finalist