Decisions that Echo into the Future

Jun 14, 2016 | Uncategorized

Two recent events got me thinking about the relationships between small and large businesses and how decisions echo down through the generations.

The first was the Small Business of the Year Awards Breakfast at the Marriott in May. My organization hosts this event to celebrate our community’s small businesses in general and to recognize a select group of finalists.

The stories about the companies are always interesting and how they started varies widely, but the sense of pride and passion is a common thread. Not everybody is capable of running a successful company, so it’s always inspiring to be around people like this.

The finalists in the four judging categories were Eger CPA Co., Frameworks, High Country Beverage, 970 Services, Outpost Sunsport, Vern’s Toffee, Big O Tires Fort Collins, Flexx Productions, Burke Cleaners, Merit Electric, Elevate Chiropractic, and Road Warrior Creative.

The keynote speaker at the event was Richard Bisson, President and CEO of Water Pik, Inc. In addition to his inspiring speech, I loved the symbolism of the leader of a name-brand company founded in 1962 in a garage in Fort Collins talking to small businesspeople.  It is a reminder of the power of innovation and how past decisions echo forward into the future. And, how small companies can grow big.

The other event was the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for the Woodward Lincoln Campus at the northwest corner of Lemay and Mulberry. I had seen the site and facility plans, have been on the property several times during construction and knew it was a wonderful project. Even so, I was impressed. The buildings are remarkable and sit beautifully on the site.

Included are two main structures. The ITS facility is the factory where industrial turbomachinery control systems (engine controls, valves, actuators, safety systems, auxiliary, and combustion systems) for gas and steam turbines and compressors are designed and manufactured. The building has a 7-acre footprint with 303,320 total square feet.

The other building is Woodward’s international headquarters of 60,000 square feet.

Again, I couldn’t help but think about the connection with small businesses and how decisions echo into the future. Woodward’s annual economic impact on Northern Colorado exceeds $100 million. Hundreds of small companies and thousands of people benefit from that. In turn, Woodward and its employees have access to local goods and services provided by those businesses.

In 1955 Dr. Fred Humphrey of Fort Collins found out that his childhood friend, Irl Martin, president of Rockford Illinois-based Woodward, was looking for land for a new facility in the west. Dr. Humphrey hustled over to the chamber of commerce and by 1957 Woodward had a new facility in Fort Collins. Decades later, in 2007, Woodward relocated its corporate headquarters here, which is a big deal.

Corporate headquarters employ highly-skilled, well-paid professionals who are prone to invest significant time and financial resources in community development and causes. Corporate headquarters also purchase high-end professional services like accounting, auditing and financial services, many of them locally. Then, as noted above, employees are making local purchases.

Together, big and small companies add to the diversity and stability of the local economy. And, we are the beneficiaries of decisions made in the distant past and need to pay that forward.

This article was originally published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on June 12, 2016