Archive for March, 2008

OK, after reading about another down day on the market and how Bear Stearns CEO just pocketed $63 million anyway, I felt like taking a walk and getting some fresh air. But wait a minute. It is raining and cold out, rather miserable weather.

So I punch in downtown Boulder Pearl Street Mall on Google Maps and notice there’s now a “street view” for downtown Boulder, with much of Pearl Street, Spruce, Walnut and Canyon. But once you hit the pedestrian mall, you can’t go any further. I presume this is because Google films their street views from a car or van, and, of course, no vehicles allowed on the walking mall.

Although I read about this new Google tool (and how a few people were embarrassed by being caught on camera, like the guy walking out of a strip club), I’d never tried it out.

It’s really quite nifty. The areas available for the street view are shaded in yellow, and you can drag this little yellow man around to wherever you’d like to take a stroll. By moving your cursor right or left, you get a view up or down the street.

So there I was on the corner of 11th and Pearl, looking at Old Chicago but unable to cruise down the mall. I really thought maybe they captured some of the street entertainers. All I could do was jump my little guy over the pedestrian mall down to the parking garage at 15th and stare longingly back down the mall where I had hoped to go.

Well, maybe this is all for the best. If you really need to get some air and take in some people watching, shouldn’t you just get down to the real mall itself? Spring is here, the downtown mall flowers should be blooming soon. And if you’ve never seen Zip Code Man, then by all means, plan some downtown mall walks real soon.

Categories : Web/Tech
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Boulder County Business Hall of Fame

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Boulder County Business Hall of Fame
Originally uploaded by JerryLewis

Laurence Paddock, whose grandfather founded the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, and me at a cocktail party for new and past inductees of the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame at the Radisson Conference Center in Longmont.

Laurence and I are two of the original board members on the Hall of Fame. Laurence was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, as the plaque behind us shows. His father, A.A. “Gov” Paddock, also is in the Hall of Fame.

The event, held March 18, leads into this year’s Hall of Fame induction luncheon on May 1.

Categories : Business
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Frozen Dead Guy Days Fan

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Frozen Dead Guy Days Fan
Originally uploaded by JerryLewis

Here’s a spectator watching the coffin races at Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days. Lots of mud, snow and fun.

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Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days

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Gorilla Photographer, originally uploaded by JerryLewis.

I had never been up to Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days, but caught some of the action at the coffin races as well as watching people jump into absolutely freezing creek water. Even the gorilla team in the coffin race had to get team photos.

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A longtime Boulder entrepreneurial publishing company, Inside Communications, Inc (ICI), the parent company of VeloNews, Inside Triathlon, VeloPress, VeloGear, VeloSwap and their Web sites, is telling their own story online of how they got started in 1986 with an idea over dinner at a trade show.

The company recently agreed to be purchased by the Competitor Group, which publishes Competitor and Triathlete magazines. Competitor Group is owned by Falconhead Capital, a New York private equity firm.

The story presents an inside look at how the company literally rode the wave of the popularity of bicycling and bike racing, and, of course, what better place to do that than the bicycling capital of the world, Boulder, Colorado.

The story is written by John Wilcockson, one of the founders of the first magazine called Inside Cycling with Susan Eastman and Felix Magowan.

Boulder gets a lot of attention for many things, including biking, climbing, natural foods, tech entrepreneurs, to name a few, but what is not always mentioned is how the city also has been a very strong arena for several successful and entrepreneurial publishing and event companies, including Inside Communications; New Hope Media (sold to Penton); Nexus Publishing (a holistic health and spirituality journal); SKI and Skiing magazines, (both owned by Bonnier Corporation, which also operates Warren Miller films) and a large number of newspaper and magazine publishers in a relatively small market.

We kept a database of publishers at Boulder County Business Report, sold earlier this year to Cincinatti-based Brown Publishing, and at last count, there were about 23 newspapers of all sizes just in the Boulder Valley area. And that does not count several free circulation magazines such as Elephant Journal, with a New Age and yoga niche, and Boulder Magazine, published by Brock Publishing. You’ll also find niche trade magazines, such as Solar Today, published by the Boulder-based American Solar Energy Society.

Having run the Business Report for years, I had many good employees recruited away to other local publishing companies, but I also recruited several staffers to our papers from their ranks.

As always, it’s a fairly small world in Boulder, and publishers keep tabs on one another. Fortunately, the city is a magnet for talented writers, photographers and designers, many willing to leave the larger city markets for the quality of life Boulder offers.

Categories : Business, Sports
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For businesses looking for some local marketing ideas, 2009 will be one of those opportunities that only come around once every 150 years. The only trick will be spelling sesquicentennial in your advertising.

Maybe you should just call it Boulder’s 150th anniversary.

The first gold discovery reported in the mountains of Colorado took place at Gold Run in the Gold Hill area in 1858, and on Feb. 10, 1859 the Boulder City Town Company was formed.

Although an initial Web site is up at, organizers are just starting to think about how the city will recognize those early pioneer days when prospectors arrived at the foot of Boulder Canyon.

Although fund-raising will be needed, the city of Boulder so far has only set aside $25,000 from its discretionary funds to get planning started. As one person pointed out, just to put up banners on the Pearl Street Mall would cost about $20,000, so the key right now is “volunteer labor” and “pro bono” services.

Former city councilman Dan Corson is leading the organizing, with Marilyn Haas the point person for pulling committees together.

A logo for the 150th was designed by Mona Lambrecht, and a call for a Boulder design firm to assist with building a robust Web site has gone out. The 150th slogan is “Celebrating Community Through History.”

I took a look back 50 years ago when both Boulder and Colorado centennials took place to see what businesses did in 1959 for the celebration.

How long ago is 50 years? Well, Joyce’s Supermarket on 15th Street was selling rib steaks for 85 cents a pound; a dozen eggs went for 41 cents. You could buy a new 35mm Koni camera at Jones Camera on the hill for $24.95.

The fund-raising committee back then sold centennial souvenir plates for $1.50, with artwork showing local sites like Boulder High, the first public school in Colorado; Memorial Center; Arapahoe Glacier and the Flatirons.

Local merchants circulated souvenir wooden nickels and purchased peddler’s permits. For publicity, the wooden nickels were loaded into an armored car and delivered to Boulder stores. Organizers also sold shaver’s permit badges, centennial belle badges and derby hats.

Many businesses and individuals donated funds (the festival sold Debenture Bonds with the catch “something might happen so we can’t promise all of your dough back.”) A Boulder Centennial Directory recognized donors as Grub Stake Underwriters and included businesses still around today including Estey Printing Co., Jones Drug, Kinsley & Co., McCaddon Olds, Starr Clothing and Eads News. Businesses purchased small ads in the directory, listed by category such as Department Stores (Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penny), Gift Shops (The Pines and the Mountaineer Shop), Hotels & Motels (Boulderado, Harvest House, Lazy J Motel); Fritz Baehr and William Hofgard advertised under insurance; jewelers included Hurdle’s Jewelry and University Hill Jewelers, and the Fox-Boulder Theaters had the slogan “Get More Out of Life, Go Out to a Movie.” There was Fred’s Columbine Café – “Fred’s for Thick Steaks,” and Gamelines Sporting Goods, “Boulder’s Only Complete Sport Goods Store.”

The National State Bank of Boulder ran an ad offering the modern-day convenience of “Bank by Mail.” Boulder Industrial Bank had a contest with prizes including gold panning kits, a do-it-yourself settler’s kit and ceramic mustache cups.

One of my favorite promotions was the “Pink Poodle Posse,” the official greeters for dignitaries attending Colorado’s Centennial, with the theme of “Rush to the Rockies.” The posse was described as a “bevy of 20 beautiful teenagers” attired in pink Western costumes with pink-tinted poodles, and sponsored by the Mile High Kennel Club.

The official festival, with A.A. “Gov” Paddock as honorary chairman, ran July 25 to Aug. 5 and featured a horse show, downtown parade with floats and Pow Wow Rodeo. Merchants held an Old Fashioned Bargain Days with “now and then” window displays. Here’s one I hope comes back — the beard growing contest.

Performances of “Boulderama,” described as a cast of 600 on an outdoor panoramic stage at the high school stadium, ran several nights. One day was an “Industrial Salute to the Future.”

So now it’s up to Boulder businesses to get creative. The Boulder Chamber of Commerce is looking at recognizing “pioneer” businesses, and Avery Brewing reportedly has said it will brew up a sesquicentennial beer (hope that fits on a label.)

Ideas started to surface at a public meeting at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel, including a souvenir DVD that would collect citizen photos and videos from celebration events.

The official kickoff for the 150th will probably be at Boulder’s December Parade of Lights, with local businessman Stephen Tebo already volunteering to put a few of his collector cars in the parade.

Interested in getting involved in the sesquicentennial? First of all you have to prove you can spell it. Just joking. You can volunteer or send in ideas to, or if you’ve got a really great business idea, I’d be happy to pass it along.

Categories : Business
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One of the new six inductees for the 2008 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame represents one of the oldest knifemakers in the U.S. and one of Boulder’s oldest manufacturers as well.

Harlow C. Platts, who died at age 90 in 1983, entered the family business, Western States Cutlery, in 1919. Western States was known for their quality sheath and pocket knives and axes. The Western brand ended with the February 2007 closing of the Camillus Cutlery plant, which had purchased the brand name.

The earlier Western knives made here in Boulder were already sought after by knife collectors, and now even the more modern Western knives made by Camillus are rising in value.

Today, not many people remember Western’s business here in Boulder, but the company was an important employer. Its red brick buildings were a landmark at Broadway and Marine Street for more than 50 years until it moved in 1957 to a new building in Boulder Industrial Park on Arapahoe Avenue. The older manufacturing site was torn down in 1960.

When Harlow’s father retired, he and his brother Reginald managed the business for several decades. In 1978 the company moved to Longmont, where it was run by Platts’ son, Harvey.

The family’s knife-making history goes back to an early craftsman, Charles W. Platts, born in Sheffield, England in 1838. His father also had been an expert knife maker, according to “Western Knives and Knife Nostalgia.” Charles immigrated to America in 1866 and became superintendent of the Northfield Knife Co. in Northfield, Conn.

The “Western States” brand, now prized by knife collectors, met a strong demand by ranchers, miners, farmers and cowboys as the West began to grow. The Boulder factory was established by H.N. Platts, who moved west to Boulder in 1911. He trademarked the knives with the words “Western States” and “Sharp Cutlery” with a drawing of a buffalo skull in between, similar to the buffalo skulls that could be seen around the plains at the turn of the century.

Right after Pearl Harbor, Western States Cutlery began manufacturing knives for the armed forces, including knives for sailors cutting lines and a floating survival knife for downed pilots.

Foreign competition eventually spelled the end to the Western brand, as was the case for many U.S. knife manufacturers. Coleman Co. of Wichita, Kan., purchased Western Cutlery in 1984, after it had moved its manufacturing to Longmont in 1978. Then in 1989 Western went on the auction block. Coleman said it had considered moving the plant to Texas on the Mexico border to save on labor costs.

It appeared to be one more stop for the company, now out of the Platts’ hands, as a deal was announced to sell the company in 1990 to a Colorado investment group headed by Bob Hatting of Mancos, a small town near Durango. Hatting operated a small custom knife company, Wilderness Forge, in Mancos. Camillus bought the brand from Coleman. That deal never materialized, finally resulting in the sale of the product line, patents, orders and customer list to Camillus for $90,000, according to news reports. The contents of Western’s headquarters in Longmont, including many knives that were in a company museum, were auctioned off in August 1991.

Harlow Platts will be inducted into the Boulder County Hall of Fame at its 16th annual induction luncheon at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, May 1 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Longmont.

The Hall of Fame recognizes businessmen and women who have and continue to exemplify business, cultural and philanthropic achievements that serve as the foundation of our communities.

Other Hall of Fame inductees for 2008 are:

Peter D. Behrendt: Behrendt joined Exabyte in 1987 after spending 26 years with IBM. With Behrendt at the helm, Exabyte became a leading designer and manufacturer of computer tape drives and libraries, and contributed tens of millions of dollars in value creation to Boulder County through its successful IPO in 1989. Today he is chairman of ProStor Systems.

Joan Brett: Brett built the Culinary School of the Rockies (CSR) from an idea when she was a practicing attorney. The School is now a world-class institution that brings people to Boulder County from all over the United States.

John Fenstermaker: Fenstermaker joined IBM out of the University of North Dakota and held various challenging engineering and engineering management assignments at IBM and Staodyn, Inc.

Edwin Kanemoto: Kanemoto has been vice president and co-owner of Longmont’s largest real estate company, Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors, since 1977. He has been one of the leading commercial real estate brokers.

David M. Wyatt: Dave is president and owner of Wyatt Construction Company, which he formed in 1970. His company has employed hundreds of construction personnel in the Boulder County area.

The Boulder County Business Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to recognize and honor businesswomen and men who personify “business at its best.” Since 1992, more than 110 individuals have received this prestigious award.

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