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    • Brinkman’s journey: From a napkin sketch to more than 200 projects, Brinkman — and its employees — grow with region

      If Kevin and Paul Brinkman had ended up in the right country many years ago, when Kevin was a civil engineering student studying abroad in Spain, they may never have founded the construction and real-estate company that bears their name, has built more than 200 projects along the Front Range and is developing almost 750,000 more square feet. Paul, the elder by four years, had come to Spain to visit Kevin when the brothers bought Eurail passes — which allow non-Europeans to freely travel by train between 28 European countries — and boarded a train for France. As the train sped them through the Spanish countryside, past undulating hills of green and golden brown, Paul and Kevin drifted off to sleep. They awoke in Italy. Late nights in foreign countries are isolating and introspective, especially if you never intended to visit that country in the first place, but they also bring you closer to the people you’re with. Those are the nights when you fix the world’s problems, talk about life and imagine the future. Kevin and Paul sketched their future out on a napkin while they waited for a train to take them back from Italy. They had always thought about going into business together; now they got serious, writing down the broad outlines of what would become their company, working through the night until they caught the next train. “I wish we still had the napkin,” Kevin said. He and Paul realized their dream, and today are poised to grow it bigger than ever. Their company has spun out into Brinkman Colorado, which handles real-estate development, Brinkman Construction, which is self-explanatory, and Waypoint, a brokerage, consulting and investment firm. Brinkman has also become 100 percent employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan. The company wants to use “business as a force for good,” as Kevin put it, erecting buildings that benefit the community and create a sense of place. Kevin took a job in San Diego after he graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with that civil engineering degree, but he and Paul never forgot about that napkin, or that night in Italy. They kept talking about it, and finally Paul visited, and they finalized their business plan on the beach. Aged 25, Kevin moved back to Colorado, into his newlywed brother’s house. Brinkman’s first project was its own office, a thousand square feet that they designed and managed themselves. Brinkman’s first big project was a 4,500-square-foot building it built with the Fort Collins-based Everitt Cos. One building led to two, two to three. Brinkman and Everitt still have a working relationship. Kevin called that his company’s big break. “Give Everitt credit for having faith in us,” he said. The more Brinkman built, the more Kevin and Paul became fans of integrated design, where one company handles every step of the construction process, from securing the land to designing the building to actually building it to managing it post-construction. “Integrated design is predictable,” Kevin said, citing the […]

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    • A building challenge: Contractors, home builders struggle with labor shortage

      Apparently, David Sinkey isn’t averse to a bit of a challenge. With about 12 different residential communities under construction in the northern Front Range, the CEO and president of Boulder Creek Neighborhoods figures on upping the number homes built this year from about 197 to about 240. This in the face of one of the most dramatic construction labor shortages Colorado has ever faced. “We grow between 15 and 40 percent every year,” said the head of a residential building firm that specializes in low-maintenance housing. “We’re able to meet our quality and schedule expectations, though it takes more management and an extended schedule to get it done the way we want it done.” Across the board, residential and commercial builders alike are dealing with a severe construction labor shortage, which is most poignant in Colorado among skilled workers. Various sources see the overall construction unemployment numbers for the state as ranking in the top four industries — perhaps even No. 1 — in terms of the tightness of the labor market, contributing to overall unemployment numbers as low as 2.4 percent. In Fort Collins, Doug Dohn, president of Dohn Construction Inc., said for commercial projects, the situation has gotten tight, with contractors necessary to keep buildings on schedule, especially framers, plumbers and drywall contractors who work with steel studs. “There for a while, everyone was moving from one plumbing company to another — doing the same work for a higher wage — so it was tough on the subcontractors to keep their crews together,” Dohn said. “But a lot of the shifting around has slowed down and improved.” Still, Dohn and other commercial contractors said there are few competitive bids out there — especially in certain fields, such as drywall. Another problem in Colorado is the lack of affordable housing. “Even though there the labor market is tight everywhere, neighboring states have higher unemployment than we do,” he said. “Before, in a typical scenario, a drywaller (from out of state) would see the per-foot price and figure they could make some good money. Now that housing costs are so much higher, they end up not taking the work because they can’t do it for that price.” Over the winter, Dohn has also been busy with apartments, from low- to high-income and student housing, such as Prospect Station in Fort Collins. His company typically has 60 people on salary throughout the year, but now he is ramping up for upcoming projects in Fort Collins, Windsor, Greeley, Boulder and Estes Park. “We’re definitely selecting our work realizing that our subcontractor pool can only do so much. They still struggle to man the crews,” Dohn said. “We don’t want expectations or commitments that we can’t keep.” In Longmont, Golden Triangle president Brian Laartz agreed that positions are not being filled by out-of-state craftspeople. “There’s not going to be an easy way out of it,” Laartz said. “With my involvement in in the AGC (Association of General Contractors) we’ve been working hard with […]

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    • NIK_8928

      About 3,000 people attended the NoCo Hemp Expo in 2016. About 4,000 are expected to attend this year's event.

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    • Specialized leases space in Boulder for ‘innovation center’

      BOULDER — California-based Specialized Bicycle Components Inc. has leased 14,400-square-feet of industrial space in Boulder where it will build out its newly conceived Specialized Innovation Center. The bicycle manufacturer leased the space at 5600 Airport Blvd. in the LakeCentre business park to expand operations of its wholly owned subsidiary Retül, a 3-D data capture and bicycle-fitting company that was based in Boulder when it was acquired by Specialized in 2012. Retül had moved its headquarters in 2011 to a 5,000-square-foot space at 5445 Conestoga Court in Boulder. Scott Stroot, Specialized Bicycle Components’ business and marketing manager, said 18 Retül employees will move to the new space, and six others in the area who currently work remotely will now have office space. There will be room to expand operations that will require more workers. “We will be adding about 10 new jobs in the next 18 months,” Stroot said.” The move is expected to take place in June or July. Stroot said the Specialized Innovation Center eventually will include more than just Retül employees, who use high-tech equipment to fit riders to bicycles. Stroot said the center will add performance-testing equipment to the mix, and the added space will be used to research and develop technologies that can be integrated into the cycling industry.  

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