BOULDER — During Colorado’s 19th century gold rush, it wasn’t just prospectors who were looking to strike it rich.
It was also the men and women who sold those prospectors their picks, shovels and pans. And often, those general-store operators ended up far more successful than the average miner.
That’s precisely the approach that Boulder-based small-satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies Inc. is bringing to the aerospace industry. The company doesn’t embark on any space missions of its own, but it will gladly supply materials for other firms that do.
“That’s how we see ourselves,” BCT’s director of advanced development Dan Hegel told BizWest. “We’re not trying to corner the market on imaging or radio signal triangulation or weather measurement. We’re the supplier that enables all of those operations.”
This strategy has proved quite successful for BCT, which was founded in 2008 and got its initial boost from a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Air Force.
“Some [larger aerospace firms] may view us as a threat,” Hegel said. “But really, we’re here to help enable their missions. If they come to us with a mission that requires one small spacecraft or 10 spacecrafts, we’re able to manufacture them cheaper and faster, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”
BCT’s clients include NASA, various government defense and military organizations, aerospace firms, and other private companies, such as weather monitoring and modeling operations.
The company has grown from four employees to 170 in the past decade.
“We’ve had steady, exponential growth — almost doubling every year in terms of people and revenue,” Hegel said.
The company expects to add 50 more employees by the end of the year.
“We’re adding people as fast as we can,” Hegel said. “It seems like every Monday we have two or three new people who have joined the company.”
BCT’s close relationship with the University of Colorado helps the firm find talent to fill positions, he said. “They put out some really top-notch people.”
To accommodate the growth, BCT is moving its Boulder headquarters to a new 80,132-square-foot flex space in Lafayette.
Jessica Cashmore and Neil Littmann with the Colorado Group Inc. brokered the lease with BCT and Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners.
“As Blue Canyon Technologies expands its satellite manufacturing and R&D, it needs a partner like Etkin Johnson that can support its continued growth,” Etkin Johnson partner Ryan Good said in a prepared statement. “Lafayette Corporate Campus is an ideal real estate solution for aerospace and advanced technology companies due to the large floorplates, ample parking and highly sought-after location along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor.”
The company currently operates from a three-office campus in Boulder. One of BCT’s existing Boulder buildings — the manufacturing and testing facility — will remain in use, and employees from the other two will work out of the new Lafayette space.
“It’s much better for communication and efficiency to have as many people under one roof as possible,” Hegel said.
In total, the company will occupy roughly 100,000 square feet of space.
Jessica Cashmore and Neil Littmann represented BCT in their latest expansion from Airport Blvd. in Boulder. “We were honored to help BCT in their latest move to the Lafayette Corporate Campus,” said Neil Littmann, Broker/Principal at The Colorado Group, Inc “Our relationship began in 2012 when we put them into their first 2,000 SF space in Boulder. It has been incredible to be part of their growth over the years and we believe that Etkin Johnson is the perfect landlord to assist in their future success,” said Jessica Cashmore, Broker/Principal at The Colorado Group, Inc.