Bayfield-based Tailwind Nutrition, an endurance drink mix manufacturer, was selected as a Colorado Company to Watch in late June.
The company was among the 50 companies selected from a field of more than 500 nominees and honored for their growth, valuable products and services, and quality jobs.
“These companies contribute significantly to the growth and economic independence of the state by developing new services and products, creating jobs, enriching communities and generating new industries,” said Rick Ninneman, Colorado Companies to Watch board chairman, in a statement.
Tailwind Nutrition founders Jeff and Jenny Vierling started making the drink mix in their kitchen and selling it online in 2012. During that first year, the drink helped a woman finish a 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville for the first time.
“We were like, ‘Wow,’ this can really help people,’” Jenny Vierling said.
The drink supplies athletes with calories, electrolytes and hydration in a simple form that is easy to digest.
In 2013, the couple started ramping up production and focusing on the business full time. In 2015, the company opened a manufacturing facility in Bayfield where it now employs 12 people.
“We have seen phenomenal growth ... We have basically been doubling per year since we first launched the product,” Jenny Vierling said about sales.
They built their business by expanding from sales on the Trailwind Nutrition site to specialty retail stores, Amazon and international distribution.
“Believe it or not, there is not a single channel that dominates,” she said.
Tailwind products are now sold in about 675 stores in the U.S., and they are available in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia.
While manufacturing in Southwest Colorado has challenges, such as high transportation costs and a shortage of warehouse space, a supportive community has outweighed those drawbacks, Jenny Vierling said.
For example, Durango DEVO athletes tested Tailwind products, and Ed Zink, co-owner of Mountain Bike Specialists, started carrying the brand when it was still unknown.
“Everybody has been so open in providing direction ... I am not sure you would find that in every community,” Jenny Vierling said.