Colorado Springs is often ranked among the fittest cities in the country, and those healthy lifestyles can translate to some very real benefits in the world of business. That’s the driving force behind the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s third annual 6035 Lifestyle: Healthiest Companies contest, which honors local small- to extra-large companies that care about and facilitate a healthy workforce. The event takes place from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Pinery at the Hill, 775 W. Bijou St.
Included is a 6035 Lifestyle Health Interactive Expo from 10 a.m.-noon, with prizes, interactive opportunities and health education. A healthy lunch follows the expo, featuring a keynote presentation from Steve Kaczmarek, owner of Borealis Fat Bikes. Kaczmarek will speak about holding true to individual values through lifelong fitness and staying young at heart. In addition, the Business Journal will announce the Healthiest Company awards for small, medium, large and extra-large employers. The Healthiest Executive will also be named — and there is time set aside to honor local Health Heroes.
“It is a fact that healthy employees are happier and take fewer sick days, so they are more productive,” said Jenifer Furda, publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. “The Springs has such a history and propensity for outdoor activities and healthy living. With such healthy lifestyles, it makes sense to have a healthy workforce.”
Kaiser Permanente is a major sponsor of the event. Holly Kortum, Kaiser Permanente’s executive director of operations in Southern Colorado, congratulated the local businesses “who recognize the value and importance in creating a healthy work culture.
“Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a part of this event as we hope to encourage others to take some simple steps to increase health and well-being of others,” she said.
Kaczmarek was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., and grew up a competitive sailor. He went to Colorado College and transferred to Pepperdine University to finish a degree in economics. After graduation, he entered the world of printing and packaging, where he would spend the next 15 years. In 2001, he and a group of investors started Oracle Packaging, which grew to $135 million in sales from 2001-08, with 950 employees.
Kaczmarek then took the position of vice president of sales and marketing for Chromatic Technologies Inc., a local ink company that created color-changing ink. He was a major investor in CTI. After stock redemption in 2012 and a year off to spend time with family, Kaczmarek started teaching the entrepreneurial class at Colorado College. While at CC, he was director of innovation and entrepreneurism and developed The Big Idea, a pitch competition, for CC students.
During the Big Idea, Kaczmarek met a student who worked in the fat bike industry and test rode a much heavier and less agile version of what Borealis produces today. In 2013, Kaczmarek started his fat bike company and is currently the CEO and owner of Borealis Fat Bikes. The company ships to more than 22 countries and is considered the leader in fat bike technology and components.
“I don’t do it very well personally,” Kaczmarek told the Business Journal of his own healthy lifestyle. “I would love to say I’m the picture of health and that I set aside an hour a day to get weight training and cardio in. But the guys and gals who work for me are obviously very much into bikes.”
Kaczmarek said his company promotes biking to work, home from work — and during work.
“From time to time we go on group rides and meet at a bar for drinks,” he said. “It’s not just an exercise thing, but also helps with team-building.”
Kaczmarek is trying to take the lead from his employees by exercising — via a tennis match or bike ride with his family — for an hour a day.
“Even if they say they have homework or are busy, I’m forcing myself to do it alone,” he said. “It’s not as fun, but I can’t use that as an excuse. … I have to make it a way of life.”
The event is $35 and includes the interactive Health Expo, the lunch and the award ceremony. For more information and tickets, visit csbj.com/events.