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Smashburger hailed as nation's 'most promising company'

By: BILL RADFORD
November 30, 2011
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photo - Smashburger has two locations in Colorado Springs. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE
Smashburger has two locations in Colorado Springs. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE 

Denver-based Smashburger is “America’s most promising company,” according to a list compiled by Forbes.

Smashburger’s “torrid expansion” propelled it to the top of the list of the most promising companies — what Forbes describes as “privately held up-and-comers with compelling business models, strong management teams, notable customers, strategic partners and precious investment capital.”

Founder Tom Ryan began building the burger chain in 2007. By the end of this year, Forbes says, the company will have grown to 143 locations (half company-owned, half franchised) and $54 million in annual revenue. Another 450 franchise agreements are on the books, Forbes said. There are two locations in Colorado Springs.

Smashburger gets its name from its hamburgers: balls of Angus beef smashed on a 400-degree flat grill to sear in the juices and placed on a toasted artisan bun. It’s part of what has become known as the better burger segment, fitting in between fast food and casual dining. The menu also includes fresh salads, grilled and split hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and Häagen-Dazs milk shakes, among other items. Forbes credits the company’s success to “a blend of thoughtful product design and deft execution.”

The company has global ambitions, Forbes notes. In September, Smashburger announced its first international development agreements, with locations to open in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. This week, it announced its first two lease agreements for locations in Canada.

Denver-based Allonhill, which audits individual residential mortgage loan files for institutions that buy or sell mortgage-backed securities, is No. 7 on the Forbes list. Founder Sue Allon is a graduate of Colorado College. Other Colorado companies on the Top 100 list are Four Winds Interactive (No. 16), Latisys (No. 23), Market Force (No. 69), Performance Enhancing Meat Snacks (No. 93) and Inspirato (No. 94.)

Read the entire list here.

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