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Improving Packaging with Innovative Chemistry

Founded in a Cornell University dorm room in 1993, Chromatic Technologies, Inc. (CTI) established itself in Colorado Springs in 1996, pioneering thermochromic, photochromic, and glow-in-the-dark (GID) ink printing on aluminum cans, bottles, and cups. Now, the 30-year-old organization holds three U.S. and six international patents, sells in 60 countries, and maintains 25,000 square feet of R&D, manufacturing, and office space.  

Their turning point came in 2002 when CEO Lyle Small pitched the potential of thermochromic ink to Coors brewery. The blue image of Wilson Peak that appears when the beer can temperature drops below 43 degrees quickly became an integral part of the Coors brand. 

“We are an innovation-driven organization that helps brands stand out on the shelf,” says Small. To accomplish that, the company is part chemical engineering firm, part manufacturer, and part marketing agency. “I’m really proud of that,” adds Small. “We’re not just the idea people, but we’re actually turning those ideas into products.”  

Daniel Wachter, CTI’s chief commercial officer, moved here three years ago to scale-up the already global organization which he sees as “helping brands prove their promise visually.” With a staff of 35, Wachter and Small are highly focused on expanding CTI’s technologies from food to pharma and more. In addition to Coors, their technology can be found on products from Lexus, Duracell, Pizza Hut, General Mills, Playstation, Carlsburg, and more.  

Small chose to bring CTI’s headquarters to COS 27 years ago because of its central location, easy access to the outdoors, and business-friendly community. “They cared about small businesses like me,” shares Small. “They’ve done a really good job with the business environment … It’s been the right decision. We love it.” 

As the city has grown, so has the pool of skilled employees, a benefit to a growing company not exempt from the challenges of a competitive labor market. 

Small says, while they keep score of growth by revenue, that’s not what drives him. “I want CTI to matter,” he shares. “I want us to be on billions of packages around the world impacting consumers daily.”


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