Posted: August 01, 2012
2012 Best Companies, small: No. 1 Infinity Systems Engineering LLCBy Nora Caley
When Infinity Systems Engineering takes employees and spouses on its annual award trip, there are no strings attached. There are no team building events, no contests and no mandatory fun. "It’s a totally informal trip," says Alan Patterson, vice president of operations for the Colorado Springs aerospace firm. "There are no group activities other than one get-together with appetizers. Other than that everyone can do anything they want."
Last year’s trip, which included more than 100 travelers, was to London. One highlight of that visit, Patterson says, was the display of the wedding dress that had recently been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. This year’s trip will be to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.
Infinity hosts other company outings such as a holiday dinner in December, catered picnics, and company sponsored tennis lessons, softball games and tickets to Sky Sox baseball games. "The company expects us to work hard for our customer, and we are rewarded," Patterson says.
The customer is the U.S. government, typically the Department of Defense. Infinity provides engineering and information technology services for use in ground systems, space assets, military intelligence and other areas. Usually Infinity performs the work as a subcontractor to one of the big four military contractors: Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. This year, though, the firm won its first prime contract directly with the U.S. Air Force. Patterson says this project, a nine-person effort at Schriever Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, marks the first time Infinity has won work as a prime contractor.
"Every time we submit a proposal for a new contract, what we get back is, ‘You have never been a prime contractor because you don’t have past performance as a prime contractor,’" he says. "You can see the Catch-22 here."
As for other perks, employees also receive gifts that they can wear or display. New hires receive a logoed polo shirt and a lapel pin. People who have worked at Infinity for five years receive a crystal sculpture. "It goes on their desk," Patterson explains. "That way everyone knows that employee has been here five years." After 10 years, employees get another sculpture plus $2,000 that they can use toward a trip or sporting event. Last year, Patterson says, one employee used the money to travel to a New England Patriots football game. New this year is the 15-year award of $5,000.
There’s also company-paid medical and dental coverage, and Infinity pays into employees’ 401(k) accounts even if the employee does not. A smaller, but maybe just as important perk, is the vending machines that sell snacks at cost.
Charities also benefit from the firm’s success. Last year Infinity hosted a golf tournament for, and matched donations to, the Wounded Warrior Project and raised more than $33,000 for the nonprofit.
Infinity was founded in 1996 by Andreas Wilfong, who is still the president, CEO and owner. The company now has 89 full-time employees, and won the Best Companies to Work For top ranking in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
No. 1 in 2010
Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in business and food topics. She can be reached at email@example.com.