Posted: August 01, 2010
Best Companies to Work For in Colorado 2010: Medium
Rally Software's on top againBy Maria Martin
Rally Software CEO Tim Miller attempts to be modest when talking about his company's consistently strong showing in the Best Companies to Work For program.
But he doesn't quite pull it off.
"There are a lot of great companies out there," says the CEO of the Boulder-based software company, which also ranked No. 1 last year. "But it comes down to this: I spend a lot of time creating a place where I want to come to work, and like-minded people like to work there, too."
And it pays to have happy employees.
The company, founded in 2002, is up in growth to 123,000 users and has nearly doubled its product revenue. Rally also recently closed a $16 million round of funding to accelerate the company's rapid growth.
Among the company's core values are maintaining a healthy work-life balance, treating each other with respect, and giving back to the community.
"We have good perks," Miller says. "Good insurance, flexible schedules, performance bonuses and stock options. But that's not really what makes us stand out."
Rally, a leader in Agile application lifecycle management, stands out because each member of the team is collaborative.
"I make it a point to talk to new employees," Miller says. "It's not until they work here for a while that they find out how collaborative we really are. So our success is based on a combination of very smart people who work well together."
Miller says Rally offers its 180 employees an environment where they can "create their own reality."
The secret to that, he says, is to intersect the passion and talents of their employees. "Then figure out how you can make money doing it," he says of the company, which has branches in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and London.
That means employees are often encouraged to explore changing roles, titles and even departments as long as it aligns with the company's goals.
"Unlike some companies, where you have a heavy-weight process of presenting a formal plan whenever you have an idea, we have a lighter-weight process where everyone is encouraged to test ideas," said Dru Jacobs, director of marketing and five-year Rally veteran. "It's OK if we test something and it doesn't work, but having that freedom really fosters creativity and innovation, and helps the whole company respond quickly to change."
Rally has also taken a lead in the realm of corporate social responsibility.
The company's mission is a zero carbon footprint by 2020, and it wants to widen its influence so that other tech companies think in terms of a triple bottom line, where organizational success is measured by economic, ecological and social values, and other criteria.
"Our commitment to building a great company depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions," Miller says. "We're happy to continue to foster a culture where we treat each person as a critical part of our success."
2009 rank: No. 1
In a rough economy, when companies are cutting back on travel expenses, it makes sense that a company that supports Web conferencing services thrives.
Dan King, CEO of ReadyTalk, is grateful to have taken a risk in such a company back in 2000.
"Ten years ago, my brother Scott and I took a chance," says King of his Denver-based business. "It was risky for the first few years. We risked personal capital and burned through our retirement funds. But today, we're doing well."
ReadyTalk - which also nabbed second place in the small-business category last year - has been a consistent finalist. It employs 110 people, and King is expecting that number to grow this year. ReadyTalk provides audio and Web conferencing services, and offers a variety of audio conferencing options, Web conferencing tools and recording and archiving services. The company had revenue of $19.2 million in 2009, which led to its recognition as one of Deloitte's Fastest Growing Tech Companies for the third consecutive year.
King says one secret to the success of the company is to look to the future.
"What we're really trying to do is look at the long term," he says. "That drives the management. The way you drive growth is through referrals from really satisfied customers. And the way you satisfy customers is through highly engaged employees."
A company does that, King says, by providing great benefits.
Just a few: subsidized public transportation, kitchens stocked with snacks and beer, Nintendo Wii and an X-box 360, office bikes for running errands, a locker room area to accommodate lunchtime runs or bike rides and 20 hours of paid volunteer hours per year for each employee.
Oh, and it's a rare day that you won't see a friendly canine face in the office.
"We're a veritable kennel," says King, laughing. "But a lot of what we do simply makes sense. If you're employee-friendly, you have people who love what they do."
ReadyTalk is also in the process of finalizing an employee stock ownership plan, which is regulated like a 401(k).
"It allows us to put company stock into employees' accounts for retirement," says King, 51. "The people who work here love it, and they stay a long time."
2009 rank: No. 2 in small category.
pcl construction enterprises inc.
What started as a small company in Canada 104 years ago has evolved a bit. Today, PCL is a group of independent construction companies with offices in Canada and the United States. It employs more than 3,000 full-time workers and 6,000 trade people, including 245 in Denver.
No matter what the city, employees hold true to the basics that have made PCL successful: to fulfill their responsibilities with honesty and integrity.
"We're like a family," says Allen Ross, vice president of the company. "We had an employee whose son had a brain hemorrhage. The last thing he needed was to not have a paycheck when he ran out of sick time, so we put out a note to our employees saying, ‘If you'd like to donate a vacation day for him, that would be great.' So many people did so, he had something like four months off, paid."
The employee-owned company builds in three sectors: commercial buildings, civil infrastructure and heavy industrial. Since the employees own the PCL companies, they're determined to be successful, Ross says.
CEO Peter Beaupré has guided the dynamic culture of the company, stressing that all owners are motivated to do their best, and teamwork is all-important.
Mentoring, training and education ensure that the company thrives, Ross says.
"We've also added an extra week of vacation time for those who have been here 25 years or more," he says. "We offer health screenings for employees and their spouses."
While Ross admits that there have been layoffs due to the economy, he notes that PCL tries to help those people out.
"Some companies say, ‘There's the door,' but we offer to let them stay a week. While they're in the office, they can say their goodbyes, and if they need the copy machine or want to work on their resume during that week, they're welcome to do so."
They're offered a good severance package as well, he says.
"Most people understand," Ross says. "We make it clear that we'll hire people back when we can. It's interesting to see how many people who we had to let go will come back to visit. Everyone knows that no matter what happens, they'll be treated well. We're a family."
2009 rank: No. 3
CEO: Jeff Potter
Colorado workers: 181
IN A NUTSHELL: Exclusive Resorts is a destination club. Members have access to hundreds of luxury residences in dozens of resort destinations.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: The company allows employees to job share. These employees are offered the same benefits as full-time employees.
PERKS: The company recognizes its hard-working employees with awards. A recipient of an award receives a stay in an Exclusive Resorts destination of his or her choice, as well as $3,000 in spending money. Winners also receive a $500 credit toward a private chef to use when in residence.
2009 rank: No. 3
Return Path Inc.
Location: New York
CEO: Matt Blumberg
2009 revenue: $20.3 million
Colorado workers: 93
IN A NUTSHELL: Return Path is an e-mail technology provider that provides an on-demand software application to monitor and certify e-mail programs. Companies like Facebook use the company's data services to create more accurate filtering algorithms.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: Return Path allows managers the opportunity to expand leadership skills by providing training from experts. The company also supports tuition reimbursement. Through a philosophy that encourages education, Return Path showcases the strengths of employees.
PERKS: The company often allows employees to work flexible hours so they can tend to personal needs. Flexible hours also help employees reduce commute times due to bad weather.
2009 rank: No. 8 in small category
Maria Martin is a freelance writer.