Posted: August 01, 2008
Best small to medium companies to work for in Colorado 2008
Infinity Systems Engineering wins top spot
Best company winner
Infinity Systems Engineering
Infinity Systems Engineering is quietly making a name for itself as a great place to work. The Colorado Springs firm provides engineering services, software and support to the defense industry, primarily in the way of global positioning satellite systems for space and military programs. Infinity’s generous employee benefits and perks are almost unheard of in today’s tightfisted economy.
Founded in 1996 by Andy Wilfong, the company currently has 58 employees, the majority of whom work offsite at client locations. Brad Michelson, Infinity Systems Engineering vice president, says the retention rate hovers around 98 percent.
“The truth of it is, we hire people and we hope that they stay with us until retirement,” Michelson says. “That’s the goal. Hire people and treat them well so they stay happily employed until they retire.”
With full medical, dental, life and disability coverage completely covered by the company (no premiums for employees to pay); 401(k) programs that are 10 percent matched and immediately vested; twice-annual bonuses; and yearly, companywide trips to places like Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and Cozumel, it’s no wonder most employees never leave.
It’s not all fun and games, though. Infinity’s clients are some of the biggest names in the defense industry, including Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Many Infinity engineers are highly specialized and recognized as experts in their field; it’s not uncommon for them to work 20-hour days and on weekends.
But the company acknowledges the impact on employees and their families, and balances it by creating a culture where they are valued and rewarded, says Alan Patterson, a principal systems engineer at Infinity.
“When we work, we work very hard and we are the epitome of professionalism,” Patterson says. “Infinity employees always rise to the top of whatever team they are working on and are continually recognized for excellent support by our customers. Employee morale is so high at Infinity it is easy to work hard and maintain that strong work ethic.”
From day one, says Michelson, the company’s founder mandated that Infinity would be a different kind of company.
“Andy came from a workplace where he felt like he wasn’t valued that much. So it has always been about making sure employees knew they were valued and treated fairly.”
Part of that fairness can be seen in how Infinity treats its military reservist employees; about one-quarter of the work force serves part-time in the local reserves. This year, based on an employee suggestion, Infinity began covering the difference between reservists’ Infinity salaries and their military compensation.
Patterson says it’s the best company he’s ever worked for and that “100 percent of the employees would say the same.
“The appreciation I receive for my work at Infinity, along with the recognition of my time and talent, are the biggest reasons I stay,” he says. “The pay, benefits, trips and company functions are just added bonuses.”
2007 rank: No. 2
— Rebecca Cole
Best company winner
A company that calls quarterly goals “rocks” can be regarded in one of two ways: Either it’s a taskmaster that forces employees to regularly carry a new and heavy burden, or it’s a business that believes it is “something sublime or good.”
For Rally Software in Boulder, it’s most likely the latter. A maker of Agile life cycle management software, Rally’s emphasis on joint decision-making requires everyone to participate in what “rock” the company will next achieve.
“We get representation from every department, at the management level and above, to determine our key strategic initiative,” says Tim Miller, CEO. “People take ownership and volunteer to participate, and work to achieve those goals.”
At the end of the quarter, the entire company, currently at 115 employees, shares in a celebration — Rockies games, trips to the Denver Aquarium and Boulder Reservoir, or a day of powder skiing.
Software companies are notorious for their frenetic release-cycle pace and new feature requirements, and Rally is no exception. In fact, since Rally is a software-as-a-service provider, the company releases products even quicker — which customers love but puts the heat on development teams.
“In general, as a company we’re pretty good at prioritizing,” Miller says. “We force a discipline so that you have to rank things. It gives people a lot of freedom to say no.”
Part of that discipline is locking down software development iterations where developers only work on agreed-upon deliverables. By not bombarding teams with new “must-have” features that constantly force them to reprioritize their workload, Miller says the company has achieved a good work/life balance.
Post-release beer parties are common at software companies and so are 60-hour workweeks. Yet according to a “List of Reasons to Work at Rally” posted on the company’s website, Friday beer is a regular occurrence, even prior to a product release — as is the No. 1 reason, “We don’t work on weekends.”
“For our customers we often provide the heartbeat they use in order to do development,” Miller says. “We also follow that constant rhythm of release cycles. Our culture of collaboration makes people feel responsible and committed to the success of the company.”
2007 rank: No. 7
— Rebecca Cole
Best company winner
PCL Construction Enterprises Inc.
Salaried workers at employee-owned PCL Construction Enterprises enjoy flexible hours, no limit on sick days and a company profit-sharing plan that drew a 65 percent return on investment last year.
With those kinds of enticements, it’s hardly surprising the company attracted more than 1,600 applicants last year for the 52 jobs it filled. Still, the group of independent construction companies focused on buildings, infrastructure and heavy industrial hasn’t stopped trying to improve its workplace. Over the past year, PCL has focused its attention on wellness, offering health screens, flu shots, exercise incentives and even hiring a nutritionist to talk to workers about making healthy diet choices.
Denny Dahl gave up mayonnaise and lost 131/2 pounds. Now the human resource director has become an evangelist for good health. Workers at the company’s Denver site, where it employs 168 people, have made the proprietor of a local sandwich shop take notice, Dahl says.
“He said, ‘What is it with you guys? All of you from PCL are telling us to hold the cheese and hold the mayo.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know it’s boring, but we hired a nutritionist.’”
Through work with a local nutritionist, PCL is putting together a program to expand to its other 26 locations across Canada, the United States and the Bahamas for its entire work force, which includes 3,000 salaried and 5,000 hourly employees. PCL also has offered such health incentives as $200 for employees signing up for annual exercise programs and free flu shots.
Health screens for both employees and spouses, which will cost PCL $175 per person, were scheduled to kick off in July.
“We’re giving them credit if they participate, and we’re reducing their health-care deductible by $100 each if they participate,” says Dahl, who is aiming for a 60 percent participation rate in the program’s first year.
If taking that much responsibility for their employees’ health sounds overly paternalistic, consider the bottom line: Based on industry findings, PCL expects a 3-to-1 return on investment within three to five years.
Dahl has a more compelling reason: “A couple of companies in the industry have been doing this for a few years and report they have actually saved lives with this.”
2007 rank: No. 3
— Mike Cote
Privately held Moneytree provides check cashing, payday loan and other retail finance services. The company also offers pre-paid debit cards, wire transfer services, money orders, and phone and gift cards.
The Seattle-based company, which employs 89 people in Colorado, offers fully paid medical, dental and vision insurance for full- and part-time employees. Its philanthropic work includes supporting organizations that benefit youth, families and financial literacy.
Each fall, the company hosts a two-day conference and awards gala in which managers and their guests are flown in and given lodging at the company’s expense. Events include a social evening for 400 employees and guests on the first day and a larger gathering and awards ceremony for 1,200 employees and guests the following day.
New to list
The Staubach Co. Front Range
The Staubach Co., which employs 35 people in Colorado, is a global real estate advisory firm that delivers solutions for office, industrial and retail clients. It offers strategic consulting, site selection, acquisition, disposition, construction consulting/project management, real estate administration, portfolio management, facility management, business and economic incentives and financing and capital solutions.
Employees and their entire families have been taken to Mexico twice in the past four years — with all expenses paid by the company. A previous trip was to an Arizona resort. The company has quarterly nights out to celebrate victories as well as annual picnics and year-end events.
“We live and work by the wolf credo — respect the elders, teach the young, cooperate with the pack, play when you can, hunt when you must, rest in between, share your affections, voice your feelings, leave your mark,” the company says.
New to list
Denver-based Memolink, founded in 1994, is a privately owned company that operates online rewards programs and has more than1,000 shopping partners and 10 million members.
Memolink members earn points for visiting websites, sampling products, playing trivia, completing marketing research surveys and making online purchases. Points can be exchanged for cash or gift cards, or donated to a charitable organization.
CPA Storm, also under the Memolink umbrella, is a business-to-business affiliate network that acts as an intermediary, running advertisers’ offers through their affiliate network
Memolink created a 10-week Office Olympics that included such team-building activities as indoor office golf and potato sack races. Once a month, the company hosts a brown bag session that features talks from community experts on such topics as health and nutrition and identity theft.
The company, which employs 38 workers in Colorado, also encourages employees to partake in outside classes and seminars hosted by SkillPath, Pryor, CareerTrack, Rockhurst, and other accredited associations.
New to list
Buffalo Supply Inc.
Buffalo Supply provides medical and surgical equipment and supplies to the federal government, typically Veterans and Department of Defense hospitals. The 25-year-old Lafayette-based company employs 27 people in Colorado.
The company provides monthly bonuses of $500 to $1,500 for all nonexecutive employees, based on meeting sales growth goals for each month. All employees receive a profit-sharing bonus at year end, which averaged 39 percent of base salary for nonexecutive employees in 2007.
Every employee has access to an up-to-date computer-generated dashboard of many of the company’s financial measurements. Employees can track the progress toward the monthly goals and see how their efforts directly impact the bottom line. For any completed sale of $100,000 or more, employees ring a brass bell located in the center of our office. Large orders result in multiple rings.
“Since our office is small, everyone hears the bell and cheers,” the company says.
New to list
Lakewood-based Maptek has been providing software, hardware and information technology services to the mining industry for more than 25 years and employs 47 people in Colorado.
Under its “Employee Sick Leave Reward” program, a full-time employee who goes an entire employment year without using sick time receives a $300 American Express gift certificate. At five years, employees receive $500 during the monthly staff meeting from the general manager ($1,000 at 10 years and $1,500 at 15 years.) Twenty-year employees receive one month’s pay.
All full- and part-time employees are given a free Eco Pass for RTD so they can ride any bus or train for free.
“We have designed our office space so that nearly all employees receive an office with a window,” the company says.
New to list
IP5280 Communications LLC is an Internet phone company that specializes in providing IP-based voice and data communication services to small- and medium-sized businesses.
In March, IP5280 launched HD Voice, a high-definition phone service the company says offers business users twice the voice clarity, greater noise reduction and more vibrant, life-like conversations than traditional telephone phone service.
All IP5280 employees have active access to executive management for career, leadership, and managerial practices for their personal development. The privately held company, which employs 37 people in Colorado, has an annual pool party and picnic/barbecue for all families each summer.
“We are a very family-friendly environment who takes pride in its employees,” the Englewood-based company said in its application.
New to list
ReadyTalk delivers audio and Web conferencing services that allow customers to conduct Web seminars and training sessions, work remotely and grow their organizations through lead generation and efficient communication.
Through technology and personal service, ReadyTalk guides its customers through the entire process of conducting a large Web seminar.
“ReadyTalk’s mission is to create solutions that are simple and easy to use so that everyone can participate regardless of computer savvy, work location or choice of platform,” the company says.
The Denver-based company, which employs 54 workers in Colorado, pays 100 percent for family coverage for all benefits for their employees. It also offers a company-paid Eco Pass to all employees to encourage the use of public transportation and has onsite shower facilities.
Many employees are active runners/bikers, and the company sponsors employees in such community athletic events as the Bolder Boulder and Race for the Cure.
ReadyTalk reimburses tuition expenses up to $5,000 per year for relevant coursework.
2007 rank: No. 1
Stern Elkind Curray & Alterman LLP
The Denver law firm of Stern Elkind Curray & Alterman LLP focuses exclusively on immigration law.
The firm was founded in 1985 by Kenneth H. Stern and Nancy B. Elkind. Over the years, it has grown from two lawyers and a secretary to a total staff of 30 and is the largest firm focused on immigration law between Chicago and San Francisco.
The company, which employs 44 workers in Colorado, presents employees with on-the-spot gift cards for “above and beyond” work. It also provides $20 gift cards and thank-you cards to every staff member on their anniversary. The firm has an annual staff appreciation party with a catered meal, games, prizes and gifts. It also schedules an annual baseball game outing during the normal business day.
The firm offers a sabbatical program to all employees. After 10 years of service, they can take up to two months off at two-thirds their pay.
New to list
Magpie Telecom Insiders
Magpie Telecom Insiders provides software solutions for telecommunication, VoIP, storage, IPTV and other needs.
Magpie employees are rewarded for helping the company grow its customer base: Employees receive a bonus for introducing new customers to the company. The NuBiz@Magpie Reward program pays the employee 1 percent of the first contract amount with the new customer.
When an employee presents a new service idea to Magpie, the employee receives a bonus of 1 percent of the contract for delivery of the service to the initial customer. When a new product idea is presented, Magpie negotiates a profit sharing/bonus plan with the employee.
The Westminster company, which employs 44 people in Colorado, says it strives to maintain an atmosphere of fun and appreciation for employees. Examples include annual holiday and summer parties for employees and spouses. Magpie hosts appreciation lunches for all employees and offers discount tickets to employees for Colorado Avalanche games.
2007 rank: No. 5
Blu SKY Restoration Contractors Inc.
Centennial-based Blu SKY provides property restoration and reconstruction services.
The company, which employs 44 workers in Colorado, offers immediate response and restoration services for fire and water damaged structures, both commercially and residentially. It also provides capital improvement/renovation services to the multifamily/condominium markets.
Its portfolio includes such projects as providing critical emergency services in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, Fla., after Hurricane Charley in 2004 and restoring the Silver King Inn hotel in Leadville after a fire.
Monthly companywide training meetings include training on technology, customer service, construction/restoration domain, time management, safety, customer service/relationship management and sales.
“Blu SKY was founded to be new, unique, and to break the stereotypes within our industry. We must remain trained, educated, and current on industry technology and events,” the company says. “We will leverage experience and intelligence to create and follow sound processes. At Blu SKY, we do not accept mediocrity, average, or OK. We are making it better."
New to list
SOS Staffing Services Inc.
Since 1973, Salt Lake City-based SOS Staffing Services has been placing job seekers with a diverse range of employers — from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry in administrative, professional, technical, manufacturing, construction and skilled trade positions.
Perks include a condo in Park City, Utah, that is available to all employees at a significantly discounted nightly rate. Also, eligible SOS employees can receive up to a 10 percent discount on the purchase of Dell computer equipment for home use, are reimbursed for the costs of flu shots, and can get group discount rates on insurance policies for auto, home, rental, recreational vehicles, fire and more.
The company, which employs 91 people in Colorado, also has a President’s Club that recognizes field managers who excelled in meeting their performance targets for the year.
2007 rank: No. 6
Since 1989, Denver-based NetQuote has provided millions of consumers with a free, simple and effective way to shop online for health, home, renter, life, business and auto insurance.
Consumers complete one simple and secure online application. By only targeting consumers who are actively shopping for insurance, NetQuote can provide insurance leads at a low price for all types of leads.
Every team member at NetQuote participates in a bonus program from the moment they join the company, which employs 88 people in Colorado. Individuals may earn anywhere from 10 percent to more than 100 percent of their annual salary in bonuses that are paid either monthly or semi-annually.
Managers at NetQuote also are enabled to award “on the spot" financial rewards to its members at any time. These “spot" awards may take the form of cash bonuses, tickets to sporting events, gift cards, ski passes, movie tickets or other forms of incentives.
New to list
New Frontier Bank
Founded in 1998, New Frontier Bank quickly became one of the fastest-growing banks in the nation, expanding from $6 million in capital to become a $2 billion bank — all with just three locations and without mergers or acquisitions.
The Greeley-based company, which employs 230 workers in Colorado, is a locally owned and managed, full-service community bank that provides financial services to the households, small- and medium-sized businesses, organizations and government entities.
Through the “I Saw That" program, employees are encouraged to fill out a report about their co-workers who are doing an exceptional job. They may be going above and beyond in the area of customer service or they may have just been an extra help in a time of need.
“I Saw That" recipients are rewarded with NF bucks to be used at the company store. Other perks include free tickets to major league sports and entertainment events.
2007 rank: No. 4
Design Workshop is an award-winning, international firm practicing landscape architecture, land planning, urban design and tourism planning. The firm comprises 190 designers, planners and support staff in seven offices: Aspen, Denver, Santa Fe, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe and Asheville, N.C.
The Denver-based firm, which employs 105 people in Colorado, has created a corporate university to support staff development with as many as 30 programs. A “five-year plan" lays out a series of learning activities and milestones that provide a solid development foundation for new staff.
The company also has a Communities of Practice model for knowledge exchange and expansion. Groups that share a common interest and passion are supported in forming themselves into a “community" for the purpose of sharing ideas and advancing their understanding of the area of interest.
The groups are provided a place on the company’s portal to exchange knowledge through blogs, wikis, Web links and document sharing.
New to list
Crestone Capital Advisors LLC
Boulder-based Crestone is an independent wealth management firm for high net worth entrepreneurs, their families and their foundations. The company provides investment management and wealth advisory services for clients, while also helping them to protect and enhance their wealth, simplify their financial lives and achieve their personal and financial goals.
Services include investment strategy and management, estate and philanthropic planning, income tax planning and reporting, financial and cash flow planning, personal financial statement maintenance and investment portfolio reporting.
Crestone, which employs 40 people in Colorado, provides all of its associates with access to a fully stocked kitchen with weekly grocery delivery service. All employees are invited and encouraged to use the kitchen for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Each January, all Crestone associates are invited up to Steamboat Springs for a day of Powdercat skiing in the Colorado backcountry. In December 2007, Crestone also invited all of its associates to Tijuana, Mexico, to build two homes for needy families.
New to list
For more than 20 years, Boulder-based E Source has been helping utilities and large energy users with critical problems involving energy efficiency, utility customer satisfaction, program design, marketing, customer management and sustainability.
In July, the company launched the E Source Climate Change Suite, a combination of research and advisory resources and tools that helps utilities educate customers and employees about climate change. Components include a research and advisory service, and a greenhouse gas inventory toolkit.
Last year, E Source established the “Infant in the Workplace" policy, where parents would be able to bring their infant to work with them until the infant reached six months of age or was crawling. E Source also welcomes children to come into the office after school and on no-school days.
E Source executives will match any paid time off that is donated from one employee to another employee in a time of need. The privately held company employs 59 people in Colorado.
New to list
Denver-based ViaWest provides colocation, managed hosting solutions and comprehensive services to mid-sized businesses. The company maintains data centers in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Texas and Nevada.
ViaWest currently serves thousands of customers nationwide including Frontier Airlines, the Denver Broncos, Exclusive Resorts and Chipotle.
The company, which has 118 workers in Colorado, presents a Quarterly Employee Outstanding Performance Award each quarter to one employee, who receives a voucher worth $750 for airline travel.
Staff members often are rewarded with a spot bonus for a job well done. ViaWest regularly hosts employee events such as lunch “meet and greets," company barbecues, ski train, table tennis, foosball, air hockey tournaments, happy hours and Halloween events for employees’ children.
Each year, a week-long “President’s Club" trip to Mexico is planned for top sales staff as well as representatives of other departments. ViaWest also hosts a holiday party and company picnic for staff and their family.
2007 rank: No 11
Administaff serves as a full-service human-resources department for thousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the U.S.
Based in Kingwood, Texas, the publicly held company has 31 employees in Colorado, and they enjoy discounts — “alliance offerings" — on products and services from, among others, Toyota, Dell, AT&T Wireless, Tickemaster, FTD.com, Office Depot, IBM, Recreation Connection and Wells Fargo.
The nation’s leading professional employer organization, Administaff also provides employees with free classes, both online and at various locations. The extensive online training program includes more than 1,100 eLearning courses, such as Microsoft Office, business skills, sales and safety courses.
Furthering the personal development of employees not only promotes greater satisfaction in the workplace; it also helps Administaff achieve its aim of providing clients with quality administrative relief, big company benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity.
New to list
Rothstein Kass, the 25th largest accounting firm in the U.S., understands that employees have needs outside the workplace as well as within it. The firm offers employees flexible work parameters dubbed Customized Work Arrangements that can include compressed work weeks, flex-time arrangements or telecommuting options.
Founded in 1959 as a two-person firm, Rothstein Kass is headquartered in Roseland, N.J., with offices in several cities, including Denver, where it has 26 employees. Beyond audit and tax services, the firm provides a full array of integrated services, including strategic business counseling, insurance and risk-management consulting, executive search and family office services.
The firm’s clients include both businesses and individuals. Employees of Rothstein Kass benefit from perks such as a concierge service that’s available to everyone. Other services include locating dog walkers or providing pet sitters while an employee is out of town, and taking a pet to a veterinarian for a busy employee.
New to list
Work Options Group
Work Options Group provides backup care for organizations such as the Children’s Hospital, the University of Denver, Comcast and Janus so that employees can continue working during a breakdown in their normal care-giving arrangements.
Employees of Work Options Group, including 67 in Colorado, receive 100 hours per year of 100 percent subsidized backup care (in-home or center-based) that can be used for breakdowns in care arrangements for loved ones of any age. This eldercare assistance is available nationwide and can help employees with parents, grandparents, spouses or others who live with them — or even in another part of the country.
Other regular drawing cards of Work Options Group include parking-lot barbecues, chili cook-offs, traveling ice cream carts and potluck meals. Themed holiday parties and celebrations of monthly and annual employee awards are mainstays in the company culture.
The company also offers discounts on child care, amusement park tickets, play tickets, sporting events, shopping, and more.
New to list
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is a leading voice for Colorado’s business community, with a membership that spans the seven-county metro region and includes 3,000 businesses and their 300,000 employees.
The chamber plays a vital role in defining the current and future economic landscape of the state. Issues of focus include transportation infrastructure; health care; and Denver metro area’s education system.
With 63 employees, the chamber strives to promote a positive work environment by recognizing the values and strengths of employees in a number of ways.
The chamber’s Teamwork Award recognizes employees who have made significant contributions to another department or to another employee. The Initiative Award is another way the chamber encourages productivity and employee commitment, as it recognizes employees who have exceeded performance expectations and gone beyond the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities
The chamber offers employees other perks, among them: closing early before holidays, sporting-event tickets, random ice-cream socials, the chance to interact with area business leaders and participation in chamber-sponsored events.
New to list
Aztek Networks builds voice-communications switching products that enable reliable voice services and uninterrupted access to emergency services for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and other multi-service broadband access networks.
The Boulder-based company that was founded in 1982 has been known to employ some inventive teambuilding activities, including “The Nerd Challenge" bowling competition; pampering day with free on-site chair massages; get-togethers with former employees, and even a companywide collection for a “Care Package" to send to an employee’s daughter who is serving in Iraq.
More conventional benefits offered to the company’s 32 employees include: extensive development programs for specific skill training; monthly summer barbecues; monthly sponsored children’s activities; free flu shots for employees and their families; and career tracks for non-professional employees.
Aztek Networks also has an employee/contractor referral bonus that enables employees to receive $1,000 for personally referring a new employee or contractor.
New to list
Click here to read about Colorado's best large companies to work for in 2008.