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Posted: July 01, 2009

State of the state: Boulder’s Intrepid Travel named No. 1 place to work in U.S. by Outside mag

Also making the list were: Natural Habitat Adventures, Smartwool and Rally Software Development

Dan Ray

Even for a company designed to lead people “off the beaten track,” Intrepid Travel’s employment policies are a bit hard to come by in the work-a-day world.

Four weeks of annual paid vacation, free public transportation passes, paid days off for volunteering, monthly potluck lunches, weekly at-work happy hours and even a “bring your pet to work” day are among the reasons that Intrepid Travel’s Boulder office has been honored by Outside magazine as the best place to work in America.

Outside compiled its second annual “Best Places to Work” list after a yearlong research process, involving the Outdoor Industries Association and the Best Companies Group. The process involved confidential surveys about employment policies, salaries, benefits and overall satisfaction.

“Everybody loves what they sell, so they love what they do,” said Tiffany Richards, president of Intrepid Travel’s Boulder office. Intrepid employs nearly 1,000 workers in 100 countries worldwide, but its U.S. branch – based in Boulder – has only been open since December 2007. The company focuses specifically on finding unique travel experiences for customers, or what is sometimes called “adventure travel.”

“It’s all about learning about people and understanding their culture,” Richards said. “And we think that philosophy needs to carry over into work.”

Part of Intrepid’s philosophy regarding travel doubtlessly plays into its vacation policies, she said. “Here, if you take off a week, people say, ‘You’re crazy! You can’t possibly enjoy a place in just one week,’” she said. If you work late at Intrepid, it actually counts against you in your performance record, Richards said.

Intrepid was started in 1989 when two Australian travelers launched the company with the goal of taking guests to some of the special locales and exposing them to the unique experiences the two had encountered during their personal exploration of Asia. Since that time, the company has expanded and taken more than 80,000 guests on distinctive trips of their own.

Other Colorado companies making Outside magazine’s top 10 include: (2) Louisville-based Natural Habitat Adventures travel agency, (7) Steamboat Springs-based Smartwool performance apparel company and (9) Boulder-based Rally Software Development company.

Watch for a statewide ranking in the August issue of ColoradoBiz, when we unveil our Fourth Annual Best Companies to Work For finalists.

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Dan Ray is a graduate student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

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