2016 Community Impact Awards: Business of the Year - Small

Winner: Sleep Train, Glassybaby

Gold Award:
Sleep Train
Location: Kent  | Employees: 340  |  Top Exec: Hernani Alves, divisional president | sleeptrain.com

“Many people think we’re in the business of selling mattresses,” says Sleep Train Divisional President Hernani Alves, “but we’re really in the business of helping people sleep better so they can live happy, healthier lives.” Sleep Train (formerly Sleep Country USA in Washington) is a leading bedding specialist in the West, known for its customer service and employing a knowledgeable sales team to make shopping for a mattress simple and enjoyable. Sleep Train, owned by the Houston-based MFRM Family of Brands, has a long history of giving back to the community through its Foster Kids Program and annual donation drives for essential items and cash. “One of our founding principles was that people are what matter, and philanthropy is a pillar of our company,” says Alves. Sleep Train strives to inspire others to take action to educate the community about the needs of foster children. “We aim to demonstrate that foster kids are an integral part of our future,” Alves notes, “and that anyone can make a difference in a foster child’s life.”

Silver Award:
Location: Seattle  |  Employees: 284  |  Top Exec: Lee Rhodes, founder  |  glassybaby.com

Founded in 2001 by three-time cancer survivor Lee Rhodes, Glassybaby produces hand-blown votives made by glassblowers in Seattle and Berkeley, California. Rhodes started the company, which donates 10 percent of its sales to nonprofits, as a way to give hope and healing to the com-munity. Of the $1.33 million that Glassybaby gave to nonprofit organizations in 2015, $720,864 was donated to partner organizations in Washington state.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.

New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.