2016 Community Impact Awards: Sustainability in Business Operations

Winner: Theo Chocolate, Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort

Gold Award:
Theo Chocolate
Location: Seattle | Employees: 100  |  Top Exec: Joe Whinney, founder/CEO | theochocolate.com

Theo Chocolate’s products are more than just candy bars. The company’s creations start with cocoa farmers in the eastern Congo. “Recognizing that our individual daily actions will have an impact on generations to come has the potential to create a lasting positive effect on our world,” says founder and CEO Joe Whinney. “That means caring for the entire supply chain — from cocoa bean to chocolate bar — and understanding that everyone from the cocoa farmers we partner with in eastern Congo to our team here in Seattle play vital roles in creating a more sustainable world.” In 2006, Whinney combined his interest in chocolate, sustainability and economic justice to launch Theo Chocolate — the first bean-to-bar maker of organic, fair trade, non-GMO chocolate in North America. Theo has grown from a five-person team to a staff of 100 employees at the company’s factory in Fremont, producing more than six million pounds of chocolate annually. Theo’s products are available to consumers online and in all 50 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. 

Silver Award:
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
Location: Leavenworth  |  Employees: 120  |  Top Exec: Paula Helsel, general manager  |  sleepinglady.com

Situated on the outskirts of Leavenworth, Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort is known for its sustain-able and ecologically minded practices since opening in 1995 — from composting food, to using the Earth’s natural warmth to heat buildings, to growing produce in its own certified organic garden. When Harriet Bullitt purchased the land in 1991, she and the team saved 18 of the camp buildings, remodeling them to meet or exceed current building and energy codes. 

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.