100 Best Companies to Work For 2012: Small Companies

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

FIRST PLACE: Exclaim, LLC

Exclaim LLC, a Seattle-based communications shop, has been on this list before. The firm, which offers full-spectrum advertising, design, new media and PR services, finished fourth in the small companies category in 2010.

“That was kind of our chant for the year: ‘We’re number four! We’re number four!’” says John Schuler, Exclaim’s founder and humorist-in-chief, “We even thought about having those foam hands made, with four fingers up. But we never got around to that.”

Schuler’s humor and enthusiasm are the norm inside Exclaim’s offices, which are loaded with the fun stuff that follows creative types—a Nintendo Wii, a dartboard, a tournament-quality ping pong table. But the playful ambiance is anything but counterproductive.

“It’s funny,” Schuler says with a chuckle. “You bring all these [toys] into an office space … and what actually ends up happening is that people work really hard instead.”

When it comes to rewarding its employees, Exclaim goes far beyond table games. Along with an industry-leading suite of perks and benefits, the company has fostered a distinctive sense of camaraderie and communication. Schuler and his partner, Mai Li Lee, regularly treat team members to business development bonuses, weekly outings for lunch, dinner or drinks, and the occasional floatplane trip/spa day in Victoria, B.C.

As one of the company’s workers wrote in our survey, “The relationships formed at work permeate into the rest of life as well, which is a very important part of making a job an enjoyable place to be.”

SECOND PLACE: Addioz Corporation

In the world of executive search firms, Bellevue-based Addioz Corporation rings like a bell through the fog. Founders Jason Devereaux and Mark Ellison-Taylor have nearly 40 years of technology industry recruiting and executive search experience between them, and they’ve learned to put it to good use in recruiting and rewarding their own staff. Addioz’s employees receive full medical, dental and vision coverage, a generous schedule of paid time off, education reimbursement, gym membership, mobile phones, and—perhaps most important—a kitchen stocked with food and beverages. The moral here is clear: Keep your people well fed, healthy and happy, and your company will prosper.

THIRD PLACE: Atlas Coffee Importers

Like many Seattle residents, Craig Holt runs on coffee. But unlike most of us, Holt has turned his passion into his profession. After a lengthy career with Olympia-based Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, Holt founded Atlas Coffee Importers with the simple goals of finding great beans and running a great business. He has succeeded at both. Atlas’s employees enjoy benefits that one doesn’t normally associate with the food and beverage industry: fully covered health insurance, an employer 401(k) match and generous reimbursement for professional development courses and conferences. Top it off with weekly take-home coffee that the company calls “literally the best in the world,” and Atlas’s crew has a pretty healthy buzz going.

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