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It’s been a rough year, the kind of year that makes CEOs wonder about their career choices and causes human resources executives to pray for miracles. But, even in the tough times, some companies never seem to miss a beat. It’s as if they thrive under adverse conditions, as if maybe they know the economy isn’t always going to be going gangbusters and that it would be prudent to have a contingency plan. As a result, management is prepared, employees are engaged. From small to large and east to west, these are the Best Companies to Work For. Companies like last year’s Hall of Fame inductee, MoneyTree Inc., which continues to top our survey among midsize companies. And The Everett Clinic, which approaches the art of communication with clinical precision. These companies and the 98 others on our list take pride in investing and reinvesting in human capital, knowing that satisfied employees are motivated employees.

Top 100 Companies List (pdf download)

Large Company Winners

Midsize Company Winners

Small Company Winners

Nonprofit Company Winners

Large Company Headquartered Outside Washington Winner


TOP 100 WINNERS (ranking by category)

Nonprofit Companies:

Valley Medical Center
Career Path Services
Pacific Medical Centers
Washington Technology Industry Association
Housing Resources Group
United Way of King County

Small Companies:

The CashLINQ Group
Buckland & Taylor Ltd.
Brightlight Consulting
Modern Dental Laboratory USA
Cook Security Group
206 Inc.
Adams & Associates/ADD Staffing
CFO Selections
Artitudes Design
Stratos Product Development
FSX Inc.
HPG (parent of Health Advocacy Strategies)
Ogden Murphy Wallace
Pentad Solutions
Noetix Corporation
Piraeus Data
Berntson Porter & Company
Bergstrom Aircraft
Wexley School for Girls
Image Source
MCM, A Meisenbach Company
Transportation Solutions
Conifer Specialties
TTF Aerospace
Pacific Continental Bank
Puget Sound Health Partners
IMCO General Construction

Idea Entity Corporation
Playhouse Design Group
BuzzBee Company
RealCom Associates
Brighton Jones
Chermak Construction
Chef'n Corporation
McKinley Irvin
Vista Engineering Technologies
Columbia River Carbonates
Soundair Aviation Services
Meier Architecture • Engineering
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Cornerstone Advisors
Paladino and Company
Red Arrow Logistics

Midsize Companies:

Baker Boyer National Bank
The Legacy Group
Sprague Pest Solutions
Concur Technologies
Slalom Consulting
ING Direct
Family Home Care & Hospice
Columbia Hospitality
Riverview Community Bank
Greenpoint Technologies
Evergreen Home Loans
Seed IP Law Group
Dade Moeller
Rhapsody International
Astronics AES
Super Supplements
Sleep Country U.S.A.
Rebound Orthopedics & Neurosurgery
InCyte Pathology
CellNetix Pathology & Labs

Large Companies:

The Everett Clinic
F5 Networks

Columbia Bank

Proliance Surgeons

Large Companies Headquartered Outside Washington:

West Monroe Partners
Weber Shandwick
Grant Thornton

Paying the Price for $15 an Hour

Paying the Price for $15 an Hour

With the economy soaring, it’s hard to gauge the effectiveness of Seattle’s minimum-wage hike. Some small-business owners remain dubious.
When the Seattle City Council passed the $15 minimum- wage ordinance in June 2014, David Lee, founder and CEO of the Field Roast Grain Meat Company, was not happy.
“The minimum wage hurts businesses like ours that compete on a national level,” says Lee, who believes it makes employers feel “cheap” and weakens “the goodwill that bound employers to employees.”
Even so, reflecting the mixed feelings of many Seattle businesses that want to do the right thing even as they struggle to survive, Lee decided to raise the minimum pay of his workers more than 20 percent — to $15 an hour — this fall, years before he was required to do so under the law.
“I wanted to get it behind me,” he explains.
Under a complex, multitiered system, Seattle companies with more than 500 employees must begin paying a $15-per-hour minimum wage starting in January. Companies with fewer than 501 employees  have until 2019, unless, like Lee, they provide health care or other benefits, in which case the $15 minimum wage rule applies to them beginning in 2021. Lee says his decision will cost Field Roast $300,000, about a quarter of its total earnings in 2015.
Ivar’s Seafood increased prices by 21 percent in 2015 to cover an increase in employees’ minimum wages to $15. The company didn’t have to start paying $15 an hour until next year, but Ivar’s President Bob Donegan believed it was the right thing to do. The decision helped resolve long-standing tension between lower-paid workers in the kitchen and wait staff who received much higher wages thanks to tips. Donegan says most patrons continue to tip even when they are told gratuities are now included in their bills.

A CASE OF COMPRESSION: Lynn Stacy unwraps grain meat for sausage products at Field Roast,
which has a flatter pay structure because of its higher minimum wage.

Some companies, however, remain concerned that the higher minimum wage could still hurt them. BrightStar Care, which offers home care and medical staffing in most states, is operating at a disadvantage because of the minimum wage, says CEO Shelly Sun. “Our Seattle franchise has only about 50 employees,” Sun notes, “but it’s being treated like a big business.”
Because Seattle treats the franchised operation of a national chain as if it were a large business, BrightStar will have to pay $15 an hour as of January, whereas some of its competitors with similar employee numbers in Seattle may not have to pay that much until 2019. Sun says a consequence may be reducing the size of the Seattle franchisee’s staff, which could have implications for clients.
Meanwhile, the national restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings says it is hesitant to expand in Seattle because the high minimum wage makes it economically inefficient to hire and train inexperienced workers. Still, what was once considered a movement isolated to “liberal” western cities like Seattle and San Francisco has gained sufficient momentum nationwide to be included in the national platform of the Democratic Party this election season. 
Thanks to Seattle’s strong labor market — the unemployment rate in the Seattle metropolitan area was 4.4 percent in July (compared to 5.8 percent statewide) — the higher wages have had little negative effect on the economy.
A report released in July by the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance concluded that the new minimum wage law hasn’t had a lot of upside, either. Since a strong labor market would have increased wages in any case, the study concluded, only a quarter of the recent gains could actually be attributed to the minimum-wage law — a little more than a few dollars a week. 

Revisiting the minimum-wage story | Seattle Business magazine examined the minimum-wage issue in its May 2014 issue, just as the Seattle City Council was considering an ordinance raising the minimum hourly rate to $15 in a gradual process over several years, depending on a company’s size. This is the magazine’s first follow-up since passage of the minimum-wage law.