100 Best Companies to Work For 2013: Companies HQ Outside Washington

July 1, 2013By eruedal@gmail.com


RANK: First Place (tie)
COMPANY: DoubleDown Interactive, Seattle
HOME OFFICE: Las Vegas, Nevada

Rolling on a Hot Streak
If you’ve ever played poker on Facebook, you’ve probably used DoubleDown Interactive’s flagship product, the DoubleDown Casino. Though no actual currency is won or lost in this virtual betting house—it’s a “non-gaming” environment in which users can purchase chips only to lengthen their games—it’s incredibly popular. The casino has more than six million monthly users.

DoubleDown, which is based in Seattle but owned by Nevada-based International Game Technology, began creating various nongambling gaming apps for social networks and mobile devices in 2010. And the company has been on a hot streak ever since.

“In less than three years, we’ve grown from three people to more than 170 employees,” says Peter Anderson, DoubleDown’s director of recruiting. That growth is fueled in part by an immense demand for gaming within social media platforms. But it’s also driven by DoubleDown’s workplace atmosphere, which is fast-paced and dedicated to work/life balance.

“We move fast, so employees work on games that are released to the public within weeks of development,” Anderson says of the firm’s rapid schedule, “and they see their creations realized in real time.”

DoubleDown’s employees are treated to many healthy perks. An online wellness program allows them to earn $25 per pay period for taking healthy actions, memberships to an on-site gym are covered in full and free 15-minute massages are available every Tuesday and Thursday. DoubleDown also provides fresh fruit and healthy foods in the office.

DoubleDown hosts festive “demo days,” during which each department is invited to present its latest projects and games to the rest of the company. And, true to its fun-loving roots, the firm schedules numerous team-building events—including trips to Seattle Seahawks games (club tickets, of course), go-kart outings and all-important on-site pinball tournaments.

Anderson says DoubleDown has “created an environment where fun is a way of life and in a game company, this is critical to success.”

RANK: First Place (tie)
COMPANY: Walsh Construction, Seattle
HOME OFFICE: Portland, Oregon

A great team making a good home
To Bill Reid, general manager of Walsh Construction’s Washington division, there’s no mystery as to how the company stays successful.

“We say and believe that our people are our most valuable asset,” Reid says. “There’s no question about that.”

Walsh does an enviable job of communicating that message to its employees. The company provides stellar health care coverage (100 percent of premiums paid for employees, 96 percent paid for dependents) and a top-flight wellness program with reimbursements for gym memberships, weight loss programs and race entry fees.

Balance between work and life is important, as illustrated by the four weeks of paid time off awarded to workers on their second anniversary of employment. Professional development is also a priority: Each new employee creates a career development plan with Walsh’s leadership development manager; that plan is referenced and revised throughout the employee’s tenure with the company.

The company’s charitable efforts are impressive. Led by the suggestions of its employees, Walsh commits more than $250,000 to charities each year. And the company donates generously to the causes of its nonprofit partners, be they housing agencies, universities, medical centers or arts organizations.

“We get to be involved with very good clients,” Reid says, “and we get to do some really interesting and challenging projects, many of which provide homes for people that otherwise wouldn’t have them. So it’s pretty darn gratifying.”

Reid’s summation of the philosophy behind Walsh’s success is this: “It’s great people doing great projects for great clients.”

RANK: Second Place (tie)
COMPANY: Cutler Investment Group, Seattle
HOME OFFICE: Jacksonville, Oregon

Cutler Investment Group is a newcomer to Washington state. Its Seattle office opened in November 2012. But this boutique wealth management firm is known for its blend of personalized service—there are 11 employees based in three cities nationwide—and big-firm muscle. Cutler manages more than $900 million in assets. Its dedication to service and relationship management extends to its own employees as well, with Cutler covering  workers’ health care, life insurance and professional development costs. Throw in semiannual meetings in places like Sunriver, Oregon, and Newport Beach, California, and you have a long-term forecast for workplace harmony.

RANK: Second Place (tie)
COMPANY: Edward Jones, Seattle
HOME OFFICE: St. Louis, Missouri

Brokerage firms don’t come much larger than Edward Jones, which employs more than 12,000 financial advisers and serves nearly 7 million customers throughout the United States and Canada. Yet the firm offers its employees an array of benefits befitting a much smaller enterprise, including medical insurance premium discounts for improving health, an enviable career development program and an emphasis on community service and volunteerism. All of which explain why Edward Jones’ Washington branches are home to some of the happiest brokers you’ll ever trade with.