100 Best Companies to Work For 2014: Companies Headquartered Outside Washington State


Companies Headquartered Outside Washington State | 1st Place (tie)

ACME Business Consulting

Location: Seattle / Employees: 10 / Top Score: Responsibility & decision making

For most of us, the name ACME conjures up images of Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner and an ACME-branded anvil falling from the sky. Thanks to that cartoon series, ACME has become synonymous with a somewhat-generic corporate entity, one devoid of marketing buzzwords, ego or pomposity. It’s from that humble place that ACME Business Consulting draws its name.

Founded in 2002, Portland-based ACME has been providing consulting services to the largest and most notable companies in Washington, Oregon and beyond. ACME’s Seattle office made up of 10 senior-level consultants who’ve worked with everyone from Stubhub.com to the Bonneville Power Administration.

ACME’s employees are nearly all alums of the Big Five consulting firms, and they’ve all chosen ACME because of its corporate culture. The firm’s consultants don’t have to travel; they have local clients; they have unlimited PTO (provided client and firm objectives are met); and they have flexible schedules that allow them to handle the unexpected events of life outside of work.

The company’s suite of benefits is equally appealing: ACME pays 75 percent of health insurance premiums for employees, spouses and dependents. It also contributes to employee HSAs and fully funds employee short- and long-term disability and life insurance. And a best-of-breed Employee Assistance Program, a fitness subsidy and a $2,500 annual training budget (per employee) make ACME one of the most generous consulting firms in the industry.

For Darin Hilliker, managing director of the Seattle office, ACME’s care for its employees is a direct reflection of its care for its clients. “Having an attractive offering to our clients and having an attractive offering to the people we’re hiring, they go hand in hand,” Hilliker says.

Companies Headquartered Outside Washington State | 1st Place (tie)

West Monroe Partners

Location: Seattle / Employees: 60 / Top Score: Leadership of executive

While West Monroe Partners is a technology and business consulting firm based in Chicago, its Seattle office is a bit like an enviably adventurous, mountain-climbing younger sibling. The firm’s 60 Seattle-based employees work in one of the most active offices in town, with regular group fitness activities, including skiing, paddleboarding, running and kayaking.

“We try to stay physically active as a way to get the team together,” says Tom Bolger, who founded West Monroe’s Seattle office in 2005 and is now managing director of strategic growth. (Last June, Bolger accompanied a team of West Monroe employees to the top of Mount. Adams.)

Outdoor recreation aside, the firm is deeply committed to its employees’ health and well-being.

In 2013, West Monroe launched Career Equity, a program that encourages employees to think far beyond their next performance review. Each employee is asked to craft a three-year letter, which allows the individual to be specific about professional and personal goals. Employees are also asked to assemble their own “Career Board of Directors,” inviting current and former mentors and role models to advise them on current and future career ambitions.

“Our goal as leaders in the firm is to enable people to execute on those three-year career letters,” Bolger says, “and to get the experiences they need to build great equity in their careers.”

West Monroe’s employees are also given time and resources to contribute to the causes they feel most passionate about. Each year, the firm’s 1+1+1 program channels 1 percent of the company’s time, 1 percent of its treasure (profit) and 1 percent of its talent to charitable causes. That’s a lot of volunteering, donations and pro bono work — all of which lead to happy, adventurous and satisfied employees.

Companies Headquartered Outside Washington State | 2nd Place

Walsh Construction

Location: Seattle / Employees: 80 / Top Score: Responsibility & decision making

Walsh, which has long been known as a premier builder of multifamily housing in the Pacific Northwest, is building a new reputation: It’s one of Washington’s best employers, regardless of industry. The company covers 100 percent of its employees’ health care premiums (and 90 percent for spouses and dependents.) Every worker receives a $600 annual wellness credit and a Career Development Plan that is reviewed and revised annually. Employees who own fuel-efficient vehicles may receive a monthly stipend and mass-transit users receive monthly transit passes. All that generosity pays off. Walsh, according to one employee, has the “best leadership and culture that I have seen in my 38 years in construction.”

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