100 Best Companies to Work For 2014: Small Companies


Small Companies | 1st Place (tie)

Artitudes Design

Location: Issaquah / Employees: 15 / Top Score: Work environment

Andrea Heuston’s office is as radiant as her personality. The fun-loving founder and creative principal of Artitudes Design favors bold colors and bright lights — probably because they reflect her sunny, creative nature right back at her. Heuston’s firm, which she founded in 1995 and incorporated in 2005, provides marketing, branding and graphic design services and specializes in creating high-level executive presentations.

The Issaquah-based firm’s clients range from tech giants to local coffee roasters. And as well as it does producing results for clients, Artitudes’ employees do even better at having fun: The office is adorned with art projects, a gumball machine, a huge chalkboard with inspirational messages and an entire room dedicated to recreation, complete with a foosball table and a Nintendo Wii.

According to Heuston, the inspiration for all this levity is simple: “Happy employees create happy and repeat clients, which create higher profits.”

Artitudes workers are happy indeed. Heuston has paired big-company benefits with her small-company culture. Artitudes pays 100 percent of employee health care premiums, promotes flexibile work hours and stocks its kitchen with fresh fruit.

“We put an emphasis on (health),” Heuston says, “because we feel that if you have not taken care of yourself, you can’t take care of anybody else in your life, and that includes your family and friends and clients.”

Every employee’s robust paid-time-off schedule is further enhanced by 40 hours of service project PTO each year; workers use that time to volunteer for whatever cause they’re passionate about.

Artitudes continues to grow, albeit at a measured pace. At press time, the company was readying to hire its 16th employee.

Small Companies | 1st Place (tie)

Milepost Consulting

Change Agents. Milepost Consulting President Erik Froyd, center, with, from left, senior project manager Julie Hayes, consultant Kendall Starkman and project coordinator Jillian Flavin.

Location: Seattle / Employees: 10 / Top Score: Leadership of Executive

In an open, sunlit office in the LEED-certified Vance Building in downtown Seattle, the 10 staffers of Milepost Consulting are changing the way we think about sustainable business practices.

From the Bonneville Power Authority to the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, Milepost’s client list is loaded with electric and gas utilities, agricultural trade associations and power players from the building, government and business sectors. But the company’s most valued resource is clearly its employees.

Milepost’s workers are rewarded with fully funded medical, dental, vision and disability premiums, and every employee receives 40 hours of paid volunteer time each year to serve the cause of his or her choosing. The firm’s career development program, in which each worker collaborates with a mentor to create an individual development plan that is reviewed quarterly, is among the best of its kind.

That ongoing career development is key to Senior Project Manager Julie Hayes, a former major event planner and author. “I’m really, really grateful for the opportunities that we have here,” she says.

Milepost does more than offer generous benefits and development packages. As one of more than 950 certified B Corporations around the globe, Milepost subjects itself to rigorous standards of social and environmental responsibility. (Examples: All of the company’s office supplies are made from 100 percent recycled or sustainable materials, and Milepost purchases carbon credits to offset all of the travel that it hasn’t been able to eliminate via videoconferencing.)

Milepost is growing steadily, but President Erik Froyd understands that change may be the only constant in his evolving line of work.

“If we’re going to continue to be great as we grow,” he says, “we need to recognize that things that work for a 16-person company may not work as well for a 22-person company.”

Small Companies | 2nd Place

Provisional Recruiting and Staffing

Location: Spokane / Employees: 10 / Top Score: Leadership of executive

In running a firm that connects good people with good jobs, Provisional’s leaders understand the value of employee retention. So it’s no surprise that the company’s employees are treated to a workplace environment that promotes flexibility and fun. Staffers are treated to fully funded health insurance, continuing education and memberships to professional organizations and health clubs. Provisional also encourages its workers to exercise during the da, and to fit their work around the demands of their lives. Working for a company this cool, who needs wine-down Fridays? (Oh, right. Provisional has those, too.)

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