top 10 coolest companies to work for in Portland
By o.c. tanner
Culture | September 25, 2014
Nestled in the Pacific Northwest lies one of the most eco-friendly cities in the United States. From the International Rose Test Garden to street food cuisine and outdoor activities, Portland’s unique culture has led to the catchy slogan, “Keep Portland Weird.” As for business, Portland encompasses diverse industries from athletic outfitters to restaurant chains and computer software. Within these industries are organizations armed with motivated employees dedicated to their work.
Below are the 10 coolest companies to work for in Portland.
The low costing cell phone and service provider works hard to maintain a close knit community, and as such, grow their culture from the friendships created in the office. This can be seen every morning, when employees huddle together and give pep talks and encouragement that pumps them up for the workday. As for employee appreciation, Consumer Cellular engages in monthly appreciation lunches for employees going above and beyond the workload. Also, giving back to the community is very important to Consumer Cellular.
The 3-D brand agency that “designs, builds and manages environments for marketing, sales, education and interaction” has designed exhibits for clients such as PlayStation, Nike, Verizon, and Microsoft. Pinnacle Exhibits is also focused on rewarding its employees for their hard work in a stressful industry. They strive to employ talented people who are good at what they do and in the end, are enthusiastic in helping clients build their brands. Employees have the opportunity to show their talents as an individual contributor. As they explain, “we value independence, reward initiative, and trust everyone to do what’s right for our clients. We live for the moment when an idea is transformed into physical space and moves people to action.”
Underneath the work hard, play hard environment lays a relaxed and flexible office community where meaningful, family-oriented relationships grow. The rapidly growing staffing company, VanderHouwen & Associates, Inc., makes sure hard work gets noticed through a goal completion program where employees receive a variety of prizes including gift cards, vacation days, and company-paid trips. Due to the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of the “people” industry, VanderHouwen & Associates adds fun in the office to maintain strong unity among internal teams. A few activities include corn hole tournaments, lunch time outings, pumpkin carving contests, themed dress up days, afternoon bowling trips, professional sporting events, office Olympics, and group trips to Vegas. VanderHouwen & Associates also understands the importance of employee progression and professional growth within the company and provides internal mentors as well as external skill-enhancing seminars that strengthen company performance as a whole. In the end, VanderHouwen & Associates knows the importance of good relationships and support systems in business. “It is these relationships involving teachable, reputable, and loyal people that keep them coming back year after year.”
As the nation’s largest corporate real estate advisory firm specializing in tenant representation, buyer representation and providing integrated services, Cresa Portland prides itself in existing for the benefit of corporate clients. They understand that success as a company depends on the success of the clients they serve and is the underlying factor that drives excellence and collaboration in all employees. Cresa Portland is guided by the principle to “do the right thing” and as a tenant-only firm, enjoys the confidence of a wide range of clients who count on Cresa to do the right thing—to deliver the kind of savvy, conflict-free service that is now deeply embedded in the company DNA. By living the company values and principals—from executive level to administration—“our culture is felt by all employees and by our clients.”
The independent developer and manufacturer of highly engineered wear parts and replacement products, ESCO works hard to make their 5,000 worldwide employees valued and part of a team. In doing so, they conduct surveys to see what the general need is among employees and try to implement items to improve the work and also the happiness in the office. A healthy culture and healthy employee base matters to them and employee loyalty is a top priority. In addition, because their services are often for community use, ESCO looks for opportunities to build good relationships in the local community. “We try to have a good neighborhood relationship in every aspect of the work we do.”
The non-profit organization aims to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends” and is the largest conservation organization in the world. Nature Conservancy motivates employees through the work they do, which helps employees build lasting relationship with each other. “There is a common thread from accounts to biologist that helps connect people. We all care about the work we’re doing. We’re family and have a shared vision.” Teamwork can be seen in a bike-to-work challenge, to staff field trips, including kayaking and hiking. Nature Conservancy also values employee growth with career plans and annual/quarterly reviews where employees can map out their future with the organization. “The ability to progress, advance and get better makes people really excited.”
The electronic design automation company likes to give employees the freedom to do what they do, with no constraints. At Mentor Graphics, the unique individual talent/skills and creativity allows for more competition with bigger corporations, such as Google. “We really want people to have their autonomy and use their skills to contribute to the workplace.” Mentor Graphics also has a caring atmosphere in the office and provides employees a variety of avenues for community involvement. This includes participating in School to Work activities such as career fairs, job shadows and take our children to work day. “We have the attitude that as you help each other succeed, you’ll be successful as well. We try to remain culturally aware so we can help people come to a place where they can be an individual, and set up to be successful.”
As an international development organization that helps people during natural disasters, economic collapses, conflict and other global challenges, Mercy Corps’ mission is to “save and improve lives in the world’s toughest places.” This can vary from helping Syrian refugee children into better environments to delivering food, water and supplies to the Philippines last November after Typhoon-Haiyan. Mercy Corps employs people that “are proud to work there and give their full heart daily to every challenge.” In addition to devotion, employees at Mercy Corps work hard to innovate the organization to keep pace with the fast-changing world. They do this through open communication where leaders listen to different ideas. Contributors not only bring their best solutions, but collaborate as a team. “Employees favor compassion over competition and a smile over a smirk. They care deeply about the people they serve.”
Janrain, a leading provider of customer profile and identity management for many of the top brands, focuses on customer success, employee success, product awesomeness, and company success—all of which drive the collaborative culture. Janrainers strive each day to meet the company’s core values of passion, humility, collegiality, and ability. They are a dedicated group of people who genuinely have each other’s best interests at heart. Every individual has a contributing role and impact in company success, and is provided the tools and encouragement to showcase the passion to get things done. While Janrain’s infrastructure supports the main business goals, it also allows for an environment that encourages employees to be innovative, creative and respectful to one another. The commitment to innovation and technology is evident in the annual brainstorming and engineering blender activities that take place to encourage new ideas from every part of the company.
Created by four entrepreneurs, Urban Airship has become the “most globally deployed mobile push messaging service” and works to enable brands to strengthen relationships with customers through customer and location targeting capabilities. Teamwork is encompassed in the office culture and at Urban Airship, they look for team members who take personal accountability, who collaborate and who are eager to help others deliver their best. In addition, Urban Airship participates in “Hack Week”, where staff put aside their daily roles and collaborates across teams and departments to work on an inspired project. Results from this week can vary from prototypes of new products to a fun improvement of products. Urban Airship employees also have the opportunity to contribute where they’re passionate, including an employee-run Culture Club and Diversity Guild, community volunteer activities supporting Schoolhouse Supplies, a CSA co-op and even a softball team. “We do all of this with a big dose of fun, believing our work will make people’s lives better as we help brands form better relationships with their customers.”
As you can see, company culture, community service, employee engagement and recognition can be shown in many different ways. Created in 2013, the Coolest Companies to Work For award establishes public recognition of companies that provide exceptional work environments.
Learn more about employee engagement.