Bank of Marin

(Four-time winner)

NOVATO – Incorporated in 1989, Bank of Marin is the fourth-largest bank in the North Bay and the eighth-largest public company, with 13 locations and 216 employees.

“We also hold the position of number one business bank and number one community bank in Marin County,” says bank President and CEO Russ Colombo.

In the midst of economic upheaval that has brought about the failure of other banks, Bank of Marin employees appreciate the company’s steadfast adherence to conservative practices.

“The executives of BOM have communicated very well with all employees regarding the challenges we face,” one employee says. “We never got into the first mortgage lending business. BOM is about relationships and knowing our customers. Because of that, we have a loyal customer base. We are not facing the problems that other banks are facing.”

Mr. Colombo credits the united efforts of executive leadership and employees that enables the bank to achieve its fiscal goals while continuing to support community causes.

The bank contributes to more than 250 local nonprofits, and bank employees serve on more than 70 boards while volunteering thousands of hours annually.

“Bank of Marin's efforts in the community make it a great company,” says an employee. “Its commitment to local nonprofits shows the bank's true mission to make our community a better place.  If the community is successful, the bank will follow.”

Edward Jones

(Four-time winner)

As the last remaining privately held partnership among the large New York Stock Exchange securities firms, the company culture of Edward Jones is a blend of entrepreneurship and ownership.

All of Edward Jones' 30,000 associates globally are either owners or potential owners in the company, says Scott Holder, the company’s top local executive who also runs his own office.

“The firm has proved wrong those who believe a company can grow only by going public. Edward Jones’ growth is among the best in the industry and the firm hasn’t had an unprofitable year since 1970.”

The company supplies financial services and products to individual investors. Edward Jones offices in the North Bay employ 110 people.

“The culture of the company makes Edward Jones a great company to work for. The branch office structure allows you to feel that you are running your own practice, yet you have the support of our home office,” says one associate. “The company really encourages each employee to think like an owner and values each and every person’s opinions and input.”

A distributed, responsibility-based management structure has served the company well during challenging economic times.

“Because EDJ was early to reduce costs in 2008 and 2009, they never laid off any employees,” says an associate. “Our firm has done everything possible to help us achieve our individual goals and the firm's goals at the same time.”

Embassy Suites Hotel

(Two-time winner)

SAN RAFAEL – A sense of teamwork and support keeps employees of the Embassy Suites Hotel motivated to provide guests with the best possible hospitality service.

“Despite the constraints we have had to face over the past 18 months, our team never lost sight of this,” says Pat Sorber, general manager. “It’s about working together and making the best of a situation.”

Embassy Suites Hotel is an all-suite lodging facility with 102 employees, serving both business and leisure customers. The hotel is part of Hilton Worldwide.

The San Rafael hotel has navigated the recession and maintained health benefits by managers taking additional PTO days and reducing rather than eliminating employee hours. Company social gatherings and a few extras such as ice cream socials and cookouts help ensure that employees feel acknowledged and valued.

“All employees are shown respect as individuals and as team members,” says an employee. “The company offers rewards, training and professional development in order to keep team members motivated.”

Employees and management also participate in local causes such as Coastal Clean-Up, Habitat for Humanity and the Marin Food Bank. The hotel also partners with several local schools for job shadowing programs.

“The company cares about its employees on a personal level and tries to do right by them while still striving to meet ownership goals and build this into an even better company,” says another employee.

Ghilotti Bros. Inc.

(First-time winner)

SAN RAFAEL – Employees of Ghilotti Bros. describe a strong sense of history and family pride that permeates the company’s projects and day-to-day operations.

Founder James Ghilotti established the company’s guiding principal – “Earn respect by doing a job well, treat employees with courtesy and respect, and do good work for the community.”

“GBI started with the morals of family tradition that still exist today,” says an employee. “There is a bond between all employees of GBI. Whether someone is an office employee or a worker out in the field, we are viewed with equal respect and value.”

As a third-generation general engineering contractor founded in Marin County in 1914, GBI projects now span 11 Bay Area counties. The company specializes in heavy construction including excavating, grading, concrete, paving, underground and demolition.

At present, one of GBI’s most prominent projects in the North Bay is the widening on Highway 101 at Wilfred Avenue in Rohnert Park, a $46 million dollar project.

Despite its longevity and stability, GBI has felt the effects of the faltering economy and responded by containing costs, revamping practices and rewarding employee innovation.

“We’ve tried to establish a culture of continuous improvement coupled with internal and external partnering,” says company President Michael Ghilotti. “Our goal is personal and professional excellence. Our people are what make GBI great!”

IDEX Health & Science

(Four-time winner)

ROHNERT PARK - IDEX Health & Science produces small-scale, precision fluidics components and medical devices. The 110-person Rohnert Park facility, formerly known as Rheodyne, is part of IDEX Corp., a publicly traded global company.

Company benefits include employee health and retirement benefits, stock purchase and profit sharing plans, discounts on mobile phones and personal computer packages. The company also hosts social events such as summer barbecues, family fun nights and a chili cook-off.

In partnership with North Bay Industries, the company has integrated disabled workers into its manufacturing team. Other community efforts IDEX Health & Science supports include the Human Race, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Sustainable Enterprise Conference.

IDEX Health & Science remained stable through the economic downturn by staying focused on long-term goals and operating as lean as possible, says Bridget Pedersen, director of human resources.

"The company has invested in the company by hiring new people, acquiring new technologies and implementing new business systems to improve efficiency and productivity," says an employee. "They have stepped up training to help people do their jobs better. This is a company that greatly appreciates each person's contribution, time, efforts and expertise."

La Tortilla Factory

(Four-time winner)

SANTA ROSA – As a Sonoma grown, third-generation family-owned company, La Tortilla Factory is an industry leader and innovator. The company’s list of firsts include: fat-free white and whole wheat tortillas, flavored wraps, low-carbohydrate tortillas and wraps, gluten-free wraps, and many more.

Employees are extremely proud of the company’s achievements and healthy products.

La Tortilla Factory employs a staff of 200 plus an 80-member temporary work force. The company has had the good fortune of continued business growth during the downturn by focusing on marketing improvements to generate growth in sales, containing production costs and keeping its employees happy with good benefits, plenty of opportunities and a strong family culture – including lots of parties.

“We are encouraged to continue our education and are given the tools we need to be successful in our work,” notes an employee. “The company offers many different trainings and educational opportunities to further ourselves professionally. And we have lots of great company events.”

On top of the company picnic and holiday party, the company provides each department with a budget and a challenge to host the best party for the entire company.

“Give us any excuse, and we’ll give you a party,” says CEO Stan Mead, adding, “Our people make us great. We are a family, and we are passionate about what we do.”

REACH Air Medical Services

(Three-time winner)

SANTA ROSA – REACH Air Medical Services is a best place to work because, in the words of one staff member, “Everything we do and the choices we make relate back to the company mission statement of doing what is right for the patient.”

REACH provides airborne patient transportation for critically ill or injured patients. Established in 1987 through Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the program later became a private operation. REACH now has bases throughout California as well as sites in Oregon and Texas. The company currently employs 104 people in the North Bay.

In addition to a shared sense of dedication to the mission, employees enjoy full health benefits, flexible scheduling, living facilities with full amenities for 24-hour on-duty employees and intensive, ongoing training.

“Our people always go ‘above and beyond’ in their professional and personal endeavors,” says CEO Jim Adams. “Without exception, there is an unwavering commitment to excellence, safety and education for employees, our health care partners and the communities we serve.”

REACH has faced economic pressures more recently associated with reduced reimbursement for services. The company met the challenge by soliciting ideas for trimming costs and increasing efficiency through employee forums.

“REACH has acknowledged the ever-changing business climate and its impact on our company and employees head on with fabulous transparency,” says a staff member. “REACH is the most forthright and honest company I have ever been involved with.”