(Winners are listed by size category and then alphabetically by company name.)

15--50 employees

51--100 employees

101--250 employees

251--500 employees

501--1,000 employees

More than 1,000 employees

How the winners were chosen


PDF of Best Places to Work special SectionCosteaux French BakeryThird-time winner

HEALDSBURG -- For over 90 years employees at this classic French bakery have worked diligently to ensure that guests receive outstanding service and enjoy fresh, wholesome products with consistent quality.

"The fact that we can produce more than 200 different baked goods a day shows that the owner really cares," a coworker said. "He works as hard as we do to make the business grow in an uncertain economy."

CEO William K. Seppi said, "We strive to balance benefits, opportunity, fellowship and a sense of belonging throughout the organization for our 80 employees. Our core values of community, service, quality, fellowship and family are woven into everything we do."

Costeaux recently upgraded its fleet to improve its ability to deliver its product line.

"The new low emission vans are beautiful, clean and well maintained. It makes all of us proud to work here."

The company continues to develop new products while keeping in touch with customers and being active in the local community.

"It's not only the work that's being done, but the fact that employees are acknowledged. There is a caring feeling from our managers, a family atmosphere and the welcoming nature of our environment that makes Costeaux a Best Place to Work," several employees said.Don Sebastiani & SonsFirst-time winner

SONOMA -- Don Sebastiani & Sons is an innovator in the wine industry with creative brands and excellent wine making in an atmosphere that inspires employees to do their best and appreciates them for their efforts.

"The key to weathering all storms is to empower our employees to find solutions. If we have the right people aligned in the right places, pointed in the right direction and encouraged to make decisions, problems are solved," according to Donny Sebastiani, president and CEO.

"This is the first place I've ever worked where the owner knows me as a person, and will stop and have a five-minute conversation with me," an employee said.

Challenging business issues are dealt with by keeping communications open and by allowing employees to be heard -- good or bad.

The company holds impromptu mini meetings, called "Festivus," and quarterly employee sessions titled "State of the Loomin" (a play on words for the flagship brand, Smoking Loon).

Loomin events include games and prizes, along with a discussion and review of quarterly successes over a company-provided lunch with dessert. There is also an annual event that includes significant others.

"We are not just cogs in a wheel. The people here are warm and inviting, enthusiastic, energetic and open to new ideas. We have an incredibly gifted and focused team."First Community BankEight-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- At FCB all 79 employees pride themselves on excellent client relations, a factor that makes them stand out as being part of the best locally owned and operated bank in the area, regardless of the world's economic situation.

The bank had to struggle, but through innovation, flexibility and by looking for other opportunities, today there is light at the end of the tunnel growing brighter each day, employees say.

"Our bank's secret weapon is employees committed to customer service," said Deborah A. Meekins, president and CEO. "We love our employees.  The bank is a competitive, caring employer.  We work hard and have some fun, too."

An employee said, "Our managers are strong, forward thinking and always there to help us when we need it and make sure we are able to talk to them when we need to."

This eight-time Best Places to Work winner has a professional culture with a familial feel.

"We are all able to contribute ideas that are truly taken into consideration, and -- if plausible -- put into action," another staff member added.

There are periodic employee socials, casual jean Friday's, and during the Sonoma County Fair, an annual employee/director party, plus the ability to engage in volunteer opportunities during business hours.

 "When was the last time you did business with someone who keeps dog biscuits on hand for your best friend?"George Petersen Insurance AgencyFive-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- George Petersen Insurance is an agency with a strong sense of direction, identity and a quality employee base with a solid work ethic.

"Our leaders set a perfect example.  They don't just manage, they produce business the same as everyone else," an employee said.

It is a true culture of caring and a supportive environment where owners treat employees as adults without micro managing.

"Our people make our company great," said Robb Daer, vice president and co-owner. "Many of our 77 employees have been with us a long time.  Everyone does a fantastic job for us and our clients."

The agency has two employees with family members that have life threatening illnesses. 

"Our company supported them every step of the way. When Robb discovered there was a food shortage for visiting relatives, he bought groceries, fired up the grill and made some chicken and tri-tip and took it to the families. Then he cleaned the kitchen and went back to work," another employee said. "That's a leader with compassion."

The 78-year-old agency rolled with the punches in challenging times through aggressive marketing, advertising, cross selling and by focusing on areas of success with a push for sales growth.

"We all care about our clients, employees, the companies we do business with and our environment."Golden Living CenterFour-time winner

PETALUMA -- This five-star Medicare facility has a corporate philosophy emphasizing "One patient, one family and one community at a time."

"I'm a single mom and sometimes I can't get to work on time. Instead of my boss getting mad, I am supported," an employee said.

With a diverse staff of 99 workers -- 65 percent are women and minorities -- the organization takes pride in being LBGT friendly.

"My boss is fair and I'm not afraid to talk to him. There are no bullies here, we are all equal," another employee added.

Executive Director Bryan Adams said, "Walking through the door you sense a freedom of spirit, purpose and comfort. It's a place where you can be yourself. I care about and listen to our staff."

This year when a team member died, "We all pulled together to help one another, it was really beautiful, and corporate sent grief counselors and food every day. We were given love and support and treated with kindness."

Staff turnover is low and perks are great, including healthcare, shopping discounts, potlucks, softball, BBQs and an offsite Christmas party. There are discounts for phone service, insurance and work shoes.

"My disability doesn't matter, and the staff are wonderful. Each day I look forward to coming to work to make a difference and spend time with my coworkers."Marizco Landscape Management, Inc.Six-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- Marizco Landscape's 55 employees manage some of the most prestigious and award-winning landscapes in Marin and Sonoma Counties, fulfilling the owner's dream to become a top leader in the industry.

"What makes us great is the fact that everyone pulls his or her own weight. Our opinions matter," one worker said. "Having a boss who cares about his employees is what makes this a Best Place to Work."

President Pierre R. Marizco said, "What makes a difference during an economic downturn is listening to employees and talking about their problems and solutions -- and then implementing their ideas."

While benefits were cut in rough times, the owner promised that benefits would be re-instated when the company could afford to do so.  "Recently, the owner made good on that promise," a crewmember said.

The company keeps morale high by planning social outings with staff and significant others, both on and off the clock. There is an annual employee appreciation picnic, barbecues throughout the year, golf days and a Christmas lunch.

Marizco Landscape assists the Children's Village of Sonoma County on landscape projects and services, and helps to beautify median islands for the city of Santa Rosa downtown.

The firm supports fundraisers for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Boys and Girls Club and Canine Companions for Independence.Moss Adams, LLPSix-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- Celebrating 100 years in business, Moss Adams remains committed to its 72 employees and to creating a beneficial, supportive and safe place to work.

The company takes pride in the fact that it has so many "homegrown" CPAs who have enjoyed long and fruitful careers with Moss Adams.

"We completed an acquisition last year to help expand opportunities for our people," said Ty Pforsich, regional managing partner. "In addition, we also implemented changes to our mentoring program to allow better access to leadership, and established a Fun Committee to plan events with employee input, such as a picnic, casino night, Giant's game outings and ice cream socials."

An employee said "We have incredibly talented professionals doing great work for great clients, with the flexibility to do our jobs on schedules that work best for us."

Benefits are outstanding. "Come on," another staffer exclaimed, "Five weeks starting PTO a year is insane, not to mention the 100 percent paid parental leave when a new baby is born."

Last year Moss Adams co-sponsored a team to build a school in Nepal with BuildOn. This year the activity will be repeated with a larger team in Nicaragua. The firm also collects donations for various local charities.Sonoma Technology, Inc.Seven-time winner

PETALUMA -- STI provides its employees with the opportunity to apply good science to real-world environmental issues -- such as air quality, climate change and emission assessment -- to mention just a few areas of research.

"We work on things that matter and that can help change the world," an employee observed. "The extreme cohesiveness and dedication to produce the best quality work possible is what makes us the Best Place to Work."

President Lyle Chinkin said, "STI, now in its 30th year, is run in an ethical, open and nurturing manner where our staff works on projects that make a difference in the lives of our clients and the public."

Federal budget cuts have had a major impact on STI's work. Keeping morale high in a slow economic environment has meant being "very fiscally conservative, while also investing in research and development, and diversifying into new business areas" -- as well as by financing internal research projects (when no billable work was available) that can be presented to clients down the road.

"Upper management decided that they would take pay cuts before laying people off -- and we have had no layoffs," a happy employee added. "There was a strong commitment to keeping everyone."St. Francis Winery & VineyardsThree-Time Winner

SANTA ROSA -- With a passion for preserving Sonoma County's delicate ecosystems for future generations, employees and management worked as a team to implement green practices. As a result, St. Francis' winery and vineyard operations were "Certified Sustainable" on June 1 by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.

"It's an extremely supportive culture and one that encourages growth and success," an employee said. "It is a drama-free place to work with good benefits, fair wages, bonuses and flexibility."

The firm's bilingual HR administrator also serves as an interpreter five days a week to assist with answering questions, resolving problems and confidential matters that the firm's Spanish-speaking employees might have.

"The people here are amazing and the goals we set each year to improve our workplace are great motivators for us to always be our best," another worker said.

In the words of President and CEO Christopher W. Silva, "We are a value-based organization. Our greatest asset has always been our people. We honor their unique contributions, not only with highly competitive compensation and benefits, but by fostering a culture based on dialogues -- not monologues.  We talk about everything important to us, and our discussions include every employee. Our employees don't follow standards, they set standards."

Employees say they are always treated with the upmost respect and gratitude.Summit State BankFour-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- "What makes Summit State Bank a Best Place to Work is our great staff that continues to attract the highest quality customers resulting in us being ranked as the top community bank in Sonoma County," said Tom Duryea, president and CEO.

"Our people embrace a customer centric culture that says we're here for the community and will do our best to lend local," employees said.

The bank dealt with challenging economic conditions by seeing it as a positive opportunity to aggressively attract new customers and retain the ones it has.

Employees achieved this by responding quickly to their needs -- with the shortest time frame between requests and delivery of the best products and services.

"Management continues to show us how much we are truly valued. If you do a good job you are recognized. We are also encouraged to give back to the community and can get time off to give back," another employee said.

Summit employees provide volunteer hours and sponsorships to over 100 Sonoma County non-profits.

The company's culture is captured in its 10-item "Summit Way" Service Standards displayed at each employee's desk.  Items include having a "Can-Do Attitude" and "Returning Phone Calls and Emails the Same Day," to mention just two.Visiting Angels Senior HomecareFirst-time winner

SANTA ROSA -- Visiting Angels Senior Homecare was recently awarded "Diamond Certification" and rated best in quality by past and current clients. The company received a 97.3 percent positive customer experience rating due largely to its caregivers -- 95 percent of the firm's 70 employees are women and minorities.

"The friendliness and politeness of my coworkers, and how they genuinely care for our clients is what impresses me the most," a caregiver observed.

Another said, "The owners are just super people that care about us as much as the clients. They're always happy to see me and take time to listen to anything I feel I need to talk to them about. We have to deal with tough hospice situations and our CFO Marian Cremin has the most grace I have ever seen."

CEO Albert DeSilver said, "We provide consistent support for employee needs, including paid training, opportunities for growth, periodic bonuses, paid days off, and spa/massage gifts while always listening and engaging with our staff and encouraging their input."

Commitment to quality of life at Visiting Angels is for everyone from owners to clients.

"Co-owners Marian and Albert give so much to us. They go above and beyond anything you would ever expect at a company. They are always willing to help, give, and keep us happy," an employee said.Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc.Five-time winner

PETALUMA -- With a legacy steeped in California history, Wells Fargo Insurance Services was launched in 2001.

"We don't want our customers to like us, we want them to love us and focus on exceeding their satisfaction," an employee said. "Everyone looks out for each other and jumps in whenever there are heavy workloads or special projects."

Mark Stokes, regional managing director, says, "I'm lucky to have a dedicated, hardworking team of 62 members who provide excellent service every day."

When the economy slumped, the firm consolidated work processes, focused on what it could control, and pursued referrals from clients while offering them cost-saving alternatives so they could meet their budgets.

Wells Fargo has been number one for donations over 20 years showing how important employees believe this is to the community.

"Our people have continuously raised the most money for a firm of our size for the Human Race and other charity events," another employee said.

During busy times managers provide free lunches and snacks to show their appreciation, and allow baby showers or birthday celebrations during company hours.

"We are encouraged to be the best we can be with diligence in getting the job done, and done right. Going the extra mile ensures that we float, and never sink."WRA Environmental ConsultantsThree-time winner

SAN RAFAEL -- WRA is a 32-year old firm with a clear mission -- to be responsible stewards of the environment while helping clients accomplish their goals.

"We have an open-ended range of career opportunities and personal development through paid conferences, workshops and classes, plus wonderful healthcare, retirement plans and profit sharing," an employee said.

WRA is an environmentally conscious workplace with incentives to reduce the carbon footprint, and promote recycling, composting and waste reduction.

"Our firm is a win-win for everyone involved offering the staff a place to practice biology -- their passion -- and become creative problem solvers," said Tom Fraser, president. "We have a well-trained individuals who love their work and always strive to improve their job skills and serve our clients."

Employees say there is no such thing as every man for himself at WRA. During the downturn the firm entered new markets. 

"That diversity has proven to be a godsend. We shrunk by attrition without layoffs, communicated with everyone about future plans, increased effective marketing and now are in a big hiring mode," employees said. 

The firm is growing in terms of total employees and expanding with new offices in other cities and states.

WRA employees are encouraged to support the California Native Plant Society, involvement with land trusts to create public access and the annual Bike to Work Month challenge.