2016 Best Places to Work in the North Bay: Winners A–F

Winners A–F

Adobe Associates Inc.

Arrow Benefits Group

AUL Corp.

Bank of Marin

Bank of Napa

Becoming Independent

Best Collateral Inc.

Beyers Costin Simon (first-time winner)

BKF Engineers

Boisset Collection

BPM Inc.

Bradley Real Estate

Carlile Macy

Chop’s Teen Club

Coast Landscape Management

Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley

Committee on the Shelterless (COTS)

Costeaux French Bakery

Council on Aging Services for Seniors

Dal Poggetto & Company LLP

DH Wine Compliance

Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty (first-time winner)

Don Sebastiani & Sons

DriveSavers Inc.

EO Products

EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants

Exchange Bank

First American Home Buyers Protection

First Community Bank

Friedemann Goldberg LLP



SANTA ROSA - At Adobe, everyone strives to exceed client expectations and is treated with utmost respect. Employees say they enjoy flexible work schedules and are not micromanaged or asked to work weekends.

“We have a work environment where I feel as though I can be myself. All my co-workers are very friendly and lots of fun. Not only are they great to be around, but they are also the most knowledgeable group of engineers, surveyors and admin people I have come to know in this field.”

The environment is inclusive and supervisors listen.

“The owners are genuinely good people with a work ethic surpassed only by their integrity. We meet each year to determine the fringe benefit package we'd like and management does its best to address each request.”

Reimbursement is offered for communication devices, childcare, education, license exam fees and wellness, and there are scholarships for employee dependents.

In 2016, the company added health care coverage for all dependents in addition to employee plus one. In 2015, a quarterly wellness benefit was added partially reimbursing payments for park passes, gym memberships, personal trainers and entry fees for a marathon or race.

Principal Tim Schram says, “Our people push us to be great, as much or more than the reverse. The staff is dynamic, knowledgeable, fun, hardworking, personable, diverse, and talented - and they like beer!

Employees say there is room for improvement. “Perhaps a keg in the office!”



PETALUMA - Arrow provides support to help develop staff professionalism in a safe, fun, productive and positive culture. Employees at all levels are included in big decisions, accommodate and help each other, have gatherings to keep the social aspects of work healthy, and get together for café trivia nights, special occasions and volunteer activities.

Several families with multiple generations working side by side, which employees say, “Makes it seem more open.'.

President Jordan Shields says, “People matter is our cultural ethos driving our conversations and how we work. We focus on all aspects of employee benefit management, so people must, and do, matter.”

Staff members participate in the Human Race, the Petaluma Walk to End Alzheimer's and support Big Brothers, Big Sisters and United Cerebral Palsy. Company principals also serve on nonprofit boards. One is a certified trainer at Giant Steps Equestrian Therapy. Another is working with St. Joseph Hospital and the Petaluma Health District to conduct a community wellness series.

“The people here are very nice and accommodating. Our high tech co-workers are helpful and we all do little fun things like pass around a ‘Thank You Coconut' between employees and managers as a token of appreciation for a job well done. There is a brag wall for personal photos and pictures of someone's new baby, and everyone knows they can get time off for family matters and special circumstances with no pressure or judgment.”



NAPA - AUL genuinely cares about employees and maintains a cheerful, welcoming workplace where everyone smiles and takes pride in providing used car extended warranty contract service across the U.S.

“What makes our company great is its investment in its employees who build relationships with vendors, agents and dealers that stand the test of time - as well as the contributions we all make to our community through donations and volunteering with nonprofit organizations.”

Supported by inspiring, helpful leaders, workers feel a sense of belonging and are encouraged to be creative and contribute ideas. They receive frequent company updates and acknowledgement from CEO Luis Nieves who remembers all of their names and is easily approachable.

In classic California entrepreneurial fashion, “Our CEO and owner started the business in his garage and built it to what it is now. He believes in his product and stands behind it - and so do all of us employees. We are one big family of team players who enjoy excellent benefits, holiday parties, company picnics and lunches for no special reasons (just because). We are involved in many fundraisers and charities, such as Light the Night. The passion and engagement of our team makes AUL a best place to work.”

Employee benefits include gym memberships, seven paid holidays, up to 40 PTO hours annually for school functions and educational assistance up to $8,000 a year.

“AUL is very accommodating to life changes and obstacles related to raising children.”



NOVATO - Bank of Marin's (BOM) 241 employees take pride in helping people and making decisions locally, without having to ask corporate to handle a customer complaint or need, while enjoying a good work-life balance and being rewarded - and celebrated - for the work they do.

As a result, staff members build strong relationships internally among their peers and supervisors and through legendary customer service and community involvement.

An employee observed, “BOM doesn't just allow for volunteer time, but actively encourages it, and sometimes compensates employees for it. This is what makes our organization great.”

“I have a super manager who meets with our team and keeps us all up to date. My team works well together and we keep the work environment positive.”

BOM's managers are viewed as “accessible and understanding” while encouraging employees to take ownership in what they do. In return, workers see themselves as problem solvers within an atmosphere of teamwork and inclusion.

Effective communication and transparency is mainstream at BOM, where it is easy to work with others on the job, during family events or volunteer activities.

“Greatness comes as we strive to create an environment where everyone can grow and excel,” President and CEO Russ Colombo says. “Our loyal employees have helped in Bank of Marin being named Community Bank of the Year for 2016, recognition by Western Independent Banks for ‘Outstanding Contributions to the Community' and as the #1 Community Bank in Marin County.”



NAPA - “Bank of Napa's success and our competitive advantage does not come from our products, locations, pricing or technology,” says CEO Tom LeMasters. “It's due to the skill, knowledge and experience of employees who daily offer advice, counsel and quality client service.”

“I've worked for Bank of Napa almost nine years and have always been respected, felt part of the team and really feel that they care about me.”

Staff members appreciate each other and their customers. They maintain a positive attitude toward achieving common goals that produce success, along with appreciation of each other's contributions. They are a close-knit team characterized by a high degree of collaboration. Compassion is a hallmark of the firm.

“When an employee is ill, has a baby, or passes away, we all prepare enough food to supply the family for a week, help with laundry and keep the house going. We're not only co-workers, we are an extended family.”

Staff members serve on over 20 nonprofit boards and volunteer for many more. Employees dress down and donate $5 per Friday to a different nonprofit every month. “To date, more than $35,000 has been donated from our Dress Down Days alone. If I send an email asking for volunteers for, say, the Napa Valley Marathon on a Sunday from 7 a.m. until noon, I get at least 10 people wanting to help. We all work together as a team on projects.”



SANTA ROSA - Becoming Independent (BI) is a place where employees give everything they've got to improve the lives of others and help them make progress toward greater self-sufficiency.

“Every day all employees come to work with a positive attitude and with determination to put smiles on the faces of the people we serve, while helping them be included in the community. BI cares about people, and that includes employees that make that happen. It is apparent on a day-to-day basis just how much our work here is appreciated. We have awesome instructors and participants.”

It's an environment where staff talents and abilities are frequently recognized, highlighted and celebrated to benefit the individual and the agency, and where kindness and encouragement are practiced daily.

“Our organization is committed to elevating human abilities. Staff members go the extra mile to support the physically challenged, and those with autism, knowing that are doing something good and making a difference.”

One worker says, “People here have a great heart and treat everyone with respect. We also have a wonderful benefit package and there are opportunities for advancement.”

“Empowering those we serve with the dignity of freedom, and the opportunities to reach their potential, as they are embraced within a community of compassion and celebration, is woven seamlessly into our daily lives,” CEO Luana Vaetoe says. “At Becoming Independent, we believe that we're all connected and our community is enriched when we invest in one another.”



NOVATO - Best Collateral provides an invaluable borrowing service for those who need money and are often forgotten, ignored or unable to obtain credit from financial institutions.

The company has created a rewarding workplace for its employees and gives them the tools and opportunities for upward mobility.

“Owners care about providing the best benefits possible and work hard to make sure we have what we need to succeed and provide for our families.”

The company invests in training employees to become certified jewelry professionals, as well as personal development and sales management training.

Each birthday and anniversary is recognized with cards and gift certificates from the owners.

Schedules are flexible and employees can ask for time off, even PTO, when needed. Stores close on major holidays and there are no late nights. The firm sponsors one or two all-family events each year with free tickets for Oakland A's or Warriors games.

“Best Collateral launched efforts in 2016 to improve the sense of empowerment store managers and staff have over store operations and the delivery of high quality customer experiences,” President Robert Verhoeff says.

“This includes direct store control over social media efforts, latitude for in-store promotions and contests as well as increased company support and encouragement for greater involvement in business and community organizations.”

He says these efforts have translated into a more engaged and enthusiastic team leading to double-digit growth in store profitability and net income.



SANTA ROSA - As a leading real estate and business law firm in the region, Beyers Costin Simon supports a relaxed work environment that is less stressful - even in a business category known for tension and tight time constraints - and where a typical day in the office can be fun due to employee camaraderie.

“I always look forward to coming to work because I know while we work hard, there will be a point during the day that a roar of laughter will erupt. I just grin and shake my head wondering to myself…What story is being told?”

Michael Garcia, shareholder, says, “Perhaps more than anything else, our company is a best place to work because of all our employees. I really enjoy walking into our office and hearing our attorneys and staff laughing, which is a very common occurrence.”

A full-time employee starts with over three weeks paid PTO and is enrolled in the firm's 401k plan - where the company contributes a percentage of each employee's salary into their 401k account. The firm offers health insurance, contributes to health savings accounts (HSA) for covered employees, and purchases long-term disability and life insurance coverage for every eligible employee and also typically provides generous bonuses and profit sharing to employees.

Staff members enjoy a spectacular holiday lunch, BBQ lunches in summer on the patio, and pizza lunches at other times.

“This year we all went to the Sonoma County Fair to test our knowledge of horse racing.”



SANTA ROSA - As BKF enters its second century, principal Greg Hurd reflects on what makes the firm a best place to work. “We trust and empower employees to do the right things and promote from within as we continue to build the best team and culture where we all enjoy working with each other, have fun and respect individual talents.”

He says employees take pride in their accomplishments. The list of complex BKF projects includes Santana Row, Treasure Island, the Sonoma Marin Narrows and Sonoma Mountain Village, as well as the Crestmoor/Glenview reconstruction after the 2010 PG&E gas explosion, Dry Creek Rancheria, Netflix, Google, Facebook and hundreds of other sites.

“BKF has a wonderful reputation and employee perks. Everyone pulls on the same rope toward common goals.”

Staff members like the comfortable atmosphere as being conducive to individuality. A helping hand is available when needed. An interactive intranet enables everyone to share ideas, and upper management understands the need for time off for family obligations.

BKF pays 100 percent of employee medical, dental and vision health benefits and half the cost for dependents. A $50,000 life insurance policy is provided for each worker along with a companywide bonus and a Lake Tahoe condo at below market rates.

Employees especially enjoy the annual Casino Luncheon at work playing blackjack, Texas Hold-em, roulette, craps and spinning a wheel for raffle prizes - plus softball, picnics and holiday parties.

Can anything be improved? “Better coffee and donuts.”



ST. HELENA - It's all about people at Boisset Collection and a commitment to being the best by creating a cohesive environment where people help each other for the greater good of the company.

“The sense of energy, family, loyalty and continuity, as well as the desire to continuously improve, grow and be an ever better organization, is what makes us a best place to work. Boisset never rests on its laurels, perpetually strives for improvement, and treats its employees as family.”

Top executive Jean-Charles Boisset makes everyone, no matter who they are, feel like you and your ideas are valued.

“There is a team mentality where the staff even gives hugs - which shows in the guests' response - they love us!”

Jean-Charles says, “I get goose bumps when I see our people having fun at what they're doing, whether it's the gardener or the person putting jewelry on the bottles or those in the tasting room. Ultimately, success comes from energizing people and making them happy.”

The company supports charity fundraisers by providing auction lots, dinners, cash donations and event space that have attracted millions of dollars for nonprofits in Napa and Sonoma counties.

“It's exciting to be part of a company with so much energy and compassion for people, wine and the land. It's a culture of innovation with an entrepreneurial spirit that keeps us engaged on a daily basis with room to grow and where the only limit is oneself.”



SANTA ROSA - With a staff of 41 accountants and consultants, Burr Pilger Mayer (BPM) maintains a high code of ethics in public accounting, and for quality service given to clients, reflected in employees' commitment to the shared values of the firm.

BPM's core values are captured in an acronym, CRICKETS, that stands for Community, Respect, Integrity, Creativity, Knowledge, Excellence, Teamwork and Success. Employees strive to foster those in all they do.

“The firm provides learning tools for career growth, and everyone works to improve working conditions, and make the products we produce better. People are respected regardless of their position or title.”

Managers allow employees maximum flexibility in how, when and where the work gets done, even when telecommuting from home. BPM closes two hours early on Fridays in the summer and employees are encouraged to take time off during the non-busy season, and to attend children's functions.

There is also a generous paid family leave program, tuition reimbursement, a clothing allowance, Rocket Lawyer legal services, a transit plan, pet insurance and a pet-friendly office policy.

“BPM has a culture of respect, teamwork and flexibility at all levels. We have a Talent Mobility policy that encourages employees to speak to HR and their practice leader before applying for a job in another department. If qualified, we do everything we can to help them transfer and make an orderly transition,” according to partner Michelle Ausburn.

What else could improve the workplace? “How about a barista?”



SAN RAFAEL - As a local, family-owned and operated business that cares for its staff, Realtors, agents and the local community, Bradley Real Estate Owner Melissa Bradley and CEO Robert Bradley do everything they can to enhance the company's team and nurture its continuing success.

“There's great energy and synergy that emanates from leadership and back from the ranks. The Bradley's are great leaders. Their willingness to provide unwavering support and swift responses to queries and situations facing us as agents every day makes me proud to work here. The owners are available 24/7 to answer tough real estate questions. They are always looking out for us.”

Even though the company has grown from one office and 12 people to more than 10 offices and 500 people, there is still a small town family feeling. Agents feel personally supported, giving them confidence that benefits their clients.

“Free ongoing training seminars, coupled with senior management experience and advice, are an unbeatable combination. The owners' generosity with employees and by giving back to the community is unsurpassed. They are always looking to improve processes to stay on the cutting edge by introducing new technology to get the job done.”

Since the owners have four kids and lots of animals, they are empathetic and understanding when it comes to family life.

“I can even bring my 82-year-old mother to our Christmas party and other family outings and she is very welcome!”



SANTA ROSA - Dedicated, talented, creative and energetic people working together to create exceptional civil engineering and landscape architectural designs defines the mission at Carlile Macy.

“There is a sense of team pride where everyone is recognized for their contributions to the professional value of our end products.”

President Curt Nichols agrees. “In a service business like ours, it's all about the people, and we are blessed to have the best.”

Employees appreciate a workplace with a low noise level, so it is easy to concentrate. “They provided me with a work station tailored to my specific needs.”

Comfort food helps to maintain high morale. The lunchroom is stocked with employer-provided snacks, beverages and daily newspapers. The ground-floor suite has a deck with benches where staff members go on breaks. There are picnics, potlucks and family events year around.

On a Thursday, employees stop work early and socialize while enjoying beer, pizza and snacks and playing horseshoes. The last Thursday of the month begins with an all-hands staff meeting complete with a prize raffle.

“When under deadline pressure, the whole team puts in extra effort without being asked to share the load.”

Carlile Macy workers adopt a Committee on the Shelterless family at Christmas, donate services to the Children's Museum of Sonoma County and meeting space to the 6th Street Playhouse.

“Our environment is warm and inviting - a place where pets are welcome and where former employees drop by with news, or to show off new babies.”



SANTA ROSA - In 1995 Charles “Chops” DeMao left the bulk of his estate to the Sonoma County Foundation to create a safe and productive place for teens. Today Chops Teen Club offers an array of recreational activities and enrichment programs led by a dedicated team of five full-time and 18 part-time staffers (98 percent women) who love what they do.

“Chops is great because of the impact it has by mentoring teens who are the future of our community. Every day is rewarding, and we're all working to fulfill an important mission.”

Activities includes a 35-foot rock climbing wall, music recording and instruction, an art studio, gymnasium, a teaching kitchen with culinary and barista classes, and youth development programs.

“The club offers an incredibly unique opportunity for teens in grades 7 to 12, ages 12 to 17, to have their own space during a tumultuous time in their lives.”

Staff members believe they better the community by promoting family-friendly teens.

“Our managers are in contact with parents daily trying to keep teens happy and safe. I am amazed with how much support and nurturing we offer to families. It is no surprise that our teens' younger brothers and sisters can hardly wait until they are old enough to join!”

Executive Director Diana Curtin says, “There is something intrinsically valuable about moving outside yourself for the betterment of young people. Our staff truly cares about teenagers and is committed to making a positive impact in their lives.”



NAPA - Employees at Coast Landscape Management thrive in a culture that allows for individual empowerment within a larger, focused network of support giving them the authority to do what is right to make customers happy.

“Management takes time to get to know all 100 workers - 50 percent women - and motivate us to do our best. They recently held a wellness challenge to inspire us to stay active at work and at home.”

CEO Kelly Solomon says, “We just celebrated our ten-year anniversary, which is a tribute to the excellent customer service provided by our dynamic employee team. Their knowledge, passion and dedication makes our culture what it is, and draws customers into the fold for strong, long-term relationships.”

Staff members build lasting friendships with co-workers that extend to after-hours functions, such as barbecues, family picnics, an end-of-year party and employee appreciation trips to Six Flags and other local attractions. These bonds continue during customer service training retreats and when educational outings are scheduled to botanical gardens and other notable landscapes.

“I truly believe in the power of our people. By focusing on strengths and by matching employees to do what they do best, we've found a winning formula.”

Employees also enjoy participating in the United Way Day of Caring, with projects for Habitat for Humanity, working with Canine Companions, delivering Girl Scout cookies for local troops and by donating labor and materials for projects at nature conservancies, for nonprofit organizations and local schools.



NAPA - Coldwell Banker is more than just a workplace. With offices in Napa, St. Helena and Sonoma, the company's 130 licensed real estate professionals and 39 support staff are a cohesive team always putting the client's interests first.

“Everyone works hard to get results clients expect, and play hard at bocce ball and golf tournaments, bus trips to Giant's games, casino nights, Taco Tuesdays, wine and cheese socials and more,” according to General Manager Robin Rose and Owner Carolyn Roberts.

Employees say, “Our people are collaborators. We work well together and are ready to help one another - even in our competitive market. You don't find that very often! People are happy to come to work…and that only starts at the top.”

Staff members praise smart leadership, and an open door policy, as key to being the best place to work. Managers go the extra mile to keep the team constantly moving forward with technology and training, exhibiting attributes such as selflessness, integrity, expertise and talent. They keep workers in the forefront of information on market trends and changes.

“It's great to work for the #1 real estate firm in Napa with some of the best agents in the valley. People here are professional, kind to one another and love their jobs. Some 40 percent of employees have worked here over 10 years.”

Flex schedules encourage parents to volunteer in classrooms and children, dogs - young and old alike - all feel comfortable when visiting the office.



PETALUMA - “Our staff makes a difference in peoples' lives every day, and is excellent at empowering homeless adults and families when it comes to rebuilding their lives,” says CEO Mike Johnson.

“COTS achieves positive outcomes for our homeless clients that is three times the national average.”

The 29 employees who work here, “Don't give up when faced with a broken societal system that has a hard time coping with homelessness - we work around it.”

They believe that the effective programs and services provided are changing lives and achieving stability.

“It's much more than just a job. We're here because we choose to be. You don't work at a nonprofit by accident. The mission of transforming lives is what makes COTS a best place to work.”

More than 1,500 active volunteers support the staff. Many employees have 10 or more years of service and some managers and employees are former homeless clients themselves.

“COTS supported me when I had some family struggles. There is an ingrained respect for the unique challenges that working family members face, and a recognition that work/life balance is critical to remain happy, satisfied and engaged.”

The nonprofit offers family-friendly shelter options and networking events. “What makes COTS special is that we prioritize children in all aspects of our programs for clients. We value family and reunification.”

The staff loves having frequent potlucks, and they happen for almost any reason. “Somehow food just shows up - often - in our employee kitchen.”



HEALDSBURG - Where can you find a company not afraid to hire family members to work in the same department? At the Costeaux French Bakery… where the 128-member workforce is 66 percent woman and Hispanic, and where emphasis on family is part of the company's DNA.

“Our core values (quality, service, community and family) make our culture great,” says CEO William Seppi. “By following this recipe, we attract and retain great people that are passionate about the products and services we provide.”

Costeaux caters to everyone from kids to grandparents. “We give out cookies to kids, and make sure hot beverages for them have lower temperatures.”

Management listens and acts on employee feedback and suggestions. They are rewarded with incentive programs for meeting goals, invited to meals on certain occasions and attend staff get-togethers arranged by owners throughout the year.

Other perks include a free loaf of bread everyday, birthday cakes, work anniversary celebration dinners with family and friends, fun team building events, an annual New Year's dinner to celebrate successes and plan ahead, plus fun competitions, challenges and field trips.

In 2016 management kicked off a series of workshops on topics beyond basic job requirements to enhance employee knowledge of the business focusing on the communications culture, excellent service, and Costeaux's legacy. In addition, the business makes donations to kid's sports organizations, schools and the community.

“We have a great team that gets the job done. My hours our regular, the pay is fair and my check clears every time!”



SANTA ROSA - “As a nonprofit serving seniors in Sonoma and Marin counties, the Council on Aging improves the health of those age 50 and older by providing food, life changing benefits, estate planning and other services,” says President and CEO Marrianne McBride.

“Our COA family gives 200 percent to help others. Part of our mission is to deliver one healthy nutritious meal a day to at-risk seniors who can't cook for themselves. When I go home at night, I feel I've contributed to both the community and society.”

The organization's 75 employees receive a benefits package plus longer paid breaks if used for exercise, partial reimbursement for gym memberships and cell phones, and an on-site Toastmaster's Club. A massage therapist is available once a month at $1 a minute up to 30-minute sessions.

“We enjoy comfortable surroundings, closeness and laughter among all employees. We are free to ask questions to better understand issues and services, and management offers encouragement, flexibility and appreciation of work well done.”

Council on Aging offers workers a recharge station for EVs, discounted Meals on Wheels selections (standard or vegetarian) for $2 each, along with 20 other subsidized choices for $3 to $4 each. There are Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year programs where winners receive $100 to $500 respectively, and an annual staff retreat and monthly potlucks.

“We serve underprivileged seniors by helping to keep them independent, fed, socially connected, financially stable and goal oriented. What a great place to work!”



SANTA ROSA - This CPA firm with 23 employees has been characterized as having a laid back, but professional, atmosphere and very caring partners. “It's a cohesive group putting forth their best efforts, day in and day out, to achieve common goals.”

Managing Partner Jon Dal Poggetto says, “We take a genuine interest in our clients and their businesses, understand their needs and objectives, and provide them with excellent CPA and tax services.”

This attitude also spills over in how staff members are recruited and treated. “Before I started working, it was the people at Dal Poggetto who drew me into the business. It's a firm where everyone wants to help one another with a progressive and innovative approach to staff training, client service and technology usage.”

Beyond salaries, bonuses and health/dental insurance, employees receive educational assistance, generous maternity, paternity and family leave policies, flex schedules (including reduced schedules if workers want more time with their families), and participate in company outings and enjoy company-supplied food and beverages.

“It is an enjoyable, healthy work environment based on open communications, encouraging initiative, teamwork and innovation where family is a top priority.

“The company has a TV and game room for those times when kids are here. When we work long hours or weekends, the kids can come and stay for as long as they want. Kids love to come and eat many of the different snacks and goodies the company provides for the employees during the busy season.”



SANTA ROSA - DH Wine Compliance is a company that values employees and makes business decisions conscious of the impact they will have on the team.

“Our culture involves intense deadlines, lots of paperwork, rules, regulations and large workloads which are counterbalanced by lots of good food, adult beverages and a bit more fun,” according to President Drea Helfer-Lagourgue. “DHWC has a team of incredible humans who provide a level of consumer service that far exceeds my original expectations. Our talented staff continues to amaze me by showing up ready to give 125 percent to their company, clients and other team members.”

She says the company is great because it continues to evolve and determine better techniques to serve customers and honor its employees.

“The women here are always so generous, helpful, understanding, supportive and flexible. We take great pride in our work and are rewarded with fun activities.”

There are summer “Frat Tuesdays” which include beanbag tossing tournaments and lots of goodies, monthly potlucks or company-hosted lunches, games and competitions - and silly meeting questions to break up the monotony. There are summertime barbecues, an annual “Just Because” party as well as a lounge where adults with kids can hang out and watch a movie.

“Drea encourages work/life balance, involves management in company decisions, makes the company vision clear and provides for team building. Laughter can be heard on a daily basis - even during the craziest, most stressful times.”



NAPA and SANTA ROSA - Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty (DP&F) is a full-service law firm known for its friendliness and integrity with 39 employees in Napa and 11 in Santa Rosa.

“Management includes everyone in special events.”

Located in the wine country for more than 50 years, the firm specializes in 10 distinct practice areas including alcoholic beverages, wine law, business, labor and employment, litigation, intellectual property, land use, geographical indications, real property and water law.

“We are a cohesive, unified team where everyone is respectful and embracing of individual differences, backgrounds and talents.”

Co-Managing Partners J. Scott Gerien and Gregory J. Walsh says, “We have a remarkable, talented workforce. We're fortunate to be able to pair work and professional interests in a supportive and collegial environment. Many employees have been with us 10, 20 and even 30 years or more.”

The firm trusts employees to do their jobs and gives them latitude to do it without monitoring or closely measuring performance - with high regard for personal life and demands.

DP&F contributes to some 30 nonprofit organizations and sponsors community events for charities and schools, as well as industry-related programs, such as those for the Wine Industry Symposium Group.

“When I started, my manager was open to learning from me. She asked me to talk about my talents and skills and how I would like to use them. At DP&F we learn from each other regardless of our company positions.”



SONOMA - Having long-time employees with experience and leadership, and new workers with energy and perspective, keeps Don Sebastiani & Sons nimble and able to make quick decisions, learn from the past and make plans for the future. Management transparency allows employees to understand the company from the ground up, be aware of long-term goals and encourage collaboration.

“Family is at the core of who we are and what we do,” says Donny Sebastiani Jr., president and CEO. “We take that seriously and embrace our challenges as families do. We work together to find solutions, and employees are empowered to make the right decisions, as if this was their own family's winery.”

Personality compatibility plays a large role in the hiring process, leading to low turnover and a staff that enjoys working together.

“The company wants us to succeed. Managers ensure that we receive the necessary support on the job and for family time at home.”

The company celebrates birthdays, babies and other events. There are Mexican Fiestas and potlucks organized by employees that inspire camaraderie and positive rapport.

A 4/10 work schedule has been adopted in the production facility, and office employees can work an extra hour four days a week and take a half day off on Friday.

“Here where we know our contribution is important, and where we work hard to satisfy customers and support each other, while feeling a strong sense of involvement and belonging.”



NOVATO –Taking care of employees is more than just a phrase at DriveSavers, a firm that goes above and beyond to provide an environment where people can be heard, empowered, appreciated and rewarded - and “love coming to work every day.”

“The company is lifestyle focused offering us great perks, such as sporting events and concert ticket drawings and annual fishing trips. Fitness and health is a priority and they provide an on-site gym with two personal trainers (where we are paid to work out), plus holiday gatherings, fresh fruit delivered weekly and Festive Fridays in summer.”

Employees can buy time for extended vacations, or to sell time back to the firm at rates equal to regular compensation. If they bring lunches, or go online to order food brought in, the lunch break is part of the eight-hour day.

“Ours is a culture of work integrity. Nobody coasts. We support each other and learn from mistakes instead of fearing them. The knowledge that what we do matters tells us we're making a positive difference in the world.”

Anytime the staff needs help, guidance or when things are stressful, management is there to “lead the pack out of the tunnel to the finish line.”

“Our business model is built around providing preeminent customer service,” says President Scott Moyer. “Happiness can be contagious, and when employees are happy, they believe in your company, making it easy and enjoyable to help customers feel the same way.”



SAN RAFAEL - “At EO we want to work the way we live - inspired, healthy, in touch with nature and generous,” says co-owners Susan Griffin-Black and Brad Black. “We don't think a separation should exist between work, home and personal life. We believe in one life - one that values transparency and trust.”

“Whenever I see our products on the shelves, I feel nothing but pride. Pride for what they stand for, how they make people feel, how they are made and knowing who made them.”

EO produces a collection of bath, body, skin, and hair care products made with active botanicals free from chemical and toxins and scented with pure essential oils.

“We develop natural, organic products that benefit people's lives and the earth, and treat each other with kindness. It's like working with all of my best friends. We frequently meet for after-work drinks, bowling, Zumba, concerts - or just toss a Nerf Ball around the office. One employee just had a baby, so we planned a meal train to provide two weeks of home-cooked meals for the family.”

“Our sense of community is like nothing I've every experienced.”

The company donates bulk soap and hand sanitizers to local shelters and transitional housing centers such as Glide Memorial, Lava Mae, Homeward Bound, Delancey Street Foundation, Salvation Army, Gubbio Project and Hospitality House. More than 20,000 homeless men, women and children each year benefit from EO's donations when taking showers or staying at these shelters.



PETALUMA - Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Petaluma, San Ramon and Fresno, EPIC is an innovative property and casualty insurance broker and employee benefits consultant that has become one of the 20 largest U.S. retail insurance brokers and the 46th largest commercial insurance broker in the world in less than 10 years.

“Our culture is our brand and vice versa,” says CEO John Hahn. “We believe in putting the needs of others ahead of our own, and work hard together as we embrace diversity and community.”

Management has a clear vision and mutual respect for everyone with a willingness to address issues that may arise.

“EPIC is the best place I've ever worked. People are treated with dignity and given the freedom to use initiative and judgment to make the best decisions for the benefit of our clients. We work hard, but don't take ourselves too seriously. We know how to celebrate, recognize professional and personal achievements and have fun at holiday and top producer events, as well as at off-site executive leadership seminars, Employee Benefits University and EPIC University.”

The company has a robust wellness program with premium incentive awards; a flex spending plan for transportation, health and dependent care; an employee assistance program, education assistance; and a flexible working hours and work at home option. Insurance is offered to spouses and domestic partners at the same cost share as employees.

EPIC supports more than 20 charitable and community service organizations.



SANTA ROSA - As a civic-minded business leader in the community for 126 years, Exchange Bank has a culture grounded in serving its shareholders, staff and customers that includes offering Doyle Scholarships to Santa Rosa Junior College students and contributing more than $600,000 to 300 nonprofits in 2015 alone.

“Customers and employees are our most important and valued assets. Our incredibly dedicated staff prides itself on personalized customer service,” says President and CEO Gary Hartwick.

“Some of us have 30 years of service and know customers they saw grow up. We're not numbers on spreadsheets, but people dedicated and devoted to our customers.”

Employees are encouraged to think outside the box and share their ideas with the highest level of the organization.

“They treat us equally and enable us to grow individually. Excellent teamwork derived from looking out for and caring for our co-workers is our key strength.”

Tables in the lobby allow children to play with toys and stickers. There are treats for dogs, cookies for kids and coffee for adults, special accounts for seniors, subsidized FitBits for wellness, biometric clinics, mindfulness/meditation seminars and much more.

The bank's team loves the annual holiday movie and breakfast, day care and kin care assistance, part-time schedules, job sharing and telecommuting options and the ability to donate vacation time to ill co-workers or those who are caring for family.

“There's something special when the success of your bank helps so many people. It's great to be part of such a cool legacy.”



SANTA ROSA - First American (FA) is another firm with a century and a quarter legacy in the region, offering homeowners protection against costly repairs or replacements on their home's covered essential systems and appliances. FA takes the same care in supporting and nurturing employees and values each person's contribution.

“I genuinely feel managements wants us to succeed. Opportunities to become a better rep and employee are consistently available, and coaching opportunities never feel like finger pointing. A true team atmosphere exists and managers go above and beyond to provide additional perks, such as food truck visits, BBQs, lunches, casual days, as well as upgrades to break rooms, a new lounge/recreation room and outside seating. These things don't NEED to be done, but they show us that they care.”

Workers believe the work environment is awesome. “Management listens and works to improve areas where people have concerns.”

“If you can see a way to make the company better, they allow you to test and implement those changes. Company benefits and the rewards management provides show us that we are an important part of business success.”

Senior Vice President and Division Business Director Jeff Powell says, “What makes our company great is the way our employees work together. There's a lot of collaboration between departments and locations to make sure we provide a level of customer service that differentiates us from the competition. This spirit extends beyond business as our employees are continuously giving back to our local community.”



SANTA ROSA - First Community Bank (FCB) is a small community bank that cares about local markets and you as a person, according to the bank's 88 employees.

“My boss makes my job wonderful. She believes in me and mentors me. When things are difficult at home she listens, is helpful and supportive. Knowing she cares makes me work even harder to be my best.”

Another says, “My boss is amazing. He is polite and gives good, clear direction to help me improve. Positive attitudes from my team makes me feel at home, and I have freedom to manage my own time and work.”

President and CEO Debbie Meekins says, “We value relationships and giving top quality client service - values exemplified by our employees. Our dedicated team is what makes FCB a best place to work.”

Staff members appreciate the friendly atmosphere. “We bring children and pets to share and visit with colleagues. Managers care about the work you do, and also but about your well-being and that of your family. They offer great benefits and encourage two weeks of vacation to really get a break.”

There are volunteer opportunities where employees can bring family, which “Are always a ton of fun for a good cause.” FCB sponsors multiple fundraising events for nonprofits and staff members volunteer to stuff food boxes at the Redwood Empire Food Bank quarterly.

The relaxed environment includes jeans on Fridays, an annual employee party and staff lunches around most holidays.



SANTA ROSA - At Friedemann Goldberg (FG) everyone works hard and laughs regularly! The company believes what people really want is a work environment that supports and rewards excellence, honest, mutual support and fair dealing - one where people are expected to do great work and are treated well.

“Our law firm includes family members in and out of the office for team building events, summer and holiday parties. FG covers most healthcare costs, including my spouse, and accommodate employees with kids by allowing them to work part-time or on a flex schedule.”

Managing Partner John Friedemann says, “We work with people we like and respect. The firm tries to hire those with the right attitudes and skills, and holds them to high standards every day. Doors stay open, partners are approachable and everyone brings a good sense of humor to the workplace. As a result, we attract the best talent and provide exceptional client service by striving to do it better, faster and smarter than the rest.”

Each quarter families are invited to bowling nights paired with birthday BBQs and pizza parties. There are healthy living educational events, such as a flu shot clinic, massages during work hours, and a variety of healthy snacks.

Attorneys also serve as mediators, small claims court judges and represent clients in pro bono cases. Others volunteer at observatories and schools, as sport coaches, tutors and mentors for law school students, and financial supporters of community music and the arts.

Winners A–F

Adobe Associates Inc.

Arrow Benefits Group

AUL Corp.

Bank of Marin

Bank of Napa

Becoming Independent

Best Collateral Inc.

Beyers Costin Simon (first-time winner)

BKF Engineers

Boisset Collection

BPM Inc.

Bradley Real Estate

Carlile Macy

Chop’s Teen Club

Coast Landscape Management

Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley

Committee on the Shelterless (COTS)

Costeaux French Bakery

Council on Aging Services for Seniors

Dal Poggetto & Company LLP

DH Wine Compliance

Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty (first-time winner)

Don Sebastiani & Sons

DriveSavers Inc.

EO Products

EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants

Exchange Bank

First American Home Buyers Protection

First Community Bank

Friedemann Goldberg LLP

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