Stories of 100 Best Places to Work in the North Bay of 2018

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With unemployment thankfully at lows, a chronic mismatch between the skills employers demand and those available in the workforce and a very challenging environment for recruitment and retention, there has never been a more important time to be one of the Best Places to Work in the North Bay.

Why? Because receiving this recognition is a differentiator between our 100 winners and the thousands of organizations competing for talent. And it is an important internal tool to engage current employees and take a measurement of how your organization is doing.

It has been a long road to the selection of our 13th annual Best Places to Work recipients. The nomination process opened early last spring followed by a mandatory anonymous survey period in early summer of employees and final selections in July and August. Those selections by the editorial staff of the Journal were based on the employee survey results and participation, comments and an employer application. The journey culminates in an awards event Sept. 20.

When Best Places to Work was started in 2006 there were 24 winners. The vision was to recognize exceptional employers and highlight the best workplace practices. It has been quite a ride since with the number of winners doubling and then doubling again. But we have 100 winners today not because we made it any easier. In fact, the average employee survey score has varied only a few hundredths of a point year to year.

No, we didn’t make it easier, the organizations stepped up. This year’s recipients represent nearly 19,000 employees from a broad range of industries from the region’s largest technology company to small employers. More than 8,100 employee surveys were completed. There are 14 first-time winners and eight special 13-time recipients.

Over these 13 years, we have learned that the award is important. But the award itself is only part of Best Places to Work.

The larger, long-term value is in the anonymous feedback of employees. Used expertly, this feedback can tell an organization where it is doing well and where it might improve. And the designation continues to be an invaluable tool for employee attraction and retention. On behalf of our co-hosts, founding underwriter Nelson, along with underwriters Exchange Bank and Kaiser Permanente, as well as our underwriter, Trope Group, congratulations to our winners.

Brad Bollinger

A W Direct, LLC
Blentech Corporation
Centric General Contractors
Child Parent Institute
Community Matters
Cornerstone Properties
Earthtone Construction
Moore Solar Heating Cooling
PACE Supply Corp.
Pacific Expeditors
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP
The Engine is Red
The Healdsburg School
Traditional Medicinals

Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.
Burnham Benefits
Cork Supply USA
Eckhoff and Company
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Intervine Inc.
Joanna’s Nannies
Soiland Company
Sutter Instrument Company
YWCA Sonoma County

Beyers Costin Simon PC
Healdsburg Lumber Company
Jackson Family Wines
Meritage Medical Network
Mike’s Bikes
Oliver’s Market
PsychStrategies, Inc.
Top Speed Data Communications
Workrite Ergonomics

Arrow Benefits Group
Best Collateral Inc.
Chop’s Teen Club
GC Micro Corporation
Mengali Accountancy
Parkpoint Health Clubs - Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Healdsburg
Pepperwood Foundation
Redwood Empire Schools Insurance Group
Social Advocates for Youth
Terra Firma Global Partners

AUL Corp
DH Wine Compliance
EO Products
Hennessy Advisors, Inc.
Hogan Land Services

Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs)
Don Sebastiani & Sons
Goodwill of the Redwood Empire
InterWest Insurance Services Kiosk
Star Staffing

Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley
Pisenti & Brinker LLP

BKF Engineers
Coast Landscape Management
Costeaux French Bakery
Friedemann Goldberg LLP
Linkenheimer LLP CPAs & Advisors
M.A. Silva USA
Private Ocean
Scott Technology Group
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
WRA, Inc.

Becoming Independent
Ghilotti Bros., Inc.
Keysight Technologies
Petaluma Health Center, Inc.
Quattrocchi Kwok Architects
Smith Dollar PC
Summit State Bank
Woodruff-Sawyer & Co.

George Petersen Insurance Agency
Nova Group, Inc
Sequoia Senior Solutions, Inc.

Carlile Macy
Moss Adams
Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Sonoma County
O’Brien Watters & Davis, LLP
W. Bradley Electric, Inc.

Bank of Marin
Dal Poggetto & Company LLP
La Tortilla Factory
Schurter, Inc.
Sonoma Technology, Inc.
Summit Engineering, Inc.

Exchange Bank
Ghirardo CPA
Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center
Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center
Poppy Bank
Redwood Credit Union
Valley Tire & Brake of Santa Rosa, Inc.

How the winners were selected

Companies selected as Best Places to Work in the North Bay were analyzed by the editorial staff of the Business Journal on the basis of several criteria, including the employer application, the survey ratings by employees, the number of responses, size of the company, the breakdown of responses from management and non-management as well as written comments by employees.

In all 100 winners emerged from throughout the North Bay. More than 8,100 employee surveys were submitted.

Nominations for Best Places to Work in the North Bay were sought starting in March. Anyone within a company can nominate their business by completing a simple form. A minimum of 15 employees was required. Nominated companies were then contacted by the Business Journal and invited to submit a company application and to ask employees to complete an online survey.

The survey was set up through Survey Monkey, a widely used online polling service. Companies had about four weeks in June and July to complete the application and survey, for which a minimum number of responses was required, depending on company size.

After an analysis of the employer application and online responses, the winners were selected and announced Aug. 21. Winners will be honored at a reception on Sept. 26.

Employee survey

Employees in the 2017 Best Places to Work survey were asked the following questions in an anonymous online survey.

Please rate the following statements on a scale of 1-5:

1 = Never – Strongly disagree

2 = Sometimes – Disagree

3 = Regularly – I neither agree nor disagree

4 = Frequently – Agree

5 = Always – Strongly agree


Management keeps me informed about important issues and changes.

Actions are taken consistent with the vision and promises of the company.

Communications are open and accessible and suggestions are taken seriously.


Management involves people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment.

I am offered training and development to further myself professionally.

Individuals’ differences and personal lives are acknowledged and respected.

I understand the company’s plans for future success.


There is a fair system for hiring, promotions and assignment of projects.

Employees are rewarded equally for their work.

My pay rate and benefits compensation are fair for my position in my industry.

A process exists for complaints/ suggestions to be addressed without retaliation.


I take pride in my individual contribution to the company.

I take pride in the work produced by my team/work group.

I take pride in my company’s products/ services and standing in the community.

The workplace culture encourages innovation and contribution.

I would like to be working at this organization one year from today.


I feel I am able to be myself at work.

There is a socially friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the office.

My immediate coworkers consistently go the extra mile to achieve great results.

I experience a sense of “family” or “team” with my co-workers.


What makes your company great?

What could be done to improve the workplace at your company?

Family Friendliness

What makes your organization family friendly?

What could your organization do to improve its family friendliness?

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