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Image: Andy Potts

Tired of bad coffee, bad bosses and a greenish, fluorescent-light-induced pallor? Quick—scour your hard drive for that résumé and take a sick day to spruce it up, because Portland’s hottest companies are recruiting. Get lucky enough to land an interview with one of these 12 fast-growing firms, and you’ll see firsthand how they’re changing the way Portland works, offering on-site preschools for your kids, nap breaks (for you) and offices that are so environmentally friendly you’ll feel like you’re saving the world just by showing up for work. Snagging a coveted place at one of their ergonomically designed workstations isn’t easy, but put some serious effort into your statement of intent and you could be one of the lucky ones: a revolutionary worker driving the city’s future.

Innovative Spaces

When budget and function usurp form and fun in office-space design, the results can be dreary at best. Walking down narrow halls past rows of closed doors is hardly motivating; even worse is spending your days ensconced in a taupe-colored cubicle sea. Which is why some savvy employers have ditched the old-school office model and invested in stylish surrounds—an expenditure they say is worth every cent. Not only does smart design attract smart applicants, but inspired spaces boost morale—and, significantly, the bottom line. From breaking down the doors and creating collaborative studios to building solar-powered workstations (yes, solar power is an option in cloud-shrouded Portland), these companies prove that giving employees a space they love also can boost their business.

 

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The space may be open, but Coaxis’ acoustic ceiling panels mitigate noise, while triple-glazed windowpanes practically eliminate sounds from the street.


h2. Coaxis


Business: Software development and management company
Location: 1515 SE Water Ave, Ste 300
Employees: 1810
1-yr Job Growth: 16%
Hiring: Application support, software developers
Contact: www.coaxis.net


Coveted views like the one from Coaxis’s third-floor office along the Eastbank Esplanade might normally be reserved for the boss. But here, the premium vista belongs to everyone. From ergonomically designed workstations bedecked with bamboo plantings, employees gaze out through a “solar glass wall” that traps or releases heat from the office in response to the temperature outside—and provides glimpses of the Willamette River and the cityscape beyond. “During the Rose Festival,” says founder and CEO Jay Haladay, “we all gathered here and watched the dragon boat races go by.”


It’s a very different environment from the one employees inhabited seven months ago. Then, Haladay’s quickly growing company, which designs computer systems for the food-and-beverage and construction industries, was stationed in an uninspired brick building in Tigard. But by partnering with architecture and engineering firm Group Mackenzie (with the support of the Portland Development Commission), Coaxis transformed the dilapidated Holman Transfer Building into the RiverEast Center. Not only have Coaxis’s workstations been upgraded, but the formerly industrial property is also now landscaped with rock filtration basins and native plants that capture and treat rainwater. In addition, by creating pathways along SE Clay St, the company created public access to this section of the Esplanade for the first time. “When I see people coming to work on their Rollerblades,” Haladay nods, “I know I made the right decision.”


Currently awaiting the U.S. Green Building Council’s second-highest rating for sustainably constructed buildings, the RiverEast Center uses 51 percent less energy than the average building its size. But that doesn’t mean it skimped on technology. Employees can reserve meeting rooms on-site via “room wizards,” computers plugged into the company’s main server that alert everyone as to which facilities are open or booked. Large, flat-screen televisions are stationed in public spaces not only for company presentations, but also for Blazer-game viewing parties. And a training center rigged with digital conferencing equipment allows Coaxis to instruct clients up and down the West Coast on how to use its software. Plus, the space brims with artistic touches like colorful, stained-glass meeting tables.


Haladay hopes the office will attract fresh talent: “I joke about putting a sign on the building facing the Hawthorne Bridge: ‘Now Hiring!’” So far, word of mouth has been advertising enough.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 70%. Hours per week required for benefits: 24. Retirement plan: 401(k): 25% match up to 15% of salary. Vacation days: 1-4 years, 16 days; 5-9 years, 21 days; 10-14 years, 26 days; 15+ years, 31 days. Yearly turnover rate: 8.5%. Vision/ dental plans, formal flex-time policy, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


 


 

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Opsis employees work primarily by natural light; if it gets too bright or warm, sun shades lower automatically.





Opsis


Business: Architecture firm
Location: 920 NW 17th Ave
Employees: 40
1-yr Job Growth: 23%
Hiring: Retaining résumés for architects and interior designers
Contact: www.opsisarch.com


Through 19 skylights, sunshine penetrates deep into the 10,000-square-foot studio, where staff architects—including the three founding principals—sketch at their desks in the glow. Over partitions just three-and-a-half feet high (kept low to encourage collaboration), colleagues debate blueprints and share tile samples.


“If you’re a Type A personality, it’s pretty exciting,” says principal James Meyer of the open work environment. Even conference rooms forgo the standard four walls in favor of just two, because as Meyer can attest, “When you see and hear everything, you learn much more quickly from each other.” In fact, Opsis is so open that most of the doors in the second-story office are ones that have been recycled into desktops.


In 2003, the eight-year-old firm renovated its historic 1910 building into one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the Northwest. At Opsis, hot and cold water run through pipes in the cement floor, providing radiant heating and cooling. Ceiling lights dim or brighten automatically depending on the availability of sunlight; many workstations are powered by solar panels on the roof; and windows open automatically to flush out any stale air.


Currently the company is designing what is expected to be one of the nation’s greenest neighborhoods: 32-acre Pringle Creek in Fairview. It’s no wonder the firm hasn’t had time to execute its own plans: Opsis wants to add a third and fourth floor made of lightweight steel and glass and take its open-model studio to the next level.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 100%. Hours per week required for benefits: 20. Retirement plan: 401(k): Annual profit share starting at 3% of salary. Vacation days: 0+ years, 14 days. Yearly turnover rate: 20%. Vision plan, domestic partner benefits, subsidized continuing education, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


Umpqua

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At Umpqua, anyone (not just account holders) can enjoy the bank’s sleek, living-room-like digs and free Wi-Fi.


Business: Banking
Location: 1139 NW Lovejoy and across Portland
Employees: 127 at 21 branches across the metro area
1-yr Job Growth: 8%
Hiring: Universal associates
Contact: www.umpquabank.com


“People walk by our store and they see the word ‘bank,’ but visually it doesn’t register as a bank,” says Lani Hayward, a creative strategist. “They slow down and wonder, What is that?


Breaking out from banking’s stereotypically conservative interiors with tellers who stand behind plexiglass booths all day, Umpqua—headquartered in Portland—opened its first “Next Generation Store” in the Pearl District in 2003. Here, store employees called “universal associates” cash customers’ checks from a marble concierge desk; walk through a sleek, cafélike space to lead clients to free Wi-Fi stations; and introduce visitors to retail merchandise like CDs—all part of the company’s philosophy that a bank should also serve as a community gathering space.


Within the past year, Umpqua has taken that philosophy further by opening two new “Neighborhood Stores,” in Beaumont and downtown. These smaller hubs debut interactive walls with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology. If a customer picks up a pamphlet on home loans, a tag embedded into the pamphlet will prompt a video tutorial on loan applications to appear on a flat-screen monitor.


But its most community-oriented store to date will open in South Waterfront in 2008: Highlights include a virtual help desk and interactive tours of the city, which may help the company dispense with banking’s stodgy reputation for good.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 100%. Hours per week required for benefits: 30. Retirement plan: 401(k): 50% match up to 6% of salary. Vacation days: 1-4 years, 10-20 days; 5-14 years, 15-20 days; 15+ years, 20 days. Yearly turnover rate: 5.5%. Vision/dental plans, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


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W+K’s top-floor deck is a hot spot for work breaks.


Superior Perks


When some employers are offering to buy their workers hybrid vehicles, the standard benefits package (health coverage and two weeks vacation) can seem downright stingy. Although companies undoubtedly are feeling the pinch of rising benefits costs (on average, they account for 44 percent of payroll), many employers feel that innovative perks are a great way to attract—and keep—employees. Here are three such companies whose workers are buoyed by exceptional fringe benefits.


Wieden+Kennedy


Business: Advertising agency
Location: 224 NW 13th Ave
Employees: 350
1-yr Job Growth: 25%
Hiring: Applicants with
creative backgrounds
Contact: www.wk.com


This year, when employees arrived for his advertising agency’s 25th anniversary party, cofounder Dan Wieden had a surprise for them. It wasn’t a trinket as pedestrian as a Cross pen or a gold watch. It was something much cooler: the Beastie Boys, live.


The company famous for making other companies famous via creative ad campaigns (ESPN and Coca-Cola are among W+K’s current clients) is storied for having the kind of perks that go big. Aside from private rock concerts, W+K offers paid six-week sabbaticals to anywhere in the world after seven years with the firm, as well as opportunities to work from one of the agency’s six international offices, in cities from Amsterdam to Shanghai.


Though Wieden doesn’t consider himself a “benefits junkie,” he has purposely created a corporate culture where play and humor are part of the work environment. Tour the company’s steel, wood and glass building in the Pearl designed by Brad Cloepfil, and you might find employees—usually in their 20s or 30s and clad in jeans and T-shirts—playing “Bump” (a basketball free-throw game) in the gymnasium or challenging each other to pinball in the fourth-floor game room. Others might be taking a free yoga class or power napping in one of two spalike “nap rooms.”


The formal benefits are all-encompassing as well, and include naturopathic health coverage, pet insurance and a corporate membership with the Flexcar car-sharing program. “Anyone can pitch an idea for a benefit,” says benefits manager Sandi Hildreth, “and we’ll do our best to make it happen.” To wit: Last year, when an employee suggested that artificial insemination be subsidized, the company had its health plan approve it.


Though the perks may sound quixotic, the reason behind them is simple: “We care very much about the people here,” says Wieden, noting that the hours are often long and intense. “And we want to make them feel safe in an unsafe industry. I mean, next to show biz, it’s one of the most unstable industries out there.” Looking at the agency’s success, you might not think so. But then, when it comes to talking about the business of advertising, Wieden invokes the smart, dry humor the agency is known for. “The whole thing is really one big cosmic joke,” he quips. It’s no accident that the company’s birthday is April Fool’s Day.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 80%. Hours per week required for benefits: 30. Retirement plan:401(k): 50% match up to 6% of salary. Vacation days: 10 years, 10 days; 4-9 years, 15 days; 10+ years, 20 days. Yearly turnover rate: 10.9%. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, fitness facilities/ discounts, and paid sabbaticals.


 


Gerding Edlen

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Aaron Jones, a Gerding Eden contractor, lines up a shot.


Business: Sustainable commercial development company
Location: 1120 NW Couch, Ste 600
Employees: 38
1-yr Job Growth: 60%
Hiring: Retaining résumés for
all positions
Contact: www.gerdingedlen.com


With 12 Priuses and 3 Honda Civics, the firm’s underground garage in the Brewery Blocks is a hotbed for fuel-efficient vehicles. And no wonder. Gerding Edlen gives employees $400 a month toward their hybrid car payments. Inside the bike-storage closet sit a dozen bikes—also reimbursed $250 per first purchase.


Though you might expect this from the city’s largest sustainable developer, employees here are thankful not only for “being given the resources to live a greener life,” as one worker puts it, but also for the fact that the company cares about their lives outside of work.


Accountant Jane Holtry, who three weeks after being hired tore her rotator cuff, recalls that she “was completely prepared to be let go.” Instead, she was given the two months of flex time that she needed to recover. During her absence, Holtry continued to benefit from Gerding Edlen’s health plan, which covers 100 percent of premiums. In addition to matching employees’ 401(k) donations at 50 percent and paying annual bonuses up to 20 percent of an employee’s salary, Gerding Edlen pays for work-related continuing education, which is important to a company that takes the job of cutting-edge urban design quite seriously.


But some perks are purely for fun. Every Friday at 4:30, employees gather for “Beer-thirty” to shoot pool in the rec room, throw darts, clank together pints from the kegerator, and possibly discuss this year’s Mount Hood Ski Day, when the whole office will bus up to the slopes. But inevitably, even conversations go green: “When plug-in cars become available,” says Stephanie Bastin, human resources director, “we’ll offer those too.”


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 100%. Hours per week required for benefits: 24. Retirement plan: 401(k): 50% match up to 6% of salary. Vacation days: 0-4 years, 12 days; 5-7 years, 18 days; 8+ years, 24 days. Yearly turnover rate: 10%. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, subsidized commuting, and subsidized continuing education.


 


River City Travel


Business: Corporate travel agency
Location: 9600 SW Oak St, Ste 380
Employees: 80
1-yr Job Growth: 25%
Hiring: Corporate agents, business development associates
Contact: www.travelpdx.com


From his home in Northeast Vancouver, travel agent David Jarrett uses a Voice Over IP (Internet protocol) to clock in to work each morning. Jarrett can plug the company-provided phone into a high-speed Internet connection anywhere in the state and log on to River City Travel’s main system. He can then dial extensions as though he were sitting inside the agency’s office near Washington Square Mall.


River City, one of the Northwest’s largest corporate travel agencies, has an employee turnover rate of less than 5 percent a year, a figure it attributes to benefits such as telecommuting, job sharing, part-time employment and flexible work hours. The firm also awards dedicated employees with the kind of perks that most can only stare out from their cubicles and daydream about—vouchers and free tickets to destinations around the world.


In-state freebies aren’t bad either, notes Jarrett, citing game tickets for the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the company’s long-standing clients. However, he says the work-hour flexibility has made the greatest difference in his life: “Now I can coach my kid’s soccer league, and if I do have to work overtime, it’s no problem—I hang up my phone and I’m home.”


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 70%. Hours per week required for benefits: 32. Retirement plan: 401(k): 50% match based on an unfixed rate. Vacation days: 0-2 years, 10 days; 3-5 years, 12 days; 6-10 years, 15 days; 11+ years, 20 days. Yearly turnover rate: less than 5%. Dental plan, domestic partner benefits, formal flex-time policy, formal telecommuting policy, formal job-share policy, subsidized continuing education, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


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For Kelleher, Lizotte and Demorest (l-r), the business of consulting no longer means living out of a suitcase.


Visionary Leaders


The old-school boss who delivers orders from his corner office has gone by the wayside. In an increasingly casual workplace, today’s best-loved—and most respected—leaders are loosening their ties and seeing their modern workers for who they are: human beings. To accommodate the complexities of juggling work and home life in modern-day America, the heads of these three companies have brought flexibility, compassion and inspiration into their offices—and the result is not only a growing contentment among their workers, but even the growth of the business itself.


Acme


Business: Business consulting firm
Location: 1233 NW 12th Ave, Ste 101
Employees: 21
1-yr Job Growth: 64%
Hiring: Senior project leaders
Contact: www.acmebusinessconsulting.com


It hardly sounds like a radical business plan: “We decided we were just going to sell our work in town,” says Scott Demorest, one of the three founding principals of Acme. Except that Acme is a business consulting firm, and in the standard industry model, consultants travel for weeks on end to advise their clients in every city but the company’s own. Tired of the jet-setter’s life, Demorest and his partners, Peter Lizotte and David Kelleher, set out to change the way consulting was done.

To dedicate themselves to projects they felt a personal connection to, as well as reserve more time for their families, the trio began to build a client base exclusively in the Portland metro area, beginning with Bonneville Power in 2002. Today, Acme has 17 consultants working on a variety of complex projects, such as helping an international sportswear company develop a new global e-commerce strategy.


“When we tell applicants, ‘We’ll get you off an airplane, but you’re still going to work on incredibly interesting stuff,’ they can’t believe it,” says Demorest. As a result, Acme receives hundreds of applications for every opening. Current employees say they’re thrilled to be able to eat dinner with their families and to fly only during vacation time, which starts at three weeks per year. Acme adds an additional week of paid volunteer time, and after only four years employees receive a six-week paid sabbatical.


Why so generous? The three principals say the companies they previously worked for merely paid lip service to helping employees achieve any real balance between work and life. At Acme, Demorest points out, it’s the real deal: “It was a core value from Day One, because we wanted it for ourselves.”


Policies & Perks:


Health Insurance Premium: 75%. Hours per week required for benefits: 25. Retirement plan: 401(k): 50% match up to 6% of salary. Vacation days:
0+ years, 15 days. Yearly turnover rate: 5%. Vision/ dental plans, domestic partner benefits, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, fitness facilities/discounts, and paid sabbaticals.


 


Ziba


Business: Design consultancy
Location: 334 NW 11th Ave
Employees: 110
1-yr Job Growth: 16%
Hiring: Designers, copywriters, consumer analysts
Contact: www.ziba.com


Walk into Ziba, and you might not be able to tell who’s boss. Fifty-year-old Sohrab Vossoughi doesn’t have a posh corner office. In fact, he doesn’t like sitting at a desk at all. Instead, the Tehran-born founder of this product-design consultancy constantly walks around the studio, asking his employees (110 in all, of 33 different nationalities), “What can I do for you? Do you need help?”—sometimes in four different languages.


So it’s no surprise that Ziba’s motto is “Check your ego at the door.” Since founding the agency 23 years ago, Vossoughi has grown the firm into an international company with clients like Sirius Satellite Radio, for whom it conceived and designed the Sirius S50, the first portable satellite radio. Known for staying ahead of global trends, Ziba also was one of the first to send its own social scientists to study how people interact with objects, so that its designers could create more meaningful products for consumers.


Vossoughi’s employees say there are two basic rules when working for him: Never call him “boss” (he prefers “friend” or “colleague”), and never satisfy yourself with anything in the “good enough” range. By creating a collaborative environment where people are inspired to do their best work, Vossoughi has been able to retain top designers for decades. “It’s rare for creative professionals in their early 30s to choose to stay in the same company for 10 years,” says graphic designer Chelsea Vandiver. “But I’m still here because Sohrab has found a way to continuously challenge me.”


Vossoughi admits that Ziba is not for everyone—just those who demand a great deal of themselves. “I want you to blow me away with your work,” Vossoughi challenges his staff. “When you make me feel small, I feel good.” It’s not something you’d expect to hear from the boss, but that attitude is what’s inspiring Ziba employees to transform design across the world—from a new line of computers for China’s largest PC maker to an interactive Discovery Center for South Waterfront.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 90%. Hours per week required for benefits: 30. Retirement plan:401(k): 3% contribution of salary . Vacation days: 0-1 year, 15 days (add one day per year after, with max of 22 days). Yearly turnover rate: 10%. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, and subsidized continuing education.


 


Xplane


Business: Visual communication consultancy
Location: 926 NW 13th Ave, Ste 240
Employees: 25
1-yr Job Growth: 50%
Hiring: Project manager, consultant
Contact: www.xplane.com


“There’s a reason the best business plans are sketched on napkins,” says Aric Wood, CEO and president of XPlane. “Simple drawings are easier to understand than a 120-page document.”


That’s the theory behind the “visual thinking” company headquartered in Portland. XPlane helps other companies communicate their complicated ideas and processes to the world through moving and still images. For example, when Boeing launched a new business, Avchem, it hired XPlane to create an eye-catching infographic detailing Avchem’s services so that investors could quickly understand exactly what the new company would do. “Technology is accelerating the amount of information available,” says Wood. “We cut through all the clutter to help people communicate visually across cultures.”


So far, he’s succeeding. Since joining XPlane in 2003, Wood has grown the company from 12 people to 55 worldwide, and turned it into one of the fastest-growing firms in Portland, with Fortune 500 clients such as Intel. He did this, in part, by giving employees flexible schedules and time to dabble in their own creative pursuits while on the job. Wood encourages staff to allocate 10 percent of their energy to “innovation projects”—essentially creative free time—because as Wood sees it, “You never know where the best ideas are going to come from.”


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 70%. Hours per week required for benefits: 32. Retirement plan: 401(k): 100% match up to 3% of salary. Vacation days: 0-2 years, 10 days; 3+ years, 15 days. Yearly turnover rate: 16%. Dental plan, domestic partner benefits, formal flex-time policy, formal telecommuting policy, subsidized continuing education, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


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Mentor employee Tiffany Wallace-Anderson breaks for face time with her 18-month-old triplets.


Family-Friendly Policies


By 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80 percent of Oregon parents with kids under 18 will be in the workforce, and the National Council in Aging estimates that 40 percent of employees will assist their elderly parents by 2020. That means the average worker really has two or more full-time jobs. These three companies demonstrate how investing in policies now to address America’s changing demographics makes for a workplace that works for employees and their families.


Mentor Graphics


Business: Software development technology
Location: 8005 SW Boeckman Rd, Wilsonville
Employees: 1,100
1-yr Job Growth: 5.5%
Hiring: Software engineers, early education teachers, IT architects
Contact: www.mentor.com


Every morning, Robert Klohr hugs his 2-year-old daughter goodbye, then exits the bright purple preschool and walks an eighth of a mile to his office, where he sits down behind a 24-inch flat-screen monitor and designs software chips that will be used in electronics—from refrigerators to cell phones—worldwide. Bradley is one of 120 employees at Mentor Graphics who take advantage of the ultimate in family-friendly perks: an on-site preschool, run by the company itself, with eight classrooms and 36 teachers.


“Some distractions in the workplace are worries about children,” says Gillian Brune, director of Mentor’s Child Development Center. “So we take that worry off parents’ minds.” For 15 years—longer than any other Portland-area company—Mentor has provided an accredited preschool for infants as young as 2 months and children as old as 6.


The center, which is subsidized, is completely open to parents throughout the workday. “We’re not tucked away,” says Brune. “We’re an integral part of the campus.” At any time, parents can stroll over and say hello, take their child to lunch at the cafeteria or play a game of catch with them on the baseball field. Likewise, children—with a teacher’s help—can send e-mail to their parents and take field trips to visit mom or dad in their offices.


Such family-friendly policies extend beyond education. The company boasts a private “Mothers’ Room,” a luxe nursing station with a breast pump, refrigerator and lounging couch; it provides fully paid, four-month maternity leaves; and it reimburses adoption fees 100 percent. Plus, to allow employees the opportunity to plan for the future, Mentor offers them company stock twice a year at a 15 percent discount, with a guaranteed price lock over 24 months—which means shares trading at $16 have been available for as little as $8, Brune says. “It’s so generous,” she adds, “that some employees are saving enough to put their child through college with this.


Policies & Perks.


Health insurance premium: 80%. Hours per week required for benefits: 20. Retirement plan: 401(k): 50% match up to 6% of salary. Vacation days: 0+ years, 24 days. Yearly turnover rate: 7.3%. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, formal flex-time policy, formal telecommuting policy, formal job-share policy, subsidized continuing education, subsidized child care, and fitness facilities/ discounts.


Hanna Andersson


Business: Children’s apparel company
location: 1010 NW Flanders
Employees: 156
1-yr Job Growth: N/A
Hiring: Sales associates, designers, customer service representatives
Contact: www.hannaandersson.com


“Many moms and dads work here,” says COO Adam Stone, whose own office in the company’s headquarters, located above the storefront on NW 10th Ave, is chock-full of pictures of his 7-year-old daughter. Over 60 percent of Hanna Andersson’s employees are parents like Stone. Their families benefit from the company’s liberal vacation policy—over four weeks of paid time off per year—which kicks in during the first year of employment. The company also offers a child care reimbursement of up to $2,500 annually, a subsidy of $2,000 per adoption and on-site nursing rooms for mothers.


Hanna Andersson children’s clothing, begun out of founder Gun Denhart’s garage in 1983, has become a $100-million-a-year business, thanks to both its bright floral and boldly striped designs, which parents can’t resist, and its commitment to high-quality fabrics. It was also the first retailer in the nation to become “Öko-Tex certified,” meaning that all articles labeled “organic” have been tested for 100 substances deemed potentially harmful to kids.


And despite the more traditional depictions of “family” in its catalogs, Hanna Andersson has long acknowledged that family means different things to different people: It was one of the first companies in Portland to offer domestic-partner benefits to both heterosexual and same-sex couples, and today the company is leading the way on a workplace issue that is becoming more pressing as the population ages—elder care. A corporate program offers financial advice, education and counseling to employees needing to balance their careers with the needs of dependent elders. “We’re constantly looking at how family is changing,” says Stone. “Hanna wants to be on the forefront.”


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 80%. Hours per week required for benefits: 30. Retirement plan: 401(k): 100% match up to 4% of salary. Vacation days: 0+ years, 23 days. Yearly turnover rate: less than 10%. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, and subsidized child care.


Nike


Business: Athletic footwear, apparel and equipment company
Location: One Bowerman Dr, Beaverton
Employees: 5,000
1-yr Job Growth: 8% (globally)
Hiring: Sales, marketing, designers, engineers
Contact: www.nike.com


It’s apparent to even the most casual observer that the 183-acre Nike campus headquarters, with its three sports fields, two fitness facilities and miles of running trails, is designed to encourage employees to stay active and healthy. Less well-known is that the company extends such amenities to employees’ families—even if the employee defines “family” as a third cousin, once removed. That means any family member can take advantage of the fitness center’s 11-lane lap pool or new-model elliptical trainers; deep-tissue massage and cancer screenings at the on-site wellness center; and corporate programs designed for teens that teach them how to start a babysitting business or perform CPR.


Through local employee-only outlets and an online store, families can also receive discounts of up to 50 percent on Nike gear. “Even my sister-in-law is able to buy shoes for her kids,” notes communications associate Jenny Muller. For parents directly employed by Nike, the company offers an early education center for kids up to 5 years old and an emergency drop-off center where employees’ children can receive care when, say, school is unexpectedly canceled. (In September 2008, a second preschool will open for an additional 300 children.) Nike’s “Return from Parental Leave” program even allows moms and dads returning from a three-month paid parental leave to customize their own part-time work schedules for an additional three months.


“Much of what we offer is employee-driven,” says Muller, citing the company’s “summer hours.” Nike allows employees to take half-days on Fridays between Memorial and Labor Days—though instead of taking off early, employees have been known to invite their families to the campus for the afternoon instead.


Policies & Perks:


Health insurance premium: 87%. Hours per week required for benefits: 20. Retirement plan: 401(k): 100% match up to 5% of salary. Vacation days: 0-5 years, 15 days; 6+ years, 25 days. Vision/dental plans, domestic partner benefits, formal flex-time policy, formal telecommuting policy, formal job-share policy, subsidized commuting, subsidized continuing education, subsidized child care, fitness facilities/ discounts, and paid sabbaticals.