Midsize Company Winners

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First Place: ALL IN THE FAMILY

It’s no wonder employees never seem to leave Baker Boyer Bank. The initial interview process is so rigorous, one might be inclined to stay put out of sheer exhaustion.

More likely, it’s the tight-knit, family atmosphere—even with more than 170 employees and eight branches throughout Walla Walla, Yakima and the Tri Cities—that makes them stay.

There’s a reason for the intense hiring process, which can involve several conferences, meetings with the executive committee and the president as well as a full day of interviews with employees from all Baker Boyer departments.

“We’re very focused on hiring the right attitude, the right ethics and the right team members,” says Mark Kajita, senior vice president.

The process seems to be paying off. Employees talk about feeling as if they are part of a cohesive, supportive family. People know their co-workers have their backs if they’re sick, if they need time off or if they’re facing personal issues.

Susie Colombo thought she’d have to step into a part-time teller role when she had her first child in 1996. Instead, President and CEO Megan Clubb took her to lunch and the two came up with a plan for Colombo to reduce her hours and still keep her position as a branch manager.

“They understand family is important,” says Colombo, who is now vice president of relationship banking. “They help you balance your life.”

Employees interested in furthering their education can take advantage of a number of opportunities, from seminars and workshops to time off to pursue postgraduate degrees. Baker Boyer lends the money for tuition, and if the employees stay with the company, the loan is eventually forgiven.

On-the-job perks include a generous 401(k) match; enviable health, vision and dental plans; and healthful breakfast and lunch items packaged on-site for a small paycheck deduction. —S.B.C.

The Strategic Plan Advancement Group at Baker Boyer Bank comprises, from left, Teresa Larson, Gerianne Graham, Michael Pettyjohn, Mark Kajita, Susie Colombo, Russ Colombo and Terri Lyford. Photograph by Kai-Huei Yau

Second Place: REASON TO CELEBRATE

Washington state’s mortgage industry has suffered of late, but The Legacy Group has bucked the trend. Legacy’s impressive bottom-line success is due to its talented staff—a staff that was attracted to CEO Scott Rerucha’s fun-loving, hardworking corporate culture. Sure, Legacy has impressive health benefits, vacation time and bonus incentives. But it’s the fun stuff that sets the company apart, such as the surprise Lake Washington yacht cruise after the holiday party at Lucky Strike Lanes, and the booming stereo and 3 Pigs Barbecue in the Bellevue headquarters after a profitable month-end push. —N.H.

Third Place: FRIENDS OF IT

Bellevue-based Apptio markets an emerging set of IT solutions known as Technology Business Management (TBM), which aims to provide IT executives with the same tools as their peers in sales and manufacturing. Apptio is not only succeeding at TBM, it’s also succeeding in creating a winning corporate atmosphere. Apptio’s benefits range from the industry standard (full health insurance coverage for employees; 75 percent coverage for dependents) to the truly unique: Every six weeks, employees vote for two Apptio Superstars, both of whom receive $250 for going above and beyond the scope of their responsibilities. Add an on-site gym (and free beer on Fridays) and you have a winner. —N.H.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
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New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.