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Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Presented by Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · A supplement Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · to Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central · Washington Architectural Hardware · Washington Business Bank · Ziegele Smile Studio · A Step Ahead · Albers & Company · The Artisans Group · Auburn VW · Better Business Bureau · BiNW · CodeSmart · Columbia Bank · Doty Beardsley & Rosengren · Farelli’s Wood Fired Pizza · Financial Insights · KMB design groups · LaborWorks · Machine & Fabrication · Panagiotu Pension Advisors · Premier Media Group · Print NW · Rapport Benefits Group · Reber Ranch · Smith Fire Systems · Sunset Air · Tacoma Community House · Torklift Central

2014


Presented by

Supporting Sponsors

Cortributing Sponsors

Event Partners

2014 Top Places to Work | www.BusinessExaminer.com | 3


introduction Heritage Bank: Continuously Improving

2014 Finalists

Heritage Bank, a subsidiary of Heritage Financial Corporation, serves the Pacific Northwest with branches from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington Brian Vance as well as in the Director, President Yakima Valley & CEO of Heritage whereby we operate Bank under the name of Central Valley Bank, a division of Heritage Bank. As a full-service community bank, we offer a complete array of business and personal banking tools, including: checking; savings; commercial, home and construction loans; merchant services; remote deposit and online financial management tools through our website HeritageBankNW.com. All products and services are designed with our customers and their financial goals in mind.

A Step Ahead Albers & Company The Artisans Group Auburn VW Better Business Bureau Business Interiors Northwest CodeSmart Columbia Bank Doty, Beardsley, Rosengren & Co. Farelli’s Wood Fire Pizza Financial Insights KMB design groups LaborWorks Machine & Fabrication Panagiotu Pension Advisors Premier Media Group Print NW Rapport Benefits Group Reber Ranch Smith Fire Systems Sunset Air Tacoma Community House Torklift Central Washington Architectural Hardware Washington Business Bank Ziegele Smile Studio

By reinvesting deposits locally, Heritage Bank supports the economic development of our areas. We are a true community bank, seeking deposits from our communities and making loans to customers who have local ties to our markets. Building relationships is essential to our growth as a community bank. So every day, we look for ways to pleasantly surprise customers by meeting their needs in ways they may not expect. We might introduce them to an account which is a better fit, a service that makes life easier or we may simply remember them by name. We do whatever it takes to provide a level of satisfaction our customers may not have known they could get from a bank. At Heritage Bank, our mission is to continuously improve; it’s our commitment to exceeding expectations.

Thank you to our judges!

Judges, representing HR professionals of the local business community, reviewed the applications that nominees submitted, as well as the results of surveys completed by the respective companies’ employees. Qualifications for consideration included: • Organization must be headquartered in the South Sound (Pierce, Thurston, Mason or Lewis counties, or south King County) • Organization must be at least 5 years old • Organization must complete the application process • 30 percent of the nominee’s South Sound workforce must complete an employee opinion survey evaluating their workplace culture

CATEGORIES: Large Employer Small/Medium Employer Nonprofit Employer Appreciation: Employees are consulted on relevant decisions. Professional development is supported. Personal lives are respected. Equity: Rewards are distributed with fairness. Promotions and hiring are based on ability and qualifications. There is a process for appeals. Discrimination is intolerable. Gratification: Employees are proud of their personal contributions, team contributions, the organization’s products and its reputation. Integrity: Company vision is communicated and consistent with employee responsibilities. Employees are provided with resources needed to complete tasks. Communication is open and accessible.

We also focus on the importance of giving back to the communities we serve. By bridging the needs of our communities with Heritage resources, we improve the quality of life for our customers, partners and local citizens. Stop by a local office or visit us online today. Mission: We are committed to continuously improving customer satisfaction, employee empowerment and shareholder value.

HOW THE TOP PLACES TO WORK HONOREES WERE SELECTED:

Dora SummersEwing, PHD Managing partner of EXIDEO Consulting

Carol Bowser President of Conflict Management Strategies

All photos by Dane Gregory Meyer photography, unless otherwise noted.

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Thomas Bolt HR director at SeaTac Packaging

Sabrina Robison SVP Human Resources at Heritage Bank

Solidarity: Employer fosters a socially welcoming work culture and creates a sense of team or family. People have the ability to be genuine and authentic individuals.


For only the second time in its 11 year history, the 2014 Top Places to Work program will recognize a South Sound business or nonprofit organization leader for a lifetime of work that embodied the five core categories that comprise this recognition event. The inaugural presentation was to Steve Albers in 2013, the founder and chief executive officer of Albers & Company from 1985 until his death in a recreational biking accident in 2012.

H

onors this year will go to the late Charles W. H. Matthaei, the chairman of Tacoma-based Roman Meal Company until his death February 26, 2014. He joined the familyowned business following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II’s Pacific Theater. The Matthaei family actually has a 300 year baking heritage extending back to their German roots where they opened a bakery in Marburg in 1686. In 1872, master baker Henry Matthaei moved to Kansas City when he opened a bakery. His son, William, also mastered the art and science before moving west to Tacoma. In 1927, he purchased the Roman Meal Company from a Canadian physician Robert Jackson, who

had created a busitaining an enlightness formulated on ened workplace healthy diet with a culture and polibreakfast cereal of cies that recognize, whole grain wheat, honor and support rye, bran and flaxthe employees who seed. William’s son, together make the Charles “Chuck” company’s success grew the signature possible. These are brand into a nathe foundations of tionally acclaimed, our Top Places to whole grain-based Work recognition diet plan with a program, maknational TV advering his selection as tising program. It Lifetime Achievebecame the largest ment recipient a Charles W. H. Matthaei selling single brand natural selection. of variety bread in the country. Company chairman Bill MatAll through the Matthaei family’s thaei will accept the award, with leadership, Roman Meal Company other family members invited as has been known for immeasurable special guests at 2014 Top Places to character that is known for main- Work.

We love our employees. Apparently, the feeling is mutual. 2014

We are honored to be a finalist in the Business Examiner’s 2014 Top Places to Work and are grateful to each and every employee for making this possible. You are the reason why our customers feel so committed to banking with us. To learn more about us, visit columbiabank.com. Member FDIC. You’ll notice the difference.

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Nap p colate fount o h C Believing in business, and back day ongiving eer Friday Respect B M e h c a t s u s it M esday nef Employee Be Bcoouccret ball tended Washington Yoga TuState University and ul- like Tacoma Goodwill, the United Way of When Steve Albers founded insurearned a business the Pierce County and the Pierce County Lil lnEaltvoris cdegree ontest -afrom Tdersekinasdmiltimately npneurasSound, ance brokerage firm Albers & Company University of A Puget made positive brary System. o Tacoma in 1985, optimism and enthusiasmx timimpact e on theimBSouth Sound oudra-ypytinhonmore ways “He was a ‘bigger-than-life’ type of guy, y g e l in F r were key ingredients to growing it into a than just business, and Donna was his partner every step of ork go wear to-wthough. e s o u successful local business. l way,” said Judy Hosea, director of de“What stands out to me was Steve’s genue s y s r a r M al passion to want urbeto help others, which the B “Steve’s entire professional career was oine velopment for the Boys & Girls Clubs of n Psheorps p(showed) er centered in Tacoma’s business commuin the variety of community orga- South Puget Sound. “Together, they were

CONGRATULATIONS SUNSET AIR

nity,” said younger brother and current Al- nizations with which he participated,” said bers & Company partner Jeff Albers, “with wife Donna Albers. the vast majority of it serving other local Her late husband didn’t believe in doing businesses as their trusted advisor in work- anything half way in business or any other place benefits.” capacity, she said. Rather, he had a real pasWorkplace And, Steve Albers not only had a passion sion to help others, and to ‘make the world a for his business; he had a passion for life. better place — to do the right thing.’ Benefits An avid athlete, traveler and father who “That played out in the way he led us here Reimagined. tragically lost his life during the 152-mile at Albers & Company,” she said. “One of his Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day favorite mantras was, ‘If you’re not growing, (RAMROD) cycling race last July 27, he was dying.’ Those convictions continue to Yes, we have fun at work and enjoy Lilly, the office dog. Weyou’re also know the power of respect and fondly commemorated at his memorial four drive along with the the right kind of employee benefits. That’s why the average tenureus, of our employees is an many who came in days later byeight family friends “ …ready his to celebrate contactour with outstanding yearsand and why we arefor, getting 30thhim.” anniversary in 2015. intense love for play, love of family, and his Some of the ways that Steve Albers combig smile.” mitted his talents and energy were through The Lakes High School graduate, who at-alberscompany.com service at regional |nonprofit organizations 888-825-2377

when he and Donna chaired the organization’s annual fundraising campaign. “They were just completely committed to the community in the first place,” Allen said. Ultimately, Jeff Albers said that his brother has left the great legacy of a blueprint for growing a local company while simultaneously committing personal skills to help improve others’ lives. “Steve not only believed, but proved, that it’s possible to build a successful and sustainable business that provides true value to clients and the community, while maintaining unquestionable, and unwavering, integrity,” he said. Added Donna Albers, “Steve was generous with his time and expertise, feeling excited and inspired to contribute 110 percent to those organizations and people he came in contact with. And he did it all with a giant, full-toothed grin of a smile that just made you want to smile back.”

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a force to be reckoned with as community volunteers; they were just very communityconscious.” At the Pierce County Library System, executive director Neel Parikh said she still can’t talk about the activities of the PCLS Board — which Steve Albers helped found — without remembering his voice providing calm, sage advice in her mind. “He brought a keen eye and critical analysis of library issues,” she said. “The library is stronger today because of his contributions.” Rick Allen, president of United Way of Pierce County, said that Albers’ local business acumen gave him additional insight

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Photos courtesy of Sunset Air


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“The company leadership understands, and shows it understands, the importance of employees. Expectations are high, but so is recognition and reward. It is an open and friendly environment.�

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SOUTH SOUND BUSINESS We’ve Got You Covered

Local Business News Coverage

Recognition Events

Bi-weekly print and digital issues — a total of 26 per year — are relied upon by business leaders for local business news and analysis.

Business Examiner Media Group produces a variety of leadership programs to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals in the South Puget Sound. Nominations are taken throughout the year at www.BusinessExaminer.com/events.

Pure sweetness Bonney Lake’s Wetzels turn curiosity about marshmallows into thriving family business. 9

Business to Business Self-described ‘word nerd’ with a visual focus 3

$2.50

INSIDE August 5, 2013 | Volume 29 No. 16

DECISION STREET As aging executives in the South Sound retire, what’s happening to their small businesses? By Holly Smith Peterson hpeterson@BusinessExaminer.com

Kent’s Pop Gourmet racing to keep up with demand 6

Thriftway deal shakes up Tacoma’s Stadium District 12

A tidal wave of baby boomer retirements is looming above the slowly rippling economy, and it’s a force that is poised to make a big impact on many small South Sound businesses. “I always ask business owners on the verge of retiring what they will do,” explained Kala Dralle, program development specialist for the City of Tacoma. “What’s their plan? But nobody ever knows. Maybe just one person I talk to in a year does. It’s unusual for an independent retail location to have a strong exit strategy.” Indeed, the options are limited for small business owners look-

ing to retire: Transition to a family member, sell, or close shop. Recent local examples of the former include Tacoma’s Chalet Bowl, which opened in 1941 and is now the oldest operating bowling alley in Washington state. Owner Reggie Frederick has been thinking about passing the business on to his son and daughter-in-law, who are business partners. So far, though, he’s planning to keep running the bowling operations, an associate said, and if he ever were to retire he would likely maintain a close relationship with operations at least through management transition. And in Puyallup, where Watson’s Greenhouse owner Dan Watson started his business in 1974 with U-pick vegetable gardens plus

See Decision, Page 8

Wine racks, watersports drive sister companies Retail picks up steam at Point Ruston 12 POINT RUSTON 9 - CENTURY THEATRE

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Olympia’s Kitsons expand ventures into new waterfront space By Holly Smith Peterson and Heather Perry hpeterson@BusinessExaminer.com hperry@BusinessExaminer.com

INDEX Featured List....................................19 For The Record.................................20 People on the Move.........................22 Scene & Heard.................................21

Usually it’s brick-and-mortar businesses that switch to solely online operations, in order to save monthly lease costs and overhead. For the successful, Washington-based online business Wine Rack Store.com and its sister retail site of Kitson Boards in Olympia, though, it’s time to go retail. “With the addition of Kitson Boards mixed with our already busy Wine Rack Store season, we just didn’t realize how needed a larger pro-

duction space would be needed this soon.” said Michael Kitson. It’s a homegrown success story for Kitson and his wife Denise. The couple operates Amazing Universe, the parent company of the pair of ventures that, admittedly, sells wildly different merchandise. When the two started selling custom wine racks in 1995, paddle boards weren’t even on their radar. But Wine Rack Store, which has expanded to selling wine cellars, provided the capital for the Kitsons to open Kitson Boards

See Kitson, Page 14

6 89076 06449 1

Denise Kitson, who co-founded Kitson Boards with husband Michael, and Brandon Bernard coat a paddleboard with carbon fiber.

PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID TACOMA, WA Permit No. 308

Daily Biz Briefs are the daily updates of breaking business news, delivered via email mid-afternoon Monday through Friday. Small Business Resource Guide is an annual digest of how-to tips for start-ups and other small businesses published every October.

2014 SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCE GUIDE

A SUPPLEMENT TO

PRESENTED BY

South Sound Source for Business, known as the Book of Lists, is the businessperson’s desk reference of industry lists containing more than 1,500 companies. Lists are available in each bi-weekly edition, the annual publication published every December and are updated daily through an online databank. Individual list downloads are also available for marketing purposes. 2

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BOOK OF LISTS SPONSORED BY

Top Places to Work recognizes outstanding company cultures based on solidarity, gratification, equity, appreciation and integrity. Financial Executives FINANCIAL of the Year honors key EXECUTIVES financial executives who work behindOF THE YEAR the-scenes and rarely receive the appreciation they deserve. 40 Under Forty recognizes outstanding South Sound business and community leaders under the age of 40. Women of Influence honors outstanding female leaders selected for their achievement in community, business, government, military and/or non-profit sectors.

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Top Places To Work 2014  
Top Places To Work 2014  

Top Places to Work recognizes outstanding company cultures in the South Sound. Congratulations to the the 2014 Honorees! Premier Media Group...

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