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October 19, 2012

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| BEST PLACES TO WORK |

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We’ve done it again! “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” — Dale Carnegie

Apparently, we are having fun. And that fun is due to working with each other and our clients. So, thank you. Validity is proud to be named one of Kansas City’s Best Places to Work for the third year in a row! Go directly to the source for your company’s employment screening and background checks. www.validityscreening.com | 866.915.0792

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KEEPS RUNNING

OUT OF THESE

| INTRODUCTION | The Kansas City Business Journal is pleased to recognize 30 businesses that make employee well-being a key component on their paths to success. The 12th year of Best Places to Work in Kansas City includes longtime winners, such as Saint Luke’s Health System, which now has tallied 10 years of recognition in the program. Close behind is eight-time honoree McCownGordon Construction. But this year’s program also brings in eight new companies, including Brush Creek Partners and Woople LLC. Company representatives provided most of the information listed in the profiles, which try to shed some light on what makes these places so great for employees. We asked about key perks, how each company has cultivated its work environment, oritizing the business case for priemployee well-being, examples of employee loyalty and how companies get their employees engaged in improving the operation. But our honorees weren’t chosen

based on what companies told us about themselves. Rather, we relied on the toughest and most insightful critics — their employees. To be recognized, a high ratio of employees needed to favorably complete a workplace survey administered by market research firm Quantum Workplace. The winners were selected based on responses about a variety of topics, including teamwork, manager effectiveness and trust in senior leadership. To qualify for consideration, companies had to have a minimum of 10 employees, and a preset number of employees had to complete online surveys. The first-, second- and third-place winners and seven finalists in each category of small, medium and large businesses were honored as being among Kansas City’s Best Places to Work during an Oct. 12 awards luncheon at the Sheraton Overland Park. Congratulations to all our winners on a job well done.

| CONTENTS |

LARGE COMPANIES Burns & McDonnell Argosy Casino Hotel and Spa Harrah’s North Kansas City Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics Henderson Engineers Inc. Intouch Solutions PlattForm Advertising Saint Luke’s Health System Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc. VML Inc.

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MEDIUM COMPANIES

Burns & McDonnell is honored to be named a Best Place to Work for 7 years and counting.

DEG Netsmart Technologies Inc. Pro Athlete Inc. Athletic & Rehabilitation Center BATS Global Markets Inc. FedEx TechConnect Mariner Holdings LLC McCownGordon Construction LLC Saepio Technologies Inc. U.S. Engineering Co.

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SMALL COMPANIES

www.burnsmcd.com/careers Engineering, Architecture, Construction, Environmental and Consulting Solutions EOE

Internet Builder Consulting Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage Inc. Parris Communications Inc. Brush Creek Partners Davidson Architecture & Engineering LionShare Marketing Inc. Mersoft Corp. Ryan LLC Validity Screening Solutions Woople LLC

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How will you

MAKE WORK AWESOME this year? 2012

Employee Engagement Trends Report Where did we get this data? From the nearly 5,000 organizations participating annually in Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work.

Today’s workforce: Hostile or engaged? Industry trends to watch Economic recovery and the engagement effect Recognition: What do your employees want? And much, much more!

Download your free copy today at quantumworkplace.com/2012trends

Make work awesome. quantumworkplace.com | info@quantumworkplace.com | 402.884.7721

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| LARGE COMPANIES — FIRST PLACE |

Burns & McDonnell Description: Full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm Top executive: Chairman and CEO Greg Graves Employees: 3,600 nationwide, 2,350 locally Address: 9400 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64114 Past years honored: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: Burns & McDonnell offers a competitive compensation package that includes free participation in its employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP). As a 100 percent employee-owned firm, employees are rewarded for performance and, through the ESOP, directly share in company profitability. Other benefits include tuition reimbursement, an on-site gym, a wellness program and a smoking-cessation program reimbursement. Burns & McDonnell University provides personal and professional development and technical and business education through 1,500 internal classes annually. Many courses qualify for professional development hours needed to maintain credentials. The company focuses on a selected charity each year, this year being Wounded Warriors.

It also helps employee-owners give back — last year, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of employee ownership, the Burns & McDonnell Foundation matched $50,000 in employee-owner contributions to qualified charitable organizations. The program’s success led to support for matching funds in 2012. Burns & McDonnell takes time to celebrate beyond the annual company holiday party and a summer picnic. Its Fun Committee organizes activities promoting teamwork and ca-

maraderie throughout the year, including employee meet-andgreets, ice cream breaks, office Olympics, Wii competitions and more. Other examples of celebration included a gala in honor of the 25th anniversary of the company’s ESOP and a Founders Day celebration with a hamburger bar and jeans day, with donations benefiting Wounded Warriors. Employee-owners get regular communication via the intranet, monthly newsletters and semiannual board member visits to all offices to discuss the

state of the company. Work environment: At Burns & McDonnell, the ESOP allows employee-owners to participate directly in the profitability of the company at no cost to them. That changes the way employee-owners think and work. Business case: Burns & McDonnell management recognizes that work-life balance programs are crucial to its success and to the well-being of its employee-owners, so the company tries to offer as many services as possible. On-site amenities

include a new health center, a workout facility, fitness classes, dry cleaning, a gourmet cafeteria, an exclusive credit union, an ATM, mail services, use of company vehicles, complimentary access to the corporate travel agency for personal travel, a variety of health screenings and free monthly seminars about health, work-life balance, stress, parenting and more. The health center, which opened in March, saw more than 550 employee-owners by June, booking 1,386 total appointments. Burns & McDonnell expects the clinic to reduce its health costs, directly affecting profitability. Innovation: Burns & McDonnell employee-owners are entrepreneurs — each has the ability to improve and expand the operation. The executive leadership and management team recognize that and provide employee-owners with a variety of training opportunities, as well as assembling teams that excel through collaboration. The firm seeks engagement and entrepreneurial drive early in the recruitment process, hiring top individuals who are technically excellent, highperforming team players with ownership attitudes.


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| LARGE COMPANIES — SECOND PLACE |

Harrah’s North Kansas City Description: Casino and 392-room hotel Top executive: General Manager Tom Cook Employees: 1,011 locally Address: 1 Riverboat Drive, North Kansas City, MO 64116 Past years honored: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: Employees get unlimited soft drinks daily, plus seven free meals during each pay period. They receive “Total Service Credits” when the company achieves customer service targets, and for five straight quarters employees have achieved “7 Star” payouts, letting them use credits to buy things such as airline tickets, cruises or iPads. Employees, along with family and friends, get discounts to other Caesars Entertainment Corp. properties. An annual Chairman’s and Service Anniversary celebration rewards high-achieving employees and tenured employees with a red carpet experience as a thank you for dedication and loyalty to the company and for outstanding service. For mothers-to-be and new mothers, Harrah’s provides expectant mother parking and a lactation room. Work environment: Harrah’s encourages employees to think

outside the box and come up with the newest ideas in the industry. Each year, employees are selected to participate in an Emerging Leaders Summit at one of the Caesars properties. During the summit, participants can explore any new idea they come up with to improve the business, the relationship and the value for customers and employees. “The encouragement I received from the leaders of our company didn’t stop when the Summit ended — in fact, it increased,” said Clay Behrman,

director of property cage improvement. “Since then, they have created a position — one that feels like it was created just for me — that allows me to explore and introduce changes to the industry standard in cash management and operational finance.” Behrman started with Harrah’s as a front-line hourly employee and has advanced through many positions during his career. Business case: Health care premiums haven’t increased in more than five years, and for the

past three years, company employees and spouses completing Wellness Rewards healthy lifestyle steps can save as much as $1,850 a year in health expenses. Eighty-five percent of eligible team members actively participate in Wellness Rewards programs and actively work with the casino’s on-site wellness coach. This year, Harrah’s is focused on providing total wellbeing for all employees by providing easy access to services that help employees on and off the job. The four key areas are

physical, financial, personal and professional well-being. Example of loyalty: Although a promising new casino competitor entered the Kansas City market in early 2012, Harrah’s lost fewer than 20 team members. More than 200 Harrah’s employees live in the ZIP code of the new competitor, yet they choose to make the longer drive to keep their jobs at Harrah’s. A couple of employees who left already have returned to work at Harrah’s. Innovation: Harrah’s offers an electronic suggestion box that allows employees to share ideas and suggestions daily, and employees participate annually in opinion surveys and supervisory feedback surveys geared toward taking specific action based on employee feedback. The company rewards employees who submit “Big Ideas” that save costs or generate revenue to improve the company as a whole. A Continuous Improvement Department creates teams of executives, supervisors and hourly employees from a cross section of the company to visit one another’s departments with a fresh set of eyes and share their perspectives.

| LARGE COMPANIES — THIRD PLACE |

Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa Description: A Las Vegasstyle casino featuring more than 1,700 slots and a AAA four-diamond hotel Top executive: John Chaszar, vice president and general manager Employees: 832 Address: 777 N.W. Argosy Parkway, Riverside, MO 64150 Past years honored: 2010, 2011 Key perks: Argosy’s offerings include tuition reimbursement of as much as $4,000 annually, a 40 percent discount for employees at every Argosy food outlet and a 20 percent discount on services in its spa. Employees also get 16 hours of paid volunteer time; discounted medical, vision, dental and life insurance; a companymatch 401(k) program; access to a free 24-hour “Club Fitness” workout facility on the property; an on-site employee dining facility; and activities for employees and their families. In addition, Argosy team members get access to discounts at more than 45 Kansas City-area businesses. Argosy and its parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc., emphasize the wellness and well-being of employees through a Wellness Works program. The program includes a

24-hour free fitness center for all employees, free and discounted smoking-cessation products, contests to encourage activity and an employee dining facility that features low-fat, low-calorie choices. Argosy also provides an Employee Assistance Program that offers support for many aspects of life — even beyond work — such as health, financial, mental or other areas. All of the programs are focused on improving a team member’s health and well-being.

Work environment: Argosy’s service to both external and internal customers begins with its core values — AIRR (Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Relationship). The company strives daily to build relationships by treating people with respect and putting people first, creating a culture in which team members feel like part of a family. That culture starts with an employee’s first day on the job, when he or she has lunch with the entire executive team to en-

courage a personal relationship. Training programs are built around the AIRR values. Example of loyalty: Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa was the first casino to open its doors in Kansas City. With the company’s reward and recognition programs, talent development and a

culture that puts people first, the employees have developed a passion and pride for Argosy. That feeling is demonstrated by loyalty to the company. Sixty percent of employees have been with Argosy for more than five years, and 21 percent have been with Argosy for more than 10 years. Innovation: Argosy conducts internal focus groups consisting of front-line employees. Those employees are encouraged to provide feedback about ways to improve morale, leadership and work conditions for every department throughout the property. In addition, the company conducts an annual team member engagement survey. Argosy uses that employee feedback to develop ideas, programs and initiatives, and results along the way are shared with employees, who can provide feedback about whether the changes match their requests. One department received a low score for rewarding and recognizing achievement, so its plan included creating a bulletin board for recognition and offering prizes that are important to employees. For example, for a buffet employee, that could include making a manager roll silverware or getting to pick a workstation.


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| LARGE COMPANIES — RUNNERS-UP |

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics Description: Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is one of the nation’s top pediatric medical centers. The 319-bed hospital provides care for children from birth through age 21. Top executive: CEO Randall O’Donnell Employees: 6,000 Past years honored: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Work environment: Children’s Mercy has its own character and personality. Sure, it has bright murals and toys, a star dome, a giant piano in the park and kaleidoscopes. But there’s more: Staff members dedicate themselves not just to jobs, but to the patients and their families. From the beginning of their careers at Children’s Mercy, every employee knows he or she is a vital part of the patient-care experience. Leaders ask for, and listen to, opinions from everyone as part of efforts for continuous improvement. Business case: Health care workers are notorious for taking care of everyone but themselves. Children’s Mercy believes that helping employees find time to take care of themselves not only positively affects their health, but it also improves the financial health of Children’s Mercy. For example, employees with two or more conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity use more than twice as many dollars from the medical plan as other employees. By offering employees a wide spectrum of wellness programs, employees get healthier, allowing more dollars to be directed toward the organization’s mission — caring for ill and injured children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay. Example of loyalty: Children’s Mercy values employees being loyal to its mission. The first public pediatric cancer ward dedicated to treating Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip soon will open, thanks in large part to the expertise and guidance of Children’s Mercy Hospital staff members.

Henderson Engineers Inc. Description: Henderson Engineers, founded in 1970, provides mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering design services through its headquarters in Kansas City, as well as eight branch offices. Top executive: CEO Duane Henderson Employees: 430 Past years honored: 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: Henderson Engineers offers paid overtime, performance bonuses, flexible schedules, casual dress, social events and free breakfast two times a month. The company also provides an employer-paid premium for health, dental and vision insurance, along with employer-paid term life insurance and disability/travel accident insurance, among others. Work environment: Founder Fran Henderson was notorious for his “no suit and tie” dress policy and laid-back persona, which set the tone for the atmosphere within the company. Henderson Engineers believes that laid-back atmosphere — combined with a demand for high-quality design, attention to detail and excellent client service — is an ideal environment for aspiring and seasoned employees alike. Henderson Engineers also rewards employees for staying with the company. For every five years with the company, each employee receives Henderson Engineers apparel, a monetary bonus, a personal write-up that is distributed companywide or a combination of those. Example of loyalty: When mechanical designer Pete Graeff fell while working on his house in 2009, it took a year and a half of rehab before he could return to work. When he finally was able to return, he couldn’t perform at the same capacity he had before because of the extreme head trauma he had suffered. Despite Graeff’s limited abilities, Henderson Engineers kept him on staff with the knowledge that he might otherwise be unemployed.

Intouch Solutions Description: A digital marketing agency that specializes in the pharmaceutical industry Top executive: Founder and CEO Faruk Capan Employees: 274 Past year honored: 2011 Key perks: Intouch Solutions offers employees free parking, a fitness reimbursement, 80 percent of health and dental premiums, and 100 percent 401(k) matching. Employees also get a year-end bonus, paid holidays and three weeks of vacation, plus paid time to volunteer in the community. But beyond standard benefits, a big part of the culture is how the company celebrates success. Departments take turns hosting themed Friday happy hours twice a month. The company also gathers monthly to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and the occasional wedding – with cake. And during the summer, associates have the option of taking summer hours on Friday afternoons. Work environment: Intouch Solutions doesn’t act like a typical marketing agency. Rather than focus on how many hours employees bill, the company emphasizes results and client happiness. Employees share their knowledge rather than competing with one another. The company puts a premium on teamwork and independent thinking, technological innovation and artistic creativity. Innovation: Intouch Solutions strives to help bring innovation to health care marketing. Associates at all levels come up with innovative ideas for products that differentiate the company, trying to address unmet needs within the highly regulated industry. During the summer, the company’s Business Innovations Team Challenge offered individuals and teams a cash prize for their vision of a better, forward-looking pharmaceutical website of the future. Fourteen teams presented their ideas during a two-day symposium to a panel of judges that included company leaders and employees.

a word from our sponsors

a Great place to Earn a Living Bank of Kansas City’s Vision Statement says it all: It is our mission to create an enjoyable and challenging environment that empowers our employees to achieve their goals at work, at home and in the community. Every day our employees embrace that vision. Good work is rewarded and professional growth is encouraged. We support our employees who give back to our community by serving on nonprofit boards and advisory committees. This year, Bank of Kansas City took an even greater role in the community by accepting the challenge of serving as a Pacesetter for the United Way’s city-wide campaign.

Our strength and stability allows us to better serve you. If you are looking for a go-to partner with the experience to understand your challenges and the solutions to make your business even stronger, look no further. Our top-notch team of banking professionals is here to help take your business to the next level. Whether it’s funding to get going, or financing to grow, you can count on us. And because Bank of Kansas City is part of BOK Financial Corporation, a $26 billion financial services holding company, we have a wealth of expertise and substantial lending capacity.

We think we’ve created a pretty great place to earn a living, which is why we are proud to support our peers by sponsoring the 2012 Best Places to Work with the Kansas City Business Journal.

We congratulate the nominees and winners of the 2012 Best Places to Work. Thank you for your dedication to your business, employees and our community. We’re proud to work alongside you to be part of the current and future success of Kansas City.

Bank of Kansas City takes great pride in the work we are doing in our community.

Long live a strong community.

PlattForm Advertising Description: A full-service enrollment solutions provider with a focus on postsecondary education Top executive: CEO Dave Admire Employees: 330 Key perks: PlattForm offers comprehensive health insurance, paid holidays, 401(k) matching up to 8 percent and a free on-site gym. On top of that, the company provides industry education courses, long-term disability insurance, life insurance, tuition assistance, Flex Fridays during the summer, and a health and wellness program. Work environment: The company says it earns its playtime and uses it wisely. A Tuesday candy cart keeps employees sugar-buzzed, and a break room sparks competition spanning pool, pingpong, foosball and video games. PlattForm has set up talent shows and flag football games, and its Culture Club plans an array of activities, such as an annual 12-hour video competition or paying to throw pies in managers’ faces. Conference rooms sport themes such as superheroes, sports or “The Wizard of Oz.” Innovation: PlattForm celebrates and rewards employees through its Employee of the Month and Innovator of the Month recognitions. The most recent Innovator of the Month award was for finding a more time-efficient and cost-effective way to print business cards, decreasing costs by roughly 30 percent. The same person also helped set up an option for employees to make automatic charitable donations from their paychecks. In addition, PlattForm has companywide innovation teams. Every quarter, groups can meet on- or off-site to brainstorm for half the workday. The ideas then are presented to management, potentially to be developed and implemented companywide.


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| LARGE COMPANIES — RUNNERS-UP |

Saint Luke’s Health System

Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Description: A faith-based, nonprofit health care system Top executive: CEO Melinda Estes Employees: 9,600 Past years honored: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Work environment: Saint Luke’s has built an environment in which service and commitment to patients, families and one another is valued and rewarded. Senior leaders throughout the system believe that one of the most important factors in achieving the system’s vision is a highly competent and engaged workforce led by experienced managers. Recruitment, retention and reward/recognition strategies are designed to achieve those objectives. Business case: Employees get a 50 percent medical premium reduction when they complete an annual health assessment and have received an adult wellness/well woman physical exam during the current or past calendar year. In 2011, the premium reduction resulted in 98 percent health assessment completion and 97 percent getting exams. Saint Luke’s has a detailed Wellness Balance Score Card that reflects employee annual wellness improvements, using 2009 results as the baseline. Matching employee health assessment reporting with actual medical claims activity provides key health data, helps monitor medication adherence cost savings and shows what programs should be added to support the ongoing physical, emotional, spiritual and financial wellness of employees. Example of loyalty: Saint Luke’s has an annual service award luncheon to recognize employees in five-year increments. In 2012, it recognized about 1,000 employees – including several who had more than 40 years of service with Saint Luke’s. Also, Saint Luke’s, on average, rehires 50 people who once worked there and decide to return. And it is not unusual for retired employees to come back to volunteer, or for volunteers to apply to work at Saint Luke’s.

Description: Offers a total approach to disease management, combining proven medications, patient education and a variety of support services Top executive: Larry Downey, executive vice president, U.S. Brand Pharmaceuticals Employees: 315 Past years honored: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: Teva offers tickets to Kansas City Royals and Chiefs games; covered parking; a fitness center; an on-site restaurant; First Aid/lactation rooms; and summer hours. A new environmentally friendly office, scheduled to open in September 2013, will include an auditorium, exterior garden seating, a parking garage, water features and more. Work environment: Teva has a values-driven culture that’s based on personal commitment, high integrity, strong teamwork and achievement orientation, creating opportunity and employee/customer satisfaction. It provides regular, open communications about the business, its priorities, colleagues, and the industry and market. Employees also have access to senior leaders, who work to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the organization and who genuinely care about employees and their development. Wellness: It is common to hear Larry Downey say, “Our most important asset goes home every night.” That’s why Teva offers perks such as an on-site fitness center, off-site fitness center discounts, onsite flu shots and health assessments that provide a monetary reward for achieving healthy milestones. Teva also has liberal time off/parental leave programs, adoption assistance, tuition support, internal development opportunities and discounts for day care, weight loss and smoking cessation. Example of loyalty: Many new mothers claim they never will leave the company because of the flexibility and “phase-in” approach of their return to work after childbirth.

VML Inc. Description: A global digital marketing agency based in Kansas City with operations on five continents Top executives: Global Chairman Matt Anthony, CEO Jon Cook Employees: 730 nationally, 1,200 companywide Past years honored: 2002, 2003, 2009 Key perks: VML pays in full for all of an employee’s medical and dental coverage, and it offers adoption benefits, vision insurance, flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts. Employees get a 75 percent match on 401(k)s up to 6 percent of the employee contribution. Staffers also can enjoy free beverages and snacks, an in-house coffee bar and dry cleaning (with free pickup and delivery) and three paid days off annually to volunteer. Fridays in the summer bring half-days, and employees get a holiday vacation week each year between Christmas and New Year’s. Work environment: VML values its Midwestern roots, which marry a can-do attitude and commonsense approach with a wide variety of cultures, customs and traditions. The company says its staff is as comfortable in front of a whiteboard during a client meeting as they are introducing a speaker at a TED event. VML works on its relationship with its client partners as well as the broader community. A majority of staffers contribute to the VML Foundation, which focuses on the communities where VML has offices to use the company’s collective energy and talents to deliver the greatest benefit for those who need it the most. And just to keep things light, the VML Ministry of Fun plans events throughout the year, including the VML World Series of Jokers Poker League and International Beer Friday. Business case: Employee well-being is VML’s highest priority. It offers an annual wellness assessment and follows up with programs to help staffers reach their wellness goals. The company offers an on-site workout room, with a trainer available three days a week to help with fitness, dietary recommendations or lifestyle habits.

www.ProAthleteInc.com

Core Value #8

Embrace Stewardship

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." -Jackie Robinson


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| MEDIUM COMPANIES — FIRST PLACE |

DEG

Description: Creates digital marketing, commerce and collaboration strategies that empower organizations to amplify their competitive advantages and achieve their objectives Top executive: CEO Neal Sharma Employees: 105 Address: 10801 Mastin Blvd., Suite 130, Overland Park, KS 66210 Past years honored: 2006, 2009, 2011 Key perks: DEG provides excellent traditional health benefits; flexible schedules and a casual work environment; high-profile clients; free soda, juice and coffee in the company coffeehouse; and weekly Beer:30 gatherings. Other highlights include an in-office speaker series, subsidized fitness club memberships, charity and community involvement and grassroots Culture Club events such as cook-offs, Mario Kart tournaments, “Good Job, Science!” parties, trivia contests and happy hours. A “Dale Dollar” program rewards employees by covering $100 of vacation travel-related expenses; on their fifth anniversaries with the company, employees also get two tickets to any destination in the conti-

nental United States. Work environment: DEG aimed to build an environment that’s engaging, challenging and rewarding, but on top of that, it built a company that cares. DEG’s core values center around doing the right thing in any given situation, which means DEG employees take great care of clients and one another. DEG believes that the best idea wins in any discussion,

regardless of where it comes from, so the company works openly and collaboratively across disciplines, keeping clients’ objectives first in mind. For DEG employees, being experts at what they do means loving what they do. Business case: DEG’s future depends on finding differencemakers who want to do great work for some of the world’s biggest brands. To attract and retain those excellent peo-

ple, DEG believes it is important to have a compelling, fun, challenging workplace — one in which employees have all of the resources they need to imagine and create smart strategies but one that also is enjoyable. The company wants employees to look forward to coming to work, but it also believes employees deserve time away from the office to foster other interests, travel, be with their

families and be a part of the community around them. Diverse experiences aligned with professional goals produce a rich and meaningful workplace. Innovation: DEG believes that it is fortunate to have a long list of remarkable “client partners” and that the work the company does on their behalf is innovative, challenging and fun. DEG employees have diverse interests, backgrounds and life goals, and that diversity enables them to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to their work, and engagement is key to what DEG does. In an ever-changing industry, excellence demands that DEG employees constantly are curious about technology and how it can be creatively applied to benefit clients. Several of DEG’s business segments were formed because an employee had an interest in that area, and DEG gave the employee the opportunity to explore and develop that interest and learn to leverage it appropriately on behalf of the company’s clients. In several cases, those people now are leading that new discipline for DEG, and they’re doing remarkable, important work for the company’s clients.

Ryan employees choose to work where and when they are most efficient and effective.

A special thanks to our Kansas City employees for voting Ryan as one of the best places to work.

Ryan is Proud to be Selected as One of the Best Places to Work in Kansas City. At Ryan, we’re proud of our flexible myRyan work environment that allows employees to achieve the highest level of success and productivity in all areas of life, including professional and personal endeavors. We remain committed to delivering superior client service and results, while providing employees incredible flexibility for work-life success.

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| MEDIUM COMPANIES — SECOND PLACE |

Netsmart Technologies Inc. Description: A knowledge and electronic health records partner for behavioral health, Netsmart helps clients transform care with clinical and hosting solutions that coordinate care, improve outcomes, optimize revenue cycles and reduce health care costs. Top executive: CEO Mike Valentine Employees: 598 Address: 4950 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66211 Work environment: The work environment at Netsmart is driven by a fundamental belief and focus that people matter. Netsmart has cultivated that environment by building a high-performance, personcentric culture focusing on associate development, serving clients and the opportunity to contribute in extraordinary ways to the communities the company serves. Netsmart’s offerings touch the lives of millions of people every day, letting employees positively influence the lives of those who provide and receive care. That common cause unites the company in the pursuit of optimal health care experiences. “The rapid evolution of technology in health care is one of the very few bright points of

growth in today’s world economy,” CEO Mike Valentine said. “Even more special is that fact that every day, we take steps forward in making a substantial difference in the quality of care that millions of people receive every year.” Netsmart created the nonprofit EveryDay Matters Foundation to link those who work in behavioral and public health with clients so they can learn from one another and help debunk the stigma often as-

sociated with mental health. The foundation also provides grants to advance innovation of care in those communities. Collaboration: Netsmart recently moved its headquarters to 4950 College Blvd. in Overland Park — a location that has been named “The Solutionarium.” The design of the new building incorporates spaces that encourage ad hoc discussions and allow for teams to gather as they work. Hoteling spaces

encourage engagement with traveling and visiting employees, and the Solutionarium lets Netsmart employees work with clients to map out solutions in a forum that encourages creativity, providing contextual and visual design elements. Netsmart also tries to offer a medium for every employee to connect. In June, the company launched internal communications website “myNetsmart,” which lets associates know

what’s going on at all levels of the organization. Employees are encouraged to share knowledge and ideas, highlight client success stories and recognize one another for their contributions, as well as share information about personal interests. In three months, myNetsmart enabled 648 users, started 75 groups — the largest has 474 members — and started 468 blogs. There have been more than 4,000 blog posts and 13,238 activities. Blogs about personal interests — such as technology, exercise or even random thoughts — foster community and relationships. Example of loyalty: Netsmart believes loyalty is demonstrated by the actions employees take to best serve clients because of their belief in the company’s shared values. They’re empowered to do the right things as needed, when needed. The company celebrates unsolicited feedback from clients when an employee exceeds expectations. “We probably have redefined the traditional view of company loyalty into something that represents our belief that we have a true obligation to our clients,” Valentine said.

| MEDIUM COMPANIES — THIRD PLACE |

Pro Athlete Inc. Description: Internet retailer of baseball and softball bats and gloves Top executive: CEO Scott Hedrick Employees: 101 Address: 10800 N. Pomona Ave., Kansas City, MO 64153 Past years honored: 2010, 2011 Key perks: From the first day of employment, each employee receives an annual charitable giving budget to give to a charity of choice. That budget ranges from $200 to $1,500 an employee. This year, Pro Athlete will donate about $100,000 to charity. Employees also get paid time off to volunteer. Pro Athlete pays full premiums for employee health and dental insurance and matches employee 401(k) contributions up to 10 percent. The company also offers a fully stocked serve-yourself cafe with gourmet coffees, teas, espressos and lattes, and it provides employees with free on-site haircuts one day a week. Lunch is provided daily, along with healthy snacks. Employees also may schedule time in the company workout facility — staffed with a personal trainer — during the workday or before or after hours, depending on preference. Pro Athlete has a basketball court, batting cage,

racquetball court, lap pool, hot tub, sauna and locker rooms. Employee workout clothes are laundered each night. In addition, Pro Athlete provides interest-free loans to help employees buy their first homes. Each quarter, employees are encouraged to pick self-improvement projects. The company covers expenses; employees can work on their projects during discretionary time at work. Work environment: To establish Pro Athlete’s work environment, CEO Scott Hedrick studied the ways of The Walt Disney Co., Southwest Airlines Co., Google Inc., Zappos.com Inc. and other companies renowned for their outstanding

workplace cultures. The culture embraces hard work, personal responsibility, efficiency and systemization. Meetings start on time, and employees typically respond to emails almost immediately. It is a priority to place employees in positions where they use their talents and do what they do best, and employee performance is evaluated based on results, commitment and attitude. There is a collective mindset to make Pro Athlete a world-class company in every way, and the company embraces remarkably high standards as the “Pro Athlete way.” The culture becomes evident in Pro Athlete’s resolve to wow the customer. For example,

customers may return a baseball bat they’re not happy with — even after using it in a few games. And employees smile and say, “No problem!” when a customer asks for a refund, even if the item they’re returning was bought from a competitor. Employees are proud of the Pro Athlete way. The company doesn’t have a dress code, so it’s common to see jeans, shorts, ball caps or workout clothes. Baseball games can be viewed on TVs throughout the building, baseball is a frequent conversation topic, and employees attend baseball events — each received a ticket to the All-Star Game or Home Run Derby. Innovation: An employee,

Gabe, recently was promoted from an entry-level position in Pro Athlete’s shipping department to an administrative assistant role in the Employee Experience division. Soon after starting the new position, Gabe received the assignment of reviewing the current onboarding process and making improvement recommendations. He showed incredible diligence, resourcefulness, creativity and determination, going considerably above and beyond what he was asked to do. Thanks to his work, Pro Athlete now has Traditions, a world-class orientation process — which begins as soon as employees accept the job — that new hires rave about.


| BEST PLACES TO WORK |

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| MEDIUM COMPANIES — RUNNERS-UP |

Athletic & Rehabilitation Center Description: A healthy workforce company offering physical and occupational therapy, post-offer employment testing, ergonomic on-site assessments, job conditioning and preventive online wellness programs — a continuum of care to save employers money Top executive: CEO Matt Condon Employees: 91 Key perks: ARC offers competitive pay and benefits, as well as a 401(k) plan with an automatic employer contribution; a bonus structure of as much as 10 percent of total income based on clinic and company goals; leadership training and continuing education allowances; an advanced wellness plan; flexible scheduling to accommodate more work-life balance; fitness facilities in every clinic; and more. Work environment: ARC’s philosophy is to hire the best people, give them the best technology and ongoing education available, and help them become excellent. All efforts aim at providing the best care to improve clients’ health, performance and lives. Employee and client turnover is almost nonexistent. ARC’s executive team believes in developing leaders from within, soliciting feedback from employees and involving them in shaping its future. Business case: ARC says it has one of the lowest associate turnover percentages in the region and in its industry. Low turnover means happier employees, more attention to patient care and longer-lasting, deeper relations with key referral sources that drive revenue. ARC’s wellness program helped the company save $30,000 in its first year by reducing group health insurance premiums and sick days, as well as increasing productivity. On top of that, the wellness initiatives mean healthier, happier employees and better employee retention and recruitment.

BATS Global Markets Inc. Description: A leading operator of securities markets in the United States and Europe Top executive: CEO Joe Ratterman Employees: 150 Past year honored: 2010 Key perks: The most unique perk at BATS is that it is an open and transparent organization. Ratterman knows each employee by name and has an open-door policy. All employees are kept up to date about business developments and opportunities. Weekly staff meetings include all employees — in the United States and London — and no questions or concerns are off limits. The environment reinforces that all BATS employees are part of a team. BATS offers a comprehensive health care/retirement/compensation plan, as well as a casual dress code. The company also gives employees two paid days a year of pre-approved community service leave, on top of vacation time, and matches qualifying charitable contributions that employees make on a dollar-for-dollar basis. BATS also provides daily lunch, monthly birthday treats and ice cream for big achievements. Example of loyalty: BATS prides itself on having low employee turnover, which it attributes to a positive working environment and a thorough hiring process. The company sets quarterly department milestones, which are linked to a bonus payment; meeting the goals depends on how the company and departments perform. Innovation: At BATS’ weekly companywide staff meeting, leaders from each department — including executive management — give a detailed update about key business developments, company progress, coming initiatives and industry news. This keeps all employees in the loop and encourages them to ask questions while also fostering future initiatives and ideas. The collaborative process helps employees stay engaged, especially when BATS faces challenges that need solutions.

FedEx TechConnect Description: A subsidiary of FedEx Corporate Services Inc., FedEx TechConnect aligns customer contact centers, worldwide revenue operations, claims, trace and package engineering within FedEx’s professional services company. Top executive: Senior Manager Beverley Hight Employees: 143 locally, 4,924 worldwide Key perks: FedEx distinguishes itself by offering a comprehensive benefits package with medical, dental and vision to part-time and full-time employees. A tuition assistance program helps team members have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and earn a college degree or postgraduate degree. Employees also have access to online courses to help them develop skills associated with their current jobs or one they may hope to qualify for. Business case: Forty years ago, FedEx was founded on the guiding principles of People, Service and Profit. If a company takes care of its people, they in turn will provide excellent service, returning a profit for the company and shareholders. That foundation remains alive and well today. At TechConnect, customer service employees have the opportunity to work every day with customers. Their new motto, which has become a part of today’s culture, is called the Purple Promise: “I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.” Innovation: The company prioritizes open communication, twoway feedback and regular information, including strategy updates, so employees know what to expect and how they fit in. Employees regularly share their ideas for improving the operation. Annual employee surveys and feedback sessions are followed by actions throughout the year. A Voice of the Customer link on the intranet lets employees offer feedback for updates to the tools and resources they use daily.

a word from our sponsors

Celebrating the Best of the Best in Kansas City By Greg Harris, President at Quantum Workplace It’s hard to find good news in the workplace today. With high unemployment and low morale, the headlines can be depressing. But in our 8th year of analyzing employee survey results across hundreds of employers in the KC area, we find remarkable stories of heroic leaders from growing organizations fully committed to talent. With more companies competing for recognition as this year’s Best Places to Work, making the list requires more than just ping pong tables and beer fridges. This program measures employee engagement across every participating organization. It defines “engagement” by the presence of three outcomes among employees: discretionary effort, intent to stay, and advocacy. Honored companies have built cultures that leverage those three outcomes. Among participating firms, 59.4% of employees are engaged. While that number is down slightly from 2011—it’s much higher than the 33% reported to be the average by our firm and others. Almost 14% of employees were scored on the survey as disengaged or hostile. This

proves that even the best employers still have to room to grow. KC workers are 4% more favorable about their benefits plans compared to our national database of Best Places to Work. However recognition and career development are areas KC employers lagged the national average. 64% of KC employees are confident they’ll be recognized for going the extra mile compared to the national average of 71%. Of this year’s 30 honorees, 18 were repeat winners from last year’s list. This is evidence that great culture is a long term strategy. Companies that maintain highly engaged workplaces are reaping the rewards of long term investments in their talent. Our mission is to equip employers to make work awesome. We do this by elevating the voice of the employee to impact strategy and success. When leaders harvest the collective intelligence of their people, they have teams that collaborate better, innovate more, and grow faster.

Mariner Holdings LLC Description: A global financial services firm that provides wealth advisory services and asset management through two affiliates: Mariner Wealth Advisors and Montage Investments Top executive: CEO Marty Bicknell Employees: 352 Past year honored: 2011 Key perks: Mariner covers 99 percent of health insurance premiums for associates as well as their families. It also offers comprehensive dental, vision, life, disability and flexible spending options at reduced rates. Employees can benefit from the referral bonus program, annual bonus program, tuition reimbursement and financial support for professional registrations and certifications. Mariner offers free coffee, soda and snacks in the break rooms. And once a month, employees can get their shoes and handbags shined on site for a reduced rate. CEO Marty Bicknell hosts an annual Fall Festival for employees and their families at his farm. Work environment: Mariner was founded to be a different kind of financial services firm, free of corporate mandates, unencumbered by proprietary product sales requirements and with no limits on what employees can achieve. Employees have the opportunity to influence the direction of the company and create innovative solutions for clients. Despite the recent economic turmoil, Mariner has grown from eight employees to more than 350 in the past six years. Employees stay engaged with quarterly companywide networking lunches, lunch-and-learn sessions with peers and brainstorming efforts with co-workers companywide. Example of loyalty: Mariner’s employee retention rate in 2011 exceeded 95 percent. In addition, the company has found success promoting and transferring staffers to different positions within the firm rather than see them seek a job elsewhere.


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| MEDIUM COMPANIES — RUNNERS-UP |

McCownGordon Construction LLC Description: An innovator in building commercial construction projects, the company was founded on three core values — integrity, relationships and performance. Top executives: CEO Pat McCown and President Brett Gordon Employees: 74 Past years honored: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: McCownGordon offers a bonus plan in which everyone is eligible; 36-plus lunch-and-learns a year; MGCU (McCownGordon Construction University); a mentoring for success program; leadership development; a wellness program and fitness center; an online channel for submitting ideas; a volunteer group that plans events for giving back and having fun; a rooftop deck; free food every day; periodic Super Sonic Fridays (owners take orders for Sonic treats and go pick them up); Coffee Fridays (a barista comes to the office); valet dry cleaning; and bicycles and hybrid cars for associate use. Work environment: The company’s offices purposely have few doors but many common areas that are conducive to gathering, including a full kitchen, mezzanine, fitness center and a rooftop deck. But the thing that really makes McCownGordon a great place to work is the team of associates who fill those areas. Business case: The mission statement for the company’s MGC Wellness program is to educate and inspire the MGC family to achieve wellness and balance of body, mind and spirit. Healthy associates are happier and more productive, and company officials are going to do everything they can to help associates and the company achieve that wellness. According to a company survey, the initiatives have inspired 96 percent of associates to live healthier lives.

Saepio Technologies Inc. Description: Provides software and solutions for distributed marketing organizations Top executives: John Thomson, Eric Bur, Kevin Brooks, Mark Hunter, Jeff Geheb Employees: 57 Past year honored: 2011 Key perks: Saepio keeps employees’ costs for health care cheap. Employees have the flexibility to work from home when they have to. The company also offers a solid compensation plan. The perks extend to a casual work environment in cool office space in Downtown, where employees can get unlimited amounts of free soda and snacks. Other perks include the annual Saepio Day at the Royals, discounted gym memberships, the “Wine Down” monthly happy hour, frequent Sheridan’s visits and a dog-friendly office environment. Work environment: Saepio relies on a simple formula to create an environment for employees that fuels their growth: Client success equals company success, which equals individual success. The company strives to create a fun, flexible, open environment for employees who have a thirst for excellence and a focus on innovating for clients. Saepio’s management espouses the “Work hard, play hard” mantra. Employees have access and provide input to the executive team, part of an effort to create a collaborative team atmosphere. This includes team meetings called “Saepio’s Super Amazing Bi-Monthly Fun House.” Example of loyalty: Tim Middleton has been with Saepio from day one. And he live two hours away. But he makes the commute and never misses a day in the office. He says he loves his job, and his dedication is unmatched by most.

Dorian DeShon, Superintendent

Hard Hats off to our team!

2012

2011

2010

2009

Our people make McCownGordon Construction one of the Best Places to Work in Kansas City. For the eighth year in a row, our firm has been recognized with this special honor. Thanks to every one of our team members that make McCownGordon a great place to come to work everyday.

www.McCownGordon.com

2008

2007

2006

2005

U.S. Engineering Co. Description: U.S. Engineering Co., established in 1893, is a diversified mechanical contractor. It provides total service and maintenance and premium-value construction in commercial; industrial and process; institutional; and science and technology facilities. Top executive: Chairman and CEO Tyler Nottberg Employees: 330 locally, 1,030 nationwide Past years honored: 2008, 2009 Key perks: The company’s field employees are union members and enjoy the benefits associated with that membership. For non-union employees, the company offers an extensive array of traditional benefits, such as health and wellness plans, life and disability, 401(k), profit sharing, an employee stock-ownership plan and a tuition reimbursement. Benefits offerings align with the company’s focus on the overall wellness of employees and their families. U.S. Engineering encourages employees to enroll in a 529 College Savings Plan and matches the employees’ savings, up to a maximum of $1,000 a year. Work environment: The company’s culture is cultivated through selectively hiring people who will thrive in the company and by holding true to five core values: • Exhibit integrity in everything they do. • Listen, identify and respond to customer needs. • Provide quality, on schedule, at a competitive price. • Respect, challenge and recognize each employee. • Ensure a safe working environment. The culture is quite familial and promotes having fun, too. As part of a recent “Show your College Colors” Friday, employees were encouraged to support their favorite college football team by wearing the team’s colors and donating money to Harvesters on behalf of their teams. Innovation: Winners of an “Idea of the Month” program receive gift cards and are considered for “Regional Idea of the Year” ($500 gift card) and “Idea of the Year” ($1,000 gift card).


12 | SUPPLEMENT TO THE KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL

| BEST PLACES TO WORK | kansascity.bizjournals.com

| SMALL COMPANIES — FIRST PLACE |

Internet Builder Consulting Description: Internet Builder Consulting has built more than 1,700 website solutions for customers nationwide since 1995. It is a true one-stop solution to allow clients to build better websites and get assistance with SEO, social marketing, programming and hosting. Top executive: Owner Robert “Dot Com� Jackson Employees: 14 Address: 106 W. 11th St., Suite 1430, Kansas City, MO 64105 Past years honored: 2004, 2005, 2009 Key perks: The company gives flex time, allowing staff to work hours that fit their family and personal needs rather than a strict set of hours; gives paid birthdays off; offers ongoing, paid training; and hosts events, such as Kansas City Chiefs games, the Bacchus Terror Party and nights out to play pool, go to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or dinner as a team. The company provides classic cars for staff to use on personal time; paid cellphones, trips and vacations; a fully stocked kitchen; and paid fitness club membership. Work environment: Everyone works as a team, helps one another with projects, teaches and shares new ideas and puts in extra effort when needed to take

care of customers. The office is flexible, fun, open and ready to help any customer or staffer in need. This ranges from paying for a tank of gas to completely paying all website and marketing-related bills for customers having hard times financially. Business case: Part of the benefits are company-paid fitness memberships, personal training and spa treatments at Rigenerante Day Spa in Leawood for the staff to have a massage, facial, nails or pedicure. This helps the team stay fit, active and refreshed, which leads to a productive healthy environment. Example of loyalty: Several staff members have turned down higher-paying jobs at other companies simply because they enjoy the work and environment at Internet Builder Consulting. Many times, staff has come in to attend to customer emergencies or requests in the middle of the night, including a request from former Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser. Sharing ideas: Every project or customer request is assigned to a team of individual experts who work together for a solution. This approach allows each step to be completed by the most qualified expert, which produces better results for customers.

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OCTOBER 19, 2012


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| SMALL COMPANIES — SECOND PLACE |

Parris Communications Inc. Description: Full-service strategic communications firm, specializing in public relations, public affairs, crisis communications and public issues management Top executive: CEO Roshann Parris Employees: 11 Address: 4510 Belleview Ave., Suite 110, Kansas City, MO 64111 Past years honored: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: Employees have the freedom to work from home and to choose a part-time schedule that helps achieve their desired work/life balance. The company also has Parris Fridays during the summer. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, each “Parrisian” gets to choose two Fridays a month to take an afternoon off to get a jumpstart on the weekend. Their “ticket to ride” is that they have to leave treats for their colleagues who stay behind. Work environment: The company is family. Employees are there for one another. They watch

each other’s backs, support each other, jump in and cross-pollinate wherever the need exists. The company doesn’t “meeting” employees to death. Although they are collaborative by nature, senior staff don’t “hover.” Instead, employees brainstorm over their open walls, caucus and chat in the Parris Cafe (a great Parisian café in the office). The company has a great weekly tracking update system that lets employees all stay connected without the need to report continuously. Sharing ideas: Each week, employees have an energizing staff meeting in which they are expected to “show and tell” new tools, trends, tricks and techniques that will help make them smarter and improve their clients’ communications needs at every level. The side benefit is that it forces employees to conduct continual research on shifts in the industry, and it also helps each staff member hone his or her presentation skills.

| SMALL COMPANIES — THIRD PLACE |

Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage Inc. Description: A commercial real estate company that delivers strategic, fully integrated services and solutions in real estate Top executive: Larry Glaze Employees: 10 Address: 2600 Grand Blvd., Suite 500, Kansas City, MO 64108 Past years honored: 2010, 2011 Key perks: Jones Lang LaSalle offers employees many perks, such as outstanding benefit packages, bonuses, discounts on merchandise from key corporate clients and leaving early on the day before a holiday. The company also holds quarterly cocktail hours and lunches, and it offers online training classes in all software, as well as career-based classes, among others. Work environment: Jones Lang LaSalle offers an open environment that it thinks encourages communication and lends itself to a good teambuilding environment. Even the setup of the office helps with communication. Cubicles provide some privacy, but employees still can hear what’s going on around them — and they end up absorbing quite a bit. That way, if a cus-

tomer or individual asks about what’s going on in a particular segment, it’s easier for an employee to provide better information, even if he or she doesn’t typically work in that segment. It’s conducive to serving clients better and filling in for people. The open environment also allows brokers to talk amongst themselves about what’s going on in the market or about tips. Business case: The com-

pany’s health coverage offers many ways for employees to stay healthy. Jones Lang LaSalle’s fitness program, which covers offices nationwide, encourages employees to form teams to compete in triathlons, bicycling or various other sporting events. One employee from the Kansas City office organized a team of about 50 — a mix of employees and others — to participate in Bike MS. Employees then

can enter information about how they did and who participated, and the overall company chooses a winning team to receive a cash prize. Employees also get cash rewards for participating in annual tests and checkups. If they completed all of them this year, they received an extra $250 on their paychecks. In addition, Jones Lang LaSalle sends out a monthly newsletter about health topics

to keep employees informed. The initiatives all aim toward improving employee fitness and health, which should trickle through to health care costs. Jones Lang LaSalle considers a healthy employee to be a happier employee. Example of loyalty: Loyalty at Jones Lang LaSalle applies to the company, but it also applies to co-workers. One employee had an operation, but she continued to work partially from home. Another employee, who had been crosstrained on some of the same duties, picked up items that the sick employee couldn’t do. Efforts at cross-training allow the team to get the job done even if one person is gone. Innovation: The open environment encourages new ideas. This year, Jones Lang LaSalle’s annual market forecast event is taking on a different feel because of office collaboration. Rather than a sit-down luncheon, which some pointed out confines conversation to those at each table, the company is moving the event to the afternoon in the hopes that people will be more apt to stop by, mingle and network — and that Jones Lang LaSalle employees will be able to communicate with more clients.


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| SMALL COMPANIES — RUNNERS-UP |

Brush Creek Partners Description: Brush Creek Partners is a full-service commercial insurance and risk-management firm that brings a new approach to an old-school industry by using technology and innovative ideas to offer more comprehensive services and plans at a lower cost. Partners: Steve Quirarte, Travis Holt, Ben Cohen and Tripp Miller Employees: 10 Work environment: The company has a flat structure, allowing everyone to take ownership of his or her day-to-day tasks. Each employee’s opinions are valued equally, and performance evaluations are based on results. There are no policies concerning vacation days or sick days, allowing employees the freedom to do what they need to do when they need to do it, as long as they get their work done. Some of the perks of the workplace environment are a rec room with a pool table and putting green; a full gym with a lap pool, hot tub and wet sauna; and an open, collaborative environment. Business case: The company believes that the time and resources poured into hiring and firing multiple times for the same position is far more expensive than hiring the right person in the first place and pouring more resources into that individual’s success. Because it is a young company, with a little more than a year in business, there hasn’t been enough time to see this play out. Sharing ideas: All but two employees work in an open room, along with three of the four top executives in the office. Brush Creek has no cubicles or partitions to provide privacy, thus creating a vibrant flow of communication and sharing among all employees. The two employees with offices constantly can be found coming into the main room to partake in the conversations. Whether it is a new employee asking for more guidance after a phone conversation or one of the seasoned producers asking the group for a new sales idea, the conversation always is buzzing.

Davidson Architecture & Engineering Description: A design firm specializing in commercial architecture, civil engineering, interior design and planning Top executives: John Davidson, Chris Hafner and Justin Bridges Employees: 14 Past year honored: 2011 Work environment: The goal at DA&E is to have a creative work environment that allows individual thought, individual solutions and, ultimately, personal satisfaction as a team member in accomplishing a particular business or company goal. Allowing individuals to get full recognition for their achievements and the company’s creates a competitive environment that ultimately provides better solutions for clients. Example of loyalty: When a firm has people who are held in high regard in their respective professions, those employees always will have opportunities for movement in their field. DA&E embraces personal and professional growth and encourages change if and when change is needed. Two key employees sought change and spent time searching for other opportunities but realized that DA&E offered limitless opportunity to grow and to be part of something special. Sharing ideas: The management at DA&E takes pride in what they like to call “giving a pretty long rope.” That basically means that employees are allowed to solve problems in their own way. Although the management team understands that this may result in different methods, its job is to understand whether these methods still solve the problems presented. The company believes that creativity and fresh ideas and thoughts are necessary to create different, and hopefully better, solutions.

LionShare Marketing Inc. Description: Founded in 1995, LionShare provides expertise in strategic consulting, research, creative, direct-mail services, execution and fulfillment. The company primarily serves the health care industry. Top executive: Founder and CEO Laura Lee Jones Employees: 33 Past years honored: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Key perks: The company has weekly happy hours to celebrate team successes, along with pingpong and pool tables; a quiet room; 401(k) and profit-sharing plans; health/life/disability insurance; conference and seminar attendance for continual learning; a family pool party; quarterly team-building events; and flexible work schedules. Dogs also are allowed at the office. Work environment: LionShare’s motto is: Work hard, play hard. Employees are expected to be efficient and effective while work should be occurring. But during scheduled “play” time, the team’s focus should be on fun. The company also notes personal achievements, anniversaries and birthdays. Business case: LionShare owes its successes to its team members — and they are the top priority. One team member, Kris Miner, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and required a bone marrow donor. The nationwide registry did not have a match, so LionShare hosted a communitywide drive in hopes of finding a match and building up the registry of prospective donors. All team members were active in this cause, which registered nearly 500 new donors. Since then, many have been active in providing meals, creating care packages and doing all they can to support and encourage Miner and her family. Example of loyalty: The best example for LionShare is being voted year after year as one of Kansas City’s Best Places to Work. Happy employees translate to long-tenured employees, which ultimately translate to happy and long-tenured clients.

Mersoft Corp. Description: Performs software development and integration at the enterprise level for Fortune 1000 companies. Develops websites, Web applications and mobile apps for businesses of all sizes. Top executive: CEO Ron Sloop Employees: 20 Key perks: Mersoft offers an opportunity for equity participation in new products or business lines that employees create or sponsor. It has flexible work hours and a casual office environment that includes a game and TV room and a stocked kitchen. Employees receive generous health and dental insurance plans, and the company provides matching contributions to a Simple IRA Plan. Work environment: Every employee has the autonomy to develop new ideas and express them to the team. Mersoft is in the idea business, so it nurtures the openness and respect that allows employees to understand that their ideas not only will be considered, but are essential to the company’s success. Business case: The company is a collective of the skills, creativity and passion of each employee. The technology products Mersoft delivers to customers are the output of these attributes, so these products are the highest quality and most efficiently produced. The results are evident in products delivered ahead of schedule, profitable performance and customers who not only return year after year, but are eager to share their Mersoft experience with others. Example of loyalty: Company officials set a deadline to update a software product Mersoft owns and markets. The CEO and two members of the team set up in the conference room to code until it was complete — a “hackathon.” It took three consecutive 20-hour days. The entire team rallied behind them, providing meals and support during breaks and well into the early-morning hours to help them get it done.


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Validity Screening Solutions

Ryan LLC Description: Award-winning global tax services firm, with the largest indirect tax practice in North America. The firm, with national offices based in Dallas, provides a comprehensive range of state, local, federal and international tax advisory and consulting services. Top executive: Principal Bob Jones Employees: 11 Address: 84 Corporate Woods, 10801 Mastin Blvd., Suite 750, Overland Park, KS 66210 Key perks: Ryan constantly looks for creative ways to enhance its employees’ perks to ensure they will consider staying “for life.” The firm allows employees to take time off or work remotely at their discretion, as long as the work is done consistent with clients’ needs. Employees receive four-week paid sabbaticals on their fifth anniversary with the company and every five years afterward. Teams receive $20 a person each month for team meals, outings and events — or they can bank money for larger events. Work environment: The firm also looks for new ways to enhance the work environment. In 2008, Ryan introduced its myRyan work flexibility plan. The firm’s wellness plan offers rewards for improving and maintaining healthy lifestyles. This program is voluntary, and employees can choose their level of involvement. A community outreach program encourages employees to donate and give their time to worthy causes. Proof that these programs work is shown in a number of awards based on employee feedback, high client satisfaction and low turnover rates. Idea sharing: Principals at Ryan actively roll up their sleeves and work hand in hand with employees every day. This creates a robust and open channel for sharing ideas, asking questions and making improvements to the business. An annual meeting earlier this year included nearly 800 employees from the firm’s various offices. Participants’ suggestions for improving the company were prioritized and presented to the CEO for live discussion.

Description: A leading provider of background checks with a reputation for quality, industry knowledge and impeccable customer service Top executive: CEO Darren Dupriest Employees: 24 Past years honored: 2010, 2011 Key perks: Validity builds its employee perk programs on its view of community. It provides employees with the opportunity to support the local community in many differently structured volunteer events within a three-layered program. Employees are encouraged to maintain health through a wellness program that provides healthy in-office snacks, reimbursements for health and wellness items and sponsorship of teams in 5K races. Social perks have included in-office massages, trips to the movies, surprise beer Fridays, a magic show, potlucks and Wii tournaments. Work environment: Validity focuses on a face-to-face environment. Because a majority of business is completed electronically, the company encourages employees to take those few extra steps across the office to hold their conversations with co-workers directly. This has established an environment of trust and community instead of memos and closed doors. Business case: Validity has staged its internal business approach to best benefit employees. The company has built a supportive environment that extends beyond the ideas of teamwork and solid leadership. Validity provides employees with time to help the community, take care of themselves and enjoy their fellow Validitians. A three-tier benefit structure is one that goes beyond the company floor into the community (volunteering) and literally onto the streets (5K sponsorship). There is no Validity without healthy employees, and the company makes sure they have the tools and time to be just that.

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Woople LLC Description: Assists organizations of all sizes to help them successfully launch education and training programs Top executive: Owner Paul Cummings Employees: 15 locally Address: 400 N. Missouri St., Liberty, MO 64068 Key perks: Woople offers an employee-curated learning library and encourages knowledge expansion through an internal certification program and reimbursement for continuing education. The company supplements its health and life insurance plans with access to the Woople Fit program and an on-site gym. In addition, it has community give-back days, team-building activities and an annual “bounce” meeting, in which all employees can participate in planning for the coming year. Work environment: What does Woople mean? It means a shout of extreme happiness. The name embodies doing less with more impact. Woople strives to make work fun. It hires passionate employees who believe in what the company does and who come to work to make a difference in people’s lives. The company’s mission is “Changing lives through dynamic instruction.” Operating with this philosophy, employees feel rewarded professionally and personally as they help organizations and individuals become the best they can be. Sharing ideas: Woople encourages open communications. Breakout areas throughout the building provide comfortable places to share ideas. It also uses the Woople application as a communication tool. Each department creates a monthly video message, which employees are encouraged to watch. The objective is to inform employees of other departments’ accomplishments and goals for the month. Celebrating one another’s successes and understanding what fellow teammates are doing foster a cohesive, well-informed team that works together to create a world-class organization.


16 | SUPPLEMENT TO THE KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL

| BEST PLACES TO WORK | kansascity.bizjournals.com

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OCTOBER 19, 2012

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