The Winners

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The record 57 companies selected this year and featured on these pages are

inspirational and instructional, providing the North Bay with key benchmarks

for what makes a company a great place to work. (Listed alphabetically)


<h3>ABD Insurance and Financial Services/Wells Fargo Insurance Services</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Even after homegrown ABD Insurance and Financial

Services was acquired last year, its employees still say continued community

commitment makes it one of the Best Places to Work in the North Bay, nominating

their employer for the award for the second consecutive year.

In response to the question, ?What makes your company great,? one employee

said, ?The overall feeling that you are given the opportunity to succeed if

you want to and the avenue in which to reap the rewards for your success.

? They are community minded and keep us informed.?

After almost 60 years in the community, employees say the company has successfully

preserved its family-business feel, garnering an average 4.38 employee survey

score out of five for its credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie.

Last year, Wells Fargo insurance absorbed the Redwood City-based brokerage,

but it retains much of its independence with the same staff and management

team. The company has 17 offices in four states and about 100 employees in

the North Bay headquarters office.

&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; &amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; ? Ashley Furness


When asked why Accuchex is one of the region?s Best Places to Work, overwhelmingly

staff praised the first-time winner?s founders for their compassion and accessibility,

which earned them high marks in every category.

?The owners are involved day to day and support me when I need personal

time. They really care about the employees and the clients,? one employee

said in a survey.

Husband-and-wife duo Leslie and Jim Rhuland opened the human resources management

firm in 1990 from a small one-room office in Marin County. They started with

the help of friends and family and have since added about 20 employees and

provide services to companies of all sizes across the United States. ?Jim

and Leslie care about the people that work for them, and I speak from personal

experience,? one employee said.

&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; &amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; &amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Andersen &amp;amp; Company LLP</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Family. That was the response nearly all employees

gave as to what is the best part of working for Andersen &amp;amp; Company. The

sense of family in the workplace and the fact that the owners care about the

employees? families make it great, according to comments on the employee survey.

This is the third year in a row that Andersen &amp;amp; Company, consultants

and certified public accountants, has been voted one of the Best Places to

Work. Of the 36 employees, one said, ?In the past I nominated them for what

I get from the company.&amp;nbsp; This year I would like to stress what they give

to the community.?

Andersen &amp;amp; Company gives to more than 25 charitable events and organizations,

including the Boys and Girls Club, Santa Rosa Little League, Redwood Empire

Food Bank and the Human Race.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Athleta Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Athleta Inc., the women?s athletic clothing

maker, is back for a second year in the Best Places winner?s circle. The 241-employee

company is lauded by employees for its worker-centric attitude, flexibility,

dog-friendliness and being an all around fun place to work.

Petaluma-based Athleta workers love designing the clothing, and they love

wearing it. The company?s emphasis on fitness and outdoor activities and goal

of building strong, healthy, confident women has struck such a rich chord

among its employees that very few of them leave.

The company has one of the highest employee retention rates in the North

Bay. ?No one has to tell you this company is great,? wrote one Athleta worker.

?You see it on the employees? faces, and the customers hear it in their voices.?

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Bank of Marin</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Founded in 1990, the 205-employee bank is very

civic minded, giving the community more than 7,000 volunteer hours a year.

The bank gives to organizations to support the arts, youth programs, health

and environmental issues.

?All of us at Bank of Marin are proud to carry on the commitment since our

founding in 1989 to be meaningfully involved in our communities. We recognize

the power of volunteerism, contributing financial resources and collaborating

with other local businesses and nonprofits to help make our communities better

places to live and work,? said Joan Capurro, director of community relations.

In the past three years, sales, profits and market shares have increased.

According to one employee, it is ?its willingness to go out of its way to

work with the community and its interest in every client that walks through

the doors,? that makes Bank of Marin such a great place to work.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Bay-Tec Engineering</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;The Napa-based control system engineering

and construction firm returns to Best Places to Work for the third straight


Bay-Tec started in 1982 and now has 58 employees at headquarters in Napa

as well as in offices in Brea and Portland, Ore. In fact, company growth moved

it into a new group of Best Places to Work peers, companies with 51 to 100


Thirty-eight employees participated in the survey and rated Bay-Tec highest

on pride in the company and its products. ?Bay-Tec has a great reputation

in the industries we work in, and we have a reputation for producing quality

work. I enjoy coming to work,? said an employee.

Among standout benefits such as health club membership assistance, credit

union membership and provided beverages, flex time has garnered gratitude

of late. ?We?ve just recently gone to a system of better flex time working

hours even because of the commutes and gas prices,? one manager said.&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Caltronics Business Systems</h3>

Caltronics Business Systems garnered the highest score of all 57 Best Places

to Work winners for 2008. The seller of Konica-Minolta, Kycera-Mita and Muratec

copiers topped the list at 4.99 out of a possible 5.

The Santa Rosa-based, 22-employee company has been owned and operated by

the same family for more than 30 years, and the loyalty of its staff is evident.

Caltronics has the most tenured sales and support staff in California. For

seven years running it?s been named one of the Top 50 Dealers in the U.S.

by OfficeDealer Magazine. ?At Caltronics you can reach the president on his

cell phone whenever you need him,? noted an employee.

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>CamelBak Products LLC</h3>

Employees at CamelBak Products LLC in Petaluma are proud of their line of

backpack canteens. ?The product is fun to design, and at the same time it?s

designed for fun,? as one worker put it, adding, ?It also helps save soldiers?


Owned by Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, a stand-alone arm of the company,

CamelBak?s robust and growing sales show no signs of falling off. The company

has markets in both the recreational and military industries.

Employees were recently granted a longtime wish for roomier, newer quarters.

The company moved into brand new 30,000-square-foot headquarters on South

McDowell Boulevard this month. Bike and hiking trails abound in the area that

overlooks a waterfowl preserve. CamelBak?s new location even sports a beach

volleyball court.

?Loralee Stevens

<h3>Carlile Macy</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Civil engineering, urban planning, landscape

architecture and surveying firm Carlile Macy is among the best North Bay places

to work for the second straight year.

Carlile Macy started in Santa Rosa in 1996 and has six partners. The average

length of time employees have been with the company is 10 years. The firm

ranked among the top 10 largest construction-related engineering firms last

year in the North Bay in the Business Journal?s Book of Lists. Billings were

$5.3 million last year.

Nineteen of the firm?s 34 employees responded to this year?s Best Places

to Work survey and ranked the firm highest in involving them in business decisions

and having a defined, fair process for workers to provide input into operations.

Employees noted the partners? openness to alternate work schedules to accommodate

special needs as well as having monthly staff meetings to discuss how the

firm can run better.

?The best interest of the company always takes into consideration the employees

and how changes will affect them, which is important in an unstable economy,?

said one employee.

Company benefits include a $100 monthly deposit into employee health savings

accounts and help with continuing education and professional association dues.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Charter Oak Bank</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;In its fourth year of business, Charter Oak

Bank has managed to grab Best Places to Work recognition three years running.

President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Kelly started as a teller more

than 40 years ago, and based on employee responses, it is clear he has remembered

what it was like to be on the floor.

?There is constant communication from senior management and a freedom to

express ideas and/or opinions about everything affecting my job,? one employee

said. Another said, ?They respect their employees and encourage input and

feedback.? Charter Oak Bank is truly a community bank in the sense that it

focuses on the community. Between the employees and board members, the bank

gives 2,000 hours of community service annually.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Circle Bank</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;When asked what could be improved about Circle

Bank, one employee said they want ?more time in the day to help more people,

be even more involved in the community and to have even more fun.?

The full-service commercial bank is headquartered in Novato, and has 42

employees. It prides itself on its community outreach and donates money and

time to charitable organizations in Marin and Sonoma counties, including

the Marin Community Clinic, Youth in Arts, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the

Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. Circle Bank is a repeat winner of Best

Places to Work, having claimed the title last year as well. The 12-year-old

bank has also achieved the status of a Green Business of Marin County. Kimberly

Kaselionis, president and chief executive officer, has won over her employees,

who say, ?Greatness starts at the top.?

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Cold Stone Creamery</h3>

Ice cream and smiles seem to go together easily, and employees like working

at the five Cold Stone Creamery stores under Sonoma County franchise owners

Ken and Trudy Grabenauer.

Of 75 total staff, 53 responded to the survey, most of them part-time high

school or college students. That accounts for the 1.3-year average stint for

Sonoma County employees. Even so, the short time there has made an impact

on them. ?I hope I can keep working at Cold Stone when I go to school ? in

the fall,? said one part-timer.

Another part-time employee liked Ms. Grabenauer?s leadership. ?I would like

to own a store like her some day,? the worker said.

Ms. Grabenauer said part of the extensive philanthropic work of her franchise

in the community ? including ice cream donations at fundraisers such as Relay

for Life and to weary firefighters ? is preparing the next generation of workers.

?We want to be a positive first-job experience for high school and college

students,? she said.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County</h3>

Community Child Care Council respondents couldn?t say enough in their comments

about their employer, writing long, thoughtful responses of commitment to

family, each other and working for the community.

?It?s a friendly atmosphere that makes you feel good about coming to work.

Staff is supportive of one another and always willing to lend a hand. The

job that we do in our community is very rewarding,? one note said.

The Community Child Care nonprofit is a first-time Best Places to Work winner

but has led the campaign for better childcare in Sonoma County since 1972.

The organization is the local branch for a national advocacy group and has

about 150 employees that work from the Santa Rosa office. In addition to fundraising

for community resources, the group provides referral services and educational

programs on child nutrition and health.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Dal Poggetto &amp;amp; Company LLP</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Accounting firm Dal Poggetto &amp;amp; Company

was a Best Places to Work winner last year as well as this year. With an

86 percent participation rate in the anonymous employee survey, many praised

the company?s work environment.

?I feel this is my family,? one employee said.

?Everyone has such a great willingness to help each other with the betterment

of the product and the individual skills of one another,? said another.

&amp;nbsp;The 22-employee public accounting company was established in 1992

and in the past three years, has seen growth in sales, profits and market

share, and employee retention has risen.

The average tenure at Dal Poggetto &amp;amp; Company is seven years. Nonprofit

involvement includes the American Cancer Society, the YMCA and sponsorship

of the Human Race.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Edward Jones</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;With 100 employees in the North Bay, financial

services firm Edward Jones is a partnership made up of general and limited

partners. Edwards Jones prides itself on its ability to grow without going

public and has not had an unprofitable year since 1970. An international company,

Edward Jones serves nearly seven million customers in the United States,

Canada and the United Kingdom.

?We can all become partners in owning the company, which increases pride

and sense of responsibility,? said one employee regarding each associate?s

potential to become an owner. Edward Jones is a second-time participant and

winner of Best Places to Work. In the past three years, the company has grown

its sales, profits market share, as well as improved its employee retention.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Environmental Resolutions Inc.</h3>

Environmental Resolutions Inc., a 19-year-old Southern California-based

environmental engineering and remediation firm, opened its Petaluma office

in 1994. Now it has 34 employees there and had $6.4 million in revenue last

year. The average length of time employees have worked there is just longer

than five years.

In all seven offices, the firm has 160 employees and total 2007 revenue

of $160 million. The Petaluma employees rated the firm highly on being proud

of their work, working as part of a close-knit team and wanting to stay there.

?My supervisors go the extra step to make sure that I know that all the suggestions

and comments that I contribute are taken seriously,? one employee said.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Exchange Bank</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Three years in a row, employees have rated

Exchange Bank one of the Best Places to Work. They continue to do so even

in the more difficult financial conditions the bank is dealing with today.

With 449 employees, the average tenure is nine years. In the 118 years since

its founding, Exchange Bank has always kept an eye on the community. A total

of $7.1 million has been awarded to 5,803 Santa Rosa Junior College students

from the Doyle Scholarship trust this year alone. One employee said, ?We give

dividends to the junior college, which provides thousands of scholarships

every year. It is a wonderful place to work, and I am proud to be an EB employee.?

?I love that we are so involved in the community and tend to always go out

of our way for the customer,? said another employee.

? Jenna V. Loceff


<h3>Filtration Group Inc.</h3>

Illinois-based Filtration Group makes high-precision air filters for applications

such as climate-control systems and clean rooms. The 66-year-old company opened

its Santa Rosa facility several years ago and debuted among the Best Places

to Work in the North Bay this year.

The company has 134 employees in Santa Rosa, and 113 rated the company in

the survey, the highest participation rate for companies with 101 to 250 employees.

Ninety-three of the respondents took advantage of the Spanish version of

the survey.

Employees gave the company highest marks for feeling respected by management

and taking pride in the company and its products.

Average length of employment in Santa Rosa is four years. Management wants

to improve that.

?We are working on visualizations in the manufacturing areas to improve

product process knowledge, facilitate new-hire training and promote department

cross-training,? one manager said. One part-time employee appreciated management?s

?taking into account employees and the slope of the progress each employee

is on.?

Other incentives include an attendance bonus, a production schedule with

four 10-hour days a week and part-time schedules.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>First Community Bank</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;A winner of Best Places to Work for three

years running, 55-employee First Community Bank?s mission statement is to

be ?decidedly different.?

Founded in Santa Rosa in 2004 by William Gallaher, the fast-growing bank

specializes in commercial real estate and construction lending.

&amp;nbsp;Priding itself on its ?professional casual? attitude, First Community

is community minded and committed to the best service. The bank opened its

first branch in 2005 and specializes in commercial real estate loans. It has

expanded and now has five branches throughout the North Bay.

?What makes our company so great is the dream that we all had when we first

opened and watching it all come true. We provide great services to our clients,

and we are able to go the extra mile to keep our clients happy,? said one


? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>G&amp;amp;J Seiberlich &amp;amp; Company LLP</h3>

Established in 1950, G&amp;amp;J Seiberlich &amp;amp; Company is the oldest and

largest accounting firm in the Napa Valley. This is the first year that G&amp;amp;J

has participated in Best Places to Work. Employees were liberal with their

compliments to the company. ?I ... would not even consider working anywhere

else,? said one employee.

The Rotary Club, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, If Given a Chance and

the Boys and Girls Club are just a few of the nonprofit organizations that

benefit from the generosity of G&amp;amp;J Seiberlich &amp;amp; Company.

?The firm is very generous and flexible,? another employee said. Though

retired, Gordon Seiberlich, founder of the company, still often comes into

the office in the mornings.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>General Dynamics OTS (Ordnance and Tactical Systems)</h3>

General Dynamics OTS in Healdsburg doesn?t make ammunition, as the name

might indicate. The 92-employee branch of GD?s Precision Systems Group makes

small motors and control systems for the aerospace and satellite industries.

Its workers love the Healdsburg location, walking distance to the shops and

cafes of the popular downtown.

Job security is a strong point with employees. Because GD is a vendor to

the U.S. government and military, there?s no fear that jobs will be outsourced


?Great people. Management is kind and treats everyone equally and with respect.

There is a strong focus on health: all kinds of fresh fruit stocked. Overall

this has been the best place I have ever worked,? said one employee in the


? Loralee Stevens

<h3>George Petersen Insurance Agency Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Support for innovation and continued education

makes George Petersen Insurance a great place to work, but it is also likely

one reason for its endurance and success after more than 73 years in business.

?We are a family. I know that if anything happens in my personal life I will

have the support of my managers and co-workers.&amp;nbsp; I also know I will be

able to grow within this company,? an employee said.

Founder George Petersen opened his first office in Eureka in 1935, expanding

the company to six others in northern California. All but three of the second-year-winner?s

40 North Bay employees filled out the Best Places to Work survey, scoring

an average 4.65 out of five.

The brokerage is one of the largest independently owned brokerages in Northern

California and provides commercial, employee benefits, personal, industry-focused

and specialty coverage.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Ghirardo CPA</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Open in its current form since 1990, Ghirardo CPA

has a softball team, 40 employees and has won Best Places to Work recognition

three years in a row.

It is clear from the comments made that employees truly care about their


Said one, ?Our leaders, Steve and Gerald Ghirardo, are the most articulate,

honorable men in any business I have been involved with.?

Steve and Jerry bought the company from their father, Edward Ghirardo in

1990 after he had been in business for roughly 12 years.

Ghirardo offers financial reporting and consulting, business services and

consulting, real estate consulting, tax services and wealth planning. The

firm has employees fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Russian, German

and Italian. It offers classes to all employees to continue their education,

and it pays its employees? CPA license fee yearly.

?Caring about clients and each other isn?t just rhetoric, it?s real,? said

one employee.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire</h3>

In the words of one employee, Goodwill Industries is a constant reminder

that ?people really do care about each other.? Its staff admires dedicated

management and the chance for opportunity.

?Goodwill Industries has been very fair to me and very accommodating when

it came to some special circumstances I was in,? one said. ?This is a company

that is all about people and working to make lives better.?

The regional branch of the nonprofit was established in 1974, though the

national organization launched in 1902. The company specializes in providing

job training to those with disabilities or other special needs, funded through

sales in its retail, re-sale stores.

The local branches serve Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Trinity and Humboldt

counties and employ about 200 people. Almost 75 percent of the group?s upper

management is women or is considered a minority group and it offers a wide

range of benefits.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Guide Dogs for the Blind</h3>

Not only can employees spend the workday with their furry friends nearby,

Guide Dogs for the Blind staff hail the shared dedication to the organization?s

goal of giving the visually impaired more independence.

?People who work here do it because they really believe in the organization

and its mission. From the CEO on down the line, there is open communication

with all staff and volunteers,? one employee said.

The first-time winner is the North Bay?s largest nonprofit, outside of hospitals

and secondary educational institutions, and so far has donated more than 2,100

dogs. The company operates entirely on donations and sponsors, which pays

for its $32.9 million in operating costs.

The San Rafael location employs 205 people and offers retirement, benefits

and vacation. The company also allows pets to come to work and has on-site

pet care and free animal boarding for employees when they go out of town.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Heffernan Insurance Brokers</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Along with the company culture and family

atmosphere, Heffernan Insurance employees said they are amazed by its dedication

to the community, including four additional days off a year to volunteer at

a local nonprofit.

?Heffernan is a place that I truly can be myself.&amp;nbsp; I came from ?corporate

America? where you have to dummy down who you are in order to fit into the

company mold. ... I don?t have to do that here,? one staff member said.

?I am also given a tremendous amount of autonomy to do my job.&amp;nbsp; ...

Support is there if I need it, but I don?t have to report my every move.?

Heffernan was the only Best Places to Work winner to have 100 percent of

its employees participate and is one of only a few that have won three years

in a row. The company has nine offices, including the North Bay location in

Petaluma, which has 31 on staff. It offers personal, commercial and financial

planning, including retirement and investment.

&amp;nbsp;Heffernan Insurance was listed as number 56 on a list of 70 top corporate

philanthropists in the greater Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times

after contributing more than $323,766 to charities, or an average $900 a person

in 2007.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>HydroPoint Data Systems Inc.</h3>

Petaluma-based HydroPoint Data Systems is in strong growth mode, and its

40 workers reflect the excitement that comes from leading the smart-irrigation

industry. A sizable 83 percent chose to fill out the survey, well above the

required 50 percent participation level.

The company recently named a new CEO to take it to the next stage of growth.

HydroPoint is expanding the market for its moisture sensing, satellite-fed

weather stations that are controlled by computer software. Hundreds of systems

are already in place at residences, businesses ? including Wal-Mart, Google

and Apple ? schools and municipalities, deeply cutting water use and costs.

Workers cited a combination of hard work and camaraderie among their reasons

for liking the company. But leading the list of assets is pride in the company?s

technology. ?We are making a difference ? our success saves a precious resource:

water,? said one employee.

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Kaiser Permanente ? Santa Rosa and San Rafael medical centers</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Simply put, employees love working at Kaiser

?because it?s Kaiser.? Just as many praise the efficiency of being a healthy

member, its staff says working for the nonprofit is the same without the detached

feeling of large companies.

?Kaiser is strongly ethical and wants to do the ?right thing? from top to

bottom,? one employee said. ?We are focused on serving not only our members

but each other.?

Nearly 900 employees responded to the Best Places to Work survey, giving

the organization high scores, with an average 4.37 of five for all categories.

Staff praised the constant innovation and willingness to make things better.

The three-time winner includes Kaiser?s Santa Rosa medical center and the

San Rafael medical center and offices.

The Santa Rosa campus is currently in the process of doubling its capacity

with a new hospital wing and also recently opened a new office building nearby.

Kaiser has a medical center in San Rafael with a pharmacy, laboratory and

radiology services and a separate medical office building.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>KOA Camping Resort ? San Francisco North/Petaluma</h3>

The employees of KOA almost unanimously said the best thing about their

job is their bosses. According to staff surveys, owners Chris and Pauline

Wood give their employees both freedom and responsibility and even take the

group on company camping trips. ?This company is great for many reasons.

We all work together to accomplish our goals for the campground. We all contribute

to the great service we are known for. We all take pride in what we come to

KOA and do everyday,? one employee wrote.

The campgrounds opened in 1972 include ?Kabins,? RV sites and primitive

campsites and are located off Stony Point Road in Petaluma. A dining hall

and heated pool are also among site facilities, as well as a basketball and

sand volleyball court. The first-time winner is a local sponsor for several

sports teams and is actively involved with the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>La Tortilla Factory</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp; It?s all about family at La Tortilla Factory

in Santa Rosa: the Tamayo family that founded and runs the health-conscious

tortilla maker and the larger, 120-member family that comprises its staff.

Longtime Chief Financial Officer Stan Mead recently took the CEO spot from

Carlos Tamayo, whose son Sam is learning the business. He?ll eventually step

into the CEO position.

?The word ?retire? isn?t in my vocabulary,? said Mr. Tamayo. ?But it?s time

my brother Willie and I stepped back and took a broader view of marketing

and strategy while others see to the day-to-day operations.?

La Tortilla employees are among the most loyal in the North Bay. Their company

has refused to leave Santa Rosa despite rising costs, and they appreciate

it. ?Santa Rosa is home for my family and my workers. This is where we stay,?

said Mr. Carlos Tamayo.

La Tortilla Factory operates nine production lines in its 75,000-square-foot

location near the Sonoma County airport. The company is on track to have sales

of more than $30 million in 2008.

Workers lauded the great products, friendly colleagues and sense of accomplishment

fostered by La Tortilla Factory. Like a close family, the company encourages

each individual. Training and advancement are offered to all, and rising through

the ranks is expected.

?It?s like coming home to a happy family,? said one worker. Another praised

the ?family way it lets you be you without a doubt.?

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>M.A. Silva Corks USA</h3>

Wine bottle stopper distributor M.A. Silva Corks USA of Santa Rosa debuts

among the Best Places to Work with 24 of its 25 employees participating in

the survey. The company is the U.S. affiliate of major cork producer M.A.

Silva Corticas of Portugal and was ranked by the Business Journal on May 26

as the fifth-largest cork and stopper distributor in the North Bay. Neil Foster,

managing director of the local operation, started the Santa Rosa company

in 2000 and expanded to a new facility in January 2007.

M.A. Silva Corks USA employees rated the company highest in pride in what

they do, the company?s standing in the industry and camaraderie, with one

employee noting appreciation for a recent lobster meal for staff. ?The owner

is generous and fair and cares about all the employees,? said one worker.

?Co-workers are like family rather than just someone you sit next to all day.?

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>MacArthur Place Inn &amp;amp; Spa</h3>

Many answering in Spanish, employees described communication as the company?s

strength along with a family-like atmosphere and appreciation for the planet.

?Everyone gets along with each other, and it is like a big family. And the

company is green,? one employee said.

Another commented, ?People like our property owner, general manager, executives,

especially my chef ? they all care about people. I can talk hours about this


Built in the early 1850s and opened as the inn in 1998, some of the historic

inn?s employees have been with the company since its first year. Of the company?s

132 staff members, the average longevity is five years, and some have worked

there for 20 years.

The Sonoma-based hotel is a first-time winner and was one of the first businesses

recognized by the Sonoma County Green Business Program. The inn also received

a 2008 Business Environmental Alliance best practices award and a sustainable

North Bay award from Assemblyman Jared Huffman in June this year.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Marizco Landscape Management Inc.</h3>

In an industry with a significant number of seasonal employees, Marizco

Landscape Management Inc. debuts among the region?s Best Places to Work with

high ratings for being an employer with which to stay.

?You feel like part of a team here, and everyone is respected and encouraged,?

one manager said. ?You are a very valued employee, and that is what makes

you want to be here.?

Since President and CEO Pierre Marizco started the company in April 2004,

it has grown to 43 employees and $2.2 million in revenue last year. Thirty-three

of those workers participated in the survey and also rated the company highly

in appreciating their individuality and personal lives as well as communicating

plans for the outfit?s success and fostering pride in the work.

The company provides uniforms and boots to workers in the field, holds an

assortment of team-building and family-oriented activities, offers health

and dental insurance to employees and their families and allows for up to

four weeks of vacation and time off per year.

?From lower-level management to the CEO, we proudly advertise that all our

managers started our careers at the lowest level, which allows managers to

appreciate our front-line staff?s hard work,? Mr. Marizco said.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Moss Adams LLP</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;The most common response to the question as

to the best part of the company is ?the people.? The largest accounting firm

in the North Bay based on assets, Moss Adams participated and won a Best Places

to Work award for the second year.

The 77-employee company was founded in 1981, and its clients range from

businesses to state and local governments, religious organizations, Indian

tribal governments and more. Moss Adams is the 11th-largest accounting firm

in the United States and has offices in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona

and New Mexico.

?Moss Adams is a very progressive company, and it values its employees,?

said one employee. When asked what could be improved, another said, ?Nothing.

It is perfect.?

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Mr. Rooter of Sonoma County</h3>

Employees of Mr. Rooter of Sonoma County this year elevated the plumbing

contractor to the ranks of Best Places to Work for this first time.

Paul and Saunda Kitchen acquired franchise rights from the Waco, Texas-based

company in 2000 and now have 28 employees. The franchise was the seventh-largest

plumbing contractor in the Business Journal?s Book of Lists last year.

Nineteen workers participated in the Best Places survey and rated their

employer 4.46 on a five-point scale. Pride of work and in the company, a

consistently high-scoring group of questions among Best Places winners, also

was a high point for Mr. Rooter?s employees.

The average length of employment is five years, and all but one of the survey

respondents noted they agree or strongly agree when asked whether they would

want to work there a year from now. ?Plumbing isn?t glamorous, but it is an

invaluable trade that helps bring water in and sewage out,? said Ms. Kitchen,

president. ?We build our team to take pride in the work they perform. After

all, plumbers saved civilization.?

Among benefits such as health coverage and performance bonuses were options

for simple independent retirement accounts, a KitchKids Fund to support employees?

children in learning leadership and responsibility as well as the ?Roulettem

Flow? game. When franchise goals are met, employees spin a wheel to determine

team prizes. ?We practice teamwork, and we truly care for one another,? said

one employee. ?I feel like these guys are my family.?

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>New World Library</h3>

Since 1977, New World Library in Novato has been ?publishing books that

change lives,? as its mission statement says. What began in a kitchen in

a small apartment in Oakland has turned into a publishing house with books

that sell all over the world.

In addition to its profit-sharing program, there is the end of the year

donation program.

?Every year, they give each of us a share of our profits to donate to a

nonprofit of our choice. It feels so great to be able to give back to the

world in this way,? one employee said. It amounts to usually $2,000 to $3,000

dollars, according to senior publicist Kim Corbin. Every employee who participated

in the online survey gave a perfect score to the statement ?my immediate co-workers

go the extra mile to achieve results.?

A supporter of the Green Press Initiative, New World uses soy-based inks,

and nearly 80 percent of the books are printed on post consumer waste.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Pacific Landscapes Inc.</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;This is the third year Pacific Landscapes

is among the Business Journal?s Best Places to Work, which is quite a feat

for the 8-year-old company Darryl Orr and Dave Penry started.

In that short time, the company has grown to 71 employees and had revenue

last year at $3.68 million. The average time employees have been with the

company is four years, which is considerable for a company in which a third

of the work force is seasonal. Sixty-four of the employees chimed in on Pacific

Landscapes, giving the highest marks for promoting pride of workmanship.

?The owners understand the effort that is put into the company,? said one

worker. Another worker said the company demonstrates its concern for employee

welfare. That comes via support for workers wanting to improve their English

and other skills, loans for family emergencies, Section 125 savings plans

for health and child care, a bilingual human resources staffer and mentoring

apt employees into management.

Also Mr. Penry, company president, has decided to take the national stage

to call for immigration reform.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Petaluma People Services Center</h3>

Respect, compassion, fairness and humor are just a few words employees used

to describe the Petaluma People Services Center.

?What we have here at PPSC is a healthy, productive, community-focused workplace.&amp;nbsp;

For the three years that I have been here, it has been a great place in which

to work and learn,? one employee said.&amp;nbsp; ?I consider myself to be extremely

fortunate to be a part of this team.?

The first-time winner is a longtime public services and referral provider,

fielding more than 40,000 calls a year. Its center provides a variety of services,

including social service eligibility, legal aid, public health, homeless

resources, senior services, immunizations, baby clinic, employment assistance

and others.

Beginning completely with volunteers, the company now has about 50 paid

staff and five locations.

?PPSC is the best agency I have ever worked for,? wrote one employee. ?It

has a warm family feeling and strives to be the best in every category of

service. I ? hope to be a part of the PPSC community for a long time.?

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Pisenti &amp;amp; Brinker LLP</h3>

Flexibility was the overwhelming response by employees to the question,

?What makes your company great?? Pisenti &amp;amp; Brinker, certified public

accountants and advisers, provides employees flexibility in a number of ways,

including schedules, vacations, dealing with family needs and ability to

contribute to the community.

?The partners have also been very supportive in our efforts to obtain certification

under the Sonoma Green Business Program, allowing staff the opportunity to

come up with ideas and implement ways that we can be more sustainable and

reduce our global footprint,? said an employee.

In addition to being a green business itself, it provides its clients with

information on how to make its businesses more sustainable. That includes

looking at how the bottom line will be affected by taking steps to greening


Pisenti &amp;amp; Brinker has 48 employees in the North Bay with offices in

Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Napa. The firm opened in 1965. This is its first

year as a Best Places to Work winner.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Plath &amp;amp; Company Inc.</h3>

For 22 years, Plath &amp;amp; Company owners Steve Plath, Bill Ballas and Chris

Dailey have built and remodeled award-winning homes and commercial spaces,

and this year the employees rated the company among the Best Places to Work

in the North Bay.

The work force seems to share in the accolades heaped on the company by

trade magazines and organizations over the years. Thirty-one of the 60 employees

rated the company highest in pride of work done and corporate image.

The average length of employment is seven to eight years. When asked what

made it a good employer, one employee said it was ?the communication with

the workers.?

Benefits include a 401(k) retirement plan, coverage for health, dental and

eye care and paid vacation and personal time.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Quattrocchi Kwok Architects</h3>

Mark Quattrocchi and Steve Kwok started Quattrocchi Kwok Architects in 1985.

Since then the firm has grown into not only the North Bay?s second-largest

architectural firm with 47 employees but also a leader in design of education

and institutional projects, namely the new $125 million American Canyon High


Firm revenue last year was $11.6 million. Employees stay with the firm an

average of four years. Twenty-seven of them participated in the survey and

ranked the firm highest in pride of work performed and camaraderie.

?This is the first time that I have worked in a place where I am always

given a thank-you and appreciated for my accomplishments by my bosses,? an

employee said.

One of the two most enthusiastic responses to the Best Places to Work survey

was on wanting to work at the firm a year from now. One employee noted that

the firm seems to have the right stuff to thrive long beyond that time. ?Owners

and upper management do an excellent job of procuring work and maintaining

company stability during both good and challenging local and national economic

times,? the worker said.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>Reach Air Medical Services</h3>

It takes a special type of person to work every day saving lives, and Reach

Air Medical Services employees all share that commitment to the mission and

dedication to each other.

?To do what is right for the patient whether it is profitable or not is

something to be proud of, and it shows in the faces of my co-workers,? one

employee said.

The first-time winner based in Santa Rosa has provided emergency transportation

services in northern California for more than 20 years. Originally a program

managed by Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the group broke off as its own company

in 1988 and has performed more than 10,000 transports.

The company employs just over 100 people, and management and staff are involved

with a list of local nonprofits. The company sponsors an annual fun run that

funds scholarships for students in the Santa Rosa Junior College paramedic

program as well as a golf tournament benefitting children with special needs.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Redwood Credit Union</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;For the third year in a row, Santa Rosa-based

member-owned Redwood Credit Union has been rated resoundingly by its employees

as one of the Best Places to Work in the North Bay.

Proud of the credit union and its dedication to its members, Brett Martinez,

the president, feels strongly about the community-oriented aspect of the company,

which is built into the idea of a credit union to begin with.

Active across the community, the credit union sponsors events like the Human

Race and gives to charitable organizations like United Way. Redwood received

LEED certification for its newly remodeled administrative offices in Santa


Redwood has 320 employees, 84 percent responded of whom responded to the

anonymous satisfaction survey. Redwood has eagerly embraced the Best Places

to Work contest since its inception three years ago, using it to build employee

morale as a recruiting tool.

?The company?s culture and vision are wonderful,? said one employee. ?I

can?t think of a single thing I would like to change. RCU is an awesome place

to work,? said another.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Rheodyne LLC</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Rheodyne LLC in Rohnert Park, a subsidiary of

Idex, a gas- and fluid-management systems maker, has been making high-pressure

fluid valves, injectors and switching platforms for 30 years. With customers

all over the world, it?s the global leader of the advanced fluidics management


Rheodyne, with 115 employees, is a second-time winner of the Best Places

to Work contest. Workers lauded the company?s on-site fitness trainer. But

they gave Rheodyne the highest marks for job security.

?What?s great about this company is its collective drive to keep jobs in

America and compete globally,? said one worker.

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Schurter Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Schurter Inc. of Santa Rosa is a high-tech

company making fuses, connectors and circuit breakers for the telecom, IT

and medical instrumentation industries.

An international private enterprise owned by the third generation of the

Schurter family, the company?s 21-employee Santa Rosa branch is led by Bruno


Schurter is a second-time winner in the Best Places to Work contest, with

workers citing good pay and benefits and also the leadership qualities of

Mr. Schurter.

?This company is great because we have a great president, Mr. Bruno Schurter,?

said one.

?Loralee Stevens

<h3>Sequoia Senior Solutions Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Almost a year has passed since smaller Sequoia

Senior Solutions acquired Home Care Options, making it the largest in-home

care provider in the North Bay; but newbies to the two-time Best Places to

Work winner lauded the family-like atmosphere and dedicated management.

?This is a company that serves its clients and its employees with dignity

and respect,? one employee said. The purchase tripled the size of the company

and increased the client load from 50 patients to more than 150, but surveys

showed no change in the employees? dedication to their mission or the quality

of care. The company allows seniors to remain independent in Sonoma, Marin,

Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties.

Sequoia employs 126 and is led by owners Gabriella Ambrosi and Stanton Lawson.

They are an Alzheimer?s Association conference and fundraiser sponsor, and

Ms. Ambrosi is the president of the Community Health Foundation of Greater


? Ashley Furness


Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Novato-based SolarCraft has won a Best Places

to Work award for the third straight year.

Relatively small with 37 employees, the company was one of the first solar

installers in the North Bay, with 25 years in the industry.

Workers expressed pride in helping the environment and also praised enlightened

management and the generous benefits package.

?We offer a service which makes a positive impact on the lives of everybody.

It is rewarding to make a difference,? said one.

Another praised ?the quality of ownership. Both founders [Dennis Nuttman

and Bill Stewart] are great people with high integrity and a commitment to

their employees as well as world-class quality. This is reflected in SolarCraft?s


? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Sonoma Bank</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;A second time Best Places to Work winner, Sonoma

Bank has 138 employees.

Teamwork, commitment to community and family values are two qualities that

these employees feel strongly about at Sonoma Bank.

They are big supporters of local nonprofit organizations and encourage employees

to volunteer in the community.

As to the question of what makes Sonoma Bank a great place to work, the

answer overwhelmingly is, ?the management. ... They always have had an open-door

policy. They actually care what the employees have to say.? Sonoma Bank is

owned by Washington-based Sterling Financial Corp.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Sonoma Technology Inc.</h3>

Sonoma Technology in Petaluma is a longtime, employee-owned air-quality

research and consulting company.

Its 47-employee staff includes scientists with expertise in meteorology,

chemistry, atmospheric sciences, policy analysis and computer science.

Workers gave high marks to the company?s new, spacious headquarters and

good pay and benefits. ?Sonoma Technology has an ethical, open culture that

values good science, innovation and teamwork,? said one.

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Summit Engineering Inc.</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;Summit Engineering, a 30-year-old firm with

45 employees in Santa Rosa and Napa, is among the Best Places to Work for

the third consecutive year.

The company has divisions for civil, structural, electrical and water-wastewater

engineering and is one of the top North Bay firms for wine industry projects.

Thirty-one employees participated in the survey this year.

?There is an expectation of quality work and yet the ability to breathe

and think and laugh,? an employee said. In addition to various morale-building

activities and outings, the five partners in the firm have instituted a number

of productivity measures, such as a work schedule that gives workers every

other Friday off, use of a company car for business trips and an annual bonus

based on firm profitability.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>ThermaSource Inc.</h3>

Santa Rosa-based ThermaSource Inc. is a clean-tech phenomenon. A three-man

geothermal drilling consultant until two years ago, the company has grown

to 220 employees as interest in alternative energy sources soared due to high

oil prices.

ThermaSource is the fastest-growing company in Northern California. It owns

of fleet of drilling rigs, which it deploys at the Geysers steam field among

locations worldwide.

Employees had high praise for founder and President Lou Capuano Jr. and

mentioned good pay, excellent benefits opportunity for advancement and job

security. Given the speed at which ThermaSource has grown ? the company expects

to double its staff within the year ? the best tribute came from an employee

who said, ?This is one of the most organized and efficiently run companies

I have worked for.?

? Loralee Stevens

<h3>Valley Tire &amp;amp; Brake</h3>

Three-time winner &amp;nbsp;For the third year in a row, Valley Tire

&amp;amp; Brake has been named one of the Best Places to Work in the North Bay.

With 39 employees, the company formed in 1968 takes pride in its community

involvement. It sponsors the athletic departments at Santa Rosa, Montgomery,

Maria Carillo, Windsor, Piner and Cardinal Newman high schools.

Valley Tire &amp;amp; Brake also promotes within the company, keeping employees

around for usually at least six years.

?Everyone who works here seems happy to be here, and camaraderie is a daily

presence,? said one employee. All employees gave the highest rating to their

pride in the work that they do for the company. One of the only things that

employees wish to be changed to better their work would be a better economy.

? Jenna V. Loceff

<h3>Vantreo Insurance Brokerage</h3>

Still in the early stage as an independent broker, Santa Rosa-based Vantreo

Insurance Brokerage employees say the entire office feels like it is a part

of the company?s growth and innovation everyday.

?No idea is ever a bad idea, and the communication as far as company growth

is awesome.&amp;nbsp; I have never worked for an insurance company that keeps

every and all employees involved,? one employee said. The first-time winner

was formed last August from the split of Matsen Insurance Brokers Inc., taking

about 76 percent of its business share. All but one of the company?s 27 employees

completed the survey, and the company received extremely high marks, reporting

a 4.84 average out of five for all categories.

The company offers property/casualty, employee benefits, financial services,

personal insurance coverage and risk management solutions, as well as training

groups and seminars in its on-site learning center. Collectively, employees

are involved in about 40 local nonprofits.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>W. Bradley Electric Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Employees of the Bradley family?s multifaceted

electrical contracting company rated W. Bradley Electric one of the region?s

Best Places to Work for the second straight year.

Started by William Bradley in 1977, the company has grown to have 252 employees

and 2007 revenue of $68 million, making it the North Bay?s largest such contractor.

It has six divisions: commercial and industrial contracting, voice and data

cabling, data networking, security systems, audio-visual equipment installation

and cabling, and roadway signaling and lighting.

The 99 employees who responded to the survey gave the highest marks for

company pride, particularly in whether they would want to still be at the

company next year. That?s reflected in the nine-year average workers remain

with WBE.

?Being a larger company, it still maintains a sense of family and quality

of work,? said one worker. Employees also mentioned perks such as massages

for tired muscles, Friday company lunches with margarita and hot dog dispensers

and family-oriented work options such as flex time and telecommuting.

? Jeff Quackenbush

<h3>West County Health Centers Inc.</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;With a job as important as caring for those

who have no other place to go, it is necessary that employees be committed

to the mission, and it is clear West County Health Centers? staff share a

certain selflessness and enjoy sharing that devotion with their peers.

?We help so many people regardless of their financial status,? one employee

said. ?I have been here seven years and hope I can continue until I?m 70 years


The federally qualified health center employs about 70 health care providers

and staff from its three locations and is a two-time Best Places to Work winner.

The nonprofit was formed from the merger of the Russian River Health Center

and the Occidental Area Health Center in 2000, though both existed for more

than 33 years.

In addition to benefits, employees receive scholarships for continued education,

eligibility for medical provider student loan repayment and annual wage increases.

Average employee retention is five years, but some have stayed with the company

for as long as 20 years.

? Ashley Furness

<h3>Winzler &amp;amp; Kelly</h3>

Two-time winner &amp;nbsp;Consulting engineering firm Winzler &amp;amp; Kelly

appears among the Best Places to Work in the North Bay for the second straight

year. Started in 1951, the firm is the largest engineering firm in the North

Bay and among the top 500 such firms in the U.S.

The firm has 100 employees in the North Bay and about 300 companywide. Sixty-seven

local workers participated in the survey.

On survey questions related to keeping staff informed and involved in the

firm?s business and key decisions, employees overall rated the firm higher

than 4 out of 5. ?The company holds monthly financial meetings in which they

keep us informed of the company performance and vision,? one employee said.

? Jeff Quackenbush

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