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|Sunday, March 01, 2009|
MARCH 2009: THE 100 BEST
BUILDING THE BEST
BY BEN JACKLET
When Todd Woodley and Greg Huston took over Slayden Construction in 2002, they inherited a solid family business with a strong record of placing power in the hands of employees.
“Whatever you felt you could do, the company supported you,” says Woodley, who worked as an engineer and project manager for Slayden for 11 years before becoming president. “If you wanted to take on a $10 million job and you had never done anything like that before, the attitude was always, ‘go for it.’”
Between the generosity of the company’s benefits and its rare ability to offer job security in these times, it’s not surprising that Slayden did so well in its first year of participating in the 100 Best survey. The company employs 52 people permanently and ramps up to 200-plus field personnel depending on the size of the contracts it lands.
To explain Slayden’s successful debut, Woodley defers to employees, and their enthusiasm tells the story emphatically. “You look at my Facebook page and it says I work for the best company in the world,” says office manager Heidi Minten. “That’s really how I feel.”
Perhaps the most concrete example of Slayden’s company commitment to family is the new dependent-care benefit. Slayden offered up to $5,000 per employee starting in 2008 and paid out $110,000 directly to child-care centers in the program’s first year. “It was like getting a bonus,” says contract administrator Angie Porter, who has been with the company four years and has two children, 6-year-old Maile and 3-year-old Carson. Her monthly day-care costs dropped from $510 to $95 per month. “It makes us feel like they care about our families,” Porter says of the owners.
When a classmate of Minten’s son named Collin Callsen became ill with a rare form of cancer, Slayden spent $20,000 on a dinner and auction that raised $150,000 for the family. That effort ultimately resulted in the recent creation of the nonprofit Slayden Community Fund.
And then there is the fun stuff. “There are so many things to look forward to here,” says property manager April von Backstrom. “How many companies in the world take all their employees to Cabo or Disneyland?”
To keep the perks flowing in hard times a company must be fortuitously situated. Under Woodley, Slayden has expanded from schools and buildings into engineered public works such as wastewater treatment plants. Slayden has completed over 30 treatment plants, about as recession-proof a service as a business can provide.
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Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.
"I feel private enterprises are capable of operating at a higher efficiency than state government."
"This has been used in Oregon since the mid-1800s. It is not a new financing method. This form of financing may help Oregon close its infrastructure deficit by leveraging funds."
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Activists have suspended themselves from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, slowing an icebreaker's departure for the Arctic.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.
Friday, June 05, 2015
As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Pushing the extreme.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.
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